Title: The Flower and The River
Pairing: Xiuris (Xiumin/Kris)
Rating: PG - 13
Summary: The flower naturally grows near the river that flows with love and patience. It is happy and content near the wide expanse of water that drifts downstream. The river needs the flower, it finds it too beautiful to let go. It give whatever it has to make sure the flower and can bloom.
A/N: uuuuh yea chapter twenty one...sun of a gun! yurp.
Sometimes Minseok would think back, far back. He would travel back to his childhood in Korea. He'd fondly remember how he used to play as a child, and when life was so simple that he felt like nothing could touch him.
He also remembered the dreaded horror of life smacking him in the face. He remembered being so afraid of being married to a stranger.
He could recall that at that time, he thought the world was ending. How he'd thought there could be no happiness beyond that point. Everything in his life was over and there would be no happy ending. He was so scared. He felt as if life had betrayed him.
Minseok remembered that moment when he'd laid in his room, listening to his parents whispers about his future. He'd thought they were so wrong, that they were hurting him.
How could they have known that it all ended like this?
Although it wasn't really the ending, Minseok reminded himself with a relaxed smile. His sleeping husband moved slightly in his dreams, pulling Minseok closer if that was possible. Minseok happily snuggled in to the warmth. No this was not the end yet, because how could he know when the end was?
“You're awake?” Kris sighed, Minsoek nodded carefully. He felt a bit guilty because he wondered if he was the reason Kris had woken up.
Minseok ran his hands over his husband's chest, feeling the warm and smooth skin beneath his fingers. Kris hummed deeply and moved his head down for a morning kiss. Minseok pulled back, staring at his husband's face. They'd been together for a long time. His husband's face had gotten older.
They both had gotten older.
“What are you thinking?” Kris slurred as he began to wake up.
“You're an old man now.” Minseok smiled. Kris chuckled quietly,”As are you.”he teased. Minseok scowled but laughed. He sighed, dreaming back to when he'd first seen his husband. How sharp his eyes had been, how young and lean his body was. It still was, but it was obvious that Kris was just older now. The small lines of age were beginning to appear, wisdom lines, his father used to call them. The more you get the more you know, was what his father had taught him.
But Kris was still handsome, still strong his body lean.
“How old were you when we first met? 19? 18?” Kris thought to himself. Minseok laughed outloud and playfully hit his husband's chest.
“Idiot, I'm older than you by a year! I was 21, you were 20.” he explained. Kris whistled in shock, his eyes going wide as he laughed.
“We're in our mid-thirties...oh we are old men!” Kris gasped in horror. The couple laughed together, and when they settled down Minseok found his husband's steady heartbeat and laid his ear over it to listen. Kris absent-mindedly ran a gentle hand over Minseok's arm.
“I'm going to finish the journal.” Minseok whispered. Kris's hand froze.
“I need to. I started it, and I need to finish it. Okay?” Minseok hoped that Kris wouldn't be upset about it. But Minseok felt like he needed to finish his story. He needed to get his past out of his system so that it no longer stayed in his mind and boiled over.
Kris held his husband's face in his hands, he couldn't remember how many times he'd done this through their marriage, making their eyes meet. Kris's eyes would always hypnotize Minseok.
“You write it, you feel it, and then you leave it Minseok. Let's move on.” Kris wanted his sins in the past. He finally had his Minseok back, and he was ready to move on with their lives. Minseok playfully licked Kris's nose before smiling widely, “A fresh start. I know.”
Minseok climbed out of bed before Kris, taking the time to wake up Rui Jing and drag him in to the shower. After breakfast Lay came by to take Rui to school, Kris leaving with them to go to work. Minseok watched from the porch of their home, waving goodbye to the three as they headed down to the small boat docked on the beach.
When the small speck disappeared down a ways Minseok let go of a breath he'd been holding. He chanted a silent prayer for his husband and son to come home safely.
And finally he was able to sit down at the kitchen table, pull out a pencil and open up the journal.
The night before everything fell apart, I couldn't sleep.
I guess you could call it instinct, because I felt the horrible feeling floating in the air. I had of course known for days that things were going to get bad, that there were terrible things headed our way. But that night, I knew it was the last peaceful night I'd have in my home.
I stayed calm in the kitchen, gazing up at the moon and taking in the details around me. The kitchen was one of my favorite parts of that house. So many memories lingered there, I could almost remember every time I'd strolled in for breakfast and settled in to Wu Fan's arms.
I swept my fingers over the sink counter, visualizing Luhan who was a sleeping zombie in the mornings, and who'd never leave the counter until his hot tea was ready.
I patted the stove, seeing Yixing as he calmly cooked breakfast for everyone each morning. He was always up the earliest with out a complaint.
I laughed under my breath at the seat that Jongdae always occupied. I remembered the first time I'd seen him staring at me with his mischievous smirk and his legs propped up and crossed with out a care.
Wondering over the back door, I stared out in to the sugarcane fields and rice paddies that surrounded our home.
I could see it, the first time I'd watched Wu Fan come home to me from those fields. The smile he'd given me, the way the sun had kissed his skin, the way he'd pulled off his gloves and stuffed them in to his pocket. The first time he'd come home to me, barely a day of knowing him and I'd started falling for him. How confident he'd looked as he'd strolled up to me, how happy he'd been to see me. I held on to that memory for a few seconds longer. Memorizing the way my heart fell and the smell of trees on his tank top as he came close.
“Can't sleep either?” my eyes snapped open from my memory. I already knew it was Tao behind me. There was, after all, only one unwelcome female living with us now. I didn't turn to her and continued to look at the fields.
“You should go back to sleep.” I retorted with tight lips. I didn't want to fight with her then, I wanted to keep my mental solitude for as long as possible.
“I can't sleep. I've got a lot of things on my mind.” she answered. I heard her soft steps getting closer. I was glad to see that she'd gotten smarter as the steps stopped completely a few feet away from me.
“Do you? Well I heard sleep helps.” I growled. I heard her stifle a laugh. Well at least she got humor...
“Then why aren't you sleeping?” she asked. I was surprised she hadn't whipped out an insult yet. That's what she'd been doing for the last two days with anyone who stared at her long enough. She's start out with a normal line and the second you responded she would shred you to pieces with her tongue.
“I'm not tired.” I huffed and crossed my arms over my chest. Her small steps began to move forward again. And that time she didn't stop until I could see her profile in my peripheral vision.
“Well I'm not either.” she snickered, was that I smile I saw?
“I don't know what you want right now, but I can assure you that I don't care.” I sighed with annoyance.
“I want to apologize.” she whispered. My neck twisted quickly to look at her, my accusing eyes falling on her small thin form. She was still very beautiful with her long black hair and her tanned skin tone. The light from the moon made her eyes look strangely like a wild animal's. She faced me and took a deep breath.
“I want to apologize, and I want to talk.” she stated. I swallowed loudly. What the hell would she want to talk about? I almost told her to fuck off, because I didn't want to hear her little taunts.
But I watched in surprise as her feet shuffled from side to side. Like she was genuinely nervous. I finally made full eye contact with her, and I didn't see any hate in her cat like eyes. I saw courage and fear fighting with each other.
“I'm listening.” I gave my permission. And with another breath, a shaky one, she began to talk.
“I'm sure someone has told you that I used Wu Fan, that I made him marry me. And they're right, I did. I wanted to keep him for myself.” she started. I didn't like the start, and I must've given her a look because she stumbled over her words,
“I don't want him now though. We were never in love, I know how much he loves you.” she spat out quickly. That was better.
“I'm not going to give you some sob story, just the facts of my life. I had to live with a woman who didn't want me. And no one else would take me...” I was surprised to see her eyes moisten. She was starting to cry and shake, even with her nonchalant voice. Whatever she was going to say, she'd never talked about it out loud.
“No one would take me except for the drunken men in our village. I was cheap after all.” she croaked out and her eyes fell to the floor.
And then I knew.
With that sentence I understood it all. I understood why she was so attached to Wu Fan, why he felt a need to protect her, why she came to him for protection.
No one else had protected her back then, except my husband.
“Basically my paretns died and Wu Fan was there for me, he understood what I was going through. I did have a small crush on him at first, I mean who wouldn't? He was so kind. And then...one night the old lady I lived with...” I watched her knuckles turn white as she gripped the kitchen counter. She was angry and frustrated.
“I came home after talking to Wu Fan, and there was a drunk man waiting in my bedroom. I told him to leave, but he wouldn't. So I told the old lady. I thought she would at least throw him out but...” she was taking deep breaths. Her eyes were staring off in to her past.
“She told me that he'd paid for me.” Tao hissed with venom.
“I don't know he came back days later, all I could do that whole time was scream. I kept screaming, and no one came to help me. And when he was done, he just spat on me and left. And the stupid old hag just took money from his money—“ Tao scoffed, trying to push away her tears.
“I hate her.” Tao grunted. I couldn't even imagine any of this happening to me.
“She told me if I told anyone that she'd throw me out. I didn't have anywhere else to go, because as I was reminded of every day, no one wanted me.” I almost wanted to reach out to her and comfort her. Almost.
“I told Wu Fan anyways. He was the only one who listened. I told him not to bother telling anyone. I was too embarrassed. I, the piece of trash from our village, was letting drunk men have their way with her? What a surprise. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I hated myself for being a stupid brat growing up, because no one liked me already so why would they help then? They'd only hate me more wouldn't they? They'd all think I was trash.” she shrugged like it was no big deal. The tears has stopped then. Her features had turned cold, almost numb. I was struggling to keep up with all of this. I could understand now, but I was shocked. This was why Wu Fan had fought me about it, why he'd been so persistent about doing the right thing.
“You know there was this one night, when I came home. I already knew there was a man waiting in my room because of the old hag was up and waiting for me. But it wasn't just one man. There were three. I tried to run away, I was done. I didn't know where I was going to go, but anywhere would do just fine. In my silly fantasies, I wanted Wu Fan to come save me.”
I realized she'd always been dependent of Wu Fan, most of her life she'd run been running to him for help. I couldn't hate her for it. A young girl who was being raped night after night, who had lost her parents and had no one to care for her, I couldn't hate her for that. Of course she'd run to Wu Fan. My husband was always kind, and dammit he always did the right thing. Even when I didn't agree with him.
“I got out of the house, but one of the men caught up to me.” I didn't like the numb look on her face. It reminded me of the first time I'd met Ani. It was that terrible far away look in her eyes, she'd numbed the pain and never wanted it to resurface again. Even if it constantly ran through her mind, she didn't want anyone to see it.
“I kept crying out for someone to help as he dragged me back by my hair, calling me trash and disgusting. He dragged me throught he dirt and he kept hitting me and I tried so hard to get away. I called out to Kane, to God, to anyone. But no one came to save me. I was all alone.” my breath caught in my throat when her eyes moved up from the floor to my face.
“I still wonder why they'd even want to touch me. If I'm so disgusting and dirty, if I'm just orphaned trash, why would they even want to touch me? I can't understand that.” her voice shook.
I stared back. I didn't know what to say.
She sighed, wiping the remainder of moisture from her cheeks.
“Yes, I forced Wu Fan to marry me. But I didn't just cast some fucking spell on him. He'd been upset for a while. After news of his mother's death he almost lost it completely. I tried to comfort him like he had me, but he could never not be upset. He'd always felt guilty because he didn't know how to help me, or was it that he was mad because I wouldn't let him help me. He threatened to go to Ani about everything, and there was no way I was letting that lady judge me again.” Tao rolled her eyes.
“So I told him to marry me. If he was really my friend, he'd marry me. It was the solution I selfishly wanted. I could get out of that house with the old lady, and maybe gain someone who finally wanted me.”
Ani's words flashed in my thoughts. When she'd talked about Wu Fan going out one day and then coming back like stone, repeating words like a robot. So that was what had happened. He'd married her...to save her?
“I did get out of that house. And I was thankful for that. But I quickly realized that Wu Fan would never be the someone that wanted me. After all,” and she threw me a knowing smirk, “he didn't have a particular taste for girls.” I coughed loudly and looked away. That was right, Ani had told me how Wu Fan had come out to Tao.
“And I was no exception. He didn't love me like he loves you. He cared about me as a friend, and I annoyed him like a little sister, but that was it. And I hated that he was miserable with me. I mean it was obvious he never wanted to marry me, he'd done it because we were stupidly young. Too young to realize that the truth would've set us free. If this was happening today, Wu Fan wouldn't have listened to anything I said. He would've gone straight to Ani, and everything would have been fixed. Even if Ani doesn't like me, I know she wouldn't of let me suffer like that. I was the dumb one, to let myself fight alone.” and she sighed again. But this long sigh of breath brought life back in to her. She was no the vulnerable Tao who was opening up to me, she was Tao the woman who'd come to ruin my life.
“Luckily, a very rich man named Yang Hyun Suk showed up on our island one day. He was like an odd and ironic combination for me. He was older, much older than me. He drank a lot. But, he was so gentle and nice. And I could tell that he would never lay a finger on me. The best part was that he wanted me. Like he really wanted me, followed me around the village and constantly asked me to drink with him. The funny thing is,” she laughed to herself, “he didn't care that I was married. He said, 'I'm too rich to care Panda, I want you. End of story.' Such a nuisance that old man.” she was definitely back to her old self. She kept rolling her eyes and flipping her hair about this way and that.
“So I thought what could be better? Hyun Suk was going to literally give me everything. And Wu Fan wasn't even sad to see me go that asshole. I had a damn good life with Hyunnie. Let me tell you, five course dinners every night and every freaking day was spa day. The only thing I had to do was make the old man come and stay loyal. Too easy I swear.” she laughed to herself again before she exhaled and looked me in the eyes again.
“I didn't realize that a man that rich had enemies who were just as well off. Hyunnie warned me, told me what would happen if someone killed him. I was married to him legally. If he died, all his money was given to me. Which meant they'd want to kill me too. So the day I came home from shopping, and Hyunnie was sitting in his office chair with a blue face, I immediately started making plans to come here.” her tone changed to defensive, looking at me steadily. She wanted me to know she was telling the trust.
“I wasn't sure what Wu Fan was up to, I didn't know if he was remarried or if he had children, which I why I wrote the damn letters all the time. But he never responded.” she told me.
But that was a lie, Wu Fan had specifically sent her a letter just a few months back, telling her to not come here.
“Wu Fan did send a letter Tao. He told you not to come here, that you'd put us all in danger.” I said back. She shook her head immediately.
“How long ago? I was still in my home up until a few weeks ago. I had bodyguards protecting me but I was still at home and I would've gotten that letter.” she explained.
Her words began to push through my logic. But Wu Fan had sent that letter, he'd told me so. He'd sent it a few months ago...maybe two?
If Tao was telling the truth, and I couldn't be sure if she was, then that meant either the letter had been lost or Wu Fan had never sent it.
“Wu Fan sent that letter Tao. I don't know how you missed it, but he did. And you shouldn't of come here. My baby is in danger because of you.” why didn't she get that letter? The message had been clear to find somewhere else to go.
“I'm sorry Minseok.” she fell to her knees. I stared down at her in shock. She'd used my name, and now she was bowing to me?
Her head hit the floor and her hands fell flat against the ground.
“I'm sorry for coming here.” she'd whispered, “I know I seem...evil. And I am a bitch I admit. But if I'd known he had you, your son...I swear I wouldn't of come here. And it wouldn't matter if I left now. They'd come here anyways and...and I'm so so sorry.” she'd cried. I watched her shoulders begin to shake as she cried harder.
“I'm sorry! I just don't have anywhere else to go! I don't have anyone else who even cares about me! All my bodyguards left me, I fucking paid them and they still left! All I have is Wu Fan, and I'm sorry! I just...I don't want to die!” her hands turned in to fists, hitting the floor with frustrated grunts.
Minseok, she doesn't have anyone else. I am literally her only option.
Maybe it was the motherly instinct in me, after all I'd been raising a baby for four years. Or maybe it was the fact that deep down I felt sorry for her since she had no one left in the world who loved her.
Either way I still can't believe that I actually kneeled down next to her, that I pulled her in to an embrace and let her cry in my shoulder. She'd cried for a few minutes, sobbing about how sorry she was and how she never wanted others to get hurt for her sake.
And when she was done I'd actually pulled back and hushed her, like I did when Rui was upset. But when she'd calmed down I leveled my eyes, made sure this got right in to her little bitchy brain.
“I still don't like you that much Tao. But...” god was I really saying this?
“But I forgive you for coming here. Obvisously you had no choice but to come here. And I'm thankful that you came to talk to me. I can understand you a little better now.” I admitted. She didn't say anything, and that was probably smart of her.
We finally got off of the floor, and we both drank full glasses of water. We didn't say anything at all. There was nothing to say. She'd told me what she needed to and I'd listened.
Of course Tao wanted to live, she was human. And that was our survival instinct at it's finest. So she'd come to the one person who'd been doing his best to protect her all their lives, Wu Fan. And I knew it wasn't fair to hate her for that. To hate her and want her to die, when all she'd been doing was running away from dangerous circumstances and trying to find someone to love her. That wasn't fair.
Minseok slapped the journal closed and stood up from the kitchen table when he heard distinct laughing and running outside. He left behind all the sad emotion he'd been feeling behind as he leaped up from sitting and skipped towards the sound of his son laughing.
He ran out of the house with a wide smile, he ran straight in to strong arms that hugged him close.
“You missed me?” Kris laughed and kissed his husband repetitively. Minseok smiled and nodded, enjoying the affection. He'd missed this, being so happy when Kris came home.
“Appa!” their son screamed. Minseok turned his head to see Chen holding their ten year old upside down, sly smirk on the older man's face. They both laughed, but Kris marched over threatening to beat up his brother for messing with his son.
“Appa! I don't wanna play with Uncle Chen anymore! All he does is make fun of me!” Rui whined when he reached Minseok, wrapping his thin arms around his Appa's waist. Minseok sighed but ran his fingers through Rui's thick black hair,
“Don't be such a baby, he's only playing little gem.” Minseok told him.
“But still! He keeps telling me I'm short, I know that! It's not like I can just grow like that, I can't just grow and bam I'm tall!” Rui Jing explained with an annoyed face. Oh how precious his little gem was.
Minseok smirked and then told his son, “Just remind Uncle Chen of the one time he'd had too much to drink and how he threw up on Lay, and how Lay didn't talk to him for the rest of the day.” Minseok snickered. His son looked up to him with surprised eyes. Not that Rui really knew what 'drinking too much' meant, but he knew what throwing up meant. With a wide smile he ran back over to where Kris had Chen on the ground, making him slap himself.
Minseok laughed loudly when Rui leaned over and whispered in to Chen's ear. The look on Chen's face as he turned beat red and lunged for his son was priceless.
Kris was happy to see his husband smiling so honestly again. He hadn't seen that smile in a very long time and he'd forgotten how effective it was on his heart.
Later in the evening, after dinner was over and Rui was in his room finishing his homework, Kris was surprised to have the journal in his hands. Minseok had offered it up, telling him to quickly read it before the week was through.
“I haven't finished it yet, but you should know what I'm telling our son.” Minseok explained. Kris gave him a wary look, did he really want to know?
“I'm not the only one who needs to remember the past and let go of it.” his cute husband threw him a pointed look. So Kris sighed and laid down on their bed, pulling Minseok to his side. Kris opened the journal and started to read.
And his heat almost broke. Because the first thing he was met with was young Minseok's overwhelming fear, of his uncertainty and pain. How his young husband had been so afraid and upset, how all he wanted was to go home.
When Kris thought he couldn't take anymore, he closed it and hugged his Minseok tightly, kissing that beloved face. “I'm sorry you had to go through that, that part of being afraid.” he whispered. Minseok shook his head, a small smile in place.
“But it was only the beginning. Trust me it gets worse anyways!” Minseok teased, and Kris scowled at him. God he didn't even want to know...
“Don't worry, it ends well I heard. This book,” Minseok picked up the journal, “I heard the main character ends up in the land of smiles with his husband and they live happily ever after.” he joked. Kris rolled his eyes. His husband could be so dorky sometimes.
“Really? And how did you know that?” he played along. Minseok scoffed,
“Obviously I know the author. He's a great man, very handsome too.” Kris began to laugh whole heartedly, brushing his thumb over Minseok's soft cheek.
“that he is, he is the best man I have ever known. I love him very much.” Kris sighed. They shared sweet kisses and words, until Minseok had to get up to put their son to bed.
“Would you want to help me finish it?” Minseok offered. Kris shook his head.
“It's your story. You finish it, I'll read it when it's done. And I'll have to edit it so Rui can read the rest.” Kris said. Minseok nodded absently as he skimmed through it.
He felt a great energy through his mind, a happy and positive energy. Even if the hardest part of his memoir was to come, he was happy to know that everything was fine in his present. But it would still be hard, he knew, to remember that terribly frightening time.
He could still hear the screams, the gun shots, and feel the pain and adrenaline rushing through him.
Minseok still laughed quietly to himself when he remembered that he was the one who'd saved Tao. And he still teared up when he remembered the person who'd done their best to protect him and Rui, and how they'd lost their lives fighting.
Yes he still heard that scream, he still felt that pain. God that gunshot. It was so quick and loud, so final. And with that one quick and loud sound they were gone. Forever.