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About this community
Mods butterflyweb and nemesis_cry welcome you to Elysian Knights, a community dedicated to the fictional universe of the DBSK fanfic Acts of Contrition and its subsequent sequel, Acts of Insurrection.

Fics can be navigated according to the tags found here.

A tentative chronology of events in the verse:

Soulmate (JaeChun)
Ego (Yunho-centri, HoMin)
Transient (MinSu)
Acts of Contrition (eventually OT5)
Triangle (MinHoSu)
Contract (Heechul, Shihan)
Acts of Insurrection (OT5)
Amethyst (JaeMin, OT5)
Acts of Succession: Sunderance (OT5)
Acts of Succession: Solitude (broken!OT5)
Acts of Succession: Strength (YunChun, JaeMin, OT5)
You Make Me Want to Be A Man (HoSu, OT5, Utada/Bora)
Etchings (HoMin, YooSu, JaeHo, YooMin, JaeSu, MinSu, OT5)

Other AUs in the same verse:
Dune (YunChun)

July 2008
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27 28 29 30 31

Beware of the Leopard [userpic]

Title: Acts of Succession: Solitude
Authors: butterflyweb  and nemesis_cry 
Rating: R
Pairing: broken!OT5
Summary: The death of the Empress splinters more than public opinion.
AN: First in a new story arc, set many years after Acts of Insurrection.







He straddles time, bent over a low table to warm his hands against a tea-cup the Imperial food tasters have assured him is not poisoned. It doesn't stop him from pressing his lips slowly to the rim, cautious in his every movement. If he tries, he can remember which ruler died of poisoning, which Imperial concubine was disposed off before she could bear a child to the throne. He may not know their names, but he can feel their pain, the sudden clogging of the airwaves, the shock. The fear.


Gently, he sets down the cup and meets Yoochun's eyes. Not a month ago, they would've been able to meet in private. It isn't safe anymore. He is surrounded by bodyguards and members of Jiexi's Council at all times. Jaejoong and Yoochun are deemed expendable.

"I've decided to move out of our rooms to the Imperial bedchamber." He bites his lip. "I've been told it's inappropriate, considering they're looking to find me a wife." Logically, he understands. The Council fears another assassination. They want a new dynasty, a future insured where their families will be treated with kindness and respect for years spent in service to the throne. What he wants doesn't seem to matter.

For all that, he doesn't miss the way Yoochun frowns nor fails to feel a little vindicated at the sight. It's been weeks. He's sick of suffering alone.

"Yes," the other man nods without meeting his eyes. "I heard."

Changmin bites his lip harder, uncharacteristically hurt. "So you agree?"

"It's your Highness's decision," comes the muted reply, and Changmin clenches his teeth, feeling the heat in his face. No reaction, no protest. Nothing.

It's comforting to know I'm so loved, he thinks bitterly, setting the cup down with a clatter.

"You'll tell Jaejoong, then."

"You won't?" It's the barest semblance of disbelief and barely similar to what he's used to hearing from the other man - so free with his words normally - that it almost passes him by. At least until he catches Yoochun smiling to himself in a way that's all Yunho.

"I have better things to do," he snaps and it's not what he means to say, not at all, but it's what comes out. "You'll tell him."

Yoochun meets his eyes, the other man's face blank, no trace of the emotions he usually wears bared on his sleeve. Changmin hasn't seen him like this for years, not since Elysia and being tied to a cold metal chair, blood dripping from his nose. He doesn't know why it bothers him, crawls under his skin to sit and fester. This isn't an interrogation.

"Yes, your Highness."

The honorific sits between them like an insult.

A glance to the guards and staff sends them scurrying with silent footsteps out the door. It'll be frowned upon, but he'll deal with it. Later.

"Don't be angry with me, Chunnie," he pleads, something like childish frustration in his gut. "It's not something I can oppose. What'll I say? I don't want to marry because I'm fucking my advisors?" His eyes will the other man to understand, to forgive him.

His lover's eyes stay fixed firmly on the ground.

"You don't have to explain yourself to me," he says quietly, bitterness lying underneath the surface of the words. "Not anymore."

It's worse than anger, Changmin thinks, pushing himself to his feet, swaying slightly from lack of sleep, from hunger and exhaustion. "So that's it? You don't care? You can wash your hands of me that easily?"

"If you need to me to understand, then I'll understand." Yoochun's voice is calm, as if he hasn't heard him. As if he doesn't see - and maybe this is what he's done in his anger. Maybe this is what he's lost. "I know the ways of the empire."

Changmin tightens his fists. "Yeah, and you're happy to let me suffer alone. Thanks a lot, Yoochun. Should've known someone like--" And Yoochun does look up then, eyes so dark they might be straight obsidian, his chin trembling dangerously.

"Someone like what? Like me?" He rises slowly, too slow and too menacing for Changmin to remember his place, the memory of a fist against his cheek still so vivid. It shouldn't be like this.

Changmin lifts his chin in challenge, daring him. Goading him into a reaction. Kiss me. Fucking hit me, just do something.

"What should you have known about someone like me?"

His calm ruffles Changmin's patience. "That you'd bail at the first sign of trouble. It's just you and Jaejoong, right?" His mind flashes to two boys on Elysia, holding hands under the rain. "It's always been just you and Jaejoong." Dark eyes narrow, but he doesn't care anymore about intruding, about hurting. "Pimp him out to stay alive and then stay with him out of guilt. Nothing ever changes."

There is a single, horrible moment where he can't believe the words that have come out of his mouth, ringing into the still air between them with the sureness of a blade. Yoochun's features are bloodless, lithe frame shaking with fury as Changmin watches him like a child with an ant under glass. It lasts for only a few seconds before the other man lunges at him, sending them both hard to the ground. The air whooshes from Changmin's lungs, murder dark in Yoochun's eyes as he pulls back a fist, sucker punches Changmin and the younger man is bringing up a knee to push him back, to give as good as he gets.

"You son of a bitch--how fucking..how fucking dare you--"

The guards will hear soon. Shit, the guards will hear and they'll pull Yoochun off and while the thought brings a sense of safety to Changmin's mind, it also reminds him of the stakes. Yoochun isn't just his lover, he's his subject. This is treason, but that's not why he fights back. Not entirely.

A fist catches him in the shoulder and it hurts, the wound from the crash on Elysia flaring up years later at the most inconvenient of times. For that alone, he knees Yoochun in the stomach, rolling them over in a poor attempt to immobilize him.

"Fuck, stop--Yoochun--"

His lover spits in his eye, wild and raging in the desire to make him pay. It's shock alone that gives Yoochun the upper hand, fist catching in his hair to jerk him up. Changmin hisses in pain as he feels strands come loose in the other's hand, finger curling around Yoochun's wrist, clawing to break his hold before the other man breaks his jaw.

"You little bastard, I should fucking knock your teeth out--" and he can see the tears on Yoochun's cheeks, knows the hurt goes deeper than the anger.

Ashamed, he shoves the man further and into the table, teacup spilling over and shattering to pieces. A little like what was left of their relationship, he thinks and scrambles off the ground, back meeting the wall as he tries to wipe blood from his lips.

No one can see this. No one can know this happened.

"You don't know anything!" Yoochun yells, the sound half in Basic, half in his own language. He doesn't follow, on his knees and half-hunched over, teeth bared. The hate in his voice is so strong that it chokes him, surer than any poison laced in his drink, in his food.

"I know everything," Changmin spits around blood and an aching jaw and he wants Yoochun to get up, to stop him because he can't stop himself. "Every fucking dirty secret you have, I've seen it."

Wide-eyes open in surprise for a second, darkest fears obvious on his lover's face before the mask is back, full of hatred and disgust. It wasn't this bad when they were enemies.

"You've become a monster," he bites out. "You're hurting everyone around you and you're proud of it, you little shit."

Changmin shakes, back pressed to the wall, feeling cornered when this should be a person he feels safest with.

"You made me this way," he whispers. "You put me here."

Yoochun sneers, dragging himself to his feet, one arm holding his stomach. "You put yourself here. You signed the papers, you fucking gave Yunho an ultimatum." A hard swallow, his Adam's apple bobbing in his throat. "You're the one who drove them away."

"Yoochun..." It hits home, every word, his own remorse, it leaves a gaping hole where his heart should be and he reaches out before he can stop himself, unprepared when his hand is slapped away.

"Don't fucking touch me," the other man snarls. "I don't know who you are." A silent sob. "And I don't want to know."

The door hisses open and he's out. Gone from the room - and he might as well be gone from Changmin's life.

And then there were none, he thinks and buries his head in his hands.

***

The wide open air of the hangar cuts through his shirt's thin material, his ribs in turn, drawing his arms up to wrap around himself. He walks instinctively, albeit not knowledgeably, finding his destination on more luck than anything else. The sims are in a long row, pushed off to the side of the hanger but still a part of it. It's a psychological tool, he remembers. Don't get too entrenched in the fantasy. The real thing's still waiting.

Climbing up the side of the mock craft, he opens the port, forcing his tired body to cooperate and straddle the ledge. Exhaustion is unforgiving and heavy in him, sleep a forgotten thing in days past, but he has enough self-control not to fall. Once he's inside, he hesitates, fingertips running over controls he hasn't touched in seeming forever, something clutching in his stomach.

He misses this. So badly.

The cockpit seals shut overhead and he remembers, dimly, a day when Junsu used to hate the enclosed space. When he used to get through training with incessant chatter and sheer force of will. He wonders where Junsu is now.

He can't recall.

His screen flashes blue light, coming to life under his hands. The illusion is almost perfect. The craft even rattles with the thrum of engines as he takes the helm. Not so long ago, he would've flown for real. But that's all over now.

"Give me a skirmish. Two dozen opponents," he tells the computer, voice commands so much more reliable now than they used to be.

He brings the helmet into place, flight goggles settling over his eyes and the final pieces of the picture along with them. He wraps a hand around the stick, feels his grip slide a bit from the damp on his palms. The sims are trained to start without warning, leaving you to easily pitch yourself into a rock or asteroid if you don't have the reflexes to pull up. His are dulled, he knows, but he wasn't a star for nothing.

Red 1, this is Red Leader. Chart an 80 degree turn and come at the station on her port flank.

"Roger, Red Leader," he replies into the mouthpiece, throat hoarse.

Voice recordings sound like anyone but Yunho and still, that's who he imagines guiding him. It's ridiculous, like a child playing a game, like a child--like a--

A glass shatters on the floor, millions of shards and red liquid. "I said no! We will not compromise with thieves!" he belows, loud and clear until he imagines the windows shaking in their frames. "I am the ruler of this Empire and I will not bow down to anyone!"

Faces stare at him, disappointed and paternal. Exasperated with an unruly child.

"Your Majesty, we've been through this..."


He shakes himself, barely missing a volley of fire. One of his engines is out, sounds blaring into the cockpit, the craft swerving out of control.

An asteroid belt looms not far from here, but he's not alone. There's an enemy craft on his six. Not firing, just following.

"Come die with me," he thinks he says. There's no one to tell him otherwise. He snaps his hand in the controls until the craft groans, reckless and suicidal, making a hard turn and heading straight for the floating debris. The enemy pursues.

Another swift, jerking turn and he has to be careful. Can't die before this fucker does, has to take him down with him or the whole thing's a failure.

There's a woman's hand on his shoulder, patting soothingly. He can't remember how it got there or who she is, but she's poison and he snaps, telling her to 'go die somewhere'.

"But Your Highness wouldn't kill the mother of his heir," she laughs, pressing a glass against his lips. "Now, now. Just drink this."

"Trying... to kill me," he accuses, eyelids falling shut. The warm, sickly sweet liquid flows into his mouth and he swallows lest he choke, a hand on his forehead. He feels weak, his heart in his chest and his pulse in his ears seemingly on two separate beats.

"What..."

"Shh," she tells him, young, nothing in her dark eyes. A blank screen. "Sleep now."


The surface of the planet rushes up to meet him, fast, his engines down, the gravitational pull doing the rest, but he's not lost this yet. His hands still clutch the controls, refusing to let go even in death. Something wet coats his cheeks--maybe it's tears, maybe it's blood. Maybe it's his brain leaking out. Whatever. Doesn't matter.

With considerable difficulty, he rolls the craft 180 degrees. It's not polite to go without saying goodbye.

Assassination attempts make him a fugitive in his own home. The palace is boarded up; no one allowed in, no one allowed out except for them. He's told they come in when he sleeps.

"You gods... damned liar," he chokes. "You gods damned monster."

Dark hair in her eyes, she's Jiexi looking at him from beyond the grave. His mother. His grandmother deceived and disappointed by her own family. "Don't be so dramatic. I have to tell you something to get you to stay alive, don't I? Since you won't sign the order of abdication."

"Never..."

"Sign it!"

He tries to draw himself up, away from her, his body disobedient like a puppet with cut strings. What have they done to him?

Her fingernails dig like claws into his shoulder, holding him down to the bed with ease and panic bubbles in his chest. Fury alongside it.

"Go to hell," he hisses, eyes blazing.

When she slaps him, it's almost a throwback to the old days. To a night in the council room that he wishes he could've changed. Things he shouldn't have said. Maybe. He's not sure anymore except that the words burn on his lips like tears.

"You son of a bitch, I wish you were dead! We all wish you were dead!" She's screaming and hitting and crying and he can't remember how they ended up here. Who she is anymore. "I'd kill you myself if I didn't know there's no use."

"Coward," he snorts, without fire and tries to remember. Her face is familiar.

"I hate you... Some husband--some emperor you are, just another cosmic joke!"

Her nail catches his cheek, slicing the skin.

"May the Gods take no mercy on you," she spits, and he chokes on the laugh bubbling in his throat.


He's dully aware of being hunched over the controls, the stick jammed into his ribs and head aching. The dull sound of a voice repeating 'failure' echoes in his ears, clenching his stomach until he realizes it's the simulator, dragging himself up to a sitting position. The sim. He crashed. He died.

The cockpit slides open without him pressing the controls.

"Chang--your Majesty," a voice intones above his head, letting in a rush of cool air. "Are you alright?"

He blinks, lashes wet with tears he doesn't remember spilling. He's not sobbing, that's for sure. He's alive--at least as much as he was when he went in--and for a short moment, he's almost disappointed at the discovery.

A hand turns his face around, gentle, soft to the touch. "Changmin, are you okay?" Jaejoong says his name quietly, like it's a sin. Yoochun stands behind him and says nothing at all.

It takes him a long moment to respond, to make his tongue work in his mouth, his throat shape words. For a brief moment, he feels panic hit him--fear of death, of betrayal, poison swimming through his system.

"I missed it," he says, his voice far away to his own ears. "I miss..."

I miss flying, he thinks, but doesn't say it. It's not appropriate.

Jaejoong nods without understanding, holding out a hand to help him out. It's cold like a cadaver's. Changmin shakes it off. "Stay away from me..."

The other man jerks back as if stung, pain then accusation alive in his gaze. "You need to rest, your Majesty."

He feels himself start to shake, the taste of too-sweet liquid heavy in his mouth, hatred in dark eyes that he doesn't know. "No," he hisses, covering his face with his hands. Feeling caged. "I won't let you."

"Don't make a scene," Yoochun intones, grave and cold and nothing like the lover Changmin once knew. "You're the Emperor now, live up to everyone's expectations. Don't be a child."

Jaejoong motions him silent.

"Changmin, please... Please." He bites his lips, pale pink turning to red like blood. "Please, dongaseng. It's just me. You trust me, don't you?"

He swallows hard, looks into handsome features, a face he loves, the man behind it. "Y-yes," he replies softly, even as he sees the other man he loves, watching him as if he would sit beside him, tipping a glass into his mouth and sliding a pen in his hand.

Rest, they tell him. Sleep now, he hears.

It doesn't matter. It's all the same. He lost the moment he let Yunho go.

***

The room is dark, silent except for the dripping of water from an old pipe about a foot away. He has no idea of his surroundings and it unnerves him, but he can't complain. For now, he's alive. He has no idea if the same holds true for Yunho.

Deep breaths, he thinks, just like on Piraeus. Stay calm and you'll pull through. In theory, it makes sense.

In practice, he has to work hard not to bite a hole clean through his lips when the door opens with a rattle of metal that makes him jump half out of his skin. The damn blindfold stays in place.

"Changmin?" he chances, courage like a stone in his throat.

Someone laughs. "Not Changmin."



It raises goosebumps over his skin, lifting his chin higher. Proud. Like a Lieutenant of the Guard should be.



"Who are you?" What have you done with him?



A touch skims along his throat. "We're more interested in who you are."

Shivering, he remembers his training and casts it off just as quickly. It's not going to keep him alive in this lions' den, not by far. He has to be smart, to get Yunho and Changmin out and away from this place.

"Kim... Junsu," he chokes out, trying to swallow past the lump of fear in his throat, sure that the fingers pressing against it can feel his panic. These bastards probably delight in it. "I'm a mechanic," he adds, hoping the demotion will earn him a reprieve.



There's the sound of a thoughtful hum, the fingertips sliding over his skin to curl under the chain round his neck, tugging. "They give these out to anyone then? Strange. Your Captain had them...your pretty little friend, too."

"Had?" Junsu repeats, head turning in the direction of the voice, no longer sure that he's alone with his tormentor. What if there's more than one? What if the ones who found them are back and intent on finishing what they started? "What do you mean 'had'? What did you do--"


The man laughs, but it's not a mocking sound. "So worried for their safety... no wonder you came all the way down here to save him." The grip around the dogtags turns harsh, chain biting into his neck. "Are there more of you coming?"



Junsu gasps, heart jumping in his throat as the action's impeded by the cool metal at his throat. "No. It's just us. We're just here for him."



The grip on his tags releases slightly. "That's a lot of devotion for some kid who can't keep his craft in the air."

"Changmin's our best pilot, he's--" Better judgment kicks in late, silencing him abruptly. "What do you want from me?"


It's unexpected, but as if in answer the blindfold is released from his eyes, the shigawire handcuffs as well. And though it takes him a moment to note his surroundings, he holds no illusion that they've done him any good.


"A reason not to kill you."



He tightens his jaw, seeing the two men from before in front of him, smug, arms crossed over their chests. Guns at their hips.



"What..." he swallows hard, looking at them defiantly. "What would it take for their lives as well?"

The slighter of the two tilts his head in thought, eyes roving his form. It's disgusting, frightening, but he catches their meaning. Obviously, what else would godless rebels want, but that.


"Are you prepared to crawl for them, Lieutenant?"



It brings a snarl to his lips but he knows the truth. That he owes loyalty to his Captain. That he'd do anything and more for Changmin.



He shifts from the chair to his knees, moving toward them and trying to bite back the shame that reddens his ears.



"Which of you first?" he grits out.


"Him," the same man tells him, nodding his head towards his silent companion, the other's gaze cold and full of disdain. No doubt he's judging him for this, no doubt there's no honor in getting on his knees like a whore, but if it saves Changmin and Yunho, he'll do it gladly. He'll spread and he'll moan and he'll pretend he doesn't feel tears choke him.

He only winces when his leg protests the strain of being drug along the floor, dead weight and probably better off hacked to pieces. Stomach threatening to rise bile to his lips, he reaches forward. He'll just pretend he loves this man.

He'll just pretend it's Changmin.

That'll make it okay. All okay.

"Get to it," the rebel snaps at him, eyes fixing him with so much hatred that it makes his skin crawl. What did he do to deserve this? What did any of them do except join a Guard that could save them from starvation?

"Give me a second," he chokes, hands shaking as he tries to work the other's fly open. He can't do it. He has to. He'll fuck up. He'll get through it and he'll save his friends. Focused on trying to get himself under control, he almost misses the look shared between the two men. Almost.


Panic overwhelms him. "I-I'm sorry, just... I'll do it. I wasn't lying, I will--"

They tug him to his feet, ignoring his protests and he can't help think this is worse. They're going to rape him or execute him and all because he can't stop shaking. He should've stayed on Piraeus. He should've been a mechanic on a backwater moon, forgotten like everyone else.


"Please, I've never--"

Hands are suddenly warm along his jaw, black eyes meeting his. "Quiet." The words themselves are soft, the rebel not breaking the lock of their gaze and Junsu listens to his heart thud a dull counterpoint, waiting for the ax to drop. What the fuck is this man playing at?


Strong arms wrap around him from behind, effectively trapping his to his sides. The other rebel appears out of nowhere, footsteps too quiet to be heard.

He's so dead.

"For a traitor..." the man in front of him starts slowly, head tilted to the side, making him look more delicate that he already does. "For a traitor, you're certainly devoted to them..." A thumb smooth over his cheek, the rebel's expression as blank as a china doll's. "If we were to give you a choice, tell you that you could save only one...who would it be?"

He should say it's an impossible decision, that Guard soldiers don't leave behind their own. But those are not the words that escape his lips.

"Changmin."

The rebel smiles and it's almost kind. "You're just like us, aren't you? Flesh and blood and love, right?" Fingers smooth over his lips. "You're in love with him."

He wants to shut his eyes, shut them tight against the man's smile and the truth that's held up for him to see. Not that he hasn't known, not that he hasn't felt it eating him up inside every day for five years, but to have it fall from someone else's lips...

"N-no. I'm nothing like you."


Dark eyes flash with hurt but he doesn't take it seriously. They're toying with him and still he follows like a puppet, because he's afraid, conflicted. A little aroused when he shouldn't be.

"Are you sure about that?" he hears whispered against his neck, a wet kiss pressed to the skin. They can probably see Yunho's marks on him--why should they think he's anything more than a whore? He stares straight ahead, swallowing hard but keeping his jaw tight. He made his bargain. He's willing to accept the terms; his pride won't let him do anything else. Even after he watched Changmin sneak out night after night, as he laid in his bunk and tried not to think about it, tried not to imagine what was happening in the Captain's bed. Even after that, he loves him and he'll do what these men ask him to.

And so when no request, no demand comes, just a press of a warm mouth to his own, he's lost.


"Cat got your tongue?" the silent one asks, stealing his attention for himself.

Shaking his head, Junsu tries for bravery only to end up choking on his lies for the press of a strong thigh between his legs. That wasn't part of the deal.

"This how you imagine him touching you?" is whispered against his lips.

He gives in, then, closing his eyes, a warm hand ghosting over his stomach, undoing his trousers. "That he'd kiss you, just like this?" The rebel takes his mouth once again, hands resting on his hips, hands in his trousers, touching him through military issue briefs. It startles a gasp from his throat, muffled by the joint of their mouths.

He wants to say he knows. That he's felt Changmin's touch and tasted his kiss. That sometimes he thinks he dreamed the whole thing up.


"We love him too, you know," the other man mutters, long lashes brushing his ear. "He's special."

Possessiveness sparks along every vein before he remembers he doesn't have a possessive bone in his body. Of course Changmin would prefer Yunho, these men, anyone to him. He's not his friend's first choice; will never be. For some unfathomable reason, this is the first time the thought makes him cry.

Dark, liquid eyes watch him, the other man thumbing away the salt from his cheeks. "I'm sorry," the man tells him, voice low, and it sounds honest. Earnest. He's kissed again, even as the man begins to stroke him in his trousers. "I'm sorry he doesn't see."


His arms are released, hands instead claimed in a tight grip. It holds him in place by more than simple force. Please, he thinks, lips mouthing the words rather than saying them. They understand.

The hand stroking him moves faster, wrist twisting and the rebel must know what he's doing because this isn't anything like the hurried handjobs he shared with Changmin. It's suffocating and confusing and heated, but he's enjoying it, every second laced with pleasure and guilt.

"Lean against me," he's told, the man behind him holding tight. "That's it..."

He pants harshly, a groan catching in his throat. "Let go...it's okay," the rebel murmurs against his lips, sucking on the lower and making Junsu's knees weak. "You don't have to be alone here."


Somehow between feeling his knees go weak and hearing the other man whisper his name as he strokes him, Junsu does as told, forgetting about enemies and factions and remembering only how it hurt to step out of his craft to the deck, alone. One man short.

"Gods..." He shudders and spills over the other's fist, clutching the last of his loyalty in his grasp before he lets it all go.

The man gentles him through his release, a warm kiss pressed to his throat.


"I'm Jaejoong," the rebel in front him says softly. "He's Yoochun." He smiles in a way that's almost reassuring. "We're not going to hurt you."


They set him free slowly, as if to test that he can hold himself up without tumbling to the floor, their faces and their hands too close for comfort, too far to suffocate. Another kiss, fingers running through his hair and it's a goodbye, of sorts.

Somehow, instead of hurling accusations and abuse at them, all Junsu can do is smile.

"We'll find you something for that leg," Jaejoong tells him, turning with the other towards the door as Junsu lowers himself to sit, resting his back against the wall and trying to regain his breath, fatigue heavy in his limbs. He wipes at the tear tracks that still heat his cheeks, the panic having died out long minutes ago.


It's barely a moment before the door is pushed open again, this time Changmin passing through.


He isn't changed. Not even a bit.


A hand on his shoulder jerks him back to the present. "Stop daydreaming and help me out," he's told, bright eyes barely feigning exasperation. "You've been slacking off these past days, what's wrong?"

Junsu blinks, not registering the other's words for a moment before shaking his head, dragging his sleeve over his forehead and sliding back under the craft. "Nothing's wrong." He sticks a hand out. "Give the hydrospanner and mind your business."

The other man snorts, the sound overshadowed by the rummaging of tools. "Right. That was convincing." Smooth metal is pressed into his hand. "Next you'll be telling me you 'have this friend'..."


He flips him off over the underside of the craft, smirking to the engine coils where the other man can't see. "Smartass." It's said fondly and without heat, the other's insistence as frustrating as it is liberating. At least he listens to him when he talks, unlike Yunho.

"Hey, isn't that what I'm here for?" he jokes, pressing his foot to Junsu's knee in a semblance of a kick. "'Hyukjae, pass me that wrench,'" he mocks in a high-pitched cackle. "'Hyukjae, help me with my romantic problems...'"

Junsu pretends to ignore him, tightening the coils above his head, but it lasts a whole of ten seconds before he's attempting to kick him back. "I guess so, I mean, it's not like you're actually working..."


"This is my shop, shortass. I just rent space to emotionally braindead lumps like you."


"Because you need me to fix your boat," Junsu shoots back. "Don't pretend you're not getting something for flinging all that abuse at me." Although admitedly, it's mutually satisfying. He gets to be out of Yunho's way and vice versa.

It's not like he hasn't missed tinkering with crafts in the past years.

"Seriously, I'm just lucky there happened to be a former mechanic on this moon," Hyukjae chuckles, but his laughter is tinged with questions. He doesn't buy the lie, he's too smart. Not that Junsu would ever tell him so outloud.

Silence reigns for a few long minutes, Junsu chewing on his lips, giving a few more half-hearted tugs to the spanner before sighing. "So, I have this friend..."


"Oh boy," Hyukjae snorts, "here we go. Do I need alcohol and tissues for this one or is it sap-free?"

In retaliation, Junsu aims a kick to his thigh, sliding from under the craft with the pretense of looking for different tools. "Want me to shut up?"

"I always want you to shut up," the other jokes, tucking a leg up under himself, but the tone is kind. "It never stops you. Tell me about your friend."


"Well, he's a bit of an ass," he rejoins, tapping his hands against the ground to get himself going, to shake of the dirt that coats his fingers. It's the first time he's spoken of his lovers to anyone. First time he's felt the need to.

Hyukjae grins a little wider. "Knew it."


Junsu rolls his eyes, wiping greasy hands on the knees of his jumpsuit. "Right. Well. This friend who's a bit of an ass..." he trails off, staring at the shell of a craft, hollowed out and almost beyond salvaging. "He did something stupid. It seemed like the right thing at the time, I'm sure part of him still thinks it is."


"Oh, so this is going to be a code-language romantic troubles, I get it." Hyukjae dodges the next kick in time, laughing at his misfortune. It's good, because it makes Junsu laugh as well.

"I could tell you the real thing," he smirks, "but then I'd have to kill you." A shrug. "Your choice, man."

The other man flicks his fingers at him in dismissal, leaving a streak of grease through his hair when he pushes it back behind his ear. "Fine. Go ahead. I'll play. What did yourr stupid, asshole friend do?"


"He packed up and jumped worlds because he was trying to make a point," he deadpans, aware of how stupid it sounds when simplified. A blush taints his cheeks, almost invisible under all the grime. "There's other people involved."

Hyukjae lifts an eyebrow. "People? How many 'people'? Your friend didn't run away from a harem, did he?"


"Depends on your definition of a harem," Junsu placates poorly. "Five people. Including my friend and m..." The words are out before he can stop them. Hyukjae rolls his eyes.

"It's kind of obvious that you're involved with the whole deal, now spill. Sounds like it'll get steamy."

"Pervert," he grouses, features red. "Well. I might have come with this friend when he made his stupid decision." He looks down at his hands, at the black of grease under his nails. Quietly. "Part of me might wish I stayed."


"You miss the rest of 'em?" Hyukjae supplies and it's surprisingly without judgment. Then again, someone like Hyukjae probably wouldn't know how to judge. He's a former farmer, like Junsu, except he didn't pick a side during the war. Didn't know which to choose, he'd said.

A nod. "You're going to say I'm being selfish, I know."

The other man slides down to sit next to him on the garage floor, leaning over to grab the wrench from Junsu's hand. "Don't flatter yourself, Kim. You couldn't comprehend my mind if you tried." A pause. "You also wouldn't know selfish if it kicked you in the teeth."

It's a roundabout compliment, but it ricochets right off Junsu's regrets. "Yeah... anyway." A look around them that is meant to distract him only leaves him feeling like he's just confessed some deep sin. "Think you'll be okay here? I should head home."

The sun is still high in the sky and he knows what he'll find, but he can't stay here and be sure he won't spill everything. Or worse, spill tears.

The side of his head suddenly smarts with pain, a glare coming to his features. "Ow, fuck! What the hell was that for?"

Hyukjae glares back. "For being a dumbass. You think you keeping it buried in that tiny brain of yours will make it go away?" Junsu is about to snap back when suddenly the other man is hugging him, arms tight around his shoulders and still griping. "You're making me lose serious man points here, but if I'm willing to do it, you should be, too. Spill."


Can't, he should say. Won't. He's been playing aide to the Empress for years now, consort to her successor for longer. The things he knows could destroy Changmin, could make him a target.

"Look, I get it," the other man sighs. "You can't name names. You've been fucking movie stars, whatever. Doesn't matter." A finger pokes him in the ribs, arms still holding him captive. "You need to say it for you. Otherwise your brain will implode one of these days and I'm not scraping it off the walls."


"Ew, hyung. That's frigging gross."

A harder poke. "Don't change the subject."

Junsu laughs but it catches halfway through, pressing his forehead against Hyukjae's shoulder and shaking slightly.

"I miss them," he whispers, and it tears his throat to say it. "I miss them so much. They must think I hate them."


"No one who knows you can be that stupid," Hyukjae tells him, patting his back awkwardly. "They probably miss you too." A deep breath, Hyukjae's chest pressing against his own. "Just go back to them, Kim."

He shakes his head, tears leaking from under his eyelashes despite his attempts otherwise. "I can't. I can't leave him here."


"What's stopping you from taking him with you?" A shrug. "I'm pretty sure I can find you sleeping pills on the black market. Not that I'm condoning kidnapping."

Junsu lets out a watery laugh, pulling back from the other man and dragging his sleeve over his cheeks. He shrugs helplessly. "It's just not that simple, Hyuk."


Greasy fingers ruffle his hair, the other man smiling anyway. "You wait and see if it's not. Even movie stars get lonely."

Right, he thinks, movie stars. What about captains in the Imperial Guard?

He nods to appease him, even as his heart knows different. "Then let's just hope all the gods of goodness and decency take a day off and you're right for a change."

Hyukjae releases him without resistance, tapping fingers to his temple. "Watch and see, Kim. Watch and see."

"Same time tomorrow?" he asks, trying to smile, trying to pretend it's all okay when it's not.

"Same time." A smirk. "Come say goodbye before you leave, understood?"

"If I leave, Hyukjae, I'll send you a holo from home."





***



Comments

first?

Ugh, I'm late with this comment because my other one apparently didn't go through. >.<

First of all, OMG YOOCHUN AND CHANGMIN. It makes me sad to see them fighting. I really hope that Jae can stay neutral and that Junsu and Yunho come back. AND OMG HYUKJAE. Random SuJu cameos light my day ^__^

Thank you ladies for a job well done.

I really think you guys are getting better! Poor Changmin! D:

i'm weird; i'm in a way feeling more sorry for yoochun then changmin. though I still feel bad for changmin, with all the presure he's under.

once again, you guys write lovely. i always enjoy reading your stuff ♥
thanks.

Your JaeChun seduction of Junsu is sublime.

This saga is so rich; it just never bottoms out. All due to your skill.

Usual awe.

PS: When I read sarah_the_crab's comment I hadn't read the chapter yet, and I thought to myself "Yeah, sure"--no way the best could be better...but you know, I think she's right.

changmin and yoochun make me angry.

poor ot5. T_T they are suffering

most of this chapter was so heavy, so the hyuksu interaction was cute and very necessary. :)

and junsu's interrogation room scene was omg~ amazing. wow.

nice hyuksu, definitely a push that junsu may need. on the other hand the yoomin is trying indeed. the tension often seemed to be most palpable between these two, rather than between jaejoong and changmin.

need to clarify one thing though, has changmin attained his Sight at this point of the arc?

*nodnod* He has. But the Sight is an ambiguous thing. Changmin may be seeing the past, the future, someone else's memories, or a future that may never come to pass. All up to interpretation. :)

;_;

♥ *throws love* Thanks for another great chapter. =]

omo, omo, omo T_T
fix the broken now!!!! >.<
lol. *sigh* i guess it's needed.....
poor minnie T_T and joongie & chunnie!!!!
and susu-ah's out there all alone, b/c yunho's being moody :P
but HYUKJAE!!! yay^^ so glad he made an appearance~
anyway....hope you update soon, this story is killing me T_T

It just seems to get sadder. Changmin can't seem to put down his front...he doesn't even seem to trust Jaejoong anymore. Su should just go back. And yes, sleeping pills are a good idea xD

god... you guys just started and you're killing me already!

Changmin is so desperate to push the others away... yet doesn't want them to leave... I feel so sad for him~!

It's been weeks. He's sick of suffering alone.
This sentence makes me sad... ;_;

And then Junsu... walking around with unrequited love for years... and still be willing to do everything to save Changmin! poor boy *hugs him* and now feeling guilty for leaving to top it off~!

Thank god for HyukJae being there ^_^

Waiting impatiently for the next chapter