Title: Playing Soldier
Paring: Henry / Ryeowook
Disclaimer: Ryeowook-centric. Depressing and omg its in 2nd person >_>
Summary: Everyone has to do their time in the army and one day Ryeowook will too. He might not be bad at it but it won't necessarily be easy. Its hard when who you are gets in the way of who you need to try to be.
Everyone does it and you can do it too. You know everyone looks at you and thinks you can’t physically handle it. You’re too small and delicate for the rough training and day to day routine of a soldier. But you’re stronger than you look and better used to physical exertion than any of them know. Everyone is shocked when you’re hardly even fazed by the first round of training. The other newly enlisted soldiers are already wavering while you just stand there waiting for what comes next. Even if you were tired already, you’re so good at concealing by now that no one would ever even know.
You’ve spent so long with a constantly erratic and shifting schedule that it’s strange to have such a set routine regulating just when you go to sleep and when you wake up. You get more sleep the first week there than you’ve gotten since before you joined the label. It only makes you tire out less easily and get better at everything they want from you. Over all, you’re doing much better than anyone around you expected and those put in charge of you are quick to let you know just how impressed and proud they are.
But the newly enlisted soldiers around you haven’t forgotten who you are and never seem to tire of giving you hell for it. Despite the fact that everyone has to go, the army is still the world of the manliest of men. That isn’t exactly you and they aren’t going to let you forget that. While the higher ups in charge of you praise you for how well you’re doing the others who enlisted when you did taunt you whenever they know they won’t be overheard. They’re always prepared with some jab at your size, appearance or demeanor. You’ve been called pretty boy, and princess more times than you can count. You still try to make friends like you always do. You smile and joke and are as nice as ever, but no one smiles back and after a while you stop trying.
You start to hear them talking to each other, whispering about how you’re surely being given special treatment because of who you are. Surely the label has pulled some strings. That must be the reason every officer thinks so highly of you. Even though you know it isn’t true it still upsets you. You resolve to be even better than you already are at every type of training they put you through. You’re always close to the first to finish and you’re always the last one standing when everyone else tires from all the work. Eventually they’ll notice the officers think highly of you because you’re good and not because you’re you.
Eternally positive, as always, you think that maybe, just maybe, despite it all, this won’t be so bad. Then they put the gun in your hands.
It doesn’t show, you don’t let it, but you’re absolutely terrified just to have that weapon in your hands let alone use it. This thing can hurt people. It can end someone’s life. They want to train you to use it to be able to do just that. Your throat closes up and your chest grows tight at just the thought, your hands shaking around the cold, heavy metal.
The first time they make you fire the gun at a practice target all you can see in your head is another person taking the bullet and your stomach starts to churn. By the time it’s your turn to shoot, your whole body feels weak but you fire the gun anyway. The recoil knocks your already shaky body to the ground and you can hear a few of the other soldiers laughing but you’re too busy trying not to throw up to care. Practice continues until you’ve shot the gun at least twenty times and you think you might faint, the bullet riddled targets blurring and swaying before your eyes. The officer in charge of your training notices and suggests you go to the medical building but you refuse.
You won’t be what they all say you are. You’ll be better in the morning.
But all that sleep you were getting at the start no longer comes because at night your head is so filled up with music that you can’t shut out. New melodies flow through your mind as you lay with your eyes shut in your bunk and your whole body itches to write them out. You wish you had your piano and notebook to take some of the music out of your head and put it down for others to hear but instead you can only lay there and imagine in vivid detail what it would sound like if you could. You try to ignore it but you can’t. It’s harder than you thought it would be to turn off everything that you are. They can take you away from the music but the music won’t ever leave you. It stays, trapped, waiting.
After a week of nights like that you’re still functioning just the same during the day but you’re nearing your limit. You’re used to running on a lack of sleep but it can only go so far.
You’re still one of the best in your unit in just about everything. You’ve even gotten a little better at holding and firing that gun without feeling bile rising in your throat. But the other soldiers still talk about you and you spend every free moment of the day alone with the music in your head, thinking of everything you left behind.
It only makes you feel worse to think about it. You miss singing, you miss music, you miss your large, extended family of bandmates constantly begging you for food. You miss your own bed and most of all you miss the one you shared it with.
So on Sunday, instead of eating lunch, you go to the hall lined with cubicles with phones and call Henry. He always listens when you’re upset and always knows how to make you feel better, even when you’re apart. He had even been able to make you feel more calm about this entire situation before you left. The last time you saw him he was putting on a brave smile and kissing you goodbye in the van, telling you he would come visit as often as he could and as soon as you had leave he’d take you to the zoo to see the giraffes.
You planned to tell him everything. About the music in your head, the way the others soldiers talk about you…that you hope he never has to hold a gun…but the second he answers the phone the only words you can say are ‘I love you’ and ‘I miss you’ over and over. It’s not that all the other things stopped mattering; it’s just that these things mattered so much more.
“I love you too, Ryeowook. I’m coming to see you soon. Just one more week.”
The words were meant to comfort you but that night the music in your head is accompanied by Henry’s voice and the emptiness in your chest keeps you awake more than the music did alone.
You’ve put a lot of effort into trying to ignore just how much you miss him, you were pretty sure it might kill you if you didn’t, but that all comes undone and your bed feels even more foreign and empty now than it did before. That night when you do eventually fall asleep you dream you’re home and in his arms and he’s whispering to you about everything and nothing at all. When you wake up and he’s not there, you feel for the first time like you might actually not be able to do this.
Day by day the ache in your chest gets worse and worse until it’s almost impossible to speak around it. It’s gotten harder to hide how you feel, harder to seem like you’re strong and perfectly fine. The other soldiers have started to notice and have stopped whispering about you. They still don’t talk to you, but at least they don’t tear you down to make themselves feel better anymore. You wonder why it took getting you this broken down for them to realize that you’re just like them, you’re just better at pretending.
You kick into auto pilot, the way you always do when you’re too tired and beaten on every level, going through the motions every day and laying awake, staring at the ceiling every night. By the time a week passes and it’s time for everyone to finally get to see their friends or family you feel like you’re just drifting.
The visitor’s center is crowded but Henry finds you, his face lighting up with a huge smile that makes your heart clench in your chest. Its strange how seeing him there only makes you miss him more. It takes everything you have to not run up, throw yourself into his arms and never let go. But you’re still well trained. You know there are too many people around and its more important here than it ever has been that you don’t reveal just what the two of you have. So instead you hug him just long enough to appear friendly and try to pretend that that’s enough, even when it makes the aching in your chest worse.
To everyone else, your highly-perfected mask that covers everything breaking inside of you is only starting to slip. To Henry it may as well have not been there at all. He knows you too well, you can’t hide it. He sees you immediately for just how broken you are. He leads you over to a vacant table and sits across from you, leaning in with concern in his eyes, his fingers just barely brushing yours on the table.
“Are you okay?”
“Ryeowook, you don’t have to lie to me. What’s wrong?”
But sitting across from him, being so close but not able to touch him, to kiss him, is what finally breaks you completely. The tears are already burning in your eyes as you excuse yourself and run to the nearest bathroom. The lump in your throat is so big its difficult to breathe and you stop in the middle of the bathroom, feeling your already fragile composure starting to crumble away.
The few people in the bathroom, soldiers you recognize from your unit, look at you with a combination of discomfort and concern before quickly hurrying out and leaving you there alone. You’re glad. You never used to care about who saw you cry but you don’t want them to. You don’t want them to know all those names they called you were spot on accurate.
The first few tears slip down your cheeks and you catch sight of yourself in the mirror. You look ridiculous, even to yourself, standing there in your army uniform crying. Like some kid playing at being a soldier.
The door to the bathroom opens and you cover your face with your hands, hanging your head, even though you know that won’t really hide you. You can’t seem to bring your feet to move. Maybe whoever it is will leave like the others did. But familiar arms wrap around you and when you lift your head to protest because someone could see, Henry just kisses you, holding you closer. You still know someone could see but can no longer bring yourself to care, clinging to the front of Henry’s shirt and kissing back desperately. You don’t think you’ve ever needed anything in your entire life more than you need this right now and that aching in your chest lets up a bit.
You allow yourself a moment to bury your face against Henry’s neck, to feel his heart beating and smell his shampoo before you consider yourself already too lucky and move to pull away. His arms hold you in place and you start to squirm, stammering fears about getting caught until he presses another soft kiss to your lips to silence you.
“Two guys outside offered to watch the door. They’re telling everyone that someone is sick in here and sending them to the other bathroom further in. They said to tell you they were sorry.”
More tears flood your eyes and Henry wipes at the ones on your cheeks with his thumb, kissing your other cheek and your lips again.
“Ryeowook, tell me everything.”
And even though you’re already feeling much better, you lean into his protective hold and finally do. By the time you’ve told him about it all, even that terrible gun, you’re smiling because the whole time he’s held you close against him and won’t let go. You see yourself in the bathroom mirror again over his shoulder and this time you don’t see a kid playing soldier. You don’t really see a real soldier either, not yet, but you do see yourself and honestly, that’s all you ever want to see.
A.N.: I don't know why I thought of this...but I was laying in bed trying to sleep the other night and this entire story played itself out in my head and kept me awake. So here it is in all of its depressing glory.
Thinking about Ryeowook having to go to the army one day makes me want to curl up and cry until I just die.... ;_____;
Now its back to my massive, now 30k word, unfinished AU! It's creeeeping along.
Comments are love! <3