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Building Blocks

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Go Bok Dong loves the aisles of hardware stores, he always has. He remembers coming into the small DIY shops as a kid, when he still had family to go with. They remind him of having a home, of his parents taking him to pick out new wallpaper or picking up screws for the endless home improvement projects his dad took on, before they died and he was left with a brother who got himself in increasingly awful situations while trying to raise him properly and a well loved toolbox; of the small but happy apartment his older brother fixed up with him before An Dong Chil offered to trade his freedom for security. The toolbox had been stowed away at An Dong Chil’s apartment, where being useful had less to do with working on the sink and more with terrorizing his classmates. But he still ducks into any kind of hardware store when he can. The rows of light fixtures, glues, and paints give him peace; or at least the illusion of it before he has to report back to his new hyung.

————

It’s not until he’s living with Teacher No Ah and Judge Park Jin Ho that he actually fixes something again, with the toilet overflowing, No Ah fluttering around the house finding towels to put down and Jin Ho getting anything of value out of the bathroom. He found himself walking into the bathroom to turn the toilet’s water supply off before he even noticed, ignoring No Ah fretting that he’d get his pants wet and Jin Ho laughing fondly at his son’s haplessness.

But there was something nice about being useful again, about No Ah getting in the way and telling him they can call a part timer while Jin Ho pulled his son out, his voice bright with laughter while telling him to
‘Let the man fix it, son. He clearly knows what to do better than us. Right Bok Dong?’

There was something even nicer about being able to answer ‘yes, sir” with pride and not apprehension.

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It was an easy fix in the end, he didn’t even need to take out the toolbox, but the Park men still cheered for him when he declared the toilet fixed and passed him a drink during dinner so they could toast to him. (and if that made him pink with abashed pride, well… no one here was going to tell on him. And he won’t tell that it feels like having a home again just yet)