"That's not going to work, Brian. You can't blind a tree," he heard a voice say, but it was in English, so Minho only understood a bit.
"It's Young K! Young! K! Not that hard a concept, Jae," another voice retaliated.
Fighting and cheering continued going on around him. Everyone shouting out one of their two names, cheering for the winner. Once Minho could see again, everyone else seemed to be fine. He guessed everyone else had known to not look directly at the one who was currently holding balls of lights in his two hands and throwing the small spheres of focused light at a... walking tree? Behind the tree was a tall male wearing a large framed pair of glasses, and he looked as if he was the one controlling the tree.
"Aissh. I don't know who I should be cheering for," Seungmin worriedly said as he looked between the two fighting before deciding to just cheer for both. "Go Jae hyung! Young K, kick his ass!"
"Uwu, it is so cute when you fanboy, Minnie," Hyunjin said with hearts in his eyes.
"More like embarrassing," Jeongin said."And you and your not so subtle crush on Jinyoung hyung are no better." He added as he pokes Hyunjin in his side.
Woojin, who was focusing on the fight, asked, "Shouldn't we like... try to stop them before they get out of hand?"
"I can freeze them if you want," offered Changbin.
"You know, I am debating that right now," Chan responded. "I'm sure Sungjin hyung will show up soon, though, since the whole school is practically here."
And their leader wasn't wrong. The whole school was there. Minho estimated about a hundred boys and girls scattered around the yard, not including the ones that were probably watching from the windows of the mansion. They were all a range of ages, some even looking to be only old enough for primary school. It was definitely a lot more people than Minho had originally thought attended the academy based off his initial impression of the building.
All of the students were smiling happily and cheering, completely surrounded by different groups of friends. 'Are all these people really Gifteds?' Minho thought to himself. He was having trouble comprehending the reality of hundreds of Gifteds living and laughing together just like any normal kid their ages. It was like he was dreaming.
His attention was pulled from his surroundings, back to the fight, when the Gifted, who was insisting on going by the name Young K, finally got his hands on the base of the moving tree. Shortly after, the tree trunk started to radiate light—sunray like beams bursting from newly forming holes in the trunk—until the entire plant exploded. Cheers erupted from the spectators.
Once the tree was no longer between him and the taller male, Jae, Young K stomped up to the taller boy and poked the front of his chest.
"You are so infuriating," huffed the shorter with a pout on his lips. This just caused Jae to smirk in response.
"What can I say? Young K just doesn't roll off the tongue well, and you're hot when you're angry."
After saying those words, Jae moved to give Young K a bear hug and the shorter just stood there for a second before hugging him back. The moment was almost heart melting if not for the booing crowd that began to interrupt as a result of the fight not continuing.
"Fight it out till the end," someone shouted.
"We want to see who would win!" another voice hollered.
Meanwhile, all the booing and shouts of disapproval only caused Jae to laugh.
"Maybe we should keep fighting it out to give the people what they asked for?" Jae suggested, only for Young K to roll his eyes obviously. "What do you say, Brian?"
Young K fist was starting to glow again when they both suddenly heard a voice shout out to them from the entrance to the mansion.
"Hey! Jae! Young K!" Everyone turned their heads to the source of the yells. "Would you two act your God damn ages for once in your lives! Especially you, Jae, you're the oldest Gifted here. Please, at least try to set a good example."
The newcomer descended the front steps, the regular students making a path for him so that he could reach the two who had just been about to fight again a moment before.
"Aw great, Sungjin finally shows up," Chan says as his shoulders relax.
"Whose Sungjin?" Minho questioned Jisung who was still to his side.
The rest of the students, who were all grumpy at not getting to see a complete fight, were all heading inside to grab lunch before their afternoon classes, but Minho looked back over to where Sungjin was currently chewing his teammates out for their antics while they weren't really giving it their full attention. He couldn't hear what the three were saying exactly since they weren't yelling anymore, but he somehow managed to make awkward eye contact with Jae, who ended up winking up at him.
Minho laughed slightly at the action, and Jae moved his eyes back to Sungjin when the leader snapped his fingers in the taller's face to get his attention.
"What are you laughing at?" Jisung asked the older, happy to hear the jingle-like sounds again but confused as to what made him laugh.
"Oh, nothing. Do fights like these happen a lot?"
Felix overheard the conversation and answered before Jisung got the chance. "Kind of... They usually don't get too far because the leaders, or class representatives of the non-team students, get in trouble when the Gifteds they're in charge of break anything, so they usually intervene before things get too far. Chan was our class leader even before he started forming a team, and no one wants to get on Chan's bad side." The freckled boy shivered at the thought.
"So is Sungjin going to get in trouble?"
"I doubt it will be too much trouble since he stopped it pretty soon. They will probably just have to replant the tree that Jae animated then Young K destroyed," Chan responded to Minho's question, joining the conversation.
At the word 'animated' something finally seems to click in Minho's brain. Animation. Oldest. Jae.
"Holy shit. Is that tall guy Park Jaehyung?" he suddenly wondered aloud. "As in the first Gifted?"
"The one and only," Seungmin proudly stated.
"What is he doing here? I thought he was American."
Every child in the world who goes to school knows the name Park Jaehyung from history class. In 1995, he was the first child to mutate into a Gifted. Everyone knows the story of the little three-year-old boy who threw a tantrum in a street and the next thing anyone knew, all the cars were suddenly alive and attacking people like rabid dogs. It's a miracle he wasn't killed on the spot by the American police force, but before the situation escalated too much, the little boy passed out due to gift overexertion.
The news spread all over the world like wildfire. The United States government had the child in their custody in the hopes to discover what was happening to him, but the United Nations was demanding that he be turned over to them since he was considered a threat to all the world. Their debates over it didn't last long, in the end, because soon enough, Gifteds with extraordinary abilities started to mutate all over the globe. Over the next few years of studying the Gifted mutation, scientist came to discover that it only occurs in one percent of the yearly population, the mutation is impossible to detect before the gene activates between the ages of two and five, and no child born before September, 1992, ever mutated into a Gifted.
To this day, no one knows what caused Gifteds to begin to be born into this world, but what everyone did know is it all started with Park Jaehyung. That very man was now standing just yards away from Minho, and he had just winked at him?! It was a bit overwhelming for him to say the least.
"Does it matter that he is American? We have Gifteds from all over the world attending the academy. Me and Felix being Australian is just one example. There are also students from America as well as from Japan, China, Thailand, and many other random places around the world."
"I suppose you're right."
After that, they decided to focus on lunch, so Chan split them up into two groups: one to get food for the whole team, and the other to claim their usual picnic spot before the rest of the students made their way back from the dining hall to eat outside as well. Spring was just kicking off and it was a nice day, so most everyone would be outside.
Chan, Woojin, Changbin, and Felix went to go get food, both Australians insisting that their Korean teammates would vastly underestimate the amount of food they all required. From the looks on both the blondes' faces, Minho could tell they were speaking from an experience of being underfed by the misjudgment of someone among the group on an occasion before.
The picnic spot team walked a little way down the path which leads all the way to the hedge maze but came to a stop before they ventured too far from the main mansion. It was Minho's first time seeing the maze this close up since the last time he had seen it from atop the looking spot on the hill with Jisung. The hedges seemed so much taller and imposing when you look straight at them despite the fact that he was still a fair distance away from the maze.
Off to the side of the trail was a particularly large tree with twisty branches. The branches were thickly covered in leaves and leaned over perfectly to create a nicely sized shaded area on the grass.
"Oh! We forgot the blanket," Jisung said before he disappeared in a gust of wind, and reappeared a few moments later with a folded picnic blanket in hand. He shook it out and laid it down in the shade only for Jeongin, Seungmin, and Hyunjin to fall onto it the second it hit the ground.
"This is a nice spot. Do you all come here often?" Minho questioned as he also laid down on the large picnic blanket and stared up into the tree branches.
"Whenever it is nice outside. Otherwise, we just eat in the dining hall or the lounge, whichever is less crowded," Jisung answered.
"I bet we could sit wherever we want to now that we are an official team," Jeongin marveled aloud. "People will probably move for us if we asked them now."
"True, but Chan would never let us use our team fame status for such petty things," added Hyunjin. "Gosh, I still can't believe we actually completed our first mission and are now a team."
"Stray Kids!" Jisung and Jeongin shouted together which resulted in Jisung squalling happily and him squeezing the younger in a tight hug. Minho coughed at the sight and just barely managed to hide the sudden flush of his cheeks.
Minho then smiled at all of them. Something he seemed to be doing a lot lately. He could only guess just how much this all must mean to them. While Minho didn't hold the same value for 'team status' as the rest of his teammates who had spent time at the academy beforehand, he did value the brotherhood that Stray Kids had given him.
"Thank you for letting me be a part of it," he finally said aloud, sounding a tad too sappy. He just couldn't help himself because he honestly can't remember a single day of his life where he had managed to smile and laugh as much as he had so far that day, thanks to all of them. Everyone around him let out giggles in response to Minho's sentimental words. "What? I'm serious."
Seungmin stopped laughing just long enough to respond, "no need to be so emo all the time, Minho."
"We are just as happy as you are that you found your way to the academy just in time to make it onto our mess of a team," Jisung added as he plopped down next to Minho on the blanket.
"Let's hope he doesn't regret it," Jeongin chimed in with a raise of his brow. Everyone was cracking up again.
"What are all you laughing about?" The five of them all turned their heads upward to the sound of Chan's voice and saw the food squad approaching, bags and boxes of food in hand.
"Just Minho being all sentimental towards us all," Jisung answered with a grin and a teasing tone. That didn't last long before Minho pulled the squirrel boy into a headlock and began scolding him.
"Oh, my mistake. I'll be sure to be more soulless when it comes to things in the future," Minho retaliated.
Woojin interrupted the quarrel by placing the food he was carrying in front of the pair. "Who wants food?" he asked as he unpacked it.
"Lix! Be careful, you are carrying too much," Changbin could be heard nagging Felix from the rear of the group, and sure enough, he was carrying too much. He was currently balancing about six boxes, so he couldn't see where he was going. It wasn't long before his foot collided with a rock in the pathway causing him to fall.
Minho felt Jisung's muscles tense as he got ready to run and catch the falling boy, but before he had the chance, Felix and the food, which had just been thrown from his arms, froze in mid-air.
"Ahjussi! I warned him," the shortest member huffed as he set the food he was carrying down and then grabbed the food currently hanging in the air to set that down as well. When everything was secure, Changbin positioned himself to catch Felix and unfroze him. The freckled boy fell gracefully into Changbin's arms as he shouted out in shock.
"A-ah, thank y-you for the save," Felix muttered out as soon as he realized what had just happened. His face was a complete, red mess, so before Changbin had a chance to separate their bodies enough to see the state Felix was in, he poofed and reappeared in front of the food with his back to the dark haired boy. Everyone on the blanket could see his face plain as day and were all struggling not to burst out laughing at the scene that just unfolded in front of them.
The rest of their meal went about peacefully, or as peacefully as a meal with Stray Kids can go. Beginning with the silence of everyone eating, but ending with them goofing around. Before Minho even knew it, lunch was almost over and they were cleaning up and getting ready for their next class.