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find me when i’m lost, miss me when i’m gone (Kangin/Leeteuk, Hanchul, PG-13) for scampers3212
Title: find me when i’m lost, miss me when i’m gone
Author: ava_lava
Recipient: scampers3212
Characters/Pairings: KangTeuk, slight!HanChul
Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): mystery, sci-fi, AU
Length: 6203 words
Warnings: pseudo!death
Author's Note: I wanted to do a crime fic at first, but to be honest it turned out to be really tacky. So I wrote this one and tried to keep the mystery factor in it. Hope you like it anyway! Betaed by my best friend in real life.

Once upon a time, there lived a very unhappy turtle who only wanted a friend. But as hard he tried, nobody in the forest liked him. The squirrels made fun of him because he could not climb trees. The rabbits laughed at how slowly he walked. The birds cackled at how awful his voice was. The dragonflies refused to be his friend because he could not fly. Every day, the unhappy turtle was alone.

On October 21st, 2012, Jungsu received a phone call from an unknown number. “Hello?”

“Hi, it’s Youngwoon.”

Jungsu frowned. He knew nobody by that name. “I’m sorry, you must have called the wrong number.”

“Oh,” Youngwoon replied, his voice noticeably sad even through the cellphone static. “Okay. Sorry to bother you.”

The line went dead. Jungsu thought nothing of it for a long, long time.

One day, a very beautiful fairy appeared. Her hair was long and smooth. Her dress was made of golden silk. Her heart was kind and pure. “I am looking for a friend,” she said, voice sweeter than the gentle summer breeze. “A friend who has a heart of gold and love with no bounds.”

On November 7th, 2012, Jungsu witnessed a car accident.

He did not even have time to shout a warning before a car sped by, knocking a frazzled-looking man off his feet and down onto the cold concrete. There was a split second of shocked silence before bystanders started to react, almost in slow motion. Some cursed the driver for his ignorance, some rushed over to tend to the fallen pedestrian and yelled for somebody to call an ambulance.

Most of the onlookers either watched from the sidelines or just filed out, Jungsu being one of the latter. It was none of his business, and there were already people taking charge of the situation. Secretly in his heart Jungsu hoped that the man lived. Nobody deserved to die out of the blue like that, and as Jungsu turned his back and continued walking, he had a flash of those very brown very kind eyes that may never open again.

He shook his head, trying to wash out those depressing thoughts. He needed to go to work.

Jungsu was a librarian, and a stereotypical one at that. While timid in nature, he was strict with the whispering policy, and never failed to call out some loudmouth in the back. He also knew the exact locations of all the books the library owned, and he could surf the bookshelves like the back of his hand without using the library search engines.

Just outside the library was a gift shop run by his best friend Heechul, and while he would never admit to it, Jungsu really had nothing better to do on his off-duty breaks but visit the redhead and tell him about the boring endeavours that made up his whole life. Heechul continued to remind him that he was not a psychiatrist, but he listened to Jungsu’s babble and offered offhanded advice all the same. Sometimes it was good advice, sometimes it was crude. (Most of the time, it was both.)

“You are a douchebag,” Heechul proclaimed after the librarian told him about the car accident earlier that morning, eyes fixed on his phone as his thumbs continued to tap at the screen. “A sensible douchebag, but still a douchebag.”

Jungsu glared up at him. “Thanks, Heechul.”


“So you think I should have done something?”

“Nope. There really is not much you could do in that situation. Besides, according to what you said, somebody else was already taking care of it. Not like anything you could have done would have made a difference.”

Jungsu glared some more. “Thanks, Heechul.”

“Anytime.” Heechul took in his friend’s depressed face and let out an impatient sigh, setting down his iPhone 5 onto the cashier table. “Look, buddy, people get into accidents and sometimes people die from them. Sometimes you can’t do anything but hope that they get better and move on. You can’t expect yourself to just fix everything.” He narrowed his eyes. “Seriously, what’s the matter? You’re not usually this sentimental about things like this.”

Jungsu rested his chin on his palm, letting his eyelids close. “I don’t know. Somehow I just hope he’s okay.”

As 10:00 P.M. approached, Jungsu helped his best friend close up his shop and took the bus twenty minutes back to his apartment where he proceeded to change out of his work clothes and take a shower. He then reheated some leftover lunch and set the table, grimacing at the sink where stacks of plates from the past two weeks had accumulated.

A sound from the window made Jungsu jump a little bit. He exhaled sharply. It was probably that neighbourhood cat begging for food again. Or some rats. Either way, they took his food.

He certainly did not expect to find a man passed out on his balcony.

“So you just left him in your apartment?” Heechul gaped. “Alone?”

Jungsu flinched. “I had to go to work,” he retorted meekly. “I left him a note and an Advil?”

“And what in God’s tits made you think that anything you did from last night until now was in any way, shape or form safe?”

He had a point, and Jungsu hung his head. “I just do?”

Heechul threw a Doraemon pen at him, purposely missing by a hair. “You are a dumbass.”

“He would have caught hypothermia if he stayed outside all night,” Jungsu argued, flushing crimson. “I couldn’t just leave him like that!”

“Are you trying to make up for yesterday?” Heechul ran his hand through his perfectly combed red hair. “Because you’re trying way too hard for it to be healthy.”

Jungsu set his jaw. “I couldn’t just leave him like that,” he reiterated. “Say what you will.”

“Whatever. Don’t complain to me if you find your apartment burnt down.”

Jungsu’s apartment was still intact by the time he got back, and he breathed out the sigh of relief that he did not know he was holding. And upon entering his room, he breathed out yet another sigh of relief to find that everything was exactly where he left it. The dish-ridden sink, however, was completely empty.

“Least I could do,” a deep voice behind Jungsu quipped, surprising the librarian five feet into the air. “I also ordered Chinese takeout, by the way.”

“Goodness, you startled me!” Jungsu pressed his hand to his heart, forcing out a laugh as he gave the guy a quick once-over. The man he took in was big, on the brawny side—in relation to Jungsu’s scrawny frame, it was easy to predict who would win in a fight. His eyes, however, were brown and sincere and kind—

“You were hit by a car yesterday,” Jungsu blurted, too busy staring to feel embarrassed at how forward that sounded. “I saw you.”

The man thought for a moment before chuckling lowly. “What day is it?”

Jungsu blinked. “Thursday. November 8th.”

“What year?”


“Figures. Wow, I really am lost.” He smiled sheepishly. “Sorry about the intrusion. I probably didn’t make the best impression on you. Anyways, want some food? It just got here ten minutes ago.”

Jungsu nodded, smiling a bit faintly as the man set the table and divided the napkins before proceeding to courteously pull out Jungsu’s chair for him. “I haven’t gotten your name yet,” the librarian chirped as they ate. “I’m Jungsu.”

Those kind eyes formed crescent moons on his face. “Youngwoon.”

“So Youngwoon, are you a serial killer?”

The man snorted. “No.”

“Okay then, based on the assumption that what you’re telling me is the truth, what do you do?”

“I’m a children’s book editor.”

Jungsu’s eyes brightened. “No way! I work at the central library!” And from there, they dove into a very animated conversation that consisted of books, music, and whether or not Youngwoon was indeed a serial killer (only half-jokingly on Jungsu’s part). To Jungsu’s great surprise, Youngwoon was comfortable to be around. Though almost intimidating in appearance, Youngwoon had this soft expression on his face that smoothened out the rough lines on his forehead and softened the tightness of his smile. The librarian felt like they could talk for hours, just the two of them, alone, perfect.

Jungsu blinked quickly and bolted out of his chair to start cleaning the table, almost disappointed when Youngwoon took the hint and started to slip on his coat to leave.

“Thank you for your hospitality. Most people would have called the police if they found a guy like me passed out on their patio.”

“How did you get up there, though? You were passed out, so it took me half an hour to get you inside. You couldn’t have climbed ten stories in the state that you were in.”

Youngwoon shrugged. “I fell.”

“From where, the sky?”

Youngwoon grinned and pulled Jungsu into a bear hug. “Thanks for everything, Jungsu. I mean it. I wish there was something more I could do for you.” With one last squeeze of Jungsu’s small frame, he pulled back and let out a contented sigh. “Would you be creeped out if I asked for your phone number?”

Jungsu flushed bright red. “No,” he found himself saying. “Not at all.”

The grin Youngwoon wore was face-splitting. “Okay then. Can I have your number?”

"It's been four weeks, buddy. He's not going to call."

Jungsu pouted and continued to stare at his cellphone. Four weeks since Youngwoon had passed out on his tenth-floor balcony. Four weeks since Youngwoon had a simple Chinese takeout dinner and asked for his number. Four weeks since Youngwoon literally just walked out of his life and disappeared. “Then why would he ask for my number?”

“Because you have a hot piece of ass,” Heechul answered easily, and a customer who heard him quickly scurried out of the shop without buying anything. “Hot pieces of ass always get the phone numbers. I should know.”

“What if something bad happened to him? I wish he would call.”

“You sound like a lovesick thirteen-year-old.”

“Thirteen-year-olds text nowadays.”

Heechul scoffed. “Jungsu, you knew him for five hours, tops. You first saw him getting hit by a car. Then you see him passed out on your balcony. You live on the tenth floor. Did you even wonder how he got up there? And to top it all off, he acts all grateful for your help, asks for your number, doesn’t call you, and completely vanishes from the face of the earth. Admit it, Jungsu, nothing is right about this guy. Forget about him, and stop pretending to organize the children’s section of the library when you’re actually looking for books he edited. Don’t say otherwise, I know you’re doing it.”

Jungsu sighed. Heechul really did know him too well. “I found three so far. One nursery rhyme, two fairy tales.”

“Oh Jungsu, you sly dog you.” Heechul rolled his eyes and let out a long and exasperated sigh. “Forget him. You deserve a lot better than that douchebag.”

“He’s not a douchebag.”

“Well, he didn’t call you back. That makes him a douchebag in my book.”

Jungsu could not resist a smile. “Thanks, Heechul.”

“Anytime. The sooner you move on, the better.”

By the time Christmas rolled in, Youngwoon was but one of Jungsu’s bittersweet memories.

Every animal in the forest wanted to be this beautiful fairy’s friend. The squirrels gave her the biggest acorns found in the highest branches of the trees. The rabbits held races against each other, showing off their speed and agile footwork. The birds sang for her in a chorus of sweet melodies. The dragonflies whizzed around the forest and flew high and low for all to see.

On February 4th, 2013, Jungsu woke up to find his cellphone gone.

Four hours later, at work, a cellphone started to ring.

It was located at the very far corner of the library, in the reference section where Jungsu had more often than not found horny teenagers with their hands up each other’s shirts. Jungsu just happened to be shelving books there when the ringing began, and he descended the ladder to make his way towards the sound, frowning when he was unable to find its source.

So he continued searching, almost grateful that the phone always started to ring again even after the normal number of rings was up. This person sure is desperate, Jungsu mused after the fifth time the ringing started.

Eventually he found it wedged in between the pages of an old encyclopaedia, and Jungsu almost jumped at the fact that it was the same phone he owned, complete with the same white phone case with the angel wings on it. His phone. Jungsu did not even have time to wonder how it got there before he noticed the caller ID.

Kim Youngwoon, it read, like a splash of ice cold water.

Heart pounding in his ribcage, Jungsu answered. “Hello?” he squeaked, suddenly short of breath.

“Hey Jungsu,” greeted a warm voice.

Jungsu almost stopped breathing. “Youngwoon! Wow, I haven’t heard from you in a while.”

“I know. How are you doing these days?”

“I’m at work right now.”

“Oh, sorry, is it a bad time?”

“No, no, it’s fine!” Jungsu blurted, checking over his shoulder to make sure that his boss was not looming over him. “You just caught me by surprise, that’s all.”

“What day is it?”

Jungsu blinked. “It’s Monday.”

“I meant the date. July? August, maybe?”

“No, it’s February 4th, 2013.” Jungsu frowned. “How do you not know that?”

“I have a wonky calendar,” Youngwoon replied breezily. “Dates are hard to keep track of. What are you up to right now? Anything interesting happen yet?”

“I’m a librarian, not a firefighter,” Jungsu quipped, rolling his eyes fondly. “Nothing interesting ever happens at work.”

“Point taken,” Youngwoon laughed. “You want to go for coffee once your shift is over?”

Jungsu’s heart fluttered, and his face involuntarily broke into a smile. “I’d—yah, uh—sure, I’d love to,” he stammered, almost kicking himself for how happy and desperate he sounded. Smooth, Jungsu, smooth. “But my shift doesn’t end for another two hours.”

“I can wait. I’ll see you out front?”

“Yah!” the librarian confirmed, almost bouncing on his heels. “Yah, I’ll see you then!”

Once the call ended, Jungsu proceeded to throw his arms into the air and happy-dance for the next five minutes straight.

The following two hours passed slowly, gruellingly. Jungsu was jumpy the whole time, mind spinning in glee and nervousness. After checking his text messages and making sure that his phone was safe in his front pocket, he busied himself by shelving books and tried not to think about how he should have worn a better-fitted shirt or nicer pants. He checked out books, shushed several rowdy college students, logged out of unused computers, and just did his normal job in hopes of calming his nerves. It did not work.

The minute his shift ended, he rushed outside and made a beeline for the gift shop, where he promptly flew inside, almost tripping over a guy looking at stationery. “Heechul, fashion advice!”

“What for?”


Heechul looked up from his phone, face blank. “It’s been three hours since I last saw you and in that time you managed to score a date?”

“Focus, Heechul, how do I look?” Jungsu smoothed the front of his shirt for any noticeable wrinkles.

“You look good. Casual but chic. Jeans could be tighter but I’m assuming you don’t have time to change. Just ruffle your hair a little bit for the just-had-sex look.” The gift shop owner quirked an eyebrow. “May I ask who you’re going out with? It better not be your boss.”

“No, not my boss.” Jungsu bit his lip. “Okay, don’t freak out, but do you remember Youngwoon?”

Heechul’s face went from blank to irate in the span of three milliseconds. “The douchebag? Why? How?”

“He called, I answered, he asked me out, I said yes. Granted, I have no idea how my phone got inside an encyclopaedia and how he knew that I would pick up but that doesn’t matter because now we’re on a date. Now please, how do I look? Am I ready?”

“I’m going with you,” the redhead huffed, voice implying the and that’s final. He shot out of his chair and grabbed his bag. “You, guy in the hat!”

Guy In The Hat turned out to be the poor man Jungsu nearly bulldozed over near the stationery section. “Who? Me?”

“Yes, you. Look after my shop while I make sure my buddy’s date is not a serial killer. I’ll give you all the pencils you want for free, and don’t lie that you don’t want them because I saw you ogling that expensive Doraemon one.”

“Uh. Okay then. When will you be back?” Guy In The Hat asked as Heechul stormed past him and grabbed Jungsu by the shoulder.

“When my best buddy is serial-killer-proof.”

And that was how Jungsu found himself having a very awkward coffee date with an amused Youngwoon and a suspicious Heechul. The “date” basically consisted of Heechul’s snarky comments, Youngwoon’s cheeky replies, and Jungsu’s squawks of protest. Definitely not ideal.

(“So, Youngwoon,” Heechul started, voice edged with mistrust. “What do you do?”

“I’m a children’s book editor,” he replied, smiling easily as he sipped as his coffee. “Picture books and nursery rhymes and the like.”

“Busy job?”

“When it gets busy, it’s Hell in the office. But usually, it’s just like any other monotonous job.”

“So these last four months have been so busy that you didn’t have time to enter a ten-digit number and press the CALL button?”

Jungsu felt his face turn hot. “Heechul!”

Youngwoon looked down at his lap. “Yah, sorry about that. I really have been busy.”

Heechul scoffed. “With what? Photocopying?”)

Needless to say, Jungsu was mortified. He did not remember feeling so embarrassed since that time in eighth grade when he wet his pants in physical education class. “I’m really sorry,” Jungsu apologized quietly once he had finally convinced Heechul that Guy In The Hat may set the gift shop on fire if he stayed any longer. “I didn’t plan for him to come along.”

Youngwoon snickered. “No worries, it was fun. Heechul cares about you.”

“He’s like the annoying younger brother I never thought I needed,” Jungsu admitted, smiling softly. “Don’t tell him I told you that, though. He’ll never let me live it down.”

“Cross my heart,” the editor promised, winking. “Thanks for coming to coffee with me.”

“The pleasure was mine.”

“And I really am sorry for not calling all this time. It’s been four months? Really?”

“No, I understand. You must have been really busy.” Jungsu tilted his head, doing his best not to look too curious. “May I ask why?”

Youngwoon shrugged. “I just never have enough time to do anything important nowadays.” Their eyes locked. “You’re very important to me, Jungsu. I hope you know that.”

Jungsu’s cheeks burned. “I didn’t.”

“Well, now you do.” Youngwoon pushed his chair back and headed to the cashier, where he proceeded to pay for all three drinks despite Jungsu’s objections.

Youngwoon insisted on walking Jungsu home, and in spite of his embarrassment the librarian could not deny the giddiness he felt. The sidewalk was dark and empty, lit only by the occasional headlights of cars and the dim streetlamps. It was chilly, and Jungsu could see his breath come up in puffs of white clouds.

“Cold?” Youngwoon asked.

“A little,” he confessed, rubbing his hands together. “I walked out of my house this morning without knowing that I would be staying out past nine.”

This earned him a sheepish laugh. “Sorry about that. I’ll try to give you more of a heads up next time.”

Next time? Jungsu thought giddily, almost not noticing how Youngwoon had already entwined their fingers together. “Are you from around here?”

“No, I live really far away.”

“Where exactly? If it’s not too rude to ask.”

Youngwoon shrugged. “Really far away, that’s probably the only way I can describe it. You probably never heard of it.”

“Hipster,” Jungsu teased. And that was that.

They talked about their lives, their hopes and dreams, funny childhood stories. Jungsu told the story about how he got beat up by a bunch of boys at school for dressing up as an angel for Halloween. His pristine white costume was brown with mud and torn up by the time they were through with him. Youngwoon talked about the darkest period of his life where he was so deep in the closet that he was practically in Narnia, how he was kicked out of his parents’ house the moment they found out. Soon enough they found themselves in front of Jungsu’s apartment, and without thinking too much Jungsu turned around and pressed a very light kiss on what he hoped was Youngwoon’s lips.

Youngwoon was startled, that was certain, but the surprised look on his face soon turned into one of happy relief as he bent down for another kiss, this one deeper and longer, not caring if anybody saw them.

“Stay the night,” Jungsu breathed out.

“I want to,” Youngwoon sighed, shoulders heaving. “But I might leave in the morning.”

Jungsu’s heart clenched. “Just stay until I wake up. That’s all I’m asking.”

“If I had a choice, I’d stay forever. I can’t promise you anything. I’m sorry.”

Jungsu wrapped his arms around Youngwoon’s neck. “Stay the night.”

Youngwoon was gone the next morning, as if he was never there in the first place. There was no note, no explanation, and just like last time, Youngwoon seemed to just vanish into thin air. One side of Jungsu’s bed was empty and cold. He buried his face in his hands and cried.

The unhappy turtle hid in his shell and started to cry. “Why so blue, my green little one?” the fairy asked. “The sun is yellow and flowers are pink. Surely there is no need to shed such tears.”

On March 10th, 2013, Jungsu used his landline to call in sick for work. Not because he was actually sick, not because he didn't feel like going to work.

It was because he found Youngwoon on his balcony again, except this time he was keeled over, bedraggled, and honest to god bloody. So much blood, so much blood.

“No hospital, please, no hospital,” he was muttering in his half-crazed state, blood caking his nose and staining his clothes as he tried to right himself on an elbow.

“I have to call an ambulance,” Jungsu cried, eyes wide in horror as Youngwoon collapsed in a bloody heap. “You need help!”

The injured man grabbed onto Jungsu’s hand, halting him in his tracks. “No. No hospital. Please. I’ll be fine. Just need some rest. Please, I’m begging you.”

Jungsu breathed in, breathed out, growled in defeat. “Fine. You stay right there, I’m going to get a towel or a first aid kit or something.”

After cleaning up most of the blood on the man’s face, Jungsu worked at getting the bloodied clothes off, willing away the nausea that bubbled up his throat as he inspected the angry flesh wounds and nasty-looking bruises. The injuries were mostly concentrated around the left side of Youngwoon’s torso, and Jungsu almost hissed in sympathy when he saw those bloodied cuts and scrapes surrounded by ugly purple discolorations. Probably a fractured rib or two, he thought to himself, wincing. He opened the first aid kit and got to work.

The whole time, Youngwoon insisted that nothing vital was broken though Jungsu was not sure if he could trust his judgment considering how much pain he seemed to be in.

“What happened, exactly?” Jungsu asked, hands shaking as he applied the antiseptics and bandages.

Youngwoon groaned lightly, screwing his eyes shut as he tried to grit out his story. “I don’t really remember. I think I got hit by a car or something.”

Well, that wasn’t worrisome at all.

“You think you got hit by a car?” Jungsu all but screeched. “Youngwoon, what is going on?”

Suspicion rose in the man’s eyes. “How do you know my name?”

Definitely not worrisome at all.

Eventually, Jungsu managed to help Youngwoon up, trying not to blush at the feel of those familiar shoulders on his own, and the two of them hobbled towards the bedroom where Jungsu all but scrambled to throw stray clothing under his bed and simultaneously help the injured man into bed. “I’ll get you some water or something,” he stammered. “Or tea, would you like tea? Wait, you just got hit by a car, soup would be best for that kind of incident, yah, soup, I’ll make soup—”

“I’m fine, thank you,” Youngwoon said with bemusement. He groaned. “Painkillers might be nice, though.”

“Painkillers, on it!”

After a while, the pain seemed to subside. Youngwoon was bleary, which was to be expected, but even as he finally managed to settle in he still insisted that he had no idea who Jungsu was. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, really meaning it. “I wish I did know you.”

Jungsu had to swallow the tears. “Care to tell me the whole story, then?”

“I’m in a time loop. Today, to me, should be November 7th, 2012. You probably have met Future Me already, if that makes any sense.” Youngwoon studied the man in front of him, eyes searching but with no target in mind. “You probably think I’m crazy.”

“From what I have seen from you, I already think you’re crazy.”

“Really?” Youngwoon’s eyebrows lifted in curiosity. “Well then, I apologize in advance for Future Me’s behaviour. I hope he didn’t give you too much trouble.”

“Not that much trouble,” the librarian assured, cheeks pinking as he scratched self-consciously at his elbow. “I mean, I really liked Future You.”

Youngwoon stared. “Did Future Me tell you about the Narnia phase?”

“Yes, Future You did.”

A soft smile formed on the injured man’s face. “Then Future Me really liked you, too.”

Youngwoon fell asleep within a few hours. Jungsu stayed by his side the whole time, eventually falling asleep in a chair beside the bed. When he woke up, Youngwoon was gone. There was no trace of blood anywhere in his apartment. The first aid kit sat in his bathroom, unused. The bloodied towels were neatly folded in the linen closet, bleach white.

But somehow, Jungsu knew it wasn’t all a dream.

“I have nothing to offer in return for your friendship,” the unhappy turtled sobbed. “I cannot climb trees like the squirrels. I cannot run like the rabbits. I cannot sing like the birds. I cannot fly like the dragonflies. I can only promise that I will always love you and be your friend no matter what happens.”

On April 16th, 2013, Jungsu woke up in the wee hours of the morning to a pair of big strong arms wrapped around his waist, and he melted into the embrace with a soft smile. “Hi Youngwoon.”

“How did you know it was me?”

“I know you.” He felt the rumble of Youngwoon’s laugh against his neck, and his heart swelled with happiness. “Youngwoon, what exactly is a time loop?”

There was a moment of silence before Youngwoon sighed in defeat. “I promise that I’ll tell you today. Let’s just rest for a little while longer.”

“I’ll hold you to your promise,” Jungsu warned half-heartedly as he drifted back to sleep. When he woke up a few hours later, Youngwoon was still there, holding him like he never wanted to let go. He probably doesn’t, Jungsu thought to himself happily.

(“It’s just a term I made up. It’s pretty much the only name I can think of that describes the predicament I got myself into.”


“I’m lost. Really lost. You see, I should be dead. I died on November 7th, 2012. Got hit by a car, died instantly.”

“How are you alive now?”

“There are doors to the fourth dimension. I accidentally stumbled into one of them. Problem is, the fourth dimension is highly specific, and it knows that I don’t belong in this point in time. I shouldn’t exist at all.”

“So what happens now?”

“Well, I narrowed it down to three options. Either I am forever cursed to wander through time and harass the first person I see into telling me what day it is. Or I get sent back to November 7th, 2012 and die again. Neither is ideal, to be honest.”

“You said there were three options.”

“It’s probably false hope, but perhaps the fourth dimension is just looking for a place where I belong, where I don’t need to worry about falling asleep one day and waking up in a totally different place.”

“Like my tenth-floor balcony?”

“Yes, like your tenth-floor balcony.”

“Have you found a pattern, at least? Do you have any ideas of where you will end up next?”

“Not really. It’s all so random. All I know is that each time I find myself on a different path, I have this feeling deep down that it will eventually lead straight to you.”)

After breakfast, Jungsu had to go to work. The library staff was usually in over their heads during this time of the month considering that it was finals week at the nearby university. “I would opt out,” Jungsu admitted a bit guiltily. “But there will be a whole lot of people there today. There has to be enough of us to make sure the noise level doesn’t rise above a certain level.”

“Well, that is such a huge blow to my ego,” Youngwoon chuckled, wrapping his arms around loosely around Jungsu’s neck, pressing his chest flush against the librarian’s back. “College students are stealing my boyfriend away from me.”

“Well, serves you right, you are hardly ever here to save me from their wrath,” Jungsu joked, only realizing the implications of the statement after he blurted the words out. He ducked his head. “I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant.”

“I know,” Youngwoon sighed sadly, tightening his grip. “Doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.”

“It isn’t your fault. I don’t blame you.”

Jungsu felt Youngwoon smile behind him. “You’re too good for me.”

“Hey, I have a time-travelling boyfriend. What’s cooler than that?”

This earned a low laugh. “You’re really too good for me.”

“Does it get lonely?” Jungsu asked softly. “Travelling through time?”

“It used to be. But then I met you.”

“Sap.” Jungsu swatted his boyfriend’s arms away. “I have to go but do you want to come with me? I can show you around the library if you don’t mind a very boring tour filled with references to the Dewey Decimal System.”

It started out as a very boring tour, with Jungsu babbling about how the science books were found in the left wing while CDs were in the back room near the newspaper stand. Youngwoon followed doggedly, not interested in the library per se but content to just stare and nod at the right places as his boyfriend prattled about the structure and history of the central library and how he had always wanted to be a librarian since he was a little boy.

“And this is the reference section,” Jungsu introduced, pointing to the three rows of shelves filled with large volumes of encyclopaedias and dictionaries and phone books. “Not that many people use these books, which is a shame because they are quite useful if you use them properly.”

“You like this section of the library,” Youngwoon noted, raising an inquisitive eyebrow.

“It’s my second favourite place,” Jungsu confessed, shrugging. “Second only to the children’s reading corner, which is just down the hall. I guess it is because I like the smell of old unused books.” He blushed. “Also, it’s where you first called me.”

“I remember,” Youngwoon nodded. “You know, after you gave me your number, I had a really hard time trying to contact you. I didn’t have any spare change and half the time my cellphone didn’t work. When I finally got to a payphone, I called but apparently you hadn’t met me yet. You have no idea how frustrating the fourth dimension is.”

“So you stole my cellphone,” Jungsu realized, almost laughing at how ridiculous it was.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures. I wanted to see you again, and I really didn’t want to wait.” Youngwoon leaned in close, lips ghosting over Jungsu’s cheek. “I still don’t want to wait.”

Jungsu turned his head, smiling into the kiss, flushing when he realized that Youngwoon was not planning on stopping anytime soon. He placed his hands on Youngwoon’s chest and slowly pushed him back. “I’m at work. Wait until tonight when we’re alone.”

Youngwoon deflated. “What if I’m not here tonight?”

The librarian closed his eyes and kissed him slowly, softly. “You’re leaving, aren’t you?”

“I think so.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do. I don’t want to leave. You know I don’t want to.”

Jungsu felt his heart clench. “Yah. I know. Will you come back, though?”

Youngwoon’s stoned silence was answer enough. “Can you promise me something?”


“Don’t wait for me.”

The beautiful fairy smiled and she turned the unhappy turtle into a happy prince. Even though he had no acorns or races or songs or wings to show off, he had a heart of gold and a love with no bounds.

In the wee hours of November 7th, 2013, Jungsu lit a candle. It was the anniversary of Youngwoon’s death, and it felt wrong not to commemorate it.

Life was surprisingly normal even after Youngwoon vanished that day. Jungsu, for one, was still the stereotypical librarian who shushed the rowdy teenagers and chastised the occasional kid who tried to sneak food into the carrels. He still lived in his comfortable little apartment room on the tenth floor, and once in a while he would venture out onto his balcony and stare up into the sky in hopes that Youngwoon would somehow appear. (Then he would laugh at himself, hollow chuckles that sounded more like sobs.)

Heechul still ran that tiny gift shop that sold things from band posters to tampons, and Jungsu still visited him on his breaks. More often than not, they were joined by Guy In The Hat, who had become something like a regular customer slash stationery whore slash volunteer shop-babysitter ever since Operation: Serial-Killer-Proof Jungsu happened.

(“My name is Han Geng, by the way,” he commented offhandedly as he organized the keychain section of the shop. “Just so you know.”

“Han Geng,” Jungsu rolled it on his tongue. “It’s a good name.”

“Guy In The Hat sounds better,” Heechul snapped, kicking his feet up onto the cashier counter. “Now less talking, more keychain organizing!”

Han Geng rolled his eyes fondly. “You owe me a Goku pencil case.”)

The candle burned quietly, beads of melted wax dripping down the stick like teardrops. “I miss you,” Jungsu whispered to the flickering light before making his way over to his bookshelf, where every single one of the books that Youngwoon edited sat neatly in alphabetical order. He touched spine of one of his favourites, The Unhappy Turtle. “I miss you every day. I wish you were here.”

And Jungsu watched the candlestick shorten and the sky light up until his clock informed him that he had to get to work. He grimaced. I should have taken a day off.

He threw on a coat and walked out of his apartment, locking the door with a resigned sigh. The bus was on time, as usual, and he got on with a weak smile to the driver. It was all so predictable, all so empty. He arrived at his stop twenty minutes later. Right on time, as usual.

As Jungsu was about to cross the street, however, his heart stopped. Time seemed to slow down, and he froze in his tracks as a young man with very brown very kind eyes suddenly appeared in the middle of the crosswalk, not noticing the speeding car that was just around the corner.

He did not even have time to think; he just had a flash of those very brown very kind eyes that may never open again. Jungsu ran, sprinted, heart pounding so hard his ears hurt. He jumped, leapt through the air, tackled the man to the ground just as the car passed. He did not notice that his elbow was bleeding, nor did he notice the screams of the surrounding pedestrians.

He only saw a pair of kind eyes that belonged to the man he just saved, only heard the shallow breaths of shock coming from the man he loved. “Youngwoon?” he asked, pupils blown wide with astonishment.

Youngwoon blinked hard and smiled up at the love of his life. “Hi Jungsu.”

And on Thursday, November 7th, 2013, in the middle of the street, in the midst of the havoc caused by a near car accident, they fell in love all over again.

And they lived happily ever after.

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This was such an enjoyable read! The mystery kept me guessing, and the fairytale about the turtle was a nice touch. Both Kangin and Leeteuk were adorable, as was snarky Heechul. This could've been called The Time Traveler's Boyfriend :D

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