PG-13 // Sehun-centric (eventual Sehun/Tao) // 20,000w
Sehun doesn’t remember a time when men were at peace with dragons. Boys become soldiers and Sehun quietly accepts. Too bad his destiny decides that he’s more than that.
Warnings: Minor character death, very briefly mentioned prostitution
When you close your eyes, do you recall a time when we were one?
A time when you could do more than walk on your two legs, a time when you were able to soar above the common people with wings outstretched to the ends of the earth.
There was a time when those you passed would turn to stare up at you in awe because you were magnificent and powerful, when even the King himself would kneel before you, and you bowed to none but your brothers.
When you close your eyes, Oh Sehun, do you remember?
Sehun wakes to the sound of screaming. His arm is a blurred out shadow, outstretched and grasping at something, nothing, desperately.
All around him, Sehun is able to hear the cluttered footsteps of too many people in too small of a space, fellow trainees who had reacted quickly to the commotion, scrambling to their feet only to crash into each other and off the walls.
"What's going on?" Sehun mutters to no one in particular. "Another surprise midnight drill?"
No one answers, but Sehun hadn't expected one. Jongin -- who sleeps on the bunk below his -- can't possibly still be there; he's probably one of the idiots running around in the dark.
For a moment, Sehun considers getting off his safe position on a top bunk to maybe drag Jongin out of the panicking mass of trainees to find out what's going on, but before he's able to reach a decision, the door to the barracks are thrown open with its customary bang! and the light from a single hand-held lantern pours inside.
Out of the corner of his eye, Sehun sees Jongin lying with his stomach pressed onto the ground, the rest of their little group lying on top of him. Sehun has to scoff a little, Chanyeol's lying at the very top of their little human mountain and he is undoubtedly also the biggest of the bunch.
"And, what exactly happened here?" The voice from the door draws Sehun's attention away from his friends and as his eyes locks on the figure at the door, he hears the last of the whispers die away. "Cadets, are you not satisfied with the generous eight hours of sleep we have allowed you tonight?"
No one answers.
"Well?" their commanding officer demands and Sehun hears a movement from the other side of the barracks and Chanyeol's unmistakably deep voice cursing as he tumbles off the mountain.
It's completely unsurprising that it's Joonmyun who tumbles out of the tangle of arms and legs and snaps to attention.
"Nothing sir," he says, looking amazing composed for someone wearing only his underclothes. "We are extremely grateful for the sleep that we have been generously granted tonight."
Their commanding officer looks at them suspiciously. "Doesn't sound like nothing from the officer's barracks," he barks. "We could hear you girls screaming from there."
From the little light thrown from the lantern, Sehun can see Joonmyun's cheeks colour at the slight and he bristles slightly at being called a girl.
"Jongin had a nightmare, sir," someone calls from the back and everyone's head snaps around to stare at Jongin. "He was screaming about attacking dragons in his sleep and we all panicked."
The officer does not look pleased at the explanation. If anything, he looks even angrier.
"That's it girls," he bellows. "Out, out, out!"
The sound of grumbling boys getting onto their sleepy, tired feet fills the barracks. Sehun, too, groans as he lowers himself slowly to the ground, careful not to land on top of a fellow trainee and cause another small commotion. Bloody Taemin, he thinks. Too damn eager to get his best friend in trouble to think of the trouble it'd cause the rest of us.
"What is that I hear?" their commanding officer yells. His voice resounds off the wooden walls unpleasantly. It makes Sehun's head hurt. "Get out and run until your morning meal. No need to get dressed, go out as you are. Maybe it'll make you run faster."
"Sir," a voice interrupts. Everyone goes still to listen. "My father will be visiting today and he's due to arrive sometime before morning." While it's common knowledge that Joonmyun is the perfect cadet who follows every instruction given by the officers, it is also common knowledge that his father is some important advisor to the King. "I don't think he'll be too happy to see me, running around camp in my underwear."
"You--" The officer fumbles with his words, obviously flustered. "I--"
Sehun tries to muffle his sniggers, and by the sudden eruptions of coughs and deep breaths that fill the room, he knows that he's not the only one.
"Fine," the officer finally mutters. "Go back to sleep, but don't come running back to me when the dragons attack and you find yourselves too weak to move. They're a lot worse than what any of you girls could ever dream up."
The door slams behind him with a sharp snap! and they wait quietly for the heavy footsteps to fade away.
"Well Joonmyun," Jongin remarks, breaking the quiet after the last footstep had faded, "I don't think I've ever been so glad in my life that you suck his dick."
Over the sudden hoots of laughter, Sehun can still hear Joonmyun protest indignantly. "I do not suck anyone's dick," he says.
"Really?" Baekhyun asks, every syllable sounding more suggestive than the one that preceded it. "Could've sworn I saw you--"
And so another night passes in the first barrack of the Southern Territory Training Camp, and Sehun falls back to sleep, basking in the sounds of his friends.
No one is sure whether to be surprised or not when it's announced at one if their stiflingly uncomfortable morning gatherings that Joonmyun has been promoted to the rank of captain.
They're standing stiffly in formation when some Lieutenant General from the province capital bellows out his name and all he's done that he believes noteworthy-- which, by the sound if it, everything-- so Sehun zones out and tries to count the number of hairs on the back of Jongin's head. They’d tried whispering to each other once to bat away the boredom, but had been caught the third time and had to run laps of the camp after training that night until the next morning. Needless to say, it was a mutual decision for them not to talk again.
"Kim Joonmyun!" the Lieutenant General bellows out of nowhere, and Sehun's attention snaps back to the raised platform in front of them.
From somewhere to the right of him, Sehun hears Joonmyun call out a "Yes sir!" in reply so he sneaks a glance over out of his eye. His head remains rigid, facing foreword. It's only an indication of how well they've been trained that they're all able to do this, to listen in silence.
Joonmyun's hand is raised in salute as he steps forward, the perfect appropriate distance out of formation. Sehun continues to watch as the Lieutenant General steps off the platform with a small box in his hands.
"Congratulations, Kim Joonmyun," he says. "After careful deliberation, you have been promoted to the rank of sergeant."
Joonmyun receives the badge with both hands, his eyes shining.
No one questions how a cadet was promoted so many ranks. Everyone assumed his father had something to do with it.
One week later, Joonmyun is transferred to the Capitol for "further training."
"Wish I had a rich and powerful father," Baekhyun sighs. "One that could whisk me off to the safety of the Capitol."
No one disagrees because only the army is between the Southern Territory Training Camp and the dragons.
Post-Joonmyun life continues on and the hole he leaves behind in their little group starts to close up. Surprisingly, it's Jongin who falls into the "group leader" position that Joonmyun had vacated rather than Kyungsoo, as they had all expected. Although Sehun can't back away from the nagging suspicion that it’s really Kyungsoo who still rules from behind Jongin's larger frame.
"New cadets, fresh from the villages!" Chanyeol calls from outside. "They're in the assembly ground now."
Sehun raises his head off his bed to hear him better. The chatter inside also quiets as they listen to what Chanyeol has to say.
"We're to clean up and clear out," Chanyeol continues. "The senior cadets in the first barracks are being deployed." He pauses for a bit, then adds as if it had only just hit him; "We're the senior cadets now," he finishes. We'll be the next to go.
So they pack their belongings as fast as they can ("Clean up? The new cadets can do that," Taemin says and then almost bangs his head on the hide of a bunk when Jinki tries to hit his shoulder), and move over to the first barracks. Sehun hasn't been inside before but according to Joonmyun, they were better furnished with actual rooms inside.
The barracks are empty. The former senior cadets had already been deployed earlier that day. Trying not to think of how they will soon be occupying the beds of men who may or may not die in the next few months, Sehun races Jongin down the hallways, looking into every room to try the best one.
In the end, they find two rooms at the end of the corridor: one with five beds, and the other with six.
Jongin runs into the room of five. "I'll save this room for Taemin and them," he says from inside. "You wait in there until the others arrive.
Sehun spends the next five minutes testing out which bed is the most comfortable before dumping his small pack of clothes and other little personal trinkets --a few letters from home and an old book he'd found-- onto the bed. His new bed. Their new room.
Training continues, but with an intensity that has never been seen before. Senior cadets no longer shoot arrows at dragon cut outs pinned to a tree; instead they are formed to aim while running backwards at a flying arrow with a small red banner attached.
Sehun's sword isn't wooden as it was in his first year anymore, neither is it the blunted steel as it had been for the past few years. His sword is now made of sharpened obsidian; it's enough to slice someone else apart.
"Why do need to practise sword fighting so much?" Sehun whines as he plops down onto the group, gulping down long, well deserved mouthfuls of water. "We're going to be fighting dragons, not other people," he continues. Kyungsoo sits himself down neatly next to Sehun, making sure mud or dirt gets on his sword. Sehun looks down and sure enough, he had accidentally driven the point of his sword into and then across the dirt.
"You still need to know how to use a sword." Kyungsoo shrugs, holding his hand out for the water bottle.
"Where's yours?" Sehun asks, but hands it over anyway.
"Jongin's got it," Kyungsoo replies. "But he's over there sparring with Taemin."
Sehun hasn't really been close to Jongin for a long time. Everyone used to fall into pairs for practise so easily, but now, it was an awkward matter indeed. Their group no longer had even number. Initially, Kyungsoo had paired up with one of the officers, a young looking man named Ryeowook and Sehun had continued sparring with Jongin and Baekhyun with Chanyeol, but then Ryeowook became busier and busier with training the new recruits.
One day, Sehun had come to practise late. Kyungsoo had been waiting for him, sword already in his hand. "Jongin's practising with Taemin today," he had said, and that had been the end of it.
It's not as if Jongin's not his friend anymore; if anything, Jongin's become more invested in keeping their group together. Apart from practise, he spends every waking moment trying to rope them together with ridiculous bonding activities that Sehun swears Baekhyun and Chanyeol must have helped think up.
It's stupid, but Sehun likes it too; balancing his old wooden practise sword on his head while trying to not knock someone else's off. Winner is the last one with a sword on his head and is free to ask one question to anyone he wants.
It's a fun game, Sehun must admit. Through it, Sehun has discovered that Jongin used to cry a lot as a child, Chanyeol is scared of most women and Kyungsoo's mother wanted to dress him up as a girl the day recruiting officers for the army came to their village.
Life as a senior cadet, Sehun thinks, is harsh. Life as a senior cadet, Sehun thinks, is about growing up.
Another year passes. The day that they've been dreading arrives at last.
"Cadets!" their commanding officer bellows. "Pack your bags, you're heading out to join the main army tonight."
"But I want to sleep tonight," Sehun mutters into Jongin's ear.
Jongin wraps an arm around Sehun's shoulder and reaches up to pat his head. In the last year, Sehun's grown taller.
"Anyone who is opposed to travelling tonight," their commanding officer continues with a particularly venomous glare at Sehun, "can head off tomorrow morning by themselves without food, water, or anyone to guide."
Jongin ruffles Sehun's hair again. "You still wanna sleep tonight?" he asks teasingly. Sehun elbows him in the stomach in response.
The moment their commanding officer leaves, complaints break out.
"You know," Kyungsoo suddenly cuts in. He doesn’t raise his voice or yell, people fall quiet to listen to him. "We're only travelling by night so there's less of a chance that the dragons see us."
Everyone shuts up.
Admittedly, travelling isn’t as bad as Sehun had expected. The two officers sent from the main army to guide them, Lieutenants Donghae and Hyukjae, are a surprising amount of fun.
Of course, after a few days of resting from dawn to early afternoon, it was going to be a pain to sleep at night again.
Mother never would have let him live like this, his day turned upside down. She would have told him to sleep when it's dark and to wake when the sun does. Sehun wonders how his mother is doing, and if she's still trying to convince his father to sleep earlier everyday.
Sehun wonders if he'll ever be able to go home again. Back to his little village just outside the Capitol walls where they farmed crops and energy from the wind to sell inside the Capitol walls.
Their village was quaint, the paths were not paved like those in large cities but dirt flattened and compressed after years of use. The children dressed freely and laughed even freer, balancing themselves on the sides of the little man made streams they had dug around the fields while their mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles looked over them with fond smiles.
Going to the Capitol wasn't hard either and Sehun would often go there sometimes with his father if they needed medicine or anything else that they couldn't get in the village. Once, Sehun went with a group of his friends, a group of little boys giggling in through the large gates and staring in wonder at all the places that their fathers had not taken them.
Sehun misses his home.
"We'll arrive by dawn," Donghae says as he points forward. By the starlight, Sehun can see the shape of his arm and he follows its path into the distance where the stars are cut off by the jagged earth. "We've found a place in forest and we've cleared it up a bit, it's as safe as it gets in there."
And sure enough, there is a patch of forest ahead and Sehun would have thought it impossibly large if he were not able to see what lay beyond. On the other side were empty fields and beyond that still, are the silhouettes of mountainous forests, rising up against the sky. Where the territory of men stopped and the land of the dragons began.
"What's up?" Jongin slings his arm around Sehun's shoulders. "You look a little gloomy tonight."
"Get off, you're heavy." Sehun tries to shrug the arm off, but it only grows heavier as Jongin pulls him closer. "How do you know if I look gloomy or not? I can't even see your annoying face right now."
"My face is very handsome, better than yours at any rate," Jongin retorts playfully before pausing. His tone softens a bit and he's completely serious when he replies. "I don't know, you just seem a little sadder than usual."
In the darkness, Sehun smiles.
"I saw that," Jongin says. "You smiled!"
"No I didn't," Sehun denies, but he doesn't attempt to stop. "Who would smile because of you?"
"Everyone," Jongin says and Sehun attempts to elbow him in the ribs.
"No one," Sehun emphasises.
War is unpleasant and the army of men equally so. The forest clearing is not big and the boys are forced to cram together at night inside a common tent. There's perhaps five or six hundred of them, fresh cadets, ready to replace the ever growing casualties.
"Hey, you're from the South right?" A hand taps Sehun on the shoulder and he pauses mid-step. A boy around his age is smiling at him. His clothes seem cleaner and Sehun hasn't seen him around before so he supposes the boy to be one of the Capitol cadets who had only just arrived last week. Snobby, rich little brats they were, thinking they were above the others just because they trained in the Capitol.
"What about it?" Sehun replies and his words come out angrier than he had intended. "So what if I'm from the Southern Territory?"
The boy draws back his hands and shakes his head with a laugh. "No, no, I didn't mean it like that," he says, guessing the meaning behind Sehun's words straight away. "I'm Himchan," he continues and extends a hand for Sehun to shake.
Cautiously, wary that this is some sort of joke by the cadets from the Capitol, Sehun takes the hand and gives it a slow shake before letting go. Their hands fall back to their sides almost immediately. "I'm Sehun."
"So Sehun," Himchan says, his voice airy, "I was wondering if you knew a Kim Joonmyun?"
Sehun startles at the name. He hadn't heard it for almost years. There had been a fight a while after Joonmyun had left in which, after receiving a letter from home, Baekhyun called Joonmyun a rich bastard who bought everything in life.
"Yes," Sehun answers slowly. "I knew him."
"Excellent!" Himchan claps his hands together in excitement. "Could you take me to him? Or tell him that I'm here?"
"What?" Sehun stares blanking. "To Joonmyun?"
"Yes! We were friends for the time he trained in the Capitol," Himchan continues excitedly. "I haven't seen him since he went back to the South though."
"Are you sure?" Sehun asks. "We never heard anything after he left."
"Of cour--" Himchan cuts his sentence off as he catches on. "Wait, you mean he's not here?"
"He never came back to the Southern Territory Training Camp," Sehun confirms.
"Oh," Himchan says. "I was certain that he had said that he was going back South."
"Maybe you remember wrong," Sehun replies. "None of us have seen him for years."
"Yeah, maybe I did," Himchan says. "Maybe he crossed the Northern Border instead."
It's the only explanation possible; all young men their age had been drafted into the army and the cadets from Capitol had been the last to arrive. If Joonmyun really had left the Capitol, he would be here.
"Yeah, Joonmyun is smart. Maybe he crossed the northern border to study and his father didn't want anyone to know." Although it's a plausible possibility, Sehun's tone falls completely flat. He doesn't believe even his own words.
"Yeah, maybe," Himchan nods. "It was nice meeting you Sehun," he says, "I should probably go to training now."
Sehun waves. "See you around," he says.
Himchan returns the gesture with a laugh and while Sehun still doesn't quite know him, in times like these, he really hopes that he'll be able to see everyone around again.
It's not until months later that Sehun remembers his conversation with Himchan.
The dragons are truly terrifying, and every word that their commanding officer, every insult, said comes rushing back at him. Sehun sees that nothing had been exaggerated in the slightest. His knees had quaked and his body had been paralysed with shock when the dragons arrived, gliding over the battlefield from afar. The arrows barely scratched them, and the canons did not hit even one.
Suddenly, they were the first year cadets again, freshly recruited from their little village homes, not knowing one end of a sword from another.
See you around," he hears himself say over and over again in his head. See you around, see you around see you around, it echoes.
Just how many people would he not be able to see around again?
Wicked heat sears past the side of Sehun's face.
“Sehun!” he hears someone, no, Jongin, yell.
He feels himself falling back, falling down and now he’s breathing water down into his lungs. Sehun chokes, but he’s inhaling no air.
He’s in the river being washed away.
The whisper of his name comes with a dizzying shake of his shoulders. There's some there, next to him, trying to wake up.
There's the voice again, but it's louder now and there's a sense of urgency laced within his tone. Sehun doesn't open his eyes, but instead he focuses on the voice through his tired, waterlogged body. The voice is mild, strangely warm and unmistakably familiar. Someone from another squad?
"Sehun," the voice comes again. "Wake up, we need to move."
The voice is familiar, Sehun knows it. "Joonmyun?" he asks, opening an eye.
And sure enough, it is Joonmyun in front of him looking wilder than he's ever seen. Gone are military uniforms and white dress shirts, Joonmyun's in a dark blue tunic and there's mud in his hair.
"The battle is over," Joonmyun hisses. "You need to go back, now!"
"But why are you here?" Sehun tries to ask. "You've been gone for--"
"Not now." Joonmyun pulls Sehun to his feet. "You're in the forest, on the wrong side of it."
Sehun stumbles onto his feet. He's in dragon territory. The river must have carried him right down from the battlefield and into the strip of forest.
"Listen, the dragons have retreated back well beyond the forest for now," Joonmyun continues, dragging Sehun forward along with him. "I'm taking you to the edge of the forest now."
"How do you know that? Joonmyun, what have you been doing?"
"Joonmyun." Sehun wrenches his arm out of Joonmyun's grip and folds them, standing stubbornly on the spot. "I met your friend from the Capitol, Himchan. He said you came back to the Southern Territory Training Camp."
"That was a lie," Joonmyun replies. He stops as well, and turns back to look at Sehun. His eyes are harder now, as are all their eyes. The eyes of one who has seen things beyond their understanding and age.
"Sehun," Joonmyun says again, his voice now soft. It reminds Sehun of the days, so many years ago when they were still cadets in training, getting into trouble and Joonmyun having to bail them out endlessly along with Kyungsoo.
It reminds Sehun of a simpler time, when he could complain that the training was killing him without wondering how many times it had saved him instead. A simpler time when he could tell Jongin to go die after finding a frog in his bunk without wondering if he'll be able to see Jongin again.
"Let's go," Sehun mumbles, and he drags his feet forward, step by step.
Joonmyun looks relieved, and he carries on leading the way out.
They reach the edge of the forest and when Sehun peers out through the trees, he can see the field where it feels like they had only just fought on. The ground is charred black and ash travels swift in the wind.
“Wh-” he turns to ask. The ground had been green, a field of grass in the morning. And now it was dry and dead.
“They burn the bodies,” Joonmyun replies quietly. “It’s dangerous to let them rot and it’s even more dangerous to collect them. So they’re burned on the spot.”
Sehun can see the ash being blown away. Everything smells burnt. He wonders how many friends he can see, lighter than air, who can finally fly. Jongin had always wanted to fly, but Sehun hopes he never will. Not this way, at least.
“Oh,” he replies. “When did the battle end?”
“This morning,” Joonmyun replies, and he places a comforting hand on Sehun’s shoulder. “You should cross now.”
Sehun starts to step away but he feels a hand on his wrist, holding him back.
“I know you’re confused Sehun,” Joonmyun says, “but if you want to know what really is going on, come back here tonight. I’ll wait here from the time it gets dark to dawn.”
Taken aback at the sincerity in Joonmyun’s voice, Sehun can only stare back. Joonmyun offers a small, apologetic smile. The same one he’d offer Sehun when anything goes awry.
“I’ll be back,” Sehun finally says. “I’ll see you soon.”
Joonmyun nods his head, and lets go. “I’ll see you soon,” he echoes.
“Thank you,” Sehun says and he doesn’t know why he’s saying it. Joonmyun seems to know though as he nods.
“Sorry,” he says.
There’s someone there, behind him. Sehun can hear them creep along slowly behind him, the dull thump of leather boots on damp, forest floor. The same kind of sound he makes when he takes a step forward, the type of sound that could only be caused by regulation military leather.
Did someone see him sneak out? Sehun had been careful to make sure no one was watching. There were consequences for leaving camp without permission, and Sehun had no intention of being caught out.
He ducks down, pressing his stomach down onto the dirt a line of low shrubs. Quietly, he slips an arm out from underneath him, a small dagger gripped tight in his fist as he waits.
It doesn’t take long for the person following Sehun to show himself. He steps out from behind a tree and Sehun wants to laugh and groan at the same time. When more familiar figures step into sight though, it takes all his self-control not to groan out loud.
"Sehun, where are you?" Jongin whispers. "We know you're here somewhere."
Sehun doesn't hold back a groan as he pushes himself off his stomach and to his feet. The group startle as they hear the shrubs in front of him quiver.
"What are you doing?" he hisses at them as they approach. "Aren't you asleep?"
"Obviously not," Baekhyun drawls from the side. Sehun turns to glare at him for only a second before looking back at Jongin. He crosses his arms.
"What are you doing here?" he asks again. "Why did you follow me?"
Jongin scowls back at him. "What would you do if you saw your best friend sneaking out into the forest in the middle of the night?"
Sehun pauses, then he sighs. "I'm going to meet Joonmyun," he says. The words sound unreal even to him and the muffled noises of disbelief he receives don't surprise him
He feels the back of a hand on his forehead.
"Well, he hasn't got a fever," Kyungsoo announces wirily, "but that doesn't mean that there's nothing wrong with him."
Sehun jerks away from the hand.
"Sehun," Jongin says, and his tone is almost sympathetic. "Joonmyun's been gone for years."
"He's probably in the Capitol sleeping in a silk bed right now," Baekhyun spits.
Sehun hates their tone. He had seen Joonmyun only earlier than day and it had been the same Joonmyun who had led him to safety.
"He's here," Sehun replies stubbornly because he knows that he's right and that Joonmyun will be waiting for him at the edge of the forest. "I'm going to meet him now. If you don't believe me then just carry on following me and you'll see."
He doesn't dare look at their faces for a while, and no one replies. The silence stretches.
When Sehun finally does look though, Jongin is smiling. Although the smile is skeptical, he shrugs. "Whatever," he says. "I'm going with you. It's not safe to go by yourself anyway."
Kyungsoo nods and soon, Chanyeol and even Baekhyun are agreeing.
"I hope it's really Joonmyun," Chanyeol remarks as they start walking again. "I miss him."
If Sehun had found the deserted battlefield offsetting by day, it was positively haunted by moonlight. Sehun finds himself shivering as he scans the first line of trees on the other side, looking for the fallen tree that would mark out the place Joonmyun had seen him off in the morning.
He sees it, and begins to make his way across the burnt ground, alongside the river and to the other side. Footsteps behind him tell him that his are following.
They stay out of the trees and hover just in front of the fallen tree that Sehun had seen earlier.
No Joonmyun in sight.
"Joonmyun?" Sehun calls softly. "Where are you?"
There's no response. He calls again.
He hears Baekhyun start muttering behind him, but he doesn't listen, continuing to call for Joonmyun.
And sure enough, after a minute, a familiar voice sounds from behind a tree just inside the forest.
"Sorry, I fell asleep waiting for you to arrive," it says. Everyone goes silent. They all remember that voice.
Joonmyun appears from behind the tree a moment later. He's smiling at first but then his eyes flicker behind Sehun and they widen.
"What are you all doing here?" he asks, panic rising with every syllable. His arms move in unreadable gestures.
"Joonmyun?" Kyungsoo asks softly. "What's wrong? Where have you been?"
Joonmyun doesn't seem to hear him though as he runs forward. "Shit," he says. "This is so bad."
"What's bad?" Sehun ventures.
Joonmyun stares directly behind him, his eyes wide. "Shit," he says again. "Cover your head."
"What the fu--"
"Just cover your head!" Joonmyun suddenly yells, bring his arms up over his head.
Instinctively, Sehun follows suit. Something blocks their moonlight. Kyungsoo screams and Chanyeol yells out.
And then, there's nothing below his feet for miles.
Sehun is in the air.
Sehun opens his eyes. He's not dead and he's not inside the stomach of a dragon either. He looks around, and sure enough, they're all there, lying on the surprisingly warm ground.
They're all lying on the ground, apart from Joonmyun it seems. He's standing in front of a dragon and Sehun's about to yell at him to run! before something very strange happens. The image of the dragon starts to blur and spin around in Sehun's eyes and when he looks again, there's no dragon but a very tall man.
Sehun blinks. The image in front of him does not change so he presses his eyes shut again, seeing only darkness for a long moment before he opens his eyes again. Nothing changes-- Joonmyun is still standing in the middle of the cave with his forehead pressed against a man who had been significantly bigger and covered in scales less than a minute ago.
"Um, Joonmyun?" Chanyeol says. It sounds like he'll be the first to voice out what all of them are thinking. "Why are you guys pressing your foreheads together?"
"It's hello!" Joonmyun exclaims indignantly. "In dragon."
Sehun gapes at Joonmyun and Baekhyun is a second away from retorting, probably to comment on how stupid Joonmyun looks when--
"But neither of you are dragons, not right now at least," a voice says. Someone had beaten Baekhyun to it-- a short, sharp looking man their age who had just stepped out from a covered hole in the side of the cave. Sehun could have sworn that he had seen the man before.
"Jongdae?! What are you doing here?" Joonmyun splutters at the same time Baekhyun says "Hey! You're the guy Joonmyun was sucking off in the showers!"
Oh. That must have been it. It's a not a big training camp that they have there and everyone's seen everyone else at least one.
"Baekhyun?!" several voices ring out at the same time. "You what?" That voice sounds a little angry, Sehun thinks. Must be Joonmyun.
Baekhyun shrugs, his face the very picture of innocence. "I wanted to wash my hands?"
"I--" Joonmyun stumbles over his words. "You--"
Sehun finally brings himself to cut in. "So, what exactly are we doing here?" he asks Joonmyun, trying his best not to look at the tall intimidating man-who-is-actually-a-dragon standing just behind him. "I assume from this," he gestures around, "and the fact we're all still alive that dragons..." He trails off, unsure of how to arrange his jumbled up streams of thought into a moderately coherent sentence.
Thankfully, he's saved by Joonmyun who answers the question he hadn't been able to finish asking. "Not exactly," he slowly says. "Dragons are dragons and not all of them can change forms like Wu Fan here," at this, Joonmyun turns a bit to acknowledge the man behind him. Wu Fan nods towards them once, his dark eyes slowly flickering from one curious face to another. "But they're all intelligent. More intelligent than we've been taught."
"Chanyeol, Baekhyun, Kyungsoo, Jongin, Sehun," Joonmyun's eyes travel over their faces as he says their names, meeting their eyes for a second before breaking away to meet the next. "We were one, once upon a time. Dragons and humans, we were the same."
"Do you know what they're doing up in the Capitol?" Lu Han asks quietly.
Sehun shrugs from his position, sitting with his knees drawn up to his chest next to Jongin. "Preparing for battles? Rationing supplies? Having important meetings?"
They had been shown to their rooms, or rather, their little cave that branched off from the main cave that they had arrived to, after the initial awkward introductions. There were six of them, the dragons-who-were-human-as-well and they all had some sort of power. Apparently, they all had powers too, but humans had been dead to them for so long that they had forgotten how to use them.
They'd been called out for dinner, which then lead to a gathering around a fire in the main cave.
Wu Fan snorts, and loudly at that. "You really have no idea, do you?" he asks, tone flat. He turns to Joonmyun. "You haven't told them yet?"
"No," Joonmyun replies, voice soft. "They've already been shocked today, by you. I didn't want to burden them with so much all at once."
"It's okay." Sehun surprises himself by speaking up before anyone else does. "We can take the news."
"They're not counting on winning the war, not really anyway" Lu Han cuts in bluntly before Joonmyun can figure out how to soften the blow. "They're planning to sacrifice every last one of you while they hole up behind the walls of the Capitol."
"W-what?" Sehun hears Kyungsoo stutter somewhere to his right.
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Jongin snaps back. "We're fighting this war and we're going to win it for our families, so they won't fear monsters like you ever again."
Joonmyun winces visibly, and Sehun's hand moves to cover Jongin's. Stop it. Thankfully, Jongin doesn't pull away.
"Monsters, are we?"
A new voice joins them from behind. But that can't be right because Sehun had checked before sitting down. There's only a dead end behind them and no one could have possibly sneaked past.
"Zitao," he hears someone sigh but he's not sure who because they're all too busy scrambling around.
Everything about the newcomer is heavy, and he entrances Sehun like no other ever has.
"Who are you," he breathes out before he can stop himself.
The man smiles slowly, sarcastically. "Why don't you ask your friend there," he says in a voice that compliments his smile perfectly. "He seems to think he has a good idea."
"I'm sorry about him," the words spill out before he can stop himself and before he knows it, Jongin is making an affronted sound and punching his side.
"Zitao," someone says again, this time firmly. The newcomer must have been Zitao because he sighs once, loud and exaggerated before literally skipping past them. Sehun's eyes widen as he clings to Wu Fan's arm.
"Wu Fan," he whines, tugging at Wu Fan's long crimson sleeve. "Why didn't you tell me you were having a secret meeting?"
The ice breaks and out of the corner of his eye, Sehun can see that even Jongin has cracked a smile.
“So,” Sehun begins, “I’m not saying that we believe everything you say but if we stay here… then what?”
“Then,” a slow smile stretches across Lu Han’s small face. “We train.”