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NCT DREAM OCTOBER FICLETS

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the subtle chirp of crickets, the gleam of the moon reflected on the lake's serene and shimmering waters, the breeze that slightly tousles his hair and dares to do nothing more—renjun thinks wistfully that tonight is almost perfect, but there seems to be something missing.

the tiny trinket in renjun's pocket feels like nothing, but it bears such great emotional burden to the point he thinks it's odd that it weighs so little in reality.

it's a ring, and in its center is a shattered stone of peridot. once upon a time, renjun had thought that it was a pretty ring with a pretty gem of a pretty green and had pretty engravings in its pretty silver hoop. pretty had been what renjun thought the ring was, so tantalizing and perhaps even beautiful.

that was before it broke. before it became no good anymore.

renjun doesn't know why he keeps it still, it's worthless and it's jaemin's, and jaemin is dead. jaemin's been long dead. it haunts him still.

renjun fishes out the ring from his pocket out of habit, gently running his thumb on the peridot's cracks as he does. he's committed all the little dentures and lines to memory by now; every time he follows the ridges and splits he can relive fragments of jaemin. his words, his smile, even his death (renjun always forgoes the streak that last memory was set in)—it's all embedded in this ring's gemstone.

tonight, renjun is allowed a glimpse of jaemin's eyes.

it's hard to describe how beautiful they used to look. all he knows for sure is that they were a hundred—no, a thousand, ten thousand, hundred thousand, maybe even a million times more beautiful than this ring. too many times. too many times more beautiful for this world to handle.

he misses them, the way they would flit down to renjun's lips, how they would blink back up before returning their gaze to his lips again, how they would flutter shut when their mouths slotted together and their fingers intertwined.

and then the memory turns to dust. renjun misses the younger's eyes even more. he wishes he hadn't seen them again, hadn't rekindled the fire ablaze in his heart. then again, the fire had never gone out in the first place; it's been burning all this time, and he wishes hearts could smoulder. could disintegrate into ashes. because it hurts to love jaemin. jaemin, who was oh so good to him, whom he saw die right in front of his eyes. it'd be good for him to stop loving jaemin.

sighing to himself, he holds the ring up to the moon, closing one eye as if looking through a telescope. the band looks like a halo, and he thinks jaemin must be up there somewhere, among the stars, watching over him.

and renjun thinks he's far too attached. he can't bring himself to throw the damning ring away and into this lake, where it would sink to the bottom, never to be seen again. nothing good has come from this chartreuse jewel, it's only brought him nightmares, despair and heartache (it brought jaemin death).

and renjun thinks it's ironic, really. peridot is for clarity of the mind, for letting go of grievances, for renewal, for the healing of the heart, for good dreams. that's what jaemin had told him anyway, and, thinking back to that time, jaemin had held the ring up to the moon the same way as renjun tonight. but for some reason, he could only find the opposite to be true, and he thinks it's because the stone is broken.

renjun begins to believe it's cursed.