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A Flower's Thorn

Chapter Text

Junhoe.

Junhoe.

Junhoe.

Junhoe.

Junhoe.

Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe.

Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe.

Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE. JUNHOE.

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JUNHOE

JUNHOE

JUNHOE

JUNHOE

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JUNHOE

JUNHOE

JUNHOE

JUNHOE

Chapter Text

Junhoe gasped for air in the same moment his eyes opened. Shooting off of the ground, his hands reached for his throat so as to prevent being choked, only to find that nothing was suffocating him save the chilling cold that hung heavily in the air.

A shudder of an exhale escaped him, though not before running through the rest of his body. He was shaken onto his feet, unable to grasp where he was although that might have just been because he was in the dark.

It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the heavily filtered moonlight and even when it finally did, he failed to recognize anything around him. It looked as if nothing but flat land surrounded him, no figure broke through the emptiness for the miles heading towards the horizon. Where was he? How did he get here? Confusion grew with each second that he didn’t get an answer, the voices in his head buzzing with inquiries until one, clear and loud, broke through the rest.

Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe. Junhoe.

The voice in his mind repeated, and he gasped a breath again at the closeness of the noise. It sounded like a voice beyond one that was merely used in one’s head. It was as if something — someone was next to him, whispering in his ear. Junhoe, Junhoe, Junhoe. He shuddered at the thought of it and turned in a circle in attempts to make sure that nobody else was near. Though the confirmation that he was alone had somehow made the sinking feeling in his stomach worse.

Junhoe. That’s my name, Junhoe had thought with a desperation to distract himself. Who else could it have been? Why else would a name so persistently be screamed in his head if not to say THAT’S YOU, THAT’S YOU, THAT’S YOU!  

And what now of him, what became of the name Junhoe now that it could be attributed to a person? What was the use in a name with no one around to say it, without a lifetime to be attached to it?

What kind of a person was Junhoe supposed to be, if he was now someone that woke up in the middle of a desert with a headache so grand its only source could have been from alcohol? Was this a frequent occurrence, did the desert know him by name, did the sands ask him if he was going to have ‘the usual’? Was this dilemma and questioning of one’s self an entirely new outcome or did he go through this crisis weekly? What then of those contemplations, what did they conclude?

Who am I? Where am I? How did I get here?

Junhoe.

Junhoe.

Junhoe.

Walking through the desert while the sun was gone and the moon hidden behind walls of clouds was hardly what Junhoe would call a picnic, but he felt he couldn’t complain. It was his fault he was in this situation in the first place, wasn’t it? He was the one that decided to drink so much that he no longer had control of his actions.

A bitter taste tingled in the back of his tongue and he waved it away as he trudged on, hoping to soon find water else he feared he would pass out from dehydration.

Where am I?

Junhoe.

How did I get here?

Junhoe.

The sun had begun to rise by the time Junhoe’s legs felt like they would fall off from fatigue. He had been walking nonstop and had still come to nothing. He was finally convinced that he was moved to a really small world by an alien body and was now walking its circumference without knowing.

And maybe that was why, when the light of the sun finally shed colour to the world unlike the blacks and blues of the clouded moon, that his knees buckled under him.

The redness of the sand was so shocking that he had forgotten to breathe upon seeing it. Beautiful it was in its striking hue, but horrendous all the same and fear-inducing more than anything. A chill ran down his spine at the thought of what could have turned it such a colour, and he shook it away as quickly as the question had come.

Junhoe lifted himself off of the ground in fear of being so close to it, only to notice that the palms of his hands were already shining the same kind of red.

He felt sick to his stomach.

The desert was marking him, making sure he couldn’t forget. What was he supposed to forget, if he couldn’t remember anything?

Who am I?

Junhoe.

How did I get here?

JUNHOE

Junhoe had resorted to trying to get liquid out of his sweat-soaked shirt, trying not to think about what he was drinking more than the clawing of his throat against his skin, trying to climb out and find water on its own. Still he continued to walk as he didn’t think anything would change if he kept still.

The sun had set and risen again before Junhoe saw a sign that he wasn’t the only one on whatever planet he was on, if any at all. There was a throbbing behind his eyes at the sight of the slight mounds that formed off of the ground. If he had drunken anything else in the last two days, he would have cried it all out in the moment he had walked closer and saw a flower carved out at the top of the small hill of sand.

It wasn’t much — it was hardly anything, but the winds couldn’t have done that themselves. It was art with a level of intention that only another person could have possessed, and it was everything to him in that moment.

His knees buckled again and he pressed his forehead into the hot sand, its searing welcome of no concern to him as he finally had what he needed: a sign that he wasn’t alone. He cried in the only way he could, with sound instead of tears and his wailing had come so loud that he could hear it echoing within the walls of the thick air.

“Woah, woah ,” a voice had come, evidently amused despite the rawness of the pain that Junhoe had finally let out. “What the hell is wrong, man, are you alright?”

Junhoe lifted himself from his position and towards the source of the voice, almost in disbelief that he wasn’t the last living person on Earth despite the flower he had just cried next to. Maybe the tears were meant for the person that had left it behind, instead of the person who had marked his presence with it.  

The man that stood before him smiled like there was nothing to ever worry about, and Junhoe wondered how well he could live in the middle of nowhere; how well of a life he’d managed to make for himself here.

“I...It’s just been a long...long way here. I thought I was alone,” Junhoe confessed, feeling even weaker against the strength of the man’s offered hand as he lifted Junhoe to his feet. “Who are you?”

“Me? I’m Bobby,” he answered with a smile even brighter than the one he wore before, and all the anxiety and worries and aching that Junhoe felt in the last two days had washed away with just one smile.

“You’re not alone. Well now you’ve got me, but even if you didn’t have me then you still wouldn't be alone! These sands have a mind of their own, sometimes, I feel. They’re alive, you see, in their colour and in their way of moving around on you. Sometimes I get sad and the sand comes and brushes against my leg or my arm, sometimes even my face. They’ve got minds of their own, each and every grain.”

Junhoe wasn’t sure if it was the lack of food or the days he had spent under the sun, but what Bobby was saying had made sense. He felt as if the sand moved apart from the wind, and though they didn’t comfort Junhoe the same way they did for Bobby, Junhoe felt that that was only because he was alone and fearful. Nothing would have come as a comfort, nothing but Bobby himself, probably, with the smile that he wore.

Bobby led Junhoe further into the desert, and the further they walked the more sculptures that seemed to come from the ground.

They started off short at first, like the flower at the top of the small mound he had found, or one of a person laying down with their arms crossed behind their head. The further they went, the larger they grew. They stood as tall as Junhoe, some even taller. The one that Bobby finally stopped in front of was larger than the rest and was almost finished, but not quite. Something was missing.

“I need to fill in the middle,” Bobby answered, placing what Junhoe couldn’t put his finger on though Junhoe didn’t say any of his thoughts out loud.

The others usually consisted of only one person as the main focus. Sitting down or holding an animal, something meant to be done alone. But the one they faced now looked like a mural, like something to be shared instead of appreciated on its own. It already had five people carved into the wall of sand, all facing the center of which still had to be completed. They looked at whatever was to fill it like something monumental had occured. Junhoe could only imagine the pressure to create something great enough for the gap, and didn’t blame Bobby for not yet having it done.

Though whatever was to fill it in the future, Junhoe already guessed that it would be as beautiful as the rest. Everything they had walked past, from the flower to this mural, was so realistic that it gave Junhoe goosebumps. Junhoe was afraid to go up to one and examine it as closely as he wanted to for he didn’t want it to jump out and grab him. How delicate Bobby’s hands must have been in order to create works so great, how patient he must be.

“Wow,” Junhoe said, for he had no other words to say that would both encompass his awe of the works he was just shown as well as let his sore throat rest.

“Thanks,” Bobby responded, sharing a smile with Junhoe that made him feel as if the smile was his alone, his alone to keep and to cherish. And further confirming Junhoe’s notion that maybe Bobby could read his mind, he asked “Do you want water?”

Where am I?

Bobby.

How did I get here?

Bobby.

Bobby.

Bobby.

Junhoe quickly learned that if something seemed too good to be true, then it was. He told himself he could get a pass with this one time of what he could only guess was hundreds, since his memory was virtually nonexistent, though deep down he knew something would go awry soon. Even if he felt as if the grains of sand had minds of their own, who moved without the help of gusts of wind, he knew that it wasn’t really true.

He thought that when Bobby was talking about the same phenomena earlier, that it was with the same common sense that he applied to it.

But now? He wasn’t so sure.

Bobby was good at sculpting, at least that much Junhoe would give him. He had managed to carve an entire house out of sand, stable in its walls and furniture. It didn’t hold a ceiling, but it was more than he could find anywhere else. And although it seemed a little suffocating to have so much sand around, Bobby seemed to become more alive in it, his cheeks growing redder and his eyes brighter.

Junhoe felt that it was a lonely life to have the only other people around you made of sand; the only buildings made of it as well. But he quickly learned that everything was sand to Bobby and he didn’t mind that it was so. He was happy in the way that he held himself, and genuinely so in that regard. Junhoe wished that he could be as happy as Bobby was, and wondered if he had come close when he lived in places that weren’t deserts.

The water that Bobby had offered to him was, in reality, just sand. Junhoe wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do with loose sand contained in a glass made of more sand, but Bobby had drunk his own glass like it was an everyday thing. Junhoe tried to as well, but couldn’t get the sand down his throat before starting to choke on the dry texture of it.

Bobby had laughed at him then, though it wasn’t a malicious laugh, and Junhoe wished for the day he could down the sand as easily as he did. Despite his boyish longings, he was sure he would never willingly ask for a glass of water himself.

Surely, even Bobby himself knew the silliness in his own actions, he told himself. Yet still a voice lingered at the back of his mind, whispering doubts into what he earlier saw as his paradise.

He lay on the sand bed that Bobby had offered him that night, feeling helpless at the thought that the only other person on Earth had lost half his mind, maybe all of it.

But it’s better than nothing, right?

Probably, he initially decided at the thought of his alternative — walking alone in the desert aimlessly with only the flat ground as a bed.

Maybe , he settled on when he began to wonder how the sculptures could be made without the use of water.

Junhoe didn’t know if it was the chill of the desert at night that woke him, or the feeling that somebody was staring at him, but either way he wished he never opened his eyes. Maybe he wouldn’t have had to wake up to Bobby standing over his bed, staring at him. Maybe Bobby would have grown tired of his sleeping face (or realized how earth-shatteringly creepy it was to stare at someone while they were sleeping) and walked away.

But he did wake up, and when he saw Bobby’s eyes hovering over him he scrambled away from the temporarily strange figure and into the wall behind him. His elbow pushed into the soft sand and he let out a soft oh, shit at the feeling of it submitting to the weight of his arm. It may have been solid and stable, but it was still sand after all.

“I’m sorry, you scared me I—uh I,” he said with a palpable panic in his voice.

“It’s alright,” Bobby answered, failing to move from his position with a smile that broke through the dark. “I can fix it.”

Junhoe couldn’t help but stare, mesmerized at the visual of a smile and a pair of eyes floating in the dark. “Sorry, really,” he insisted when he finally managed to look away, instead busying himself with brushing off the sand that stuck to his elbow. Was sand supposed to be this sticky?

He wrinkled his nose when his face got close enough, noticing a smell that failed to make itself apparent before. It smelled as if it was rotting where Junhoe would have instead expected the smell of burning from being under the sun. But was sand supposed to smell at all?

“Do you want to sleep with me?” Bobby offered before Junhoe could open his mouth to ask about the stench, the offer so unexpected that he was forced into silence and temporary forgetfulness about what had concerned him seconds before.

No, his mind protested, and adamantly so as the voice in his head was screaming the word by the time Junhoe had nodded. From the coldness of the night to the growing stench that came from the wall, he couldn’t think of a worse way to spend his night than alone to soak in his thoughts.

Bobby led him to the only other room without a word, offering the slightly raised platform in the corner of the room to Junhoe with a smile that spoke nothing of the eeriness that was radiating from him only minutes before.

“Why were you watching me?” Junhoe said when he felt Bobby’s weight fall next to him, the question was asked with a breath caught in his throat for he didn’t know if it would be received well. He heard Bobby laugh in response, and it both relaxed him and caused him to feel like ants were crawling on his skin.

Silence followed the laughter, one stretched out so long that Junhoe was sure Bobby had fallen asleep. But when he turned his head to check if he really had dozed off, Bobby was looking at him again with unwavering eyes and a smile that wanted to comfort, but failed to do so.

Junhoe’s heart hammered against his chest when his eyes met Bobby’s, and it took all the strength in him not to scramble away like he had earlier.

“You’re just beautiful, is all,” Bobby answered, with a softness to his voice that settled Junhoe’s anxiety almost immediately. Bobby was a paradox of a person, a juxtaposition within himself that gave roller coasters for Junhoe to ride on with no belt, no bar. And Junhoe didn’t know if he could survive long with his heart so unused to the person Bobby was.

Bobby.

Bobby.

Bobby.

“Pretty boys are hard to find.”

How did I get here?

It was complicated with Bobby. Well, it wasn’t really that complicated, but if anyone were to ask Junhoe why he stuck around, that would be his answer — it’s complicated .

But it wasn’t, it was really simple. Bobby was weird and more-than-just-slightly creepy, but Junhoe was almost completely sure that it was because Bobby had a crush on him. Which Junhoe didn’t mind, though he could never get used to how often he caught Bobby staring at him. Always watching him like he was an animal behind a set of bars rather than another person, though he didn’t want to bring it up for he didn’t want Bobby to feel ashamed of his actions. It was nothing to be ashamed of, to like another person.  

Their hands also brushed too often for it to be coincidence, and Bobby’s had always lingered a few seconds longer than anyone else’s would. Though what did Junhoe really know, when Bobby was the only other person he could remember interacting with?

Bobby used the excuse of teaching Junhoe how to do sand sculptures to hold his hands in the name of guidance. Junhoe didn’t mind, of course, for Bobby’s hands were gentle and soft and he looked at Junhoe with eyes of admiration that sent his heart beating in a good way, in the best way. He was easy to grow fond of, Bobby, and Junhoe had become an admirer in spite of the voice in his head willing him to be more alert of the stranger in the middle of the desert.

Junhoe couldn’t really say he enjoyed the sculpting lessons, for the smell that filled his worries from a few nights ago hadn’t just been his imagination. It filled his nostrils each time he bent down close enough and had grown accustomed to breathing through his mouth instead.

“Where does that smell come from?” Junhoe asked Bobby when he was led to the storage of ready-to-sculpt sand. He kept all the sand that was ready to be made into sculptures inside a cavity he had dug in the ground behind his home, for him to use whenever he pleased. It was a wonder they didn’t harden and become a huge stone in the pool-like cave, though Junhoe stopped questioning how things worked with Bobby and began believing he had magical powers.

“It’s a secret,” Bobby answered with a playful twinge in his tone, a smile in his words that made them sound like he was teasing Junhoe. “Just my special touch. Maybe I’ll tell you one day, so we can start working together. You get used to it eventually.”

Bobby rest his hand over Junhoe’s then, guiding him through carving one of the petals. And even with Junhoe’s shaky hand from the quick beating of his heart, it came out beautiful, as it usually did when Bobby was looking over it.

Beautiful.

Beautiful.

Beautiful.

Where am I?

Kissing Bobby was never something Junhoe planned on doing, but also something that he didn’t realize he wanted to do until it had happened.

He couldn’t remember the first time it happened, and after a few days it had become something natural, something that he couldn’t remember not doing despite only being there for a few weeks.

Maybe it was because they were always with one another, with only inches to ever separate them whether Bobby was looking over his shoulder or him over Bobby’s, but when Bobby kissed him for the first time the flutter in his chest was out of giddiness instead of shock. It felt natural, instead of something beyond his imagination.

Junhoe’s cheeks grew so hot that Bobby resorted to kissing him only after the moon was out, saying that he feared Junhoe would grow too warm along with the sun if he did it often enough. He never voiced it, but this concern only made Junhoe want to kiss him more, and he began to look forward to the nights that they would lay together, nights filled with kisses until they both drifted into sleep.

“Tell me your real name,” Junhoe asked one night while they faced each other, Bobby’s fingers brushing aside a strand of his hair.

At the question Bobby held Junhoe’s face in his hands with the tenderness that he treated his sculptures with, pressing their lips together with a fullness to the kiss that despite it being so brief, Junhoe could feel that his face had heated up. “Jiwon,” he answered with a smile, clearly aware of what the simple kiss had done to him.

“Why are you here?” Junhoe asked, though his curiosity in the answer didn’t trump his longing for another kiss.

And as if Bobby had felt Junhoe’s real intentions, he kissed Junhoe again with the same fullness, but now with a lingering that caused Junhoe to press both into the kiss and into Bobby even further, wanting to get as close as he could.

When Junhoe finally pulled away with the need for air, he had forgotten that he asked a question in the first place. His eyelids drooped with the intention for sleep as he felt the warmth from Bobby’s lips spread from his lips, to his cheeks and down his neck.

“Why are you?” He heard Bobby ask, his voice faint, as if he were behind a wall of sand. “Pretty boys don’t usually come around here.”

Junhoe woke up again to Bobby watching him, though this time instead of being scared, he felt his cheeks heating up again. How had he fallen so far, so quick? His stomach twisted at the thought of what could be in Bobby’s mind and he opened his mouth so as to steer the conversation into different territory, but Bobby had beat him to it.

“I want to use you as a model,” he said, as if hearing the question Junhoe hadn’t yet thought of. “For the center of the piece I haven’t finished yet. I think you’d be perfect.”

Junhoe’s breath exhaled audibly, unable to help the smile that curved against the corners of his lips. Bobby returned the expression, taking it as affirmation of what he had wished for. It was no surprise to him, though, as Junhoe always did as he asked. Kind-hearted he was, and it wouldn’t take anyone particularly perceptive to know that it could have come as a fault.

It only took minutes before they were already set outside, Junhoe seated just off-center so that Bobby had room to sit in front of the actual sculpture.

“How do you want me to stay?” Junhoe asked, ready to comply with whatever he was asked so long as he could watch Bobby work. His eyes always changed when he did, when he was focused on something and refused to be distracted in any way. Junhoe loved it, and felt his heart swelling each time he was allowed the honour of witnessing it.

“Lay down,” Bobby had instructed him, focusing on smoothing out the sand that he had piled up at the center of the sculpture, ready for it to be complete. “Maybe look shocked? They’re all looking at you for a reason.”

Junhoe did as he was told, feeling embarrassed that he had to act instead of just lay there, but Bobby’s vocal approval wiped away (almost) all of his worries away. Once Bobby was finished with smoothing the mound of sand, he turned to look at Junhoe.

“Beautiful boy,” Bobby had said in admiration, shifting from his spot so he could properly hover over Junhoe without having to reach too far.

He held Junhoe’s face in his hands as he always did, with a gentleness unfound in anyone else. His thumb traced down the bridge of his nose and across his lips, hands caressing the sharpness of his jaw all the way down to his neck. “Beautiful, beautiful, boy,” he repeated softly, his voice growing more distant as if he was being lured further into a trance.

Junhoe loved the feeling of Bobby’s hands on him. He always touched Junhoe so affectionately that it was like time stopped when they were connected. So when Bobby’s hands started to grow tighter around Junhoe’s neck, he didn’t know what he had done wrong. What could have changed, that Bobby no longer held him with nothing but love?

“Bobby, Bobby what—” are you doing , he meant to ask, though Bobby’s hands had grown so tight that he could no longer speak.

“Pretty boys don’t usually come around here,” he heard Bobby say with a calmness in his voice, clearly unshaken by his actions. “So I need to make sure they stay here while they’re still pretty.”

How did I get here?

Bobby.

Bobby.

Bobby.

“You finally finished,” Hanbin said with his mouth half-filled with a sandwich from the stock of food he had brought for the week. He was facing the sculpture that Bobby had been pining over for the last couple months, finally glad that he wouldn’t have to hear the whining anymore. “It looks good.”

The center piece that had given him so much trouble was perfect, though Bobby’s sculptures always turned out as such. The look of shock that the man wore was so authentic that Hanbin was convinced he couldn’t have captured it so properly without taking the measures he usually took in the name of his art.

“Why’d it take you so long?” He asked, wanting to poke Bobby’s buttons out of pure boredom though he couldn’t deny the curiosity, either. They usually didn’t stick around for as long as this one did.

“He was beautiful,” Bobby answered simply, like it should have been easy for Hanbin to see for himself.

“They all are,” was all Hanbin responded with. “Do you need another one soon?”

“No, I want to think about him for a little longer. He was beautiful in a different way from the rest, you know? On the outside, yeah, he was gorgeous. But he was beautiful on the inside, too.” Bobby thought about the way his blood had ran out of his body, vibrant and thrilling. He loved Bobby, that was clear from the colour alone. “The sand I made with him, it’s in a different hole. I think I’ll make a bouquet for him, he deserves it.”

Hanbin scoffed and walked towards the wooden house they shared in dismissal of the conversation. He never saw the beauty in anything. Junhoe did, and Bobby already missed him.

“Maybe more than a bouquet,” Bobby decided. “I’ll make you an orchard.”

Then, louder so Hanbin could hear, “Bin? Scratch what I said earlier, I need another one ASAP. Maybe more.”

“You can handle more than one at a time?” Hanbin asked, yelling louder than he had to as if Bobby didn’t have ears.

“No,” Bobby answered, now walking towards Hanbin to get a sandwich for himself. “One at a time. It’s more fun that way.”