Chapter: 19/40 + epilogue
Fandoms: Super Junior, U-Kiss
Pairings: KyuHyun/Zhou Mi, Han Geng/HeeChul
Rating: R overall
Warning: AU, violence, angst
Summary: Taking place six years before the events of Decerto, the story of how a human and a slave started a revolution.
"Animal forms are off-limits!" KyuHyun called, voice echoing through the field. The dragon only listened so far as to tell someone was talking to him, turning towards KyuHyun with an enraged snarl.
When he found his path blocked by his teammates, the dragon turned on them instead, crushing a rat with one paw before unleashing a stream of fire. KyuHyun dropped onto his stomach to avoid getting caught by stray flames, hissing as his arm was singed. Reaching out, he slammed one fist against the emergency button to call for reinforcements; he couldn't stop a rampaging dragon on his own.
"Where the hell is the security!" Zhou Mi was gripping the balcony tightly, feeling completely helpless while KyuHyun was in harm's way. The dragon's other teammates were scrambling to get out of his way as the dragon dive bombed onto a horse next, breaking the fighters back. That didn't stop him from slashing into his exposed back with teeth and claws, shredding him to pieces. Fortunately, the horse seemed to have already died on impact.
A tiger and another ox seemed to have decided to take matters into their own hands, both heading straight for the dragon in half animal form. The ox skidded to a halt, and stomped his foot into the stone below their feet. The arena shuddered as thick spikes launched upwards to pen the dragon in or skewer him.
That only held the dragon for a few seconds before it charged through, shattering the stone spikes. He hit the ox with the full brunt of his tail, sending the ox head first into the wall where his head was crushed on impact.
Security had finally made it into the arena, but Zhou Mi didn't think they would get close enough to intervene in time to save the tiger who was circling around the dragon. The two fighters who had been knocked out earlier were starting to get up, and the tiger was keeping the dragon's attention by swiping at his heels and tail before dodging out of reach.
A small stumble was all it took, the tiger tripping over a bit of rubble and the dragon was on top of him with his sharp claws and teeth.
Staggering back to his feet, KyuHyun looked down at the carnage below with ashen skin. He had to do something. Once the tiger was finished, those two fighters and quite possibly KyuHyun himself would be next to go. That dragon wouldn't stop until security took it out, but they couldn't get close enough to activate the safety restraints in the dragon's collar.
Looking around, KyuHyun leapt off his platform onto a pillar nearby, stomping both feet into the pillar before moving onto the next. The pillar he'd hit first cracked in half all the way down, toppling over on top of the dragon who was still on the tiger.
The dragon roared in pain and turned around to see KyuHyun making his way down the line of pillars, breaking each one as he went. The dragon took the second one off the head and broke the third with a heavy paw. It had just drawn in breath to breathe fire when electricity crackled around it's neck, collar reacting. The dragon shrieked, writhing until darts found the soft flesh under it's jaw.
KyuHyun scrambled to another pillar as the dragon fell with an echoing crash, taking out the one he'd been on.
Security swarmed in, subduing the dragon with more tranquilizers until it finally shuddered and went limp. Zhou Mi let out the breath he'd been holding and turned away, already stalking towards the door. The media were going to be on him in seconds if he didn't act quickly. Poking his head out, one of his assistants shot up to his feet, the young man's eyes wide and trembling.
"Summon Master Jung to me immediately," he said, moving on to the other assistant when that one left. "Keep the media out, I'll be holding a press conference in two hours... and get KyuHyun up here." The girl nodded and left to carry out his orders.
"I think that tiger is still alive," HeeChul was saying quietly when Zhou Mi came back into the room. The cameras were still focused on the bodies inside the arena, the two alive fighters having been taken off and the dragon being dragged out of the arena.
Down below, KyuHyun hadn't moved from the pillar he'd landed on, trying to catch his breath and will his legs to move. When he felt like he could stand without falling off the pillar, he got back to his feet and carefully made his way down to ground level.
By the time he got there, someone was waiting for him. Listening to the instructions from Zhou Mi, KyuHyun nodded and turned on the microphone he'd somehow managed to keep a hold of. "Our apologies, but the next match of the morning has been delayed until further notice," he said, breathing in deeply. "We will provide you with when matches will resume as soon as we can." He turned off the microphone and turned his attention to the arena, hand over his nose against the smell of blood.
The tiger was lying not that far away. Cautious about finding a mangled body, KyuHyun slowly crept up. There was blood, but not the gore he'd been expecting. The snake knelt down beside the tiger, checking for a pulse.
When he found it, his eyes widened. "Hey!" He called, waving down security. "This one's still alive!"
He didn't move until someone arrived with a stretcher to take the tiger to urgent care. Once the fighter was gone, KyuHyun looked around. There was no point checking the other fighters; he could see even from where he was that they were never getting back up again. He shuddered, shoulders hunched as he made his way out of the arena and back up towards Zhou Mi's box. His burned arm was starting to throb painfully once the adrenaline left his system.
"KuiXian," Zhou Mi had engulfed the snake in a hug the moment he came in and the doors were closed. "Are you okay?" he asked, his eyes wide in worry when he pulled back and looked KyuHyun up and down. "I knew that damn dragon... We'll get you to the medic as soon as we can okay?"
Nodding mutely, KyuHyun let Zhou Mi fuss over him, still in a small amount of shock. "I'll be fine...the tiger's alive, at least. The dragon snapped completely, who is even capable of driving a dragon insane like that?"
"Master Jung, that's who," Han Geng said quietly. The Chinese man had been silent since the dragon started rampaging, expression set in anger. "I'm sorry Zhou Mi, if I'm here when that man comes in I might not be able to resist punching him."
"Unfortunately, you're not alone," Zhou Mi said, looking over at Han Geng. "Maybe it would be better if you went to one of the viewing boxes to wait, or go home if you would rather. Geng... I have very little power over him, he's the strongest fighting house. Something needs to be done about him, and it may have to come politically."
"I know," Han Geng breathed in deeply. "I'll see what I can do, but I can't promise miracles. Come on, HeeChul." He stepped towards the door. "We'll be back later."
HeeChul stopped in front of KyuHyun, his brow pinched and eyes uneasy. "... I'm glad you're okay," he said quietly, touching the snakes uninjured arm gently before following after Han Geng out the door.
"Master Jung will be here any moment, do you want to be here when he arrives?" Zhou Mi asked KyuHyun.
"I'm not leaving you here alone with that asshole," KyuHyun replied, looking back at Zhou Mi. He rested his forehead lightly against Zhou Mi's shoulder, closing his eyes. "They call us monsters, but who is the real monster? The dragon, or the one who broke him?"
"You're not a monster," Zhou Mi said, putting his arm around KyuHyun and rubbing his back lightly. "I just wanted to give you the opportunity to leave while you could. There's no telling what that man will say or do." He frowned at the knock on the door and slowly pulled away from KyuHyun but not before giving him a light kiss. "Come in," he said as sternly as he could.
KyuHyun stepped to the side as Master Jung stepped into the office. He was shadowed by his son YunHo, who was carefully keeping out of his father's way. It was obvious the younger Jung saw KyuHyun's injury, meeting the snake's eyes before looking down.
"Yes?" Master Jung's smile was more of a sneer, directed at Zhou Mi.
Standing up as straight as he could, Zhou Mi's expression was hard as he looked at the older man, rage boiling deep under the surface. "Master Jung, I'm awaiting an explanation. Four fighters were slaughtered in the ring, most of them on your dragons team. What do you have to say for it?"
"Fighters die all the time, if they could be taken out so easily then they never had a place in this tournament to begin with," the older man replied, completely unapologetic. "As for the dragon, I've already arranged for it to be put down before it infects the rest of my stock."
"Infects? Rampages are not a disease, Master Jung," Zhou Mi said, crossing his arms. "It's a response to the type of care Signs endure. Since your house is legendary for its rampaging dragons then I would say that you have no business training them." Sitting down at his desk, he pulled out a folder and began to jot some things down onto a paper inside. "There are rules in place to keep the weaker fighters from being slaughtered like that, rules like a fighter must stay in human or half form in the first two tiers. Since your fighter has broken the rules, you will be fined for compensating each house for their losses of stock."
"Very well," Master Jung sneered. "And you have no business interfering with my training, commissioner, it would be in your best interest to keep your comments to yourself. The fine will be paid, although your predecessor would have never bothered with a useless rule like that."
"Fortunately for me, I am not him," Zhou Mi replied evenly. "It's not my business how you train your fighters no, but it is my business how they conduct themselves in my arena. It would be good of you to remember that in the future. I will have the paperwork sent to your room for paying the fine. You're dismissed."
"And do not forget who I am. The shareholders will tire of you within the year." the older man turned and left. YunHo hesitated, bowing his head politely to Zhou Mi before turning to follow his father.
KyuHyun closed the door after them. "And good riddance to rubbish."
Zhou Mi visibly deflated, rubbing at his eyes. "What if he's right, and the shareholders tire of me?" he asked quietly. "I actually wouldn't be surprised if they get rid of me tomorrow after what happened in the arena."
"Hey. There's no way you could have stopped that dragon, they're not that unreasonable." KyuHyun stepped up beside Zhou Mi. "And we're going to do our best to make sure it doesn't happen again, right? Security needs to be on the scene faster, it was a slaughterhouse down there."
"Yes... we'll need to do something about security," Zhou Mi agreed, looking up at KyuHyun. "At the very least, you weren't down in there. None of them stood a chance, and that tiger is lucky to be alive after being mauled. Do you know what his name is?"
"He was...I had his name down, he won the pre-tournament..." KyuHyun rubbed his temple. "HyunJoong, I think."
"What house is he from?" Zhou Mi asked, tilting his head a little. "His injuries were extensive, I worry that his owner would put him down rather than let him heal. He's a strong fighter."
"He was in the Bae house," the snake frowned. "What would you do, talk with the owner?"
"Yes, I want to make sure the tiger isn't put down unnecessarily," Zhou Mi said. "There's been enough needless death today. I need to get things in order for the press release, and then we can go home. The tournament isn't going to resume until tomorrow."
"Okay," KyuHyun nodded, looking towards the ring. "Do you want me to go down there and announce it?" The snake coughed into his hand, still trying to catch his breath.
"No, you've done enough today," Zhou Mi said, getting to his feet. "I'll do it myself."
KyuHyun blinked. "Okay." He stepped back so Zhou Mi could move. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Sit, and catch your breath," Zhou Mi said, touching his shoulder gently before heading towards the balcony with a microphone. People were still in the stands, waiting for the tournament to continue. Zhou Mi sighed deeply before turning on the mic. "Ladies and gentleman, may I have your attention," he said, seeing the monitors swivel to his face. "Please accept my humblest apologies on behalf of the gaming commission and all the fighting houses. Today's matches for the rest of the day have been postponed until tomorrow. I hope you all understand and share with me in my grief over today's events. Thank you."
He turned away and came back into the office, hearing the jeers from the audience. Whether it was for his words in particular or the postponement of the matches he wasn't sure. "You need anything KuiXian? Some water?"
Coughing, KyuHyun nodded slightly as he found his inhaler, sitting down. "I inhaled a ton of dust. They don't sound very happy." He took his medication, coughing more.
"Didn't expect they would be," Zhou Mi said, going to the bar. He filled a glass of water from the sink before bringing it over to KyuHyun. "I'm more resolved than ever to continue with this though, especially with how Master Jung was acting towards me. He is one of the main reasons why what we're doing is so important. Too many people think like him."
Nodding, KyuHyun sipped at the water, silent for a long moment as he tried to relax. "They're not used to seeing deaths in the ring as anything other than a money loss. We've got a lot of work ahead of us."
"We do, but this is just the beginning," Zhou Mi said. "It'll get better. It has to."
Summer came and went far too fast. KiBum had been invited to Henry's place over the break again, and though he was worried about taking away all his friend's time with his family, he was assured he was welcome. During the break, they talked a lot about what they'd begun in the university the previous year.
Their weekly discussions about Signs and slavery were slowly gaining attention, students trickling in and out. Many came in for one meeting and left; others stayed. The discussion groups went from being just him and Henry, to five people, then to ten. By the time school had let out, fifteen people came in and out of the discussion group as they could.
But KiBum got the feeling they weren't really taking the whole thing seriously enough, like this was just something to spend their time with and they'd forget as soon as they graduated. He had to make sure what they learned about Signs stuck. And after a long discussion with Henry, he was sure he had the answer to their problem.
The second month of their third year, their discussion group didn't meet in their usual borrowed lecture hall at the end of class hours. Instead, he asked all the students who could attend to meet him at a specific address in Bucheon.
Standing outside the breeding house, KiBum looked around at the group of people who'd managed to come. He'd wait a few more minutes before starting. Henry wasn't with him; they both agreed it was better for the half-Sign to sit this one out.
"I'm coming, wait for me!" A voice called from further up the street. A figure bundled up in a coat and hat skidded to a stop, cheeks red from the early chill in the air and the running down the sidewalk. "I'm here," the kid panted, pulling off his hat to run a hand through his blond hair. "Sorry for being late."
Blinking, KiBum chuckled at the sudden appearance. "Hi, Kevin! Was wondering if you'd make it." He looked around the small group. Less people than he'd thought would turn out, but there was no hope for it, he'd have to work with what he had. "Guess everyone's busy."
"Yeah, mid term exams and everything," Kevin nodded. He finally got a look at where they were and he blinked a little. "What are we doing?"
"We're going on a field trip," KiBum said, lips pressed together thinly. "I arranged for a, uh...walkthrough of the place." He said this loud enough for the others nearby to hear, the group falling silent to listen. It had taken a bit of string-pulling to get access; commonly visitors to the breeding houses were never let in past the viewing gallery. "I take it no one here has ever seen the inside of a breeding house?"
"No, why would we have?" Someone asked. "They don't really let people in past the lobby."
"Not unless you're buying, and even then it's just a room," Kevin said. "Why are we going through a breeding house?"
"Because I think this is important for you to see," KiBum looked at him. "I'm going to be perfectly honest in saying I've never been through a breeding house either. But we've been talking about Signs all this time, and yet no one has ever stopped to really think about where these people are for the first fifteen years of their lives. There are children in there, and no one knows anything about them. If you want to stop here and leave, I'm not going to convince you to stay...but I hope you'll walk in there with me to find out more about those kids."
Kevin looked around, a couple people looking uneasy. "Well I'm with you KiBum," Kevin spoke up first. "I mean, if we really want to do something to help, then we should know more about Signs."
KiBum smiled at Kevin thankfully. He'd have at least one person with him then. "Great...let's go then. Anyone who's coming along, follow me." He turned to head to the main doors, scared to look behind him to see how many people would actually follow and how many would think he was crazy.
"Yeah, anyone who wants to see what life is really like for these people and not want to keep turning a blind eye, follow him," Kevin said, making a face at some of the others who were balking. He followed KiBum, as well as the rest into the lobby.
KiBum looked around, seeing a secretary sitting at a desk to one side. He stepped up to the desk. "Hi, my name's Kim KiBum, I had an appointment to view the facilities," he said calmly.
She looked up at him, taking in the group of people standing in the lobby and frowning lightly. "Hold on, a representative will be here to speak with you shortly," she said, standing and disappearing through a door in the back.
KiBum smiled back at Kevin lightly. "Thanks," he said quietly in English.
"No problem," Kevin returned the smile, rubbing his hands together a little. "Figured they would need a little push."
Chuckling, KiBum turned back towards the desk as a middle-aged man appeared with the secretary. She took her seat again as the representative approached KiBum.
"Kim KiBum sshi, we met last week," even the man's smile sent shivers down KiBum's spine, even as he bowed politely, a move the man copied. "Are you and your classmates certain you would like the full tour? I can bring the Signs to the viewing gallery for your convenience."
"We would prefer the full tour," KiBum smiled politely. "I brought with me your manager's consent if you would like to see it?"
He pulled the slip of paper with the house's seal on it out of his bag, the representative looking at it and humming. After a moment, the paper was handed back. "Of course, follow me." He turned towards the doors heading into the back of the breeding house.
"How did you get permission to do this?" Kevin asked KiBum as they started through the doors. "I mean, they don't let just anyone to the kennels."
"My family has ties with a couple of the breeding houses," KiBum looked back at Kevin. "It took a bit of maneuvering, but they can't really afford losing the business of a large fighting house."
"Oh... but..." Kevin looked confused at that. "If your family is, then why are you doing this?" he asked, voice lowering a little. "Wouldn't that hurt your family?"
KiBum quietened. Yes, this would have a very good chance of hurting his family. HyungJoon was back home managing the whole business himself, and here KiBum was trying to turn the whole slavery industry on it's head. "…Some things are just too important, not many, but some." He looked at Kevin beside him. "I think this is one of those things."
"You really think so?" Kevin looked around at the hallway they were walking down. The walls looked sickly and the air smelled stale. "This place is disgusting."
"It is," KiBum murmured, eyeing around them. He could hear the other students behind them whispering to themselves, drawing similar conclusions about the place.
"Here is where the signs stay in their down time," they were shown by the representative to a shabby room crammed with six beds. KiBum absently thought his dorm room was bigger than this. "The stocks are separated by age and sign." The beds in this room were very small; child-sized. A small lump in the farthest bed from the door confirmed that thought, a small body curled up with the sheets over her head.
They moved from room to room, being shown bigger and smaller rooms with as many beds as could be crammed into the tight spaces. "Where is everyone?" Kevin asked, having only seen a handful of Signs.
"In training," the representative said. "We'll go there next to give you a demonstration."
KiBum frowned to himself. The back of the breeding house seemed to have just enough room for the Signs not to have to climb over each other. He hadn't seen any sign of toys yet, or any way for the Signs to occupy themselves besides sleeping. He hoped that would change farther on, but didn't have much hope of it.
"How old are the Signs here?" he asked.
"Three to eighteen, those under three are housed in a separate facility with the breeders," was his answer, and KiBum tried not to grind his teeth at calling the mothers 'breeders'.
Arriving at the training areas, they were greeted by the sight of dozens of Signs broken up into smaller groups, some separated by walls. A group of boys who barely looked ten brawled nearby, tiger ears, tails and claws out. Each group was watched by a supervisor.
Seeing children trying to tear each other apart was too much for some members of the group, asking to be shown out. "You hear about these things going on, but don't really think about it," Kevin said, arms crossed and pointedly looking away. "Everyone should know about this."
Pale, KiBum nodded. He was unable to look away like the others, seeing the unhealthy thinness of some of the children, and the various bruises, scrapes and cuts they all seemed to bear. One boy in the far corner, a seven-year-old boar from the looks of it, was being chastised for taking an unscheduled breather and put right back in the middle of his yearmates.
"There's a reason no one sees the back of the breeding houses," he whispered, horrified. This was why.
A choked cry rang out across the room. A dog who must have been the runt of his litter was curled up on the floor, shaking. KiBum could see the unnatural twist to his arm from here.
"We've seen enough," he turned away finally.
They were led back to the front lobby, the others dispersing almost immediately and leaving Kevin and KiBum by themselves. "I don't know if any of those people will come back," Kevin said, his eyes tight in worry. "They're probably content to let things just stay as they are, just so they don't have to think about what they saw."
KiBum still hadn't recovered from training room, the image of the child on the floor with a broken arm and no one trying to help him burned into the back of his mind. "Probably," he said quietly, watching the last of the group disappear as they left the breeding house. "But how am I supposed to ignore this, when my own family is encouraging it? Those are children, little kids who should be worrying about cooties and who ate the last candy bar, not broken arms and bruises."
"I don't think you should ignore it," Kevin said, touching KiBum's arm and smiling at him. "I won't ignore it. Even if they don't come back, I will. And you and me and Henry... wait, why isn't Henry here?"
"Uh…he's a little sensitive about the breeding houses, it was better for him not to come," KiBum smiled a little in return. "That means a lot to me. I wasn't sure if what I was doing was the right thing, but…after seeing that, I know it wasn't a wrong choice."
"I can tell you it's not something I'm every going to forget," Kevin said, shoulders shuddering. "Why don't we go and get something to eat, maybe figure out how to get more people who are willing to learn and not just because they want another club to join."
KiBum nodded in agreement. "I passed a decent-looking place on the way here," he turned to head down the sidewalk, walking beside Kevin with his hands in his pockets. "It would be amazing if we could…talk to people from different schools, across campuses…maybe find more people that way. But if we can't even get a good enough following in this school, there wouldn't be much of a point."
"We'll just take it one step at a time," Kevin said. "That's really all we can do. You know, I have some friends at one of the other universities just outside of the city. They might be interested in hearing what you have to say."
"Really?" KiBum looked at Kevin beside him. His lips quirked after a moment. "If you think so, I'd be glad to meet them. Why did you decide to check out the club, anyways?"
"Because... it felt like the right thing to do?" Kevin said, his brow furrowing for a moment. He looked like he was going to say something else but just looked back at KiBum with a smile. "And it is."
KiBum's smile widened. "Yeah. It is." He nudged Kevin's side lightly. "Food first, planning later. Henry will be pissed if he's left out."
"Sounds good, though will he be mad we got food without him?" Kevin blinked.
"….Yes," KiBum snorted. "We'll bring him back something."
It was close to two hours later when Kevin and KiBum returned to the dorms, Kevin heading back to his own since it was getting late and he had homework to do still. He did stop in to say hi to Henry, who was absently doodling on a sketch pad when they came in. He perked up at the food they brought back and tore into it.
"So," Henry said around a mouthful of food, "how'd it go?"
KiBum sat down on his bed, kicking his feet back and forth. "Probably scared away half of the people who showed up," he sighed. "I don't know what I was expecting of the breeding houses, but however I thought they were, actually seeing it was…way worse. Kevin's agreed to help with the planning though, and might be able to give us some links to people in other schools who think the same way."
"That's... good, that's great," Henry said. "Kevin seems like a nice guy, I hope he comes around more often. You could use more friends."
"Hey, I've already got a tiger best friend, what more could I need?" KiBum snorted, reaching over for a pad of paper and a pencil on his desk. He was falling behind in his homework with all the time spent worrying about the club.
"Yeah, but it's good to have friends here," Henry said. "Um... there's something I need to tell you."
"What is it?" KiBum blinked, looking up at him.
"I decided... I'm not coming back to school next semester," Henry said, not looking up at KiBum. "And I'm really sorry."
It took a moment for that to sink in, KiBum's eyes slowly widening. "…What? But…why?"
"Don't get me wrong, this is a great school, and you are the best friend a guy could ask for," Henry said, finally looking up at KiBum. "But... you going to that breeding house today made it kind of real for me what's going on here. I'm scared every day of being found out. The school's administration knows, and they've done so much to help me, but I just can't do it anymore. If I had gone to that breeding house today, those kids in there would have been able to smell me, and they'd have known. If they would have said something to me, then all those people in the club would know, and then the whole school and I just don't want to do anything to make it harder on you here."
"Henry…" KiBum swallowed, looking down. He gathered his thoughts even as his heart sunk in his chest. "No…this isn't about me, or the club. This is about you, and I'm sorry you don't feel safe here," he said quietly, looking up again. "And you're right not to feel safe. I want to change that, because it's not fair…but I don't know if I would have lasted this long in your shoes."
"I had you, and that meant more to me than you know," Henry said. "I wouldn't have lasted a semester if I had anyone else as my roommate. I really don't want to leave, the program here is amazing... but if I get too comfortable and let my ears slip... I don't know what people would do to me."
KiBum was silent; he wanted to say he would protect Henry no matter what, but he couldn't be around Henry all the time. And he knew just how people here would react to a half-Sign in their midst.
Inhaling deeply, he tried a small smile. "I'm going to make this better," he said. "No matter what, I'm not going to stop until Signs are free. When we have our first Liberation Day parade…will you visit?"
"Of course," Henry smiled at that, laughing a little as he looked down at his hands. "And you know that you can always come visit me in Canada. You're my best friend KiBum, and I'm sorry. I wish you could just come home and go to school with me."
"My English isn't that good," KiBum smiled ruefully. "You're my best friend too…you don't have to apologize, I understand. Doesn't mean I won't miss you, but well, I'll just have to work harder to make it safe for you to come back."
"I'll miss you too," Henry said, leaning back against the wall. "But hey, I'm not leaving for a while so don't get all mushy on me right now."
"I'm not mushy," KiBum grumbled, throwing a pillow at Henry. "I'll have to send a letter to Amber and tell her it's her turn to keep an eye on your furry ass. Not that she isn't already."
"Yah, I don't like what you're implying there," Henry grumbled, swatting the pillow away. "We're just friends."
"Sure, sure," KiBum laughed. "So it wouldn't bother you at all if she found some cute, tall bunny to fawn over. I think she mentioned there was a cute guy in one of his classes…"
Henry visible stiffened at that and he turned away to flop down on his bed. "Yeah well, she's allowed to do whatever she wants, she can date... if she wants. It's not like we're dating, or anything. Why are we talking about this?"
"Because you're going to leave me here with no one to tease, so I gotta make good use of the time I have," KiBum smirked. "And if you haven't told her you're madly in love with her by the time I come visit, I'm recruiting your sister to lock you both in a closet."
"I'm not madly in love with her," Henry said, though his expression dim. "She's just a friend. She doesn't see me that way so it's no use in bringing it up all the time okay?"
"How do you know?" KiBum asked, stretching out on his bed and looking up at the ceiling. "Have you asked her?"
"Well... no," Henry responded, looking over at KiBum. "She's been my friend since we were kids, we have fun. If she saw me as anything more than a friend she would have said something. You've met her, she doesn't hold back anything. That and she thinks I'm gay!"
"That was your sister's fault," KiBum laughed. "Plus it took me those summer months to figure out you North Americans don't act friendly the same way we do, so that might have been my fault too."
"I really could kill her," Henry muttered. "Amber and I are friends, she's at school in California, I'll be going back home to Canada to decide what to do... by the time I get to talk to her... She probably has a boyfriend or something. I just don't want to make her uncomfortable."
"Suit yourself," KiBum wrinkled his nose. "Hey…let's go to an arcade or something after. If you're not too busy studying." He was dreading the end of the semester now.
"Sure!" Henry popped up off the bed, rummaging around for a clean shirt to wear. "You know, that Kevin kid is nice, I hope he comes by more."
"Yeah, I hope so too." KiBum sat up. "I'm glad today got through to at least one person…going there wasn't a waste."
"Maybe the others will come around, let it sink in a couple of days before writing them off," Henry said, sniffing two shirts before selecting one to put on. "But hey, you've got two people now who support you and what you're doing, it's a start."
KiBum stopped himself from pointing out that one of those two people would be leaving in a couple months; it wasn't fair to make Henry even more guilty than he already felt. "Yeah, it is. Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky. Maybe some popular school star will join the club and recruit like a hundred people," he snorted, standing and stretching out.
"Because we know popular school stars?" Henry rolled his eyes. "Let's just focus on one person at a time. Quality over quantity right?"
"Right," KiBum chuckled. "Ready to go? There's a dart board with my name on it."
"More like your face," Henry sniffed, pushing at KiBum's shoulder. "You haven't beat me at darts once yet."
"That's because you're a cheat," KiBum retorted, shoving Henry back before pushing him towards the door.
"Am not a cheat, I just have better hand eye coordination," Henry replied, opening the door and heading out first. "Face it KiBum, I'm just better than you."
"Then tell me why you were whining to me about not helping you with math a week ago," KiBum answered, grinning. He'd miss this when Henry was gone…Henry was his best friend, no one would ever replace him. But he'd just add Henry to the list of reasons why what he was doing was the right thing…even if it meant going against his family. Some things were just too important to back down on.