Fandoms: SS501, Super Junior, U-KISS
Pairings: KyuJong/YoungSaeng, KiBum/Kevin, TBA
Rating: PG-13, some chapters R
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
It didn’t take them long to find the small group’s camp, their horses leaving a clear trail in the dense foliage to follow. JongWoon slowed, dismounting before stepping up to the tree line. "Hello?" He called. "It’s Kim JongWoon, from Yonan, don’t shoot."
JungMin trailed behind, not letting himself be seen as he looked at the small camp. There were a dozen or so men and women, only one of which JungMin recognized, that being YunHo. He didn't see HeeBon immediately but figured she was resting in one of the tents somewhere. He also didn't see Zhou Mi, and that put him on edge to start with.
"JongWoon? Is that really you?" One of the men had a sidearm raised, but took a step closer towards the trees. "YunHo said you were with those merchants but when we didn't see you I feared the worst."
"I was there, guess it was just too dark," JongWoon said, hands raised peacefully as he stepped further into the light. "And you were there and gone so fast…what’s going on, guys? That wasn’t very neighborly of you."
"YunHo told us about the chinese guy who saved HeeBon's life, we had to find him," the man said. "He has to heal the others, he has to heal all of us."
JungMin's eyes narrowed and he stepped out of the trees, hands up as well. "It's not a cure, what he makes."
JongWoon held his hands up higher when he saw the guns go up again. "Hey, hey, let’s not get too hasty here. But JungMin’s right. Zhou Mi, the Chinese guy you took, just makes a delay. It’ll keep HeeBon alive for a couple extra years, but the end result is the same. She’ll still die from it, just not right away. So can’t you just let him go?"
"A couple of years is still enough for hope, we can't let that go," the man said. "Who is this, one of the people from the caravan? Why are you trying to help them JongWoon? Why don't you just come home with us."
"Cause I can’t go home just yet," JongWoon replied. "There’s still stuff I want to do." His hands slowly lowered. "…What if I tell you that I know of a real cure? Not just a delay."
The gun in the man's hands lowered a little and he frowned at JongWoon. "What do you mean? There really is a cure?"
JongWoon nodded. "I’m positive. Are the names HyungJoon and KiBum ringing any bells? Say from ten years or so ago?"
JungMin could see the other man's brow furrow slightly at that. "... What about them?"
"I saw them," JongWoon replied. "In another compound not that long ago. Remember what the elders said? Those two have a real cure."
"Why didn't you bring them back with you then?" the man said.
"The compound has really tight security," JongWoon replied. "Really tight. Like they’re guarding something important. What’s more important than a cure?" He stepped forward. "I can show you where they are…we can all get the cure, together. But I’ll only show you where they are if you let Zhou Mi go. Zhou Mi…he’s been kind to me. I owe him."
The man seemed to think about that for a moment, glancing towards where the rest of the camp was watching and waiting before looking back at JongWoon. "Alright. If what you say is true then the brother's would be a better find than this guy. The elders wouldn't be happy knowing we let them go again. But you'll have to come with us JongWoon, you know where they are."
"I’ll go with you, no problem," JongWoon nodded, lifting his chin. "Where’s Zhou Mi?"
"In the tent over there," the man said, nodding with his head. "YunHo, bring the chinese guy out here."
YunHo nodded, looking between JongWoon and JungMin before heading into the tent. He returned a minute later, leading Zhou Mi out in front of him. JongWoon smiled widely at the Chinese man, before frowning at his hands tied up behind his back. "He’s not going to be able to ride like that."
YunHo glanced at the man who seemed to be the leader of their group before untying Zhou Mi’s hands, pulling the rope away.
JungMin motioned for Zhou Mi to join him, trying his best to keep his expression neutral. The sooner he could get away from these people the better. His plan would have involved less negotiating and more shooting but he was doing his best to do things the proper way.
Zhou Mi for his part didn't look scared or anxious, more annoyed than anything. Rubbing at his wrists he rejoined JungMin and JongWoon, eyes going between them. "I wasn't sure anyone was going to bother coming after me, but thank you," he said quietly. "Can we go?"
"Absolutely, the horse is just beyond the tree line," JungMin said, looking from Zhou Mi to JongWoon. "Remember what I said."
Looking at JungMin and nodding, JongWoon gave Zhou Mi a small smile. After a short pause he wrapped his arms around the Chinese man in a tight hug. "Don’t go for any more swims, okay?"
Zhou Mi blinked at the sudden hug, patting JongWoon lightly on the back as he looked at JungMin in confusion. "I miss something?"
"You're coming back with me, JongWoon's staying with them," JungMin said.
"Wait, what? Why?" Zhou Mi's eyes widened and he pulled back from the hug to look down at JongWoon. "You're leaving us?"
JongWoon nodded, his smile becoming even more strained. "JungMin will explain on your way back. Get back home safely. I’ll…see you around sometime. Hao."
"No, no I don't understand, I want you with us," Zhou Mi said, his eyes welling up with tears. "This isn't fair."
"Mi, there's no choice," JungMin frowned, taking Zhou Mi by the arm to pull him away. "Come on."
"I’m sorry," JongWoon’s arms fell to his sides, and he stepped back to watch them go. "Have a long, happy life, Mi."
Zhou Mi had to turn away, yanking his arm out of JungMin's grip and marching into the forest. Sighing a little, JungMin gave JongWoon a curt nod before following Zhou Mi into the trees. Needless to say, it was a long quiet ride back to the caravan. Zhou Mi sulking on his horse, letting her meander instead of focusing on the ride. So much so that JungMin had to take the reins away from the man and lead both their horses.
RyeoWook was the first to see them come back, calling for YoungSaeng over his shoulder. "Where's JongWoon?" he asked when the two stopped and dismounted. Zhou Mi didn't respond, brushing past him to go to the caravan.
YoungSaeng came back out of the caravan; they’d managed to right it while JungMin and JongWoon were gone, though one wheel needed replacing and the whole thing looked worse for wear. Looking relieved at first to see Zhou Mi and JungMin, YoungSaeng’s expression faded a little when he noticed they were missing someone. "JungMin, where’s JongWoon?"
"He chose to stay behind," JungMin said, lips pursed a little as he watched Zhou Mi. "In trade for Zhou Mi, he told them he knew where to find HyungJoon and KiBum. He told me his plan was to take them on a wild goose chase across the country. I don't know if we can trust him not to betray us or not, but if they find out he's lying? They'll kill him."
YoungSaeng’s eyes widened. "And you agreed to that?! Why? I trust him not to betray us, but why did he have to give himself up? If they don’t kill him, they’ll torture him to find out where the brothers really are."
"That was his decision to make," JungMin said. "It was him or Zhou Mi. Would you rather I came back without Zhou Mi?"
"…I would rather we didn’t lose anyone," YoungSaeng’s lips thinned. Nothing about that decision sat well with him, but they had little choice. Rubbing his forehead, he sighed. "We’re not moving anywhere tonight. The caravan needs to be patched up, and KyuHyun’s not stable enough to go anywhere."
"And I'd rather we get at least a little ways away, just in case he does betray us," JungMin replied.
YoungSaeng’s eyes narrowed. "We’re in no condition to go anywhere, JungMin. It would take us at least an hour to get the caravan ready, and are you planning on just floating KyuHyun down the road? Because he’s not going to be able to take the ride in the caravan."
JungMin's jaw squared and he looked away. "Let's just hope no one else gets hurt then Saeng, cause that'll be on your head," he said before walking away.
The older man flinched at JungMin’s words, watching him go. After a moment the fists clenched at his sides loosened and he rubbed one hand over his face, eyes closed.
"Boss?" Kevin asked quietly from where he and KiBum were with the horses nearby. "What do we do now?"
For a minute Kevin thought YoungSaeng was going to snap at them, but after taking a few deep breaths the caravan leader turned to them. "You two are going to help me patch up the caravan, not putting KyuHyun in there until there’s no danger of collapsing. We’re pairing up for shifts tonight, one of you will take second watch with me." He headed to the caravan, steps heavy.
"I have to hand it to JungMin, I don't know how he does it but he can get right under YoungSaeng's skin," KiBum murmured to Kevin. "Maybe you should take the shift with Saeng tonight."
Kevin looked at Kibum uneasily at that. "Are you sure that’s a good idea?" he asked in a whisper. "He might chop me up into little pieces." It seemed likely with the mood YoungSaeng was in now, not that the rest of the camp was much better. Kevin had one hand on Kibum’s arm lightly, still spooked.
"I know, why do you think I volunteered you and not me?" KiBum said, nudging Kevin a little. "Come on, let's get the horses ready and stay the hell away from people with itchy trigger fingers."
"That means staying away from everybody," Kevin muttered, going to grab the horses’ reins. "Do you think…JongWoon’s going to betray us?"
KiBum sighed a little, shaking his head. "I don't know, honestly. I'm really hoping he doesn't but I mean... we've been betrayed so many times by other people it's hard for me to really trust people. Especially people like him."
"He’s been nice though," Kevin said quietly, looking back at Kibum. "Yes he’s from that place, but…he’s been nice to everyone. I wish there was a way to know if he’s good or not. Cause…I really hope he doesn’t betray us either…but Kibum, if he doesn’t betray us, that means we just sent a nice, friendly guy who protected us both to die. And we didn’t do anything to help him. If he doesn’t betray us, I’ll always be thinking about how we should have tried to save him."
"We didn't send him anywhere, it was his own choice," KiBum said. "At least that's what JungMin and Zhou Mi say. He would have given us up to his friends if he had been able to get away from us that first day."
"Whether it was his own choice or not, it doesn’t sit well with me," Kevin looked back at the horses. "And whether he would have given us up then or not…if he doesn’t do it now, when he’ll die if he doesn’t, then we’ll have been wrong about him."
"I understand what you're saying Kevin, but it's hard for me to really feel sorry for him," KiBum said. "I just... can't."
Kevin glanced at Kibum, worrying at his lower lip. "You’re really sounding like your brother," he said quietly.
"... After what happened, and they kidnapped Zhou Mi? Maybe my brother wasn't so wrong about things," KiBum said, taking the horse's reins and heading towards the picket line.
"Kibum," Kevin protested when KiBum walked away, sighing quietly. He looked around the torn-apart camp, HyungJoon fixing the campfire and keeping an eye on KyuHyun while YoungSaeng inspected the damaged caravan. A large part of him wanted to believe that the brothers were wrong, that people couldn’t be so cruel to each other. But seeing what had happened that night was a cold awakening. People would do whatever they had to in order to survive, even kill each other. Ducking his head, Kevin followed after Kibum with the rest of the horses.
Being inside the caravan with Zhou Mi and KyuHyun at the same time was one of the most stressful things RyeoWook had to endure. KyuHyun wasn't even awake and he couldn't imagine how worse it would be. Zhou Mi, the usual picture of exuberance and patience was tight lipped with a pinched brow.
"He's lucky to be alive," Zhou Mi said, checking the bandages over KyuHyun's eye. "He got hurt because of me, and what I can do..."
"Don't think like that," RyeoWook said softly, watching him. "There's no way you could have known what would happen."
KyuHyun had remained unconscious for the remainder of the night, and the following day. True to YoungSaeng’s orders the caravan wasn’t moving until KyuHyun was fit to travel, despite the ongoing arguments between YoungSaeng and JungMin. The whole camp was on high alert, but so far there had been no sign of the group from Yonan.
A low noise escaped KyuHyun as Zhou Mi checked the bandages on his eye, brow furrowing slightly. Something caught in his throat and he started to cough, expression tightening in pain.
"Get me some water," Zhou Mi said to RyeoWook quietly, holding KyuHyun's shoulder down as he coughed. "KuiXian, don't try to open your eyes," he said.
Stopped from moving by the hand on his shoulder, KyuHyun slowly woke up. "Mi?" he asked, voice barely more than a croak. His eyelid fluttered before a sharp gasp of pain tore from him, one hand jerkily lifting to cover his eye.
"It's me, don't try to open your eyes yet," Zhou Mi said, accepting the flask of water from RyeoWook and moving to help KyuHyun take a sip. "I don't want to panic you KuiXian, but you were very badly injured."
KyuHyun had found the edge of the bandages before his hand fell away, and he sipped from the flask with Zhou Mi’s help. Coughing, he turned his head away a little, expression pained. "…How badly?"
"I'll have to look at the extent of the damage... but RyeoWook says he wasn't able to save your eye," Zhou Mi said softly.
"…Oh." KyuHyun’s voice cracked. He didn’t try to open his eyes again, just lying there breathing in and out shallowly. It was a good minute before he spoke again. "What happened?"
"We were attacked by the people that Zhou Mi helped," RyeoWook said.
"Yes, they... wanted my help and weren't going to ask for it," Zhou Mi said. "But, you are alive, and that's the most important part."
KyuHyun exhaled shakily, lifting one hand to find the bandages wrapped around his chest. "Everyone else?"
"Well, they could be worse off really," Zhou Mi said. "Except JongWoon... he's with those awful people and will probably die."
"He's not going to die," RyeoWook said abruptly. "He's better off right now than KyuHyun is."
"... When they find out JongWoon deceived them, he's as good as dead," Zhou Mi said, his expression hardening. "Excuse me, I'm going to go make up a salve for his wounds. And a good tonic."
KyuHyun made a quiet noise to indicate he had heard. It was clear he was in a lot of pain and not entirely there, hand falling back down to the bed.
"…Wook?" he breathed after a minute of silence. "Are you still there?"
"...Yeah, I'm here," RyeoWook said, moving to KyuHyun's side when Zhou Mi had left. "I'm sorry... I did what I could for your eye, but it... they did a real number on you."
The archer tried to reach the bandages around the side of his face again, giving up. "It’s that bad, huh," he murmured. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine KyuHyun, don't even think of worrying about me," RyeoWook said. "You just relax okay?"
KyuHyun didn’t try to move again. "Okay," he whispered. "As long as you’re okay." He drifted into unconsciousness, the pain becoming too much.
"... I'll be fine soon as you are," RyeoWook mumbled, KyuHyun's blankets. "Pain in the ass, what'd you go and get hurt for anyway."
Outside the caravan, YoungSaeng could hear the quiet conversation as he reattached the caravan back door. He didn’t say anything, focusing on his task. If he were to sit down and think about it rationally, he knew things could have been worse. Much worse.
But that wasn’t the point. There had been no sight of the group from Yonan, meaning JongWoon had held up to his promise and led them away. That man had sacrificed himself for them, and yet looking around the caravan he couldn’t tell if anyone other than him and Zhou Mi even cared. Between that, the argument to even attempt rescuing Zhou Mi the night before, and the continued arguments with JungMin…
Exhaling slowly, YoungSaeng shook his head a little and finished hammering in the back door hinges, testing it’s swing.
"You know that could probably wait until after we've had some rest," KyuJong said, leaning up against the side of the caravan. "It's close to day break, no one has had any rest and you look like you're about ready to pass out."
"Can’t sleep, might as well do something useful." Satisfied for now, YoungSaeng closed the back gate and latched it. "It’s not your turn for watch, so what’re you still doing awake?"
"Too nervous to sleep if you're not with me," KyuJong admitted, crossing his arms. "And I know you're worried, I can see it by the crease in your forehead. If you're worried... then that makes me very worried."
YoungSaeng turned away from the caravan, looking around the small campsite. He could see Kevin and KiBum fast asleep by the fire, the only two who seemed able to get any measure of sleep. JungMin and HyungJoon were on watch at the other end of the camp, out of earshot. "I’m not worried about JongWoon betraying us," he replied. "That’s the one thing I have faith in right now."
"Which means there's something you don't have faith in then if you put it like that," KyuJong said, watching him. "Which also means you're not going to be resting like you should. You want to talk about it?"
"You worry over me too much, Kyu yah." YoungSaeng managed a small smile for the younger man, before slowly making his way to the edge of the clearing to sit down by a tree. "How can I rest with all that’s happened?"
"Because, you're our leader," KyuJong said, sitting down behind him. Wrapping his arms around YoungSaeng's waist, he rested his chin on the older man's shoulder. "Everyone here is going to look to you right now. If you're not resting and taking care of yourself, how will that look to everyone else?"
"I haven’t been much of a leader lately," YoungSaeng murmured to him, watching the camp. His eyes went to JungMin, on the other side of the clearing. "A leader wouldn’t have gotten his crew into a mess like this. One kidnapped, one half-dead and a third self-sacrificed. What kind of leader allows that to happen?"
"One that understands they can't control everything," KyuJong replied. "I don't think there was anything you could have done different Saeng... not without being someone you aren't. A lesser, fearful man would have turned away people in need, but I wouldn't have fallen in love with a man like that."
"I’ve always tried to run the caravan the way my father did…a haven for whoever found it. Sometimes I wonder if it’s truly the best way, or just ignorance." YoungSaeng turned his head to look at KyuJong beside him, nearly bumping noses with how close his boyfriend’s face was. "You’re the only one who still believes I’m doing the right thing, Kyu yah. Even JungMin doubts me now. I feel like the caravan’s falling apart at the seams."
KyuJong frowned slightly at that, looking up at YoungSaeng. "As much as I believe in you Saeng, I'm pretty sure JungMin would walk over hot coals for you if you asked. He may argue, but he's never flat out refused anything you ask. I think it's because he trusts your judgment enough to know you're probably doing what's right in the end."
"What if my judgement is wrong?" YoungSaeng asked softly, looking into KyuJong’s eyes.
"No one is perfect Saeng, we're all trying to make the best of what our lives are," KyuJong said. "Every one of us who are here, who agreed to be here, agreed to listen to you. Not because you made perfect decisions, but because you were willing to make the decisions that needed to be made. You haven't let us down yet, despite all that's happened. None of what's happened has been your fault or because of a decision you made."
YoungSaeng was silent for a moment, gaze lowering. "There’s always something else I could have done. Maybe one of those ways wouldn’t have resulted in this. But…thank you. I don’t know what to do from here, but the one thing I do know is that this caravan is my family. I’m not going to lose any of you."
"And we all trust you to get us through this," KyuJong murmured, kissing YoungSaeng's cheek softly. "Even if some of us will make that difficult; not mentioning any names."
"No, let’s not," YoungSaeng replied, lips curling slightly. "We should get some sleep, while we still can. With luck, tomorrow KyuHyun will be stable enough for us to move on." Moving slowly was better than not moving at all.
"If not, I think we could all use a day to rest," KyuJong said. "It's been a rough few weeks, I don't think delaying another day will hurt. Besides, we need to make sure that pine box of yours is going to make it another inch let alone into China."
"Yes…we managed to patch her back up decently, but I’d feel better if someone looked over her next village we reach. Which is probably only going to be across the border." YoungSaeng kissed KyuJong softly before shifting to stand, extending a hand to pull KyuJong to his feet.
Accepting the help up, KyuJong put his arm around YoungSaeng's shoulder and led them both back to their bed rolls. JungMin gave them a cursory nod when they passed nearby, but said little else. The whole camp was eerily quiet when they finally bedded down, not even whispers of conversation between JungMin and HyungJoon could be heard. The events of the day weighed too much on tired shoulders, and despite feeling like he would never be able to sleep, KyuJong was out very quickly after getting settled in next to YoungSaeng, only vaguely being aware of the older man's breath evening out just before he drifted into sleep himself.
The sun had been up several hours by the time JungMin woke everyone, the redhead looking haggard with dark circles under his eyes. HyungJoon didn't look much better. They had spent most of the early morning in silence, JungMin finding it difficult to make any kind of conversation. Sometime after the sun had risen, RyeoWook had emerged from the caravan and began to work on making breakfast, though JungMin doubted the others would be up while it was warm.
It was up to RyeoWook to go around and shake shoulders when it neared the noon hour, waking up sleeping bodies. KiBum and Kevin grumbled but got themselves up without much hassle. It was YoungSaeng that RyeoWook was hesitant to go near (though he was secretly glad JungMin was still awake). Crouching down next to where KyuJong and YoungSaeng were sleeping, he touched YoungSaeng's shoulder and gave him a small nudge. "Hey... boss," he said softly. "It's time to wake up."
Stirring, it took YoungSaeng a minute to wake up. It had been far from a restful sleep, despite not getting a proper rest since the attack. Finally he cracked his eyes open, blinking blearily at RyeoWook.
"…Hey," he murmured, voice cracking as he slowly sat up as much as he could in the bedroll. A glance upwards confirmed the sun was already high in the sky. "What did I miss?" He lightly shook KyuJong’s shoulder to wake him up too.
"Not much, breakfast is made, but it's a little cold," RyeoWook said, watching as KyuJong mumbled incoherently but sat up as well, rubbing at his eyes. "I can warm it up for you soo an as you're up and around. Everyone else is already awake..." he leaned in a little closer to YoungSaeng. "JungMin hasn't slept and he's dived right back into work... he looks about ready to fall over."
"…Not surprised," YoungSaeng murmured. "I’ll talk to him." It was time they had a conversation. "How’s everyone else doing? How’re you doing?" he asked their cook.
"Didn't sleep well, but I don't think anyone did," RyeoWook said. KyuJong could see him glance towards the caravan for a moment before looking back at YoungSaeng. "We're all alive, that's the important part."
"That is," YoungSaeng nodded. "Keep me updated." He squeezed RyeoWook’s shoulder lightly before turning to KyuJong. "There’s breakfast…I’ll join you in a minute, okay?" he pressed a light kiss to KyuJong’s lips. "There’s someone I need to talk to."
KyuJong waited until RyeoWook had wandered back towards the fire before responding. "Let me know if you need anything," he said softly. "And... go easy on him, but if he starts being mean I'll punch him between the eyes."
"I can handle him, but thanks," YoungSaeng smirked lightly, kissing KyuJong again. Standing up and pulling his shoes on, he went to find their caravan bodyguard. "JungMin?"
Sorting through some of the damaged crates, JungMin glanced up at YoungSaeng when he approached. "YoungSaeng," he replied, resuming opening one of the crates and inspecting the contents. "Just making sure nothing got too badly damaged when your box went head over heels. Don't see anything broken yet."
"We packed it all pretty well." YoungSaeng watched JungMin. "When was the last time you slept, Min?"
"When we weren't being attacked or nearly killed or separated," JungMin replied. "You don't pay me to sleep boss, you pay me to keep you safe."
"And how are you supposed to do that when you’re weaving on your feet?" YoungSaeng asked, frowning at him. "Get some rest, before you end up on a cot along with KyuHyun."
JungMin's brow furrowed a little and he looked up at YoungSaeng. "Should have been me," he said, shaking his head. "He shouldn't have been the one who got hurt like that."
YoungSaeng crouched down next to JungMin and the crate. "No one should have been hurt," he replied. "Not him, not you, no one. But he’s still alive, and we’ll get through this. We always do."
"We barely scrape by, but one day that luck is going to run out," JungMin said, rubbing at his face. "I haven't been doing my job Saeng, I got distracted and wasn't paying close enough attention. I'm surprised you still want me here with you now that we've been hit twice like this."
"JungMin, there’s no one else I trust to keep us safe," YoungSaeng shook his head. "No one’s perfect, I’m just as much to blame for all that’s happened. But I know you take your job seriously. So seriously you’re putting yourself at risk just so you can watch the rest of us. I trust you. As long as you trust me too, we’ll get through this."
"I trust your judgement, most of the time," JungMin said. "But I'll always follow your orders, even if I think it's a stupid idea. It was my mistake bringing YunHo to the camp, we should have never let Zhou Mi treat that girl. We can't make that mistake again, I can't make that mistake again."
"You couldn’t have known who they were," YoungSaeng replied. "None of us knew until JongWoon spoke up. What are you going to do, Min? Hide us away from the whole world, on the off chance we’re spotted by someone who could harm us?’
"If it meant no one else gets hurt..." JungMin sighed, shaking his head. "Everything that's happened, it has me worried. Or maybe I've spent too much time with HyungJoon and I'm starting to think like him. I don't want to worry about a next time, because there shouldn't be a next time."
"There shouldn’t be, and we’ll work together to keep each other safe." YoungSaeng rested his hand on JungMin’s shoulder. "This isn’t on you alone. Speaking of Joon…he’s crashed at the other end of camp. You should join him. You’ll feel better once you’ve had some rest."
JungMin glanced over to where he could see HyungJoon asleep. "I know I've let you down Saeng, and I'm sorry. I want you to be able to count on me." Slowly standing back up, he brushed a hand through his hair. "Wake us up in a couple hours. There's too much to do to let us sleep the day away."
"What needs to be done, we can handle it," YoungSaeng replied, standing as well. "You haven’t let me down, JungMin. But you need to take care of yourself as well as us."
"Yeah well... in order of importance it's you then me," JungMin snorted as he started towards the edge of the camp. "Try not to make too much noise, HyungJoon's really grumpy when you wake him up."
"How’s that any different from usual?" YoungSaeng smirked, watching him go. Drawing in a deep breath, he looked around the camp. There was still one more person he couldn’t see up and about, but he had an idea of where to find him, heading towards the caravan.
Sure enough, when he climbed into the caravan he saw Zhou Mi sitting inside next to the bed. KyuHyun was quiet and unmoving, only the shallow rise and fall of his chest indicating he was alive. "Hey," he said softly so he wouldn’t wake up the archer, sitting down next to Zhou Mi.
Curled up with his notebook in hand, Zhou Mi had been resting his eyes when YoungSaeng came in. Opening his eyes slowly, he gave YoungSaeng a warm smile. "Hello. I gave him a sedative, he'll be out for a few hours."
Nodding, YoungSaeng gave Zhou Mi a small smile in return. "Has he woken up at all?" he murmured.
"For a little bit a few hours ago, but he was out of it from pain," Zhou Mi said. "He's alive though, and if I can keep him still for the next day or so then the wound in his chest can begin to close properly. But he's going to be recovering for a long time. Not just physically either."
"I know," YoungSaeng sighed quietly. "The most important thing is that he’s alive. Thank you for watching over him. Let me know when it’s safe to move…I think we’ll all feel better the farther we are from this place." He watched Zhou Mi’s expression. "How are you holding up?"
Zhou Mi was quiet for a long moment, looking down at his notebook. "I think it was a mistake for you to help me," he said finally, looking to KyuHyun. "All I ever wanted was to help people, and hoped that in doing so it would make things better for us all. But because of me... he almost died."
"That wasn’t your fault," YoungSaeng shook his head. "No one blames you for this, Zhou Mi. You’ve given us hope."
"And what if in the end it's false hope?" Zhou Mi murmured. "I'm not paying you for this trip into China, not with anything of monetary value. You're escorting me with the hope of a cure. What if there is no cure?"
"Then at least we’ll have tried," YoungSaeng replied, smiling at him. "If we don’t try, we’ll never know."
"I wish I was optimistic as you are YoungSaeng," Zhou Mi said, closing his eyes. "Every day on this trip has made me question this decision. I feel like I've brought nothing to all of you but pain."
YoungSaeng shifted closer, arm loosely around Zhou Mi’s shoulders. "Nothing but pain? You gave us a goal, a destination. You became our friend. You saved KyuJong’s life, and every time you speak in that language of yours KyuHyun’s face lights up. I’ll proudly say you’re a member of my crew, because I know you care for each and every person in it. Tell me that’s nothing."
"Because of me, KuiXian lost an eye and is fighting for his life," Zhou Mi said, his lip trembling slightly. "His relationship with his best friend is non existant and now he won't even speak to me. HyungJoon, who I have tried to stay away from, believes I want to cut him open to find the cure. JongWoon, the only person here who would sit down with me at the fire, traded his life for mine. It wasn't a fair trade, you shouldn't have sent them after me."
"I didn’t know what they were planning…according to JungMin, it was JongWoon’s idea," YoungSaeng murmured. "I didn’t want to lose anyone, and I wish there was a way we could track them down and rescue him. He made that call on his own, because he believed in you and what you’re trying to do."
"I'll never see him again," Zhou Mi said, opening his eyes to look at YoungSaeng. "Just when I was starting to grow fond of his company. Everyone here seems to have found solace in the company of another, I envy that."
"I’m sorry," YoungSaeng replied softly. "You’ll find someone, Zhou Mi. It may not be with us, but you will. And you’ll always have friends here."
"No one seems that interested in being friends, YongSheng," Zhou Mi said, looking away. "Least of all me. I need to focus on why I was here in the first place, try not to get attached to anyone."
"I’ve heard that said before, by several people here," YoungSaeng shook his head, squeezing Zhou Mi’s shoulder lightly. "Don’t close yourself off…is that my Chinese name?"
"It is," Zhou Mi nodded. "I respect you and what your group stands for. I hope you don't mind if I call you that from time to time? It's easier to say, for me."
"I’d be honored," YoungSaeng chuckled. "Have you eaten already? RyeoWook said he made breakfast some time ago."
"I did, he's a very good cook," Zhou Mi said. "He doesn't like me much. Hasn't said more than two words to me since I got here."
"I can guess why, and if I’m right that has nothing to do with you," the other man sighed, slowly standing up. "He and KyuHyun need to have a long conversation, when they’re able. If they still can."
"That they do, but they both seem very stubborn," Zhou Mi nodded, watching him. "I'll let you know if there's any change here, but I would recommend we stay here for a couple of days. He's in no condition to be going anywhere."
"I’ll defer to your expertise, you would know more about his condition than I would." YoungSaeng looked down at KyuHyun who hadn’t stirred once through their conversation. "Don’t forget to sleep as well, too many people running on no sleep as it is."
"I've been napping on and off, I know to sleep when I should," Zhou Mi said, making himself a little more comfortable on the bench. "I'll be here if you need me for anything."
"All right, I’ll be working just outside." YoungSaeng climbed out of the caravan, going to find KyuJong and eat something. Not moving until Zhou Mi gave them the okay would be torture for some of them, but they needed the time as much as KyuHyun did. A lot needed to be mended…and not just the caravan.