Title: my heart is still (remembering)
Word Count: 1,784 (69,837 total so far)
Warnings: Lots of swearing, depictions of a character having panic attacks, mentions of alcohol and drug abuse, some (mostly non-graphic) blood and gore, sexual situations(?)
Summary: He’s not a hero, and he’s not a spy. Really, he’s just a mechanic who nearly went crazy and got in over his head in order to cope.
Notes: This is the last chapter, guys. Hopefully it closes up all the plotholes and answers any lingering questions you may have. The epilogue will be up next week at the usual time. Thank you guys so much for sticking with me; it means a lot.
Hongbin never noticed before how shitty the chairs in Hakyeon’s waiting room are. They’re stupid and plastic, and after three hours sitting in one he can attest to the fact that they are not comfortable by any definition of the word.
These are the sorts of thoughts he’s had while waiting. Hakyeon is doing surgery, trying to save Wonshik’s hand again, and Taekwoon is in there with him, playing scrub nurse. Hongbin can only sit here and pray that Wonshik is okay.
He tells himself that the injuries weren’t that severe. Wonshik was conscious and talking when Hongbin saw him last, and he might have a long recovery ahead of him between the reattaching of his arm and whatever damage there was to his leg but Hakyeon assured Hongbin that he was going to live.
It still feels too much like that day over a decade ago, when he’d put Youngji in the car and driven her to the hospital and been forced to sit in a waiting room too much like this one for hours on end before they would let him see her. And in the end, after all that waiting and praying and hoping, he’d been allowed in the room for the express reason of being at his wife’s side in her final moments.
He can’t do that again. He doesn’t know what this thing between them is yet, but he wants the opportunity to find out. He needs to know that Wonshik was telling him the truth. He needs to see where else they can go from here.
Finally, finally the door opens and Taekwoon stands there, his hand on the doorknob as he gazes impassively at Hongbin. “He’s alright,” he says.
Hongbin is up on his feet before he has time to make a conscious decision. “Can I see him?”
Wordlessly, Taekwoon steps out of the way and waves Hongbin into the office.
He feels like it should look different, this place with Wonshik in it. But it’s the same room as always, only the tiniest bit jarring because Wonshik is in the chair instead of Hongbin.
Hakyeon looks up as Hongbin enters. He’s standing at the sink on the far side of the room, washing his hands. When he sees Hongbin he says, “He might be a little out of it, since we gave him a pretty big dose of pain medication.” He dries his hands and comes over to lay one on Hongbin’s shoulder. “He’s fine though. Just be careful.”
Hongbin doesn’t know what the warning means, really. Be careful with Wonshik’s broken body or with his own emotions? He’s not sure it matters, because either way he can’t seem to move now that he’s seen Wonshik, reclined in the exam chair with his eyes half-lidded.
Wonshik is staring right back at him. His right arm is wrapped in bandages, and his left leg is propped up in a splint. There are other, smaller bandages taped to him here and there, covering more minor cuts. His whole body seems to be one big bruise.
“Hey,” he mumbles.
Hongbin startles at the sound of his voice and automatically takes a step backward. The door is shut behind him and he doesn’t remember it happening, or even Hakyeon leaving. He forces a breath into his lungs and then replies, “Hey.”
Looking sleepy, Wonshik says, “Are you just gonna hang out over there, or…?”
Hongbin takes another deep breath and pushes himself off the door, taking one step and then another until he’s beside the chair. Wonshik’s injured arm is lying just in front of him. He doesn’t dare touch it, almost doesn’t dare get too close for fear of ruining all of Hakyeon’s hard work. “We have a lot to talk about,” he says.
Moving his head in a gesture that might be a nod on a better day, Wonshik agrees, “We do.”
“You lied to me. A lot.”
“I know,” Wonshik mumbles. “I’m sorry. I know I fucked up. If I’d trusted you from the beginning then maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”
Hongbin makes a decision, skirts around the exam chair to pull Hakyeon’s stool up with his foot and plunks down on it so that he can take Wonshik’s uninjured left hand in both of his. “Or maybe we never would have found each other,” he says.
Wonshik turns his head a little, to meet Hongbin’s eyes as he smiles at him. “Maybe,” he says.
Hongbin brings Wonshik’s hand to his mouth and ghosts a kiss over his knuckles, and it suddenly hits him—this kiss, just the barest of contact, is still more solid and real than the kiss that he shared with Youngji, back in his lab. She really was just a figment of his imagination.
They sit in silence for a while, Wonshik still with a goofy little smile on his face that Hongbin thinks he can only half blame on the pain meds. It’s hard not to smile back in the same way.
“So what happens now?” Hongbin asks at last.
Wonshik takes a moment to respond, his eyes drooping low on every blink. “You know, there are some places in the countryside where the air is still mostly clean. I’ve always thought that maybe someday I would live there, surround myself with trees and grow my own food and maybe adopt a few kids.”
“You would hate that,” Hongbin says. He doesn’t exactly know how he knows it, but the way Wonshik laughs in response tells him that he’s right.
“You’re right,” Wonshik says. “I like the city too much. Even if the air is shit, there’s something about the bustle of people and the gathering of all that knowledge and technology. I want to live in the midst of it.”
“Then we will,” Hongbin promises. “Someday, we will.”
There’s so much more to talk about, but now isn’t the time. They’ll have to sort through which of Wonshik’s words were truth and which were lies. They’ll have to learn more about each other. They’ll have to deal with law enforcement regarding the company that they blew up.
But Hongbin thinks that maybe, maybe if they’re together through it all, that’ll make it easier. Maybe nothing will be as hard if he’s got Wonshik to rely on too, instead of having to do everything on his own.
He hasn’t felt this way about anyone since his wife died. And for Hongbin, that’s reason enough to keep trying.
“I don’t fucking know,” Wonshik says. It’s been his response to most of the cop’s questions, and it seems to be no more amusing to him than the first five times. Hongbin fights a snicker and thinks, wait until he gets to me.
“Well, what do you know?” the cop asks, brandishing his stylus like it’s a weapon.
Wonshik shrugs and says, “Look, I’m not the one who called an emergency board meeting at four in the morning.” Hongbin fights another inappropriate giggle. “I was just doing my job. Why am I a suspect just because I’m the only one who survived a building imploding around me?”
The cop doesn’t have many more questions after that, and Hongbin doesn’t blame him. It’s not like either of them are properly suspects—if they were, this would be happening separately in an interrogation room rather than together in the wide bank of desks in the middle of the police station. No one really thinks either of them is guilty of anything.
“Mr. Lee,” the cop says, turning to Hongbin next. He’s looking down at his tablet as he speaks, but glances up suddenly and then back down, his eyebrows dancing up towards his hairline. “You’re forty-five?”
“Plastic surgery,” Hongbin says with a straight face, letting his eyes focus on the cop with as much intensity as he can muster.
Blustering, the cop says, “Right, of course, sorry,” and moves on. “Why were you at JF Industries when the building collapsed?”
Hongbin leans back, makes himself seem as casual as possible. “I wasn’t there when it collapsed. I got there right after,” he lies.
The cop shakes his head. “But why were you there, Mr. Lee?”
“Oh,” Hongbin says, shrugging one shoulder, fighting the urge to giggle again because he can see a minute tremor in Wonshik’s shoulders that means he’s doing the same thing. “I work there, as an engineer.”
“And you were coming to work at four in the morning?”
Another shrug. Wonshik makes a strangled coughing noise and Hongbin subtly nudges him with an elbow under the guise of shifting in his chair. “I had an idea,” he says.
The cops are basically forced to let them go after their interviews, because in spite of the oddity of their statements there’s no proof that either of them did anything illegal. It’s part of the reason that Hongbin wiped the company’s servers. There are definitely signs of foul play, but none that trace back to them.
“They’ll probably decide that the building wasn’t structurally sound and drop the case,” Wonshik says once they’re back on the street and far enough from the police station that they’re not likely to be overheard. “It’s easier than trying to find other suspects and to be honest, no one is gonna be sad that that place is gone.”
“You’ll have to get a new job,” Hongbin points out, but it just makes Wonshik snort and start swinging their linked hands back and forth. His fingers are strong between Hongbin’s, and that in itself is a comfort.
“That was never really my job,” Wonshik says, “and I’ll be glad to go do something else. Maybe I’ll actually use my programming skills for something good.”
Hongbin squeezes Wonshik’s hand and finds that he doesn’t mind the swinging overmuch, even though they’re both grown-ass men. “Maybe I’ll go back to building bots that don’t have faces,” he muses. And yeah, that sounds really good.
Wonshik pulls him to the side, right in the middle of the street, and kisses Hongbin through the mask on his face. It’s cheesy and makes Hongbin wrinkle his nose, but he pulls down the mask and gives Wonshik a proper kiss before tugging it back into place and dragging Wonshik down the street. He catches himself moving too quickly and slows his step a beat or two, compensating for the boot that Wonshik still wears on his left leg.
“Come on,” he says, “let’s go home before we get arrested for public indecency.”
And Wonshik only freezes at the statement for a second before he’s wrapping his arm around Hongbin’s waist and urging him to walk faster, eager for what’s been implied.
Hongbin only laughs and lets him.