“I’m so sorry!” Kyungsoo yelled as he flew through to door of the coffee shop. He was breathless from running.
Junmyeon was behind the counter, rinsing one of the blender cups out. He turned with a look of surprised amusement on his face. “It’s fine, Kyungsoo. I figured you were preoccupied with the ‘Com.”
Kyungsoo wheezed a bit, tugging on his apron. Chanyeol came barreling out of the back, some food substance shoved in his face. “Late!” he cried, scone bits flying out of his mouth as he pointed gleefully at Kyungsoo.
“You’re disgusting and have no right to talk,” Kyungsoo snapped, wiping Chanyeol’s face with a napkin. “You’re always late.”
Junmyeon wiped the blender cup dry, setting it back in its proper place. “Everything alright? You seem a bit flustered.”
“I kind of regret taking the ‘Com home,” Kyungsoo admitted.
Junmyeon’s face grew unusually solemn. “You can give it back to Jongdae if you want.”
Kyungsoo shuffled his feet, staring down. “I know. It’s alright, though. For now.” He was afraid to meet Junmyeon’s eyes.
“Just. Be careful, okay?” Junmyeon’s voice was gentle.
Chanyeol leaned over, squinting at the pair of them. “Why does he need to be careful? Are you worried his ‘Com is an axe murderer too?”
Both Kyungsoo and Junmyeon sighed.
The whole time Kyungsoo worked, he was preoccupied with thoughts of Kai. It was making him dazed and a bit slow. He could see Chanyeol giving him curious looks but when their shift was over, Chanyeol merely said, “Come by the thrift shop and visit Baekhyun with me.”
But Kyungsoo shook his head. He was too antsy to get home. “I need to make sure Kai hasn’t, I don’t know, massacred my neighbors or something.”
“Will you be bringing him by the shop?” Junmyeon asked.
“I don’t have any shoes for him,” Kyungsoo admitted. “Or pants.”
Junmyeon laughed. “If Jongdae isn’t busy, I’ll tell him to stop by your apartment later?”
“That sounds good,” Kyungsoo replied absently as he walked through the door. “Have him text me!”
Kyungsoo’s apartment building was quiet. Not in a horror story sort of way, but in a peaceful way. He forced his racing heart to slow, and eased up his frantic pace.
The door to his apartment was closed, just as it had been when he’d left. There were no ominous blood splatters about. Kyungsoo shifted his grip on the plastic bags he was holding -- he’d made a quick stop into a large department store to get Kai some cheap clothes that would hopefully fit -- and fiddled with his keys. His front door swung open before he could fit the right key into the lock.
Kai stood there, holding the door open with one hand, Bun cradled in the crook of his other arm. He looked just as lovely as he had that morning. He smiled at Kyungsoo, a bit shy. “Hey,” Kai said.
“Uh, hello,” Kyungsoo said as he stepped into the apartment, swerving so he avoided touching Kai. “Glad to see you’re-- uh--” he made sweeping gesture up and down Kai’s form, “alright.”
Kai blinked at him quizzically. “Yes, I am alright.”
“Yeah,” Kyungsoo said lamely. “Yeah.”
Kai had let go of the door, and it swung shut agonizingly slowly with a long creak. When it finally clicked shut, Kai opened his mouth to say something, but Kyungsoo beat him to it. “So, I bought you some-- stuff.” He held the bag out in Kai’s direction.
Kai looked surprised, but he carefully set Bun down and took the bag from Kyungsoo’s hand. He rummaged through it and seemed pleased when he pulled out a shirt. “Thank you,” he said, genuine relief in his voice.
Kyungsoo blushed. “They’re just-- I don’t even know if they’ll fit, I bought a few different brands and sizes just in case.”
Kai pulled out a pair of sweatpants, and now that Kyungsoo was looking at them next to Kai’s form, they were clearly too large around the waist. But the legs looked to be the right length, and the waistband had a drawstring, so they could be tightened so they wouldn’t slide off Kai’s slim hips.
Kai tugged the shirt on over his head, covering a large portion of his distracting golden skin, and Kyungsoo blew a silent breath out of his mouth. Then Kai stood holding the sweatpants awkwardly, staring at Kyungsoo with uncertain eyes. “Can I-- go somewhere else to put these on?” he asked meekly.
Kyungsoo inhaled sharply, realizing he’d been ogling. “Oh! Yeah, yeah, you don’t have to-- yeah. You can use my bedroom.”
Kai gave him another gentle smile, and then padded off, leaving Kyungsoo in the entranceway with Bun. The cat rubbed against Kyungsoo’s shins and meowed.
“I’m so awkward,” Kyungsoo mumbled, rubbing his hands over his eyes. “He’s hot. Why do they make Persocoms hot.” He looked at Bun. “Help me.”
Bun meowed again.
Kyungsoo’s phone buzzed, and he pulled it out of his pocket. It was a text from Jongdae.
Coming over to check on the axe murderer
Kyungsoo scowled down at the screen. Fine, he sent back.
He wandered into his living room, and stopped short. There was a large cardboard box sitting beside his coffee table. “Kai,” he called, “where did this box come from?”
“Someone delivered it while you were out,” came Kai’s muffled response.
Kyungsoo frowned down at the box, moving to sit down on the floor beside it. It had his address written on it, but no return address, and, even weirder, no postage on it. It wasn’t even taped closed, but rather the flaps were folded together to keep it from popping open.
“If it’s a bomb, I want you to know I love you,” Kyungsoo said seriously to Bun, who simply blinked at him.
But it wasn’t a bomb, Kyungsoo saw upon opening it, it was-- clothes. Kyungsoo pulled a sweater out, baffled. It was striped blue, red, and white, and was far too large for him. “What even--” Kyungsoo mumbled, pulling out a pair of jeans that were again, too big for him.
The bedroom door opened with a soft sound, and Kyungsoo looked up as Kai approached. The sweatpants were quite baggy, but he looked better now, with his ankles covered. He’d put on one of the pairs of socks Kyungsoo had bought him as well. Kyungsoo wondered if he’d put on one of the boxer briefs as well, but didn’t know how to ask.
“Clothes?” Kai asked, as he stopped beside Kyungsoo, staring down into the box.
“Yeah,” Kyungsoo replied, still holding the jeans up by the waistband. “I don’t--” He stopped suddenly as he realized something. He raised his hands and placed the waistband of the jeans against Kai’s hips. They seemed to match perfectly, and the leg length was just right as well. “What the fuck.”
Kai looked equally baffled as he took the jeans from Kyungsoo’s hands. He examined them. “They seem a bit worn,” he said.
Kyungsoo began tugging things out of the box in earnest, pulling out more jeans, some shirts and hoodies, a few pairs of sweatpants. At the bottom of the box was a pair of black boots, and a pair of sneakers. Nothing in the box had any tags, and everything seemed used, but it was all in good shape, and the vast majority of items were name brands.
“Do these fit you?” Kyungsoo asked, brandishing a sneaker.
Kai sat on the edge of the coffee table to pull the shoe on. It fit. Kai stared down at it in bewilderment.
“What the fuck,” Kyungsoo said again. “Someone just randomly sent me a box of clothes that fit you? Do you-- are these your clothes?”
Kai pulled the sneaker off and gingerly placed it atop the small mountain of clothes on the floor. “I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t-- I don’t remember any of this.”
“You said someone delivered them,” Kyungsoo said. “What did they look like it?”
Kai’s face blanked out a little, looking eerily like a machine’s. “It was a man, slightly shorter than me, wearing a uniform,” he said, tone flat. “Light hair, small dainty face.” Kai blinked, and suddenly he looked human again. “I could draw you a picture, if you want.”
“You can draw?” Kyungsoo asked.
“I think so,” Kai replied.
“Maybe later,” Kyungsoo mumbled, then said at normal volume, “and you didn’t recognize him?”
Kai looked at him in confusion. “Yours is the only face I know,” he said, his tone of voice implying that this was utterly obvious.
That struck something in Kyungsoo, and he looked away, frowning down at the box. “We’ll have to look into this.” Could Kai’s old owner be keeping tabs on him? The idea was unsettling. Why dump a ‘Com out in the rain and then do this? It didn’t make sense.
Maybe Kai isn’t an axe murderer, but his old owner is, Kyungsoo thought. “Do you, uh, want to wear any of this stuff? It looks like it’ll fit you better than the things I got you.”
Kai eyed the clothes. “No. I like the things you got me more.” He met Kyungsoo’s eyes, face solemn, and Kyungsoo blushed a bit. “I’m sorry.”
“This has-- upset you.”
“It’s not your fault,” Kyungsoo said with a shrug. Not really.
There was a knock at the door, and both of them jumped. “That’ll be Jongdae,” Kyungsoo said, heart hammering. He stood and walked to the door.
“Jongdae?” Kai asked.
“He’s-- my friend,” Kyungsoo said. Belatedly he realized he probably should have explained who Jongdae was before he’d gotten here, but he’d gotten sidetracked by the mysterious box.
He opened the door, and even though he wasn’t really expecting there to be an axe wielding murderer on his step, he was still relieved to see Jongdae’s stupid face. Jongdae was wearing his thickly rimmed glasses rather than his contacts and holding what looked like a laptop case.
“Where is it?” Jongdae asked, shoving past Kyungsoo into the apartment. He saw Kai sitting placidly at the edge of the coffee table and whirled on Kyungsoo. “You called me at ass o’clock last night over this?” He gestured at Kai.
“I told you, I’ve never dealt with a Persocom before,” Kyungsoo said. “And I didn’t know what to do, he wasn’t-- wasn’t acting like the manual said he would.”
“Yes, you said it didn’t go right into default mode?” Jongdae asked, and Kyungsoo nodded. “Has it gone into default mode since then? Maybe when it came out of sleep state this morning?” Again, Kyungsoo shook his head. “Hmm.”
Kai stood up slowly, hands wringing in front of him. He was a bit red, and he looked-- frightened. “Who is-- why--” Kai began.
Kyungsoo jumped in, wanting to assuage his fears. “Like I said,” he said quickly, “Jongdae’s a friend. You don’t have to be afraid of him. He runs a tech shop downtown. He looked you over, after I first found you.”
“Oh,” Kai said softly, shuffling his feet. “Thank you,” he mumbled, not meeting Jongdae’s eyes.
Jongdae was frowning. “It is exceedingly lifelike, isn’t it?”
“I thought that was just-- me. Not being used to ‘Coms,” Kyungsoo confessed, and Jongdae shook his head.
“No. I mean, like I said, a lot of people get their ‘Coms worked over, but-- this is a whole other level,” Jongdae said. He was still frowning, but his tone was awed. “All the little mannerisms, the blushing, the fidgeting, the way its voice catches-- that all has to be programmed in, not just the actions themselves but all the circumstances that have to come together to trigger them. Its a convincing model.”
Kai was biting down on his lip, hard. He seemed-- Kyungsoo couldn’t quite pin the emotion down. But it was clear Jongdae was scaring him. “Kyungsoo,” Kai said softly, looking at Kyungsoo pleadingly, like Kyungsoo could protect him.
Kyungsoo swallowed thickly. Jongdae being in the room was a sharp reminder that Kai was a machine, a bundle of exceedingly complex programming. “It’s alright,” Kyungsoo said, unable to not comfort Kai in some way, machine or no.
“Are you-- getting rid of me?” Kai asked.
Jongdae looked at Kyungsoo as well. Kyungsoo sidestepped the question by saying, “Jongdae’s here to look you over again, since you were powered off the last time he saw you. He isn’t here to collect you, or anything, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
Jongdae’s expression had gone oddly shuttered. He went to the coffee table, and as he did so Kai skittered out of his way, moving to hide behind Kyungsoo. Jongdae pulled a laptop out of the bag, resting it on the table and flipping it open and on. As he pulled out a bunch of cords, he said, “Junmyeon said you were a bit preoccupied at work.” His tone was unusually flat.
“Kai’s a bit preoccupying,” Kyungsoo said, trying to sound nonchalant. Kai had grasped Kyungsoo’s arm, hugging it close, like that would protect him from Jongdae and his sinister wires.
“Kai,” Jongdae repeated, as he plugged all the cords into his laptop.
“That’s his name, he says,” Kyungsoo said, staring at Kai in bewilderment as the ‘Com continued to hold onto his arm for dear life.
“Yeah, well, Kai needs to come over here, so we can see if I can get into its programming with any more success now,” Jongdae said, holding up the charging wire for his laptop. “Can I plug this in somewhere?”
Kyungsoo pointed to the outlet by the lamp, and then pulled his arm away from Kai, who looked stricken. “It’s alright,” Kyungsoo repeated, bewildered and trying not to let Kai’s terrified expression tug on his heartstrings. “Why are you so afraid? I told you, he won’t hurt you.” Kai just continued to stare at him, so Kyungsoo took his hand and led him to the couch. He sat down, and after a moment of hesitation, Kai sat down beside him.
Kyungsoo took a second to remind himself that Kai not human, and not capable of real fear.
“What’s up with the mountain of clothes?” Jongdae asked from where he was plugging his laptop in.
“Long story, sort of,” Kyungsoo said tersely. Kai had scooted so he was pressed against Kyungsoo’s side, and Kyungsoo could feel him trembling. He reached out and wrapped his fingers loosely around Kai’s.
Jongdae came sauntering back. “Well, I am glad to see Kai really doesn’t seem to have any mobility issues. It moves just like a person.”
“You said he didn’t seem like he would have any issues in that regard,” Kyungsoo pointed out.
“Yeah, well,” Jongdae said vaguely. He sat on the edge of the coffee table, facing Kai, and grabbed his laptop, setting it on his lap. The wires followed, looking like limp tentacles. After tapping his keyboard for a second he said, “Okay, we can get started.” He reached for Kai’s left earport, and Kai jerked back.
Jongdae frowned. “Let me.”
“He doesn’t respond to verbal commands,” Kyungsoo said. “Not as an automated response, anyway.”
“I don’t want him to-- do whatever he’s going to do,” Kai said, eyeing the wires.
Jongdae frowned more deeply, and Kyungsoo reached up, to Kai’s earport. Kai held still for him, but he seemed unhappy as the port slid open.
“It’s not going to hurt, I promise,” Kyungsoo said. “Let him do his job. He just wants to make sure your programming is sound.” Kai nodded, expression miserable.
Jongdae watched the exchange silently. When Kai turned his head to the side, baring the open port, Jongdae set to work, connecting the wires in. Then he moved to the other side, and this time, Kai let him slide the port open. Kyungsoo could see Kai’s little blue power switch glowing in the dim light.
Once all the wires were where they needed to be, Jongdae turned his attention back to his screen, beginning to type in earnest. Kyungsoo sat stiffly, unsure what to do.
Kai’s trembling ceased. When Kyungsoo looked over to him, he saw his eyes had dropped to half mast, gaze downward, his lips slightly parted. He looked-- dazed. His mimicked breathing had even stopped.
“Did you break him?” Kyungsoo asked, heart skipping a beat. He squeezed Kai’s wrist, and got no response.
The edges of Jongdae’s mouth were tense. “No, I--”
There was a bzzt noise, and then the light from Jongdae’s computer screen abruptly flickered off. Jongdae tapped the side of the screen, looking alarmed, and as he did that Kai blinked, taking a deep breath.
“What happened?” Kai asked Kyungsoo, and Kyungsoo blinked at him.
“I think it just fried my comp,” Jongdae said in disbelief. He poked at the power switch, and nothing happened. “You asshole.”
“Hey,” Kyungsoo said, “be nice, he didn’t do it on purpose.”
Jongdae glared at him. “I didn’t get anything out of it aside from a brief glimpse into its coding, and then my computer-- died.”
“And that’s... bad, right?” Kyungsoo guessed.
“I don’t know what it is, since it’s never happened before.” He eyed Kai with new assessment, muttering something about protective coding, and how he wasn’t about to be bested by a stupid ‘Com.
“I’m broken, aren’t I?” Kai asked softly. “I’m-- not right.”
“You run fine,” Kyungsoo said, squeezing Kai’s wrist again. This time Kai smiled at him weakly. “You’re just different.”
“Can I talk to you?” Jongdae asked stiffly, standing.
Kyungsoo stood as well, a little confused. As Jongdae led him to the bedroom, Kai asked, “Can I take these out?” He motioned to the wires.
“Sure,” Kyungsoo called back before Jongdae shut the bedroom door, giving them some privacy.
“I don’t like this,” Jongdae said seriously.
“What?” Kyungsoo asked.
“All of this. Kai’s-- not right, something is off,” Jongdae said, and dread settled in Kyungsoo’s stomach. “It doesn’t make sense, Kyungsoo. It’s too detailed, someone gave it so much attention, I can’t understand why someone would just toss it out. I am beginning to think no one did.”
Kyungsoo felt himself frown. “What do you mean?”
“I think it may have been stolen,” Jongdae said flatly. “Maybe they were planning on reselling it-- I can’t say. It’s either that or someone got a little too liberal with the programming and Kai did something a ‘Com really isn’t supposed to do.”
Kyungsoo nibbled his bottom lip. “Like?”
“I don’t know, something-- something really not good,” Jongdae muttered. “I don’t think you should keep it, Kyungsoo. There’s just something not meshing right here, and Kai’s previous owner was obviously very rich. The level of security on the hard drive is-- unsettling, to say the least. It makes him wonder who owned it previously. I am afraid keeping it here may put you in danger.”
“I--” Kyungsoo began, then shut his mouth. He thought about the box of clothes. Surely if Kai’s previous owner was some serial killer drug lord, he would have sent Kyungsoo a hit man, and not a box of used clothing. “Kai hasn’t done anything bad,” he said softly. “He’s actually seemed quite gentle.”
“That’s another thing,” Jongdae said. “You’re-- you’re already attached. It’s not good, Kyungsoo. I think for your sake, it’s better if I take Kai off your hands now, before--” Jongdae stopped himself.
Kyungsoo bristled, a little. “Before what, Jongdae?” he asked sharply.
“Before you get hurt,” Jongdae whispered. “He’s a machine, Kyungsoo.”
Kyungsoo heard the wisdom of Jongdae’s words, they were echoing the warning bells within himself, but his pride kicked in. “I’ll be alright. If anything happens that sends my alarm bells ringing-- I’ll tell you. But right now you need to focus on getting your laptop fixed, and I-- I don’t want to get rid of him yet,” Kyungsoo mumbled the last part, not meeting Jongdae’s eyes.
Jongdae sighed. “Alright.” he didn’t sound happy. “Just-- be careful.” He placed a hand on Kyungsoo’s shoulder for a brief moment and then opened the bedroom door, stepping out of it.
Kyungsoo went to bed early, unable to handle being alone with Kai. Jongdae had hit the nail on the head more than he knew. It had only been pride that had kept Kyungsoo from admitting it aloud, but he was in trouble.
Kyungsoo had a lot to think about.
When the morning came around and Kyungsoo’s alarm went off, Kyungsoo felt better. The dawn light was peeking through his windows, and Bun came over to happily bump against Kyungsoo’s hand. As he scratched Bun’s head, he felt more capable of handling things. He wasn’t going to fall in love with a human shaped toaster. He refused.
“You can do this,” he mumbled as he rolled out of bed. “You can do this.”
Last night, when Kai had been frightened, it had hurt. It was foolish, but it had. Kyungsoo couldn’t allow that sort of emotion. He had to be more like Jongdae, had to regard Kai as a thing. He was a thing.
Kyungsoo stomped out of his room, full of resolve, spine tense. Kai had, once again, gone to sleep on the couch. Before he’d laid down to sleep he’d tugged his shirt off, saying shyly that he slept better like that, and it had made Kyungsoo’s heart flip flop. But today would be different. Today, he would be ice, and he would not be affected by Kai’s fake skin, no matter how golden and smooth it was.
The living room was full of dawn sunlight, but Kai was still sleeping. Kyungsoo walked to the cough, puffed up on determined energy, and deflated the moment he saw Kai’s face, soft in sleep. He was burrowed under the blanket, knees pulled up some to keep his feet from dangling off the edge of the couch.
Bun hopped up on Kai’s blanket-clad form, kneading to make himself comfortable. Kai shifted, snuffling a bit, but didn’t wake. He let out a sleepy sigh while he snuggled further into the pillow, lips parting slightly as his body went fully lax again. Kyungsoo almost physically felt his resolve crack.
“Fuck,” Kyungsoo muttered furiously under his breath. He strode into the bathroom quickly, shutting the door and then locking it. “Fuck fuck fuck.”
Jongdae was right, Kyungsoo couldn’t keep Kai, he decided as he was showering. Kai was far too real, too human, and Kyungsoo’s impartiality was already in tatters, and they’d barely even really spoken. The last thing he wanted was to get seriously attached to a robot, or to be concerned with and responsible for the emotional well-being of said robot. This whole situation was trouble, trouble decked out in neon signs. Kyungsoo was beginning to understand why Jongdae and Junmyeon wouldn’t bring an activated ‘Com into their home. It was a smarter choice than Kyungsoo had realized.
Kyungsoo would manually power Kai off, go to work, and then have Jongdae come by and pick Kai up after they were both off. Then he’d have his apartment back to himself and could relax and wash his hands of this.
He thought coming to a decision would bring relief, but as he stepped out of the shower and towelled himself dry, he found his stomach was actually heavy with dread.
“Just worry about yourself, Kyungsoo,” he mumbled, pulling his jeans and t-shirt on. “Kai isn’t your problem. He-- It’s a robot. You need to do what’s best for you.” Kyungsoo took a deep breath and marched out of the bathroom. Kai was still sleeping, and Kyungsoo eyed his earport. He needed to get it open and flip the tiny switch inside, and then this would all be over.
As he leaned down, Bun rose, giving a loud meow, and Kyungsoo startled. Kai rolled over, mumbling, and then his eyes fluttered open. When he saw Kyungsoo he sat up, hair tousled and indents from the pillow on one side of his face. He gave Kyungsoo a small smile, blanket slipping off one shoulder.
He was, arguably, the loveliest thing Kyungsoo had ever laid eyes on.
“Good morning,” Kai said softly, voice deep and raspy from sleep. His large, dark eyes swept up and down Kyungsoo’s form. This was apparently a habit. “I didn’t mean to sleep so long again. Did you sleep alright?”
Kyungsoo reached out, pinched the edge of the blanket between his thumb and forefinger, and tugged it up so it covered Kai’s exposed shoulder. The extra skin was distracting, even if it was fake. “Yes,” Kyungsoo said stiffly, holding onto his willpower with an iron fist, “I slept fine.”
Kai blinked up at him, smile dissipating. “You’re unhappy.”
Kyungsoo steeled himself. “I need to get at your earport, so I can hit your power switch.”
Kai froze, breath hitching. Kyungsoo sat beside him, and Kai followed the movement with wide-eyes. “Why?”
Kyungsoo bit his bottom lip, hard. He didn’t have to answer, he didn’t owe Kai any words of comfort. Kai was a machine with no real emotion, the fear in his eyes was all programming, artificial and cold. “Because,” Kyungsoo said simply, reaching out to touch Kai’s earport.
Kai’s whole body tensed up like he’d been shocked, though he didn’t jerk away even though he clearly wanted to. Kyungsoo determinately didn’t look at his face as he pressed the edge of the earport so it slid open. “You’re getting rid of me,” Kai said flatly, and Kyungsoo’s hand faltered. “It’s alright,” Kai added, gently, even as he swallowed thickly. “I can tell you’re afraid of me.”
Kyungsoo recoiled, snatching his hand back. “What?”
“I make you nervous, and uncomfortable,” Kai mumbled. “You have an expressive face.”
“I just-- I never wanted a Persocom,” Kyungsoo said quickly. “It’s not-- you didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I did though, didn’t I? Because someone threw me out. Didn’t even try to resell me, just-- just tossed me out with the trash.” Kai blinked rapidly, eyes shining, and Kyungsoo thought he might throw up. He’d never seen a Persocom cry, hadn’t really known they even could. “And you’re getting rid of me too, and I know there’s something wrong with me for sure, because you want it, you want me gone, and I’m a Persocom, and we’re supposed to want whatever our owners want, but I don’t. I don’t want to be tossed out again.”
“I’m not going to throw you away,” Kyungsoo said, compelled to somehow make this easier on Kai. The fact that Kai wanted to stay here, with him, weighed heavily on his conscience. “I’ll give you to Jongdae, he’ll--” Kyungsoo stopped himself there, because with a jolt he realized that Jongdae would rip Kai apart, use him for the few parts he had that did work properly.
It didn’t matter that Kyungsoo didn’t finish his sentence, because Kai had raised his hands and was saying, “Stop, stop, please, I don’t want to know.” Kai shook his head, hands slowly falling to rest on his knees. He stared down at them, and as he did so the tension fell out of his body, leaving him somehow smaller. “Do what you think is best for you. Thank you for fishing me out of the trash and-- and taking me home, even though it didn’t work out. Thank you for not just leaving me there.”
Kyungsoo didn’t know what to say, wasn’t sure he could say anything at all. Kai’s power switch glinted cobalt blue in the morning light. Kyungsoo reached for it, brushing aside Kai’s soft dark hair. Kai shivered under Kyungsoo’s touch, hands balling into fists on his knees, but still he didn’t pull away.
“I’m sorry I’m not what you wanted,” Kai whispered, closing his eyes.
Kyungsoo flinched, hand pulling back slightly. It wasn’t true. Kai was everything Kyungsoo had ever wanted, and that was the problem, Kyungsoo thought with despair. Kai was everything Kyungsoo dreamt about in the deepest part of himself, presented to him by fate in a twisted mockery of what he’d actually desired.
Kai was everything Kyungsoo had longed for in a person, and he wasn’t one, would never be one.
As Kyungsoo mulled that over, he realized that he didn’t know what to do, his mind running in logic circles. Keeping Kai would hurt, but so would getting rid of him.
“What do you want?” Kyungsoo asked against his better judgement, because he was a glutton for punishment apparently. It was like some sick part of himself wanted to get talked out of this, even though he knew it wasn’t in his better interest.
Kai’s eyes blinked open. “I want to stay here, with you,” he said quickly. He was trembling.
I’m hurting him, Kyungsoo thought, even as the logical part of him brain shouted that this was all programming and Kai couldn’t actually feel real pain. It did nothing to assuage the guilt, or Kyungsoo’s desire to make it better, somehow.
“But why?” Kyungsoo asked, genuinely baffled. “I haven’t been very nice to you.”
“Because,” Kai began, “you found me, and took me home, and you have been kind to me. You could have been cold and aloof but instead you’re clearly concerned about me, about my feelings, even though, just as clearly, you’re somewhat skittish around me.” A pause. “Also I like your voice.”
Kyungsoo blinked. “My voice?”
Kai nodded. “And your face.” He looked around. “And the cat.”
“Would it make you happy, if I kept you?” Kyungsoo whispered, barely audible.
Another, longer pause. “It would make me happy,” Kai replied slowly, “if you were happy.”
Kyungsoo let that sink in, and something in him broke again. His mind came to a decision without his consent. He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t.
He couldn’t give Kai up, even if it meant more trouble in the long run. He just couldn’t.
Kai was still staring at him, eyes large and unsure. He had such a beautiful face.
“Alright,” Kyungsoo said, and it came out a bit croaky. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Alright.” He reached out, to Kai’s earport, but instead of flipping the switch he simply slid the port closed. “We can try this, try it properly.”
Kai slumped in relief. “Please don’t do that to me again.”
“I’ll try not to,” Kyungsoo replied tiredly. And he meant it. He wanted this to work out. And it should. It really should.
Kai smiled at him, his eyes soft. “Thank you.”
Kyungsoo’s heart stuttered a bit, at the way Kai was looking at him. He smiled back, before he could help it, the stupid smile that made his cheeks bunch and his eyes practically disappear.
“That’s the first real smile I’ve seen on you,” Kai mused, head tilting to the side. “I think I like it,” he said, his voice dropping a little.
There was warmth spreading in Kyungsoo’s chest, and Jongdae’s voice echoed in Kyungsoo’s mind.
Be careful, he’d said.
As Kyungsoo stared at Kai’s dark eyes, his sweet smile, he realized it was already far too late for that.
1. in case u didn’t read the a/n despite the GIANT BOLDED LETTERS, i will repeat: this fic/au is discontinued. there will be no more. anyone commenting asking for more shall be lit on fire and their charred remains will be fED TO THE DOGS.
2. thank u for reading xoxo ♥