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THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED - Chapter 29

Title: The Road Less Traveled
Fandoms: SS501, Super Junior, U-KISS
Pairings: KyuJong/YoungSaeng, KiBum/Kevin, TBA
Rating: PG-13, some chapters R
Chapters: 23/?
Warnings: Violence, angst
Summary: In a world destroyed by plague and war, it’s every man for themselves. To survive, a small caravan of misfits navigate through the remains of a civilization on death's door; where trust must be earned and closely-kept secrets could get them all killed



Even if no one else knew what was going on, there was a definite tense atmosphere around the camp for the next few hours. JungMin stayed near the caravan, trying to look like he was busy as he paced around. Zhou Mi had kicked JongWoon out of the caravan while he helped the two strangers, and JungMin was glaring at him every time he saw him.

Thankfully there had been no sign of Kevin or the two brothers since JungMin had sent Kevin and KiBum off, but the longer the shadows grew, the more worried JungMin became. If Zhou Mi didn't hurry, they would be looking for the hunting party in the dark.

Zhou Mi finally emerged, wiping the sweat off of his brow as he jumped down from the gate. He immediately went in search of YoungSaeng, though he didn't have to look far. "Saeng, we should go talk somewhere."

YoungSaeng had been keeping himself busy around camp, taking care of the horses and any repairs that needed to be done rather than hover around the caravan. When he heard Zhou Mi’s voice, he gladly put down his tools and straightened to face the Chinese man. "Of course," he nodded, motioning away from the camp so they could talk without being overheard. "Is everything all right…?"

"Yes, she was only a few days into it," Zhou Mi said. "She'll recover quickly." He frowned a little, looking at YoungSaeng. "I've missed something though, yes?"

The relieved smile faded a little from YoungSaeng’s face. He sighed quietly, drawing Zhou Mi further away from the others with one hand. "Those two are from the same compound as JongWoon," he said quietly. "We’ve had to send the brothers out hunting while they’re here…just to make sure we don’t have a repeat of last time."

Zhou Mi nodded at that. "Understandable... but she needs time to recover. How long were you going to have them stay out there for?"

"Until they’re gone," YoungSaeng folded his arms across his chest. "How long do you think she’ll need?"

"It took KyuJong nearly a week to fully recover, and we don't have a week," Zhou Mi said. "What is your plan?"

YoungSaeng was silent for a moment, watching the caravan. No, they didn’t have a week. They had to keep moving. "…We’re a day out from Pyongyang, they’re meeting the rest of their group there. We can escort them there, and part ways. It’ll give her a chance to recover. The brothers…I’ll have to speak with JungMin. They’ll be safer following from a distance."

"I'm sure they'd be happier that way," Zhou Mi said. "At least there'd be less chance of anyone discovering them that way."

Nodding, YoungSaeng frowned to himself. He didn’t like the idea of leaving the brothers alone out there, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave YunHo and HeeBon on their own just yet. "Thank you for keeping me updated, Mi. Is there anything I can do for you or her?"

"No, there isn't much to be done now," Zhou Mi said. "I'll do my best to keep these two in the caravan. Less chance of them hearing about the brothers."

"Thank you," YoungSaeng nodded. Turning back towards the caravan, he went to find JungMin. "Hey, we need to talk," he nudged JungMin’s shoulder before drawing him away from the caravan. "She’s not recovered enough to make it to Pyongyang on their own, we’re taking them with us until they regroup with their friends."

"... What about HyungJoon and KiBum?" JungMin frowned, glancing towards the caravan. "We can't just leave them out there."

"I’m not happy about leaving them outside the group either," YoungSaeng said quietly. "But I won’t leave HeeBon alone in the woods, you remember how KyuJong was after he got the medicine. HyungJoon and KiBum will have to follow from a distance until Pyongyang, it’s safer for them than hanging around the caravan where they can be recognized."

"You know how HyungJoon's going to react when he finds out he has to stay away overnight," JungMin said. "He might take KiBum and run."

"I think you need to trust him, JungMin," YoungSaeng replied. "They need to know what’s going on, and know that we’re taking steps to make sure they aren’t found out."

"I do trust him Saeng... but he doesn't trust us," JungMin said, looking away. "I'll tell him what's going on. Have someone get some supplies ready for me to take to them. They'll need food and blankets."

Nodding, YoungSaeng rested his hand on JungMin’s shoulder. "Min…would it make you feel better to stay out there with them? We can handle ourselves here."

"... Yes, and no," JungMin said after a moment of internal struggle. "My duty is to you and the caravan first. I need to be here in case something goes wrong."

"But are you going to be able to keep your head here if you’re wondering about them?" YoungSaeng asked. "I’m giving you the choice, Min ah. Either you trust us to make it there in one piece or trust him to come back, but you need to trust someone."

JungMin took a deep breath, looking at YoungSaeng with a grim expression. "I'm staying here Saeng. You need me here more."

"All right," YoungSaeng squeezed JungMin’s shoulder. "I’ll have Joon’s and KiBum’s horses ready for you with supplies. Kevin’s with them too…he needs to decide where he’s going."

"It would be best if he came back with me, less supplies they would have to worry about," JungMin said. "But I'll see what he wants to do."

Nodding, YoungSaeng let his hand fall to his side. "See you back here," he turned and headed back to the caravan, getting KyuHyun’s attention on his way to help with supplies.

With two other horses in tow, JungMin left the camp close to a half hour later, heading off into the trees to find where HyungJoon had gone. After spending so much time hunting with the older brother, JungMin knew how to track him and where he would go for the best hunting grounds. Even knowing that, it still look longer than he would have liked to find the three. Well, he found two.

"Hyung!" KiBum stood up from where he and Kevin were seated in a fallen tree, calling over his shoulder. "JungMin's here."

HyungJoon reappeared out of the trees a minute later, bundled up against the cold with his gun returned to it’s holster. "Hey," he said, looking glad to see the older man. "We’re heading back? It’s getting too dark to hunt." he motioned to the rabbits lying by Kevin’s feet.

"No, Joon, we need to talk," JungMin said, dismounting from his horse. "Alone."

"…Okay," HyungJoon frowned, glancing at the two youngest before turning to head back into the trees. He stopped farther away from the other two, turning around to wait for JungMin.

"There's a problem," JungMin said. "The two people we picked up, they're from JongWoon's hometown. That's why we sent KiBum and Kevin out here to go hunting with you."

HyungJoon’s eyes widened. "What?! They’re from Yonan?" He stared at JungMin. "They don’t…know, right? Why did no one tell me?"

"I'm telling you now," JungMin said, motioning for HyungJoon to keep his voice down. "They don't know anything about you, or KiBum, and no one is going to tell them. The problem is we're keeping them in the caravan until we get to Pyongyang so they can meet up with their friends. We'll part ways from there."

"Why are they staying with the caravan?" HyungJoon asked, lowering his voice. "What’s going on back there?"

"Because... Zhou Mi treated her and she needs time to recover," JungMin said. "And Saeng has ordered that we take them with us until PyongYang since she won't be able to ride."

HyungJoon looked unhappy at that. "Okay…I don’t understand why though, we don’t owe them anything."

"No, we don't, but boss' orders," JungMin said. "You know how YoungSaeng is. He won't leave people out on the road to die if he doesn't have to. That's why you and KiBum will be riding behind us until we get to Pyongyang."

"…Okay," HyungJoon nodded after a long moment, looking away. "So that’s why you brought the horses…we have enough supplies until then?"

"Yes... and a little extra just in case," JungMin said. "I hate to ask this Joon... but I need to know. Will you meet us in Pyongyang?"

"Well it doesn’t sound like we have much of a choice," HyungJoon said, glancing at him. "Between staying out here or risking them finding out."

JungMin's lips quirked, a little relieved at HyungJoon's response. "Right... you going to be okay out here by yourself?"

"We’ll be fine," HyungJoon nodded. "Gotten through worse. How will we know it’s safe to rejoin you?"

"I'll find you and let you know," JungMin said. "Stay outside the compound, near the south gates."

"Okay," HyungJoon replied, looking up at him. "We’ll be waiting there, be careful with those two."

"Alright, we'll see you there," JungMin said, glancing towards where the other two were for a moment before turning back to HyungJoon. Leaning in slightly, he brushed his lips over HyungJoon's. "Stay safe."

HyungJoon returned the light kiss, gloved hands resting against JungMin’s jacket. With their faces that close, their hoods blocked out the rest of the world so when HyungJoon opened his eyes and pulled back slightly, all he could see was JungMin’s face. "…You too," he murmured. "Take some of the rabbits back with you."

"Thanks, they'll come in handy," JungMin said. "I'll head back now... we're going to head out soon as I get back. Wait a couple hours. I don't think the other two need to know about what's going on."

"I’m not keeping this from them," HyungJoon shook his head. "They’ll be wondering why we can’t regroup with you all anyways."

"I just didn't want them have to worry about any of this," JungMin said, finally pulling away. "I'll see you at Pyongyang."

"They’ll worry anyways…and I promised KiBum I’d stop treating him like a kid," HyungJoon replied. Frowning down at the ground, he reached out and grabbed JungMin’s jacket, pulling him into a firmer kiss than before. He pulled away again, hand dropping away. "Don’t take too long."

"... Not planning on it," JungMin chuckled, taking a step back before turning away. He gave KiBum and Kevin a tight smile as he passed them by, climbing onto his horse and riding back into the trees.

"I wonder what that was all about," KiBum said, looking at Kevin beside him.

"No idea," Kevin watched JungMin go, turning his head to see HyungJoon returning out of the trees. "We’re not going back, hyung?"

"No," HyungJoon shook his head, leaning against a tree across from them. "Something came up…we’re regrouping with them at Pyongyang tomorrow."

"How come?" KiBum asked. "What's going on hyung? JungMin forced me and Kevin out here to go hunting with you all secretive and now we can't rejoin the group?"

HyungJoon exhaled slowly, looking between the two confused faces. "Those two we picked up are from Yonan. The girl got Zhou Mi’s medicine and needs time to recover, so the caravan’s escorting them to Pyongyang to meet the rest of their group. You and I…have to stay away from the group in the meantime," he looked at KiBum.

KiBum sat back down slowly, his heart racing in his chest. "They... they're from..." he tried to breathe out slowly, but it wasn't working. "So they know JongWoon then? What if he tells them about us?"

"…The others wouldn’t let him," HyungJoon said quietly, but Kevin could see the older brother was just as nervous.

"No, they wouldn’t," Kevin shook his head, rubbing KiBum’s back slowly. "YoungSaeng and JungMin will keep you both safe, you know they will."

"We've heard that before though, you told me that yourself so many times," KiBum said, looking at his brother. "Are we really going to be safe?"

Pushing away from the tree, HyungJoon crouched in front of KiBum to his eye level. "We will be. I promised you, remember? No matter what happens or how bad things get, we’ll be okay."

"We better be," KiBum said, his hand finding Kevin's and lacing their fingers together. "We have to be okay. I can't lose you... or Kevin."

"Neither of us are going anywhere, and we’re not going to lose you either," HyungJoon said, looking at Kevin. "…Kevin, you know you don’t have to stay out here with us, right?"

Kevin tightened the grip on KiBum’s hand. "I can keep you company," he smiled at the older brother. "Do what I can."

Looking between them, HyungJoon’s lips quirked before he nodded. "…All right. We’ll rest and eat before moving out. I guess this is as good a time as any to show you how to make a smokeless fire."

"Sounds good to me," KiBum said, looking at Kevin with a smile. "Thank you."

Grinning at him, Kevin leaned in to peck KiBum lightly on the lips. "Anytime."

"…All right lovebirds," HyungJoon sighed, standing and stepping away. "Time to work."

**************

JungMin fretted about the campsite for most of the night, despite YoungSaeng's gentle (at first) words of comfort. As the night wore on and JungMin was grumbling at just about everyone within earshot, YoungSaeng finally told him to go collect firewood until he had calmed down.

Even after being gone for an hour, it wasn't until the next morning before he stopped sniping at other people, feeling more comfortable on his horse and out front of the rest of the group. It didn't feel right that HyungJoon wasn't nearby, especially the closer they got to Pyongyang.

"We know where these friends are?" JungMin asked YoungSaeng as they neared the gates.

"YunHo told me they planned to meet a block in," YoungSaeng replied, perched on the edge of the bench and watching their surroundings. "Outside an old noodle shop…or what’s left of it, anyways. This shouldn’t take too long."

"Good, the sooner this is over the better," JungMin said. "Are we even bothering taking the caravan in?"

"We’ll bring the two of them to the meet-up spot at least," YoungSaeng looked over at JungMin. "And we need to stop for supplies anyways. We’re running low on a couple things."

"If you insist," JungMin's lips thinned a little at that, the grip on the reins tightening slightly. "Wook you're on supply run, take KyuHyun with you. No arguments," he said firmly when RyeoWook looked about to protest.

YoungSaeng looked around to see if KyuHyun had heard; the archer was riding on their spare horse today. KyuHyun glanced at him and nodded slightly, but didn’t do more than that. YoungSaeng sighed inwardly; things between those two hadn’t gotten any better.

"Min ah," he looked at JungMin beside the caravan, speaking quietly so only the other man (and KyuJong beside him) could hear. "You can go get them as soon as we’ve dropped these two off, okay?"

"I'm staying with the caravan until we're out of this place," JungMin replied. "Your safety comes first Saeng, you know that."

"Because it’s my safety you’re worried about right now," YoungSaeng pointed out. "Try not to take off anyone else’s heads in the meantime."

"Don't start," JungMin grumbled, leading them towards the gate. After a short, if not tense, conversation with the guards at the gate, they waved the caravan through.

YoungSaeng looked around the streets, shivering a little at a chilly breeze that got through his jacket. Turning around, he peered into the caravan. "YunHo? Show us to this shop."

After a moment the other man came out of the caravan, crouching down beside the bench. "Down that street," he pointed.

Nodding, YoungSaeng, looked for RyeoWook. "We’ll meet you and KyuHyun by the market once we’re done here."

Sighing unhappily, RyeoWook nodded and climbed down out of the caravan. He didn't even look at KyuHyun as he started towards some markets he could see.

"Let's hurry this up Saeng," JungMin said, nudging his horse around the people walking through the streets.

"Patience," YoungSaeng sighed, watching KyuHyun follow after RyeoWook on his horse. Flicking the caravan reins, he followed YunHo’s directions down the street and around a corner onto a slightly less used road.

"This is the place," YunHo said after a few minutes, pointing at a half-destroyed shop sign. YoungSaeng drew the caravan to a halt, looking around. He didn’t see anyone.

"Alright, we're here," JungMin looked around. "Zhou Mi, time for your patient to go."

"... Give her more than a minute," Zhou Mi said, holding the tarp open so YunHo and HeeBon could get out.

YunHo helped HeeBon down off the caravan, arm around her waist to keep her steady. The medicine was definitely having a good effect on her, but she was still weakened and needed help standing.

"Thank you for all your help," YunHo said, looking up at both YoungSaeng and Zhou Mi.

YoungSaeng smiled down at them. "Don’t worry about it. But are you sure your friends are around here?"

"They’ll be inside the building," YunHo nodded. Seeing JongWoon poke his head out of the caravan behind Zhou Mi, he looked at the other man. "JongWoon…why don’t you come with us?"

"Uh…" JongWoon glanced towards YoungSaeng, and JungMin over the caravan leader’s shoulder. "I’m gonna stick with them for now. You guys said you’d be hanging around Pyongyang for a while right? Maybe I’ll catch you on the way back south."

"Safe travels then," YunHo nodded, untying his horse from the team. He guided HeeBon into the building, YoungSaeng watching them go with a small smile.

"We'll circle around the block then head back to the gate," JungMin said. "Are we sure we don't want to leave JongWoon somewhere in the city?"

JongWoon’s expression fell and he ducked back into the caravan. YoungSaeng glanced back at the older man before frowning at JungMin. "If he wants to stay, then he can stay, I don’t want to hear this discussed again. Let’s go," he set the caravan moving again.

"Yes, boss," JungMin replied tersely, nudging his horse ahead.

KyuJong shook his head a little, looking at YoungSaeng. "I really hope his mood improves when we pick up HyungJoon and the others."

"I think he should have gone with them," YoungSaeng sighed quietly. "It’s clear that’s where he wants to be." JungMin wasn’t the only one worried about their missing three; he knew HyungJoon could take care of himself and look after the two kids, but he still worried. And questioned if splitting up was really the best course of action. "Was it a bad decision, Kyu yah?"

"I don't think it was a bad decision," KyuJong said. "You did what was best for the group. Even if JungMin has been grumpy about it he knew it was the only way to keep HyungJoon and KiBum safe. And he knew it was best not to stay with them, HyungJoon has been keeping himself and KiBum safe a lot longer than JungMin has. He knows what he's doing."

Lips quirking sadly, YoungSaeng nodded. "He does know what he’s doing, but I still worry. So does JungMin. If they aren’t at that gate when we get there…I don’t know what he’ll do."

"Let's not invite trouble with that kind of thinking," KyuJong said. "We've got enough of that going on right now."

"We do," YoungSaeng nodded, looking down at the reins in his hands with a small frown. It wasn’t always easy, doing what was best for the group.

They made their way towards the marketplace to regroup with KyuHyun and RyeoWook, and see if the two had managed to get any supplies. That was another problem they’d have to address eventually. Part of him hoped that KyuHyun and RyeoWook would have used this opportunity to talk over their problems, but one thing he knew about both of them was that they were equally stubborn.

Unfortunately it didn't seem like the two had made any attempt at reconciling when they finally rejoined the group after an hour. RyeoWook's expression was grim as he climbed back into the caravan with two packs. Dropping them near Zhou Mi's feet, he sat down behind the driver's bench and pointedly stared at the wall.

YoungSaeng watched KyuHyun take his place behind the caravan again, clearly uncomfortable on the horse but not saying a word. "How did the trading go?" He asked lightly, looking back at RyeoWook. "We’re all stocked up again?"

"Yes," RyeoWook replied. "Enough supplies to get us through a few weeks at least."

"Can we go now?" JungMin asked, looking at YoungSaeng over his shoulder. "They're waiting for us."

"…Yes Min," YoungSaeng smiled ruefully at the younger man. "We can go meet them now. Lead the way."

"Finally," JungMin grumbled, turning his horse towards the gates. Getting out of a compound was always easier than getting in, the gates opening and letting the caravan out. JungMin knew he should be keeping a better eye on the road, but he was too anxious to find HyungJoon and the others to pay attention.

"Where did you tell them to meet us at JungMin?" KyuJong asked, glancing around.

"Off the road near the gate, they should be here somewhere," JungMin replied.

YoungSaeng had to keep most of his attention on where he was driving the caravan, but couldn’t help but look around as well. He didn’t see anyone, worry creeping up that maybe something had happened to the three others. Or maybe they had just decided to leave. He didn’t know what would happen if they really had gone their own way.

A short whistle blew through the air, coming from the east. Looking around, YoungSaeng saw someone leaning out of the tree cover farther away from the main road.

"About time," JungMin grumbled under his breath, nudging his horse into a canter towards the tree line. "Hey, everything okay?" he asked when he approached the trees, slowing down.

HyungJoon leaned back against a tree, nodding. "Just fine. Those two are gone?" he glanced at the caravan approaching before turning around and motioning Kevin and KiBum out of the trees with their horses.

"Yes, we left them with their friends," JungMin said. "Shouldn't have anything to worry about from them now."

"Good," HyungJoon nodded, taking his horse’s reins from Kevin. "What’s next? We’re done here?"

"Yes, and then it's on to China from there," JungMin said. "We've got enough supplies to last us for a bit. You catch any more rabbits while you were waiting?"

"We just got here, but we’ve extra from last night," HyungJoon replied, smiling faintly. When the caravan drew up beside JungMin, he guided his horse out of the trees and up onto the path.

"Glad to see you three in one piece," YoungSaeng smiled at them, seeing Kevin trekking up the slight incline from the trees.

"I want to get as far from here as we can before stopping for the night," JungMin said. "We'll follow the road as far as north as we can. Joon, take up the rear, I'll take point."

HyungJoon nodded. "Got it." He made sure Kevin and KiBum were back on their horse before climbing onto his own, falling into place behind the caravan. YoungSaeng watched him go, smiling in relief before he flicked the reins to head out again.

They traveled until sunset, stopping only for a short lunch break around midday. All things considered, they covered a good amount of ground. But looking at the maps from here on out, YoungSaeng could tell the toughest part of the journey was yet to come. They had a large expanse of mountain range plus another river to cross to get into China. As the temperature continued to drop, those mountains would make for a cautious ride.

The group finally stopped just before the sun could disappear from the horizon, HyungJoon and KyuHyun immediately setting out to hunt. Food sources were scarce, but between the two of them they managed to catch enough to feed the caravan. HyungJoon even managed to come back with more of the berries he’d found earlier, for what was probably the last time as frost began to set in.

Putting more wood into the fire after dinner, YoungSaeng dropped down beside KyuJong with a sigh. "Are you warm enough?" he looked at his boyfriend.

"Plenty warm, thank you," KyuJong said, throwing a blanket around YoungSaeng's shoulders. "You do too much around here you know."

YoungSaeng gratefully settled under the blanket, tucking his hands underneath to warm them. "I’m caravan leader, no such thing as too much work. "

"What's the point of being a leader if you can't delegate off some things to other people," KyuJong said. "Some days I'd just like to watch you sit around the fire and point at things for people to do. You wouldn't last ten minutes."

The older man snorted in amusement. "You’re probably right about that. I’m happy working, Kyu yah. It gives me something to do, keep my mind off other things." He threw one side of the blanket around KyuJong’s shoulders so they could share it, settling against his boyfriend.

"That I understand all too well," KyuJong said, lips quirking a little. "But... if you want something else to help take your mind off things, I'd be happy to help."

"Sounds tempting," YoungSaeng murmured, running his hand up and down KyuJong’s arm slowly under the blanket. "We’d have to go elsewhere though, and it is getting a little chilly…unless you planned to help with that too?"

"I like to be helpful," KyuJong chuckled, turning his head enough to brush his lips over YoungSaeng's temple. "We haven’t had a moment to ourselves in some time, we deserve some alone time."

"Makes me wish we’d holed up somewhere in Pyongyang for the night," YoungSaeng smiled. "Could have had a whole room to ourselves…ah well. Shall we?" He stood up. "KyuHyun, you’re on first shift?"

"Aye," KyuHyun nodded, not looking up from the book he was reading on the other side of the fire. "Heading out?"

"We’ll be back later," YoungSaeng chuckled, leaving his blanket draped over his shoulders.

JungMin, on the other side of the camp watched KyuJong and YoungSaeng disappear into the woods "Some people and their priorities," he sighed, shaking his head. Looking at HyungJoon he perked a brow. "So... maybe you and I should talk."

HyungJoon blinked, looking up from where he’d been staring into the fire. "Talk about what?" he asked, looking at JungMin with a puzzled expression.

"... I think we need to talk," JungMin said, leaning down a little to look at him. "Alone, preferably."

"Uh…sure," HyungJoon nodded, still looking confused as he stood up. Turning to head for the tree line, he missed Kevin elbowing KiBum maybe a little harder than necessary.

"What," KiBum winced, rubbing at his ribs. When he noticed JungMin and HyungJoon leaving, he blinked a little. "... Doesn't prove anything."

"Yes it does," Kevin huffed at him. "They are clearly not going anywhere to talk, JungMin was completely obvious."

"We don't know that," KiBum said, though the way his brow was furrowed it was obvious he was conflicted. "Maybe they're just going to patrol."

"Then why didn’t he just say patrol?" Kevin pestered, grinning. "Why say talk? It’s not like patrols is something they’d have to hide…"

"I don't care what they have to hide, that's between them," KiBum whispered, cheeks flushing. "It's my brother, he can do what he wants."

"…You’re no fun at all," Kevin pursed his lips in a pout.

HyungJoon stopped a good distance away from the camp, turning around to look at JungMin. "What’s wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong, I just..." JungMin tilted his head a little, stepping closer to HyungJoon. "I wanted to spend some time with you, no one else around. You know?"

"Oh," HyungJoon blinked, watching JungMin move closer. "So you didn’t actually want to talk about anything? You looked a little…on edge when we regrouped."

"I was worried about you, that's all," JungMin said. "And... I missed you. Things go okay?"

A small smile appeared at that. "Yeah…things went fine. You know I’m perfectly fine out on my own, and the kids stayed out of trouble." HyungJoon rested one hand lightly on JungMin’s arm.

"Well yeah, I figured you'd be fine and all, but doesn't stop me from being worried," JungMin said, lifting his hand to brush HyungJoon's bangs out of his eyes.

HyungJoon swallowed, looking into JungMin’s eyes. "Well…you don’t have to be worried." He leaned in, kissing JungMin lightly.

JungMin didn't reply, eyes slipping closed. His arm went around HyungJoon's waist to pull him closer. "We can worry about each other," he murmured.

"I like the sound of that," HyungJoon replied quietly, tasting JungMin’s breath against his lips. "You thought I wasn’t going to turn up, did you."

"I'll be honest, I wasn't sure," JungMin murmured. "But I trusted you. It's why I stayed with Saeng and the others and didn't come out to babysit you. I trusted you."

HyungJoon nodded slowly, resting his forehead against JungMin’s. "I’m glad you trusted me," he said, closing his eyes. "Cause…I trust you. Probably more than I’ve trusted anyone before."

"Well, I'm glad you trust me too," JungMin said. "I'll do my best not to break that trust."

"You better not," was all HyungJoon said before he pressed another kiss to JungMin’s lips.

Not needing to reply to that, JungMin lost himself in the feeling of HyungJoon's lips against his own. They still had some things they needed to talk about before the next blow up, but he didn't feel like ruining the moment just then.

It felt like it had been hours, or maybe just minutes by the time JungMin finally had to pull away. At some point they had ended up on the ground, JungMin looking up at HyungJoon with a smirk. "Should have brought out a blanket with us," he murmured.

"It’s a little cold," HyungJoon replied, voice just as quiet as JungMin’s. Despite the light shivers every now and then, the older brother looked completely at ease for once. He wasn’t listening for approaching danger or braced for a sudden betrayal, just leaning a little against JungMin with his arms around the older man’s shoulders. When a chilly breeze blew through as if in response to his words, he burrowed a little closer to JungMin. "Now would have probably been a good night to hole up in a building somewhere."

"Yeah... people who live in those compounds, they've got it good you know?" JungMin said, sighing a little. "Having a real bed, protection from the elements and random bandits. Sometimes I really want to find an abandoned city, or a couple buildings and just hunker down."

"Why haven’t you?" HyungJoon asked, fixing their jackets and positions a little so they were shielded from the wind. "What’s stopping you from doing that?"

"Cause I'd get lonely," JungMin shrugged a little. "And I wouldn't feel right just up and leaving Saeng like that. He's done right by me."

"Are you going to stay with his caravan for the rest of your life?" HyungJoon asked. "Live the rest of your life on the road fending off bandits and trying to trade enough supplies to eat?"

"I don't know, it's done well for me so far," JungMin said. "I mean... can you really imagine me doing anything else? I can't. This is pretty much all I know."

    HyungJoon watched the wind blow through the few leaves remaining on the trees. "But would you be fine with never settling down? Never…having a more stable life?"
    
    He didn’t get the answer to his question. The quiet of the forest was shattered by loud yells, echoing through the trees. HyungJoon had already broken away from JungMin and scrambled to his feet before the shouting was punctuated by a scream.

Tags: fandom: ss501, fandom: super junior, fandom: ukiss, fic: road less traveled, pairing: hyungjun/jungmin, pairing: kibum/kevin, pairing: kyujong/youngsaeng, rating: r
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