Length: 19,000..and counting
Genre: Romance, Angst (?)
Warnings: Too many narratives…?
Disclaimer: There’s a ton of reference here about angels. But like any other story about them, I made my own rules, symbolisms, and mixed pedagogies with my reality. EXO belongs to themselves, propriety-wise to SM I think, story belongs to me.
Kim Minseok as a child had been very bright. He has shown that his intelligence is above that of kids his age. And though mothers liked him, other kids got jealous. He had always been a subject of bullying.
The worst came when the kids in his neighbourhood got jealous when he got 1st place in the science invention fair. While Minseok was on his way home from elementary school, a couple of kids pulled at his bag and dragged him to the creek near the school. They shoved him to the water just as the rain started pouring. Young Minseok had been too shocked to process what had been happening and when he came to realize, the creek had been flowing and the kids had ran off.
Minseok stood up but the gushing water pushed him back down. And every time he moved to the bank, he kept being washed along the current that’s gotten stronger.
Young Minseok didn't have an idea of what giving up is. But he did know he can't do that now. He started crying for help. He called out even when he swallowed water. He called out until his throat was sore. He called out until his tiny voice broke.
He called out until another voice shouted from a distance, "Hey!" Minseok forced his head to find the voice, "Hey!" It was a kid holding onto a branch, waving it obsessively. "Grab it! Grab it!"
Minseok has been trained heavily in focus and concentration. When he was younger, his Mom would make him read for two hours, every day during summer break, without stopping. On school days, he would play the piano for a straight hour in the morning, and then proceed to write in his journal for the next half hour. He would do this routine without distraction and without exception.
His mind was healthy in terms of focus. But his body was another story. At eight, he didn't excel in body coordination nor in sports, so when he needed to reach out the branch amidst the strong current, it took all his will power to grab his lifeline and another ounce of will to not let go until the other kid has pulled him safely to land.
They walked back to the school and the other kid bid him goodbye. Minseok called out thanks to the kid's retreating figure.
Minseok looked at the sky just as the rain stopped completely. He forgot to ask the kid's name. But when he looked at the kid's direction, his savior was gone.
Being an only child, Minseok had been used to solitude. He never did mind being an outcast in his class despite being the brightest. Part of it was because of his near-death experience as a child, another part is the uncertainty of the other kids’ intentions.
In middle school, however, the truth of him being alone has taken its toll on Minseok. He would always spend his time at the rooftop of the school, earphones and books as his only companion. Despite being in so many organizations, there was still no one who wants to befriend him.
On a particular morning right when he was about to take the achievement test for high school, suddenly, the idea of just leaving this world occurred to him. Nobody would miss him, he thought. Nobody would look for him. Except, maybe his Mom and Dad, but surely they would understand. They barely had time for him because they’ve always been overseas.
Surely, Minseok thought as he made his way to the ledge, leaving behind his books. He maximized the volume of his discman and pocketed the devise. Surely, there would be a much better place for him.
“I must have been born in the wrong lifetime.” Minseok said as he climbed the wall that safeguards the floor. The wind started blowing hard. And as if he were one with it, Minseok closed his eyes as the wind kissed his face.
“Don’t!” Minseok turned at the voice. But no one was there.
And all he could hear was the sound blasting off of his earphones.
Minseok looked on again. His heart thumping as he closed his eyes. This is it, he thought.
“Don’t do it! Get down from there! Minseok, don’t!”
Minseok turned once again and pulled his earphones. But no one was there. He was still alone.
But not really. Minseok jumped back to the safety of the floor, gathered his books and walked back to his class room just as the lunch bell started buzzing.
When Minseok was in his second year in college, he would almost always be found in the library. In the midterms of the fall semester, while in the middle of trying to decide which of his five business proposals to submit to his moody mentor, the young student – acting from habit – nursed his headache with tablets of aspirin. He fell asleep right after.
He woke up in the hospital with an IV drip stuck on his right hand, and a sleeping Chanyeol on the extra bed beside his.
"Yeol-ie," he began, finding his voice. The long body of a boy stirred but didn't wake. "Chanyeolie," he Minseok called, a little louder this time.
The boy called Chanyeol slowly opened his round eyes. His pupils rolled and upon realizing where he was, sat up straight and looked at the sick boy in the room.
"How do you feel? Are you okay?"
Minseok slowly nodded his head. Before he could say anything, Chanyeol opened his mouth again.
"What happened? You called me but then somebody else told me you were passed out in the library and that I had to hurry. I went there but you wouldn't wake up so I tried to call an ambulance. But then they were already there before I could even dial emergency."
Minseok racked his head for a memory of who was with him at that time but he couldn’t remember anyone, so instead he asked, "What day is it?"
"Ahh," the tall boy dove under the covers, throwing off the bed what looked like his favorite red sweater. He popped back up with his phone in hand. "It's the fifth of November. You passed out the other day. What happened, Hyung? The doctor said you ingested way too may aspirin and you were way too fatigued."
Minseok racked his brain again trying to remember what was due for school and he cursed when he realized he has probably missed the deadline for the submission of the proposal that caused all these.
"By the way," Chanyeol said, getting up from the bed, and proceeding to the table with what looked like their belongings. He pulled out Minseok's phone. "Your mentor called to ask about your proposal. He said you picked the best topic and he wants to discuss it with you. I told him you'll probably take a few more days to recover and he was shocked saying he had no idea because you were still able to submit your paper."
Chanyeol updated him about a few other things. But all Minseok could think about that time was who was the person with him at the time. Whoever called Chanyeol and the ambulance is most likely the person who submitted his proposal.
However, that slipped his mind as soon as he was discharged from the hospital and back to his normal life.
When Minseok was in his senior year, he experienced a little over forty-eight hours without sleep. It was the time when he was juggling an internship at a big bank and completing his final thesis.
It happened when he was walking back home at four in the morning. He completed the conclusion for his thesis in the library and decided to call it a night when his supervisor told him to report to the office at 12noon that day. It was a Sunday, Minseok had thought. Though he hated the fact that he still need to work, he just accepted that he still has to earn money if he wanted to get a decent apartment after graduation.
He's going to get a few hours’ sleep in the small apartment he shared with Chanyeol, review his document, then report to the bank. That was the plan.
Granted, their apartment was just a few streets from the university. Minseok had these roads memorized day in and day out. He could walk them even with his eyes closed. This particular early morning though, Minseok is fighting with the weight of his eyelids. He's only running on caffeine and tonics and even those couldn't fight the tiredness of his body. He's close to fifty hours without sleep and it seems now is the perfect time to end that long battle.
Just a few more steps and a streetlight, Minseok recited in his head. He could finally sleep. He willed his eyes to open right about the last streetlight to his home.
But Minseok was dazed and he couldn't wait for the crosslight to turn green. He knew this road very well. He could make it to the other side if he ran. There's no car around and the street was just sixteen meters wide.
So he did.
But a few steps in, a horn blew breaking the quiet night. Minseok saw a bright light and then darkness.
When he opened his eyes, he's sitting at the curb, his bag askew beside him. A stranger was standing beside him and was looking down at him first with an angry expression, and then it shifted to a blank one.
The stranger looked away and crossed the street. He then vanished into the dark night.
Kim Minseok graduated from college with flying colors. He's on top of his class and he delivered the valedictory address for the whole graduating class. He quit the internship at the bank and got himself in one of the biggest advertisers in Seoul.
“I’m sorry Minseok, but I want out. I want out of this – this – thing!”
“What thing, Yixing? What we had was -“
“You can’t even say this a relationship! You go out early in the morning, I am not even able to hear a goodbye, and you come back late at night without waking me up. Most of the time you don’t even go home and you refuse to answer my calls. Minseok, this is not a relationship. This is two people living under the same roof, sometimes breathing the same air but never really seeing each other. I can’t live like this. No!”
Yixing continued to pull out the racks of clothes in his designated closet. There wasn’t much but Minseok was sure he didn’t want to leave anything behind. If Yixing had loved him at all, leaving a piece of his broken heart behind was enough.
“You’re a good friend, Minseok, a really really good one. But maybe, maybe, we’re just better off as friends.”
Yixing closed his bag and made his way to the door, it opened and Chanyeol walked it.
“Hyung, where are you going?”
“Take care of Minseok, for the both of us, Chanyeol. Look at him, I don’t think he has eaten in weeks.”
He pushed back Chanyeol and made his way out the door, and out of their lives.
Minseok did love Yixing. They had been together for almost a year and Yixing had just moved in with them. Their relationship was built on five years of friendship, so Minseok wasn’t sure if Yixing would still be his friend after this – even after he had said so himself.
So Minseok wallowed in alcohol for who knows how long. He was drinking every night, and living like another person in the morning.
He only stopped when one night he got so drunk he passed out in a dark alley near his favourite bar. When he woke up, he was in the hospital, gauze wrapped around his stomach and his body was in pain. It was almost a sad case of robbery turned murder had there not be a witness who alarmed the police. Minseok’s wallet was taken away with his expensive watch and phone. And Chanyeol had burst in the hospital room eyes swollen from desperately calling out for his best friend to be saved.
It was another one of those moments where Minseok had narrowly escaped death. And even then he was not able to thank his savior because the police were not able to track who had reported the incident to them.
People said how gifted Minseok was, exerting only little effort to excel in everything he did. But what they didn't know was just how much hard work Minseok has to do to meet their expectations. And just how many times he almost died in doing so.
This is how Minseok is alive to these days. He has always been saved. But he either never remembered who saved him, or he never really knew who.
“Kyungsoo,” Minseok called from his office.
Immediately, the assistant walked in pushing open the glass doors.
“I think I need to go home. Can you call Chanyeol for me, please?”
“Are you alright, Mr. Kim? You don’t look so well.”
And it was all Minseok could handle before throwing a fit of coughs. He had been under the weather that morning when he left for work, and he couldn’t bother Lu Han because the other man seemed sick, too.
“I’ll get him. Do you need anything else?”
Minseok shook his head unable to answer. He passed out well after that and only came to when Chanyeol arrived. The tall man helped his best friend up, struggling to keep the limp figure from falling.
As soon as they got home, Lu Han was debating which paracetamol to drink. But he left the process when he saw the paling Minseok in Chanyeol’s arms. He grabbed his boyfriend’s other side and helped to bring him to his room.
“What happened?” he asked frantically. Chanyeol laid Minseok’s head on the pillow as Lu Han removed the shoes and placed the sick man’s leg on the bed, shuffling the covers.
“Kyungsoo called and well, he said Hyung passed out in the office. I think it’s just fever so I brought him back here.”
“I see; can you get the paracetamol, Yeol? There should be two tablets on the table. Can you get them both please?”
The tall man didn’t ask questions as he ran for the door, and Lu Han proceeded to tucking Minseok under his thick covers. The owner of the house was burning with fever and Lu Han was panicking because he knew this might have something to do with him and the rules that were set for his kind.
Lu Han squeezed dry the cold towel and pressed it on Minseok’s forehead. He then leaned in the couch and dialled the first number he knew since he descended.
“Lu Han Hyung?”
“Listen, is it a good time to talk?” Lu Han tried to lower his voice as Minseok stirred in his sleep. He had been mumbling and it worried Lu Han.
“Ahh, wait,” he heard the younger man apologize to Jongin, and then a door closed. “What’s wrong, Hyung?”
“I’m not sure,” Lu Han started. “He was doing fine last night before we went to bed. I told him I’ll sleep in my room since I think I’m coming down with flu, so I’m pretty sure he didn’t get it from me.”
“Did you get any meds for yourself?”
“Not yet. I was supposed to but then Chanyeol burst in the house and the next thing I know Minseok is passed out from high fever. He’s a bit better now but I think I should bring him to the hospital just to be sure.”
“Drink your meds and drink plenty of water. If he doesn’t get better in four hours, take him to the doctor.”
“He’s the one sick though-”
“You’re his extension, Hyung,” Sehun gently reminded the older man. “Whatever happens to you happens to him, too, but because he’s human, he’s more susceptible. That’s why you need to take care of your health, because no matter how strong Mr. Kim is, he’d easily get from good to bad when you yourself aren’t in good condition.”
Lu Han nodded, more to himself, and bid Sehun goodbye after thanking the younger man.
He leaned over Minseok, rearranging the towel, and kissed his boyfriend’s cheek.
“I’m sorry you have to go through this.” Lu Han whispered and proceeded to take the medicine he was supposed to drink before all the commotion happened in their house.