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Title: Puppets - Part 1/3
Pairing/Focus: Jonghyun/Onew, Key/girl!Taemin, onsided!Jonghyun/Minho
Rating: PG-13
Final word count: 23,530
Summary: Where death can't keep loved ones apart, a fox reaches beyond his natural boundaries, and a puppet master is not what he seems.
A/N: Wrote this for this year's SHINee Big Bang. Yes I know its rushed, but I'm so done with this that I don't feel like fixing it right now (or any time soon....) Anyway, I hope you guys like it. It was a pain in the ass to write. It's all very cliche as well and I feel no shame for it, so deal with it! :)


Jonghyun and Jinki walked down the bustling city street with their hands clasped in each other’s. It was a place they had visited often when their relationship was still young. They had been going out for three years, but the love was still there and it showed no sign of going away any time soon.

All the shop owners down that particular street knew them, knew their names, knew what they liked to buy, and knew they were together. They had eaten at all the food stalls at least fifty times each and bought little trinkets and other assorted things from the carvers and painters that seemed to flock to that street.

One shop they both visited in particular was a little puppet shop that was owned by a young man named Minho. The first time they had met Minho, he was new in town and he had just taken over his father’s business of creating puppets. Jinki thought that Minho was very talented in creating all these little figures.

Minho made everything from shadow puppets and sock puppets with buttons for eyes, to ball joint dolls and marionettes. Jinki had a fascination with the beauty that Minho was able to create. Jonghyun just kind of found all the puppets a little creepy and he didn’t entirely understand Jinki when he bought a small puppet to have at home, but he never said anything. If anything, Jonghyun just cast deathly glares at Minho’s back when he wasn’t looking for taking his boyfriend’s attention.

But that was not the only place they visited. At the very end of the street, there was a small park on the left that they liked to enter and just sit down on one of the benches. They would usually talk a little and just stare at the people that passed by until the sun was beginning to set. Then they would go home, but they never stopped texting each other until one of them passed out in bed with the cell phone still in his hands.

Jinki’s little sister, Taeyeon, had discovered their relationship first. Originally, Jonghyun wanted to keep it a secret just so he could get a feel for how his parents reacted to the thought of him being gay before they revealed it. If they reacted in an unfavorable way, he would try to soften them up before telling them about Jinki. But Taeyeon discovered them kissing in Jinki’s bedroom one day when she came home from her dance lesson.

They made Taeyeon swear not to tell anyone anything until they were ready, and she didn’t. Luckily, Jonghyun’s parents were completely fine with the thought of Jonghyun having a boyfriend. Jinki already knew that his family was alright with it. It was a huge relief, and they came out to their families a few nights later.

Their parents had a little get together to meet each other about a week later. The baby photos were brought out, embarrassing stories were shared, and they all basically became one big family within the course of a few hours at the expense of Jonghyun’s and Jinki’s pride.

“Mom,” Jinki whined, “stop it!” It was bad enough when Jonghyun saw him tripping over air or running into things, but his mother had to tell everyone about the time he fell down the stairs and knocked out his front teeth because he was excited to be eating tofu for dinner.

On the other side of the room, their fathers were locked in animated conversation about other things. Jonghyun’s father, for instance, brought up the fact that he was starting to worry Jonghyun would be alone for forever. When asked why, he answered, “He sings in his sleep and keeps us up at night. He also sleeps with his eyes open and freaks his mother out.”

“Dad!” Jonghyun howled in humiliation. For the past three years he had dated Jinki, whenever they spent the night together, he always made sure that Jinki was asleep before he let himself drift off to be sure that that little secret was never discovered. Now it was out for everyone to hear.

The night continued like that until Jonghyun and Jinki managed to slip away with some distraction assistance from Taeyeon. That was how they ended up on that special street, hands clasped and greeting the innocent world they knew.

“You sleep with your eyes open?” Jinki asked out of nowhere. Jonghyun just cast a sideways glare at his boyfriend.

“You knocked your front teeth out because you were running for tofu?”

“Touché,” Jinki muttered. Jonghyun just laughed and pecked Jinki on the cheek as they walked. Jinki smiled despite his will to frown at losing to Jonghyun once again.

It was already dark, but their street was still full of light and people and smells of cooking food. They had skipped dinner because they wanted to get away from their parents, so they decided to snack on random, small things that the vendors offered to them. By the time they reached Minho’s puppet shop, they were about full.

Speaking of which, it looked like Minho had prepared a puppet show for the kids who were stuck shopping around with their parents. He loved kids and was known to just give away his puppets to little children who looked at them with enough longing but could not buy them. And on occasional nights, such as this one, he would put together a little show because he felt like it.

“Oh! Let’s watch!” Jinki suddenly exclaimed as lights lit up the small puppet stage to signal the beginning of the show. Jonghyun sighed, but let himself be led to the back of the crowd of kids to watch the puppet show.

It was a classic fairytale. There was a princess, a prince, a witch, and some kind of curse that made everything difficult. In the end, the prince and the princess go riding off to live out a happily ever after while the witch lay dead and the curse broken. It was a predictable story, but the kids seemed to enjoy it; Jinki included.

Once it was over, Jinki and Jonghyun made their way to the back of the puppet stage as all the children shuffled back to their parents. They found Minho behind the curtain, carefully placing all his puppets together so he could easily bring them back into the shop.

“Need some help?” Jinki asked. Minho’s head turned towards them slowly as if he wasn’t surprised they were there, but his eyes lit up immediately and a calming smile graced his lips.

“I haven’t seen you guys in a while,” he commented as he stood up, brushing dirt off of his jeans. “How have you two been?” he asked casually. Then he added, “And yes, some help would be great.”

“We’ve been just fine,” Jinki commented as he picked up one end of the puppet stage. Jonghyun automatically picked up the other end without thinking and helped Jinki carry it inside the shop and to the left where it usually stood. “Just recently told our parents about our relationship and they took it pretty well.”

“Probably too well,” Jonghyun muttered with a looked that seemed to explain that he was not looking forward to going home. Jinki chuckled a little nervously. Minho didn’t say anything, but there was a small laugh in his eyes that told them he understood.

They chatted for a long while, Jinki browsing the shop as he spoke. He was always interested in what was new that Minho had created. He was at the far wall when he stopped suddenly. He was halfway through a sentence, but he didn’t care as his attention was grabbed by two ball joint dolls sitting on one of the shelves.

“Minho,” he called, never removing his eyes from the beautiful dolls, “are these Jonghyun and I?”

Minho didn’t even have to look to know the answer. “Yup. I thought about you guys a while back and I felt like making some dolls that looked like you.”

“They’re beautiful,” Jinki breathed. Then he felt Jonghyun place his chin on his shoulder to look as well. The dolls were indeed beautiful, but Jonghyun still couldn’t help but feel a little unnerved by the fact that he was basically staring at a creepier version of himself.

“But creepy…” he added aloud. He was answered with a smack to his arm by Jinki. “Ouch! What?” he protested loudly. “It’s true!”

“Says the one who sleeps with his eyes open.” When Jonghyun pouted and crossed his arms like a little kid, Jinki fist pumped the air at finally using the right words in the right place to get a reaction out of Jonghyun.

“You’re so mean to me. Why do I love you again?” Jonghyun asked. Jinki just laughed as he bounced around the shop, completely forgetting about the ball joint dolls on the shelf. Minho smiled at both of them. He found their entire relationship absolutely endearing to watch and they never failed to put a smile on his face when they were around. At least, that’s what he said whenever Jonghyun asked why Minho was smiling so much.

They all continued chatting for a long while after that. It wasn’t until Jonghyun realized that very few people were still strolling past the puppet shop window that he thought their parents were probably wondering where the hell they were by then.

“We should get going,” he told Jinki as he grabbed his hand in his and pulled him up from the seat he had taken on a stepstool. “It’s really late and everyone will be wondering where we are.” Jinki nodded and followed Jonghyun as they left. They both waved quickly and said their goodbyes to Minho before leaving him alone in his shop.

Before they really headed home, they made a stop at the park and sat down on one of the benches, letting the light of the streetlamps guide their way. No one was around, and it felt nice to just have some quiet between them.

“Hell of a day, right?” Jonghyun randomly said after a minute, casting a tired but content look over at his boyfriend. Jinki just smiled and nodded.

“I can’t wait to sleep,” he mumbled, shutting his eyes slowly. And was his eyes disappeared behind those lashes, Jonghyun suddenly got an uneasy feeling in his heart that he couldn’t explain. It was as if he could sense that something was wrong with the night. But then he just assumed it was his imagination and pushed the uneasy feeling away.

“Let’s get home,” Jonghyun suggested as he took Jinki’s hand in his and pulled the elder to his feet. Jinki followed obediently with a small, sleepy smile on his face.

They were halfway home when they came to an almost empty street. On the other side of the street was a small family – a mother, a father, a little girl holding her father’s hand and an ice-cream cone in her spare hand – Jinki looked at the little girl with warm eyes. He and Jonghyun would never be like that family, but if they really wanted to, they could always adopt; but that was still a long ways off.

Jinki’s attention was brought back to earth when he realized the child had suddenly broken away from her parents, running into the street without thinking about her safety. He heard Jonghyun inhale sharply next to him and barely registered the horrified faces of the young girl’s parents before he realized that a single car was barreling down the road towards her.

And like the child, Jinki ran into the street without caring about himself and pushed the girl back to the other side of the road. Her parents picked her up and fussed over her scratches for a moment before staring at Jinki with thankful and fearful eyes. The screeching breaks were too late to stop the car.

“JINKI!”

“Mommy! Mommy! He pushed me!”

-----

Jonghyun waited impatiently in the waiting room of the emergency room, his hands covered in dark, sticky blood and burrowed into his hair in vain hopes to relieve some stress. But how could he not be stressed and worried sick when the man he loved was in pain and in danger at that very moment?

Tears prickled the back of his eyes, but they weren’t quite ready to fall just yet. He kept glancing down the hall to see if anyone was coming to give him news on how Jinki was doing, but no one was coming just yet.

Suddenly, the doors to outside burst open and a familiar group of people rushed up to him. Taeyeon caught him before her parents did. “What happened? Is he all right” she demanded, panic seeping into her usually calm and happy voice.

Jonghyun only stared for a minute, almost not able to comprehend her words. “H-he ran into the street t-to save a little g-girl,” he finally managed to say. “Next thing I knew, he was on the ground and there was b-blood everywhere. I don’t know if he’s all right or not. God I hope he’s all right. He better be all right. He better be…”

“Excuse me?”

Every head turned to the source of the voice. It was clearly a doctor just by looking at the light green scrubs he was wearing. They were half covered in fresh blood. Everyone immediately paid attention to him.

“Are any of you related to Lee Jinki?” the doctor asked. Jinki’s parents immediately spoke up. Taeyeon was too afraid to say she was Jinki’s sister. The doctor turned to Jinki’s parents and gave them an apologetic expression. “I’m sorry to say that we could not save your son.” A suffocating silence filled the room. No one could believe it.

The first one to cry was Jinki’s mother. The first one to break the silence, however, was Jonghyun as he screamed at the top of his lungs and the tears finally began to fall down his cheeks. This could not be happening. This could not be happening. They were supposed to stay together forever. They were supposed to adopt and raise a child. They were supposed to grow old together. They were supposed to die together.

This could not be happening.

Jinki was dead.

This could not be happening.

He was never coming back.

This could not be happening.

Wake up.

-----

The only time Jonghyun went out in the next three weeks was to go to Jinki’s funeral. He didn’t want to be there, but he had to be. He had to see his love off before it was too late. No matter how much he wished Jinki hadn’t died, there was nothing he could do about it.

Some people at the funeral had heard about Jonghyun’s relationship with Jinki and cautiously approached him as if he were about to snap at the mere sound of someone’s voice. No one came to him with ugly comments about his or Jinki’s sexuality. Anyone who cared to say anything didn’t bother to show up to the funeral.

Jinki’s parents didn’t blame Jonghyun for what happened at all. But Taeyeon did. She was so overtaken with sadness of losing her brother that she blamed Jonghyun because he took Jinki out at night instead of staying home. He didn’t hold on to Jinki when he tried to run into the street. He didn’t react quickly enough to save Jinki’s life after he was hit. It was all Jonghyun’s fault, and Taeyeon didn’t think she would ever be able to forgive him.

Jonghyun guessed it wasn’t a good time to bring up the fact that she helped them get out. He didn’t know if there would ever be a good time to bring it up. All he knew was that as soon as they closed the casket and everyone was saying their final goodbyes, Taeyeon had disappeared.

-----

Taeyeon ran as hard as she could in her black dress to get away from there as quickly as she could. She couldn’t stand the thought of saying goodbye to her older brother. It was just too hard.

After running for about ten minutes, she finally tripped and fell, face first, into the dirt in the middle of a large group of trees. But she didn’t even bother getting up. Her knees and palms were throbbing from scrapes and her dress was now covered in soft, moist dirt, but she just stayed there on the ground, specks of dirt making their way into her mouth as she sobbed into the earth.

“Why did you have to leave?” she questioned. “Why did you have to go?” She pounded the earth with her small fist and just continued to cry. Every memory of her and her older brother came flooding back the longer she stayed there. All times he hugged her. All the times he smiled at her. All the times he simply helped her with her homework. All the times they played together as little kids. All the times they spent doing absolutely nothing.

Taeyeon ended up just falling asleep there on the ground, visions of her brother flitting through her head and tears flowing endlessly from her eyes.

It wasn’t long after she fell asleep that a fox came upon her, lying in his territory. Immediately, the creature was not pleased and began growling in Taeyeon’s direction. It let out a few yippy barks in angry protest. Taeyeon jerked awake in surprise at those sounds and looked around herself. When her eyes met the angered fox, she gasped and backed up in fright. She had heard from multiple people, including Jinki, that foxes were very territorial. She could be in real trouble if she didn’t get out quick.

But strangely, when her eyes met those of the animal before her, the fox stopped growling and just stared at her with an expression that Taeyeon had never seen on an animal before. She couldn’t place it, but she was mesmerized by whatever that expression was.

And then the fox averted its eyes and ran off into the trees. It was a strange meeting, and Taeyeon found it somewhat unnatural because the fox had not attacked even though there was an intruder in its territory.

Taeyeon left the trees shaking and went back to her brother’s grave. She didn’t tell anyone what happened, and she continued to give Jonghyun a cold shoulder.

-----

After the funeral was over, Jonghyun went back to his room and just remained there without talking to a single person for two weeks. If it wasn’t for his mother demanding that he at least eat something, he would have gladly starved to death. He was never hungry anymore. He seemed to have lost all will to live since he had witnessed Jinki being struck by that car.

“Jonghyun, you have a visitor,” his mother said at the beginning of the fourth week.

“I don’t want to see them.”

“That’s what I told him, but he still wants you to at least listen to him. He says it’s really important.” Jonghyun didn’t respond. He hoped that if he pretended to be asleep then the person would just give up and go away. But they didn’t.

A moment later, someone walked into Jonghyun’s room and sat down at the edge of the bed. “Jonghyun, it’s me.”

Slowly, Jonghyun opened his eyes and was met with the sight of Minho. His eyes softened just a little. “How did you know I lived here?” Jonghyun asked, but Minho didn’t look like he wanted to talk about that just yet. Instead, he looked at Jonghyun with sorrow filled eyes.

“I heard about Jinki. I’m so sorry, Jonghyun.” Minho stayed still for a while, but when he moved, it was slow and he pulled a paper bag out from behind him. “You loved each other very much, didn’t you?” It was a rhetorical question, but Jonghyun nodded anyway.

From the paper bag, Minho produced the ball joint dolls that looked like Jonghyun and Jinki. The feelings of pain in Jonghyun’s heart intensified and the tears began to fall again. Without really meaning to, he leaned over into Minho’s shoulder and just let his tears fall. Minho didn’t mind that he was getting wet; it was a good thing that Jonghyun was letting those bad feelings out.

“He’s gone,” Jonghyun sobbed. “I miss him so much. It hurts like hell.”

Minho hesitantly placed the dolls down on the bed and wrapped his arms around Jonghyun’s shoulders and patted his back. He didn’t know what he would say to Jonghyun. He knew what love was and what it felt like, but he had no idea what it was like to lose someone you loved to death. However, he did have a solution for Jonghyun; that was a big part of the reason he needed to speak with Jonghyun. It would be hard on himself as well, but he couldn’t stand seeing his good friend in such a state of sadness.

Gently, he pulled himself away from Jonghyun and stared him directly in the eye. “I can help you,” Minho said simply, but when Jonghyun looked at him with confusion, Minho sighed and knew a big explanation was coming that he had hoped never would.

“How?” Jonghyun asked, feeling like he was falling for a cruel joke.

“Jonghyun…”Minho started, but he didn’t exactly know how to state what he was about to say. Then he settled on the simplest way he could explain it. “I’m not human.”

There was a short silence before Jonghyun just started to laugh like he used to. “I know I’ve called you an alien before, but this is ridiculous,” he laughed. And even though it felt nice to see Jonghyun laugh like that, Minho was being completely serious.

“Jonghyun, I’m not kidding.” The dark tone in Minho’s voice halted Jonghyun’s laugher almost instantly. “I’m not human.”

“You’re serious?” Jonghyun asked, disbelief in his eyes.

“I am,” Minho answered, “and I’ll prove it.” Then he broke his gaze away from Jonghyun and went to the center of the room where he could be seen. Then he just stood still and waited for a moment. Jonghyun wondered what Minho was up to, but it became clear once two spots on Minho’s back began to glow.

They continued to glow a bright, intense light for a while before Minho let his muscles relax and a pair of beautiful white wings appeared on his back. Jonghyun was completely speechless, but it didn’t matter, because Minho was beginning to explain anyway.

“No, I’m not really an angel,” Minho began. “I have a little more freedom than they do, and my powers are just as great, but my powers are tied to certain objects. It’s different for everyone of my kind, but mine are tied to puppets.”

“So that’s why you make so many puppets?” Jonghyun asked. Minho shook his head in answer.

“I make them because I truly do love them and I love making others smile,” he said, a small smile of his own playing on his lips. “But I can put power into them if I choose. I can make them walk. I can make them talk. I can change their form. And as long as I have one that resembles a real person, I can do all of that to the real person as well.” He looked directly into Jonghyun’s eyes before walking up to him once more and picking up one of the ball joint dolls that still sat on the bed.

It was the doll that looked like Jinki.

“I can bring him back for you,” Minho offered. The light in Jonghyun’s eyes was almost too fast. Minho held up a hand to stop Jonghyun from rushing too far ahead. “But I must warn you,” he said, “my power is great, but it is not limitless. If I bring Jinki back to life, it could be any amount of time before you lose him again. I have never done this before. You could only have a few minutes with him or you could have a couple weeks.”

Really, if Minho chose to do so, he could bring Jinki back to life permanently, but almost all of his magic reserves would be completely gone, and Minho needed those reserves to remain immortal. But Jonghyun nodded as if he understood.

“I just want to be with him a little longer. Please, I don’t care if he disappears again,” Jonghyun begged, the tears once again wetting his eyes. “If you really can do what you say you can, please…”

Minho didn’t need to hear anymore. He just held onto the doll that resembled Jinki and nodded. “I understand.” And then he held the doll as if it were a baby and touched where its heart would be with a single finger. After a moment, his finger began to glow like his back had before his wings appeared. The glow spread to the rest of the doll before Minho pulled his hand away. Then the light faded and then reappeared and then faded again. It continued to pulse like a slow heartbeat.

“Go to his grave tomorrow morning,” Minho instructed. “He’ll be there, and he will be exactly the way he was.” Minho smiled at Jonghyun, but Jonghyun was too caught up in what was happening to remember that this was unnatural. All he cared about was that he was going to see Jinki again.

As Minho was leaving with Jinki’s doll secure in his bag, he vaguely wondered if this was such a good idea or not. He hoped it was.

-----

The next morning, Jonghyun got up early and went out for the first time in weeks. It felt strangely nice to have the cold morning air brushing against his cheeks. He relished in it as he walked down the street towards the bus stop. Once there, he waited impatiently for the next bus to the cemetery to arrive. When it finally came, he couldn’t get on quick enough. After the ride, he paid and got off. Then he finally wondered if he was being made a fool out of. Could Minho really bring people back to life? Had Jonghyun just dreamed the whole thing?

But Jonghyun stepped into the cemetery anyway and made his way towards where they had buried Jinki. Every step he took made him more and more frightened that his Jinki wouldn’t be there; that he would still be dead. At one point, he debated turning around and going back home, but he had to know. So he kept walking.

He was almost to Jinki’s grave when he heard a soft, singing voice. His eyes widened when he recognized that voice and he burst into a run. And there Jinki was, sitting up against his own gravestone, singing to the frigid morning air.

“I would know your voice anywhere.” Jonghyun whispered, his voice cracking as he spoke. And even though it was said quietly, Jinki turned his head towards Jonghyun and smiled.

“Did you miss me?” Jinki asked. On any other day, Jonghyun would have hit him, but instead, he just fell to his knees and started crying his eyes out. Of course he had missed Jinki. He had missed him more than anything in his entire life. When he felt arms around his shoulders, Jonghyun flung his own arms around Jinki’s waist and cried even harder. “It’s okay, I’m here. I’m sorry for leaving you like that,” Jinki said in attempts to calm the younger. It seemed to work to some small extent because Jonghyun’s tears seemed to slow just a little.

“I love you,” Jonghyun managed to say through his tears. “I love you so much Jinki.”

The arms around Jonghyun’s shoulders tightened a little. “I love you, too.” They stayed there; clinging to each other until Jonghyun’s phone rang, ruining the moment.

He groaned and picked up. “Hello?” he called into the phone.

“Jonghyun?” It was his mother. “I came by to check on how you are doing and you weren’t home. Is everything alright?” Jinki chuckled silently next to Jonghyun. Jonghyun cast him a small glare to shut him up.

“I’m fine, Mom. I felt like getting out.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful!” his mother cheered. “I know you have been feeling really heartbroken lately and I’ve been so worried about you. But you seem to be getting back to normal a bit at a time. I have to go now. I’ll see you later, honey.” Then she hung up without letting Jonghyun say another word. She was always like that. It got kind of annoying sometimes.

Jonghyun put his phone away and went back to focusing all his attention on Jinki. “Let’s go home.”

“Alright,” Jinki agreed, his signature sunshine smile making its first appearance since that night a couple weeks ago. “But, uh…”

“Is something wrong?” Jonghyun asked, confusion and worry written across his face.

Jinki shook his head. “Not really wrong, I just…can’t seem to stand up yet. Who knew coming back to life could be so exhausting.” Then he laughed and Jonghyun found himself laughing along.

“Am I gathering that you want me to carry you?” Jonghyun asked.

“Please?”

“Hop on,” Jonghyun instructed as he turned around so Jinki could get on his back. Jinki latched on almost immediately and they were off. Once on the bus home, Jonghyun placed Jinki down on one of the cushioned seats and then took a seat next to him. They almost missed their stop because they were just staring at each other the whole time. It felt like they had gone back to their first date.

They got off and Jinki got back on Jonghyun’s back when his legs wobbled beneath him. Jonghyun carried him the rest of the way home without breaking a sweat. Once they were in the house, Jonghyun placed Jinki down on their bed and asked if there was anything he would like to eat. Jinki immediately requested chicken and Jonghyun just smiled as if he had known all along.

“I’ll be back in a little bit with a huge bucket of drumsticks,” Jonghyun answered. Then in the moment he turned around to grab his shoes, Jinki fell into peaceful slumber. He remained that way until Jonghyun brought back chicken like he promised.

-----

Taeyeon woke up late like she had been the past few weeks. It was hard to get out of bed without her brother pestering her to quit wasting the day sleeping. But she at least had someplace she wanted to go that morning. She was going to visit Jinki’s grave for the first time since the funeral.

She dressed up a little more than she usually did – put on a skirt, a nice blouse, pulled her hair back – and then headed out the door without saying a word to her parents. Even if she did, it’s not like they would have heard her. They were still pretty torn up about the whole thing and acted extremely robotic lately. They probably thought she was the same way, but they never said anything.

It was kind of upsetting to Taeyeon that the cemetery was within a few blocks from her house, but it made it easy for her to visit Jinki’s grave if she felt like it. It also made her feel extremely guilty for not visiting sooner.

Upon reaching his grave, Taeyeon just stared at it and the small picture of her brother that was placed into it, the years he lived engraved in the stone.

“I’m sorry I didn’t bring flowers,” she said to the stone. “I’m not as organized as you were.” Before she realized it, the tears were running down her face once more. “God!” she groaned as she wiped away her tears with her hand. “I’m sorry. I just miss you so much. You were always there for me, and now you’re gone,” she cried. And then she completely lost control and just let everything out without bothering to try stopping it. She cried at the top of her lungs and no longer cared that tears were cascading down her face. She just wanted to hear her brother’s voice.

What brought Taeyeon back to herself was a slight, gentle scratching at her legs.

Still crying, she turned her gaze downwards to see what was scratching her. She froze when she saw a fox right behind her. Immediately she could tell it was the same fox after it gave her that same, peculiar look that it had the day of Jinki’s funeral.

But it was not acting aggressive at all. In fact, it just kind of rubbed its side against Taeyeon’s leg like a cat might. In a weird way, it reminded her of Tod from The Fox and the Hound; an innocent kind of feeling. But this was reality, not some kids’ movie, and this fox was a wild animal, not a cartoon, so Taeyeon ran before the fox started acting like every fox was supposed to.

She only looked back once. The fox was staring after her with another expression Taeyeon recognized. This one was easier to place since it was the same expression that had been on her own face since Jinki died.

Why does it look sad?

-----

Minho watched the whole thing from nearby. He had mainly been there to make sure Jinki was alright until Jonghyun came to pick him up, but then Jinki’s sister had shown up and Minho couldn’t tear his eyes away from the poor girl who stood at her brother’s grave, not knowing he was alive. Her cries were heartbreaking, and the tears distorted her beauty. Minho never liked to see anyone cry, that was part if the reason he had brought Jinki back to life: he didn’t want Jonghyun to cry anymore.

Minho spotted the fox. After Taeyeon ran off, frightened, the fox stayed put and just watched with that almost human expression of sadness. That expression drew Minho in further. He approached the fox slowly as if he were afraid it would attack, but Minho was not afraid, it was actually he who didn’t want to scare the creature.

Once he was within thirty feet, the fox turned its head in his direction. Animals were sensitive to the special aura that Minho exuded. Sometimes they ran from it, other times, they were very interested in the odd sensations it sent through their tiny bodies. This fox looked like it didn’t know whether to run or stay put. Minho would have to be quick.

“Little fox,” Minho called, “I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to know why you’re so sad.” The fox didn’t move, but Minho acted like he understood anyway. It was almost as if he had read the fox’s mind. ”You’re in love with that girl, aren’t you?” The fox looked at him with no clear expression, but it bobbed its head once before staring off in the direction that Taeyeon had run.

“Do you want me to help?” Minho asked. At those words, the fox immediately jerked its head in Minho’s direction once more, giving its full, undivided attention. It clearly wanted help. Minho smiled and pulled some extra fabric from his pockets. He never left his shop without making sure there was at least enough to make a simple hand puppet. Then he produced some needle and thread and turned around so the fox could not see.

Once his work was complete, Minho turned back around and showed the little hand puppet to the fox. It was a simple puppet that could have just been a person with sharp ears, but both the fox and Minho knew it was supposed to represent the fox. Then Minho removed the little puppet from his hand and turned it inside out.

The pointed, animal-like ears disappeared and a head of hair sat on the top of the now human head. Minho touched the fox on the head and then placed his hand on the top of the puppet’s head. Both the fox and the puppet glowed for a moment before a white light took over the fox’s form. And when Minho blinked once, his magic was done and a teenage boy was laying face first on the ground, his limbs spread out awkwardly.

It was a long moment before the boy began to move at all, and for the most part, he just kind of flailed like he had no idea how to control his body. Minho helped him sit up, and then their eyes met. The eyes of the boy were the exact same shade of brown the fox had had, and the feelings for the girl were still plainly visible in them.

Minho smiled, but he took the boy’s face in his hands and said, “This is all I can do for you. But you have to learn to walk, speak, and behave like a human like everyone else. I can’t give you those skills with my magic. My powers don’t work like that. But I wish you the very best of luck and I will help you when I can.” The boy nodded seriously. It helped a lot that he at least understood what Minho was saying, but after speaking as a fox for his whole life, human words were going to be a little difficult for him to speak himself.

The boy opened his mouth for a moment but didn’t know how to ask what he wanted. He tested the word on his tongue a few times, but they never sounded quite right.

“How about we start with a name first,” Minho suggested. The boy nodded, his mussed up hair falling in front of his face. For a while, Minho just brought up names of friends and people he had met once or twice, but none of them sounded quite right to him. The boy kept trying to say things with his own mouth, but all that came out were garbled sounds.

It was about an hour later when the boy looked excited about something and opened his mouth. Minho looked at him with a knowing grin. He had found a name he liked.

“G-K-K-Ki–” It was clear that he was having difficulty, but there was a determined expression across the boy’s face. “Ki-Ki-Kiba-Kibummmmm.” And then he looked exceedingly pleased with himself. “Kibum,” he said again.

Minho smiled again. “Kibum it is.”

-----

Watching Jinki scarf down drumsticks like usual gave Jonghyun a sense that things had somewhat regained normalcy only after about two hours of Jinki being back on earth. He wasn’t even thinking that it was against the laws of nature to bring someone back from the dead. He was just glad the love of his life was back.

However, Jonghyun was very painfully aware that he had a dangerous secret. Jinki could not be seen by people that would know him. They would have lots of questions, and Jonghyun couldn’t blow Minho’s secret.

“Jonghyun, are you alright?”

Jonghyun blinked a few times before he actually registered that Jinki had asked him a question. When he realized that Jinki was waiting for an answer, all he could say was, “I’m sorry?”

“You’ve been off in your own world for a while now. Are you okay?” Jinki asked worriedly. Jonghyun looked at him for only a moment before he smiled. Even death couldn’t change who Jinki was. He was exactly the same.

“I’m fine, I was just thinking about how you can’t see your family.” Jonghyun regarded Jinki with a nervous stare. Jinki loved his family and Jonghyun didn’t know how he would take that kind of news. But Jinki merely sat back from his almost empty bucket of chicken and let his greasy fingers run through his hair, his face almost frighteningly calm.

“I know,” Jinki told him. “No one comes back from the dead, and questions would be difficult to answer when you have to reveal a secret that isn’t yours to share. We can’t do that to Minho.”

“I was thinking the exact same thing.”

The two of them shared a special gaze for a moment before Jonghyun looked down and noticed Jinki’s hand shaking. He grabbed it gently and held it between both of his own. “Are you cold or something?” he asked.

Puzzled, Jinki looked at the hand in Jonghyun’s grasp. It was shaking and jerking a little, and as seconds ticked by, it grew more intense. He tried to stop it, but his hand refused to stop shaking. A chilling sense of fear trickled into the back of Jinki’s mind, but he tried to ignore it. Panicking would do nothing to help.

Finally, his hand stopped shaking and he relaxed a little. But when he tried to lift it, he couldn’t move it and the fear returned. “I can’t move my hand,” Jinki told Jonghyun, his voice trembling. At that very moment, the house phone rang. Jonghyun was so engrossed in worrying for Jinki that it rang twice before Jonghyun got up to get it.

When he picked it up, a familiar voice came through the speaker.

“What Jinki is experiencing right now is only temporary.” It was Minho. “I used a lot of magic today and I’m still balancing it with what I have tied up in Jinki. He should go back to normal soon.” Jonghyun looked over at Jinki who was still staring wide-eyed at his limp hand. He prayed Minho was right. “Ok,” Jonghyun said quietly into the phone. “He looks scared.”

“Bringing someone back to life is not easy, even if it is not permanent,” Minho told him. “He knows that. That’s probably why he’s as scared as he is. He doesn’t want to disappear.”

Jonghyun frowned. “I don’t want him to disappear either,” Jonghyun said, a tear falling from his eye, “but I know he will when you can’t do this anymore.” Without even a simple goodbye, they hung up. Jonghyun returned to Jinki’s side and took his limp hand in his own. Jinki’s hand was cold, but Jonghyun took it and held it close to him, waiting for the feeling to return. Jinki remained still for a long time. When he released a sigh, he was able to move his hand once more.

Jonghyun didn’t let go.

-----

Minho placed the phone down with a sigh and turned his attention back to Kibum who was still standing in the doorway of his little puppet shop. He seemed to be very distracted with all the different kinds of puppets that sat around Minho’s shop. Some were complex shapes and unique costumes, while others were simple and only wore a trinket or two as their outfit.

He was so distracted that he forgot to balance himself and began to pitch forward, but Minho caught him with ease. If he hadn’t been watching, Kibum would have fallen face first into the ground.

“You have to be careful,” Minho reminded him. “You’re still not quite used to your new legs yet.” Kibum nodded in understanding and pulled himself upright (but not without difficulty). “What would you like to learn first?” Minho asked. “I could continue to teach you to walk properly, or we could move on to speaking if you like.” Kibum tried to give a verbal response, but it came out extremely garbled and he resorted to pointing at his own legs as his answer. Minho smiled. “Okay, we’ll work on basic functions first then.”

For a few solid hours, Minho instructed Kibum on how to walk. At first, Kibum was as shaky as ever, but as what Minho told him to do sunk in, Kibum began to walk with more grace. By the time they were finished for the night, Kibum was no longer stumbling over his own feet every few steps and instead walked like a normal person.

By the time he himself was satisfied with his own walking, he wanted to move on to speaking. However, speaking would have to wait. He was extremely tired and his eyes were drooping with the need for sleep. Minho chuckled at the sight of him. “There’s a bed for you upstairs. Go rest. We can work on speaking tomorrow.”

Kibum did as he was told and headed up the stairs to get some sleep. He held onto the handrails the whole way up the stairs and took hesitant steps. He almost stumbled a few times when he didn’t quite pick up his foot enough but managed to reach the top safely. Finding the only room with a bed was easy, and he laid down on the soft mattress with some relief, but he was not able to fall asleep as his body wanted him to. His mind was still too awake for sleep.

He laid there, tossing and turning for about half an hour before he gave up and stood up once more, his body still begging him to sleep. He walked around the room a little before deciding there was nothing interesting in it and headed out and back down the stairs. Minho was nowhere to be seen in his shop, but Kibum knew he had to be there.

Without bothering to look for him, Kibum just headed out the door and into the night. He felt more at ease there. It was where he had lived his whole life; not in some building made by humans. The cool night air felt different on his human skin than it did on his warm fox pelt, but it was pleasant all the same.

He walked around for a while, letting his still wobbling feet take him wherever they pleased. Turned out, they wanted him to get away from the shop filled street and into quieter, more familiar territory to the fox. They took Kibum to a little park that Kibum recognized as one he had passed through a few times. Instead of sticking to the hard, paved path that wound through the park, Kibum immediately walked off it and onto the soft, damp grass on his way to sit at the base of a large oak tree.

The minute he sat down, he felt sleep calling him once more and he shut his eyes. But before sleep could truly take him away, a voice cut through the fog in his brain.

“The night is calming, isn’t it?” At first, Kibum didn’t know where the voice was coming from, but as the voice spoke again, he determined that it was coming from behind him; from the other side of the tree. “I’ve been sleeping terribly recently. I feel like only the stars can provide me with a good night’s sleep. What about you?”

Kibum was caught off guard by the question. How was he supposed to answer when he could barely say his own name? So he opted to not say anything.

“Ah, you’re one of those quiet ones, aren’t you?” There was a strained laugh before she continued. “That’s all right I suppose. It’s nice to just have someone listen sometimes, too.” And then she came out from behind the tree and into Kibum’s vision. His eyes widened.

It was the girl.

“I’m Taeyeon,” she said with a very slight smile as she took a seat next to Kibum. “Can you at least tell me your name?” she asked. For a long moment, Kibum answered with only an astounded stare. She was incredibly beautiful, and it struck Kibum with such awe that he was speechless. Then he realized her question was the only one he could answer.

“K-Kibum,” he told her, a little difficulty hitting his tongue as he spoke his own name. Heat lit up his cheeks as she giggled lightly.

“It’s very nice to meet you, Kibum,” she said as she turned her eyes towards the sky. “So why are you out here?” she asked. She was still trying to get a few words out of Kibum, but all he could do was struggle for words before they came out garbled.

“H-h-ho-mmme. Hom-mme.” Home.

Kibum absentmindedly brought his hand to his mouth, feeling even more embarrassed than ever. But a gentle hand grabbed his and pulled it away from his mouth. He looked over at the girl who was just smiling.

“It feels like home, right?” she asked. Kibum nodded, never moving his eyes from Taeyeon’s face. “Home,” she said next. “Home.” She pointed to her lips as she said the word. “Watch how I shape the word,” she instructed. Then she said it slowly once more, “Home.”

“H-hom-me,” Kibum said, trying to mimic the way she moved her mouth.

“Home,” she said again, refusing to give up.

And finally, Kibum got his mouth into the correct shape after one final go. “Home,” he said quietly. Taeyeon smiled a bright, happy, and sincere smile. “Home,” Kibum said again, the word filling him up and taking him away from the girl he changed for. His eyes closed and he began drifting off to sleep, but he felt someone pull his head from the bark of the tree behind him and onto a shoulder. He snuggled into Taeyeon’s neck instinctively and fell asleep right there. Taeyeon fell asleep only a little later.

It was a warm night.

-----

Jonghyun barely slept a wink all night. His arms were around Jinki like they always used to be, but he was so scared that he would go to sleep and wake up to realize he had just been dreaming everything. Afraid that Jinki was still dead. Or maybe he would wake up and Jinki would be dead again. After Minho’s magic had faltered during their first day back together, Jonghyun was more scared than ever.

Subconsciously, Jonghyun tightened his grip on Jinki’s waist. When Jinki squeezed his hand tighter, Jonghyun knew he was also awake.

“I’m right here,” Jinki suddenly whispered. “I’m not going anywhere.” For now. The silent words hung in the air as if they were knives on strings above their heads. “Go to sleep, we’ll both get up in the morning and go for a walk together. We’ll eat breakfast together. We’ll talk together. We’ll cuddle on the couch while watching television. We’ll–”

“We’ll be normal again,” Jonghyun muttered, hoping that Jinki wasn’t lying to him; giving him false hope. If it was all a lie, Jonghyun didn’t know if he could handle it. Maybe he had already gone insane to some extent. Was this normal in any way?

“Yeah…”Jinki muttered. “Normal.” And then Jonghyun felt Jinki’s breathing even out as he went to sleep. Jonghyun remained awake for a while after before he eventually closed his eyes and also slipped into slumber.

In the morning when the sun peaked through the windows into their room, Jonghyun and Jinki woke up together as if nothing had happened. They smiled at each other and exchanged small good morning kisses before managing to push themselves out of the bed. Jinki got dressed first like he always used to and Jonghyun took longer just because he was sluggish in the mornings. However, he made sure Jinki did not try to escape to the kitchen to cook breakfast. He was convinced that even Minho’s magic couldn’t make Jinki a better cook.

After eating breakfast, they went out for a walk together like Jinki had promised. Everything was going along so normally that Jonghyun wondered if he had dreamed that whole horrible ordeal. But he knew that it had really happened, and he knew that one day, Jinki would leave him again. He clutched Jinki’s hand in his tighter.

“Just pretend,” Jinki whispered. “Just pretend you don’t know anything. It will make the time we do have not as frantic.” Jonghyun knew that Jinki wanted him to smile, but even as he tried, tears came to his eyes that he couldn’t stop.

“I can’t.”

As if trying to change the subject, Jinki suddenly said, “Let’s go to Minho’s place. I want to see his puppets again.” It was a poor choice of topic, but it seemed to do the trick anyway.

“Alright,” Jonghyun muttered. He had something to say to Minho anyway. He wiped away the moisture from his eyes and they sped up their walk.

When they were back on their special street, the sudden urgency of their time together seemed to vanish into thin air. They were welcomed as they had always been. No one had taken notice of the supposed death of Jinki. They all just thought that he and Jonghyun were on one of their occasional visits and that everything was normal. Because they acted normal, Jonghyun and Jinki felt normal. They felt like they could smile easier again. The memories of their past visits made them both smile.

Smiling felt incredibly good after feeling all that sadness.

When they reached Minho’s shop, something felt ever so slightly different. Minho was not out entertaining children like he usually was and his shop was quiet. He was not in the doorway, messing with the dolls, and he was not seen in the windows, messing with the displays. Jinki didn’t seem to notice as he walked in with Jonghyun in tow.

“Minho! We’ve come to visit!” he called into the house. But then he released Jonghyun’s hand and went off to explore the shop for anything new that Minho might have created while he was away. Jonghyun remained in the doorway, looking around as if he had never seen the tiny store in his life. The sound of shuffling caught his attention, and he turned his head to look at the top of the stairs. Minho stood on the very top step, looking somewhat wobbly. His hand was on the railing as he descended slowly. He looked incredibly tired.

“Are you all right?” Jonghyun asked as he walked over to the bottom step.

“Tired,” Minho confessed. “Very tired, but nothing I can’t manage.” Minho straightened himself up and walked off to the other side of the shop. “How are you two doing?” he asked, gesturing towards the direction Jinki had run off in.

Jonghyun didn’t answer right away. He just stared after Minho as he worked in his shop. The way he handled his puppets with such care was becoming a beautiful sight to Jonghyun. Since he found out what puppets meant to the man, they seemed more precious than he had previously thought, and the special puppet that gave Jinki life was Jonghyun’s favorite.

“Minho,” Jonghyun whispered, “you don’t realize how grateful I am to you. Even if it won’t last, thank you for bringing him back. It means so much to me.” Minho’s back was turned to him, but Jonghyun said every word with all the emotions he had, but he didn’t feel that anything he ever said would justify just how thankful he truly was. “Thank you, thank you, thank you…” He slowly walked forward and wrapped his arms around Minho’s frame and just let himself rest there for a moment. He almost didn’t feel Minho move until he was fully turned around and his hands were on Jonghyun’s face, pulling him away gently.

And then there were soft, warm lips on Jonghyun’s. For a long moment, he was too stunned to do anything but stare wide-eyed in disbelief at the very close face. When he finally came to his senses, Jonghyun jerked back from Minho so fast he almost lost his balance. They stared at each other for a long time; Minho’s face wasn’t betraying anything, and Jonghyun was still looking at him with that stunned expression.

The sound of footsteps brought them both back down to earth. Jonghyun barely looked over at Jinki before he rushed over to grab his hand. “We’re leaving,” he said, leaving no room for argument as he hauled himself and Jinki out the door without another word.

“But why?” asked Jinki. When Jonghyun didn’t answer, Jinki dug his feet into the ground. “Jonghyun, will you stop for a second?” But Jonghyun refused to stop and continued to move forward. Jinki gave up on his protests about half way home, and when they walked in the door, Jinki asked one more time, “Jonghyun, what’s going on? Why did you just storm out of Minho’s shop?”

He was answered by a fierce, burning kiss. It surprised Jinki, but he didn’t resist all the same. Something about the way Jonghyun was kissing him was asking to be reassured of something. He seemed to need him a lot more at that moment than ever. It was the most desperate he had ever seen Jonghyun. But when they pulled away from each other, it did not escalate to anything else like he expected it to; they just stared at each other, breathing heavily.

The fear in Jonghyun’s eyes faded and Jinki felt relieved. Then arms wound around his waist as Jonghyun hugged him tightly, resting his head on the elder’s shoulder. Jinki wound his arms around Jonghyun’s shaking frame a moment later.

“Whatever happened there doesn’t matter,” Jinki whispered soothingly. “Everything is fine now.” And he just stood there, waiting for Jonghyun to stop shaking.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
olebade
Aug. 6th, 2011 07:46 am (UTC)
everyone seems to love my taekey in this lol
and yes, poor jongyu ;_; why do i do terrible things to all my characters? lol

thanks for reading!
kuroianemone
Aug. 6th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)
Omo, you're so amazing. The way you can create such eerie and magical stories. I cried when Jinki died. It worried my 4 yr old sister and she brought me tissues - so cute! The end made me hope for some JonHo after Jinki has to go away again. Of course it would have been better if Jinki had never died... But it's okay :p I really like it so far. Sorry it took me so long to read it. ;)
olebade
Aug. 6th, 2011 07:48 am (UTC)
lol its fine. sometimes things sit in my "things to read" folder for months before i actually get around to reading them XD it wouldnt have mattered to me if you didnt read it until next year i would just be glad you read it :D

thanks for reading!
kuroianemone
Aug. 6th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
Next year?! Wow, it would not have taken me that long... :p
olebade
Aug. 6th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
*has things to read from two years ago*....lol
kuroianemone
Aug. 6th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC)
Lol well that's the difference between having and not having a life. Until I start college at the end of the month, I have no life. ;)
irethsingollo
Sep. 5th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
Stealing myself a spot :'3
Really have to read it ~~ always loving your comments on my fic so <3 And added you too, 'kay? n_n
olebade
Sep. 6th, 2011 06:37 am (UTC)
:D ♥♥♥♥♥
i'm glad you like my comments! i hope this doesnt disappoint you *nervous laugh* the dialogue is crap XD
irethsingollo
Sep. 6th, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC)
The dialogues were great, why would you think they're crap! They were funny and just so like them! x3

Imagining poor embarassed Jinki when his mother's telling such things about him x"DD
And lolol Jjong will be forever alone because he sings in sleeps and sleeps with open eyes /dies laughing

I loved the atmosphere in the beginning, the special street and relationships and how it suddenly changed with that accident... srsly my heart skipped a beat reading that D:

And I cried so much afterwards ;~; But I forgive you since the idea was amazing and you made him come back to life again x"D And Minho the angel asdf

And Key the fox so cute :'3 Not to mention Tayeon ke

Onew telling Jonghyun to pretend ;~; *another round of tearing up*

*breathes out* Okay, I'll get to the next chap tomorrow! I have a feeling my poor heart can't handle more x"D /joking

I still loved it a lot, the whole idea and all ❤
olebade
Sep. 6th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
lol it wasn't so much this part that was crappy. it's later in the story (i was on a deadline so i was rushing).

but im glad you liked this lol. sorry for making you cry! D:

XD i had to make it all lighthearted in the beginning so that the turn of events would seem more heartbreaking :P

i hope you like the rest of it!
irethsingollo
Sep. 7th, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
Haha I see x"D Deadlines are evil :< Though sometimes they're convenient 'cause I wouldn't have finished some things otherwise xDD

Srsly I'm not tearing up while reading easily.. probably because I haven't read many that well written fics they'd make me cry :'3
You definitely succeeded on that, once I got into the "okay, it's all nice and fluffy" bam you do this x"D

I'm sure I will x3
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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