My dear, don’t forget
My unstoppable love
It’s okay even if it’s a little late
If it’s destiny
We will meet again
Jinyoung woke up crying, again...
It seemed to happen every single time he woke up. Every time he shut his eyes he only remembered the darkness, he only remembered hands around his throat and the pain. The reality of the things he had endured sunk deep and he re-lived them in the night. It wasn’t new to him, nightmares, yet somehow they were more potent than ever before. He knew why…
Because he was alone.
"Jinyoung," a voice called and footsteps came towards him.
He knew who it was. There weren't many of them who were confined against their will to the medical wing. He couldn't hide from anyone where they were, no matter how much he wanted to. Seokjin was always the one who came alongside him and tried to help him. But Seokjin wasn’t enough, no one would ever be enough after what he had lost. He cried as a hand patted his back, he laid with his face forward, as he tried to hide his face from all those who didn’t understand.
"We should sedate him," he knew the nurse’s harsh voice, "he's disturbing the other patients." He’d heard her say the same things so many times. She never was patient, she never cared for him like he’d expect someone in medicine to. He hated being locked up in the hospital. It was like a prison, where they treated him like he was nothing.
"Well you're disturbing me lady but I don't threaten to sedate you," a voice called from two doors down. He knew it was Taeyeon. She was always sticking up for him in the horrible place they were confined to.
When they had arrived in district 13, those who had been wounded in the arena breakout had been handed over to the medical ward for treatment. Due to their various injuries, Jinyoung, Taeyeon, and Jin were all told they needed time in intensive care to recover. Jinyoung had it the worst off since the nurses had no patience for his nightmares. It was worse than dealing with his dad after his first games.
Jin tried to help him, but Jin wasn't Jaebum, he didn't know how to.
Jaebum was gone...
Jaebum wasn't coming back...
He had been left behind.
Jinyoung hadn't been able to save him in the end, Jinyoung failed. He buried his head against his pillow to muffle his sobs. Panic always turned to tears before long. The nightmares turned from fear to sorrow so quickly. Sorrow seemed to be all he had left, because every time he woke up he found himself without the strong arms that used to hold him close. He felt cold, scared, alone even though he knew he was far from alone.
"Stay away from him," Jin said to someone with a commanding voice. It probably the nurses. Jinyoung didn’t care what they did but Jin seemed to lack any sort of trust towards them.
"Don't tell us how to do our job," a woman stated, "you are a patient here as well, return to your stall."
Jinyoung knew Jin wouldn’t let them near him. He didn’t feel any fear from them. They were just doing what they thought was best given the nature of his injuries and trauma. "We're not animals," Jin responded, "and you have no idea what he's been through."
It had only been a few days, a few days of hell.
District 13 turned out to be more elaborate than anyone could have predicted. It was entirely below ground. All grey, all uniform. Everyone wore boring grey jumpsuits and Jinyoung hadn't seen anyone but nurses, Jin, and Taeyeon for days. Apparently once admitted to the hospital wing in District 13, patients were forced to stay until they passed a five fold medical evaluation. They were also not allowed outside visitors due to an outbreak of illness a few years prior.
He understood their caution, but he wanted to see Youngjae. He wanted to see his family. Being told they were safe was different than looking at them, seeing them with his eyes. He needed it confirmed, because it was torture not fully knowing.
"Jinyoung," Jin's voice spoke softly, "just breathe, you'll be okay." Jin was always careful with the words he spoke, gentle in understanding how to speak when no words could fix the situation. Jin had experience with tributes going through the trauma, and the loss.
Jin sang him to sleep that evening like he had the past two nights that he had woken up the same.
The day would hold new things, because he would be evaluated for release again. Maybe then he could see his brother and Mark again. Then he could try to reclaim some normalcy. He didn’t know what was possible but he knew he had to keep going. Something inside him wouldn’t let him give up just yet.
Mark paced back and forth outside the medical wing as he waited. He had been called up to receive Jinyoung because the younger boy had been deemed healthy and able to be discharged. The female tribute who had brought down the arena dome was also being discharged. Another man had come the the medical wing, Mark recognized him from the games and knew who he was.
"Hi," Mark greeted,”I’m Mark, you here to pick someone up or go in?” He didn’t know much about the tributes, but he was interested in them. Their plan had been what had saved Jinyoung in the end.
"Jackson," the man responded with his name, "and yeah, I’m escorting Taeyeon to her family’s quarters. Are you here for someone as well?”
"Yeah, Jinyoung," Mark said., Hehe didn't feel a need to indicate much more. He knew that Jackson knew exactly what had happened, and likely how Jinyoung reacted aswell. Mark had only heard a few words about it, Jackson had actually been on the hovercraft when Jinyoung had found out about Jaebum.
"How is he?" Jackson asked.
"I haven't see him in days," Mark responded, "so I don't know. They let me see him when they first took him off the sedatives to help keep him calm. But since then no visitors allowed, I'm sure you get it."
"Yeah," Jackson said, "I get it."
He looked away from Jackson and towards the hall to see Jinyoung walking out in his simple grey jumpsuit. His eyes were just as empty as they were the last time Mark had seen him, but he watched them go cold when his gaze settled on Jackson. The latter shifted uncomfortably and didn’t meet Jinyoung's gaze. They clearly didn't get along and Mark didn’t really have to wonder why.
Mark put his arm around Jinyoung but Jinyoung remained stiff, he didn’t return the gesture or lean into him. Still, it was all Mark knew how to do considering how bad off he knew Jinyoung would be. He would be gentle and patient with him like Jaebum had always told him to be.
He hadn’t been prepared for how it would hurt to lose Im Jaebum. They hadn’t been friends but he’d become a part of all of their lives by being a part of Jinyoung’s.
“President Chae Ri-na has requested an audience with you,” Mark said, “I was told to tell you as soon as you were released.”
Since arriving at 13, Mark had adjusted to the peaceful way of life well. Every citizen had a voice but things were orderly and strict to keep those voices from becoming too individualistic. It took adjustment to be like them but Mark found he liked it. He liked feeling like he had a purpose when his jobs were assigned based on what was deemed good for the collective. He liked that no one had more than anyone else, everything seemed so fair.
“You don’t have to yet, if you don’t want to. I was just told to tell you,” Mark added. Jinyoung would be given all the time he needed by them, that was what Mark was told. They wanted Jinyoung to recover before they asked anything of him.
“I don’t want to go,” Jinyoung responded.
Mark assumed that would be the case. Jinyoung seemed worse off than when he first came back from the games. He walked alongside Mark with a dead expression in his eyes. Mark knew why, it wasn’t a mystery what had gone wrong for him. Time didn’t help on the short term, it would take a long time for things to get better for him.
Mark brought Jinyoung down to the mid levels of the compound where the living quarters were. Jinyoung would be staying with his father and brother in their own unit which had two beds. Everything else in District 13 was communal. They did value their community above all but Mark noticed other things. The people of District 13 valued fitting in, quietness and nothing outlandish. The capitol people that had come were having a hard time adjusting to all of it. It was very much a grey sort of lifestyle the people of the district lived and Mark wondered if it was from lack of sunlight.
“Here is your place,” he opened the door to let Jinyoung in. Youngjae and his father were out since they had duties to fulfill. If someone didn’t have a steady job they were assigned tasks each day. Mark had told the officials that Jinyoung’s father had medical experience but they had ignored it and placed him in another area.
Youngjae had been placed in a role of helping watch the children. He was getting quite mature for being almost 14, Mark knew he would be growing soon. He’d shoot up right before their eyes before long. He handled what happened to 12 and the move to 13 as well as Mark could have ever expected. It wasn’t an easy thing for them to face but they did what they had to. They’d survived and they knew that was something they could be thankful for.
“I live 3 units away,” Mark said, “I hadn’t been assigned anyone till today. I was also released from my duties for the day, I’m supposed to show you around and give you a rundown of what life is like here. We go for food in 2 hours, almost everyone in the compound will come and go from the cafeteria during that time. Youngjae will probably be up there so we’ll meet up with him then.” Jinyoung nodded and slid into his bed.
“I just want to sleep,” Jinyoung mumbled.
“Fine,” Mark responded, “I’ll come back and wake you in 2 hours.”
Jinyoung nodded in acknowledgment and closed his eyes without saying anything more.
Mark knew he shouldn’t take it personally, so he wasn’t hurt by Jinyoung ignoring him. It just hurt knowing he couldn’t help. Mark didn’t know what to do. Jaebum always had an easy time reaching him but Mark never did. Jinyoung had walls up against him and the rest of his family.
Jinyoung had walls against everyone else since before losing Jaebum. Now it seemed like those walls were higher and stronger than ever and Mark wondered if releasing him early was a good idea. He probably needed more medical care than he’d been given. He may have been physically fine after their treatments, but they had clearly done nothing for him mentally. He was reverting back to what he had done before.
The cold silence, emptiness.
That was how he had been when he had first come from the games. Mark knew where that led, because Mark had watched the games and Jinyoung’s admission to how he had wanted to take his own life. Mark knew Jaebum had been the one to save him.
Jaebum had given his life to save him again.
Mark walked to his own unit and began to cry, because Jinyoung had never deserved any of this. He didn’t know what to do to save his friend. He had a hard time reaching him. That didn’t mean he would give up. He would keep trying. He would make sure he was there for Jinyoung no matter if the younger boy ignored him.
Jinyoung had a nightmare where he was pointing a bow at Jaebum. Where his arms were stuck and he couldn’t move them away. He couldn’t stop the arrow from flying and hitting Jaebum’s heart—
He woke up from the shock of it in panic, breathing ragged and fast. The room he was in was all grey, drab and cold. He counted down to try and break himself from his panic and as he did he and remembered where he was. He was trapped below ground without Jaebum.
He was alone.
Alone with his tears and pain.
He reached in his pocket to take out the drugs the nurses had given him. He hadn’t liked them the first time they had forced him to take them, or the second time… but they injected him with the substance regardless when he wouldn’t listen. They left him numbed down, unfeeling to a point where he couldn’t panic and he felt nothing through the haze. That didn’t really stop the pain he felt. His heart pounded in his chest because he wanted it to stop.
Jinyoung threw the bottle at the wall of the cold room. He didn’t want their solutions, he wanted to turn back time to the arena. He wanted to change the past and hold on a little tighter so they had no choice but to bring Jaebum when they picked him up. His weakness was always that he could never hold on to Jaebum as tightly as Jaebum held him. He wanted to change the outcome, change what had happened. That bastard had chosen to leave Jaebum behind and Jinyoung had done nothing to stop it. He hadn’t been able to hold on tight enough and he hadn’t been able to fight hard enough to get them to go back.
He threw his hands against the wall and then did it again and again . Pounding to distract himself from the feelings that coursed through him. He felt hands grabbing his arms and holding him back. People always tried to hold him back from what he wanted.
“Jinyoung stop it!” Mark’s voice spoke in his ear, “stop it.” He didn’t want to stop but he knew he had no choice. Mark was always stronger than him. Mark turned him around and he buried his face in the elders chest.
He fought to hold in the tears, to hold his breath so he wouldn’t lose it. Everything was almost too much for him but he was still in control. He could still do this. He owed it to everyone who had fought for him not to fall apart.
Jin had told him everything they had done to save him. The plot had always been to get Jinyoung out even at the cost of their own lives. Everyone had been given game pieces and had taken their roles seriously. So the pawns died as they were meant to.
The only pawn that had lived was Taehyung.
They had all planned on dying for him if that was what it took. He didn’t want that... He had never wanted people dying for him. He wanted them to live. To live for him, to stay with him. Why did they always get it wrong? Sacrifice wasn’t the only way.
People needed to cling to life, not throw themselves in the line of fire for him. It wasn’t over but he wanted it to be. He remembered what BamBam had said, that it had never just been all about him. That they saved him for something greater. He’d been told they didn’t just die for him, but that was what it felt like. Overwhelming loss and guilt for being alive after what they’d all sacrificed.
“Please don’t leave me,” Jinyoung begged Mark. He wanted Mark to stay with him, to hold onto him and to never die for him. Because if Jinyoung had someone’s arms around him maybe he could find peace. Maybe he could pretend for a moment Jaebum was still there. Maybe he could still breathe.
“I’ll always be here Jinyoung,” he said. He likely didn’t understand what Jinyoung needed from him.
Jinyoung just clung to him hoping maybe he’d get what he wanted if he just held on. Jinyoung hoped that if he fell asleep right in Mark’s arms that he wouldn’t let go. But Mark had never felt any of of what he was feeling. There was no way he could know what was needed to make Jinyoung feel a sense of safety. So as Jinyoung laid back down Mark just sat beside him. Jinyoung held it all in. He did what he had to. When he awoke again he felt numb and Mark was still there sitting next to him.
“It’s time for lunch,” Mark said.
Jinyoung nodded. He let the elder help him. He simply let Mark lead him with an arm around his waist. They walked into a room where people all were staring at him. Their eyes seemed to be in awe of his presence, it made him want to run away. These people undoubtedly knew him, they all watched him and had expectations about him from what they’d seen.
He tried his best to ignore them and to follow Mark’s lead. He stood in line with a tray following Mark but he felt very uncomfortable within the large cafeteria. They took seats as far away from the center of the room as they could, Jinyoung insisted on being in one of the darker corners away from prying eyes but that didn’t stop people from staring.
Jinyoung began to wonder where his friends from the Capitol were. Jinyoung glanced around the faces looking for them but he didn’t see them. He knew Taehyung had been picked up by the hovercraft and wondered where he was. He did eventually spot a familiar face walking with a tray in his own hands.
From across the room, Namjoon had spotted them as well and walked over. “Hey,” he said simply.
Jinyoung nodded and shifted in his seat, glad there was another victor with him., Namjoon was at least someone who would understand how Jinyoung felt. He was uncomfortable with how people continued to watch them. Namjoon leveled a gaze at him and Jinyoung didn’t care about Namjoon staring but then Namjoon stood up and looked out in the room.
“If you can all just stop staring and fuck off,” Namjoon said loudly to the room, “that would be appreciated.”
Jinyoung noticed everyone freeze but then they all looked away, as if afraid to look back towards Jinyoung. Namjoon had a commanding presence, of course they’d listen to him. Namjoon smirked as he slid back into his seat.
“Thanks,” Jinyoung said softly.
“No problem,” Namjoon responded, “how was Jin the last time you saw him?” Jinyoung breathed and remembered the night before, how Jin had comforted him and stayed with him
“He complained daily,” Jinyoung said, “claimed he was fine but the nurses aren’t letting him out until his ribs are fully healed. They’re worried about the danger to his lungs or something like that.” Jin was someone Jinyoung was very fond of, he was glad that Jin had been in the hospital with him. He’d at least had someone he trusted to stay by his side through that experience.
“Sounds like him,” Namjoon said with a laugh. “They have reason to be worried too, Jin would probably insist on doing some form of manual labor to prove he was fine. He’s stubborn as a mule at times.” Jinyoung managed a small grin at the discussion. He didn’t doubt that since Jin stubbornly stood up for him.
Jin never let the nurses get close to him when he woke up from nightmares. Jin claimed he didn’t need more sedatives but that he needed to face what happened in order to move on. He wanted Jin to be released same time as him but the doctors insisted keeping him at least one more day. He felt that Jin out of all the friends he’d made understood best how to help him.
Jinyoung caught Mark looking across the room at people entering the hall. Jinyoung glanced and saw Taeyeon and Jackson entering the cafeteria. They no doubt would spot Jinyoung, Mark and Namjoon and join them. Jinyoung didn’t want to be around Jackson, he understand why the elder did what he did but it still unnerved him. He couldn’t shake the feeling of fear he got when he saw the other.
He constantly had to remind himself Jackson had been trying to help. Jackson removed his tracker as instructed and had made it look like an attack to fool the Capitol. Jackson had helped... but Jinyoung still remembered his cold gaze, the sound of his voice. He remembered the pain of being held down, the fear that had captured him and the knife...
He repeated over and over in his head, Jackson had helped them. Jackson didn’t betray them. It was how he had to think to get through those memories. He looked up as Jackson and Taeyeon made their way over to the table with their trays of food.
“What’s up,” Namjoon said in greeting to the District 4 victor.
“Namjoon-ah,” Jackson whined, “I am so tired of these jumpsuits!”
He didn’t miss the way Jackson glanced at him and looked away. There was a flash of guilt in his eyes. Jinyoung focused back down on his plate almost subconsciously leaning more towards Mark, as if he could hide from the interactions ahead.
“We are definitely a long way from plush mansions and decked out wardrobes,” Namjoon responded.
“But these are so uncomfortable!” Jackson whined some more, “if they ever let us out I’m going to sneak back home and get some of my clothes!” Jinyoung looked to Taeyeon and saw her smiling while listening to what Jackson said. It caused Jinyoung to recall a certain conversation he’d had with Jackson about someone he loved being in the arena. He never did get a full answer from the tribute, but the answer seemed to be right in front of him.
“We’re not getting out anytime soon,” Namjoon responded, “the Capitol has been dealing with uprisings in half the districts. Yang is trying to suppress everything but he isn’t getting very far. People are ready but there’s a lot more to do before we’re going to be allowed to go out.” Jinyoung hadn’t heard much about the rebellions and uprisings since arriving in 13.
“Have you heard how things are in 1?” Taeyeon asked about her own district.
“1 has been surprisingly calm,” Namjoon said, “the worse off are 6, 3 and 10. 5 has actually been liberated in the sense that they fought hard for their own freedom. It's a different world out there after what happened, when you fired that arrow people realized that it was time. The uprising has begun." Jinyoung shifted uncomfortably.
He knew his role in all that was to come, he knew what they all wanted from him. He couldn't allow himself to think of it. He didn’t want to be a part of anything, he just wanted to lay low and eventually make it back home.
After lunch Mark led him back to his room with his arm always around the younger. Then Jinyoung realized something. Mark said he had his room alone waiting for someone to be assigned to it as well. His heart sunk when he realized what that must have meant.
"Mark," he said his name, "where is your brother, your sister?" Mark froze.
Jinyoung didn't need words to know what had happened.
"Mark," he said softly, he hugged the elder. Mark clung to him and Jinyoung realized, he wasn't the only one hurting.
District 12 was gone and the few that remained had just lost everything.
Mark lost everything.
Youngjae ran through the halls of the base, he wanted to get back to his unit as fast as he could. He needed to get back. Jinyoung had been released, someone had come and told him that Jinyoung was out of the hospital. He hadn't seen his brother since he left for the games, he had seen what had gone on and knew that his brother needed him.
Youngjae had cried for his brother and for Jaebum, he had watched the games go badly. He had heard the truth said over and over of what had happened. There was no way Jinyoung was the same after it and he needed his family with him to remind him that he was loved by so many. Youngjae knew he had to get to him and he hoped that by being there he could cheer his brother up.
Five days had passed since the destruction of District 12. It had been five days since that horrible nightmare. If Mark hadn't come for him to get him from the school he knew that he would have died. Mark had come and dragged him out to safety just before it happened. Things had gone bad so fast, so many had been lost.
Of the 50,000 people that lived in the district a mere 234 had been saved and brought to district 13.
It had taken them a few days to be processed into work stations and living quarters. In that time, he had heard rumors that the remaining tributes from the games had been brought to 13 as well. He had heard that the Phoenix had arrived and he knew they meant Jinyoung. He had asked for days for a chance to see him but no one paid attention to his pleas. He was a child to them who didn't deserve much more than a second glance. His father comforted him in that time.
Youngjae had worried about their father after what Jinyoung had said in the games. Their father had seemed very sad, but not distant. He was never distant to Youngjae. It was Jinyoung who fought with him and pushed him away. Youngjae didn't understand, he only wanted them to be okay, but he knew after what Jinyoung had said things would just be more awkward. Their father was a broken man, that was something he had understood his whole life. He just wanted things to be different.
He wanted them to behave like a family that loved each other.
Youngjae knew that their father did love Jinyoung, he just didn't know how to talk to him anymore. Their father felt guilty for almost abandoning his boys when they were kids. Youngjae knew all of what happened, he understood and he had forgiven their dad for it. He knew that he had to because they were family. Family deserved second chances.
When Jinyoung had come back from the first games it was apparent he would never forgive their father, he shut Youngminhim out when he tried to help. Then their father had reacted badly because he didn’t know how to get through to Jinyoung. That was what always happened, they pushed each other away. They pushed at the frayed edges of each other because neither of them knew how to reach each other.
Youngjae was perhaps the only one in the world who knew them well enough to see how it all happened. He saw their father shut down and saw the way Jinyoung hated him.
He knew it before Jinyoung had confessed, and he knew Jinyoung had almost killed himself. That was why when Jinyoung had gone missing he had disobeyed his father and run to Jaebum. Because he knew the only person who could stop Jinyoung was Jaebum, he had always known that. Jinyoung didn’t push Jaebum away like he pushed everyone else away.
Jinyoung had pretended he was fine and that nothing had happened, but Youngjae always saw through that. That was something Jinyoung and their father had in common. They thought they needed to protect Youngjae from seeing the darker parts of themselves, but Youngjae had always seen through both of them. Jinyoung was right after all, he was very much like his father. Youngjae knew that he himself was very much like their mother. The similarities between Jinyoung and his own father were the reason they pushed back at each other.
Jinyoung didn't want to be like him. He wanted to be different but he couldn't change who he was and, like he couldn't forgive his father, he couldn't forgive himself. Youngjae wished he could get through to both of them. But both of them believed they were protecting him by not being honest with him.
So Youngjae just waited for them to open up to him. It wouldn't happen soon, he knew it probably wouldn't happen until he was older. Till every facet of childishness and innocence was shed from him, and he was grown up enough that they no longer treated him like he needed to be sheltered.
He wondered thought, would that ever really happen?
Would they ever see him as anything but the child they both loved and needed to protect? Jinyoung had lost everything by volunteering for the games to protect him. He had even lost his will to live when it all fell apart. Everything that had happened to Jinyoung was because he wanted to protect Youngjae. It had all started because of that.
Youngjae worried because he had lost Jaebum. The only person who really could get through to Jinyoung was always Jaebum, and now he didn't have that. He needed to learn to rely on his family. He needed to be honest with his family. Jinyoung needed to see the truth, that his father loved him. Only their father could reveal that truth and Youngjae would push them both so that they could see it. That was the least he could do for his family. He could put them back together again. That was what he wanted to do.
When he got back to the living quarters he didn't find just Jinyoung. He found Mark and his brother together, holding on to each other and sleeping soundly. Youngjae was relieved because Jinyoung wasn't alone.He was most worried about what would happen if they left Jinyoung alone with his thoughts. They would have to make sure someone was always here with him, to help him, to show him that there were so many who loved him. To give him a reason to keep fighting, because it wasn't over.