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The Road Less Traveled - Chapter 32

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




It was three days after the attack when Zhou Mi told YoungSaeng it was safe to move KyuHyun, albeit slowly. By then slowly was better than nothing, some of the caravan going stir-crazy despite no sign of other people since the group from Yonan left. They set out at dawn, stopping more often than they usually did for breaks. The caravan followed a dirt road north Zhou Mi had pointed out on a map, connecting them to the river dividing Korea and China.

The caravan creaked and groaned more than usual, but held. They’d done as much as they could for it, replacing wheels and patching up broken floorboards, but YoungSaeng wasn’t taking any chances. So when a sudden snowstorm blew in, the call was made for them to double-back an hour and take refuge in a small abandoned village they’d passed by rather than risk laming their horses or damaging the caravan further.

This far north, there wasn’t another soul to be seen. Even so, JungMin and HyungJoon went out to do a thorough sweep of the village. By the time they came back, YoungSaeng had finished securing the caravan and horses in the most intact building they could find. "Well?" he asked, looking over his shoulder at them as he tied the horse’s reins to the line.

Pulling his scarf down away from his mouth, JungMin resting against the pommel of his saddle. "It's been empty for a while by the looks of the cobwebs. No recent tracks in or out either. It's a good place to hide in for the time being, and the buildings don't look like they'll fall in on our heads. Not exactly happy we're stopping so soon, it's only been a week."

"I’d rather we stop here then stop out there when the caravan breaks down," YoungSaeng sighed heavily, rubbing gloved hands together slightly for warmth. "The kids are inside getting a fire started, if Kevin actually has it going by the time we get there then you’ve worked a miracle with him," he smiled tiredly at JungMin.

"It's what I do isn't it?" JungMin grinned. "We'll get the horses settled and join you inside. Go get warm, Joon and I can take care of the horses for once."

"Everyone else is inside?" HyungJoon asked, already going to one of the horses.

"Yes, it wasn’t fun moving KyuHyun out of the caravan but they’re all inside. Don’t take too long, I don’t want to have to treat you for hypothermia," YoungSaeng pointed at them before heading out into the main building.

"I was hoping we would make up some time while we had clear weather," JungMin said, pulling the saddle off his horse. "If only we could have made this trip in the summer."

HyungJoon was doing the same, picking up a brush. "We do have enough blankets and warm clothes for everyone, right? Moving slowly is better than freezing to death."

"Yeah, Saeng makes sure we have enough gear," JungMin said. "Probably could use another caravan or a couple of pack horses with everything he makes us take. Never have enough room for goods to trade with all of our supplies."

"Not like we’ll be doing much trading up here anyways," HyungJoon shrugged. "Who’s there to trade with? The rabbits? The deer?"

"Well no, but in general he overpacks," JungMin said. "Plus all the people he crams in there with no place to sit, let alone breathe. The worst part of being injured is having to lay down in the back of the caravan, fearing a crate is going to topple over on you and kill you."

"I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been that injured," HyungJoon looked at JungMin over the horse’s back, the faint trace of a smirk playing on his lips. "You just don’t like resting to begin with."

"... That's besides the point," JungMin scowled, throwing his brush at HyungJoon. "You've just jinxed yourself anyway, I'm going to take delight in you being injured and have to rest with RyeoWook to mother over you in the back of the caravan."

HyungJoon wasn’t quick enough to avoid getting the brush off the side of his head, yelping. "If I’m going to get injured, can it at least be by a bandit or something and not by you?" He rubbed the spot where the wooden edge of the brush hit, going to pick it up.

"Depends on if you stay on my good side or not," JungMin grinned. "Don't worry, I won't hurt you, unless you ask me to."

"Then what was just now," HyungJoon grumbled, straightening and lightly tossing the brush back. "Why would I ask you to?"

"I don't know, if it's a life or death situation and I need to cut your arm off," JungMin said, catching the brush. "Or... some people are into that... pain thing."

"…I would rather not, enough pain to go around as it is," HyungJoon looked faintly disturbed, going back to his horse. "Please tell me you’re not."

"Nah, I'd rather feel good," JungMin chuckled. "I've met a lot of interesting people in the world Joon, you would be amazed at what some people are into."

"I’m not sure if ‘amazed’ is the word I’d use," HyungJoon shook his head, a little pink around the edges of his scarf. "Come on, the sooner we finish this, the sooner we can get inside."

"Oh fine," JungMin sighed, focusing back on his work. By the time they headed into the building they'd set up camp in, the storm had picked up and it was becoming difficult to see two feet in front of them. They had set up camp in an old farm house by the looks of it, at least they had a fireplace to use. Most of the glass window panes were still intact, but there was still a pervasive chill. "Horses are secure and warm Saeng," JungMin said as he brushed the snow off his coat. "Good thing we've got enough feed for them for a few days."

Nodding, YoungSaeng watched them from where he and KyuJong were seated by the fire. The caravan leader was mending a tear in one of their blankets. "Come sit down, you look frozen."

"Where’s KyuHyun?" HyungJoon asked, seeing the injured archer wasn’t with them in the main room.

"Main bedroom, the bed’s still intact and there’s another fireplace there," YoungSaeng replied. "Space is smaller, he’ll be warmer there. There’s other bedrooms upstairs but none of them have fireplaces, sorry."

"We've got enough blankets to deal with a little bit of cold," JungMin said, pulling off his gloves as he took a seat near the fire. "Some of us even have warm bodies to curl up with."

"Lucky you," RyeoWook sniffed, frowning a little as he tended to a pot on the fire. "Dinner should be ready soon."

"Good, I'm cold and hungry," JungMin said, glancing over when he heard a door being opened. Zhou Mi was coming out of a side room, presumably where KyuHyun was resting. He watched the man go to the fire and pour water from a kettle that had been warmed by the fire. "How's he doing doc?"

"Don't call me that," Zhou Mi said blandly, pouring hot water into a cup. "He's awake, and more alert than he has been."

"At least he waited until we’d moved him to wake up," YoungSaeng smiled in relief to hear KyuHyun was awake. "RyeoWook was just saying dinner will be done soon, don’t let him fall asleep without getting some food in him."

"Of course," Zhou Mi nodded. He tried to meet RyeoWook's eyes but the cook wouldn't even lift his head. "I'm sure he's very hungry about now. Excuse me." Nodding politely, he took the hot mug of water and returned to the other room. Closing the door behind him, he set the cup down on the bedside table and searched through his bag for a small packet. "I think he's making a stew out there," he said as he sat down in a chair at KyuHyun's bedside. "Soon as you drink this I'll bring you some."

KyuHyun made a quiet noise to indicate he’d heard. After a moment his good eye opened, head turning so he could see Zhou Mi. "Where are we now?" he asked, voice tired and strained but more coherent than it had been the last few times he’d woken up.

"A few days ride from the border," Zhou Mi said, dumping the contents of the packet into the cup, stirring it with a spoon. "We took shelter from a snow storm in a little farm house until it passes by. Hopefully it will only last for a day or so."

"Is everyone else all right?" the archer asked, watching him.

"Well no one's died or been injured, but I can't attest to their state of mind," Zhou Mi said. "Except for your friend, who has withdrawn from everyone else. Hardly speaks to anyone now."

KyuHyun was silent for a long minute. "I don’t remember seeing him much over the last few days…I need to talk to him." He shifted slowly to sit up, expression crumbling in pain.

"You can talk to him later, stop trying to move," Zhou Mi said, shifting to the bed to help him sit up carefully. "Ever since that first night, he's preferred to stay out of the caravan. He rides one of the horses and sleeps outside with the others. I think it's because of me," he said, holding up the cup to his lips to drink.

KyuHyun drank slowly with Zhou Mi’s help, leaning back against the headboard. "I don’t know about that," he murmured, eye closing. "He’s avoided going anywhere near me for weeks."

"Since I arrived," Zhou Mi said, setting the empty cup down on the table. "I'm sorry if I made things difficult for you with him. I wouldn't have flirted with you if it was going to upset him so much."

"It’s not your fault. I should have been more clear with him…would have avoided all this," KyuHyun replied. "I’m sorry you got mixed up in our mess."

"It seems to be my habit in life, getting myself into situations," Zhou Mi said, smiling a little. "So my guess is, you wanting to talk to him now means you want to make things clear between the two of you?"

"I’m not willing to lose my best friend," KyuHyun opened his eye to look up at him. "I don’t know if it’s too late and he wants nothing to do with me, but I’ve got to at least try one more time."

"It's never too late to try if you're sincere," Zhou Mi said. "The question though, is if he would want to just continue his friendship with you, and not return your feelings. Would you accept that?"

"…Above everything else, he’s my best friend," KyuHyun replied. "He’s the only person who’s seen me at my worst and still wanted to be my friend. If I can have that back…I’ll deal with the rest."

"... I see," Zhou Mi intoned softly, looking away. "Do you want me to go tell him you want to talk to him?"

KyuHyun nodded slightly. "Yeah, if he’ll listen…Thank you, Mi."

"You're welcome KuiXian," Zhou Mi said, getting to his feet. "I'll be back later." Not able to look at KyuHyun again, Zhou Mi left the room. He saw RyeoWook sitting nearby, picking at his bowl of stew, not really eating. Zhou Mi could tell he was a little startled when he sat down next to the cook. "KyuHyun is awake, he wants to speak to you."

"I'm eating," RyeoWook replied, his expression turning from confused to closed off as he turned away from Zhou Mi.

"Well maybe when you're done, you can bring him a bowl? He should eat," Zhou Mi said.

"When I'm done I have to do dishes, why don't you bring him a bowl," RyeoWook replied, getting to his feet and crossing to the other side of the room to sit down near YoungSaeng.

Shoulders slumping a little, Zhou Mi watched RyeoWook for a moment before getting up. He ladled out a bowl of stew and returned to the room KyuHyun was in.

KyuHyun looked up when the door opened. Seeing it was Zhou Mi, not RyeoWook, his expression fell. "…He really does hate me, huh," he murmured, leaning back and looking down at the blanket covering him. "Thanks for trying."

"I don't think he hates you, for what it's worth," Zhou Mi said, retaking his seat in the chair. "He hates me, and even though it was a request from you, it was me saying it. He is your medic right? Before I joined he took care of all the injuries? Well maybe he should take that job back over. I'm going to tell YoungSaeng you kicked me out of here and are refusing to let me treat you. I think maybe it's best if we don't speak again."

"I don’t understand why we can’t be friends," KyuHyun replied, looking up at him. "Or talk at the very least. I’m sorry, I really wanted to be friends."

Zhou Mi's brow furrowed slightly and he looked down at his hands. "There is something I don't understand. If it was always him that you had eyes for, why did you show interest in me at all?"

"Because…you seemed nice, and I wanted to be friends," KyuHyun replied. "You remind me of traveling around with my family, before my parents died. Happier memories."

"But you weren't interested in me, in the way I was interested in you," Zhou Mi said. "I would have liked to be a happy memory for you KyuHyun." He tried to kep the tears at bay but the rolled down his cheeks anyway.

"…I’m sorry, Zhou Mi." KyuHyun couldn’t look at the Chinese man. "I really am." There was nothing else he could say to that.

Wiping at his cheeks, Zhou Mi got to his feet. "It's nothing to be sorry for. At the very least, thank you for making me feel welcome. I'll treasure our moments, as I hope you do when I'm gone." Going to the door, he stopped just before opening it. "Just... make him happy, okay?"

"I don’t know if he’ll give me that chance…but I’ll try," KyuHyun replied. When Zhou Mi had left he exhaled slowly, closing his eyes and ignoring the sinking feeling in his chest.

Zhou Mi did his best to put on a brave face once he had left the room, taking a deep breath as he walked over to where YoungSaeng and KyuJong were sitting. "YongSheng, I was hoping I could speak with you in private? It's about KyuHyun," he said, seeing RyeoWook look up out of the corner of his eye, but quickly look away again.

YoungSaeng looked up, placing his empty bowl to the side. "…Of course," he blinked, taking in Zhou Mi’s expression as he stood up. "Is everything all right?" he asked, walking over to the stairs away from the rest of the group.

Waiting until they were upstairs before saying anything, Zhou Mi took another steadying breath. "I'm not going to make up a story and lie to you about what's going on, because you've been more than gracious enough towards me. It's not a secret I had an interest in KyuHyun, and for a time I thought he felt the same way back. It was a misunderstanding of course, and KyuHyun was only ever interested in someone else. They aren't talking still, and I believe it's my fault. I... can't be the one to treat KyuHyun anymore, it should be left to your actual medic."

Brow furrowing, YoungSaeng glanced towards the stairs. "Did KyuHyun ask you to pull back?" He asked quietly, returning his gaze to Zhou Mi. "Or is this your decision?"

"As much as it hurts my heart to do so, this is my decision," Zhou Mi said, forcing a sad smile. "I don't want to stand in their way. RyeoWook doesn't like me talking to KyuHyun, or being here at all. So I will do my best to be invisible to him. If that's what it takes."

"It shouldn’t take you isolating yourself like this. You’re a member of this crew…RyeoWook will have to realize that." YoungSaeng was reaching the end of his patience with their cook, eyes narrowed slightly. "Come sit with us around the fire," he said, resting a hand on Zhou Mi’s arm lightly. "One of the kids found a deck of cards in a crate."

"As much as I appreciate the offer, tonight I think I just want to spend some time alone," Zhou Mi said, shaking his head. "I'm sorry that all this has happened because of me, I should have known better. But thank you. Maybe tomorrow I'll join you."

"All right…you’re always welcome," YoungSaeng shook his head. After a moment he pulled the Chinese man into a light hug. Zhou Mi looked like he could use a good, old-fashioned hug just then.

Zhou Mi accepted the hug, but pulled away after a moment. "Thank you," he murmured, his eyes glassy. "I'll be in the room at the end of the hall if you need me," he said, giving YoungSaeng a small smile before turning and heading away.

Watching him go, YoungSaeng sighed and ran one hand through his hair in frustration. He didn’t know what he was going to do, but obviously his usual method of standing by and letting the others sort things out on their own wasn’t working this time.

He turned and headed back down the stairs, hands jammed in his sleeves against the light chill as he made his way back to the group by the fireplace. "What’s going on, boss?" Kevin asked from where he and KiBum were huddled together sharing a blanket. It wasn’t missed that Zhou Mi hadn’t returned with him.

"Zhou Mi won’t be looking after KyuHyun anymore, starting today." YoungSaeng’s gaze landed on RyeoWook.

"Is there a problem?" KyuJong asked, the confusion written all over his face. He glanced over at RyeoWook, though his expression was unreadable.

"Why not? I thought he was happy watching over him all day," RyeoWook said, meeting YoungSaeng's look.

"I don’t see how you would know that, since you haven’t said more than five words to him since he got here," YoungSaeng said, mild tone covering a bite to his words.

"I'm not an idiot, I've seen the way they talk to each other," RyeoWook said, crossing his arms. "What, it got to be too much to see KyuHyun in pain so he just gave up on him? Why are we helping this guy again?"

"Wook, why are you arguing?" JungMin said from where he was relaxing by the fire. "You are our medic, not Zhou Mi. How many times has Zhou Mi said he's not a doctor? You should have been the one taking care of KyuHyun in the first place."

"How could I when Zhou Mi volunteered himself to do it?" RyeoWook countered. "He's the one who saved KyuHyun, not me."

Watching silently from beside JungMin, HyungJoon could see YoungSaeng was pissed. "KiBum, Kevin, take care of the dishes. RyeoWook, come with me." He turned and walked back towards the stairs.

RyeoWook didn't move for a moment even as KiBum and Kevin scrambled to get started on the dishes. Slowly getting to his feet, RyeoWook walked after YoungSaeng towards the stairs. In all the time he'd ridden with YoungSaeng, he'd never seen the boss so upset, not with him at least. He could see JungMin shaking his head a little, looking at HyungJoon and murmuring quietly. Taking a deep breath, RyeoWook climbed up the stairs slowly.

YoungSaeng waited for RyeoWook at the top of the stairs, not venturing down the hallway to where Zhou Mi was. By the time RyeoWook had joined him, he’d simmered down enough to not yell but his jaw was still clenched.

"When I stopped by your compound, I didn’t agree to hire you just because you knew how to cook and sew up skin," he said, turning to RyeoWook. "I hired you because of how much you cared for other people, how kind you were. Which is why I’m having a hard time understanding how you can be so petty and jealous that you would hurt not only your best friend, but the person who has been keeping him alive."

"It's not being petty when I'm being replaced," RyeoWook said, looking away. "... When Zhou Mi got here, KyuHyun didn't even talk to me. I only left that compound because he convinced me to. He... it was just supposed to be and him against the world. How am I supposed to feel when they talk about me in another language?"

"How about ask them what they’re saying before getting upset?" YoungSaeng looked down at him. "Zhou Mi never replaced you, and if you weren’t being petty you’d see that. I have watched, ever since Seoul, KyuHyun try time and time again to talk to you. He was beside himself with worry when we were separated at the broken bridge. All you have done is avoid him and make Zhou Mi miserable for talking to the one person here who understands his damn language."

"How have I made him miserable? I haven't done anything, I've left them alone!" RyeoWook countered. "China is so damn important to KyuHyun, it's all he ever talked about. I can't compete with Zhou Mi, who is chinese and speaks the language that KyuHyun prefers. He can cook and is better at everything than I am. I'm not good enough for KyuHyun because I'm not Chinese and I don't want to go to China!"

"If you are not good enough, then tell me why KyuHyun hasn’t been himself ever since you two stopped talking to each other," YoungSaeng said lowly. "Tell me why he doesn’t crack jokes anymore, doesn’t talk to anyone including Zhou Mi, and gets worse and worse each day he tries to speak to you and fails. Are you actually watching what you’re doing to the people around you, RyeoWook?"

"So it's my fault?" RyeoWook scowled at that. "What he does is his own decision. I'm not responsible for his actions, so don't you dare blame his personality flaws on me! If I was so important, he wouldn't have been ignoring me and flirting with Zhou Mi right in front of me! He wouldn't have said I called him a liar, I never called him a liar."

"I didn’t say it was your fault, I’m saying your actions have consequences," YoungSaeng replied tersely. "Whether you ignore them or not. You know what friends are supposed to do about shit like this? Talk it out. I expected to have to tell HyungJoon or JungMin this, not you."

"Talking to KyuHyun is impossible," RyeoWook said, looking away. "He doesn't say what he means unless you force it out of him. And even when you do, he makes some attempt at a joke that's just mean. Why is it my actions have consequences, but not his?"

"His do too. Everyone knows KyuHyun can be an ass, including him." YoungSaeng crouched slightly so he was on eye level with RyeoWook. "But I’ve only seen one of you try to make amends."

"I don't know if I even want to Saeng," RyeoWook said quietly. "He ignored me, then got mad when I wasn't right at his side. He confessed to me after spending days flirting with Zhou Mi, and I'm just supposed to accept that and forgive him? He tried to talk to me, I was giving him a chance but then basically said I didn't believe him. How many times do I have to go through that?"

"I don’t know, Wook. All I know is that you two were inseparable once, and would do anything for each other. Now, you’re both miserable. You miss each other, and don’t even try to tell me you don’t miss him. Isn’t it worth one more try?"

RyeoWook shook his head, closing his eyes. "I don't know, my heart can only take so much Saeng," he said finally. "Why isn't Zhou Mi going to take care of him anymore?"

"Because he doesn’t want to be between you and KyuHyun," YoungSaeng replied softly. "He blames himself for everything that’s happened with you two."

"It's not his fault KyuHyun's an idiot," RyeoWook sighed. "Alright, I'll go talk to KyuHyun."

YoungSaeng nodded at that, straightening. "Bring him a bowl of the stew. I hope for all your sakes you can work this out."

"We'll see I guess," RyeoWook said. Going back downstairs, he took a steadying breath before opening the door to KyuHyun's room and slipping in, shutting the door behind him. "Hey," he said, though not moving far from the door.

KyuHyun was still sitting up, most likely because he couldn’t move enough to lie down safely on his own, eyes closed and head resting against the wall. He looked up when RyeoWook entered the room, what was visible of his face around the thick bandages showing surprise. He had heard the faint sound of arguing through the house, and hadn’t expected RyeoWook to show up. "…Hey, Wook."

"So... I guess Zhou Mi got tired of you," RyeoWook said, approaching the bed. "He just told Saeng he wasn't going to look after you anymore."

"He didn’t get tired of me," KyuHyun said, averting his eyes. "I told him to leave."

"...Don't start lying now," RyeoWook frowned, sitting down in the chair. "Mi left because he thought us not talking was his fault. It's not his fault."

"No, it’s not," the archer replied. More coherent or not, pain tinged his words and he kept one arm wrapped loosely around his middle where bandages covered the deep gash. "I was a dick. HyungJoon has better people skills than me. And I never got to apologize properly."

"I'll be honest KyuHyun, I don't know if an apology is going to magically fix everything," RyeoWook said. "I just want to understand what happened, and move on."

"…All right." KyuHyun closed his eyes, exhaling slowly. "Which part, exactly?"

"You said you weren't interested in Mi, and that I was the one who you were interested in... then why did you flirt with him so much?" RyeoWook asked. "You never flirted like that with me."

"…’So much’? I only flirted with him once," KyuHyun replied. "And that was just because, like I said, I have people skills worse than HyungJoon and didn’t know how else to find out if what he was saying about you liking me was true."

"Because asking me was too difficult?" RyeoWook frowned at him. "Maybe you think it was only the once KyuHyun, but when he got here you pretty much ignored me in favor of talking with him in chinese. You said it doesn't matter, that China has nothing on me... but I know that's not true."

"Wook, I left China ten years ago," the other man replied, not opening his eyes. "I spent over half my life there, back when my family wasn’t a mess. If you were in my place, and someone showed up out of the blue who understood what being there was like, wouldn’t you be a little nostalgic too? I didn’t mean to ignore you, I was just overwhelmed. Just because I would choose you over China doesn’t mean it wasn’t a large part of my life. I…wanted to share that part of my life with you."

"And what happens when we actually get there, and you don't want to leave," RyeoWook said, watching him. "Korea is my home, it's where I belong. When you convinced me to leave the compound with you... was it just so you could get back to China?"

"No," KyuHyun shook his head, opening his eyes. "I was happy exploring Korea with you. I could have tried to get back to China, but that wasn’t what mattered most anymore. If you were to tell me I’m still your best friend despite being the biggest ass ever, I’d be happy to leave China with you."

"You never stopped being my best friend," RyeoWook said, glancing at the bowl of stew resting on the table. "I never called you a liar..."

"…That’s what it sounded like," KyuHyun replied. "It’s hard for me talking about things like this, I don’t know the right way to say stuff. Hell, I don’t know what’s the wrong way to say stuff. I tried to tell you I liked you, and you thought I was just…making a huge joke out of spite for you or something. It hurt, okay?"

"What was I supposed to think? You went and kissed me out of nowhere," RyeoWook frowned. "I know you're not the best at communicating, and I know I'm not either. I'd rather just run away from something than deal with it. But... I miss my best friend. I miss having someone to talk to. And maybe I was a little jealous that you and Zhou Mi shared something that I can't ever share with you. He's the better person out of all of us."

"He is," KyuHyun nodded, looking away. "No one here really talks to him or even likes him, so I guess I felt like as the other Mandarin speaker I should at least help him feel included, you know? But I’ve missed you too, so much. I’m just crappy at figuring out what to do when feelings are involved."

"Maybe... flirting with someone who you weren't interested in just to get me jealous wasn't the best way to go about it," RyeoWook said. "You're right, you were a dick. But maybe we can start over, go back to being friends first and worry about that other stuff when you're not... bleeding everywhere."

"I think bleeding is contained, for now." KyuHyun looked down at the bandages. "As long as I don’t fall out of bed or something. But…thanks. Does this mean you’re not going to run from me anymore?"

"No, I think YoungSaeng will kill me if I try," RyeoWook said. "And someone has to make sure you actually don't fall out of bed."

KyuHyun finally cracked a smile at that, looking up at the other man. "Knew I could count on you."

"Yah, don't get so cocky," RyeoWook pointed a finger at him. "We've got a long way to go before we're... really okay again."

"I wasn’t being cocky, I was just stating a fact. I can count on you not to let me fall out of beds." KyuHyun blinked. "Maybe we need to set up ground rules for what’s not safe to say before I end up in a ditch."

"You just focus on getting better right now," RyeoWook said, picking up the bowl of stew and moving over to sit down on the edge of the bed. "We'll worry about your lack of social skills later."

"Does that mean I can’t talk until then?" KyuHyun murmured, smiling tiredly. "You’ll be very bored."

"I also won't get mad at you for being a jerk and walk away," RyeoWook said, stirring the stew with a spoon before lifting a bit up and holding it to KyuHyun's mouth. "You need to eat a little bit, then more rest okay?"

"This is embarrassing," KyuHyun sighed, letting RyeoWook help him eat. "I’m not…always trying to be a jerk. Sometimes I just don’t know how to say things properly."

"I know, and even in knowing that doesn't make it hurt any less when you do something shitty," RyeoWook said. "But, I'll try and help you if I can."

"Thanks. I’d say I’d help you with other stuff in return, but, well…I’m pretty damn useless right now," KyuHyun mumbled.

"It's fine, when you're feeling better you can pay me back," RyeoWook shrugged, lifting up another spoon to him. "First bit of advice I'm going to give you Cho KyuHyun, is you don't flirt with someone else to get the person you like jealous. Ever. That's being mean to two people."

"Yeah, I figured that out I think," KyuHyun gave a hoarse laugh before wincing, eyes shutting. "Ow. Shit. No laughing either."

"That's fine, just eat and then rest," RyeoWook said. "You can laugh when you're better."

KyuHyun didn’t try to speak again, finishing the bowl with RyeoWook’s help. By the time he was done he was visibly trying not to succumb to the pain, resting back against the wall with a shaky sigh. "I guess…I’ll see you in the morning?" he murmured, wetting dry and cracking lips.

"Absolutely," RyeoWook nodded, setting the bowl aside before helping KyuHyun to lay down properly. "I'm not going anywhere."

Wincing as he settled down on the bed, KyuHyun turned his head so he could see RyeoWook around the bandages. "Holding you to that," he said, holding out a hand.

"Literally I see," RyeoWook smiled, taking his hand. "I'll be right here when you wake up. And every time you wake up again, you'll be even stronger than before."

"I hope so," KyuHyun mumbled, visible eye closing. He held onto RyeoWook’s hand for a few minutes before his grip slowly loosened, the archer dropping into sleep.

"You know how to make a man's life difficult, Cho KyuHyun," RyeoWook sighed, keeping his hand in KyuHyun's. Being able to talk to KyuHyun again like a fiend was a huge weight off of RyeoWook's mind. He hadn't liked that they were at odds. It would probably take a while for them to get close again, but as long as they were both willing to try, it was worth it.

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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