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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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How can she show such a side to him? "What if I tell you I don't want to come out on the other side?" It wasn't as if she had much of a choice, it was either suffer and perish in the dark… or fight and go to the light. She chose the latter just like any sane person would. Being sad alone is miserable, but when she has company, he was right, it didn't feel as bad. At least she's not alone… which seems to be her number one nightmare. "I'm a dog person… I'd get… a corgi… because they said it's nice to get dogs who resemble you…" And goddammit did he make her talk. Astraea swore she cursed under her breath when she realized he made her reply within seconds.
When he gave her a blunt answer like that, she had to admit it stung. Because of course, that's the only answer he could give. Just like anyone else. But were they wrong? She woke up… while others didn't get the chance to. Still, it did make her bite her lip harshly and clench her fist because she hated hearing responses like that even if it's a reality check. "What's the reason I woke up though? You know why we were offered the chance to be given a second chance and use our services like this? I'll tell you why…" She scoffed and brushed the tangled curls from her vision to face him with those tired eyes "Innocents. The whole point of this is to give innocent people who died tragically a second chance to use their life to do good. That's the foundation… " Because they were innocent.
"I was supposed to live a long life. Even if it wasn't long, it shouldn't have been that short. I will never forget the fact that my end was premeditated. It wasn't natural, no, someone wanted me dead and they wanted to make sure I knew that my end was near. Or else they wouldn't have set up an elaborate plan to have me humiliated or tortured before my demise. And you know what? I still remember every single minute of it. Up until I was burned because guess what? Apparently it's hard to kill me to the point a dull dagger still couldn't kill me. It only left me the fucking bleed out so ut would be slow, so I could still feel the burning sensation. Tell me how am I supposed to just… forget? When I know very well I never found the reason why they wanted to kill me?"
Perhaps that was what she needed because as soon as she had that outburst, she felt… strangely better. That smile he gave her… why did it make her heart flutter? She felt so comforted by his presence. "I've… never had mac and cheese…"
He shrugged slightly “We all have those days where all we can see is the bad, but there will be another day in the future when the light is just as bright, hold out for that” he assured her and nodded his head slightly. He had a hint of a smile on his lips because he managed to get her to open up about something, even if it was only about pets, it was something “Dog person huh?” he nodded slightly as though he was mentally taking notes because honestly, he was. “I can see the resemblance” he commented as he leaned in slightly, tracing his gaze over her and grinning slightly, Corgi definitely worked.
He realized after he spoke that his blunt comments were probably unwanted so he went quiet for a moment to allow her to mull over her thoughts “Well then, doesn’t that mean you’ve earned this second chance and that in some ways, it’s yours to spend as you wish?” he knew there were strings attached but he definitely believed if anyone deserved to have the things they wanted and experience the things they missed, it was her.
Hearing her talk about her past was heavy though, as he rolled up his sleeves and got to work on organizing all the food and utensils he had found in the kitchen, he listened to her as she talked, peeking over his shoulder at her every so often as though to show he was paying attention. He fiddled with his hands as she talked, it was hard to hear someone you cared about talk about the pain and torture they had been through. He bit his lip softly “People are cruel and selfish, they do things for their own gain without even a moment of hesitation” he nodded slightly.
“You don’t have to forget” he assured her “Your past is your past, it’s part of you, the good parts and the bad” he nodded slightly as he put some water to heat on the stove and set the oven to preheat, messing around with the settings a bit until he thought he had it right “Never?” he questioned with a surprised brow and shook his head “You’re just…full of surprises” he teased softly “This is going to blow your mind then” he commented excitedly as he poured the pasta into the boiling pan.
She didn't want to have bad days like this, if she had to relieve every single moment again she would rather die all over. The fact that it didn't hurt physically now is almost maddening. "You know to hear you of all people speak about staying optimistic is... daunting so to say" She murmured, because it wasn't Sunmin to act like this at all. No matter how much she wanted to push him out she couldn't, so when the talk about dogs came, she just... went into it. "You can see the resemblance...?" At that moment she had the biggest pout as she unconsciously point to herself.
"It's not as easy as it looks... I want to forget about it and just go ahead with my life but every single time I try it came back hitting me tenfold, how am I supposed to move from *that*" She had let out a sigh of frustration as if she didn't want to struggle with any of this. "I want to do this... and that" Her voice seemed to grow smaller because it dawned to her that she still hasn't done those things she wanted. Why?
To talk about her torture wasn't easy, but she knew she had to retell the story again, she wanted to. To him, at least. She wanted Sunmin of all people to be there for her... to understand her. Her eyes followed him when he messed around with the kitchen, making it like it was his home, and somehow it looks nice. "I'm always full of surprises, that's why you like me" She scoffed, she was never normal, even even that's what she wanted to be sometimes. "Am I ever normal?" Maybe not. "What is it anyway...? Mac and cheese I mean... what's so good about it?"
He scoffed slightly in amusement when she commented that his optimism was daunting "Well one of us has to be and I have the feeling you aren't up to it" he murmured softly and tilted his head slightly "Maybe we've secretly swapped places" he commented and smirked slightly. She was an animal person, he couldn't say that was surprising given the kind of person she was, she was kind to everyone and animals were kind and patient in return "You just give off puppy energy sometimes" he commented with a grin "I think it's those wide eyes of yours" he commented in a softer voice as though he was debating it with himself.
He shrugged slightly, he didn't have the answers so he wasn't going to pretend like he did, he definitely wasn't the poster child for healthy coping mechanisms that was for sure. "Then take the leap and do them....what's stopping you?" he knew he wouldn't ever be the person to hold himself back from doing the things he wanted, who even knew how much time there was to do it. He didn't want to have regrets about the things he didn't do down the line.
He made himself busy in the kitchen, moving around as he monitored the food along with the oven, before long pouring it out into a dish so that it could bake and he could make his way back over to her "True, you are a hard one to predict" he commented honestly, she might be an easy person to read but she could be totally random with her actions. "No" he commented almost immediately when she asked if she was normal "But neither am I" he commented and nodded as he sat across from her on one of the stools. "Mac and Cheese is basically like a warm hug in food form" he responded and pressed his lips together "I can tell you're gonna love it" he affirmed with a nod.
He's right, she wasn't up for it, she felt like the world is dropping tons of bricks on her right now so she couldn't be bothered to lift up her head so she's greatful at least he's not being as miserable as she is. When he mentioned her wide eyes she stared at him with the same ones, "Puppy energy huh..." That makes sense, she does behave like one sometimes. The aurazin noticed his voice grew softer and she just couldn't help but love hearing it. Like someone is taking care of her.
She shook her head instantly when he told her to take a leap because she would've done it if it wasn't due to the fact that she's afraid. "I don't know where to start or how to start... I have so many I want to do but I'm afraid of doing it alone... I don't want to be alone, the whole idea of the list is to do it with someone..." Perhaps if he had time. But she couldn't expect him to spare her some of his time. "Don't you want to do some things too?" Everyone had a bucket list, right?
A warm hug... how much she actually needed one right now. She stared at him momentarily and blurt out what came next, "Can I have an actual warm hug too?" She didn't know why but she could really use one. "I mean you don't... have to... if you don't want." But when he said a warm hug, she realized she needs and wants one too. "It's hard not to love whatever Sunmin Park does. Unless it's not beneficial to me."
He had to laugh because it seemed ironic to describe her as a puppy but it also seemed to fit somehow "You're loyal too...I couldn't see you giving up on anyone..." she hadn't given up on him in all this time even though she probably should have which said a lot about the person she was and how patient she could be. Perhaps that was why he felt this need inside of him to return that now, to remind her that she wasn't alone and he wasn't going anywhere.
"It doesn't have to be some grand moment, write the list, put a finger down on the paper and do whatever it lands on" he suggested and chuckled, you could say he was far more spontaneous person than he was a planner, sometimes he just did things for the sake of interest "Try me...what's the first few that come to mind?" he questioned with a quirk of his brow "A lot of mine have felt pretty out of reach, not everything comes for free after all" he wanted to travel more than anything but it just wasn't something on the cards so far.
Noticing the way she was looking at him, he stared for a moment when she blurted out her ask, biting a little on his lip because honestly, after all the pushing away she had done, he hadn't expected her to ask for that. "Yeah....of course" he responded in almost an equally surprised tone before opening his arms and stepping a little closer to her. There had been a time in his life when he wouldn't have believed he could comfort anyone and now here he was. How things had changed he supposed, was it for the better? Was he better now? He enclosed her in his arms, holding her for a moment and closed his eyes "I wish I could take away your pain" he whispered softly.
Hearing how he's describing her made her pout instinctively, which was already coming as a second nature to the aurazin. Its lovely to hear that she had the good attributes because it meant she definitely made an impression on him. "I don't want to give up on anyone... it's not fair... everyone should be given a chance and even if nobody's giving someone a chance, I should at least be the one to do that." And she's tried it well up until this point. She would never leave him... not him, especially him.
"That sounds much easier than one would anticipate" She shot, but admittedly the list of things she wanted to do wouldn't require much thought aside from the whole intimacy part. She doesn't want anything grand essentially, just... things that matter and things that gives her a good memory to carry for the rest of her life. Like him. "Seriously you want to know the first few that comes to mind? Well... I want to go ice skating... I want to go to Disneyland... I want to receive flowers from my beloved... it's just stupid stuff" She mumbled, but she's stupid enough to want then.
She was honestly wondering if Sunmin would allow her to hug him, admittedly it wouldn't exactly be the first time that's going to happen. He has hugged her before but... not like this. And the type of hug she wants would require plenty of affection this time around. So when he agreed, she quickly went into his embrace and melted against him. Astraea squeezed him a bit and whimpered, "You're enough comfort to me... it doesn't take away all the pain... but you're here... and that's enough, I always go through this day alone but I honestly don't want to..."
He was always amused when she had that little pout on her lips as though she wanted to dispute what he was saying but knew she couldn't because his comparisons were pretty accurate "You know most people would give in...especially when they see someone is broken" the way he was when they met. He had felt so defeated and bitter in life, he expected the worst of everyone but now he could honestly believe that there were good people in the world, not many of them, but there were.
He chuckled softly "Besides, the random choice will add a little spontaneity to your plans" she tended to be the type to overplan, the one always reminding him what time they were meeting or where they were planning to go, so he would find it quite amusing to see her try something new. He smiled softly when she listed out a few things she wanted to do, none of them seemed all that outrageous to him "You realize ice skating isn't as glamorous as the movies make it out to be right?" he chuckled softly, especially if you were uncoordinated.
There was a look of vulnerability in her eyes he'd never seen before in the moments before she stepped forward and crashed against his chest. He closed his arms around her, shielding her as though he could protect her from everything that wanted to harm her for a few moments. The soft whimper he heard made his chest pang a little as he pulled his arms a little tighter "Nobody wants to be alone" he murmured softly "Not even this grumpy cat" he commented, using the nickname she often used to tease him with, in an endearing manner. "Call me next time okay, you'll never be a nuisance" honestly he liked that she relied on him.
"I think it's better when the person who didn't decide to give in is just as broken if not more" She could never say he's not broken because how could she when she knows well she's also a broken gal? She just hides it well, that's all. But she is like a porcelain doll who already had cracks underneath. "Besides... don't you know me? I'm an empath... a guardian for you..." She mumbled softly, she didn't know how it turned around. How it went from her comforting him to him doing the same to her. It felt ironic considering who and what she is.
She did blush a little when he mentioned that a little spontaneity is probably needed because she also knows she's a planner because that's what she's used to. And often times she would overplan for sure. When the star pointed out that ice skating wasn't as glamorous as seen in movies, she scowled playfully, "I still want to try... I want to be the ice princess one day... just one day, I'm already your princess right?" It's a nickname that she loves getting from him.
She has never shown herself to be this vulnerable in front of anyone but for him, it's okay. He hugged her as if he was trying to protect her from everything that is attacking her. And God does his hug feel so nice to her, it was warm... he was the bigger person and it helped that he's also like a big teddy bear. "I just... didn't know what to do. I didn't want to see anyone... but when you showed up, I knew I was going to lose because this grumpy cat is stubborn and won't listen to anyone."
He parted his lips for a moment and then nodded "I guess we're all a little broken" people were probably lying to themselves if they said otherwise, but strength came from continuing forward in spite of the pain and heartbreak you had been through. "I know" he responded and nodded his head slightly "You've always been so focused on others around you and taking care of them...sometimes I wonder if you forget to take care of yourself" he commented softly, it wasn't the first time he had thought something like that either.
He hadn't been ice skating on one of the fancy rinks they set up in the city, he'd never really had the chance for something like that, but he had been out on the lakes after they had frozen over in the winter and he remembered having fun just messing around out there. "An ice princess huh?" he commented and raised his brows playfully, he had more of the feeling she'd be spending most of her time on her ass than gliding across the rink but it was a nice dream "True, if anyone could pull off being a natural it's you princess" he offered a small smile.
He laughed when she mentioned how stubborn he could be "It's one of my more frustrating traits but it has it's uses" he didn't really want to move but he did pull back when he heard the ping of the timer he set for their food. He padded over to the oven and opened it, stepping back just in time to avoid the rush of heat that escaped and then slowly removed the dish using the gloves on the counter. "So Disneyland huh?" he commented curious about more of her 'silly' requests "What do you think you'd like about that?" he grabbed a serving spoon from the drawer and started dividing the meal between 2 bowls.
"And sometimes that's fine, everyone has cracks in their own vases, but that doesn't make them damaged goods forever... they can be glued... they can be fixed..." and she believes they can also be fixed... her essentially. Maybe with a little bit of encouragement and a healthy environment... filled with people who supports her, maybe then she'll be fixed. "I have to take care of the people around me, if I don't... then who will?" It makes sense, that's why she is what she is. She takes care of people, no matter how hard it gets. "I want to take care of you, I remember thinking of that when I first saw you... I knew that you were going to be my target." And it meant a lot to her.
"Yes, an ice princess... why? Do you think I wouldn't be able to pull it off? I think I'd look nice as an ice princess..." A part of her wanted to hear him praise or compliment her again. His compliments are always straight to the point and sincere, she loved it and honestly right now that's what she needs. "I think you can pull off the ice prince look well too because you are... cold" Unless he extends his courtesy to said people, he is pretty standoffish and cold to others.
"It's okay... I love my stubborn starboy..." And god knows she meant more than the surface layer of those words. Sometimes she's grateful that she has him by her side, it's not easy to get Sunmin Park but she did and he voluntarily stayed. When the food was ready, she eyed it because it does look appealing and appetising, "Yes Disneyland... I saw everyone was raving about it so there must be something to the hype right? You can't fool millions of people..." that's not possible. She took the first bite and mouthed it off because it was hot and complained "Hot..." But the face shifted into a look of surprise afterwards as if to say it's good.
"It's awfully optimistic of you to think a cracked vase can still hold water" he commented and pressed his lips together, but perhaps with the right circumstances, it could be glued together just right. He wondered for a moment if that was what she was hoping for, that she could fix her wounds in time. Didn't he hope for the same thing? "That's always the question huh...if I don't...who will" you could only rely on yourself after all, everything else was unpredictable. He scoffed and grinned when she said she knew when they met that he was going to be her target "What made you choose me?" he didn't doubt her commitment to the cause considering where they were now.
"Oh I think you could pull off anything you wanted" he responded bluntly, he really believed that, she was the type of person who when she put her mind to something, she could move the whole world to make it happen, he wasn't even sure she was aware of her own determination. He gave a sarcastic laugh when she pointed out he could pull off an ice prince because he was cold "You make me sound like some sort of supervillain" he commented in an amused manner. Mostly he was just standoffish because he didn't trust other people.
He paused for a moment when she spoke again, eyes widening a little as his heart gave an involuntary thump in his chest, he pressed his lips together and swallowed, how did she say something like that so naturally? He played it off though because he knew she would sense a change in his colors. "So your grounds isn't that there's something about it you like but because everyone else does?" he chuckled and grabbed a fork so he could take a bite of the food, savoring it before swallowing "Pretty good right?" he teased noting her expression.