Warning: not your average family
Genre: Family Life, Fantasy, Sci-fi
Summary: Jinki falls in love with the sky and the people who came with it.
[Chapter One] [Chapter Two] [Chapter Three] [Chapter Four] [Chapter Five]
Without even meaning to, he was back here again. Inside of his little cubicle, dressed in his formal wear as he scribbled down useless notes about the lessons he might want to teach in the near future. He had been gone for all of three days and already he was back in this place. Jinki let out a sigh, shaking his head at his own weakness and idiocy. What did he think he would find back in the outskirts of the world? He laughed gently, hurting. He was better off here.
Slowly, Jinki sat up in his chair. Setting his pen down, he pushed himself away from his desk and let his head fall on the border of his space. His eyes shut tight. Had work always been this boring?
"Kyuhyun?" Jinki called out. He waited for a few seconds, wondering if Kyuhyun had been at work today or if he was even in the building. He let out a breath about to call again, louder, when he stepped into his cubicle.
"Kyuhyun, you have to help me."
Kyuhyun looked incredulous for a moment before he smiled and walked fully into Jinki's cramped room. He leaned against the wall, making himself comfortable then he asked "What do you need, Jinki? Did you forget something?"
"No," Jinkki sighed, already annoyed with the conversation. Kyuhyun was polite but all of a sudden it was too polite; too nice. It annoyed him. He wanted to scream, being away made him irritable. He needed to vent. "Do you have time to talk to me for a bit?"
Kyuhyun blinked. His jaw dropped and his eyes flickered as he tried to figure out how to respond. Jinki smiled, it had been a while since his friend had made that expression before--since he had made that kind of expression. Jinki stood, taking the initiative and gently moving Kyuhyun with him as he moved out of his cubicle. He could feel the weight of work lifting off of him as he got further away.
Kyuhyun was surprisingly compliant, not making a sound or showing any resistance. Jinki was thankful. He felt very volatile and didn't want to offend Kyuhyun if he accidentally set him off. He scoffed, ignoring the curious noise Kyuhyun made as he did so. Those wings--skates. They did this to him. Once he got rid of them, got rid of this pain and loneliness that came from leaving everything would go back to normal. It would be fine afterwards. Everything would be fine.
Jinki turned sharply, the hand that wasn't holding Kyuhyun's arm snatching the door he had stopped at open and pulled the confused man into the small room with him. He had settled for the Janitor's Closet.
"...Jinki?" Kyuhyun asked, finally shrugging the other man's hold off. "Is there something you want to tell me?"
Jinki sighed, running his hands through is hair frantically before ruffling whatever hairstyle he had away. "Look, whatever I say in this room is secret alright? Between friends."
He knew the pause would make the situation worse, but he was too nervous to get himself to speak. He was about to admit something that was highy scandalous--he could lose his job for this. He could lose his life for this! Shaking his head, he swallowed and tried to gather his strength. Letting out a breath, he opened his mouth to speak and tried his best to ignore the feeling of the noose tightening around his neck.
"Do you remember the week I took off?" Jinki started, softly.
Kyuhyun blinked and frowned before he nodded, crossing his arms as he leaned closer subconsciously.
"Well," Jinki lauged, his voice shaking. "There is a reason I did that..."
"Because of the Bird that escaped right? Jinki, you don't have to feel guilty; a lot of people took off those days."
"No." Jinki murmured. "That was my excuse. My excuse for why I didn't want to work anymore..."
Kyuhyun straightened, eyes widdening. "I thought you liked this job, Jinki--"
"Kyuhyun, please. Just..." He sighed. "Just let me talk. Don't interrupt me anymore...please. I need to do this."
Kyuhyun looked slightly offended, but obliged, leaning against the cracked wood of the door. He looked to the side, biting his tongue as he forced himself to calm down and give his attention back to the distressed man in front of him. He nodded crossly, gesturing for Jinki to finish.
"You see, Sunday I was feeling very depressed and I kept thinking about my brother and how I missed him..." Jinki began, rubbing his forearm.The memories already returning to plague him, clouding his thoughts like smoke as he began to spout off what he remembered, without filter. "The Treks, I kept thinking abot them: If my brother hadn't been so good at them, maybe he would still be alive. Or: What happened to the people he rode with, did they die too? The police had to have killed the entire group or it wouldn't be fair...It wasn't..." Jinki sighed. "It wasn't fair."
"Would he be disappointed in me, since I joined the exact people who murdered him? Would he approve?" At this, Jinki had to stop to catch his breath, he could feel himself choking up. He felt embarassed. He wasn't one to show weakness in this way; to be reduced to something like this made him feel sick.
"Then," Jinki scoffed, bitter. "Then, I got this crazy idea. I was going to die."
Kyuhyun pushed away from the wall, standing straight as he finally felt the severity of the situation. "Jinki...what...?"
Deciding to ignore Kyuhyun's question but too caught up in his story-telling to feel any guilt, Jinki continued. "It was only fair, I decided...but first, I wanted to experience it...Just once, before I die. I wanted to fly..."
"Jinki..!" Kyuhyun hissed, astounded.
He was once again ignored. "I went to the Outskirts and bought a cheap pair, I was barely down the street when the auto-reponse robots were activated. I ran, tried my best to outrun them or at least find a place to toss the Treks but I couldn't. Then, I tried them on and Kyu, it was amazing. Nothing has ever felt that good. I felt..." A sigh."..free."
Jinki wasn't finished, but he couldn't bring himself to finish. A flood of emotions cascaded over him, drowning him as he tried to think of what to say next but nothing went through. He looked toward Kyuhyun who was glaring at the ground, deep in thought. Perhaps, that had been enough. He had told enough details in order for him to get the main picture, he was a criminal now. He needed to get all of this emotion off of his chest, but Kyuhyun's silence only made the pain worse.
"Aish, why would you tell me this..." Kyuhyun exclaimed, exasperated. "It is my DUTY to report things like this!"
"You're my friend, I thought you would give me advice...but," Jinki swallowed."But if you truly think it would be best, you can go ahead and tell Yunho. I understan..."
Kyuhyun shook his head. " No, no, I'll keep your secret, Lee Jinki--but you owe me."
Jinki smiled, feeling the stress lift off of his shoulders. "Thank you, Kyuhyun. I knew I could trust you."
Kyuhyun smiled, uneasily and sighed,shaking his head. "Let's just get back to work."
Kyuhyun snatched the door open, in mock or actual anger Jinki couldn't tell. He was just happy to get his feelings out in the open; he needed someone to also bear his burden, no matter how selfish that sounds. As they walked back to their areas, Jinki cleared his throat and asked him a question about what he thought about an idea he had for a future lesson. Terrible secrets were soon lost and forgotten in their new conversation about their jobs.
After his confession with Kyuhyun, Jinki felt lighter. His mood had improved and he actually felt like working for the first time in a while. Unfortunately for him, his day was over and he hadn't been given his usual teaching schedule yet. Yunho was still worried about his health after disappearing. He would get over it eventually.
Shaking his head as he walked ot his office, he couldn't help but think it was a shame that his motivation returned so late. Eyes locked on the carpeted floor, he sighed in discontent. Yunho probably assigned his classes to someone else already.
He fell into his chair, closed his eyes and hummed a single low tone as he relaxed into his seat. He couldn't even stay upset, he felt so good. He rotated in his chair, feeling lethargic. What he wouldn't give for a nap right now.
"Excuse me, do you know where a Mr. Jinki is?" A voice asked from the cubicle next to him. He scrunched his eyes up, letting a soft noise of resistance as he realized that the voice had come from Kyuhyun's room. Without a moment passing by, the mystery person was in view standing next to Kyuhyun, who looked concerned. Jinki gave the man a small smile to try and pacify him.
The man Kyuhyun had led to him was young, younger than he anyway, with a smooth complexion and ruffled, short hair. He wore slightly thick glasses that made his eyes look a bit buggy and a fedora to match his fall colored outfit. He looked like a student, but Jinki felt that something was a bit off about this one.
The young man approached with long, confident steps and extended his hand. "Hello, I am Kim Kibum."
"I cam to you because I believe you can help me with a problem?" At this, Kibum gave an inexplicably sharp glance to Kyuhyun who took that as his que to leave. Once Kyuhyun was fully out of the room, his eyes went back to Jink and all hostility dissipated.
Jinki's brows raised at the display, let all feelings pass through him, situated himself and pulled close to his desk. He machanically began to flip through papers, racking his mind for any Kim Kibum he may have had in his class. Sifting through rosters from each grade level that the student looked he might be in and classes he had taught this year, he let out a sigh. This could take a while...
"Oh, don't bother looking in your classes. I'm not a student." Kibum supplied nonchalantly, though is tone was soft, secretive even.
"Not a student?" Jinki's hands fell away from the hundreds of printed names.
"Not yet anyway," The boy said quickly, brushing unseen dust from his clothign and setting his hair. Was he nervous? "I've heard though that you know about the, uh..." Kibum paused. "The Treks."
Jinki blinked at how scandalous the boy made the word seem, as if he was ashamed of even saying it. It must also be why he came to an institution like this to ask his question, afraid of his own curiosity but eager to understand--like Jinki once was...
Jinki felt himself falling into the familiar role of "understanding teacher" as he pushed away from his desk gently and stood to face him. Kibum shrunk a bit, still not comfortable and Jinki decided to sit, make the boy's eyes higher than his own, put them on equal ground.
Kibum's bright eyes watched the move and narrowed Jinki knew he must have understood what he was trying to do. The boy, despite being wary, had lowered his guard a bit. He is a smart kid, Jinki observed, he wouldn't mind having someone like him in his class next semester.
Looking up expectantly, Jinki gestured with his hands softly. "Your question."
The future student nodded unsurely, looked at the floor and then raised his head, with his eyes on a generic picture of a prarie Jinki had hung up. "Well..."
An eyebrow arched quizzically. "Well?"
Kibum looked like he was going to open his mouth when Kyuhyun's voice cut him off.
"Jinki--I, sh--" Kyuhyun's almost curse was muffled, the ending cut off as the fumbling of papers was heard from the divider between them. "I have to schedule what lessons I'll be doing tomorrow and I just realized I forgot to grade my Trek physics classes' essays--"
"It's fine, Kyuhyun, go ahead. We'll catch up later."
Kyuhyun let out a breath, "I really wish I could be here for you, Jinki."
Jinki rolled his eyes and waved his hand flippantly even thoug heh knew Kyuhyun couldn't see. The action was mostly for Kibum anyway. He knew that he was watching him. "It's fine! Go home, procrastinator!"
Kyuhyun let a hand wave over the barrier before letting it fall and walking away. Jinki stared at the door until the steady click of Kyuhyun leaving faded away befoer addressing the boy again.
"Sorry abot uthat, your question?"
Kibum shifted, shuffling his feet. He seemed noticeably calmer. "Have you...have you ever used Treks before?"
Jinki felt panic dart through his nerves and still his blood, but his face did not show it. This was an innocent question, he covinced himself but even he felt a subconscious beast stir within him. He felt an eerily familiar twinge that he had tried to bury, peak its head above its grave. No!
He swallowed, clearing his throat to stop any further suspicion. "I haven't but I do know much about them."
Kibum inclined his head in a half nod. "Explain to me...in the most descriptive way possible, why Treking is bad."
Jinki, startled, said. "You haven't--?"
"Of coursen not." The boy replied. "But I deserve to know why I can't. Why is it bad?"
Shaken by his sudden chane in temperment, Jinki began slowly. "Based on several studies and accounts from former Trekers, we have found that people who participae in Air-Treking usually develop defects that effect their mind. Violent tenencies..." Jinki felt as thoug heh was about to list all the possible side-effects that could appear but stopped himself.
"No, not always. Truthfully, everything is based statistically and the numbers confuse me, but they say the percentiles are high."
Kibum hummed, eyes getting dark. "So, not all people are as crazy as you teach they are?"
Jinki blinked. "Excuse me?"
"Do you think it's fair, Jinki that you are teaching people who don't know better that using Treks will make them crazy?"
Jinki clutched the arms of his chair. He felt his face getting hot. Gritting hsi teeth, he glowered at the haughty man in frotn of him. "What we do is just. It may seem like it's crooked but it isn't. It's a safety precaution."
Kibum's lip curled into a snarl and his eyes barned with unrestraint fury. "A safety precaution--"
"Yes," Jinki snapped angrily, nearly leaping out of his chair to stand in front of the younger. He had a few inches on the future student and couldn't ignore the primal pleasure that he got from being able to look down at him. "The Air Treks aren't just skates. They represent a rebellion, the outer boundary--those people just a few miles away that despise us!"
Kibum looked ready to argue but Jinki went on, gushing, revelling in the fact that he could finally on on this needed tirade.
"The Treks give them an advantage because it is a gateway into a world we can never understand unless we use them. A world that sucks you in and makes you sympathize--we can't have that."
Jinki let out a breah, pausing as he envisioned Yunho's disapproving and disappointed gaze before he started again, softer.
"This is a silent war we have going in and it will not stop until one side is destroyed by the other. We lose loved ones and then it gets so easy to call them monsters...to hate them, to feel upset that your brother died fighting for the wrong side--!"
He stopped. All of his fury became pliable and slowly shifted to sorrow. His rant was over though he wasn't anywhere near finished. His emotions were a mess, confusing him. He felt tired and hopeless and so, so, frustrated. He just needed to rest.
Jinki fell back into his chair, head resting in his hands. He knew he had just ruined everything. His job, his reputation, even his friends would be gone in the morning. This boy knew. He knew and he was going to tell anyone he could. He always knew it would end this way. His family history was not a secret, though his elder brother's betrayal had been sugar-coated. The truth would ruin him.
"Aw, poor Jinki," Kibum cooed darkly, sounding so much more sinister in the dark inside his hands. The student clicked his tongue. "You are very volatile, Chickadee."
Kibum's hands pulled at his own, forcing him to look at him. He gently lifted the spectacles off of his face and rufled his hair. His sleeve went to his face and rubbed off the make-up that had changed his skin color slightly. ''
"Who else would it be?" Key let out a sigh and plucked the box sitting guility on his desk. He pulled back the top slightly, eyes glittering knowingly before sliding the lid back on and placing it in Jinki's lap.
Jinki's hands cradled it immediately, fingers petting the rough outside.
"You are hopeless. So adament about the evils of Treks while wanting to be a part of that forbidden world at the same time." Key eyed the box. "You can't have both, Jinki."
The box was pulled closer. "What are you doing here? How did you get in here?"
"The security is routine and lax." Key explained, stepping lightly around him. Every movement was graceful, had purpose and reminded Jinki that this man was not the student Kim Kibum but the dangerous and rightfully angry, Key of SHINee.
"Do you remember the day he left? How hurt everyone was?"
How could he not remember? The blood and danger in that arena thrilled him even now. It was the most exciting moment of his life. He had never, ever, hurt someone before in his life. It was the first time he had felt as though he was the true victor. The best.
" 'Minnie wasn't happy when he woke up and you weren't there."
"Tough." Jinki murmured.
Key's eyes cut and his hands slammed down on the box. "You're right, it is tough because now Minnie wants to properly reward you for beating him."
"Reward me?" Jinki asked.
"Congratulations, Lee Jinki, you are now the official leader of SHINee." Key sounded bitter but it seemed to not be directed toward him.
"No, no, I refuse!" His fingers clung to the box. His hands were turning pale. He shook.
"It's too late. You beat Taemin and Jonghyun had to forfeit. You won. Accept fucking responsibility and take our name!"
Jinki shook his head, feeling trapped.
"Let me remind you that I know your secret, Jinki. I even know why you started Treking in the first place. I can spread this rumor so fast you'd be jailed before you could even blink."
"I'll tell them about you all." Jinki spat out.
"Not until you were already found out and by then, who would believe you? You are a criminal already. Hiding on the other side, hoping that they will overlook you isn't going to work." Kibum shook his head slowly. "Not this time, Jinki."
Jinki looked down. Hands had fallen limp on the box. His treks slid , the noise faint on the inside. He stood up, blank. In his hands held his wings, battered and ruined. His hopes bare without the cardboard exterior.
Key smiled at his submission and led him out of the building. He made sure to speak like a student would, for the cameras--he said.
As they stepped outside of the building, the beast inside shuddered and paced in anticipation.
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