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24 January 2016 @ 07:53 pm
sounds  
sounds
Yewook | PG-13 | 3386 words | angst and fluff all sorta rolled up together | warning: character death (sorta) | au: deaf!wook
A ride home from work one evening takes a drastic turn for the worse, and that's when Ryeowook meets Death.

based on Ryeowook's teaser for the KRY Phonograph tour in Seoul, which translates to "Even if I lost all the sounds in the world, I wished only that I wouldn't lose you..." That was the inspiration/prompt behind this piece!

also written for cinnappo as a (very very) late birthday present... or a (very very) early birthday present, however you want to look at it hahaha

......

Ryeowook’s bright, high laugh filled the car and his eyes darted over to Jongwoon. “Really? You think we can actually go?”

Jongwoon took his eyes off the road for just a second as he glanced at his boyfriend and he grinned, nodding. “Yeah. I’m pretty sure I can get the time off work, so we should be able to.” He slowed his car to a stop as the light turned red, and faced Ryeowook properly. “Just you and me. In Greece! How great is this trip gonna be?” The light turned green and the car started moving again, slowly.

“It’s gonna be the best, hyung!! I’ve already got a list of--”

Squealing brakes, thunderous crash, crumpling metal, the sharp, mocking twinkle of glass raining onto him, and then nothing. Except black.

---

There wasn’t much left of the car, just a hunk of folded metal and broken glass. The man who’d hit them stumbled out of his car, drunk and confused, as onlookers called the police. A few had stopped their evening commutes and clamored out of their own cars, inching toward the smoking wreckage. Then running. There were two males; one had been thrown out as the car flipped over and over, the other was hanging half in the car and half out. Neither was moving.

---

Everything hurt. Absolutely every part of his body. It would have been so much easier to let himself drift back into darkness, but Jongwoon flashed through his mind and Ryeowook slowly opened his eyes.

There was a figure kneeling over Jongwoon, one dressed all in black with striking blonde hair. The man pulled a thick notebook out of the bag over his shoulder and flipped through it quickly, mumbling under his breath. It took him only a second to find the page he was looking for, and, when he did, he sighed.

“It’s too bad. He would have lived such a long life under normal circumstances.” He reached out, his hand hovering over Jongwoon’s chest.

Ryeowook didn’t know what was happening, if he was hallucinating or if it was real, but he struggled against his own body, fighting through the pain as he stretched out his arm, desperately trying to grab onto Jongwoon. “N...n-no...no, no…”

The figure looked up, blinking once before raising an eyebrow. “No?”

“J--Jong...Jongwoon, please--” He gasped as lightning hot pain shot up his arm and into his shoulder, but he managed to grab the sleeve of Jongwoon’s jacket and he clung to it with the only strength he had left.

“Ahhh.” The man stood, stepping over Jongwoon’s body before kneeling down next to Ryeowook instead. “You don’t want him to go.”

“G-Go?”

“To die.”

Panic spread across Ryeowook’s face, his eyes widening and his skin turning pale. Die? Jongwoon was going to die?

“He wasn’t supposed to, of course, but fates change all of the time, Kim Ryeowook. Unfortunately, today, his didn’t change for the better.”

“Who--”

“My name’s Sungmin.” The figure carefully sat down on the pavement between Jongwoon and Ryeowook’s bodies, keeping his eyes trained on the latter. There was something interesting about him. “Though most people call me Death.”

“D-Death?” Ryeowook winced, but inched closer to Jongwoon, finally managing to get his fingers to wrap around his hand. “No.” He squeezed his eyes shut; this had to just be a bad hallucination from the trauma. An ambulance would get here any minute and take them both to a hospital and they would get taken care of and it might take a while but everything would be fine. Right? There was no man named Sungmin, no man called Death, waiting there to take his world away from him. “Not hyung.”

He felt strong fingers press against his forehead, and suddenly every prominent memory of his flashed through his mind. He groaned softly, and Sungmin drew back his hand.

“You love him. That’s why you don’t want him to die.” Sungmin pointed at the thick black book he’d been carrying, which he’d placed open on the ground in front of him. “I’m sorry, Kim Ryeowook, but I’m only doing my job. He’s next on the list today.”

Ryeowook felt like his throat was closing and he struggled to keep his eyes focused on anything at all, but he choked out a desperate sob as his knuckles turned white from clinging to Jongwoon. Tears pooled in the corners of his eyes, slipping out to mix with the blood already running down his face. “N-not hyung!” He tried to reach out toward Sungmin with his other arm but it wouldn’t move; he couldn’t get his body to do anything and the frustration of helplessness welled up inside him. Jongwoon was going to die and he wasn’t going to be able to stop it. He couldn’t even move. “Please.”

Sungmin paused, examining Ryeowook. “Well…” He glanced at his bag, debating whether or not he would offer Ryeowook the chance. It wasn’t often that his work was interrupted, and it was even less often that someone loved another so deeply. This once, it might be worth it. It would mean a strict scolding from Heechul and probably suspension for the rest of the week, but he could use a break anyway…

“You love him.”

Ryeowook jerked his head in a small nod.

“Would you do anything possible to save him?”

Another small nod. Ryeowook winced as stars popped in his vision.

“Would you be willing to give up the most important thing in the world to you to do so?” Sungmin asked the question slowly and carefully, trying to convince himself that he was doing the right thing. He ran his hand through his blonde hair.

A flash of confusion filled Ryeowook’s face. “...Most important thing?”

Sungmin leaned over, once again gently placing his fingers on Ryeowook’s forehead. This time, his memories seemed to light up sky around them and Sungmin watched them intently for a moment before he withdrew his hand and sighed.

“Your hearing. I can take your hearing instead of his life.”

Ryeowook was an aspiring singer. He loved music more than anything in the world, besides Jongwoon. He lived and breathed music, hearing a melody in everything around him and humming softly under his breath wherever he went. He’d studied music in college, he wrote music and took vocal lessons, he played the piano every day after dinner. Giving up his hearing would mean giving up his dream, giving up tinkering with a song until it was perfect, giving up the joy of playing a new piece and listening to Jongwoon sing along. But it would mean not giving up Jongwoon.

“Take it.”

Sungmin looked up from his black book, taken aback. While it was rare that anyone tried to bargain with him, it was even more rare for anyone to agree to the bargain. “Are you sure? You’ll never be able to hear again. Ever.” Looking at the small, frail boy in front of him, he almost felt bad about what he was going to do. After this, he was clocking out and getting a drink.

Ryeowook nodded. “Take it. It’s not as important as him.” There wasn’t a hint of hesitation anywhere, not in his voice or on his face.

Sungmin sighed. He almost wished he hadn’t given Ryeowook the option now, but he was a man of his word, so he pulled a much, much thinner blue notebook out of his bag, along with a pen. He scribbled something on a blank page before sliding the book toward Ryeowook. “Just put your hand on it,” he said in response to Ryeowook’s confused glance. “It’s the contract for the exchange.”

Obediently, Ryeowook picked up his hand and let it drop on the page. The paper turned dark under his fingertips and, when Sungmin pulled it back, he saw his fingerprints left there. Then Sungmin started to slide out of focus and the last things he heard before he drifted into unconsciousness were sirens in the distance, a sharp gasp from his side, and his name from Jongwoon’s lips.

---

It had taken Jongwoon longer to wake up after the wreck than it had Ryeowook, but they’d both survived. The doctors were astounded that Jongwoon had lived, with injuries as extensive as his, but he had. The only lasting effects from the wreck for either of them would be a couple of scars and Ryeowook’s mysterious deafness.

Losing his hearing meant slowly losing his ability to speak. It was weird to have his mouth form words that he couldn’t hear, so he moved to visible language, picking up sign language much faster than he thought he would. Jongwoon struggled with it but refused to give up, and soon they were both fluent. Somehow, they liked communicating through flashes of fingertips better than spoken word anyway.

Losing his hearing meant his dreams changed, too. No more singing or composing, so Ryeowook turned to something else he was good at: baking. He studied and practiced and ended up with a job at a bakery near their apartment, which he loved. In some ways, he liked baking better than singing. With baking, at the end of the day, you got to eat your final product.

They didn’t talk about the accident, or the way things had been before it had happened. They were happy, and, most importantly, they were together.

---

It had been a little over six years. Jongwoon, as usual, picked up Ryeowook from the bakery on his way home, humming along softly to music his boyfriend couldn’t hear. Suddenly, the traffic slowed to a stop and Ryeowook looked ahead curiously, trying to figure out why they were no longer moving. As they inched forward, the reason for the delay slowly came into focus.

There had been an accident, a nasty one from the looks of the mangled cars and the ambulances surrounding the scene. Jongwoon winced slightly, averting his eyes; ever since his own accident, he hadn’t been able to look at any others. He glanced over at Ryeowook, only to find him staring with a mixture of recognition and shock.

As they passed, Ryeowook kept his eyes trained on the blonde figure dressed all in black, the one no one else seemed to notice. His fingers nervously twitched in his lap, spelling out two words that Death couldn’t see.

‘Thank you.’

---

After a peaceful dinner, Jongwoon flopped on the couch to watch the television and Ryeowook curled up in an armchair with one of his favorite books, trying to get the image of Sungmin leaning over Jongwoon out of his mind.

Finally, he shook his head slightly and snapped the book shut, throwing it on the coffee table and dashing off to take a shower before Jongwoon could stop him. He let the warm water run down his neck as he strained his ears, just on the off-chance…

Silence.

But he knew that, of course. It was what he expected, what he’d agreed to. Seeing an accident so like the one six years ago had just thrown him a little off-course, that was all.

He stepped out of the shower, drying himself and brushing his teeth and pulling on an old pair of Jongwoon’s sweatpants to sleep in before ducking out into their room and collapsing on the bed. A good night’s sleep. That’s all he needed.

---

On the couch, Jongwoon fidgeted. He tried not to show it in front of Ryeowook, but the crash today had brought back some painful memories and a burning question that he still didn’t have an answer for. And it had been six years. Six whole years. Maybe… maybe he could ask about it now.

He turned off the television and slid off the couch, slinking down the hall and into the bathroom. He lazily brushed his teeth before he slipped into the dark bedroom. After giving his eyes just a second to adjust, he flopped down on his usual side of the bed, rolling over and staring at Ryeowook’s back.

A few minutes passed.

Finally, Jongwoon inched closer to Ryeowook, nudging his back with his forehead. Ryeowook squirmed and twisted around just enough that he could see Jongwoon’s face, raising an eyebrow.

‘Can I ask you a question?’ Jongwoon signed quickly and Ryeowook immediately rolled his eyes. He turned away again, stuffing his face into his pillow. I’m trying to sleep, hyung.

Jongwoon poked Ryeowook’s side. Ryeowook frowned slightly before shaking his head, trying to roll away from him entirely. But Jongwoon was too fast and his arms looped around his waist, tugging him up against his chest. His hands fidgeted restlessly for a second and he signed something against Ryeowook’s stomach before he lost his nerve.

‘About the accident…’

He was hesitant to bring up the topic. It wasn’t a good memory, or anything that either one of them necessarily wanted to revisit, but, after what he’d seen earlier, Jongwoon couldn’t stop it from bugging him.

Ryeowook tensed slightly at the question. After a long moment, he nudged Jongwoon’s chest slightly, signaling that it was okay for him to continue.

‘How did I survive?’

Ryeowook nearly breathed a sigh of relief. That was an easy enough question to get around. He twisted himself around in Jongwoon’s arms so they were facing each other. ‘The doctors-’

‘No, they said it was basically impossible for me to have lived.’ Jongwoon raised one hand to run his fingers through Ryeowook’s hair, knowing that it would keep him calm.

Ryeowook stayed quiet for a long time, staring at a place just over Jongwoon’s shoulder. He could see Jongwoon’s crumpled body and the blonde man named Death with his thick black book of names and he shook his head slightly as his eyes darted back to Jongwoon’s face. He slowly sat up; Jongwoon shot up after him, biting his lip. Finally, Ryeowook brought up his hand to sign his answer.

‘I gave it up.’

Jongwoon blinked, obviously confused.

‘My hearing.’

Suddenly the room felt too cold and Jongwoon shook his head, refusing to believe that his life had anything to do with Ryeowook’s lost hearing. There was no way those two things were related. It didn’t make sense.

‘I bargained with Death when he came for you. He took my hearing, but he didn’t take you.’

Jongwoon nearly let out a bark of laughter; just the idea was ridiculous. Bargaining with death? He talked about death like it was an actual person who came for you, which was complete nonsense. Death was a thing that happened, an unfortunate, sad thing, but that was it.

When their eyes met, Ryeowook’s were steady. They were clear and certain and Jongwoon felt himself waver. If...if death was a person, and had been at that car accident six years ago… the idea of a bargain with Death was insane… but it would explain his miraculous survival and Ryeowook’s sudden, mysterious deafness. So, if he bought into that explanation, that brought up a bigger question.

‘Why?’

There was no hesitation as Ryeowook’s fingers darted through the air. ‘Because even if I lost all the sounds in the world, I only wished that I wouldn’t lose you.’

Jongwoon paused for a second, listening to the gentle, steady breaths filling the air around him. There wasn’t even a hint of remorse in those brown eyes. They just stared into his as a slight smile rose to the lips of the one he couldn’t imagine being without.

Jongwoon’s vision went blurry and Ryeowook’s gentle arms pulled him in. This time it was Ryeowook’s fingers in his hair and Jongwoon tried to choke back a sob. Soon enough, though, Ryeowook’s shirt was wet with tears. Jongwoon just kept signing ‘I love you’ over and over and over against his back.

---

He wasn’t supposed to check in on any living people outside of the job. When he took it, that was the deal. But when he’d been on an assignment that afternoon, he’d felt eyes on his back and turned just in time to catch a glance of the last person to bargain with him, six years ago. Sungmin had grown curious and, after he’d clocked out for the night, he’d tracked down Mr. Kim Ryeowook and the man who was supposed to have died.

He’d ended up perched outside of their apartment. It wasn’t spying, he told himself, but he felt kind of bad nonetheless, like he was intruding. He watched their utterly ordinary lives, watched Jongwoon ask how he’d survived, watched how Ryeowook chose to answer. And he watched as Jongwoon broke down, and he knew that he’d made the right decision to offer Mr. Kim Ryeowook the deal.

Sungmin waited until Jongwoon had fallen asleep to slip through the walls and into the bedroom. Ryeowook, who had been sitting on the bed watching Jongwoon sleep with a fond smile, looked up when he felt a slight chill and his eyes widened in recognition. His arms tightened around Jongwoon; he wasn’t losing him now.

Sungmin raised his hands in a gesture of peace. “Don’t worry. I’m off the clock,” he said, and Ryeowook was surprised to find himself understanding the language without hearing it. He hesitated for a second before he met Sungmin’s gaze.

Thank you for letting me save him.

Sungmin shook his head slightly, flopping down on the armchair in the corner of the room. “Nah. I feel bad for taking your hearing.” His tongue ran over his lips quickly, thinking. They had been pretty swamped at Death Headquarters lately; he was fairly sure no one would notice if one tiny object from the Vault of Bargains went missing… “Do you want it back?”

Ryeowook’s brow furrowed in confusion. Back?

“Yeah, your hearing, do you want it back? If anyone deserves it, it’s you. And him.” Sungmin nodded toward the sleeping Jongwoon.

Ryeowook took a deep breath and let it out slowly, his eyes flickering downwards to stare at Jongwoon. He ran his fingers over Jongwoon’s jawline as he thought, then cupped his cheek in his hand. He kept his eyes on his boyfriend’s tear-streaked face as he replied.

No.

“No? But why--”

We’re together and we’re happy. I don’t need anything more than that. I don’t need to hear to know how much he loves me.

Sungmin let out a breath slowly before a hint of a smile rose to his lips. He stood. “Then I wish you the best.” And he faded from view, leaving Ryeowook to sign ‘thank you’ to open air.

---

Once Jongwoon had gotten his mind wrapped around the concept of a person named Death, and the fact that Ryeowook had lost his hearing saving him, he wanted to hear the story. He wanted to know, properly, what had happened while he was hovering between life and death that day. So Ryeowook told him of the blonde man named Sungmin and the two notebooks of names and contracts and how the last thing he remembered ever hearing was Jongwoon muttering his name.

Their relationship didn’t change; if anything, Jongwoon was just more openly affectionate, doting on Ryeowook every chance he saw. After all, if Ryeowook couldn’t hear how much Jongwoon loved him, then he deserved to feel it.

One night, after a particularly trying day at work, Jongwoon collapsed into bed next to Ryeowook. He stared blankly at the ceiling for a moment before he shifted, his eyes landing on Ryeowook’s face.

Ryeowook felt the stare and turned to stare back, raising an eyebrow. What?

And suddenly Jongwoon broke into a grin and wrapped his arms around his boyfriend’s thin frame, tugging him up against his chest and burying his face in the crook of his neck. His fingers twitched against Ryeowook’s back as he mumbled against his skin.

‘I’m selfish, but I’m happy you did it.’

It took Ryeowook a second to realize what Jongwoon was talking about.

‘I’m happy because it means I get to keep loving you.’

Blood rushed into Ryeowook’s cheeks as he pulled away just enough to meet Jongwoon’s eyes. A smile blossomed across his face and he nuzzled his nose in Jongwoon’s neck. He slipped his hands around to his boyfriend’s back, his fingertips fluttering against the warm skin.

‘I’m happy I did it too.’

......
 
 
 
seeenoseeeno on January 26th, 2016 01:12 pm (UTC)
SCREAMS SCREAMS SCREAMS AND WAILS AND RUNS AROUND IN CIRCLES

SARAH

SARAAAAHHHHHHHHHH

I WAS SO EXPECTING THIS TO BE SO ANGSTY AND SAD BUT THEN IT WAS SO FLUFFY AND CUTE (with the exception of the beginning part of course but still) I LOVE IT LOVE LOVE LOVE ALL THE LOVE EVER

AND NOW I SHALL THROW QUOTES BACK AT YOU

Actually hang on the fact that the crash happened when they were so bright and cheerful and happy stab me in the heart why don't you I really really hope that drunk driver got locked up forever >:C

SUNGMIN AS DEATH AND AS A RULE-BREAKER I FUCKING LOVE IT HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I CAN SO SEE HIM GETTING HIS CHOPS BUSTED BY HEECHUL ALL THE TIME LIKE "What did you do this time" IT'S SO GREAT

Sungmin playing Ryeowook's memories in the air, the way you wrote this was so beautiful ;____; I could visualize it so so clearly and I just dissolve in a puddle of my own tears

“Take it." I ACTUALLY GASPED OUT LOUD HERE AUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHGH MY HEART RYEOWOOK BABY LOVES JONGWOON SO SO MUCH (I was afraid with your scary character death warning he'd say "take me instead" to be honest but tHIS WAS SO MUCH BETTER)

The last thing Ryeowook hears being his name on Jongwoon's lips just makes it ALL THE MORE HEARTBREAKING WAILS FOREVER at least he'll have the memory of that, and the memory of music ;;

Losing his hearing meant slowly losing his ability to speak. I can only imagine the frustration that came with this, how many times Jongwoon winced because Ryeowook was shouting without meaning to, how many times Ryeowook struggled to read Jongwoon's lips before he gave up and shoved a pen and paper at him ;;;;;;;;;;

BUT BUT BUT THEN Somehow, they liked communicating through flashes of fingertips better than spoken word anyway. AHHHHHHH MY HEART THEY ARE SO CUTE IT'S LIKE THEY HAVE THEIR OWN MOSTLY-SECRET CODE TALK

Ryeowook signing thank you in his lap to Sungmin even though no one sees it ;~~~~~;

JONGWOON SIGNING AGAINST RYEOWOOK'S BELLY AHHHHHHHHHH I'M SORRY I DON'T HAVE WORDS MORE THAN SCREAMING FOR YOU IT'S TOO CUTE Q~~~~~Q

‘Because even if I lost all the sounds in the world, I only wished that I wouldn’t lose you.’

Jongwoon paused for a second, listening to the gentle, steady breaths filling the air around him. There wasn’t even a hint of remorse in those brown eyes. They just stared into his as a slight smile rose to the lips of the one he couldn’t imagine being without.
NOPE I'M DONE ALL THE TEARS Ryeowook doesn't regret for one minute, not one measly second, giving up his hearing for Jongwoon and how it just hits Jongwoon that he's been taking his hearing for granted all this time, that he has the privilege of just hearing Ryeowook breathe, that he's even alive to hear it, just. nope. all the tears ever here take my buckets full of tears

Ryeowook turning down getting his hearing back (again I love rule-breaker Sungmin here thank you for slipping my bias in :3 ), I had the same reaction that Sungmin did, I audibly went "huh????? why not????" but Ryeowook's right, he's learned to be happy without it, he doesn't need it anymore, and while it's sad that he lost his dream of music, he found another dream and found a reason to keep on living, and be happy at it, and took it all in stride and I just love baby child Ryeowook here let me cuddle him ;~~~~~;

Thank you thank you thank you sooooooooooooooo sosososo so much for this, you really did make my day ;_____; I will treasure this early/late gift forever and ever thank you I love it I love you <3333333

(edit: side note, did they ever make it to greece??? i really hope so, i'm going to go ahead and make it official that they got their trip to greece and it was all sorts of lovely and amazing)

Edited at 2016-01-26 01:35 pm (UTC)