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A Deadman's Chance

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Seungri hadn't always lived his life as a slave, contrary to popular belief. He was born the son of a burly drunkard and a cheap whore, but by no means was he owned at birth. His family miraculously got by through the years after he was born, despite being piss poor. Seungri didn't know how his parents did it, he assumed they stole their whole lives without getting caught, since he couldn't recall them ever mentioning a job. Ultimately, he didn't care, so long as he and his sister had food in their stomachs and a life to look forward to.

Hanna was three years younger than him, and she was the best thing he could've ever asked for in his life. The siblings loved and respected one another, and they hardly ever fought. Why fight when there was already a competition just to survive? Seungri protected her at all costs. When it seemed like their food wouldn’t last the week and he looked at her gaunt face, he’d beg his dad to get more. When some girls tried to beat her up as they walked the filthy streets, he yelled and pushed them away. When she cried to herself during the night because of their unfair life, he’d snuggle closer, hug her, and tell her that rich people were all jerks anyway. She’d gently pat his short, brown hair in return. Hanna made the situation worth struggling for, because if she hadn’t been born, he was sure he wouldn’t have survived the decade that he did.

Unfortunately, his life only lasted those ten years.

He didn’t die, but for a long time he wished he had. Soon after his tenth birthday, the small village he lived in suffered the wrath of a flood. It didn’t ruin a lot, as most homes and people made it through, his included, but the food and water supply decreased instantaneously. Their poor village already didn’t get enough to eat or drink, and some were on the brink of starvation before the flood occurred. The villagers expressed their rage when vendors told them it would take about two weeks to restore their supply. How can we wait two weeks with no food, they had scream. You either wait or you die, the vendors screamed back. Seungri remembered feeling anguished at their sudden lack of sustenance. Moreso, he remembered the sense of dread that filled him when he wondered how his sister would live. She couldn’t die - he absolutely wouldn’t let that happen. He’d give up his own food in a heartbeat and steal everyone else’s food, leftovers, whatever he could find if it meant Hanna would survive.

For the first few days, Seungri’s family lived just as they had before the flood. They tried to ration their food so it’d last, and while everyone ate less for the day, it was enough. Their home didn’t have any water, though, so they had to make do without a drink.

The following days were tough. They didn’t have much food to begin with, and he could no longer ask his dad to get more. Seungri always made sure to sneak some of his portion onto Hanna’s when she wasn’t looking. He’d give up his whole damn plate, but she was sure to protest and argue, and he didn’t want to needlessly tire them both. They had to conserve as much energy as they could.

At the beginning of the second week, his mother was the first to go. She was a frail woman, always had been, and she couldn’t take the hunger anymore. He clearly observed how her eyes dimmed and her body stilled, releasing the smallest of breaths - the last one she ever took. She died in their makeshift living room. She wasn’t even buried, as they had no tools to make a grave with and no location to actually bury her in, so the best they could do was cover her body with a sheet and pretend like no one was there. Seungri held his sister and cried with her, and then avoided the living room afterwards.

His father died a day later. He was stronger than most average men, but even he perished in the face of hunger. Starvation did that to everyone, he supposed. Seungri didn’t have the energy to cry, but he still held Hanna for a long time and only let go when he couldn’t stand to look at his father’s lifeless form anymore. He put a sheet over him, too.

The second week was coming to an end. The thin vendors who had survived told the rest of the village that they’d restock in two days. Two days had never felt so far away. Seungri believed they’d hold out and get to eat like they’ve never eaten before. Even when Hanna looked like she’d keel over at any moment and he felt closer to death than life, he promised himself that he’d make his sister live. He left her sleeping in their home the night before they’d have food again so he could venture out and steal anything he could bring back, just to have a head start. Seungri roamed the streets for about three hours, exhausting himself by the minute but desperate to find something, anything, to consume. Just when he gave up and headed back home, he saw something red peeking out under a pile of destroyed wood. He carefully moved the wood away and almost fainted in relief. He wouldn’t have to high five the grim reaper after all; he had found a packet of crackers! It wasn’t much, and as he looked closer, he noticed it was half empty and a bit soggy. Hell, it probably wasn’t even edible but he found food at last, and he was giving it all to Hanna!

Seungri regained some of his lost energy and sprinted home, excited to give Hanna the crackers. It was still dark inside their room and he maneuvered his way around junk until he reached his sister. He felt bad for waking her up but she needed to eat as soon as possible. The boy shook her shoulder several times, but she didn’t wake. Seungri huffed and shook even harder, clutching the packet of crackers in the other hand. Was she really tired? Why wasn’t she getting up? Seungri was sure to put effort into it so she’d actually wake up. There was no light, so he couldn’t see if there was any change in her expression, but the longer he moved her around the more he dreaded that something within him would snap the moment he stopped. He didn’t realize that tears rolled down his eyes, or that the crackers disintegrated with the sudden force of his grip.

He promised he wouldn’t let this happen, he promised! He had food in his hand, why couldn’t her body wait just a little longer?! They were getting more portions in a day, why did she… why did she leave him all alone…

Seungri screamed, completely devastated by the death of his baby sibling. The amount of grief that manifested inside him was unlike anything he had ever experienced, not even for his parents’ deaths. It overwhelmed him entirely, and he wailed loudly as small, balled up fists hit the ground in his misery. He howled and shrieked the entire night, shouting his voice hoarse by the time morning came by. The distressed boy refused to look at his sister when light filtered in. He didn’t want to see, he just wanted everything to go back to how it was before the stupid flood.

He heard the hustle of villagers outside the door while he remained in the same position he had been in all night long. There was a commotion outside, and he briefly wondered why their dead silent village suddenly became animated once again. That’s when he remembered that the vendors brought back food. Seungri’s heart almost jumped in excitement before it was smothered by the crushing weight of his new reality. He clenched his teeth in irritation. What good would come out of eating again? It would only serve to harshly remind him that starvation took away his family. Why should he go out and celebrate? He’d rather die.

The boy jolted suddenly, stunned by his thoughts, but considering them no less. He was still starving, and his body would give out soon enough. He calmed himself down with the thought that, at least in death, he’d be close to Hanna. Although, a small part of him, some unknown feeling that he couldn’t describe, a feeling of hope that maybe someday he’d truly belong, dwelled within him and refused to give up. With the heaviest heart and mind that no ten year old possessed, Seungri forced his body to stand up and open the door to follow the rest of the villagers, thoughts of death relocated to the back of his mind.

It wasn’t freeing in any way, but it felt like a step in some sort of direction. He didn’t know what he’d make of his life, or if he’d even live long, but for the moment he decided to finally get something to eat.

Just like he expected, the villagers ran and stumbled in their haste to get any form of nutrition. Their weakened bodies and haggard expressions disturbed Seungri in many ways, and he paused to wonder if he looked the same. It didn’t matter, though, and he continued making his way to the first vendor he could find. He was an old man, withered and shaking like a leaf, but determined to help people. Seungri approached his stand and waited for everyone in front of him to leave. Once his turn came up, the old man reached to his side and pushed a few dumplings into his hands. A weak thank you bubbled up in his throat but he was shoved away before he could say it. He recovered and left without saying a word. The boy immediately bit into a dumpling and cried, immensely grateful for having food in his presence once again. He finished the food and went on to the next person who helped without expecting any pay. Seungri couldn’t pay for food, after all. He ate and ate until he felt sick, then he threw up. No one paid him any attention, though, so he sat in the dirt until the sickness passed. He couldn’t actually remember what happened afterwards, the days blurring together in his days of living as an orphaned child. He remembered recovering and living on the streets, as he couldn’t fathom ever going back to his home. Seungri would eat and drink what the people gave him, and when he couldn’t, he’d steal. He didn’t know how long he lived that way, perhaps a month or two, when the event that led to his current tragedy occured.

It wasn’t often talked about in his village, but sometimes he overheard the adults saying things about masters and slaves, how masters discreetly came to their village some nights to take people away, how they’d use slaves for sex once they presented and treated them horribly. One lady said her daughter had a fever and was in pain for a few days, and thought maybe her daughter had presented. She didn’t know though, and neither did Seungri or anyone else. He didn’t really know what they meant. The boy believed they were rumors of some sort, but he confirmed it was true when a master encountered him on the street one night. The master’s appearance was unmistakably different from anyone Seungri had ever seen. The tall, pink-haired man looked a bit old but well built. He wore a black duster with a navy mandarin collar shirt, unbuttoned at the top. The shirt was tucked in by black high rise pants, wide at the bottom. His boots were black with a bit of heel, giving him a taller impression. Around his waist was a gold chain-link belt, similar to the many thin chains around his neck. Seungri couldn’t tell right away, but the man wore quite a lot of body jewelry.

He had to be a master, no one had the money to pull off such an appearance.

Despite the master’s elegant beauty and handsome face, his expression was sharp and unwelcoming. The man’s face filled with disgust once he noticed someone was blocking his path. Seungri sat on the ground, dazed and unable to move. The master sneered when he made no effort to clear the path, then raised his hand to hit the boy. Seungri flinched and shut his eyes tightly, expecting pain. When it didn’t come, he opened his eyes to see the man’s face inches away from his own, regarding him with keen interest. Seungri yelped and leaned back, scrambling to get away. A strong hand took hold of his arm before he could escape, and he fearfully stared at the master’s hold.

“I didn’t come with the intention of taking one back today, but you just happened to be in my way, how convenient! You’re a pretty one, boy, you’ll make a beautiful man in your future years,” the master hummed, his face no longer striking as he revealed his true intentions. The grip on Seungri’s arm tightened. “You’re coming with me. Don’t throw a fit, or I’ll see to it that you receive punishment.”

Seungri didn’t throw a fit, as the man stated. He couldn’t, not when he felt paralyzed by terror and apprehension. He didn’t know what kind of punishment he’d receive, and he rather not know. When they were far away from the village, when the boy couldn’t recognize his surroundings anymore, he felt the fear swallow him and he wished to go back to safety where this man couldn’t find him. He stopped walking and tugged at the grip on his wrist, but only stumbled forward as the man remained unfazed and kept the pace. Seungri tried again, and the master peered down to look at him.

“W-Where… where are you taking me? Who are you?” he rasped. “Let go… Let go!”

The man grinned and strengthened his hold, almost breaking Seungri’s wrist. “Name’s Kang Sunghoon and I’m taking you to the palace. You’re a slave now, you’ll follow orders like the rest of the slaves and obey us masters for the rest of your life. We’ll definitely enjoy your presence, especially when you come of age! I can’t wait to feel the heat between your legs and touch your body. Of course, only until you’re eighteen. We don’t practice pedophilia, children are only to serve the palace.”

As the man rambled on and on about his upcoming, terrible situation, Seungri rapidly gave up on life and considered himself dead upon arrival. He really should’ve just let hunger take its course, then he wouldn’t have been enslaved for the next nine years and counting.