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III.

 

 

 

 

 

He's so cold.

He's so cold and he can't feel his body—do I have a body?—except someone's holding him so he must have a body but it feels wrong. It feels like ice.

There are voices calling something, thoughts echoing in his head but he doesn't have a head, does he even have a head? Hands on either side, a flicker of warmth—

Junmyeon?

is that my name? What's a name?

It's cold.

Eyelids blink water and they might be his.

Or maybe someone else's.

 

 

 

 

 

There's something missing. Is it the me? Or is it the you? There's something broken, leaking slowly out but everything is frozen—

quick flashing successive images that can't be traced—

Junmyeon black tassels

Junmyeon golden eyes whirring

"Junmyeon!" a voice crackling, distorted by time space—

who is that?

He doesn't know.

If he had fingers they would be curling into the crumpled fabric of sheets.

 

 

 

 

 

There's a dream, or is it a memory? Edges unravel, fading into monochrome and then black and white before the darkness swallows it with the water that's dried up now.

A small boy, sitting in the grass, sitting on the cement, sitting in dust, watching the sky. Which was it? The beginning depends on the outcome.

Ships fall from the sky.

Ships explode, littering the ground with twisted metal and other things that burn your fingers when you touch them, skin fading into the air as time meshes with something else.

The boy is led by the hand, dragged by the hand, sets off running, eyes streaming with wind or tears.

The sky tears him apart. The sky sets him on fire. The sky swallows him up and spits him out.

Darkness. Blood and metal and soul trails twisting through the sky and a terrible weight of joining and severing and overpowering and broken things. So many broken things, piling up to fill timestreams that collapse into infinity points and disappear from existence.

The boy is a man. The man is a boy. Time unravels backwards, time flows forwards. . .there's metal in his head and his fingers and dust on his face.

His home is gone. His home is there but he's gone. His home is a smouldering wreckage of bodies and dreams and a planet that's caught in the crossfire. His planet never existed in the first place.

"Who are you?" they ask.

"I came back," he says.

"We don't know you," they say.

Goodbye.

If dreams were real, if he was real, he would be sad, but there's no one to be sad, just a lingering sadness floating where soul trails should be.

 

 

 

 

 

He's not really here, not listening because he doesn't have ears to hear with, floating, anchoring ropes torn away and cast aside, tattered edges fluttering in the wind.

"What are you so afraid of?" a voice asks, and it might be female.

"You know what I'm afraid of," a voice echoes back, a voice he knows somehow. It hurts, even though there's nothing to hurt.

"Stop being afraid or you're only going to hurt yourself again, and someone else that you could actually save this time," the female says, and the tone is red, flashes of regret and anger.

"I already broke everything," the familiar voice says, and sounds like pain.

"It's not too late," the female snaps, "don't be a coward. Fix this. It's not the war. You're not a general anymore." The air is sizzling, he can feel it somehow, even though there's nothing to feel with. Echoes of a different body, that doesn't belong to him.

"I can't erase the past," the familiar voice whispers, but the sound is sharp.

"The past hasn't happened yet," the female retorts, "you can do whatever you want, and you know you always did that anyway." There's an exhalation, the sound of something moving, skin hitting skin with a sharp slap.

It's not his face because he doesn't have one, but it still hurts.

 

 

 

 

 

Junmyeon.

Junmyeon.

"Junmyeon."

There's a knocking in his head, like someone trying to get in, wake him up, as he recoils from the sound, the sensation, trying to draw further back into the quiet dark, but something tugs on his chest, tattered threads growing taut. It hurts, burns, Junmyeon! and his body swims back into focus.

Something is pushing at his chest. It aches, a deep pain greater than words.

Junmyeon? he thinks, and the word feels strange but resonates oddly, like a sound that's imbued into every cell of this body.

Junmyeon, his body echoes back at him. Junmyeon.

Junmyeon opens his eyes, not the physical ones but the ones in his soul.

He can feel his body now, even though it's not really listening to him, and the fact that the only thing keeping it here, lines of warmth radiating from his left arm, is—there are fingers, wrapped around his hand.

His fingers.

Zitao's fingers.

He can remember, somehow, bits and pieces of loneliness that break down into isolation. His soul, split in two. Listening to voices from the other side of the door.

Just let me go, he thinks, and he'd take his hand back if he could move his fingers.

No. The thought is loud, clear, resolute. There's no breeze to rustle among the black tassels now.

 

 

 

 

 

Water. Not like the end that already happened, sinking down into the dark, the cold. This water is warm, silk on skin that he can feel because of its touch. Touch. Junmyeon is being lowered into water and for a moment—I already sank?—he's confused, but there's still a weight holding him here, warmth from fingers holding his hand, even though his body isn't quite his body, sinking gently through the warm water, not deep, just beneath the surface, resting on warmth.

A chest, rising and falling.

"How do I do this?" Zitao's voice is panicked. Junmyeon wants to say—he doesn't know what to say and he can't, anyway. This body doesn't listen to him.

"You know what to do," the female says, the voice from before, the one he doesn't know, but Zitao knows, because the living, breathing chest beneath him rises abruptly as Zitao takes a deep breath, exhaling slowly.

Nothing happens, but Junmyeon is nothing anyway.

And then there's a soft pulling sensation, at first the faintest pressure, drops of water on the surface of a stream, then slowly, gradually stronger, the rain turning into a light shower growing into a steady rain, downpour, and then the heavens open—Junmyeon's chest gapes and the rest of his soul slips out, not down into the depths but pulled by broken threads that are regenerating, meshing together as something soft slips by in the opposite direction.

The two halves of his soul reunited.

Junmyeon opens his eyes and sees his face.

 

 

 

 

 

It's strange, seeing himself, so close, so real. That's my body, he thinks, and peers into his eyes, where he can see someone else.

Junmyeon?

Images flicker through his head, ships and stars and dark and the feeling of being torn apart, except it's not him but the connections that tie him to—

Zitao?

Do you trust me? Zitao asks, and Junmyeon has no reason to agree. He nods his head anyway, Zitao's head. Yes.

And Zitao leans forward in Junmyeon's body, pressing his lips, Junmyeon's lips, to his head. The touch tingles, burns, explodes, as Junmyeon's soul expands, overflows, swirls out of his chest to entangle with the soul slipping out of the body pressed to him—Zitao's soul, a kind of brilliant light that's not light as they blend together and slip back into the right bodies, taking a half of the other with them. There's a sharp pain, a shadow of an ache as he feels something dig deep into Zitao's body and engrave itself over his heart.

Softly, the air slips out of Junmyeon's chest, as he lies there, skin on skin, Zitao so close, bare arms wrapped around him and he's allowed to touch at last—he sinks into the feeling.

Lets his eyes fall shut.

 

 

 

 

 

Junmyeon opens his eyes again.

He feels alive, pressed so tightly into Zitao's chest, it's not sexual, not submental, just skin against skin, heartbeat to heartbeat, complete intimacy, his nose tucked into the nape of Zitao's neck as he smells the faint spice of his skin.

Touch.

It's such a glorious thing.

 

 

 

 

 

"Wake up sleepyheads." Someone is laughing, Junmyeon doesn't want to move because he's too warm, too comfortable, even as, emerging from sleep, he realizes that his foot has gone numb. His fingers tingle as he flexes them slightly, and his left hip is digging into bone and it actually hurts.

"No," Zitao groans under him, the vibrations echoing in his chest, and Junmyeon can't help but smile, even though his thoughts are breaking up, crackling because he can't process that Zitao is letting me touch

"It's okay," Zitao says, "I'm sorry." The words of the apology are small, but the regret and contrition and fear welling out underneath the spoken words convey more than sound ever could. Zitao's arm shifts, as his fingers slip through the sheets, searching for Junmyeon's hand; when their fingers intertwine, Zitao guides Junmyeon's fingertips to hover over something scoring the skin of his chest, bumpy on the ribs above his heart.

It's a drop of water, holding a world, tiny white lines like the tails of water droplets streaming across the plasglass windows at home. Junmyeon traces it with his fingers, feeling out the slightly raised surface, his other hand creeping up absentmindedly to touch the shape on his own chest, tucked below his collarbone. An hourglass.

"You're whole again," Zitao says, and the words are still an apology.

Junmyeon reaches for the empty spot in his chest and finds it full. But swirling the completeness around, the warm glow so all-encompassing that he just wants to lie in bed and bask in the glory of being fulfilled, he realizes that it's not like it used to be; there's a strange yet familiar taste to some of the threads, lines of a mental colour different from what he's used to.

Zitao? he asks again, the thought slipping out before he can contain it, vocalize instead, but Zitao's fingers over his wrist halt the thought.

Yes, he replies. You have half of my soul now too.

Thinking back to just before this, when Zitao and the woman were talking about something he couldn't process, Junmyeon realizes what Zitao has surrendered to him.

It's too much, it's almost scary.

It's exactly right.

 

 

 

 

 

The woman's name is Fan Bingbing, as she introduces herself in golden tones to match the amber of her eyes.

Your eyes look like Kris's, Junmyeon thinks absentmindedly, then darts his glance around in embarrassment.

"That's alright," she smiles, and there's something large about her smile. She's so here, so present that it almost hurts.

"Don't worry about Bingbing," Zitao grins, taking a sip of tea as they sit, cross-legged around a black ebonite table. Outside, hovers dart through the air between skyscrapers, the lights of windows flickering on and off like a strange morse code to the past.

"On the contrary," she says, but winks at Junmyeon with the eye that Zitao can't see. "You should worry about me a lot."

Junmyeon likes her immensely; her vividness and the way she draws Zitao out of his black and tassels and makes him act the age he looks, rather than the age he is.

It's strange, having a part of Zitao in his chest, and he wonders if this was always how Zitao felt—if while Junmyeon was trickling out, searching for something he couldn't quantify, Zitao was trying to stamp down the tendrils of past he wanted to leave behind. He understands the fear, now, backlit by the flickering thoughts—memories that linger from the time when he was drifting loose.

Junmyeon catches Zitao looking at him out of the corner of his eye instead of eating breakfast, and he knows now that this is nothing new.

How did I always miss you? he asks.

I didn't want you to know, Zitao answers.

Fan Bingbing rolls her eyes.

"Come visit me another time," she calls as the doors of the lift swish shut between them. Or else. . . is the unspoken warning, but Junmyeon, even though it's only flickers and scattered pieces, remembers enough of what's happened to feel like he owes her everything anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

The cutter feels different, somehow. Junmyeon can't explain it, only feel it in the way his feet step warmly over the floor, the lightness in the air, the comforting dimness of the dark. There are no doors that slide shut in his face anymore, lying in bed with Zitao, tangled together as Junmyeon learns how to touch.

He sleeps with Zitao now.

It's not like he had imagined, before, shivering in the dark, leaking from his chest, thinking about bodies meeting in the dark, a need so sharp that it had sent him to Kris.

The first time he lifts his mouth, expecting Zitao to meet it, like a reflex, because this is always how it's been for Junmyeon, best friends that scuffle between the sheets just as much as out of them, he feels an echo of his old fear, confusion, as Zitao presses a gentle finger to his lips instead.

Let's just be like this for a while. Zitao's thoughts aren't scornful or dismissive, and Junmyeon lets himself sink into the feeling of skin instead. It's strange, different, touching without sex.

It feels like coming home.

You are always running, Kris had told him, a kind of sharp sadness lingering in the air. Junmyeon hadn't been able to answer, throwing the unvoiced question away as he'd tried to bury himself in numbness.

Now, maybe, he's starting to understand. Ghosting his fingers over the shape on Zitao's chest, as he feels a warm echo on his own skin, Junmyeon feels like he finally belongs.

 

 

 

 

 

"Can I go back?" Junmyeon asks at breakfast, curled up into Zitao's side as Zitao rests his head on Junmyeon's shoulder. They touch more now, but not all the time. Junmyeon still sits by the window, looking out at the dark, but the stars are brighter now, a universe full of light rather than an endless abyss scattered with pinpricks. Every star is a sun, and there are people there, living. He talks to Sehun, pokes questions at Kris, reads books and more books about the universe, both the history that's passed and the history that has already happened in the future. Zitao still works in his room, doing things with his hands that aren't quite visible, even though Junmyeon can see flashes when he sits and watches sometimes, from a soft chair in the corner.

Zitao raises his head, and there's slight confusion on his face, because the thought about returning home had just popped into Junmyeon's head. He hasn't thought it through yet; there isn't a cloud of explanation swirling through his head.

"Just to say hi," Junmyeon adds, looking down at his hands. He hasn't done this in a while, he realizes. When he feels he needs to, he usually holds Zitao's hand instead, and once in a while, as they're sitting side by side, Zitao sneaks a hand into his, fingers squeezing gently. Thanks.

Zitao slips his hand down to meet Junmyeon's fingers now.

"I ran away," Junmyeon says, "and I think I need to stop doing that." It's hard to admit it, finally, hard to vocalize the admission, but it feels good to get it out. Zitao squeezes his fingers, and the thought flickers into his head, We're all running away from something.

Junmyeon smiles, nods his head. Zitao doesn't have nightmares, not like he used to, the kind where he'd call Kris and Junmyeon would be left alone, always on the outside. Sometimes, Junmyeon wakes, confused in the dark, to find Zitao curled up into a ball so tight that he looks like he's trying to retract back into the past. And that's when Junmyeon runs warm hands up and down his back and pushes gently at the piece of soul in his chest that belongs to Zitao, wrapping himself around the taller man until Zitao's muscles relax and he slips into a better mindspace, the timestreams of the future past letting him go.

"Okay," Zitao says, and then grins. "Remember when you complained about going too slowly?" His eyes are sparkling and Junmyeon has to grin back, even though he's not sure what Zitao is talking about. "Time to bring out the hyperlink."

 

 

 

 

 

It's a bit of a let-down, actually.

Zitao tells Junmyeon to go and sit in Kris's room, and Junmyeon can't keep the anticipation bottled inside, he knows he's spewing it submentally to the room and he doesn't even care because hyperlink!

"What's it like?" he pokes Kris with mental fingers, fingers drumming excitedly across the back of the chair. He can see that Kris is messaging Sehun more than ever and he can't wait to see his best friend and tease him about it.

He can't wait to go back and see things differently.

Zitao isn't even in the room, he's busy talking to someone and doing something and usually Junmyeon would be curious but hyperlink! and he can definitely feel Zitao laughing at him from the other end of the ship.

It feels so good, laughing.

Kris pushes more things on the plascreen and looks out at something in space that Junmyeon can't quite follow, even though his thoughts are hovering so closely because he's curious, and then Kris lays his claws over the screen and time—

skips.

Space skips and folds over and time leaks out through the cracks and it feels like falling and flying at the same time and also like exploding outwards into a tiny point and—

Junmyeon blinks.

We're here, Kris announces, and does something with his wings, a kind of full body stretch that turns into a yawn. I'm tired. Why don't you go play with Zitao.

Junmyeon's pretty sure that Kris just wants to talk to Sehun in private but he wants to go poke Zitao anyway, because hyperlinking is a huge letdown.

 

 

 

 

 

But lying in bed, Zitao's head resting on his chest, Junmyeon gets second thoughts. What if I go back and everything turns back into what it used to be?

They'll be landing after they wake up and have breakfast, and he's not scared exactly, but at the same time he's terrified. Even Zitao, skin against skin, holding Junmyeon close to his warmth, the soft glow in his chest a reminder that things are okay now, more than okay, is not enough.

He needs to see Sehun, his best friend is his best friend and Junmyeon wants to hug him and tell him everything that's happened and that he's okay and yet there's a tiny piece of him that's so scared he can't even shake, can't express the emotion physically—

he doesn't want to and yet what if he falls into bed with Sehun again?

Junmyeon knows that what he has with Zitao is the best thing that's ever happened to him and he feels so warm and whole and complete and like he belongs, and yet he doesn't know what it is.

Do you love me? he asks, because he knows that Zitao is sleeping.

Do I love you?

There's an echo of a chill in the sheets, as he puts his arms around Zitao and holds on tight.

 

 

 

 

 

He doesn't even notice landing; they're at the breakfast table, Junmyeon sitting across from Zitao, kicking his toes against Zitao's kneecaps, when the latter looks up.

"We're here," he says, and sets down his spoon, the fabric of his clothing whispering in the sudden silence as he stands up. Junmyeon watches him, and tries to focus on that.

"Are you okay?" Zitao asks, his thoughts searching, but Junmyeon is embarrassed by his irrational fears and doesn't say anything. He does slip his fingers into Zitao's hand though, as they emerge into the sun, Kris swishing behind because he's curious, I want to see this planet, he says, even though Junmyeon knows the dragon just wants to meet Sehun. The thought distracts him a little, and he's glad.

And then Kris takes off into the air, wings stretching and dust swirling as Junmyeon coughs and remembers the dryness of home. Sehun is running towards the cutter from the shadows of the porch where he can see his dad sitting, and Junmyeon feels like he's come full circle.

Coming out into the sun.

His fingers are still tangled together with Zitao's.

 

 

 

 

 

Sehun swallows Junmyeon up in a big hug, his hands rubbing up and down his back, and Junmyeon can feel his best friend's happiness.

"I was worried for a while," Sehun says when he pulls back, they're walking to the shade of the porch now and Zitao still has Junmyeon's hand safely in his, the warmth deeper than the heat of the sun pounding down. "But you look good now." He gestures at Junmyeon, the motion including Zitao who stands quietly at the side, watching. "It suits you."

Junmyeon feels a burst of gladness, and he knows it's not just his.

 

 

 

 

 

His dad is the same as he remembers him, but there's a smile hovering above his face, a small recompense, a moment of grace. Junmyeon remembers the dark, and he's glad that 901106's hand isn't cold anymore, just a calm coolness that speaks of rest.

They sit on the porch swing, watching Sehun coax Kris into giving him a ride, and the way they touch and laugh and the flickers of brightness that surround their playful bickering, Junmyeon knows that it's a done deal.

He's happy, but he's sad. Even when something is over, it's hard to move on.

 

 

 

 

 

He sleeps in his old bed that night, and remembers the feeling of the cage. It's open now, he's burst out and left it behind but the feeling lingers, the shadow cast by its bars on his heart.

"Do you love me?" he whispers into the dark, because Zitao is sleeping on the bed next to him.

"Do you love me?" Zitao whispers back, and Jumyeon's eyes fly open in surprise. Zitao's eyes are large in the shadows, black and deep and he feels so old and worn, for a moment.

"Can I kiss you?" Junmyeon asks, he's been holding the feeling in for so long that by now it's almost painful. He expects Zitao to say no, rolling over instead to face the wall.

So when he feels something soft on his neck, the whispers of kisses on his skin as Zitao leans over him on the bed, Junmyeon can't stop the mix of emotions from streaming out of his eyes as he turns onto his back and stretches his arms out around Zitao, pulling him close.

 

 

 

 

 

Zitao sinking into him, there on the sheets, on his old bed in his old room, is like saying goodbye at the same time it's starting something new.

Something good.

Junmyeon lets himself surrender to the feeling, Zitao's warm skin so close to his, their chests touching and the threads of their souls stretching across the gap as Junmyeon clings to Zitao's back and Zitao pushes in with a gentle rhythm, in tune with their heartbeats as the pace slowly accelerates until he's spilling, warm, into Junmyeon who's fallen apart on the heat-sticky sheets as Zitao stitches him gently back together with tiny kisses pressed to his skin. With each touch Junmyeon can feel an echoing sigh from Zitao's thoughts, and he knows he's not the only one letting old demons go.

 

 

 

 

 

Junmyeon wakes up to the soft sound of rain, pattering against the windows, falling on the dusty ground. Flickers of dreams spark at the edges of his thoughts, not his but Zitao's—flashes of what looks like childhood. Zitao is smiling and Junmyeon slips out of bed, careful not to wake him.

There's an idea, a thought, it's been tangling with his subconscious for a while now, because there's always been something familiar about Kris.

Kris? Junmyeon asks, a quiet call, and finds him on the porch, nestled around Sehun's sleeping form. The dragon opens his heavy eyelids, gold whirring sleepily.

Yes?

The way the dragon looks at Sehun reminds Junmyeon of the way Sehun looks at things that grow. The thought is warm in his chest.

I've been thinking about souls, Junmyeon thinks—because he doesn't want to wake Sehun, positively beatific as he slumbers curled into Kris' warmth—and also the fact that Zitao and I have marks on each other's skin. He pauses then, trying to gather the scattered threads of the idea together, but the dragon looks interested. My dad has a dragon on his arm, he finally thinks, even though it sounds like a long shot, just the ghost of an idea. I know you were a general in the war. . .

He's not prepared for the sudden crystallizing sharpness that solidifies in the air, so tangible that the rain almost slips off.

Is he sleeping? the dragon asks, and he's very much dragon right now; usually Junmyeon thinks of him as just Kris but right now he feels bigger than life, full of an emotion Junmyeon can't quite make out.

It tastes a little like regret.

 

 

 

 

 

His dad is lying in bed with his eyes open, hands waving lightly through the air as he conducts the stars. Junmyeon leads him gently out to the porch, because the house is just a little too narrow for Kris to feel comfortable. He'd fit just right at Sehun's place, the thought slips out and the dragon twitches his wings, but chooses to ignore the comment.

The rain falling softly on the ground outside the porch fences them in, a loose boundary of hushed white noise. 901106 stands, blinking, a half smile on his face, as he faces the dragon. Junmyeon's eyes blur with the rain, and he can see the shredded edges of what's left of his father's soul, drifting in the subsonic wind as they extend towards the dragon. Edges that are blackened, burnt, dead.

There's a kind of keening in the air, not audible but submental, visceral, and Junmyeon realizes that Kris is crying.

It's terrible.

 

 

 

 

 

"What's happening?" Sehun's voice is muffled by the rain, distorted by sleep and grogginess, but his hands slide up Kris' skin and Junmyeon would have never thought of it, never thought the dragon needed it, wanted it, but his best friend wraps his arms around Kris' front, though they aren't long enough, and just touches. "It's okay," he says, even though he's not exactly sure what it's about—Junmyeon can sense the puzzlement in the air, hemmed in by water drops. "It's okay." Kris opens his mouth and makes a sound, just one, but it tears through the early morning as his heavy eyelids droop over dull bronze eyes.

901106 is still standing, blinking, as a single tear rolls down his cheek. Junmyeon wraps his fingers more tightly around his dad's hand, holding him steady. He can feel his dad's heartbeat accelerating, as he opens his mouth but nothing comes out. The dragon imprint on his dad's wrist, the surface worn under Junmyeon's fingers, stands out on his skin, not bright but a kind of dull memory.

Kris unfurls his wings then, with a soft whisper like living silk as the delicate membrane folds around him, around Sehun—as the dragon holds himself together. A fragile wingtip reaches out, the slender thumb claw extending, tentatively ghosting over the surface of 901106's wrist before it lowers to touch.

There are no explosions in the air. Kris exhales, the sound whistling faintly over the white noise of the rain that continues to fall, soaking the ground, as he pulls his wings in close so that only the faint silhouette of Sehun can be seen. Regret, regret, regret echo out through the layer of sound under the rain, as Sehun hums, like Junmyeon remembers him doing to the injured dromedary they found as children, hover racing too far from home.

He's about to lead his dad to the porch swing to sit down, because the air is damp and his dad is still in his pajamas—there's no point to getting sick, not when 901106 doesn't do well with convalescence as he can't ask for help when something is wrong—when something stirs. Not the air, which hangs heavy with moisture, but the possibility of motion. Junmyeon lets his eyes blur, allows the sound to fade as he focuses underneath.

. . .fan, he hears, not even a thought but the ghost of one, so faint that he has to slip down into himself to even catch it.

"Dad?"

Yifan. And his dad closes his eyes with a deep exhalation, as though he's finally letting go of something that no longer belongs to him.

His eyes, when he opens them again, delicate eyelids over pale blue, are no longer washed out, even though they're still empty.

 

 

 

 

 

901106 is sitting on the porch swing, wrapped in a blanket, rocking slowly back and forth. He's smiling, humming a little song that Junmyeon almost remembers, as they watch the rain abate and finally cease. A rainbow arches across the air, colours painting over the pale sky, feet in the soaked ground that always turns a deeper shade of rusty brown. For now, the sun is still hiding behind clouds, but it will eventually emerge, peeking a shy head out of the white and drying up the ground until it's dust again—hovering in the wind.

Zitao stands in the doorway, leaning against the frame, watching the sky. Junmyeon stands beside him, head resting on his shoulder.

Are you okay? Zitao asks, inclining his head to press the faintest ghost of a kiss to Junmyeon's hair. His breath stirs the strands, the extension of a caress. Junmyeon nods.

Sometimes things are just broken, he thinks, and that's okay. Looking over at 901106, he sees his dad lifting his hands up to catch a narrow beam of light, the sun peeking from between clouds. Even though there's nothing there, his hands are full.

I love you, Zitao thinks, for the first time, and Junmyeon can feel that it's true.

I love you, he replies.

Up in the sky, a dragon is flying, a small figure clinging to his back.

And sometimes we have to leave the past behind us.

 

 

 

 

 

It's not goodbye, this time.

Junmyeon gives Sehun a hug, punches his arm lightly and teases him about loving living things a bit too much, but he's so happy to see Sehun almost glowing with happiness—his friend who never had to leave to find his home.

You're so lucky, he thinks, stepping back from the embrace.

"Don't be a stranger," Sehun retorts, before stepping back until he's leaning gently against Kris' chest. The dragon's eyes whirr brightly, the gold shining as it reflects the sun.

Are you sure you can manage the cutter? he asks, and Junmyeon can feel Zitao's scornful of course bouncing back.

Are you sure you want to stay here? Zitao adds, and it's like old friends talking, the kind who've been together so long that there's no need to explain.

It'll be good to stretch my wings, Kris replies, giving them a small shake. I hadn't realized how much I missed flying. Zitao grins, nodding his head.

Have fun!

"Bye Kris," Junmyeon adds. "I'll see you again soon." Reaching out, he touches the dragon's extended claw. Thanks for everything. He doesn't say anything about his dad, because it's between the Stockholm and the general. 901106 is happy right now, and that's all that really matters. Be happy. Kris' eyes spark, Thank you.

He waves to his dad, still sitting on the porch swing in the shade. The assist android waits to the side, just in case it's necessary, and Junmyeon knows that everything will be okay.

I'll be back.

Hyperlinking may be a big letdown, but it definitely works.

He's not holding Zitao's hand as they walk into the waiting coolness of the cutter, the soft shadows a reprieve from the bright sun. They don't need to touch for Junmyeon to be able to feel the threads holding them together, and he knows, instinctively, that no matter how far apart they might be physically, they'll only ever be a thought away.

They don't need to touch, but their arms, swinging gently as they walk, brush lightly, knuckle to knuckles and skin to skin.

Yes.

 

 

 

 

 

fin.