Actions

Work Header

Old Beginnings and New Endings

Chapter Text

Hi guys! Author-nim here, and I just wanted to say a couple of things before I started this:

1. Plan on updating this weekly (every Tuesday) but sometimes writers block can hit me, and when it does, it hits me hard. So please excuse me if I’m off schedule.
2. Though there are many groups put in the tags this is a mainly EXO/Stray Kids fic.
3. Each district has a different K-Pop group running it, though in this they aren’t romps for music. They’re running their own piece of the country. For example, EXO is with District 12, Stray Kids is with District 9, NCT is with District 18, and more.
4. Feedback is really useful! I would really appreciate your comments and I will try to listen to any requests that you guys may have.
5. Though this is somewhat of a Divergent/Hunger Games/Reverse-Mafia (??) AU, and though I have read both series of books and seen the movies multiple times, please correct me if I’m wrong because I do tend to be forgetful sometimes. And no, there are no actual games in this. I took more of the districts and the whole uprising against the capitol thing from there, and from Divergent I really just had in mind the aesthetics and a few other minor things. (For those of you that have played the BTS game To The Edge of the Sky, I kind of imagined it looking like a mix of that and the Divergent look.)

With all that being said, I really hope you enjoy this! I know I like where I’m going with this

Chapter Text

The first thing that hit me was the smell. Well, that, and how abnormally bright everything was.

Everything was just so…white and pristine looking, like it had never been touched. Just altogether so clean. I took in every detail I could as I awaited my captors’ (not much else to call them) possible questioning. What did they want with me? Why was I here? Did I do something wrong?

It felt like an eternity, waiting strapped in to that chair. I started to count the tiles on the ceiling (there were sixty-four, a perfect square). I counted the number of panels that constructed the walls, how many tiles were on the floor, everything. The wait was complete and total agony. The smell of whatever cleaner they had used in here was starting to mess with me a little bit. I decided to try to sleep. Who knew when I would get the chance to do that again..

That was, until the new voices started in the next room.

“What?! Are you serious?? You took him captive?? Are you completely insane???” Voice 1 yelled. His sounded kind of deep, like he was a bigger guy.

“Trust me, I know what I’m doing,” Voice 2 said. This time, the voice was higher, so I assumed he was smaller?
Really? You do? Because as far as I knew, we didn’t take hostages on these missions, Junmyeon!” One yelled back.
Two, who I assumed to be Junmyeon, was silent for a moment, before starting, “Listen, Yifan, I know this is out of the ordinary for us. But this kid… something about him is totally different. We need him. And from what I saw, he needs our help, too.” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Who was he to assume that I needed help with anything?? Was he assuming this just because I was homeless?

“…I’m listening,” Yifan let out after a long silence.

“He was alone, he couldn’t fight off those people that were beating him senseless. No matter what they did to him, he wouldn’t talk. He wouldn’t make a sound, like he was more afraid of being caught being beat up rather than of the people in front of him. Something happened, though, that made the three of us decide that we would take him.”

“Okay? What’s that?”

“He proved that he had the ability to take control of the wind for his own.”

I heard my breath. What do they mean, I could control the wind? What happened back in the alley was a freak accident, if not just a dream. Finally, Yifan’s voice came through, though he only let out, “Are you… are you completely sure?”

“Yes, Yifan. I’m completely sure. As the men that were attacking him stopped for a second, they turned back and said that it was a shame that he couldn’t take more of a beating, that they were just having fun. Just as they exited the alley, they heard him say something, and they turned back to go to him again. The three of us up on the rooftop couldn’t hear him, but apparently they heard him well enough.”

“What did he say? What happened?” You could practically feel the worry in his voice. Funny, him just now being worried when it could possibly concern him.

“When they asked him to repeat himself, he just screamed ‘LEAVE. ME. ALONE.’ And the next thing we knew, the three men that were attacking him were in the back of the alley on the complete opposite side of the street. There is no possible way he could have done that all on his own.

If they were there for so long, and if they’re soooo about helping, why didn’t they intervene in this whole thing, huh? I thought to myself.

I heard footsteps go away, then come back, before Yifan’s voice said, “We need to talk to him. We can’t just let him sit there and him not know what he did. He’s probably scared out of his mind. But, the only thing is, he can’t leave now. He’s seen where we are.”

“I completely understand,” Junmyeon said with a sigh, “but we need to make sure he knows that he isn’t a prisoner here, either.”

“Alright, I can do that. Let me go grab my scanner so we can identify him properly. If we’re making him stay here, I’d rather like to know who we let into our home.”

“I’ll go to him now. Come in whenever you’re ready.”

The door shut, and I heard more footsteps, coming to me and going away from me. Fear immediately set in. I didn’t know if they were gonna hurt me or not, or what they would do to me. Was I ever gonna be free again? Now is the time where I regretted taking my freedom for granted. As much as homelessness was freedom.

It seemed almost like an eternity before someone opened the door. He just stood there for a second, like he was trying to size me up while I was still in the chair. The man that stood before me was small, definitely shorter than I was. Soft brown hair, brown almond eyes, dressed in a black hoodie, gray jeans, and black shoes.

“I’m sorry, you must be really confused and frightened right now,” he said, making to untie the bonds around my wrists and ankles.

“Um… where am I, exactly, if I may ask?” I asked lightly when I found my voice. My fingers subconsciously found myself rubbing at my wrists from where the binds were lying.

“You’re in the lower levels of our head quarters. My name is Suho. I’m one of the leaders here. For now, though, we won’t do much with you. We just want to asse-“

The door burst open, and another man walked in. This one, though, was a little taller than me, I think. Blonde hair, brown eyes, almost the same outfit as Suho (Junmyeon? The voice matches at least…), had it not been for the white snapback he adorned.

Kris,” Suho sighed through gritted teeth, “could you possibly be any louder?” Kris (I‘m gonna guess this one is Yifan) laughed and rolled his eyes as he pulled something out of the bag slung around his shoulder. He pointed the device at me, and I leaned back as far as the chair would let me before starting to tip. I heard a click come from the device, and he stepped back. I leaned forward, able to breathe again.

Something popped out of the ceiling on the wall adjacent to me, and I looked and saw that it looked like some sort of projector. The projector screen popped up on the opposite wall, displaying the image Kris took of me just a second ago, but there was more… tons of personal information about me, past residences, criminal records… everything.

Suho began to read off wat was shown, “So… name is Oh Sehun, birthday is April twelfth, your blood type is O, no criminal record, born right here in New Seoul… huh.”

“Is something the matter?” I practically whispered.

“No, no. Not at all. It’s just… there’s only one past residence of yours… when you were seventeen. With your parents, I assume?” He looked back to me like he was expecting me to answer.

“Oh, uh.. my parents couldn’t wait until I was out of high school before they started expecting me to move out and be gone. They said that high school was the start of becoming an adult, so I needed to start acting like one, and start getting used to holding up for my own. So they threw me out, pretty much just saying ‘Good luck, don’t die. We can’t afford you or a funeral’.” I kept my head down during most of it, too ashamed of whatever their reactions might have been.

“I’m… sorry to hear that, Sehun,” Kris said, speaking for the first time since he came in.

“Yeah, same here,” Suho said, and I could actually somewhat make out a tone of legitimate sincerity in his voice as he said it.

“Thanks, I’m fine, though…” I mumbled.

Kris cleared his throat and side eyed Suho, “We should get him settled in sometime soon, Suho.”

 

“Yeah. You take him down and show him to the rom, I’ll go get the others ready. They’ll really want to meet him, seeing as how he’s the one we’ve been wanting all this time for.”

Kris didn’t seem too hyped for the idea, but he eventually let out an exasperated “Fiiiiiine” and gestured for me to stand as he turned and went out the door.

“Wait!”

They both turned back and looked at me, with confusion and some anticipation.

“Who says I want to stay here? Or join, whatever this is?”

Suho’s eyes glazed over with somewhat of a sad look. “You already know where we are. You have to stay now,” he said softly, like he was afraid of scaring me, “and I’m afraid you have no choice, Sehun.”

Chapter Text

(A/N: Try to spot the movie reference I made here :>)

Yifan led me down a long corridor, it’s bright walls reflecting impossibly bright.

“So, I’m still in New Seoul at least, right?” I asked, hoping this attempt at conversation wouldn’t dive bomb. Yifan may look cold on the outside, but the awkward silence between us was driving me to the brink of insanity.

“Yes, we’re still in New Seoul. Normally, me and some of the others are stationed in China, so we can deal with the missions that need done there, but recently there have been an unusual amount of disturbances that are mission-worthy, so all eleven of us- well, twelve with you here now- are all staying in one place so if something really bad happens, we’ll all be here for it.”

“Sounds… kinda strange,” I furrowed my brows.

“It is. It’s out of the norm for here. Oh, another thing. We don’t use our real names here. We all have something chosen that we want to be called by that isn’t our real name. So please refrain from calling myself and Junmyeon by those names. Junmyeon goes by Suho, and I go by Kris with the others, so call us that. The only people here that know my real name are Junmyeon, and now you, too.”

“I won’t tell. I get the obvious feeling that names are a very sensitive or secretive thing,” I turned to look at him. He gave me a look that said ‘Good, then we won’t have problems’.

We rounded a corner and stopped soon after, and I came to find myself in front of a door with a strange symbol and the number ‘12’ marked on it.

“This is your room. This is where you’ll be staying for the duration of your time here from now on,” Kris opened the door and moved to let me in. It was a fairly nice room: wide windows showing the skyline of the city, a huge bed with the fluffiest blankets and pillows you would have ever seen. The closet was huge, too.

“This is… This is really nice,” I turned to Yifan, “Thank you. I can’t remember the last time I had one of these.”

“What, a room to yourself?”

“No. A bed.”

I saw something flash in his eyes, something like sadness mixed with something else I couldn’t make out.

After a while of just exploring the room, I heard Kris clear his throat behind me, “Have you decided what you want the others to call you?”

“I honestly have no clue,” I said, staring out at the skyline once again. I really didn’t have any idea though. What kind of thing speaks me, calls out to me?

When I had returned from my thoughts, I turned to Yifan. He had the expression on his face lie he was waiting for me to reply, so I assumed that he was trying to talk to me while I was doing my soul searching there.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“I said, what about we just call you Maknae for now until you can actually pick something final? I mean, you are the youngest one here now, so I think it’s fitting. What do you think?”

“Hmm… Sure, why not? Not like I can come up with anything better at the moment,” I said with a small smile.

“Alright, you know now where you’ll be staying, so we should probably go head out and meet up with the others in the lounge. They’re probably getting impatient waiting to meet you,” Kris said, clapping a hand on my shoulder. We headed out the door and in the opposite direction we came from.

We approached a black door, and the closer we got, the more voices I heard coming from behind it. All the chatter though died down as I stepped through the door, Kris following soon after. I looked for Suho out of all of the and as soon as I spotted him, he made his way over to me and put an arm around my shoulders.

He outstretched his arm in a big arc, “This is the lounge, it’s where they hang outmost of the time in their free time. Guys, this is our newest recruit, who will also be our last one. He’s got what we’ve been searching for all this time.”

“Kris told me that I was the maknae out of everyone now, so you guys can call me that, I guess..” I said, starting to feel slightly uneasy. I knew there were a few people, but for some reason right now nine people staring me down was a little intimidating, especially when I knew none of them.

“HA! I’M NOT THE YOUNGEST HERE ANYMORE! FINALLY!” A man with bronze skin and black hair exclaimed.

“Suho,” a man with pixie-like eyes spoke up, “he’s the one? Does he know how to… y’know, control it?”

“Yes, Xiumin, he does have the power to seize control of the wind and use it for himself. I don’t think he knows how to control when he uses it or when he doesn’t though. The only instance we’ve seen him use it was out of self defense and fear. You can ask Chen or Peach later when they come back, because they were the ones on this mission with me.”

“Hey, speaking of, I have a question,” I spoke up, “Why was it that you only interfered with those guys attacking me when it proved to be beneficial to you?”

“We aren’t supposed to interfere with our missions or the subjects of said missions unless it’s critical. Seeing you use your powers was enough to know that this was big, and that you were the one,” He explained.

“Ah… Okay, I guess…”

“Oh, I haven’t properly introduced everyone. Youngest to oldest,” Suho pointed to each person in turn, “Xiumin, Xiao Lu, you’ve already met me and Kris, then there’s Lay, but he isn’t here, then Kkaebsong, Chen, not here, Phoenix, D.O, Peach, also not here, Kai, and then you.”

“Kris just stuck to calling me Maknae for now, when he was showing me to my room and everything,” I said, “and once I come up with something better I’ll use stick to that for now. My brain is kinda currently in just about thirty different places, so I’ll just stick with what’s been given to me.”

“Sounds good,” Suho said, flashing me a smile, “just let me know when you come up with something. And make it good, you can only choose once.”

“Got it.”

“I hope you find comfort here, and I hope you can grow to like this place like we do,” he said. And with that, Suho and Kris exited. It was only then that the entire time we were in there, Kris didn’t speak once.

I turned back around, and not to my surprise, they were all staring me down. I tilted my head to the side, silently saying ‘Is something the matter?’. Everyone but Xiumin and Kai turned around and walked back to the couches and resumed whatever they had been doing before I entered.

The door opened quietly, and three people walked in, who I assumed to be Lay, Chen, and Peach walked in. They gave me one look and hurried to the couch, and started talking in hushed voices with the others, and I assumed that the others were asking Peach and Chen about what happened on their latest escapade out into the city. I turned back to Xiumin and Kai.

“How long have you been here in the building for?” Xiumin asked first.

“I have no idea,” I answered honestly, “I just woke up today. When I got taken by them, it was nighttime, so it could be a day, just a night, or more.” We moved over to sit with everyone else. “But overall I honestly have no clue. One minuteI’m getting my shit kicked in by these guys that apparently thought I did something wrong. They were beating my head in one moment, then they just, flew through the air, then I think I passed out and that’s why I don’t remember how I got here. But next thing I know, I’m tied to a chair in a terrifyingly white and clean room, waiting for who knows what to come next. Then I heard voices arguing and yelling in the next room over, and it ended up being Suho and Kris. Then Suho walked in, apologized, untied me, and when Kris asked in, they took my picture and identified me properly.”

I awaited the onslaught of questions. After all, I was the new kid here, so I kinda expected it to happen.

“You’ve been here for approximately four hours. Chen and I were the two people with Suho on this mission, and we also witnessed your outburst,” Peach explained.

“Yeah, he’s right,” Chen added, “Peach and I weren’t really crazy about the idea of taking you in without your consent or at least saying something to you first, but Suho said that it was crucial to the mission that we retrieved you. And with him being our leader, we couldn’t refuse his orders.”

“I don’t even know how I did that, if I’m being completely honest,” I said. “I just remember being scared and wanting help, wanting away from those guys…Oh, speaking of, when he was talking about me, he said I ‘controlled the wind’. Do you guys also control things?”

“Sort of,” Lay said. “We all have our perks. Xiumin can control things like ice, snow, frost, and the like. Xiao Lu can move things with that tiny mind of his, Kris can fly, Suho can control water, I have the ability to heal, Kkaebsong can control light, Chen can control electricity and lightning, Phoenix does heat and fire and stuff, D.O is strong and control earth, Peach can play with the flow of time as it stands, Kai can teleport, d you, we’re told that you can somehow control the wind.” With the mention of each person’s name, save Lay, Suho, and Kris, they all demonstrated. Xiumin froze the flowers in the vase on the table, Xiao Lu moved them closer to us since it was on the far side of the table. Kkaebsong lit up the palms of his hands, Chen turned the lights off and on, Phoenix unfroze the flowers. D.O stood up and lifted the couch that the majority of us were sitting on, and Kai teleported to my room and back and gave me my (?) phone that I didn’t know I had. I was pretty impressed though, by the end of it.

“Be careful, though, Maknae,” Xiao Lu spoke up, “when they start your training to teach you how to use your powers properly, it can be kind of difficult, since you don’t really know how to use them yet.”

“They were only hard for you because you’re a wimp,” D.O muttered under his breath, earning a snicker from Kkaebsong and Kai, and getting an offended sounding ‘Hey!’ from Xiao Lu. It made me smile a little.

“What will they make me do?” I asked.

“Well, for starters,” Phoenix said, “they’ll do a little questioning and mental training before you move on to physical stuff. What I mean by mental training is that they’ll put you in a simulation that will mimic a mission and see how you react and stuff. Once they decide that you’re in the right mind to be using them, then they’ll move on to the physical stuff. How intense the training is depends on your power type. Take my case against someone like… Kai, for example. Fire is destructive and can be devastating, so my training was very extensive. Kai, on the other hand, didn’t have to do much because teleportation isn’t harmful to anyone, so his took less time to complete.” Kai nodded along, agreeing with the comparison. “Your’s though, I honestly don’t know what to tell you about it. Wind can be harmful, but at the same time it isn’t that bad? All I can really tell you for advice here is that you should prepare for and expect the worst, but hope for the best.

“Thanks, Phoenix,” I said.

The rest of the night was spent just talking to them and getting to know who I would have to recognize as my new teammates. Xiumin, Xiao Lu, Kris, Lay, Chen, and peach were all part of the ‘China Team’ that Kris had mentioned earlier, I have I found out he’s the leader of when they’re over there. Xiumin also said that there haven’t been many cases like this, where both teams from both countries had to come together for a mission like this, but when they do, Suho takes on this ‘supreme leader position’, as Kkaebsong put it. Altogether, I don’t think I mind the lot of them. They all seem pretty nice and accepting of just about anything. It was a bittersweet feeling. One one hand, I loved it because it was the first time in a long while that I was accepted with such open arms On the other hand though… I can’t remember the last time that I was accepted this warmly, either, or from who for that matter.

I stayed back in the lounge after everyone else had already filed out. I wanted to enjoy the view while I had the opportunity, because it was beyond amazing. I didn’t realize we were this high up, but it wasn’t a problem. The view was beautiful and I’m not one to complain. The lights from all the buildings and the cars lit up the clouds hovering over the city with a soft orange glow. I put my hand up to he glass, wondering what it would be like to be in one of those bullrings, or to be like Kris and fly above all of this. That would be the ultimate view, you would be able to see everything and-

A cough from behind made my thoughts come to a screeching halt. I quickly stood up and looked to where it came from, and I was met with Xiao Lu, facing me with a soft smile on his face.

“Enjoying yourself?” He chuckled. I opened my mouth to say something, but my voice had taken leave and disappeared. He laughed again, “It’s okay, I was the same way when I first came here, too. It’s beautiful. It’ll be here tomorrow night, too, though. But for now, it’s late, and we should head to our rooms.”

I turned around, taking one last look at the skyline, before turning on my heel and heading out the door with Xiao Lu down the hall to our rooms.

I didn’t realize how exhausted today had made me until I took my bed into view. I fell asleep practically right as my head hit the pillow.

Chapter Text

I woke up the next day feeling more refreshed than I ever remember. Then again, it’s the first time in a couple years or so that I got a full night’s sleep. Maybe it had to do with the fact that this time, I had an actual bed to sleep in. I had almost forgotten what a bed felt like.

 

I looked at the clock on the table next to my bed. 9:42. Damn it! I thought to myself. If I don’t hurry I’m going to be late to training with Suho... I hurriedly put on some jeans and a hoodie and started running down the hall. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going, not like I knew where exactly I was going anyways, and I collided with someone.

 

”In a hurry, Maknae?” Kai chuckled.

 

”Yeah, kind of. I’m supposed to be at training at ten,” I said, struggling to catch my breath.

 

”Really?” Kai eyed me down. “It’s only...” he pulled out his phone, “...9:50. You have plenty of time. What’s the rush?”

 

”I, uh, kinda have no idea where it is. I’ve just been running around trying to find where it is,” I admitted.

 

”Don’t worry! I’ll lead you there so you won’t be late, Maknae,” Kai put a hand on my shoulder and turned me around in the direction I came. We passed a door, took a left, then a right, and then... I lost track of where we were going. It felt like I was going in circles, on a ride to nowhere.

 

Five minutes of walking later, he stopped me in front of a set of double doors. “This is it. When you walk in, there will be two hallways. Go down the left. Left is mental, right is physical. You’ll start out with physical like the rest of us did. Good luck.” He pat my shoulder and I turned to open the door. I felt a hand on my elbow though and I stopped.

 

Kai leaned in and whispered in my ear, “I’m not supposed to say this, but in private when Suho and Kris aren’t around, we use our real names, and not these fake names that they tell us to go by. It feels more real that way, like we actually know each other then. They don’t want us getting too attached to each other in case something were to happen on the field, y’know? But we do it anyways. Mine is Jongin, Kim Jongin. What’s yours, Maknae?”

 

”Sehun, Oh Sehun,” I whispered over my shoulder, mimicking his James Bond like introduction. I heard a sharp exhale of breath from him that I assumed it be a laugh on his part, and went through the door.

 

I went through the left door as Jongin had instructed me to, and was me with Suho crouching over a computer, set next to a chair that slightly resembled a dentist’s chair, but not quite. 

 

“Ah, right on time,” Suho greeted me as he noticed me walk through the door, “good. Punctuality is a good habit to maintain here. Do you need a minute or two to prepare yourself, or no?”

 

I sighed, “Might as well do it now before I have time to start thinking and get scared over nothing, I guess.”

 

He sat me down in the chair and handed me a little shot glass with blue liquid in it. “What is this?”

 

”It puts you to sleep and gives you the simulations that we need you to go through. It used to be that we would inject the serum into your neck, but since we couldn’t get other members to participate with that due to fear of needles, we changed it to this. The other was orange, this is blue. The colour signifies how it’s supposed to be put into the body,” he explained.

 

”Alright,” I said, about to drink the stuff, but he stopped me.

 

”Wait a sec,” he said, pulling something out from under the desk his computer was sitting on. It looked something like a VR headset kind of. 

 

“This headset is an added thing. In the sims, sometimes the other members would have no idea where they were supposed to go or what they were supposed to do. This helps with that. It controls some of the senses, and, if I were to need to, allows me to manually change something within the sim. Overall this is entirely to teach you how to use your powers without you actually using them. Sound good?” 

 

“Yeah, sure. Let’s go.”

 

I put on the headset, and almost immediately after, I found myself in a dark section of the city that I didn’t recognize. I didnk even know if I was still in New Seoul. I tried to asses my surroundings. Phoenix, Xiao Lu, and Lay were with me, but... there were also several others that I didn’t recognize. And they didn’t look friendly. 

 

Chaos broke out out in a flash. Xiao Lu brought four of them up into the air with little effort and threw them to the side like it was nothing. He was protecting Lay, I realized. Phoenix lit the ground around a couple of them on fire, and they dropped their weapons. I assumed they were trying to put out some of it so they could escape. All the while... I was doing nothing. I was frozen with fear, and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I had no idea how to control the wind, how was I supposed to protect them? I’m not even strong. I heard a scream, and turned around. Some of the guys had Phoenix on the ground now. Xiao Lu diverted for a split second, trying to help Phoenix, but that was all it took. He made the mistake of putting his attention on Phoenix, rather than the guys around him, and just like that, I was the last one standing

 

Panic spiraled within me. What was I gonna do? I can’t do anything. I can barely protect myself! But yet, now it was up to me to save my team and myself at the same time. I grabbed my head in frustration, doing the only thing I could think to do at the moment. Scream. I wrenched my eyes shut and just screamed ”STOP” throat-ripping-ly loud. When I finally released the iron grip on my head, realizing that I hadn’t been taken down yet, I looked around for the guys, but they were all gone. The only ones around me now were Phoenix, Xiao Lu, and Lay, all wearing matching looks of curiosity, amazement, and some confusion.

 

The headset was ripped off my head, and I immediately tried to sit up, but Suho was blocking my way. His gaze was like what the three of them wore in my sim, but Suho’s had a level of intensity to it, like I did something he couldn’t figure out how.

 

He finally spoke, “How long did you think that was?”

 

”Uh, ten or fifteen minutes maybe?” I thought out loud.

 

”Not even that. Ninety four seconds, to be exact.”

 

”Is that normal, or...?” I asked, anxiety rising.

 

”That’s the fastest that anyone here’s ever done it. Not even Kris or myself had done it that quickly.” I felt the room drop out from under me as he said this. “You got some talent in there,” he pointed at me, “you just need to learn how to use it the right way.”

 

”Okay...” 

 

“Next time though, it’ll be different in there.”

 

I looked at him, “What do you mean?”

 

Suho turned back to the computer, typing away furiously, ”Next time, I don’t think I’m gonna put you with anyone else. I’m most likely going to put you on your own, in a completely stress free environment. See if you can do it on your own instead of being a spur-of-the-moment thing that you did because you were scared or nervous, or out of self defense.” Not once during this did he take his eyes off the screen.

 

“Did I... do a bad?” I asked cautiously.

 

“No, no, not at all. You actually did very very well. You can go back to your room, or the lounge, or whatever you want. The rest of the day is in your hands.” I couldn’t help that, I sensed an underlying note of... jealousy? I couldn’t put a definite name on what I heard there, but it was something close to that. I decided to not give it any mind as I turned and walked out the door. The rest of today I planned on familiarizing myself with the building so I don’t almost get late to something again, or potentially lost.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

It was about nine at night when I finally decided that I should relax for a little while. I decided on the lounge, since that was most likely where everyone else was. And I was right, everyone was there. Well, everyone except Kris and Suho.

 

”So,” Xiao Lu said as I sat down next to him, “how did you do in training?”

 

”Suho says two more days and then I can go on to physical.”

 

Silence. I opened my eyes and found everyone gaping at me. “What? Is something wrong?”

 

”What do you mean, two days?? It took all of us over a week to move onto physical!” Kkaebsong yelled.

 

”I don’t know,” I said sheepishly, “Suho pulled me out as everything kinda exploded for me. I looked around and the three of you that were with me were just staring at me.” I went on and explained what the sim was like for me. Even the part where I thought Suho sounded a little jealous.

 

”Oh my god Maknae... that’s incredible!” Xiumin exclaimed. “You must be really good if you’re advancing on that quickly.”

 

”Yeah, I wouldn’t say that exactly. Thanks though,” I laughed shyly.

 

“Don’t doubt yourself,” Xiumin smiled at me.

 

”Oh hey, Jongin, before I forget,” I said, turning my attention to him, “earlier when you told me the thing about the names, I forgot to ask, do you guys know Suho and Kris’s names?”

 

”No! They never told us! Do you know them?” 

 

“They didn’t tell me either but I know them,” I said.

 

”What are they?” Jongin asked me.

 

”Suho’s is Kim Junmyeon and Kris’s is Wu Yifan. When I woke up tied to that chair on my first night here, they were yelling at each other in the next room over, and they were using their real names.”

 

”Woah,” Jongin said softly, “those names are softer than their outward appearances. Ours,” he pointed to everyone in turn, “Xiumin’s is Kim Minseok, Xiao Lu’s is Luhan, Lay’s is Zhang Yixing, Kkaebsong’s is Byun Baekhyun, Chen’s is Kim Jongdae, Phoenix’s is Park Chanyeol, D.O’s is Do Kyungsoo, Peach’s is Huang Zitao, and you already know mine.” Everyone gave a little wave or some form of acknowledgement at the mention of their names.

 

”What’s yours?” Baekhyun asked.

 

”Sehun. Oh Sehun.” I smiled. “Glad I got to meet the real you, guys.” 

 

The soft chimes went off, signifying our time to head back to our rooms for the night. I stayed back again, wanting to just look at the lights of the city. It gave me an odd sense of peace and serenity. It was nice feeling this calm, with training making me feel all anxious and everything today. I wished it was always like this.

 

And once again, a cough from behind me interrupted my train of thought. Not surprisingly, it was Luhan again.

 

”Little rebel, not leaving when he’s supposed to,” he laughed lightly.

 

”Do you just have a thing for watching me look out the windows at night?”

 

”Hmm,” he put a hand on his chin, thinking, “no, not really. Before you came here, I did the same thing you’re doing right now, so it’s only natural habit to me now to hang back for a little while.”

 

”Do you wanna sit down then instead of standing all night?” I pat the spot on the floor next to me, and he took it. He started to talk about home, to fill the silence. I loved his stories, imagining myself in his place instead of what I went through when I had a home. I was always a better listener than a talker anyways, so I just sat there quietly and let him go on. He seemed happy, reminiscing over memories.

 

“It’s really late,” I yawned. We had been sitting there an hour, and not once did I interrupt him. I didn’t mind it being so late, I just didn’t feel like being possibly being chewed out for staying out of our rooms too late.

 

”You’re right, we should get going.” He stood up and offered me a hand up, and I took it. We headed down the hall in the direction of our rooms.

 

”Goodnight, Sehun,” Luhan said as he went into his door.

 

”Goodnight, Luhan,” I returned. I closed the door quietly behind me, trying not to make noise. I leaned against the door and sighed contently.

 

I was beginning to think that making friends here wouldn’t be as hard as I thought.

Chapter Text

The sunlight streaming through my windows was blinding me in my half-woken state. I rolled over to face my bedside table, grabbing my phone to check the time. 7:04 AM. Groaning to myself, I dropped my phone next to me. Until I realised-- there had been a note left on my bedside table.

 

'Don't worry about training today, I'm giving you a free day, with how quickly you're advancing. The day is in your hands, spend it as you'd like        ~Suho'

 

To no surprise, my first thought of what to do was food. If I got breakfast now, it would be the first time since I'd gotten here that I would be able to eat breakfast. Pushing the blanket away with only my feet, I pulled myself out of bed. My wardrobe for the day was simple: black t-shirt, black hat, jeans. Nothing too fancy.

 

Getting to the dining room was easy enough. When Jongin had shown me to the training center in the building yesterday, he pointed out the dining room on the way there, as if it were the most important room in the entire facility.

 

I pushed the doors open and was greeted by Baekhyun, Jongdae, and Minseok sitting together. Minseok was shaking his head and rolling his eyes, obviously having mixed feelings about what the two of them were saying. I decided to go and sit with them rather than go sit alone.

 

"Sehun! Okay, so, you can tell them that they're wrong, and I'm right," Minseok said as I sat down next to him.

 

"What... am I deciding?" I looked to Baekhyun and Jongdae's side of the table.

 

"Dae said that bicycles were just acoustic motorcycles, and when I agreed, Minseok called us both idiots! Can you believe him?" Baekhyun raved.

 

I thought hard about it, and the longer I thought about it... the more I realised that the two of them weren't wrong. "Uh, Minseok, I hate to break it to you, but they have a point. Think about it."

 

"Ha! See, we're not wrong and we're not idiots!" Jongdae yelled, throwing his fists in the air in victory. Minseok groaned and slammed his head on the table, defeated. "I can't necessarily take all the credit for that, though. Yixing helped me come up with it."

 

"Of course he did. Why does that not surprise me?" Minseok grumbled. "I don't understand what made me agree to being on a sub-team with you two. I'm the only logical one out of us all. Makes sense that I'm leader then."

 

"Sub-team?" I looked to Baekhyun.

 

"Sometimes we three will be set off on other missions without our main reams. Usually when we three go on missions like that, they're from Japan, since Korea and China are taken care of by our main teams," Baekhyun explained as I finished my apple I grabbed on the way in.

 

"I think it would be cool to take on some missions in Thailand or Taiwan every once in a while," Jongdae said faintly.

 

The door behind us creaked open, and Yixing walked in, nursing what I assumed to be a cup of coffee (Where did he get it from??). "It's way too early to be awake. Why the hell am I awake.." he mumbled quietly, still half asleep.

 

"Oh, Xing, you would be happy to know that you have another supporter of your wonderful insight on bicycles," Jongdae smirked at Minseok.

 

"Really now?" he said, not looking up from his cup of coffee.

 

"Xing, I don't even want to know what you do in your free time that causes you to come up with this," Minseok sighed, rubbing his eyes.

 

"Minseok, if you're saying that now, you'll love what I had come up with earlier about lasagna and what happened when I forgot the word 'pencil' when I was sitting with Chanyeol a while ago," Yixing said, side-eyeing Minseok over the rim of his cup.

 

"Oooooooh, what? I really wanna hear this!" Baekhyun said, almost bouncing out of his seat.

 

"I was down in the studios, right, and Chanyeol was there, too. So instead of asking him if he'd seen my pencil, I went, 'Yeol, have you seen my uh... my... my wooden lead stick thing?' and he just looks at me and goes 'Do you... do you mean your pencil?' and I just looked horrified." By the time he was done with them Minseok had his head in his hands, while Baekhyun and Jongdae were both laughing so hard that no sound was coming out, with the occasional squeak of 'ʷᵒᵒᵈᵉᶰ ᶫᵉᵃᵈ ˢᵗᶦᶜᵏ' being let out. 

 

Baekhyun was wiping away tears before he calmed down to manage, "Okay, okay... now what did you come up with about lasagna?"

 

"Lasagna is just spaghetti flavoured cake if you think about it," Yixing said, cracking up a little. Baekhyun stopped in their tracks and, in unison, just went 'woah...'.

 

"That's it, I'm out," Minseok finally gave up on us. He put his hands up in the air in the surrender pose and walked straight out of the cafeteria. The door closed behind him, and as soon as it did, Baekhyun and Jongdae gave each other one look and burst into another fit of laughter, mouths open wide in laughter but no sound coming out.

 

"Don't worry, Yixing," I turned to him, "last night, Luhan and I were staying later in the lounge for a little bit after you guys went to bed and we were talking about fears, right? And I looked at him and said, 'I don't really understand why people are afraid of those... those little... things. Not worms, kinda like them though. Why are people so afraid of those freaking, uh... those little nope-ropes?!' and he just kinda slowly turns to me and goes, '...snakes. I think you mean snakes, Hun, my dude.' And I just went 'Yeah! Those things! That's what I meant!'" Jongdae had tears in his eyes from laughter and Baekhyun was on the floor, clutching his stomach and silently laughing like earlier.

 

~~~~~~~~~

 

After breakfast, I'd wandered around the place for a while, getting to know where everything was and familiarizing myself with my now home. I even found out that there was a library, that I now planned to frequent. But wandering aimlessly got kind of boring after about an hour, so I decided to hang out with Kyungsoo, because why not? I shot him a quick text:

 

To: D.O

What are you doing at the moment?

 

He replied quicker than I thought he would:

 

To: Maknae

Nothing, why?

 

To: D.O

Wanna hang out? I need something to do. I've been wandering around for almost an hour for no reason.

 

To: Maknae

Wow, ok. Yeah, I'm in the kitchen. You're free to drop in whenever.

 

The kitchen? I thought. Why? I shrugged it off and turned to head in the direction of the kitchen. 

 

The dining room and the kitchen were joint, so I had to pass through there to get to the kitchen. The dining room was empty, and the only person in the kitchen was Kyungsoo.

 

"Hey, Sehun," Kyungsoo said as he spotted me approaching.

 

"What are you doing in here, Kyungsoo?"

 

"Preparing for dinner, why?"

 

"It's early for dinner, don't you think?" I said, pulling out my phone. "It's only like two p.m."

 

"It takes a little longer to make them, and the cooking takes a little bit, too, so they should altogether be ready by about six," he explained as I examined the ingredients he had laid out on the counter. "I got bored, too. So the ones that I don't cook tonight can be frozen for later use."

 

"That makes sense... want some help making them?" I offered.

 

"You sure?"

 

"Yeah, sure. Maybe I'll learn a thing or two," I smiled at him.

 

"I hope so. Minseok tried to cook with me before and I swear he could burn water without even trying, no joke," Kyungsoo said, smiling. It hit me then, in that moment, that that was really the first time I saw him smile. And not the fake ones he gives, this was a real, genuine smile. 

 

Kyungsoo taught me how to make mandthat afternoon, and he said that he didn't think I did too bad, even though it was cleat which ones I made. All of my poor things were oddly misshapen and squished, while his were perfectly made and pinched closed. Nevertheless, they all tasted the same. At dinner, Baekhyun had asked Kyungsoo what happened to him while he was making them to make some of them deformed (which earned him a punch from both Jongin and Chanyeol). I said that I helped make them, and that was probably why, and he apologized quickly.

 

I noticed, though, that the entire time at dinner, something was surrounding Yifan and Junmyeon. It was like a black cloud was hovering over them and it was affecting them pretty harshly. They were quieter at dinner than I ever remember them being here, and they kept looking at each other, giving one another a look like they knew something was wrong, but we didn't. But I also knew that my mind liked to run off to places and blow things out of proportion, too, so I blew it off. I mean, they were both our leaders, and leaders take on the brunt of the teams' stress, so maybe that was just it. 

 

I had been in my own world, spacing out for so long that by the time I came back down to earth, everyone was looking at me, some worried, some confused. I shot a questioning look at them all.

 

"Maknae, we're been trying to talk to you for ar least five minutes. Is everything alright in there?" It almost hurt, hearing the levels of concern in Zitao's usually happy voice. He was always soft spoken, but never worried sounding.

 

"Yeah, yeah... everything's fine with me. I'm okay," I said. My mind kept supplying endless thoughts about what Junmyeon and Yifan could have been worrying about, because they obviously knew something the rest of us didn't, but I think I was the only one that noticed. Things like, What's going to happen? and Does it have anything to do with us?

 

"Are you sure?" Junmyeon asked. I just kepr playing with my spoon, staying enough in touch with reality that I could hear them, but far enough away that I could think to myself.

 

I sighed, "Yes, eomma. I even had enough time in there to think of what I actually wanted to be called instead of just 'Maknae'."

 

"Oh? What is it?"

 

"Ninety-Four. You'd understand why," I said, giving him a look that said that he did, and he raised his eyebrows in understanding, like 'Yeah, I know'.

 

Junmyeon chuckled, "Alright, Ninety-Four it is, then."

 

"Why a number? That's weird," Jongdae said. Minseok slapped him lightly on the arm and lightly whispered, 'Don't be rude, Dae'.

 

"It's fine, Xiumin. But, Chen, I can't tell you why. That has to stay a secret between Suho and myself that must never be revealed to the public," I said with a smile. Jongdae pouted from across the table, and dinner continued like it normally did.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

After dinner, I only stayed in the lounge for about an hour before going to bed myself. Despite the protests for me to stay and play more billiards and table tennis with them, I couldn't. My worry furthered itself when Junmyeon and Yifan didn't come to the lounge after dinner like they normally did. So I excused myself, said goodnight, and left to my room.

 

My dreams that night were filled with every scenario my mind could come up with. Everything that could be wrong with the two of them. And fear is a strong thing.

 

Chapter Text

I woke up the next day more exhausted and worried than I remember being when I had gone to bed. I barely slept at all, my mind never let me. It just kept going and going and going.... One thought would add onto another until it just wouldn't stop. Every time that I did fall asleep, though, I would just jolt awake not long after, breathing heavily and feeling extremely disoriented and scared. After my third time waking, I gave up on sleep. Though, the third time I managed to doze off, when I woke up, there was a note on my table, making me worry more. 

 

'Ninety Four, your schedule, along with everyone else's, has been cleared for the day, with the exception only of a mandatory team meeting at 1600 hours.'

 

I didn't know what to do, so I just sat in bed for a while. But that got boring after a while, so I texted Minseok, Jongdae, and Tao to come sit with me.

 

To: Xiumin, Chen, Peach

Do you guys want to come sit with me for a while? This silence is killing me

 

Not long after sending the text, the three of them walked in, and Tao looked really scared. 

 

I decided to break the silence, "Did you guys get the note too, or was it just me...?"

 

Minseok sighed, "Yeah, we all got one. All saying the same thing."

 

Tao laid his head in my lap, "Sehun, what's going to happen? What do you think could have caused them to change it? I can't ever remember them ever doing something like this..." Tao's voice was barely over a whisper. Ever since I've met Tao, I don't remember him being this worried looking. Yeah, he's always quiet, but never worried. He has that kind of face where he's easily readable, and worry was never there. At least, not that I remember.

 

"I have no idea, Taozi..." Minseok said. He had a far off look in his eyes, like he was trying not decide whether or not he wanted to cry, yell, or hit something.

 

"Dae... I'm honestly scared," I said, looking at him. Tao whimpered in my lap, and I pet his hair, shushing him. Jongdae hadn't said anything, but he looked at me with a look that said 'I know, I am too.' I felt Tao start to cry in my lap, and I just continued to run my fingers through his hair, whispering things like 'It'll be okay' or 'We'll be alright, I promise'. I wished I could do something more to calm him. Then again, Tao was one of those people where, no matter what, if he was sad, you were sad, too. Or if he was worried, or scared, same case scenario.

 

We sat in silence, just worrying about what's possibly to come. Lunch did come around, but none of us went. We were too worried to even eat. The majority of the time leading up to the meeting was, like I said, silence, or it was the three of us trying to keep Tao calm.

 

Dread filled us as the time came around. Tao whined, scared, but I held his hand and told him that it was going to be okay. I just followed Minseok and Jongdae since they'd been here longer, and also because I've never been to the meeting room. I never had any need to. It took longer than I thought it was going to, but three gloors down and multiple long hallways later, we arrived.

 

Everyone was already there by the time we walked through the doors. Junmyeon and Yifan were standing up, pacing a bit in front of the table. The look that was there yesterday on their faces had returned with a vicious intensity. Now I knew something was wrong. We just decided to seat ourselves as soon as we came in, Jongdae and I surrounding Tao on either side to keep him calm and not afraid during this. 

 

"Okay. I can already tell you guys are just as scared as we are," Junmyeon started, "and we all have Good reason to be. But we decided that we should give you a thorough explanation as to why we're nervous like this."

 

Murmurs went around the room before Yifan speaking silenced it, "Settle down, everyone. I'm not sure how to word it in a way that would be considered 'nice', so I'm just going to cut straight to the chase." He clicked a button on the panel on the table, and an image popped up on the wall. It was just a map of the world at first, with New Swoul marked with a star to tell us where we were.

 

"This is now, right?" Yifan looked around, and we all nodded. He pushed another button on the table, and I jolted in my seat at how drastically the map changed. There were red spots in every district of the world, all eighteen. I didn't think I wanted to know what the red meant.

 

Yifan went on, "The red areas signify attacks within the past month alone in the world. But as you know, the number has still been rising since these statistics were recorded. It all really started when out president Eric Nam got put into office. Until two days ago, we weren't sure why exactly the numbers had started to ruse. But now we have answers." Yifan and Junmyeon finally sat down with the rest of us. "Suho and I were recently contacted by an old organization that we used to associate with, Shinhwa, They're now a secret group hiding within the Capitol district and keeping secret tabs on the president and his groups of followers, commonly referred to as SNSD and f(x). Though they're both female-only groups, they're two of the most lethal groups of the thirty-first century. Anyway, when one of Shinhwa's members, Minwoo, contacted us a couple of days ago, he gave us some pretty bad news regarding Eric's plans for the future. Minwoo told us that they had gained some inside information that he would be starting some sort of... world reform. He thinks that because the world elected him as leader that he can change anything that he wants without consulting the district leaders. So now, he's going to try to turn the world that we know of today from a government where the people have a say in what goes into a sort of dictatorship. He wants complete and total power over us. But we aren't going to let that happen."

 

Silence filled in the room as he stopped. Giving everyone time to let it sink in, that this is all really happening. Chanyeol was the one to finally break it, looking around the table as he spoke, "What are we going to do? What can we do?"

 

Junmyeon sighed and looked to Yifan, silently asking for help. 

 

"We've talked to another one of out higher ups, the group that preceded us as leaders, TVXQ. When we talked to Changmin, he gace us the idea of talking to talk to the other leaders of the districts. See what we can do together if we all worked as one."

 

I spoke up, finally finding my voice, "So what I'm hearing is... we're going to attempt to start a revolution."

 

"Essentially, yes. But I'm willing to do anything to keep this district, along with all the other districts, safe. Keeping the world safe is out number one priority. I hope that everyone here shares the same stance in this that I have."

 

Everyone turned heads, looking at each other. We all shared mixed expressions. Things like fear, confusion, amazement, curiosity, and wonder were all evident, but above everything... you could see determination. Fire danced in everyone's eyes around the table.

 

"We're in. We'll do whatever it takes. That's what we're even here for, isn't it? Keeping everyone safe?" Jongin said, putting his hands down on the table. A chorus of 'yeah' and 'of course' and other mixed agreements went around the table.

 

"Well, it's settled, then. We'll set out for District 9 in three days. Their leaders call themselves Stray Kids, and they're relatively young compared to us, but that doesn't stop them from being some of the best leaders this world has. Your schedules, therefore, until we return, are cleared," Junmyeon finished. "You're all dismissed. Take some time to relax, you don't know when you'll get that chance again."

 

We all got up to disperse to wherever we were to go, before Junmyeon spoke up, "Wait, Sehun."

 

I turned back, telling Tao that I'd be back soon, and that he shouldn't worry. He went on, albeit reluctantly. I turned to face Junmyeon, "What's up?"

 

"We're going to have to spend an entire day working on your physical training. I wouldn't normally do this, but seeing as how pressed for time we are, I'm not given much of a choice. I have it scheduled for the day after tomorrow, so make sure to remember that. Training will go from one in the afternoon to nine at night. You're dismissed." I turned on my heel and went out the door, to find Tao waiting for me not far down the hall. I walked him to his room, and then I went to my own room. Once again, not long after I went to my own room, Tao came in.

 

"Hey, Sehunnie..." he said quietly.

 

"Everything okay?" I asked him. I put down the shirts I was folding up to put away and faced him.

 

Tao sighed, "Not really, if I'm being honest."

 

"You know you can tell me anything, Taozi. What's wrong?"

 

"Sehunnie.... I'm scared." He held his elbows close to his sides. "For the first time since I've been here, I have a legitimate sense of complete fear. I don't know what's going to happen or if we're going to be hurt in this or worse or if... if..." Tao sniffled, and I saw a tear slip down his nose.


"Hey, now..." I walked over to him, "everything's going to be okay. You're going to be okay. I promise."

 

He threw his arms around me and began to sob. I rubbed his back, hushing him and assuring him that everything will be okay.

 

"Sorry, sorry..." Tao said, sniffling and swiping at his nose as he backed up slightly. He kept his arms around me, and looked up to me with his tear filled eyes, looking for reassurance.

 

I put a hand on his cheek, smiling when he leaned into it. Tao rested his head onto my chest, and my arms wrapped around him a tight embrace. I'm not sure how exactly to explain it, but I had the feeling now that I needed to protect him. Like he was some fragile little thing that needed all the protection in the world. And now, I felt like it was my duty to take care of him. To protect him, and make sure nothing should come to harm him. 

 

I loosened my grip on him and leaned back, looking him in the eyes, "Do you think you'll be okay now?"

 

"Yeah, yeah, I think so..." he mumbled into my chest. 

 


Was there anything else you needed, Taozi?"

 

I felt him smile into my chest before mumbling something I couldn't exactly make out. I smiled, "What was that?"

 

"I just uh..." he looked away, and I could have sworn that I saw him blushing. 

 

"Don't be shy. You can ask me anything. Besides, how could I possibly say no to you?"

 

He smiled again, but the shy look returned quickly. "I, uh... can I stay in here with you tonight?"

 

"You mean like, sleep with me tonight?"

 

Tao blushed and looked down once again, barely whispering 'yeah' before hiding in my chest again. 

 

"Taozi, you can stay with me for as long as you'd like. I'll always be here for you, I promise," I chuckled. He beamed up at me before running out of the room, and I assumed he was going to go grab his things and change clothes.

 

My phone buzzed with a message from Luhan:

 

To: 94

You good?

 

To: Xiao Lu

Yeah, I think I'm gonna be okay.

 

To: 94

Alright, just making sure. We can hang out tomorrow if you'd like.

 

To: Xiao Lu

Sure. We can do that.

 

I put my phone down and cleared off by bed of the folded clothing I was beginning to pack, cleaning up for Tao's stay with me.

 

Tao walked in at about ten-thirty p.m., and almost immediately made himself at home. I turned and laid on my side, facing Tao. He curled into me once I faced him, and wrapped his arms around me. I put my arm around him and whispered goodnight as I let sleep take me.

Chapter Text

I woke up the next morning at around nine a.m. Taozi was still asleep, so I decided to star still until he woke up. I didn't mind. He was warm and cuddly. He looked so peaceful and free of stress, and the mix of the sunlight streaming in the window and his mussed up hair made him look so soft. I smiled to myself, barely running my fingers through his hair. He smiled in his sleep, apparently enjoying me doing it. It didn't last much longer, though. His breathing quickened slightly, suiting that of someone awake much rather than sleeping.

 

Taozi opened his eyes just a crack, "What time is it, Hunnie?"

 

"Around nine-thirty," I answered, still running my fingers through his hair. "Do you want some breakfast or something before it's too late?"

 

"Mmm, sounds nice..."

 

We rolled out of bed and put on some clothes suitable for leaving the room. What I had chose was simple: black sweatpants and a light grey t-shirt. Taozi put on a white shirt and some dark shorts, not bothering with his hair.

 

Just as I went to reach for the doorknob, Taozi let out a small 'wait' and put a hand on my elbow, stopping me.

 

I turned around, "What's up?"

 

"Thanks.. for, y'know, letting me stay with you last night. I really appreciate it."

 

"No worries," I smiled. "You can stay with me any time you'd like to. If they have rooms we can sleep in on the train then you're more than welcome to come stay with me then, too-"

 

All of a sudden he wrapped me up in a crushing hug, "Thank you, Sehunnie. I'm glad you're okay with me staying with you like this. I'm usually not like this, but now that I am... I don't know how to deal with it. You won't have to do this after all of this is over, though. I'll leave you alone, if you want me to."

 

I sighed, "Taozi... when I said that you could stay with me any time you wanted, I meant that for any time, not just now because of the current chaos going on. I'll always be here for you. I really care for you, you know.."

 

"R-really?" An edge of disbelief creeped into Taozi's voice, but there was also... almost optimism. A tinge of hope.

 

"Of course," I said, tightening my embrace on him as he said something I couldn't tell into the space between us.

 

"What was that?" I asked.

 

He opened his mouth, assumedly to answer my question, when Baekhyun opened the door, frantically looking around for something.

 

"Baekhyun? What's the matter?" I asked him, reluctantly detaching myself from Tao. 

 

"Where is he?" He sounded almost out of breath.

 

"What do you mean?" I said, shooting him a look of confusion.

 

"Chanyeol. He's gone. He isn't answering his phone, or any of the many texts from anyone, not even me," tears started to form in his eyes, "and no one knows where he is. I'm really worried. Please... If you know where he is, please, tell me." He broke down into sobs, and I swear I heard my heart crack a little. The happiness usually present in him was completely gone, replaced by a visible aura of fear and worry.

 

"Okay, okay," I said, making my way across the room to him, "I'll help you find him, Baek. Everything is going to be okay." He hugged me tightly, tears soaking into my shirt, his sobs now shaking the both of us. Baekhyun thanked me repeatedly, and I gestured for Tao to come with us. I pat Baekhyun's back, making for the door. He let go of me, but stayed on my arm, just trying to find something stable to latch on to. 

 

It was... well, chaos to say the least. Junmyeon and Yifan were deep in conversation, wildly gesturing with their hands. They were outside Chanyeol's room, room number eight. Kyungsoo was on the outside of Jongin's doorway to his room, and all you could hear from Jongin's room were loud wails of distress. That hurt me almost as much as it did to see Baekhyun as sad as he was now. Jongin was always so happy and carefree, and hearing him like this... it broke hearts. Jongdae and Minseok came rushing out of their rooms, phones in hand, and headed down the hall, presumedly going to look for Chanyeol somewhere in the building. Tao stuck to my side, scared of the whole scene, while Baekhyun clung to my arm on the other side of me, silent tears continuing to fall. The only people I noticed not present were Yixing and Luhan. I rold Tao and Baekhyun to wait a second while I went to check on the two of them, and Baekhyun slowly let go of my arm, instead latching on to Tao's arm.

 

I walked to the door labeled '2', Luhan's room, and knocked softly before entering. He was still asleep, sprawled out on the bed as if he were skydiving.

 

Sitting down on the edge of the bed, I put my hand on his back, slightly shaking him, "Lu? Luhan, hey, you have to get up."

 

He mumbled a 'hmmm.. five more minutes, Hun', muffled by the pillow he was laying on. 

 

"Luhan," I said, taking up a tone of urgency, "this is serious. You need to get up. Right now."

 

He say up and rubbed his eyes, and I guess he saw the look my eyes held, because he immediately took on a look of concern. "What's... going on?"

 

"Chanyeol is missing."

 

His eyes widened and he gasped, "What? What do you mean, missing?"

 

"You know just about as much as I do, Lu. Baekhyun came in my room this morning, in tears, saying that Chanyeol was missing. It's chaos in the hall right now, and We all need to get up and find him."

 

I don't think I'd ever seen him get up and do anything as quickly as he shot out of bed and got dressed. As soon as he was done, I took his hand and we ran to room five to wake up Yixing and get him up to date.

 

He was much harder to wake up, that's for sure. Once we knew he was up enough that we knew he understood what we were saying, we explained everything. At the mention of Chanyeol being missing, he popped up into a sitting position, eyes wide. He had just about the same reaction that Luhan did, and as soon as Yixing was dressed, too, we both went to Junmyeon and Yifan, asing what happened. Baekhyun and Tao tried to follow us, but I told Baekhyun not to come with us, because he already knew what was going on. With as upset as he was, it'd be better for him to nor have to hear what happened for a second time.

 

What Junmyeon explained was a complicated thing but in much simpler terms. He put it like this: Baekhyun had woken up due to a nightmare, and like he usually did when this occurred, he went to go to Chanyeol, looking for comfort. Upon entry he immediately noticed the bed's emptiness, and got a little panicked because it was unusual. After searching everywhere in the building pretty much, and no response to any of Baekhyun's calls or texts, Baekhyun finally decided to get Junmyeon and Yifan involved, grabbing their attention and reporting him missing. I sighed and turned back to head to Baekhyun, before Yifan's hand on my shoulder stopped me. I told Yixing, Tao, and Luhan to go to Baekhyun and keep him calm. Or at least from crying anymore, because it was completely shattering my heart seeing him like that.

 

"Sehun," he said, once they were out of earshot, surprising me by using my real name instead of the all important nicknames given to us, "we're taking on a spur of the moment mission. A search party, more like. To go look for Phoenix, you know. We can't let Kkaebsong know, though." He must have let my real name slip on accident, then.

 

"Why?"

 

"If he comes, he has a bad habit of letting his emotions get the best of him at the worst of times. We want you to come along with Ju- Suho and I, but we need two more people to come with us tonight."

 

"...You're asking me who I think we should bring along?"

 

He nodded.

 

"Peach, definitely. As for the other two..." I sighed, "I can think of three others, but I don't want to pick just two out of the three of them."

 

"Who?"

 

"Lay, Kai, and D.O."

 

He nodded slowly, weighing his options. "Hmmm... Actually, we can make do with that... yeah, the seven of us would be well off together. Thanks, Ninety Four. We leave at 20:00 tonight. Make sure someone keeps an eye on Kkaebsong, so he doesn't notice our absence."

 

"Yeah, yeah, no problem, Kris," I nodded to him. He nodded back, and headed to Junmyeon, most likely to discuss what would be happening tonight and who his companions would be on this sort of search-and-rescue-like mission. 

 

I headed back to the four of them and noticed that they had gotten Baekhyun to stop crying. Kyungsoo had gone in Jongin's room, now, and Jongin was now silent, too. The only sound now in the hall was Junmyeon and Yifan's faint whispers, and Kyungsoo hushing Jongin and comforting him. At least he had calmed, too. Jongin was so sweet, it hurt to see him sad.

 

I was going to pull Luhan aside and tell him, but I thought that would draw too much attention. Instead, I shot him a text explaining it all:

 

 

To: Xiao Lu

Yifan wants me, him, Junmyeon, Jongin, Kyungsoo, Yixing, and Tao to go out on a search party tonight to look for Chanyeol. He said we needed to find some way to keep Baekhyun busy so he doesn't notice we're gone. Do you think the three of you guys can handle that? If you explain to Minseok and Jongdae hyung, I know they'll understand. We leave at 20:00 tonight.

 

 

 

His phone buzzed with my text, and he shot me a confused look when he saw that it was from me. Read it, I silently mouthed. As he was reading, understanding passed over his face. He put his phone back in his pocket and nodded, silently agreeing to my request to keep Baekhyun calm and busy. I mouthed a silent thanks to him before texting Yifan about everything being taken care of. 

 

Baekhyun barely ate lunch, but no one blamed him one bit. I felt his sorrow and worry right along with him. Following lunch we went to go sit in the lounge all day, trying to keep Baekhyun's mind off the situation and keep him occupied. We played a lot of video games and billiards, and we even watched a couple episodes of the anime that he had been wanting to watch for a while now. My phone buzzed. A text from Yifan:

 

 

From: Kris

Thanks, Ninety Four. We'll find him. I know it.

 

 

 

My mind started to wander about. Was it voluntary, his disappearance? If yes, where could he have gone? If no, who took him and why, and where could they have taken him?

 

None of it mattered, though. Chanyeol was okay, and he was alive, and most of all he was safe. We were going to find him. 

 

We had to.

 

Chapter Text

We waited to leave until after dinner, saying that we were gonna go on an errands run, just in case Baekhyun had noticed that we were gone for some reason. But right before we exited a building, a voice came from behind us. “Going somewhere?”

 

We turned around, two men that I didn’t recognize were standing there. They didn’t have a menacing look about them, but it felt off since I didn’t know them.

 

“Ah, Changmin, hello. We were just about to go look for a member of ours that had disappeared this morning,” Junmyeon said with a bow. He turned to the rest of us, “Guys, this is one of our superiors from TVXQ, Changmin.”

 

“Who’s the new guy?” He said pointing my way.

 

I extended a hand towards him. “Ninety Four.”

 

He took it. “Call me Max.”

 

“Yes, this is Ninety Four, our newest member,” Yifan said in a monotone voice. “Where are the others?”

 

“The four of them left me back to keep an eye on their things while they went out for a while.”

“Ah, okay,” there was obviously no enthusiasm to Yifan’s voice here. Did he and Changmin/Max have some secret beef going on?

 

Max turned to Junmyeon, “How long did you say that he had been missing, now?”

 

“Since this morning,” he replied.

 

“Wow, okay. Since he’s been gone so long, why don’t you just use the tracking functions the phones we get here have?”

 

“What? They have those?” Jongin said, an edge of surprise in his voice.

 

“Yeah, you guys didn’t know?” Max laughed a little.

 

“No?? How do we look at them?” Yixing said, already walking to the computers.

 

Max came up behind him and typed something into the computer, pulling up a program. He had Junmyeon put in Chanyeol’s name and number, and a loading screen popped up. Then a map showed, and on the map, one dot. In a place called FC Industries.

 

“Is that… where he is? Right now?” Jongin asked, turning to Max.

 

“Apparently. I don’t know what FC Industries is, but I would go fast, if he’s been gone that long. Who knows what’s happened to him in that time,” Max added in. It put me on edge. There was something in his voice that made me think that he knew something that the rest of us didn’t.

 

“Thanks, Max. Let’s go,” Kyungsoo urged.

 

We all got into two cars, Kyungsoo, Jongin, Junmyeon, and Yifan in the first, and Yixing, Tao, and I in the second one. Yixing sat in the back, ready to aid Chanyeol if he needed it. I drove, it was obvious that we couldn’t let Tao drive. He was still too emotional to be able to do it safely. So I did.

 

I sat down in the driver seat, turning the ignition. The car slowly came to life, and as soon as it was, we were gone and out of there.

 

The map had also shown our position, and we weren’t that far from the place. Chanyeol is okay, I kept repeating to myself. He is okay. He has to be. Nothing should have hurt him. He is fine. He really is.

 

The ride took shorter than I had expected. I thought it would be more like ten minutes, maybe more, but with as fast as we were going and how many shortcuts we took (Yifan and the rest were leading us, since they actually knew where this was), it only took us about three or four.

 

We tore out of the cars and into the building as fast as we could. It resembled the warehouse in the last few episodes of Death Note, where Near and Light met up, but it was more… dilapidated, I guess is the best way to put it. The floor was extremely uneven and the tiles that once made it up were broken into a million tiny pieces, the wall in just about as bad of shape. There were ceiling tiles fallen everywhere, the moonlight from tonight’s full moon shining really brightly, illuminating the interior of the building. The windows also let in a lot of light.

 

Enough to see Chanyeol, on the ground, curled up into a ball.

 

Jongin let out a small cry, but that didn’t matter to me, I barely heard it over the sound of my own footsteps, pounding the hard concrete floor as I ran to see him. Please don’t be hurt please don’t be hurt please don’t be hurt please…

 

I slid onto the floor next to him, pulling him into my lap, and he just… didn’t do anything. He was silent, unmoving. He was breathing, though, so… at least he was alive.

 

Yifan’s eyes widened and he looked around, head whipping around in every direction. “Ninety Four, stay here with him. The rest of us will conduct a perimeter check to ensure that it’s safe to take him back.”

 

I nodded, and the rest of them went off, Jongin and Kyungsoo running up the stairs, Yifan and Yixing running outside, and Junmyeon and Tao running outside, but in the opposite direction that Yifan and Yixing went.

 

I saw the four of them make at least three passes around the building before coming inside, determining that no one was outside. Shortly after, Jongin and Kyungsoo came downstairs, saying that they knew for sure that no one was upstairs. I don’t know what could have been worse - Chanyeol alone here like he was, or if the people that did this lingered here while we came and looked for Chanyeol. Thankfully, we were alone, so we were all safe, though Chanyeol’s safety was our top priority.

 

I picked Chanyeol up bridal style, carrying him back to the car. Jongin stayed right by my side, almost in tears, just whispering to Chanyeol, telling him that he was going to be alright and that we would be home soon, he promised. The others formed an almost-circle around the three of us, in case anyone wanted to try to attack us on the way out.

 

I had Jongin run ahead and open the door, cleaning out the back seat and preparing it for me and Chanyeol to sit in. I was already knowing that I was going to be giving him the majority of the space back there, with how he is now.

 

I handed Chanyeol over to Yifan and quickly got into the seat farthest away, and as I got comfortable, I had Yifan ease Chanyeol into the seat with me. Chanyeol was so tall, we had to carefully bend his legs in a way that wouldn’t hurt him anymore than he was now, and we rested his head in my lap.

 

Tao went and rode with Junmyeon and Yifan this time, and Jongin ended up with them, too. Kyungsoo was driving our car, and Yixing had himself in between the seats, leaning back here, carefully placing his hands on Chanyeol.

 

“What are you doing to him?” I asked him.

 

“I’m just easing the pain. Hopefully, if there’s any blood flow, and I hope to any god that might be out there that there isn’t, if there’s any blood flow, it will stop up.” Yixing looked so worried and serious, I would think that he was about to have a heart attack or something. Not like the rest of us weren’t already close to having one now. I had a feeling that’s what Yixing was doing, healing him, but I just wanted to make sure.

 

Kyungsoo kept his white-knuckled grip on the wheel, and Chanyeol groaned every time he made a turn too sharp or took off from a red light or something too quickly. Yixing wrenched his eyes shut, mad in concentration, just trying to make sure Chanyeol felt the least pain possible.

 

We arrived back in the parking lot of the building, and I felt the door I was leaning against on the passenger side open behind me, almost making me fall out.

 

“I got him, I’ve got him, just call Xiao Lu really quick and tell him to get Kkaebsong away from the sixth floor, so he doesn’t see Phoenix. If he sees Phoenix like this now, it’s all over for us. We won’t be able to get a moment to help him or be able to help him in the least,” Junmyeon said, Yifan right behind him.

 

I carefully set Chanyeol’s head in the seat where I was sitting, and rushed away, pulling out my phone and calling Luhan like I was told to.

 

It took three rings for him to answer, “Sehun? What’s up?”

 

“You need to get Baekhyun away from any elevators or anything that would give him a chance to see Chanyeol now.”

 

“You found him?” He gasped.

 

“Yeah, we found him.”

 

“Where was he??”

 

“He was at some place called FC Industries . I don’t know why yet, but it’s okay now, we have him.”

 

“Is he okay, though?”

 

“Yeah,” I breathed out, “I think he’ll be okay. But listen. If Baekhyun sees us taking Chanyeol in with the state he’s in, he definitely won’t leave us alone and let us figure out what’s up and what happened,” I explained.

 

“I understand. I’ll go get him now and ask him if he wants to play some video games,” Luhan said. “I got you. Take care of him. And make sure the lot of you are all okay, too.”

 

“I will. Taozi is emotional and Jongin is a little wired now, but I think we’ll manage.”

 

I hung up and turned around, seeing them waiting for me, waiting for an answer.

 

“He’s taken care of. Xiao Lu is gonna take Kkaebsong upstairs and distract him with some video games and stuff,” I explained, taking Chanyeol from Yifan’s arms. Kyungsoo and Jongin ran ahead to hold the doors open for us, and Yixing kept a hold on one of Chanyeol’s hands at all times. Taozi was… where was he? I looked around, looking for any sign of where he could have gone, but it was like he just disappeared.

 

Junmyeon must have seen me looking, because he put a hand on my shoulder. “Peach ran inside, he said something about wanting to stay with the others while they keep Xiao Lu busy. I said to make sure that he didn’t say anything that would give us away to Kkaebsong, and he said he was already on it, and that he was just gonna make up some excuse about Kyungsoo wanting something for what he was gonna make for dinner tomorrow that needed to sit overnight.”

 

I sighed and headed for the door. The lights were really bright compared to the night sky outside, and Chanyeol clenched his eyes shut and buried his face in my neck, trying to get away from the light. “Shh, it’s okay. When we go to set you down we’ll make sure it’s darker in there than it is out here in the halls.” That calmed him a little, at least.

 

Jongin was with us now that we were through the door, and Kyungsoo had run up ahead and gotten an elevator open and ready. Then we all looked at each other and the realization hit us: not all of us are going to fit into that elevator all at once. “Yixing, Jongin, and I will go first with him, and the rest of you can follow after. Okay?” I suggested lightheartedly.

 

The three of them nodded, and we got into the elevator, Jongin pressing the ‘4’ button. The elevator lurched up, making Chanyeol let out a small whine again at the sudden movement, but it ceased pretty quickly. I leaned into his head, trying to block all the light away from his eyes so he doesn’t have to worry about putting more effort into it. The doors opened slowly, and we hurried down the hall as fast as we could to the infirmary room. One of the beds was already prepared, ust waiting for someone to be in it. I carefully set Chanyeol down and had Jongin stay in the doorway, keeping watch for the others, and to be sure to stall Baekhyun, and to do it well, should he come here for any reason.

 

I covered Chanyeol with the blanket on the bed and slightly elevated his head with extra pillows that were laying around the room. A glance to Jongin was all it took and he shut the lights off as I turned on the lamp, darkening the room and making the lights dim enough for Chanyeol to ease his eyes open. The low light made him look a little worse than he was. His black eye looked darker, and the bruises along his cheekbones and jaw looked more black than light brown now. There was some dried blood at the corners of his mouth and just barely out of his nose. I told Yixing that I would be back in a second, that I would just go get something to wipe the blood away. He said okay, and moved his hands up to his face, getting to work on the black eye and other bruises.

 

I sidestepped around Jongin and got into the small closet nextdoor to the infirmary and grabbed two small towels, heading to the restroom sink to wet them a little. By the time I got back Yixing almost had the black eye gone, and had just barely started to work on the multiple others on him. I gently wiped the blood from his mouth, and as I went to start cleaning his nose, he spoke. I almost wouldn’t have noticed, with how quiet he was. “Sehun?”

 

“Yes, Chanyeol?”

 

“I’m sorry.” His eyes fell shut, and he sighed.

 

“Chanyeol… why are you sorry? This wasn’t your fault,” Yixing said, tearing his attention away for a second.

 

“Yixing, you don’t know why I left. Or what happened at all,” he whispered. A tear fell from his cheek, and I felt a pang in my heart.

 

I sighed and jumped right as I heard the door open behind me. It was just Yifan, Junmyeon, and Kyungsoo. That was relieving. Kyungsoo sat out in the hallway waiting with Jongin, now just keeping watch for Baekhyun, should Luhan lose track of him. I sent him a quick text:



To: Xiao Lu

How is Baekhyun?




He responded quickly:



To: Ninety Four

He’s fine. He’s really content with playing right now, and Minseok and Jongdae keep messing with him and making him laugh, so that’s good. How is Chanyeol?



To: Xiao Lu

He’s okay, he’s alive at least. Yifan and Junmyeon just got here, so we’ll be talking with him to figure out what happened to him. Kyungsoo and Jongin are sitting out in the hall, in case Baekhyun for some reason gets away from you guys. I’ll text you when we have everything figured out.



To: Ninety Four

Okay, I’m glad he’s okay. I’ll keep an eye on him.



I put my phone back in my pocket and turned my attention back to Chanyeol. His bruises were barely noticeable by now, and Yixing had a hand on each of his legs, healing the things that could potentially be there. Junmyeon asked him the first question, “Okay, Chanyeol. What made you leave in the first place?”

 

“I…” he started, “I wanted to get Kkaebsong a new game for his birthday, since it’s coming up.”

 

“That makes sense… what happened to you to make you… you know, like this then?” I asked him next.

 

He sighed, and this is what he said: He went out to a store to pick up the game he had pre-ordered for Baekhyun last night (meaning he had been gone for an entire day pretty much). After picking it up, starting to walk back, he felt like he was being watched by someone, but every time he turned around, no one was there. So he just hurried and kept walking in the direction of the building, wanting to get back now as quickly as he could. As he was crossing the street he looked back again, but this time, he saw a couple of females quickly crossing the street, so they were on the opposite side of the street he was walking on. He was almost sprinting now, just wanting to get home. That’s when they started running after him. Chanyeol may have been fast, but they were smart. He tripped over something when he tried to turn a corner, and that was it for him. They were on top of him in a matter of seconds, and the next thing he knew, he couldn’t see anything and he was being forced into a vehicle and driven somewhere he didn’t know. When they finally stopped, they dragged him in and kept him blinded, but they tied him into a chair. They asked him a lot of questions, many about where EXO’s base was, but Chanyeol never told. He got sassy once and said that they should have just followed him back, then they would have for sure known, and they punched him. He said something along the lines of ‘Then again, not like you’d be smart enough to know whether or not I was lying, either’ and that earned him another punch, this time in the jaw. They had spent hours beating him and trying to get answers out of him, but he never once gave us up. He said he had to stay loyal. After awhile they all got tired of it all and untied him from the chair, and just beat him endlessly, until he passed out. Next thing he knew, he was in the car, looking up at me, Yixing’s hands on him, healing him.

 

We were all speechless when he had finished explaining. Who would want to hurt Chanyeol? And… what reasons did they have for that? Chanyeol was always so polite and friendly and just plain happy all the time, so I couldn’t think of any reason at all that someone would want to do this to him.

 

Junmyeon leaned forward, “Did you catch any of their faces, any at all?”

 

Chanyeol sighed, “No, I didn’t. I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t worry about it. All that matters now is that you’re okay. Were there any distinct features that you could make out at all? Like, how did their voices sound, were they taller or shorter than you, things like that?” Yifan questioned.

 

Chanyeol stopped to think for a second. “Their voices were muffled, so I think they were wearing masks. The voices, I didn’t really recognise, but they sounded slightly stilted, like they were trying too hard to change their voices to something unnatural. I’m almost certain that the lot of them were females, but I could be wrong. With where they grabbed me on my arms when they were dragging me around, I would guess that they were shorter than me. They never touched my upper arms, just my forearms,” he made the motion with his hands, showing how they handled him.

 

“That’s good, that’s really good that you noticed all that. We can go from that and try to figure out who did this to you,” Junmyeon said. He started bouncing his leg, the same way he always did when he was thinking hard.

 

Yixing’s hands receded. “I think you’re good now, the bruises on your collarbones and face will be a little bit noticeable for now but everything else should be okay now. On the outside they’re present but they don’t warrant pain anymore. Try to stand up, if you can.”

 

Chanyeol took in a deep breath, swinging his legs off the bed slowly. I held out my arm, and he took it, supporting himself. He pushed off the bed, swaying slightly, but after a second, he stabilized himself and was able to stand on his own. He took a couple steps forward, circling the room now, testing out his balance and if his legs would support him walking. He made a full circle of the room, and looked to me, “I think I’m good now. Can we go back upstairs?”

 

I laughed. This was just like him. He could be shot, pretty much, and still just bounce back and want to go back upstairs. Junmyeon nodded, and I went with Chanyeol upstairs.

 

As we stepped into the elevator, I turned to Chanyeol, “Look, okay, Baekhyun has been freaking out the entire time that you’ve been gone, so expect him to be really emotional when he sees you.”

 

He cocked his head to the side, furrowing his brows. “Really?”

 

“Yes,” I exhaled. “Taozi and I were getting up and getting dressed, ready to go chill with the time that we had left before we had to go out on the mission, and Baekhyun came in, in tears, asking where you were, and if we knew where you were. We said we didn’t know, and asked him why he was asking us, and he told us that you were missing. Taozi and I went out into the hallway and it was just complete chaos, everyone was freaking out because of your absence. Junmyeon explained what was going on, and so I texted Luhan and asked if he, Minseok, and Jongdae could keep him occupied while we were gone looking for you, and they agreed. So Baekhyun doesn’t know we went out to get you, and he’s only recently calmed down. They’ve been playing video games with him to keep him busy and calm.”

 

Chanyeol listened intently, nodding occasionally. Then another confused look came over him. “How did you guys know where I was?”

 

The elevator stopped and we stepped out, heading to the computer lab. “There’s a function pre-built into all of our phones that pings our location, in case something like this were to happen. Max showed us how to access it on the computer in the main lobby.”

 

“Huh, that’s useful, and… slightly creepy,” he laughed.

 

I took a deep breath and pushed the door open, just barely poking my head in. “Baekhyun? Hey, someone’s here.”

 

He peeled his attention away from Minseok and Jongdae laughing and arguing over something, with Luhan shaking his head, and turned towards us. I opened the door, revealing Chanyeol, and he full on sprinted to him, tackling him in a hug. The other three widened their eyes, then exhaled deeply, realising that he was okay.

 

Baekhyun was practically in tears. “Where… where did you go? I was really worried.”

 

Chanyeol put a hand on the top of his head, stroking it. “I’m sorry. I wanted to get you something for your birthday, but I got caught up and a lot happened.”

 

“What happened? Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah, I’m okay,” he wet his lips. “I left earlier to go to the gym, and just went to get the thing after I did, and I planned on being back before you woke up, but a lot happened and I ended up being out looking for it for a really long time. Again, I’m really sorry.”

 

Baekhyun took a deep breath. “It’s okay, you’re here now and you’re okay. It’ll be okay now. Just please warn me when you’re gonna leave, so I don’t freak out like this again.”

 

“I will, I promise,” Chanyeol smiled.

 

I gave Minseok, Luhan, and Jongdae a look, and just decided to send the three of them the same text:



It’s been a long day, and I think we all just need to rest for now. It’s been really emotional. I’ll explain everything tomorrow,  just as long as Baekhyun isn’t around. If he knows the truth now, he’ll be upset at us all for lying to him. Remind me when we play 2 on 2 tomorrow in billiards and I’ll explain.



They read the texts, quickly, and gave me a nod. I headed to my room, just wanting to sleep. Today was the longest day that I can remember ever having. I sent Taozi a text, saying that I was going to bed and if he wanted to stay with me again, he was more than welcome to, but no promises that I would be asleep.

 

I quietly stepped into my room, carefully shutting the door behind me. I closed the curtains and shut off all of the lights, making the room pitch black. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Chapter Text

I woke up the next morning really confused. I was really warm and I felt someone else’s breath on my neck and… oh. Tao was laying next to me. He was asleep now, so he must have climbed in bed with me sometime last night, after I had fallen asleep.

 

I carefully got up, trying not to move him or wake him up, and got out of bed. I checked the time on my phone, but instead of the time, I saw a message from Minseok.



To: Ninety Four

 

We need to talk. As soon as you wake up, come to the dining room. Chances are that we will already be there. Baekhyun won’t be there. We could tell that Chanyeol was lying, but we knew that he only lied because Baekhyun was there and that he didn't want him to worry about what actually happened. Luhan, Jongdae, and I will be waiting for you.



It was sent only eight minutes ago, so I figured that they were already there. I took one last look at Tao, and seeing that he was still deep in sleep, I carefully shut the door behind me and headed for the dining room.

 

The dining room was empty, except for the three of them. They were deep in conversation, probably guessing what really happened. But as soon as I walked in, their heads all snapped to me, immediately ceasing whatever conversation they were having. I sat down next to Luhan.

 

Jongdae started first, “I’m gonna go ahead and assume that whatever happened to Chanyeol wasn’t good?”

 

I sighed, “It really wasn't. It was the opposite.”

 

Minseok leaned forward, “What really happened then?”

 

I took a deep breath, and started to recall what happened for them.

 

“Before we even left the building, one of the guys from the TVXQ group showed up and asked us where we were going. Junmyeon explained to him that we were going to look for Chanyeol, and Yifan barely spoke to him. I think there was some tension between the two of them- wait, I’m getting off track. Anyway, Max asked us if we knew where he was, and when he said no, he showed us a feature on the computer that allows them to see the exact location of where someone was based on a chip that’s apparently in all of our phones.”

 

“Where was he?” Jongdae asked.

 

“Some place called FC Industries.

 

The three of them all at once gasped, like that was the literal definition of hell on earth.

 

“What? What’s so bad about it?”

 

“It’s uh,” Luhan said, “it’s not really even the place that’s that bad. It’s the stories and rumors that surround it that’s pretty bad.”

 

“What are they?” I asked out of curiosity. “The rumors, I mean.”

 

“Well…” Minseok started, “you know how, when Yifan was explaining to us what was going on, that he said that there were the two groups, f(x) and SNSD?”

 

I nodded.

 

He went on, “There are rumors that they secretly visit the districts from time to time, and when they do come, they choose buildings like that to put people if they choose to do things, like what they did to Chanyeol, to anyone else.”

 

I stared back, “So… you think that they did that to him?”

 

The three of them nodded. I only just now noticed that we were leaned over the edge of the table, all clustered together in the center of the round table as if we were having a secret meeting. I leaned back, and they did the same. Pulling a palm across my face, I sighed, “Do you think, if we said something to Yifan or Junmyeon, that they would believe us?”

 

Jongdae’s expression dropped. “I don’t know. I don’t even know how they would react to us just knowing about this kind of think, let alone us thinking about the rumors being part of this.”

 

I sighed, “So what can we do?”

 

“Nothing for now,” Luhan said. “All we can do for the next couple of days is keep an eye on each other here and make sure we’re all okay on the daily. We can’t just go out and look for them, we’ll never find them for one, and for two, we’ll be outmatched. They’re totally out of our league in terms of skill and strategy. We wouldn’t stand a chance against them. So we should just keep a close eye on each other here and make sure we don’t go out alone. They’ll be more likely to target us if we’re alone. They may not have powers like us, but they have the numbers, unlike us.”

 

I took a deep breath. “I understand that. I… I got that. I think for now, we can explain this to everyone but Baekhyun.”

 

“Why not Baekhyun?” Luhan asked.

 

“Remember? He still doesn’t know what really happened to Chanyeol. If we say this, he’ll hear the part of ‘if they choose to do things, like what they did to Chanyeol’ and be really concerned for Chanyeol, and also be mad at the whole of us for lying to him like we did.”

 

Luhan rolled his head in a circle. “Yeah, that’s true. I have an idea, though.”

 

“What?” I tilted my head to the side.

 

“We can make a groupchat, excluding Baekhyun, Junmyeon, and Yifan, and we can explain what we came up with here. Everyone else will understand, and Chanyeol will be able to attest to what we’re saying. We’ll tell them to be careful, watch their backs, and to never go out alone.”

 

Minseok looked really serious, weighing the options. “I think that would work. We can work with that.”

 

Luhan looked at him, “Yeah. I can take care of that, you guys go ahead and take advantage of today. I don’t really have anything to do.”

 

“You sure?” I asked him. “I was gonna play some video games pretty much all day, you can chill with me and Tao later, if you want.”

 

He smiled at me. “Thanks, I’ll probably join you later. I gotta take care of this for now, but yeah, thanks man.”

 

“No problem.”

 

I stood up and left the dining room, Luhan following behind me. I went into my room and shut the door quietly behind me, and when I turned around, Tao was awake, hair all messed up. As I came in, he turned to look at me, and the tiredness in his eyes was clear.

 

“Where did you go?” He mumbled, rubbing his eyes.

 

I laid down next to where he was sitting, putting my arms above my head. I closed my eyes, “I went to the dining room to talk to Minseok, Jongdae, and Luhan.”

“What did they want?” I felt the weight shift on the bed, him laying down on his side next to me.

 

“They just wanted to know what happened last night, and they also mentioned some ideas they had about what they thought might be the reason behind why he was the target of this,” I explained.

 

“What do they think?”

 

“They think that SNSD or f(x) is behind this.”

 

He stopped for a second thinking. Then, “That would make sense… It’s not the first time one of us has been targeted.”

 

I sat up, turning towards him. “What do you mean?”

 

He sat up as well. “Before you came, I think a couple months before you came, actually, another one of us was targeted like this, but not like this. There was no injury involved, unlike this time.”

 

“Who was it?”

 

He sighed, “I don’t know if I’m really supposed to talk about this, so you have to swear you won’t tell anyone that I told you this.”

 

I nodded, and he sighed again. “It was Junmyeon.”

 

I gasped, and he went on, “That isn’t even the worst part of it. Because with what happened to him, that’s also why you don’t see them separated very often Junmyeon and Yifan, I mean. Junmyeon was out getting some things, I think it was more kitchen stuff for Kyungsoo so he could make dinner that night, but, yeah, he was out getting stuff for him. When he arrived at the store and started getting the things that were on Kyungsoo’s list, he said he felt like he was being watched. When he turned around, he saw a head or two disappear behind the aisle shelf on the end. He said he thought they were female, with how long the hair was on the both of them. He checked out, took his bags, and he left. But the entire time he was walking home, he felt like he was being followed, and as he turned the corner, he said he saw two figures following him out of the corner of his eye, and he knew that they were the same two figures that he saw in the store. So he got a cab to be safe, and that was that. But as he was in the cab, he called Yifan and told him what was happening, and as he was on the phone, he said to Yifan that he noticed that a cab was following his very closely. So to be safe, Yifan walked a couple blocks to a hotel and said to have Junmyeon tell the cab driver to just drop him off at the hotel Yifan was waiting at. And he did. As he walked into the hotel, Yifan said that he noticed the cab that was behind them, and that it was gone now. It had sped away as soon as Junmyeon had walked in the front doors. They stayed at that hotel for a couple of hours, just in the lobby, and then walked back here, constantly looking over their shoulders to make sure they weren’t being followed again.”

 

“Damn. That’s really creepy. I just… now I’m really curious. What made them go more into Chanyeol than Junmyeon? What did Chanyeol do to them, or…  what made them change their plans like this?”

 

“I might not be right, but I have a theory.”

 

I turned towards Tao, “What is it?”

 

“I think this time, this was a warning. A silent message to Junmyeon and Yifan, saying ‘This is what we’re capable of, and if you step out of line, we can do this to any of you. Watch yourselves.’”



~~~~~~~~~~~~



The remainder of the day was just full of stress. Stressing out over tomorrow being our last day here, stressing out about what Tao said earlier and how easily any of us could be hurt now, stressing out about-

 

A hand on my shoulder stopped my train of thought. Then a voice, “You okay?”

 

I looked over my shoulder to see Luhan looking back at me, worry etched into every crevice of his face. “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just… stressed out.” I turned back to the window. Once we left, I was going to miss this view. We were sitting in the lounge once again, not able to sleep, looking out over the city at the display of lights and soft sounds of traffic coming from below.

 

Luhan sighed behind me, “I don’t believe you, but I can tell that you don’t want to talk about it, so I won’t press you.”

 

“It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, it’s that I can’t talk about it.” I carded a hand through my hair, pulling on the ends.

 

Understanding passed over his face, “Oooh, I get it. I’ve been there. Okay, then can you tell me anything about why you’re stressed?”

 

“I mean… tomorrow is our last day here, our last day to be free before we set off to, like, save the world pretty much. It’s just like,” I sighed, “it’s just a lot of pressure and stress at one time. I’m just not used to it, I guess.”

 

“I don’t think an of us are. Not even Junmyeon or Yifan, and they’re the leaders here. It’s okay to be overwhelmed by all of this. You can talk to any of us, too, when you get stressed like this. We’re all here for you, we’re all like family to each other.”

 

I leaned my head back and closed my eyes for a second. I knew that he meant well, but I also had trouble with it. I had no problem talking about my own problems, really… in my head. I can come up with what I want to say in my head because I know what I’m feeling, but sometimes, I have trouble coming up with the right words to describe those feelings. For example, as a child I remember there was an accident I was in, where I was riding my bicycle that went down to the store, and I was getting milk for my mother. I was almost halfway there, and suddenly my pedals stopped and I flipped forward almost a whole 360 degrees. I got up, the knees and heels of my palms of my hands bleeding, and instead of going home, I went on, got the milk, and headed back. My mother was so scared upon seeing me when I got home I would have thought she would have fainted had I been hurt any worse than I was. I remember her saying, ‘What were you thinking? Why didn’t you come straight home when you got hurt? You’re more important than some milk, Sehun.’ And the only response I could think of was shrugging. I could have said a lot of things, that I thought that she would get mad at me, that I didn’t want to seem a fool for not doing the one task that I was set out to do, and many other things, but I instead couldn’t think of exactly what I needed to say, so I just shrugged stupidly. That’s kind of where my brain is now. I know what’s going on in my head about what Luhan said, but I don’t know exactly how to voice it properly.

 

I opened my eyes, and Luhan was looking at me, worry increased. He must have been talking while I was lost in my thoughts. I looked at him, “Sorry, what did you say? I was spacing…”

 

“I said, are you going to be okay?” He said, emphasizing the end.

 

“I’m okay, I’m just thinking,” I said softly.

 

“I’m just like, you know how it is when you want to say something but you don’t know how to say it, or like, when you know how you feel but you don’t know how to put it into words?”

 

“Yeah, I really do. It sucks. Like, in a really frustrating way.”

 

Yes ,” I breathed. “It’s just like that. I absolutely hate it.”

 

“I know what that’s like. Just try not to think about it too much, it’ll just make the stress worse, my dude,” he pat my shoulder.

 

“Thanks,” I smiled at him.

 

“No problem.” He sat down next to me and looked out at the skyline.

 

I thought about what the day after tomorrow would be like. I’ve been wondering about how everything will be, out there in District 9. Would it be all dark and dangerous like how our District 12 here always was? Or would it be nicer? How would the people there be? So many questions flew through my head.

 

Junmyeon had already told the lot of us a little bit about the group that run District 9. They were all younger than us, ranging from 17 to 21 years old. There were nine of them; the oldest, Kim Woojin; the leader, Bang Chan, who, according to Junmyeon, also goes by Christopher or Chris; Lee Minho; Seo Changbin; Hwang Hyunjin; Han Jisung; Lee Felix; Kim Seungmin; and Yang Jeongin. They are a larger District, but that’s only because they’re not specific about who they let in. They care about people being the real them, not faking to be someone else that they’re not. Most Districts base who they let in on things like their background, income levels, history, and other things. They don’t do that, because they aren’t picky like the rest of the Districts are about their residents. District 9 is sometimes known on the streets as the ‘free District’ because you’re always free to be who you want when you’re there. I kind of wish I grew up there, because I probably would have grown up in better circumstances than I did. There, I would have grown up being free and I would have had a real childhood, whereas with me, growing up here in District 12, albeit I grew up in one of the little rural towns on the outskirts, I didn’t have a childhood most would would have considered nice. I had to constantly do chores, run errands, and I had a job to support my home (not by choice) by the time I was ten. Then again, I also don’t wish I grew up there, because if I did, I wouldn’t be here now, and I wouldn’t have this family that I do currently. I honestly wouldn’t want to give this up for anything; they were a better family to me than my blood relatives were.

 

I stood up and walked towards the door, deciding that thinking like this wouldn’t help me any more than it would harm me, and that I should go to sleep. Maybe I could sleep the stress away. But before I reached the door, Luhan stopped me. “Wait.”

 

I turned around, hand on the doorknob. “Yeah?”

 

He spoke softly, “It’ll be okay. I can see it in your face, you’re stressed. But you have us, and if you need anything, you can always come to one of us. It’ll be alright.”

 

I gave him a small smile. “Thanks.”

 

“No problem.”

 

As I stepped out the door, I sunk against the wall. A thought occurred to me, and I don’t think I’m that wrong in my thinking. We all have powers here, some with more destructive potential than others. Chanyeol’s power can cause more devastation than Junmyeon’s, right? What if… What if they wanted Chanyeol so they could take advantage of his power? They could have taken him in hopes of doing something to him to make him work for them, and then take advantage of him having powers, unlike them? They could use it for themselves, and make this, total takeover or whatever easier for them? I ran to my room, looking for Tao, to explain what my thought process was.

 

I burst in my room, and as I expected, Tao was asleep on the bed. Softly shaking him, I frantically whispered, “Tao, Tao wake up, I think I just came up with something.”

 

“Mhphhmmm… whaaaat?” He mumbled, rolling over.

 

“I came up with something about why they might have done this differently with Chanyeol than the way it is with Junmyeon.”

 

He sat up and rubbed at his eyes, sighing deeply. “Okay, okay… what is it?”

 

“Okay okay so, what if they wanted to actually take Chanyeol for their own?”

 

“What do you mean?” Tao yawned.

 

“Alright, I was thinking. Say those people that took Chanyeol were actually SNSD and f(x). They’re working with Nam to go against everyone and get power over everyone right?”

“Yeah.”

 

“And we’re the only ones that control a District that have powers, right?”

“Yeah… where are you going with this?”

 

“Okay, hear me out,” I took a deep breath. “We have powers, yes. They don’t. It would make sense if I said that it would be easier for us to take control of something than it would be for them. So, what if their intentions were to take Chanyeol and use his powers for themselves? Try to turn him against us?”

 

“That… actually does make sense. But there’s one thing.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

Tao looked at me, fully awake now. “If they wanted to use him, why did they do what they did? Why did they just beat him up and then return him?

 

“That’s the problem I encountered, too. My only thought would be, what if they really did return him as a warning, like you said?” He gave me a strange look, and I went on before he could say anything. “Think about it: Chanyeol is the ideal type. Powerful, physically strong, well built, who wouldn’t want to take him and use him for power? The only theory that would make sense is that if they really did return him as a warning, and they did all that as a blatant show of power, and what their capabilities are?”

 

He had a look on his face now as if he were thinking, weighing his options. “You do have a point. That would make sense, Chanyeol being their top tier target out of all of us. He has the power, physical strength… yeah, why wouldn’t they want him?”

Right . That’s what I’m saying!”

“I mean it would make sense there, though, if they took Junmyeon, too. Think about it: What group would do well without their leader? We would be in complete disarray without him.”

I thought for a second, then sighed. “Yeah… you know, you have a point. We would. But maybe they didn’t think about that. Maybe they were more worried about gaining power and/or stealing it away from all of us?”

“Well, either way, though, they wanted something that would take us down. Make us weaker than them, so that we would have no chance of winning, should we rebel against them.”

 

“Right. We should go to sleep now, before we keep theorizing until the day breaks and we still haven’t slept,” I laughed.

 

“But I want cuddles,” Tao turned to me and pouted”

 

“We can, we can,” I laughed. “You can fall asleep in my arms.”

 

“Sehunnie?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I’ll be right back,” he got up and ran out of the room and down the hall. A couple of seconds later, he came in with these super fluffy pajama bottoms on and a huge blanket around him, a huge grin spread on his face.

 

“Aww,” I cooed. “You look so soft and fluffy and cute .”

 

He looked down, trying to hide the obvious blush on his face, grinning. “Thanks, Hunnie. I planned on sleeping in for a while tomorrow, so I might as well get as comfortable as I can now. I hope you know I sleep in for so long.”

 

He laid down next to me, and I ran my fingers through his hair poking through the opening in his blanket. I smiled at him, “I know. I do too when I don’t have anything to do the next day.”

 

He smiled and opened his blanket, enveloping now me and him in it, and wrapped his arms around me. I put my arm around him and smiled, kissing the back of his head softly and closing my eyes. “Night, Taotao.”

 

“Goodnight, Sehunnie.”

 

I fell asleep within seconds of closing my eyes, going down with a smile on my face.

Chapter Text

It was dark. I couldn’t breathe , I was crying so hard. “This is all my fault… I could have saved him, but I didn’t… I could have helped Chanyeol…”

 

“Sehun.”

 

I stopped crying, looking for the voice. I couldn’t tell where exactly it was coming from. It sounded male… who was this?

 

“He’s alright, you know,” the voice said, “It isn’t your fault.”

 

“But… just… if I would have known that he was going out I would have gone with him, and if I was with him, I could have maybe protected him, and…” I started to choke up.

 

The disembodied voice came out of the dark, showing its figure. Medium height, glowing so bright that I couldn’t make out the facial details. Wherever we were, it was no longer dark. He was the light. He put a hand on my shoulder, speaking again. “I know, I know. If any of the others were in this situation they probably would have tried to blame themselves, too. Especially Baekhyun, if he knew. But this is not your fault.”

 

“I…”

 

“Sehun, no. Don’t blame yourself. This isn’t your fault,” the person’s voice softened. They put their arms around me, and I just let the tears fall. I knew this wasn’t my fault, but just… I could have helped him. If I were there I could have stopped this from happening. But I wasn’t there.

 

Then they stopped. I stopped crying, and my breathing returned to normal. It was as if something inside me was just, removing all of my guilt and sadness about all of this. It wasn’t that I felt happy, I just felt… calm…




… … … … … … … … … … … …




“Sehun… Sehun, wake up. Calm down, it’s okay…” a voice said. Someone was stroking my hair, comforting me. I slowly opened my eyes, squinting against the sunlight. Tao was propped up on one elbow, petting my hair, looking down at me with a worried expression.

 

“Tao? Why are you… saying that?” I managed.

 

“It’s like ten thirty, but when I woke up a little bit ago, you were still asleep, and I wanted to let you sleep in. But not long after I woke up, you started to toss and turn, as if something was wrong. You kept saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry…’ and I could tell you were upset. But you started to cry, and I decided that you needed to wake up because something was happening.” I felt my face, and when I felt the wet trails from the tears, I knew he was telling the truth.

 

I sat up and looked at him, taking on a confused look. “What… was I doing? Did I say anything else?”

 

“At first, you were just rolling around, restless. But then you started talking. You were saying things like ‘I’m so sorry’ and ‘It’s all my fault’. I think at one point you said something like ‘I could have saved him…’ or something like that and I kinda started to get worried. Then you started crying and I felt my heart break a little. That’s when I decided to wake you up.”

 

I wiped the tears from my face and stood up, walking towards the window. I ran a hand through my hair, trying to figure out who that brightly lit figure was in my dream. The voice sounded male, but it sounded so… familiar. Like I knew him.

 

Tao came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist, resting his chin on my shoulder. “Do you want to talk about it? Tell me what happened?”

 

“I don’t know… like, I can tell you what happened, but I don’t understand why I had it.”

 

“Go on.”

 

I sighed. “I was in a dark room, and I was really upset. I was upset because… I was feeling guilty? For what had happened to Chanyeol. I felt like- and still do feel like- if I were there, if I had just been there with him, this could have been avoided and Chanyeol wouldn’t have had to go through that. Like if I were there I could have saved him.”

 

“Sehun… that wasn’t your fault”

 

“I know, Tao, I know… But I can’t help it. I just feel like I could have helped him.”

 

“What did the figure look like?” He asked me.

 

“He was about medium height, but I couldn’t make out his facial details. He was glowing. As soon as he walked into the room, the entire place was lit up. He assured me that Chanyeol was okay, but I still just couldn’t help but feel guilty. I could have helped him,” I let my head drop.

 

“Sehun… did you recognise the voice at all?” His voice held a strange tone like he knew that I knew who it was, but I didn’t remember.

 

I turned around, and his grasp loosened. I looked at him confused.

 

Tao looked at me with a look as strange as his tone had. “Do you not know?”

 

“Not know what?”

 

“That figure that you saw, you didn’t know who it was, or at least recognised it?”

 

“No, not at all. It sounded familiar but I don’t know who it was. I couldn’t place it…”

 

“Sehun, that was Yixing.”

 

“Wait, what?”

 

“Yixing’s powers extend beyond just healing physical wounds. When he can tell that someone is hurting inside, mentally, he can visit you in your dreams and heal some of that which cannot be touched. But he can only heal your mental hurting when you’re asleep.”

 

“I’ll have to talk about that with him here soon… lunch. We’ve probably slept past breakfast haven’t we?” I shyly smiled, scratching the back of my neck.

 

“We did, but I felt like sleep was more important than breakfast for the time being. You’d been through a lot in the past couple of days, and I wanted you to get as much rest as you could. Here, get dressed.” He gave me one last hug before letting me go. “You can go get a snack and talk to Yixing, and I’ll go wait for you in the lounge. Don’t take too long.” He flashed a smile at me and disappeared out the door.

 

I sent Yixing a text:



To: Lay

 

I need to talk to you. It’s really important. I’m gonna go grab a snack since I slept past breakfast, meet me in the dining room in five minutes.




He responded almost immediately:



To: Ninety Four

 

I think I already know what this is about, but sure. I’ll be there.



I threw on a black shirt and some jeans, not bothering with shoes. I padded down to the dining room, and surprisingly enough, Yixing was already there and had some snacks set out for us. Well, snacks enough for me. He was drinking a cup of coffee (or at least I think it was coffee).

 

I sat down, taking a bag of chips. (Yeah, it was coffee, I could smell it). “Okay. You said that you already know what I was going to talk to you about. Before I say anything, what do you think I’m going to ask?”

 

“You had a dream last night that you’re wondering about, right?”

 

“Yeah, Taozi kind of roughly explained it, but I think it would be better to hear it from you.”

 

Yixing took a deep breath. “Alright. In the dream, you were really upset and distressed correct?”

 

I nodded.

 

“And a bright figure visit you and comforted you, correct?”

 

I nodded again.

 

“That figure was me. Like Tao probably already said, I can heal mental wounds as well as physical. But the way I do that is… different, to say the least. I can visit people in their dreams and heal them, but only if both parties are asleep. I’ve only been able to do it once when I was awake, but even then, the recipient was still asleep. And I only do that in dire situations, too.”

 

My mouth just hung open. When I could finally manage to get some words out, I said, “You were… you were glowing. Like you were an angel or something. Is that… normal?”

 

He chuckled, “Yeah, that’s normal. I don’t know why it does that, but I’m always glowing when I show up in people’s dreams. I guess it’s like, a way of telling the person that I’m not there to hurt anyone, but to help. It would make sense if Baekhyun were with me when that happens, but he isn’t so…” He laughed a little.

 

“So, this isn’t something that I should be freaked out over?”

 

“No, not at all,” he smiled.

 

“I do have one more question though,” I said.

 

“What is it?” Yixing tilted his head to the side, giving me a questioning look.

 

“Why did you do it, though?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Why did you visit me in my dreams?”

Yixing took a deep breath. “After everything that happened with Chanyeol, I could see it in your eyes. Even though you pretended to be okay around everyone, especially Tao, I could tell that you were hurting. The look that you held told me that deep down you felt guilty for what happened like you thought it was all your fault or something. I didn’t want you to keep feeling like that. If it kept up for too long, it would just become worse and worse. So I knew that I needed to do something, or else it wouldn’t get better any time soon. We all need to be in our best shape for what’s possible to happen, right?”

 

“...right. Knowing me I would have held on to it for the longest time. But after that… it just kinda left my mind. I don’t know how that works but it does. Thanks, Xing hyung,” I smiled.

 

He returned it. “Anytime.”

 

I stood up and turned around, going for the door. But Yixing said ‘wait’, and I stopped, mid-stride. I turned around to face him.

 

He put his palms on the table, pushing himself up to a standing position. “You know that if you’re feeling bad or if you need someone to talk to, any one of us is always here for you. Any time. Right?”

 

“Yeah, yeah. I just have trouble sometimes voicing it, putting it into words… y’know?”

 

“Yeah, I know how that is. But sometimes, just being with us helps. Come to one of us if you have any problems, yeah?”

 

“Yeah. Thanks, Yixing.”

 

“No problem, bro.”

 

I turned the knob and went out the door. But just as soon as I stepped out I collided with another body.

 

“Sorry, sorry I- oh, hey Luhan,” I said, stepping back a bit.

“Hey, Hun! I was just looking for you.”

 

“Really? Did you need something?” I asked.

 

“Yeah, I was looking for you to see if you wanted to join Minseok, Baekhyun, Jongdae, and I in the lounge. We were gonna be playing some billiards and we wanted to know if you wanted to play, too,” he said, hopping from foot to foot. It was like he was just all energy now.

“Hmm…” I thought for a second, “wouldn’t it be uneven teams, though?”

 

“Oh, no. Minseok hyung isn’t going to be playing with us. When he’s nervous he makes schedules for the coming days, and he always follows them. I don’t blame him for being nervous right now, of course. I understand. So he’ll be sitting with us, but not playing with us,” Luhan explained.

 

“Makes sense. And yeah, I don’t blame him either. Who’s gonna be on what teams?” I turned around and started walking towards the lounge, and Luhan followed next to me.

 

“Me and you against Jongdae and Baekhyun. Sound good?”

 

“Oh no,” I laughed. “Those two on a team? We must be just asking trouble now.”

 

Luhan laughed, covering his mouth as he did so. “I mean, you’re not wrong there. But they’re a wicked good duo when they play together in billiards. But if you’re as good as you say you are, then we’ll be okay.”

“Yeah, we’ll be fine.” I stopped at the door to the lounge, opening the door and stepping to the side. “After you.”

 

“Thanks,” he smiled and went through the door.

 

I took three steps in the door and stopped, flinching. Something had gone flying across the room and hit the wall in front of me, denting it. I picked up and saw that it was one of the extra cue balls, covered in blue spots from use. I looked over to the boys, just to see Baekhyun holding the solid seven over his head, ready to throw it if he wanted to. Jongdae was hiding behind his arms, which he had thrown up to defend himself.

 

“Woah, woah, why are you guys throwing the balls at each other? You’re gonna hurt someone!” I said, walking to Baekhyun.

 

“Oh wow, thank you , Captain Obvious,” Baekhyun said, voice dripping with sarcasm. I rolled my eyes at the comment and took the ball out of his hand, while Luhan went around and took the sticks away.

 

“Why are you guys fighting in the first place?” I asked, looking from Baekhyun to Jongdae.

 

“He said that I was cheating and moving the balls when he wasn’t looking, and with the way he is when he loses, he gets upset easily. I tried to explain that I wasn’t cheating, but he just started to throw things at me!” Jongdae exclaimed, leaning on Luhan.

 

“I do not!” Baekhyun yelled, thrashing against my hold on him. “I only get upset at liars! And I saw you do it!”

 

“Guys, calm down,” Minseok said from the other side of the room. I had almost forgotten that he was even in the room. “Let’s not play this anymore. Let’s just do something else, because obviously, this isn’t working out.”

 

“Fine,” Baekhyun growled. “But whatever we play, put Jongdae on my team. That way he can’t cheat against me. Luhan and Sehun on one team, me and Jongdae on the other. Good?”

 

“Yeah, that sounds better. Take a second out of the room. You seem pretty fired up, so just, walk the hallways for a second,” I said, finally loosening my hold on his arms. He dropped them, sighed, and walked to the door. As soon as he stepped out, Jongdae let out a breath that sounded like he was holding for a while.

 

“You okay?” I asked as I made my way over to him.

 

“Yeah, just scared. He’s not intimidating in the least, but when he gets mad, it’s actually pretty terrifying,” Jongdae laughed slightly.

 

I laughed too, “Yeah, he’s like an angry chihuahua.”

 

Minseok burst out laughing, making me jump. Luhan was laughing so hard he lowered himself to the ground, holding his stomach as he laughed, letting out a couple snorts every couple of seconds.

 

We took a second to get it under control and remember how to breathe correctly before I went out and got Baekhyun. He walked in, past me, and the first thing he did was go over to Jongdae and wrap him up in a hug.

 

“I’m sorry I got mad,” he said into Jongdae’s shoulder.

 

“Yeah, it’s okay, hyung,” Jongdae said, “you just got upset at something you thought you saw. It’s okay. You apologized and owned up to it, and that’s all that matters.”

 

Baekhyun loosened his hold on Jongdae and stepped back, scratching his neck and giving a shy smile. “You know how I can be sometimes.”

 

“Of course. Let’s play a game now, to chill out. Who knows when we’ll get the chance to do that again.”

 

“What time is it?” Baekhyun asked.

 

“Uh,” I looked at the clock, “it’s 12:30. Our last day here before we’re off to District 9.”

 

“Right…” Minseok said. “We leave tomorrow morning, right?”

 

“Yeah, Junmyeon is sup-” I was cut off my all of our phones buzzing simultaneously.

 

We gave each other a knowing look, and pulled out our phones, reading the message:



Tonight is your last night here. Enjoy it while you can, but I would advise you to spend the evening after dinner packing what you need. Spend the day relaxing, because none of us know when you will have that chance again. We leave tomorrow morning at 8 AM, so make sure you wake up before then.



Jongdae sighed, and Baekhyun looked ready to cry. Minseok stood up, walking to the window, raking a hand through his hair and tugging slightly. Just as I opened my mouth to say something to Luhan, who looked really scared, my phone buzzed again with a message from Junmyeon:



Sehun, I’m sorry this had to be this way. Us leaving so soon after your joining here, I mean. I didn’t expect it to be this way, nor did I anticipate it, and I deeply apologize for that. The train we will be taking will be having stops, seeing as how the trip there will be almost 3 days because of distance, and on those stops, we’re allowed to exit the train for a short amount of time. That’s when we will do your physical training. We will exit the train, and Yifan and I will be trying things with you, seeing if we can work with what little time we have. From what I’m told, each stop will be an hour long. I have faith that you will be able to gain control of your abilities quickly. At least, it’s my hope that you will. This is probably a lot to take in, I know, and for the third time this message, I’m sorry. Please relax all that you can for now, you’ll need it. I’ll see you in the morning.



I leaned my head back, running a hand over my face. Luhan nudged my shoulder, furrowing his brows. He was silently asking me what was wrong. I showed him the message and watched his face shift between emotions as he read it.

 

“God, Hun… he’s really gonna be pushing it, huh? As he said there, this is a lot to take in at once… at least he’s acknowledging it.”

 

“I know, I know. But what choices do we have? We’re so short on time and just… I don’t blame him. It’s just a little overwhelming, you know?”

 

“Yeah, I feel that,” he said, handing me my phone back. I sat up, pushing myself up off the couch into a standing position. I paced around the room, trying to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of the day. I had to pack, eat dinner still, chill with them, and I still planned on going to bed early so I would be well rested, and just…

 

“I’m taking a walk for a second. I need to think through what I need to do for the rest of the day,” I started walking out the door.

 

“We’ll be here. We already packed ahead of time, so we’ll just be chilling here for now. Come back whenever you feel like it,” Minseok said.

 

I stepped out into the hallway and immediately started walking. I don’t even know where I was going, I just knew that I needed to think.

 

Packing could wait until later tonight, after dinner. So dinner, pack, then bed is a definite yes. What to do until then, I should probably go check on Chanyeol, then I can go sit with the guys in the lounge. I sighed and turned around, heading for Chanyeol’s room.

 

I paused at the door, contemplating if I should, then knocked on the door.

 

“Come in.”

 

I opened the door carefully and stepped in. He was laying in bed, arms covering his eyes.

 

I went over to the edge of the bed and sat down. “Hey, Yeol hyung.

 

“Hey, Sehun,” he said, putting his arms down and looking at me.

 

“How are you feeling?” I asked.

 

“I’m okay for now.”

 

I sighed, “Did you see the message too?”

 

“Yup.”

 

“You seem pretty calm about it.”

 

“Baek pretty much convinced me to pack early. He seems to be pretty worried about this, so now I have nothing to do. I’m just taking the rest of the day laying in bed.”

 

I opened my mouth to reply, but I heard a bang on the wall behind his bed, and some yelling.

 

“That’s just Kyungsoo’s room. He and Jongin are packing really quickly, so they don’t have to worry about it later,” Chanyeol explained.

 

“Okay… you sure you feel fine?”

 

“Yeah. I’m alright,” he smiled at me.

 

“Alright. I’m gonna go sit with the guys in the lounge for now. Text me if you need anything, okay?” I stood up and walked to the door.

 

“Yeah. Oh, Hun. Do me a favour.”

 

“What is it?” I turned back.

 

“Tell Baekhyun to answer my texts,” he smiled.

 

“Okay, got it.”

 

I stepped into the hallway and headed back for the lounge. Entering the lounge, I saw that Tao and Yixing had joined them. I waved to Yixing and plopped down next to where Tao was sitting down on the couch, putting my head on his shoulder and closing my eyes.

 

“What’s up?” Tao said, leaning his head back on mine.

 

“I just checked on Chanyeol and- oh, Baek. Chanyeol says that you need to respond to his texts.”

 

“Got it,” he said, pulling out his phone.

 

I turned to Tao, saying quietly, “Anyway, I plan on just chilling here until dinner, and after dinner, we pack and then go to bed early. We need to get as much rest as we can for tomorrow.”

 

He nodded, and I turned back to face forward, enjoying my time to calm it down while I can.

 

Dinner came too soon. None of us wanted to go, but we knew that we had to go. We had to at least eat something , even if it’s just something small.

 

We were the last ones to arrive, everyone sitting in their normal places. Nobody ate very much, overcome by nerves. That, of course, was understandable. Conversation was sparse, too. The only things that were there to contribute to the conversation were the quiet compliments to Kyungsoo’s cooking, to which he just gave a nod, a silent thanks .

 

Following dinner, everyone just went to their rooms, not knowing what else to do. Walking down the hall, I felt Tao’s hand tug on mine, and I took it. I looked at him and he smiled, squeezing my hand reassuringly.

 

“It’ll be okay, you know. No matter what, I’ll be here with you, and I’ll help keep you safe,” he said quietly.

 

“I know. I don’t want to go without you, either.” He blushed slightly and turned his head away, and I chuckled.

 

Packing didn’t take long, honestly. I didn’t have much to pack, anyway. I packed only necessities- clothes, hygiene products, things like that. But before I zipped up my suitcase, something fell into it. A small box, about the size of my fist, but flatter. I looked around and found Tao looking down at me. I opened the box and found a small gold bracelet, just big enough for me.

 

I gasped, putting it on and looking at him, all the while he had a huge smile on his face.

 

I stood up and hugged him tightly, thanking him for the beautiful gift.

 

He chuckled slightly, “You’re welcome, Hun.”

 

I zipped up my suitcase and lay down in bed, Tao laying next to me. I wrapped my arms around him, saying a small ‘goodnight’ before letting myself finally fall asleep.

Chapter Text

My phone rang at seven in the morning, signalling that we needed to get up and move our stuff to the train. I groaned and dropped my phone. I really wasn’t ready for this, but it’s not like I had much of a choice. Tao was beside me, snoring softly. Another thing I didn’t want to do but had to do: wake him up.

 

I shook him softly, “Tao, hey, it’s time to get up. We gotta get ready.”

 

“Mmm… don’t wanna…” he mumbled, rolling away from me and pulling the blanket over his head. I sighed and pulled it away reluctantly, and he covered his eyes, shielding himself from the morning sunlight. Tao sighed as well, sitting up and rubbing his eyes.

 

“See, Taozi, that wasn’t so hard, right?” I said softly.

 

He sighed again, “I don’t want to leave.”

 

I put a hand on his shoulder, “I don’t either, but we have to... We should get dressed and eat some breakfast before we take our stuff down.”

 

He nodded in agreement, and I lifted the blanket off of my legs, swinging them out and off the bed. The floor was unusually cold against my bare feet. I walked over to the dresser, grabbing a flannel and some jeans, pulling them on. I tossed the clothes Tao had set out last night for himself, and he put those on. He had picked out a black pullover and some jeans as well. With the mix of the sweater and the tired look he held in his eyes, he looked really soft. More than usual, I mean.

 

I opened the door, letting Tao step out, me following him. He turned left, heading towards the cafeteria. But not long after he started walking, he stopped, turning to face me.

 

“Something up?” I asked him.

 

He stepped towards me and looked at me strangely. I couldn’t figure out what it was before he was wrapping me in a tight hug.

 

I wrapped my arms back around him, awkwardly at first since it caught me off guard at first.

 

“Sehun…” he said into my chest, “while we’re gone, please don’t leave me… I don’t want to be alone.”

I smiled lightly, “I didn’t plan on it anyway.”

 

His hold tightened on me, then he released me entirely. “Thank you so much. I don’t know what I’d do in the coming weeks without you.”

 

“No problem, Taozi.”

 

We separated, and he left, presumably going to his room to grab his things. I took hold of my suitcase handle, slung my backpack over the opposite shoulder, and stepped out of the door. As I left the comfort of my own room, I spotted Tao exiting his room as well, and together, we went down the hall, heading for the elevator.

 

I pushed the down button, and as we waited for the elevator, I felt something tug lightly at my free hand. Tao looked over at me shyly, and I understood, taking his hand in mine as we waited. The elevator arrived, empty, and we stepped in, grabbing our things. I put my suitcase down and pushed the button labelled ‘Ground Floor’, and we felt the elevator begin to move. Tao squeezed my hand nervously. I tightened my hold, not letting go.

 

The elevator came to a stop, and as we stepped out, we were met by Junmyeon, Yifan, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, and Luhan.

 

Junmyeon greeted us, not paying any attention to our intertwined hands, “Hey guys. The cars are waiting outside. If you want to go ahead and put your things in one of the cars, go ahead. Just remember what car, because whatever car you put your things in is going to be the car you ride in to the train station. Remember though, three people to a car. Three passengers, plus the driver that each car will have.”

 

I gave him a nod, and he pat my shoulder. We put our things in the second car lined up. Luhan’s stuff was already there, so now I knew that he was going to be riding with us.

 

I closed the trunk, and Tao whispered to me, “Sit in the back seat with me?”

 

“Of course.”

 

We turned back, and on the way in, Yixing, Minseok, and Jongdae passed us, going to the third car and setting their things in there. I assumed that they had already planned on riding together.

 

As we walked back in and joined the group, I heard Junmyeon speak up. “Now we only have to wait for D.O and Kai?”

 

“Yes. They’re the last ones. After they come down we can load up and prepare to leave,” Yifan replied. “The station is, what, three, maybe four hours’ ride?”

 

“Three hours, forty-five minutes. We will arrive at the train station between approximately eleven forty-five and noon.”

 

“Alright. We’re right on schedule then. If D.O and Kai don’t come downstairs within the next five minutes I’m going up there and getting them myself,” Yifan said, an underlying tone of annoyance tinging his voice.

 

Tao held onto my wrist loosely, resting his head on my shoulder and leaning on me slightly. Baekhyun shot me a happy yet questioning look, and I just smiled his way. His smile widened, and he went back to bugging Chanyeol.

 

About two and a half minutes later, Kyungsoo and Jongin stepped out of the elevator, looking distressed and panicked. I told Tao to hang on for a second, and I walked over to the two of them, helping them carry their things out to the first car. Junmyeon would be riding with them.

 

As we loaded their things into the trunk, I looked to Kyungsoo. “What’s wrong? Did something happen?”

 

Kyungsoo heaved the last case into the trunk and pulled it shut. “No, we’re fine. Jongin was panicking because he couldn’t find something he had set out the previous night. He refused to leave without it, it being one of his most valued items.”

 

“I refuse to leave the house for extended periods of time without it. It comforts me and it just feels wrong to leave without it,” Jongin rushed, clarifying.

 

“That makes sense. Just like how I’m never going to take this off,” I said, raising my left wrist, showing off the gold bracelet that Tao had given me last night.

 

“That’s… who gave that to you?” Kyungsoo said, taking my wrist and pulling towards himself, eyes flitting between the bracelet and myself.

 

“Tao did last night. I was packing my things and he gave it together. He seems to think that I’ll forget him too easily if something happens to us during all of this,” I said. Jongin was now looking at my wrist as well.

 

“You must mean a lot to him,” Kyungsoo said, releasing my wrist.

 

“What do you mean?” I asked, letting it fall to my side.

 

“Sehun, this isn’t a regular bracelet. This isn’t even fool’s gold. This is a real gold bracelet,” he said, gesturing to my wrist.

 

My jaw dropped slightly, then I closed it. “How… how can you tell?”

 

“Take it off really fast and weigh it in your palm. The weight should tell you just as much.”

 

I looked at him strangely, then reluctantly took it off and set it in the palm of my hand. I lifted my hand up and down, weighing the small object, and sure enough, it had a pretty decent weight for being just a bracelet.

 

I cleared my throat, putting it back around my wrist. “I’m gonna have to talk to him later. About where he got it, how much it was, why he spent that much on me…”

 

“He probably gave it to you because he cares for you, Sehunnie,” Jongin said, slinging an arm around Kyungsoo’s shoulders.

 

“You… think so?”

 

Jongin laughed lightly, “Do you even see the way he looks at you?”

 

“No…” I admitted shyly.

 

“He looks at you as if you’re the greatest thing he’s ever seen. He also seems a lot happier when he’s around you, and when you’re not there, he talks about you like… like you’re his favourite person in the entire world.”

 

“I would never have been able to tell,” I barely whispered.

 

“You’re also pretty oblivious, Hun,” Kyungsoo snickered. I punched him on the shoulder lightly, and he feigned hurt.

 

We turned back to go back, but before we got there, Jongin turned to me. “What are you going to do about it, you think?”

 

“I don’t know yet, honestly. I’ll probably wait until he says something to me first beforehand, y’know?”

 

“Yeah. Understandable. Good luck with whatever happens, though, Sehunnie,” Jongin said.

 

Just as Kyungsoo opened the door for us, the rest of the group was heading for the door. I pulled out my phone and checked the time, and sure enough, it was eight a.m. Time to depart for the train station.

 

Tao walked up to me and stayed by my side as we made our way to the car. Luhan followed behind us, immediately dwarfed in height compared to the two of us. Luhan sat in the front seat, Tao and I taking our places in the back seat.

 

Yifan was about to go to his car with Baekhyun and Chanyeol, but he stopped and knocked on our window, signalling us to lower it. I did so, and he said, “You did hear how long the ride there would be, correct?”

 

“Yeah, Suho said about three hours and forty-five minutes.”

 

“Right. The train ride, though, will be an overnight ride, with us arriving tomorrow afternoon. So prepare to be stuck up for a while. It’s not as bad as it seems, though. I promise.” He managed a smile at the end, and I returned it. Yifan turned back and headed to his car, and I rolled the window up.

 

As soon as the window was all the way back up, the car started to move. I closed my eyes, put in headphones and leaned my head against the window. Before I even played anything, though, I heard Tao undo his seatbelt. I cracked my eyes open slightly just in time to see him lay across the seat and lay his head in my lap, closing his eyes. I smiled softly, running a hand through his hair, made to look softer by the early morning sunlight streaming through the sunroof. He smiled and exhaled deeply, relaxation setting over. My smile widened and I put some calm music on, laying my head back on the window. It wasn’t long before Tao had fallen back asleep, in my lap this time, and shortly after him, I did too.



~~~~~



“Sehun…”

 

“Nooooo…” I groaned.

 

“Sehun, you have to get up, we’re at the train station. Plus, Suho wants us to eat before we get on the train.” I recognized the voice as being Baekhyun. He shook me softly, trying to get me to wake up. I eventually gave in, since the seat belt was rubbing into my neck. I sat up, unbuckling myself, and realized that Tao was gone. I looked around a little frantically before Baekhyun laughed a little.

 

“Don’t worry, Hun. Tao’s just already inside the restaurant, he said he needed to go in and use the bathroom and that he was also gonna go ahead and get a table. Chanyeol went in with him and was gonna pick a table and told him that you two could sit with us. So it’ll be the four of us at one table. But if you’re hungry, I would go ahead and get up, so you can eat,” Baekhyun said, putting a hand on my shoulder.

 

I pushed myself out of the car, shutting the door behind me. I rubbed at my eyes, yawning loudly and stretching my arms over my head. I heard Baekhyun let out a small gasp next to me, and so I looked at him, furrowing my brows.

 

He explained with wide eyes, “Hun… when you stretched, your shirt rode up, and your stomach came out and… dude. You’re fuckin’ ripped .”

 

I smacked him on the shoulder. “Don’t scare me like that! I thought something was wrong when you gasped like that!”

 

“Sorry, sorry. I’m just impressed, man. Appreciating,” He said, raising his hands up in surrender and laughing slightly.

 

Chanyeol had picked a table next to a window, and Tao was sitting facing away from the window. I sat to the left of him, Baekhyun sat across from me, and Chanyeol had sat down with his back facing the rest of the restaurant. It was some sort of whatever-you-want sandwich place, where you could customize your sandwich. Not a Subway, though. This was so much better. Junmyeon told us all to get the biggest size sandwiches so we would have leftovers for later.

 

I sat down and began to eat my sandwich, and the entire time we were eating around the table, Chanyeol and Baekhyun kept glancing between the two of us, giving us a look I couldn’t quite decipher. I brushed it off as my brain being paranoid and continued to eat, leaving a little over half of my food left for the rest of the trip.

 

Yifan yelled for us, signalling that it was time to depart. I wrapped the remainders and put them in the small plastic bag they had originally come in and stood up, heading for the door.

 

Once we were all outside, Junmyeon spoke. “Okay, all of us are here, I can go ahead and start. This train ride will be an overnight one, so you’re going to be stuck up for a while. There are separate rooms for all of us for sleeping, so you all have your own rooms. Two to a car and there are seven cars here, not counting the engine. Go on, I’ll explain a little more when we’re inside and moving.”

 

All of us went back to the cars we rode in and grabbed our stuff out of the trunks, carrying them with us to the train car. I shut the trunk, grabbed my stuff off the ground, and walked towards the train.

 

I walked forward, stepping off the platform and into the train, Tao following close behind.

 

What I assumed to be the living room/lounge area was… breathtaking, to say the least. Windows lined the walls, not very tall but enough to light up the room really well. The top of the table in front of the black leather couches was edged with wood but the centres were all glass, showing the legs and things under. The countertops were all light marble, mahogany wood making up the rest. The walls were made up of a cream coloured panelling. The room overall was just stunning . I sat down, Tao sitting on my right, Kyungsoo on my left, Jongin next to Kyungsoo.

 

Everyone took their places and sat down, and the train began to move.

 

Junmyeon did a head count before speaking again. “Now, when we arrive in District 9, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. The leaders, known around the district as Stray Kids, they’re a bit younger than we are. The oldest is only twenty-one, and the youngest is seventeen. Don’t let this change your view of them, though. They’re one of the most prominent district leader groups, and they don’t play around. Their district is one of the safest, too. It’s a completely different game we’ll be playing here when we arrive, so be ready to be a little out of your zones here. Any questions?”

 

“After this, do you already know what district we’ll be going to?” I asked him.

 

“We’re thinking either District 5 or one other one that Kris and I have been considering, but we have a general idea,” Junmyeon said. “Any more?”

 

We all shook our heads.

 

“Alright. Peach and Ninety Four, you two are in the back car, then moving up one car at a time, there’s D.O and Kai, then Chen and Xiumin, Phoenix and Kkaebsong, Lay and Xiao Lu, and Kris and I will be in the front car. If you need anything just text us, and we’ll help you out.”

 

Junmyeon stood up and turned around, Yifan following suit. As they left, the rest of us also stood up, going to our rooms as well. I pulled out my phone as I walked, checking the time. It was just past twelve-thirty. They said that it was gonna be an overnight train ride, and I sighed, already aching from being in a space like this for so long.

 

I gasped, remembering a question I meant to ask Junmyeon, so I texted him:



To: Suho

 

Did you say when we were going to be arriving in District 9? I can’t remember if you said when or not.



He replied within a minute:



To: Ninety Four

 

No, I didn’t mention an exact time. I believe we will be arriving sometime around 3:30 pm



To: Suho

 

Thanks, eomma



I could almost hear him chuckling to himself as he replied:



To: Ninety Four

 

No problem. Don’t call me that.



I opened the door to my room, setting my things down. I laid down, trying to relax a bit. Not long after I laid down, though, Tao walked in and sat on the edge of the bed.

 

I spread an arm out, inviting him to lay down with me. He smiled shyly before laying down next to me. I yawned, and fell into the second nap of the day…



~~~~~~



When I woke up, the light streaming in the window was more of an amber colour. I assumed it was closer to somewhere around six or seven in the evening. Tao was still asleep next to me, so I covered him up, letting him stay asleep. I sat up, stretching quietly, and got up, careful not to disturb him.

 

I picked up my phone and saw that I had multiple missed messages, many of them being pictures. I opened them and immediately smiled, shaking my head. They were all pictures of Tao and me sleeping. One of me with my arm around his waist, one of him curling into my side, just all us. I checked who they were from, and I wasn’t surprised that they were from Jongin.



To: Ninety Four

 

You can’t tell me that you don’t care for him too. This is too cute.



I saved many of them and texted Jongin back:



To: Kai

 

Lol, maybe I do, maybe I don’t. Either way, thanks for these pictures. I totally didn’t save all of them



To: Ninety Four

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if you did. And don’t deny it: You’re totally whipped for him. I won’t say anything. It would mean more if you told him. But for the love of God, hurry up



I laughed and sent one back:



To: Kai

 

I will. Eventually, given time, I will



I opened the door and entered the small hallway. Well, not really small, but smaller than I’m used to. Walking down the hallway to the car that I assumed was supposed to be the living room/lounge area. Baekhyun and Chanyeol were there, playing cards over one of the tables. Jongin and Kyungsoo were on the couch next to them, watching. As I walked in, they all gave me a quick glance before turning their attention back to the game. Except for Jongin. Jongin looked at me and smiled, giving me a look that quietly said ‘Aww.’ I grinned at him, rolling my eyes and sitting down next to him. I leaned back on the couch and watched the two of them play cards.

 

About half an hour after I sat down, Tao walked in, attempting to rub the sleepy look out of his eyes. I smiled at him and pat the seat next to me, and he took it, closing his eyes and leaning his head on my shoulder. I leaned my head on his and continued to watch them play, but as I leaned my head onto Tao, Baekhyun and Jongin looked at me with knowing looks and smiled. I smiled back.

 

They played cards for about 2 hours before we felt the train slowing down a little. Tao sat up straight, looking out of the window.

 

“Why are we slowing down?” Jongin asked.

 

“I have no idea, Jong-” I started. I was cut off by my phone buzzing. They tilted their heads at me, and so I pulled my phone out, looking at the text, which happened to be from Junmyeon:



To: Ninety Four

 

No doubt that you’ve noticed that the train has started to slow down. We’re about to come to one of the stops, and before we come to District 9 there’ll be one more after this. When we come to a complete stop, Kris and I will come to get you and we’ll step outside and do a little bit of physical training.



I replied:



To: Suho

 

Okay, I’m in the lounge car



I put my phone back in my pocket just as Tao looked at me and asked, “What was it?”

 

“Oh, just Junmyeon. When the train stops this time and the next, he and Yifan will be running some physical training exercises with me,” I said, looking out the window and scratching the back of my neck.

 

There was a slight silence, but Chanyeol’s voice broke it. “Prepare for the worst but hope and pray for the best. That’s the best advice I can give you right now because I don’t know how different it’ll be from how ours was. Your training is very rushed on time, with everything that’s been going on, so I feel like it’s gonna be pretty intense.”

 

“Yeah, I thought so too,” I said, scratching the back of my neck. “I’m just hoping that nothing here will hurt me that much because I need to keep up my health here for the coming days.”

 

Kyungsoo stood up and walked over to me, putting a hand on my shoulder, “Don’t worry, Sehun. Junmyeon has never hurt any of us in physical training, and even so, even if he somehow accidentally does, we have Yixing here. He’ll take care of you if it manages to happen.”

 

“Of course.” I sighed and turned back to the window, pressing my forehead to the glass and watching the ground as it came to a gentle stop.

 

Not long after the stop, I heard quiet footsteps coming to the door to my left. It opened, revealing Junmyeon standing there, Yifan right behind him. He looked at me and held his hand out to me.

 

“It’s time. Let’s go, Ninety Four,” he said to me. I took his offered hand, and we stepped out into the cool late evening air.