saengiephile (saengiephile) wrote in copy_paste_work,

The Road Less Traveled - Chapter 30

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

"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.

"The fuck," JungMin was up and running full tilt towards the caravan. There were a couple of gun shots before the screaming stopped and JungMin felt his heart jump into his throat. It was with a little regret he realized he didn't even have a weapon on him. His friends were dying and there was nothing he could do.

JungMin was aware it hadn't taken long, a minute at most before he got back to the camp, but it felt like it had been forever. His heart racing, he barely managed not to crash out of the tree line and dropped down to look around the campsite. The fire had been scattered, the caravan tipped over and the horses gone. Nothing stirred besides the occasional pops from the coals left in the fire pit.

"KyuHyun?" JungMin called, eyes tightening when he saw a body sprawled out on the ground. "Shit... no... KyuHyun!"

    HyungJoon skidded to a halt beside JungMin, panting and looking around with wide eyes. Not even a few seconds later two more figures burst through the opposite tree line; YoungSaeng and KyuJong. "What…oh no," YoungSaeng’s eyes landed on KyuHyun and he ran to the fallen archer. KyuHyun’s quiver strap was broken, sliced clean through with his arrows scattered across the ground along with his bow. The book he’d been reading when they left was tossed to one side and trampled.
    "KiBum?" HyungJoon couldn’t find his brother. He looked around the destroyed camp frantically. "Kevin? KiBum?!"
    "We’re over here!" Kevin’s voice was muffled, broken by coughs. Following their youngest’s voice, HyungJoon saw three figures in a narrow ditch by the edge of the clearing. Both kids and JongWoon hid there, JongWoon holding down a sleeping bag over their bodies. Their hiding spot had gone unnoticed in the dark.
    YoungSaeng rolled KyuHyun onto his back. The younger man was just barely conscious, noises of pain escaping. Blood was everywhere. It seeped from a slash in his jacket and from under the hand covering his right eye, bathing half his face red. Swallowing back bile, YoungSaeng turned his attention to stemming the flow of blood from the archer’s chest.

"Joon, see if you can find the horses," JungMin was barking orders, tipping over crates and other broken boxes to find any one else. There were still two missing members of their crew. "RyeoWook! Zhou Mi!" He didn't want to look inside the tipped over caravan, but knew he had to. "Zhou Mi?" he called again, crouching down to peer into the caravan.

"... I'm alive," RyeoWook's weak voice floated out from somewhere in the heap of crates and supplies. "I'm stuck."

"We'll get you out, just hold on," JungMin said, breathing a sigh of relief. "Is Zhou Mi in there with you? KyuJong, I need a hand here."

"I... I don't know," RyeoWook replied. "I don't see him here."

JungMin's lips thinned a little, but brushed it off to focus on getting RyeoWook out from the caravan. They pulled RyeoWook out with only a couple of minor scratches and when RyeoWook looked over towards where YoungSaeng and KyuHyun were.

"KyuHyun? Is KyuHyun okay?" he asked, moving towards him.

    "No," YoungSaeng ground out, using KyuHyun’s jacket to apply pressure to his wound. "Did the first aid kit survive? I need it over here, right now!" Both his and KyuHyun’s hands were slick with blood. The archer had passed out.
    HyungJoon had helped the three out of the ditch before going to search for their horses. Kevin clung to KiBum’s side, eyes wide as he looked around the campsite. They were both covered in dirt from being shoved down into the ditch, but uninjured. "What just happened?" JongWoon was looking around the camp for Zhou Mi.

"I don't really know," KiBum shook his head, keeping Kevin as close as possible. "I mean I know JongWoon got us up and into the ditch but I don't have any idea why." He watched RyeoWook running back to the caravan and diving in, things being tossed out onto the ground. "We should try and help."

    "How?" Kevin looked around at the chaos. "I don’t know if we’ll just get in the way…maybe we should help HyungJoon find the horses."
    "Zhou Mi’s not here," JongWoon was saying.

"What?" KiBum glanced at JongWoon. "What do you mean? I'm sure he's here somewhere."

"He's probably hiding somewhere, we'll look for him after we make sure KyuHyun's not going to bleed out," JungMin said.

    JongWoon looked unsettled, checking over the camp again and examining the hoof tracks disappearing into the trees.
    It was sheer luck that the first aid kit had mostly survived the caravan flipping over, knocked open with one bottle broken but little else damaged. YoungSaeng enlisted RyeoWook’s help in getting KyuHyun’s wound treated. It was clearly a knife wound; someone had gotten the jump on him.
    It seemed to take forever to get his chest wound closed, YoungSaeng carefully monitoring the younger man’s breathing. By the time the injury was stitched closed, he felt like there was more blood out of KyuHyun than in him. But he was alive.
    "What happened?" YoungSaeng asked lowly as he cleaned the blood away from the right side of KyuHyun’s face. The second injury was a long, shallow line from eyebrow to cheek, not sparing his eye.

"I honestly don't know," RyeoWook said, rinsing out a cloth in a bowl of water. "Zhou Mi and I were inside the caravan, I think I had just drifted off to sleep and then I woke up to him screaming... there were people inside with guns."

"They went straight for the caravan," JongWoon straightened, looking over at them and pointing at the horse tracks. "I woke up when KyuHyun started yelling. One snuck up behind him, the rest came in on horseback. I saw one of them before the fire went out, it was the group from Pyongyang."

"Why did they come here?" JungMin frowned. "You think they were after the medicine that Zhou Mi gave them?"

"More like... they were after Zhou Mi," KyuJong said, kneeling down next to YoungSaeng with some fresh water. "Why take something simple like a medicine when you can get the person who can make it for you."

JungMin's attention went to JongWoon, his eyes narrowed. "You told them where to find us, didn't you."

    "What? No!" JongWoon leaned back. "I didn’t even know the path you were taking, never mind that I’d never help them with something like this!"
    "This isn’t helping," YoungSaeng glanced over at them, lips thinned in anger. "We need to figure out how we’re going to get Zhou Mi back."

"Get Zhou Mi back?" JungMin looked at YoungSaeng. "We're not in any kind of position to be saving anyone right now, least of all some stranger we hardly know! KyuHyun's a hair's breadth away from dying and you want to go chase after the people who did it?"

    "We’re doing all that we can for KyuHyun. We’re not going to lose anyone tonight, not KyuHyun and not Zhou Mi," YoungSaeng looked back at JungMin, eyes narrowed. "He stopped being a stranger a long time ago. Did you forget he saved KyuJong’s life? He trusted us to get him home in one piece, and we’re not crossing that border without him!"
    "I’ll go," JongWoon spoke up. "I’ll go get him. They used to be my neighbors, maybe I can talk some sense into them."

"Shut up," JungMin sniped at JongWoon, though his gazed was focused on YoungSaeng. "It's a foolhardy idea to go after them and you know it."

"If they had taken anyone else, we wouldn’t even be arguing about this," YoungSaeng said, cleaning out the cloth soaked with blood. "Zhou Mi is part of our caravan. We look after our own, JungMin."

JungMin took a deep breath, fuming internally before he looked away. "Whatever you say boss."

"We should probably figure out where it is they would take him," KyuJong said. "JongWoon... do you know where they would go? Would they take him back to your home?"

"They would," JongWoon nodded, turning away from JungMin. He glanced to the side when the trees rustled; HyungJoon, Kevin and KiBum were coming back with their wayward horses. "But they wouldn’t make it far tonight, not with Zhou Mi in tow and not if YunHo and HeeBon are with them. HeeBon still needs time to recover."

"So JongWoon goes and tries to get Zhou Mi back, would they even listen to him?" KyuJong said, his brow furrowed.

"What if he betrays us," JungMin said, arms crossed. "I don't trust him Saeng, I'd rather you let me and Joon go out and find them ourselves."

"One problem with that," YoungSaeng replied. "That entire group was from Yonan. Do you really want HyungJoon anywhere near them?" He frowned down at KyuHyun’s eye injury. "RyeoWook, I hope you know how to take care of this."

"Zhou Mi would know," RyeoWook said quietly, looking down at KyuHyun. "I don't think I can save his eye... he's going to be so pissed. when he wakes up."

    "If that’s all he’s lost, he’ll be lucky," YoungSaeng murmured, brushing the blood-matted hair out of KyuHyun’s face. "Do what you can."
    He turned to face the others again, leaving KyuHyun to RyeoWook. "JongWoon," he looked at the older man. "You think you can convince them to bring Zhou Mi back?"
    JongWoon nodded, brow furrowed. "They might listen to me…I have a better chance of talking them out of it than we would trying to get him back by force. There’s too many of them and too few of us who are able to fight. Or be seen." He glanced to where HyungJoon and the kids were tying up the horses to trees for now.

"Someone should go with him just in case he tries to double cross us," JungMin said. "For all we know they'd just kill him, or worse yet he'd run off with them and we'd have no idea."

    "If I’d wanted to run off with them, I would have done it by now," JongWoon’s shoulders hunched.
    YoungSaeng looked between them, frowning. "JungMin, you’re the only one who can go with him. Are you two going to be able to work together without killing each other?"

"Depends," JungMin replied, staring at JongWoon icily. "If he even thinks about betraying us, I'll kill him. If he pulls through for us, I may reconsider."

    JongWoon looked at JungMin before standing, lifting his chin. "I’m ready to go when you are."
    "Be careful, both of you," YoungSaeng said. "We don’t need anyone else injured."

"You know me boss, I'll be fine," JungMin said, turning and going towards where HyungJoon and the horses were. "Keep everyone safe," he said to HyungJoon, untying the reins to his horse. "No idea how long this will take... but don't try and come look for us, you got me? They don't need to know you were with us."

    "If you aren’t back by dawn, I’m coming after you," HyungJoon said, saddling up JungMin’s horse for him. "Be careful."
    JongWoon followed after JungMin slowly. "So…are you going to let me ride with you, or am I walking there?"

"We'll lose time if you walk," JungMin replied, frowning at HyungJoon. "Take a horse. We'll have to be able to bring back Zhou Mi somehow. I doubt his chicken legs can carry him very far."

    Nodding, JongWoon got their spare riding horse ready to ride.
    Finishing with the horse’s saddle, HyungJoon looked up at JungMin under his bangs. "…Don’t look at me like that. I mean it." Cinching the last strap a little tighter, he stepped back. "Don’t worry about us here, we’ll be fine. Just don’t get yourself killed doing something stupid."

"You're as stubborn as YoungSaeng," JungMin muttered, grabbing HyungJoon by the front of his shirt to pull him into a firm kiss. When he pulled back, he looked down at the man with a smirk. "Don't worry. I'm a survivor."

Staring at him, HyungJoon’s face visibly heated before he cleared his throat and pulled JungMin’s hands off his shirt. "Yeah, whatever you say. Don’t take too long." His fingers squeezed JungMin’s hand lightly before he let go and nudged JungMin towards his horse, stepping back. JongWoon was climbing up onto the other horse.

"We'll be back before you can miss me too much," JungMin grinned, mounting his horse and settling in his saddle. "You'll have to lead the way JongWoon."

"Yeah," JongWoon nodded, straightening and gripping the reins tightly. Turning, he headed into the trees, following where the horse tracks disappeared. "I know you don’t trust me," he said after they’d left the camp. "But this isn’t going to work if we don’t work together."

"You haven't given me any reason to want to trust you, or work together," JungMin said. "I'm only here because there wasn't anyone I would trust to go with you."

"If I had wanted to hurt any of you, I would have done it already," JongWoon looked back at him. "I’ve had plenty of opportunity, including just half an hour ago. If you can’t trust me, can you at least work with me for Zhou Mi’s sake?"

"Let's get one thing clear," JungMin said. "I'm only here because Saeng wants Zhou Mi back so he can get the cure. If Zhou Mi didn't have a cure, I doubt Saeng would care half as much."

JongWoon’s lips thinned a little. "So you only care about him because he’s useful. If that’s true, guess you’re really no different than us from Yonan, huh?"

"No, I don't care if he's useful or not," JungMin said. "But I do what my boss tells me to do."

Looking up at the night sky, JongWoon exhaled slowly. "…Okay. Whatever. I’ve got an idea for how to get him back, so if you’re not going to work with me on this, you can at least let me talk to them without trying to stab me in the back."

"... What is your idea?" JungMin frowned a little. "I'm not going to like this idea, am I."

"No, you’re not, but you’re going to let me explain completely before trying to kill me, right?" JongWoon looked back at him.

"Better talk fast," JungMin said. "And it had better be a good idea."

JongWoon slowed his horse a little. "Those guys aren’t bad people. They’re just looking out for themselves, and getting Zhou Mi to slow the virus is the best way to do that. They aren’t going to give him up easily, they’ll need a good reason to. A reason like…getting a real cure instead of a delay. If we can convince them there’s a real cure somewhere, they’ll let Zhou Mi go."

JongWoon slowed his horse a little. "Those guys aren’t bad people. They’re just looking out for themselves, and getting Zhou Mi to slow the virus is the best way to do that. They aren’t going to give him up easily, they’ll need a good reason to. A reason like…getting a real cure instead of a delay. If we can convince them there’s a real cure somewhere, they’ll let Zhou Mi go."

"... And if they know where the cure is, why the fuck would they even let Zhou Mi go?" JungMin scowled.

"Because I won’t lead them to it otherwise," JongWoon replied. "They’re from Yonan…they know about HyungJoon and KiBum as much as I do. But they don’t know where they are. The brother’s whereabouts have been completely unknown. If I can convince them that another compound is hiding the brothers in order to keep the cure all to themselves, they’ll follow me."

"... You want to what?" JungMin's eyes widened and he pulled his horse closer, his pistol coming out to point at JongWoon. "You're going to tell them you saw HyungJoon and KiBum? Tell me why I shouldn't just kill you right now for even mentioning that?"

JongWoon flinched at the gun, drawing back slightly. "If I wanted to hurt the brothers, I would have done it already. I didn’t have to tell you YunHo and HeeBon were from Yonan, and I didn’t have to decide to stay with you guys instead of following my neighbors. Listen, I know you all don’t think I’m too bright, but even I know that if I really wanted to lead them to HyungJoon and KiBum I wouldn’t be telling you my plan, would I?"

"Maybe not, but doesn't mean I trust you any more," JungMin said. "This was your plan all along then? Why didn't you tell YoungSaeng?"

"…Because I trusted him to be a more caring human being than you," JongWoon shrugged, looking away. "So will you at least let me try this? I won’t say a word about where the brothers actually are. Whether you trust that or not…is up to you in the end. There’s nothing I can say or do that I haven’t already done to earn your trust."

"You've got a long way to go before I trust you," JungMin said, lowering his gun. "But we'll start with this. If you're telling the truth, I won't kill you on sight the next time I see you."

JongWoon gave a strained smile. "…Yeah. Next time. Looking forward to it." He straightened in the saddle, nudging the horse’s sides to go faster.
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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