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28 September 2014 @ 03:42 pm
Safe and Sound [XiuHun]  
Title: Safe and Sound
Recipient: pasywasy
Pairing: Sehun/Xiumin
Genre: Angst, Fluff
Rating: PG
Summary: Minseok feels inadequate, but Sehun thinks he's quite perfect.
Warnings: Major character death, trigger warning for fire.
Word Count: 3792
A/N: Safe and Sound and What If The Storm Ends were the playlist during this. Dear Santee, I hope you like it :3 Merry Christmas!





Minseok runs down the hill, tears being blown about his face by the wind. He trips on a stone and goes crashing down the damp earth, dew from the early morning soaking his clothes.

He doesn't seem to mind when he lands a few feet down from where he trips. He just lies there, looking at the sky with scrapes all over his face and hands. The sun is still shy, and the cold wind bites down on his cheeks.

Minseok doesn't want to get up, wants to stay there the rest of the day, because they won't miss him anyway.

He's not necessary.

Fresh tears slide down the side of his face and onto the ground, and Minseok has to bite down his lip to stop himself from sobbing. He wants his mother's warm hug, but he knows he won't get it, because she's too afraid of his father to do anything.

Minseok doesn't like thinking about his father, but as the sun slowly peeks out from under the clouds he can't help but remember the look of disappointment on his face when Minseok placed last on the little championship the village hosts every year for all the young boys.

Doesn't help that just this morning Minseok woke up with his favorite toy, a stuffed white rabbit, all torn up outside his bedroom window. He thought he had lost it, but now Minseok knows the other boys took it.

No one likes Minseok. He's chubby and not very fast, so the boys don't like playing with him. The girls tolerate him because he's cute, but they never take him seriously. His father doesn't like him because he's not strong like his father was at his age, or his grandfather before that.

And Minseok's mother never stands up for him.

The wind blows strongly now, even though the sun is getting higher in the sky, and Minseok wishes he had grabbed a coat. But he doesn't want to go back to his house, so he decides to head down to the river. No one will bother him there.

He gets up and winces at the scrapes and little cuts on his hands and face, but they will have to wait.

The way down, now that he's calm, it's easier. Minseok's done this path many times in the past few months, since he found out the giant tree near a river, just beyond the brown rocks at the foot of the hill.

It takes him a few minutes to get all the way down, and going up the rocks lets him know he bruised a knee as well. The rocks are the trickier part, one of the reasons why the other children never come here, despite making fun of Minseok when he can't climb certain things.

The tree a few feet away is incredibly big and green, even in autumn, and Minseok remembers his mother once saying that the tree was sacred, and it should be treated as such. Minseok remembers that his mother's voice was laced with fear instead of awe, something Minseok never understood, because he never feels afraid near the tree.

He likes to think that, sometimes, the tree listens to him when he comes telling it about his problems.

The only thing Minseok doesn't like much is the wind. It always seems to blow faster and colder when he's down here. It's almost as if the wind doesn't like him very much.

He nears the tree and settles down against the trunk.

“Hello.” He says. There's no one there, but it's as if someone's always listening.

The wind speeds up.




Sehun watches as the boy closes his eyes, settling more comfortably against the Tree. The boy looks really young and Sehun has tried to gauge his age by the way he talks, but is kind of hard. He thinks it's cute how the boy always says hello even though he's always the only human there, so Sehun sends a gust of wind to the boy's face.

He wonders if the boy knows.

He smiles as Joonmyun comes closer, sitting on the rock with him.

“He's been coming here a lot more lately.” Joonmyun says, voice soft.

“He's been having problems with the other children,” Sehun answers, smile gone. Just the other night he had gone to take a look at what was happening at the village. “Well, he's always had problems with them, but it's been getting worse lately, since the village men began to train the boys.”

Joonmyun sighs. “They're too young to be trained. Do they really think of sending children to battle?”

Sehun shrugs and stays quiet. He worries for the boy, and a small part of him is glad that he can't keep up with the other boys. Perhaps they won't send him to battle if he can't fight.

He turns at the sound of feet to see Kyungsoo joining them on the rock. Joonmyun grabs Kyungsoo's hand and they share a small, private smile. Sehun smiles to himself and hops off the rock, leaving the two alone and intending on lazying around for the rest of the day.

He pauses near the Tree and smiles up at her. She shakes a branch at him in greeting, some leaves falling off to brush his hair and nose, before joining countless others on the ground.

Sehun can't help but stare a little at the boy as he stirs against the Tree's trunk. He kneels down and brushes his fingers against soft, black hair. The boy quiets again, a small sigh escaping his lips as he falls deeper into sleep.

Sehun smiles and turns away, something like affection growing in his chest. It's been a while since he felt anything like that, because they never stay a long time in the same place.

He thinks he would like to feel it again.




Minseok wakes up and looks around in dismay. He hadn't intended to sleep, but the tree was just too comfortable, and he had been tired. It's almost noon, by the position of the sun. Minseok hopes his father won't be too angry with him for being gone all morning.

It's not like his father really needs him, he thinks bitterly. Not when he has other, stronger boys to train in his place.

Suddenly he doesn't feel like going back for the rest of the day, but his punishment will be worse if he stays here, so he rubs the sleep out of his eyes and stands up. He sways unsteadily for a few seconds, and a strong wind blows against him.

Minseok frowns.

It's like the wind is trying to help him balance, but that would be crazy. Minseok doesn't want to be crazy, he's already disliked enough as it is. He shakes his head and ignores the rustling of the tree behind him.

It's as if it's laughing.

He trots to the rocks and climbs them, frowning a little at the mud on them. It wasn't there before. Minseok lifts an eyebrow, because the whole morning seems weird, and after climbing back the rocks, he breaks into a run up the hill.

He stops only once, to look back, but things seem normal. He shakes his head and keeps going.




It's a week later when Sehun sees the boy again.

He frowns when he sees the red on the boy's bottom lip. He's crying too, a sight that breaks Sehun's heart a little. The boy does as he always do, sits down and slumps against the Tree, a choked sob escaping his lips.

Sehun wants to hug him, but he can't quite do that. He looks to the Tree and she sighs, a whisper too soft for living ears, and then the boy's asleep against her. His face is void of the anguish of a few seconds ago, and Sehun smiles.

“Thank you.”

She shakes her branches and send some leaves to tangle in his hair, making him chuckle.

It's a little unsettling how he's becoming attached to the little boy after just some months of knowing him. Sehun is the youngest, but he's been around for a long time.

When you exist for so long, it's hard to get attached to things that go away so quickly.

He tries not to let the gloomy thoughts darken his mood, running a hand through his hair to get the leaves out. Sehun contemplates sitting there alongside the boy, which makes him a little confused, but then a loud voice grabs his attention.

“Minseok!” It's a woman. She looks a little bit like the boy – Minseok, Sehun thinks – so he wonders if she's his mother. Her voice trembles a little when she calls Minseok again, her eyes darting to the Tree now and then.

“What do you want, mother?”

Sehun starts, looking down to see Minseok very much awake and glaring at his mother.

“Please, come back home. I got some ointment to put on your lip and–”

“No, mother, just go back. I'll stay here for a while.”

“But–”

“What do you care, anyway? You didn't defend me when father thought to strike me! You never defend me, even though you know he's wrong, so just go away! I don't want to see your face!”

The woman looks torn between anger and anguish, and Sehun almost feels sorry for her. Minseok turns his back to her and rests his right side against the Tree, and Sehun crouches down to ruffle his hair.

He's starting to understand why Minseok looks so sad all the time. Sehun doesn't go much to the village, so he doesn't know very much about the lives of the villagers. But now that he stops to think, it's pretty obvious Minseok doesn't get along with his parents, especially his father.

Minseok seems to shiver at the cold wind suddenly on his face, so Sehun retreats his hand.

He lets Minseok rest, and when he looks up Minseok's mother is already gone.




Minseok doesn't have any friends, but there's this one boy who treats Minseok well, different from everyone else. Minseok likes him.

Perhaps a little too much.

His name is Luhan, and despite the fragile appearance, Luhan is one of the strongest boys. He's four years older than Minseok, and he's always been kind, even when the others told Luhan not to bother with the fat kid.

Luhan is the only one who remembers Minseok's birthdays, and he always gives Minseok sweets to eat.

But Minseok never says anything besides a thank you. He never invites Luhan to go down by the river. Maybe Luhan wouldn't want to, or even if he did, he would be embarrassed to be seen too much with Minseok, or maybe–

But it doesn't really matter, because Luhan already has his eyes on someone else.




Sehun likes Luhan.

Not the way he likes Minseok, because Luhan doesn't make Sehun want to ruffle his hair, or tell him stories, or let him rest against the Tree on the peak of summer with a gentle breeze keeping the heat away.

But Luhan treats Minseok well, so Sehun likes him.

What he doesn't like, though, is the way Minseok looks at Luhan. Something ugly makes itself a place on Sehun's chest everytime he sees Minseok and Luhan close, which is not much, but still manages to bother him.

When Sehun asks Kyungsoo what's going on with himself, Kyungsoo giggles and tell him he's jealous.

Sehun doesn't really remember if he's ever been jealous before, but he doesn't like the feeling. He doesn't like feeling possessive, but he doesn't know how to stop it. He doesn't know how to stop this myriad of feelings that have been invading him since he met Minseok.

Something tells him he can't stop them, which is a scary thought, but exciting anyway.

And if he blows a little bit stronger than he should when Minseok smiles at Luhan... well, no one needs to know.




Minseok sits by the river, feet immersed in the water. The heat is only bearable because the water is cool and the wind is incredibly cold for this time of the year, but Minseok doesn't question it. He never feels the need to question anything when he's down here, safe from the people of his village.

He's twelve years old today, but no one remembers.

Well, if they do, it doesn't make a difference. Minseok fumbles with his sewed up rabbit and tries not to cry when he remembers the only person who would care about his birthday is not here anymore.

Luhan's gone to a battle far away. Luhan's parents said something about a war far up at the north, but Minseok doesn't really care about the why or where. The only thing that matters is that Luhan is gone, and he's not coming back.

No one's ever come back from war.

Suddenly Minseok is angry. He stands up and glares at the sky, yelling at something that's probably not there, but he doesn't care.

“It's not fair! Why did you take away the only person who cared? Now I have no one!”




“That's not true,” Sehun whispers. “I'm here, and I care.”




The tears spill without his notice, and he throws the stuffed rabbit on the river, not quite able to block the taunts of the other boys about how a boy his age shouldn't have stuffed animals anymore. Minseok watches as the river takes away his rabbit, and he tries not to mourn the loss.

He doesn't quite managed, but no one's there to see cry, so he lets himself sit down on the ground again.

He spends the rest of the afternoon brooding by the river side.




Joonmyun is the one who takes Sehun away when evening has fallen and Minseok has left.

And he's the one who comforts Sehun when he cries for the first time since he can remember.




The next few years are a mixture of pain and joy and tears and Minseok's first kiss with a boy named Tao, whom Sehun almost kills by toppling him down from the top of his house where he was fixing the roof.

Minseok grows up to his fifteens, and Sehun is eternally glad that Minseok is just as bad in combat as he was when he was little. It means Minseok is safe. It means he's not a corpse lying somewhere, cold and lonely.

It means he's alive. Sehun wants to keep him that way.




Sehun is sitting on one of the rocks near the river when Chanyeol sits down beside him. Sehun looks at him and then looks at the river again. And then he double takes, because it's rare to see Chanyeol around when it's winter.

He's about to ask what Chanyeol's doing there when he notices the expression on his face. Chanyeol looks solemn and a little sad, two emotions Sehun almost never sees on him. He's too happy all the time.

Something stirs in his chest, a pain gripping his heart slowly but surely, and Sehun can't get rid of it. He realizes it's fear, something he hasn't felt in quite some time now.

They sit on the rock for a while, the silence between them heavy with something unidentifiable.

And then Sehun hears the screams.

He's running before he knows it, feet taking him up the hill. Then he's gliding up, faster and faster to where the screams come from.

From afar he can already see the harsh light taking the night sky, illuminating what should have been a calm evening. The fear that lodges in his throat almost makes him want to choke on air, even though he doesn't need to breathe.

Deep down Sehun knows it doesn't matter how much he runs, he won't be there in time. It just makes him run faster.




When the smoke starts, Minseok is immediately on alert. He might not be strong or agile, but he's learned a thing or two when it comes to survival. He leaps from his bed wearing only his sleeping clothes and goes in search of his parents.

His father is nowhere to be found when he gets to their room, but his mother is there on the bed, screaming her lungs out.

Minseok keeps his irritation at bay – why doesn't she escape? – and goes to grab her. She screams the whole time, her hands gripping his shoulder tightly as he hauls her out of the room and into the hall. Minseok is not really that strong, but his mother is really light.

The way down the stairs is trickier, but he manages. The problem is when some of the wood planks of the second floor comes crashing down on the two of them.

Minseok pushes his mother out of the way, but his legs are stuck under the wood. The wood on fire.

“Minseok!” His mother yells, tears running down her face. It's the first time Minseok has ever seem her so altered.

“Go! You need to get out of here now!” The pain on his leg is not normal. He probably broke something and, if that's true, then he's not getting out of here himself.

He's dead.

His mother hesitates. “No, I'm staying with you!”

“No mother, you need to get out! Go ask for help!” Minseok knows she'll never come back with help in time, but he needs her to get out of here while she can. The smoke is already suffocating, and he sees the way she struggles to breathe.

His mother eyes him for a second and nods. And then, thankfully, she's out of the house before more wood comes crashing down.

Minseok sighs and tries not to wince. This wasn't the way he imagined himself dying. He chokes on smoke and feels himself slipping into unconsciousness.




Sehun gets to Minseok's house in time to see Minseok's mother running out of the house, screaming for help.

“Help my son! Please, save my son!”

A cold washes through Sehun, and he rushes through the closed door, eyes roaming about. He finds Minseok lying on the floor, legs beneath wood on fire. He tries not to choke because Minseok is on fire too.

He doesn't seem to be conscious, which is thankful, because the pain would be unbearable. Sehun wants to move the wood, but one gust of wind will only help spread the fire. His helplessness really hits him then, making him cry out.

It's not fair.

Sehun wants to call Joonmyun, wants to beg him to save Minseok, to spread water over the house and kill the fire, but he knows he can't.

There's only some much they're allowed to interfere in.

Sehun ignores the other screams around him, the other houses on fire and the people running about outside. He ignores everything that isn't Minseok right now, because this is the last time Sehun is gonna see him and this is so not fair.

It breaks him to think that the last image he'll have of Minseok is the human being consumed by fire and turning into charcoal.

Sehun's stomach rolls, and if he were human he would be vomiting right now. As it is, all he does is cry.




The fire takes all night to consume the village. The few survivors walk around the ashes, trying to find anything that might be saved. Some are kneeling on the ground, crying. Others are sitting, a far away look on their faces, left over from shock.

Sehun sits by the ruins of Minseok's house, a charred corpse at his side. Kyungsoo and Joonmyun come to take him away, and when they get back to the river Chanyeol is nowhere to be seen. Sehun is glad, because he doesn't know what he would do if he saw him.

The Tree is quiet as Kyungsoo sits with him under her. Joonmyun vanishes down the river.

It takes Sehun a while to get over his shock, but when he does Kyungsoo is there to hold him while he cries for the second time since meeting Minseok. This time the pain is unexplainable, something that squeezes his heart until he thinks he'll die too.

Sehun doesn't know how much time passes, but when he's all spent and leaning against Kyungsoo, Joonmyun comes back with something white in his hand.

It's Minseok's stuffed rabbit.

Joonmyun gives it to Sehun and he grabs it with the awe of a child. Kyungsoo pats his hand and stands up, leaving him alone under the Tree.

Sehun doesn't mind. He falls asleep, something rare, with the stuffed rabbit cradled close against his chest.




When Minseok opens his eyes, the sky is bright and pretty and birds are chirping and he thinks he might have a headache. He sits up to find himself against the Tree, some flocks of ice glued to his eyelashes. Beside him there's a sleeping boy slumped against the Tree as well.

But what really gets Minseok's attention is the stuffed rabbit held to the boy's chest. His stuffed rabbit.

The boy stirs before Minseok can react, and opens his eyes.




When Sehun opens his eyes, Minseok is there, looking at him.

He promptly screams.

Minseok startles and backs off a little, eyes large and confused and a little bit afraid. Sehun calms down a little bit to feel the Tree shaking behind him. She's laughing.

Sehun bites his lips and tightens his hold on the rabbit, eyes never leaving Minseok. He wants to cry, to hold Minseok close and tell how he should never, ever die again, because–

Wait.

Holy shit.

Sehun throws himself, rabbit and all, at Minseok. He holds like he never wants to let go. He doesn't plan to, actually. Minseok is clearly confused, but Sehun can feel arms coming up on his back. Sehun's smile is almost too big for his face.




“Hi,” the boy whispers against Minseok's shoulder. “I'm Sehun.”

Minseok stays quiet for a while, measuring what he should say. The strange calm that seems to be settled in his heart is a little unnerving, considering he just came back from the dead, but he suspects it has something to do with the Tree behind them.

He looks at her, and she seems to smile back at him like a mother, even though she has no face. The sound of the river running behind him is soothing, and the smell of ashes and humid earth fills his nostrils.

Minseok's eyes widen slightly when the wind ruffles his hair. A smile breaks free on his face.

“Hi, I'm Minseok... but I think you already know that.”
 
 
 
nightsnowstar on September 29th, 2014 11:19 am (UTC)
It's pretty... Very sad and yet is touching. I'm glad that they found each other at the end.
she's a ma-ma-ma-ma-machine~razi_a on September 29th, 2014 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :}
Cirenia Jovianbaeceej on June 19th, 2015 05:35 pm (UTC)
read this way before lol but still wanted to comment here! This was truly lovely and maybe one of the first xiuhun fics I've read!!! This is also actually in my notes (where I put my fave fics) - which is the reason why I'm here (I was searching for the fics again hehe)! Thank you for this!
she's a ma-ma-ma-ma-machine~razi_a on July 3rd, 2015 11:59 pm (UTC)
This is the one and only XiuHun I've written, haha xD

Thank you for reading and commenting!