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Most of the days lately were the same, he'd get up in the morning before being dragged to the kitchen by Han, he had this thing about them eating breakfast together and the elder star would always have something prepared in the morning. After eating whatever it was the star wanted to test on him today, he'd chat with him and Jae for a bit before heading off to shower and putting on his uniform for work. He'd head out to meet Astraea halfway to the cafe and the two of them would walk up for their shift.
Having noticed how she had a good impact on his working ethic they often put her on the same schedule as him which he never complained about as she was one of the people he actually got along with there. The morning tended to fly by between all of the working crowd heading in for their morning coffee but after lunch was when things started to get quieter. Usually, they'd joke around a bit between the customers coming in which would get them through to the end of the day. It wasn't the most exciting schedule but he found himself enjoying the familiarity of it all.
But the past few days, when he reached the subway stop he would always wait for Astraea at, she hadn't been there. By the time they called into work they informed him she had called in sick but today was the third day with the same story and he was starting to worry there was something more going on. Even if she was sick it wasn't like her not to send him those random text messages she always did, usually chronicling her day or something interesting she found while scrolling online.
So instead of heading home after his shift, he hung up his apron and grabbed his bag, heading out but instead of going the usual way, he headed to the familiar route which lead to her place. He wondered for a moment if he was being nosy to show up here but then he was reminded that she would do the exact same thing had the roles been switched. So he headed up to the door of the house and rang the bell, he waited for a while to no reply before frowning and pulling out his phone to dial her number.
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Everyone had that one specific day every year in their life that they just couldn't find the strength to be happy on. It's that one day that leaves an ugly stain in their good willed year. For Astraea, it's her death day. Or at least a week, if she had added every single day where she spent a torturous period of her life that she still couldn't forget, it'll be approximately 6 days. The aurazin has been lamenting about this day for centuries, it's the same every single time, she'd feel like the world just kicked her to the curb and nothing goes right. An aurazin is empathetic thus making them emotional beings, so when she remembered exactly how she'd feel, Astraea decided to apply to get a few days off, using a sick leave for an excuse. It should be able to get her off for a few days but someone is bound to notice her disappearance and that someone being Sunmin.
Any regular person would just let it pass but the celestial wouldn't just leave it at that. It made her worried that he'd come to see how she was doing but that still wouldn't make her move so the worries stayed only that. Her hair was a mess, the curls were out of place and made her hair look bushier than usual. That was the least of what made up her disheveled appearance, the brunette was in her pajamas and there were dark circles under her eyes that's not too noticeable but still made the usually bubbly girl look depressing. She was tired, and it could clearly be seen. Her nose was reddish due to her incessant sobs for the past few days and the dried tears on her cheeks said it all.
Her phone kept ringing with notifications that came from Sunmin's calls or messages but neither made her reply. Astraea Wu has been thoroughly detached from the world for the past three days. While she was burying her face against the pillow on the bed, she heard the sound of the bells ringing, someone was at the door and it was as if she knew who it was. Who else would it be if not her good friend? As if knowing she wouldn't answer the door, her phone started ringing with a familiar tune, the familiar face of the celestial popping up on the caller id. She debated for a while to answer or not but soon realized he'd keep calling until she picks up, hell he might even break down the door. So Astraea begrudgingly swiped the call function and sighed "Go away… Astraea's not available."
While he was standing there on the doorstep he was questioning at what point in his life he had started to care about others enough to meddle in this life. In his life he had always tried to keep his distance from others, don’t get attached and it didn’t hurt when they left you right? But since coming to Evermore he kept breaking that rule, perhaps he could explain it when it came to Han, he was officially related to him after all, there wasn’t going to be any getting rid of him but Astraea, she was something else entirely. He couldn’t explain it but being around her made him feel lighter, she was optimistic and perhaps it was starting to rub off on him slowly.
He’d been looking forward to getting more work done on the garden this week, that’s what he had nicknamed it in his head, though currently it was still a range of dilapidated buildings and an old swingset, he had many ideas in his head about how things could turn out in time. But even though he had gone to work on it alone the first day, things didn’t feel quite the same without her there, the hours felt longer and more gruelling without her witty comments or the interesting topics she brought up. When the phone connected he took a relieved breath that at least she was able to answer the phone.
“Well that’s not the cheerful greeting I’m used to” he responded sarcastically but bit his lip as he picked up the tone of her voice. He completely disregarded her instruction to leave and changed the subject “They told me at the cafe that you were feeling sick but they wouldn’t tell me anything else...you didn’t answer my messages” god he sounded like a 14-year-old girl. He sat himself down on the doorstep and leaned his back against the door “Tell me what’s going on Astra, you know I’m stubborn enough to sit here on the doorstep all night” he commented as though it was pure fact.
Just like any other time of the day on this very period, Astraea could feel her energy depleting as time goes by. God she hated this week so much, and there wasn't anything she could really do without recalling of the past. She missed Sunmin obviously, they've gotten pretty close to the point she could probably call what people say a best friend? Maybe. She would never say it out loud to him but both of them have an understanding either way. But since she didn't want him to know what's going on with her, she decided to sit this one out. He won't question why she suddenly took a few days off, that's what she initially thought. It wasn't until he started texting and leaving her a few missed calls to which she didn't respond to because her mental state was a wreck. Maybe then he'd understand perhaps she was unavailable and couldn't be reached.
Wrong. He was outside the door of her home while she's sitting on her couch, wrapped in her blanket and dried tears staining her cheeks. Astraea thought by picking his call and telling him she's still alive would make him calm down and leave her be but the opposite happened. "I'm not… in the mood right now, Sunmin" she mumbled, she rarely uses his name so seriously when addressing the celestial. The aurazin would often call him starboy endearingly, but the tone she delivered this time clearly stated that she was not in the place to be joking as usual. She pressed her lips together and cleared her throat that was feeling dry from earlier "Yeah, I used my emergency leaves because I'm sick. Surely they told you that too" she didn't want to be rude or sound harsh.
Even if she wasn't feeling it, she didn't want to hurt the celestial. He's her friend, Astraea didn't want to lose him. "I haven't looked at my phone for a while… I'm out of it and sick." Technically, it wasn't a lie, she's been feeling depressed for the past few days that it rendered her mind to stay in a solemn state, causing her physical to follow suit. "I told you I'm sick, Sunmin Park, so leave it and just… don't bother me, please? I just need to be alone right now…" She was pleading, her tone was desperate because that's what she is right now. "I just want to be alone…" She whispered.
He wondered when he had become this person, when he first came to Evermore he had been the kind of person who just kept to himself, idly watching everyone as they went on with their lives around him. Slowly he had been pulled out of that pit he had created for himself, first by Han who had insisted on being in Sunmin’s life, he really was so persistent that the younger male found it hard to deny him any longer. And then Astraea had come along, perhaps her motivations hadn’t been the same, in fact Sunmin still couldn’t pin the whys that made her decide she wanted to be his friend, but she was certainly committed to the cause and he couldn’t help but find that…endearing.
He shuffled back and pressed his back against the door, leaning the phone between his shoulder and his ear so he could place both of his hands in his pockets, it was cold enough that the celestial could see his breath whenever he talked. “They told me plenty but it’s not like me to take people’s word for stuff, you know that” he was definitely the kind who wanted to see things or experience them for himself before accepting it as reality. Perhaps he should have felt hurt or off-put by her pushing for him to leave the way she was but honestly, he knew her well enough by now to know something was really wrong.
The person he had come to know, the one whom he was fond of, she was the type to put everyone else’s feelings before her own, so if she was being harsh then he was honestly worried. He sighed under his breath and swallowed down the bitter feeling her words left him with “You know you are a terrible liar, Astraea Wu” he turned her use of his full name back on her but didn’t budge from his spot. “And you hate being alone…one time you stayed a full 2 hours after your shift at the cafe because you didn’t want to walk home alone” he pointed out, she’d waited for him to get off, pretending it was because the cafe needed her help.
“You can tell me” he murmured softly against the receiver, trying to hold his voice steady despite his body starting to get a little shivery from the cold already.
When this day came, she had to admit she wondered if things were any different now. She's stuck on earth for the time being but was it different from what she felt centuries before this? Did she have someone who cared for her? Did she have someone who would look for her when she didn't turn up? Honestly, she didn't know what to expect. Did she want this? Did she want to be found by Sunmin? Well, he's here now, knocking on her door, in that freezing cold weather outside, being his usual stubborn self. "You should've just taken their word for it" she muttered under her breath, that'd be so much easier to deal with. But was she surprised he was hard-headed till the end? Not really. But a small part of her was still surprised that he did look for her. So she mattered to him too. That's… nice.
The aurazin winced when he said that, he called her a liar… a terrible one to be precise. He's right though, she, Astraea Wu, has always been a terrible liar since day one. She's not as good in that department because she never saw the need to lie and that usually makes her a hypocrite if she would. But in front of Sunmin, that was amplified, she just couldn't lie to him, at all. And God he used her full name card on him too, sucks to be you, she thought. "That's… a different matter… this time I really do want to be alone." She bit her lip and sighed when she tried to find a counterargument, it wasn't there presenting itself as a choice to her.
The moment she sensed his voice wavering slightly, probably due to the cold, she felt a pang of guilt, so she got up from the couch with the blanket still covering her and unlocked the door, greeting him with the same dull look. "Come in before you freeze to death" she hissed and tugged him inside, closing the door behind him as she made her way back to the couch as if completely ignoring his presence and existence. "It's cold outside, you shouldn't have come. If I didn't open the door, you would've gotten sick, and then whose fault would that be…" She turned to face him a bit and scowled "You're stupid, you know that right?"
He rolled his eyes when she spoke about taking their word for it, he was hardly the type to hold much weight to other people’s word, at least not unless he trusted them and while the people at the cafe were kind enough, they also were a business and had priorities which deviated from what was always best for their staff. “Even if you were sick, you’re the type to soldier through it after one day of rest, you hate sitting still” he’d learned a lot about her in the time they’d been friends which meant he knew this was unlike her.
He could tell that whatever it is, it was really causing her turmoil though, it wasn’t like her to be so disconnected and vague, which meant she was hiding it. The question was why she felt like she needed to hide anything from him and whether he had any business pushing her to tell him what it was. He shouldn’t have any right to know, he should leave her alone if that’s what she really wanted but he just had this gut feeling that what she was saying didn’t line up to what she was really feeling. “No you don’t” he pushed back, if she wanted to be alone she wouldn’t be talking to him right now.
He wasn’t expecting her to give in so when he heard the click of the lock and felt the rush of warm air when the door opened he turned back to face her. She looked pale and tired, like she hadn’t been sleeping for a while. He got to his feet and before he could say anything else she dragged him inside and then headed off to her spot on the couch, he slipped off his shoes and headed through to where she was sitting, now he could see her in the soft indoor lights he could tell she had been crying.
He shifted a little on the spot when she scolded him “Maybe” he responded and shrugged when she called him stupid “But maybe a bit of stupidity is what you need…you’re not sick…you’re…sad” he pointed out, softening his gaze a little.
She did not like how he knew her so well. Is that what happened after they've been around each other for months long? You get to know one another better and that's exactly what happened between them. Sometimes… a bit too well. Normally she would not complain because it meant her efforts were actually successful but on this day? This very day she just wanted to be left alone? She wasn't sure what to feel. Astraea bit her lip and muttered under her breath to herself as she opened the door for him because regardless of what she is feeling today, no matter how horrible she felt, she cannot, in her good conscience, let her best friend freeze outside.
The cold weather made her shiver a bit before she returned to her cocoon "I'm sad therefore I'm sick" she exclaimed bluntly and narrowed her eyes at him, the aurazin knew she looked pale and horrible. Her hair is so messy it may as well look like it has never been combed before and she looks depressed. Still, Astraea couldn't find it in her to be concerned with how she looks like right now. The TV was playing Little Women, and the sight of blankets alongside a box of tissues by her side clearly showed the celestial what kind of situation she was in.
"Sorry for the mess but I can't even feel sorry anymore, because in my defense you still insisted on coming inside so… I don't have time to clean up nor do I feel like cleaning up." Not today, at least. She is normally not so messy. "Honestly, what do you hope to achieve when you're here hm? Because I can't see… anything that you can do to make things less miserable." Which is saying a lot. "Unless you can make this memory go away, then you're not really a help."
He stared at her for a moment wondering if he made a mistake coming here, he wasn’t usually the kind of nosy person who showed up and intervened into someone’s life but then he’d never really had a close friend before, someone who he actually worried over. He shifted a little on the spot “It’s not like you to be sad” he responded bluntly, echoing her tone before turning to looking at the TV, he hadn’t seen the movie up on there before but it seemed like something she’d like. He stood there for a moment in thought before sitting himself down in one of the arm chairs, making himself at home.
“I’m used to mess” he commented and shrugged slightly “Though my brother likes to clean my room whenever I leave” he grumbled and rolled his eyes slightly, the amount of times he came home and couldn’t find his things because Han had put them away in some place. He tilted his head a little when she started chewing him out, perhaps if she was anyone else he would have reacted to it or gotten mad but it was hard to be mad at her when she looked so upset and defeated.
He shrugged his shoulders slightly “Do I have to achieve something? You’re sad, I’m sure there’s nothing I could say that’s actually going to make whatever happened…better” he wasn’t some miracle worker “But I do know how much it sucks to be alone” he commented and shrugged slightly “And I’m pretty much the inventor of insisting I want to be alone when I really don’t” he shot her a look to try and communicate that he wasn’t going anywhere regardless of what she said “So what kind of memory are we talking about…old…or new?”
She turned around from her seat with the blanket still wrapped around her and scowled at him, which was honestly, just unseemly of her, considering the person she is, “Humans can be sad, why can’t I?” she exclaimed defensively, that’s the question she kept asking herself all these years but never seemed to get a clear answer, why can’t she? “I want to be sad…” she mumbled to herself, as if to tell her that she was being sad because she wanted to, not because she had to. “Your mess sure… but don’t people get turned off when they see others being messy too?” Astraea is often neat because, despite her spontaneous nature, she likes to make sure things aren’t out of space.
“Han seems like the neat twin” she teased but then realized she made a quip when she was in this depressive state, which made her seal her lips and sighed heavily, she’s hungry but she also didn’t have any appetite to eat. It was a dilemma for the aurazin. It was also pretty surprising to see Sunmin not flipping out because he wasn’t the type to just let people talk like this to him, he doesn’t take any shit from anyone. Astraea looked down when he mentioned how it sucks being alone. “I don’t like being alone… it’s scary…” she muttered under her breath, hasn’t she been alone enough times? Hasn’t it been half a millennium already? It does seem like he wasn’t going to go anywhere, not that it was physically possible to do so when it’s so cold outside. She didn’t want to push him to that point, she’s not that cruel and maybe he was right, she didn’t really want to be alone even if her mouth said those words.
“Old… too old honestly… today’s my death day. I know, it’s funny… how I could remember my death day but not my own birthday. It’s so…” she squinted her eyes because she was trying to find a good word to describe it but ended up grumbling “fucked up… that’s what it is. It’s fucked up that I remember a horrible memory but not a good one.” She cringed and instinctively brought her hands up to where she wrapped a choker around her neck “It feels so vivid though… like it was just yesterday. I’m hungry but have no appetite… I’m sleepy but can’t sleep because of the nightmares… I’m hurt but I’m tired.”
He averted his gaze when she scowled at him, he never knew someone so sweet could have such a cold stare when they wanted to, it would be intimidating if it wasn’t for the fact he knew he well enough by now. “You can be sad” he responded when she spoke defensively in response to his words “There’s nothing wrong with being sad, but being sad alone…that’s hard to come back from” it was easy to shut everything else and just be miserable in your own corner but it became difficult to pull yourself together again.
He shrugged slightly when she asked if mess bothered him “I think there are things far more important than worrying about a few things out of place” it didn’t bother him at all. He chuckled dryly when she said Han was the neat twin “Which is hilarious considering how many pets he has and how often they ruin his perfect neatness” he honestly found it really entertaining to see him go into a state because one of the dogs had gotten into something they shouldn’t. He nodded slightly when she said she didn’t like being alone “No one wants to be alone, it’s a lie, a shield” being alone just allowed you to wallow, spiral in your worst thoughts over and over.
He nodded slightly, keeping quiet as he allowed her to explain what was going on with her “Bad memories always tend to circle around more than good ones…it’s almost human nature to be pessimistic” even someone as bright as her would naturally tend on it, without even realizing he was going so. He noticed the way she touched at her neck as she talked which reminded him of the few times his eyes had caught a hint of a scar in that spot, he’d never asked her to explain what happened because it was clearly something she didn’t want to remember or recall “Was it painful?” he asked in a soft voice, it sounded like it was, he couldn’t imagine how it felt to wake up after going through trauma so bad that you lost your life from it.
“When was the last time you ate a good meal?” he questioned, Sunmin might be offhand about most things but he was very focused when it came to meals, he never skipped over one by choice and always appreciated anything he did get to eat.
She would've disliked him so much if it weren't for the fact that she already knew him and with how much Astraea Wu truly adores the celestial, there was no way out of this. Not to mention, he can be annoyingly persistent when he wants to be. When he said she could be sad, she wanted to get mad at him because no, no she can't. "Easy for you to say, if you were familiar with the overwhelming feeling, you'd know how arduous the experience is" she muttered under her breath bitterly, she didn't like what he was trying to do but at the same time, she was grateful that he didn't up and leave when she kept pushing. "I've always been sad alone, this is nothing new" but was this why she couldn't come back from it? Just like what he said?
The one thing she always noticed from the very beginning of their friendship together was that Sunmin had a way of making her react, especially laughing, with ease. It was as if he knew exactly how easy it is to make her smile. She was fighting the urge to grin a bit when he said his twin had a lot of pets, she loves animals. "I want to have a pet…" she mumbled out of nowhere, now that he said it, Astraea realized how much better it would be if she had a companion. She had grown closer to the celestial sitting in the same room as her but she wondered if a pet would make her feel less lonely too. "But I don't even know the first thing about taking care of one…" Her sense of responsibility would be lost and she couldn't bear to neglect anything or anyone. That's just who she is.
"It was terrible… it was the worst pain I have ever felt in my entire life. The burning feeling… both inside and outside… the choked up sensation, it was a torture, one I wanted to get out of but couldn't…" Like a helpless child, she couldn't do anything to save herself. "How do you wake up after knowing you died? How do you even begin to comprehend the situation, much less cope…" Almost as if it was answering him, her stomach growled when he asked that, causing the aurazin to cover it instinctively while looking away "A few days ago…" She wasn't feeling it, how could she get up and find something to eat? It's not as if she was a good cook either. "You're really not going to leave…?"
He nodded slightly, she was right that he hadn’t had the same experiences as her and therefore he couldn’t really place himself into imagining how it would really feel “But you’re still here, still going, so you must find a way to come out the other side” he pointed out and then shrugged his shoulders a little, he wasn’t even sure how he would cope being in her position and remembering the cruel things that had happened clearly. “Well now you can be sad alone, plus one” he commented, pressing his lips into a hard line to make it clear he wasn’t taking any other answer but okay.
Seeing the hint of a smile on her lips which she forced down he felt confident that he had made the right decision by insisting she let him inside. “You do?” he questioned curiously, he liked animals but he’d never considered getting one for himself because he’d never been in the position to be able to afford care for one, and as selfish as he was, he would never take on an animal he couldn’t properly care for “What kind of pet would you get?” he asked curiously, wondering whether she leaned towards dogs or cats.
He averted his gaze when she talked about her pain because how he could he look into her eyes while she talked about something like that? He chewed on his bottom lip and balled a fist at his side, it made him angry knowing it was no accident or mistake, someone had purposely hurt her…sought to deliver her pain, it made him angry just at the very thought. “Some people don’t ever wake up” he commented rather bluntly and then nodded his head “That’s how you cope, by knowing you woke up…for some reason” he couldn’t explain the way the world worked but surely there was some sort of purpose there?
He chuckled when her stomach answered his question for him, getting to his feet and padded into her kitchen, opening the fridge and then some of the cabinets in an investigative manner and pulling out a few things of interest “Well I’ve already missed my dinner so…guess I’m staying a while” he offered a smile but it was clear from his expression that he was being firm. “I’m assuming you like mac and cheese?” he raised his brows.