Genre: Fantasy!AU, Romance
A/N: The final chapter!
He hadn't wanted to. Not when Suho was lying at Chanyeol's mercy with no one to protect him. Every instinct told him to go back, to save the boy he loved from his deadliest enemy, but Lu Han had asked him, no, commanded him was really the better word for it.
So he sings. He sings the song that runs through his blood and hums in his heart and calls rain to pour down on the sleeping sun. He sings, heart aching when he thinks of Suho. Suho and his kind heart and gentle hands and soft smile and everything that makes him Suho.
As soon as he finishes the song, he turns to go, to fly back to Suho and save him.
He hasn't heard the voice of his lord for a long time, but he would recognize it anywhere and he'd be a fool to ignore it. He pauses, muscles tensed, before letting out a breath and turning around to sink into a deep bow.
"Welcome back, my lord," he says, eyes cast down. He sees the edge of Wu Fan's robe creep into his field of vision and then Wu Fan is lifting him up, face solemn. But then again, Wu Fan was always solemn. At least, that's how Chen remembers him. But it's been a long time.
"Loyal thunderbird," Wu Fan murmurs, and Chen blinks up at him, slightly confused. Wu Fan looks almost sad. Chen can't remember him ever being sad.
"I promised Suho I would give you a message," Wu Fan continues, and a terrible foreboding slams into Chen's chest, making it difficult to breathe. He doesn't want to hear this. He can't hear this. If he doesn't hear it then it's not true.
"He loves you," Wu Fan says, that same strange sadness in his eyes.
Chen forces himself to breathe, a smile spreading shakily across his face.
"I know that. I love him too. And he can tell me that himself when I see him," Chen laughs, ignoring the look of pity that Wu Fan gives him. "I have to go to him, Chanyeol still has him and he's hurt. I have to go."
Wu Fan blinks golden eyes at Chen for a few more moments before nodding, letting go of the thunderbird.
"I shall go with you. Chanyeol must be taught his place." Wu Fan's voice is hard, and Chen feels a surge of almost paralyzing anger when he remembers Suho's scream and the cold, manic smile of the phoenix.
"He and I have a score to settle," mutters Chen, as lightning crackles around his body, the storm inside of him roaring to be unleashed on the one responsible for Suho's pain.
Wu Fan nods and golden light sears Chen's eyes as the sun unfurls huge golden wings and flaps them experimentally. Warmth and light flood the huge mountain they stand on, and Chen smiles despite the dire situation. The sun is finally awake.
His clouds above have not fully dissipated and it takes him mere seconds to gather his lightning, calling it down to snatch him into the sky.
With another huge flap of his wings, Wu Fan dives off of the mountain, glowing brightly. He breaks through the clouds near the base of the mountain and flares his wings as a warm breeze caresses him.
"My lord," sighs a soft voice, and Kyungsoo materializes, floating next to the sun and looking grim.
Wu Fan nods in acknowledgment and Kyungsoo looks up as thunder rumbles, signaling Chen's progress across the sky, transported by lightning bolts jumping from cloud to cloud.
"Chanyeol will be waiting for him," states Kyungsoo, as his body begins to dissolve into leaves and air.
Wu Fan nods and takes off after Chen, Kyungsoo blasting by on a gale of breathtaking speed. Wu Fan can't help but look down, taking in the land he has not truly seen in centuries. He saw it while he was sleepwalking of course, but his dreams did not do it justice. It has changed, he knows, seeing rivers and towns and forests where there were none before, but the largest change is far ahead, where he can just see the heat rising from a massive orange-red desert. This is not right. Chanyeol's territory grew with his power and overtook much of the other Adar's lands.
Anger and a touch of shame rises up in Wu Fan's throat, his light flaring brightly. Chanyeol has been allowed free reign for too long. It is time the phoenix remembers who is a god and who is not.
Chen, speeding towards the phoenix's desert as fast as his lightning bolts can carry him, is not thinking of Chanyeol and what he has done to the land. All of his thoughts are focused on the boy who was left behind.
"Suho," he says to himself, tears pricking his eyes and causing a small drizzle over a parched forest. When he reaches the edge of the desert, he doesn't pause, doesn't wait for Wu Fan or anyone else, simply throws his clouds forward and speeds along above the heated sand, desperation starting to control his actions.
He had seen Suho before Lay took him away, screamed at Lay to leave him behind and save the human boy, but Lay ignored him. If it wasn't for the tears in the Nightmare's eyes, Chen might have thought that the Nightmare didn't even care that Suho was hardly more than a charred husk.
Equal measures of grief and choking fury seize Chen's lungs and he clenches his teeth, his clouds matching his mood by expanding, swallowing up the sky and crackling with lightning.
Chanyeol will pay.
As if on cue, heat slams into Chen, nearly knocking him from the sky. He catches himself and looks down. Chanyeol is staring up at the sky, teeth bared in a half snarl, half smile, and there's something next to him, about five feet to the phoenix's left. Someone next to him.
Chen can taste his fear. It's bitter and claws at his throat, ripping into his lungs and making the air go deadly still. Without thinking, without pausing to consider what Chanyeol will do to him, he streaks to the ground in a purple-white thunderbolt, turning the sand around him to glass. He doesn't notice that, however, as he stumbles forward and falls to his knees next to the small, blackened someone on the ground.
Suho is barely recognizable. His soft, dark hair is gone and he's curled into a ball. His skin and his clothes are fused and resemble bloodied charcoal more than skin or cloth. His face is unseen, and he's still. So, so still. Chen can't stop his hands from trembling as he reaches out to touch Suho's cheek.
"Suho?" His voice is so small, so quiet, but he can't bring himself to speak louder. Suho isn't speaking. Suho isn't moving. Suho isn't breathing. Suho is de-
No. He can't be. It's not true. It's not true.
Chen reaches for the connection between them, the spark that he passed to Suho on the day he claimed the human boy as his own, and he feels nothing. Nothing. A blank space where Suho should be, a hollow place in Chen's very being. Nothing.
Suho is gone.
Chen can't breathe. It's like the world has stopped moving. This isn't right. It's not supposed to be this way, he promised to keep Suho safe, he swore that nothing would ever hurt Suho, he was supposed to be Suho's guardian and friend. He promised himself he would keep the boy he loved safe.
Suho is gone. Suho is dead.
Suho is dead. And as the world slowly begins to filter back into Chen's senses, he hears something that sets his whole body buzzing with fury.
Chanyeol is laughing. He killed Suho and he's laughing.
Something snaps inside of Chen and he slowly brings his eyes up to look at the phoenix. Every inch of his skin burns and prickles as his lightning snaps across his skin in violent arcs, the clouds above echoing his emotions with huge flashes and deafening rumbles.
For the first time, Chanyeol's smile falters. He looks at Chen, and a flash of something that might be called fear crosses his face.
"You," the phoenix begins, but Chen doesn't want to talk. He doesn't want to hear Chanyeol's voice, doesn't want him to speak, doesn't want him to draw breath ever again. So he stretches out his hand and cuts Chanyeol off with a massive bolt of lightning aimed directly at the phoenix.
It hits the phoenix with a bright flash and a loud crackle of thunder and Chanyeol staggers, eyes narrowing to orange slits. Chen stares back, face creased in silent anger as he calls down another thunderbolt. And another. And another.
Flash after flash, crack after crack, Chen rains down a merciless onslaught on the phoenix, not giving the other Adar time to recover or gather himself. At some point, he starts screaming. At first he thinks it's Chanyeol, but when he has to stop screaming to draw breath Chen becomes aware of the agony ripping through his lungs and throat and pouring out of his mouth in a drawn out wail.
Suho is dead.
The thought brings on a fresh scream and the already blinding flashes of light become more frequent. Chen feels like he's shattering. Each broken piece of him calls down another deadly bolt and drives into the already huge crater where Chanyeol stands. Or perhaps stood is a better word.
Chen loses count of how many lightning bolts he's shot at Chanyeol. It doesn't feel like enough. He's crying. His hands are shaking as his lightning starts to falter. It hurts too much. Suho is dead. His chest feels hollow. Suho is gone.
With a sob, Chen falls to his knees, tears flowing freely down his face. Suho is dead.
The clouds above go silent, before a light drizzle starts, almost a fine mist that evaporates almost as soon as it lands on the hot desert ground.
A quiet groan comes from the lightning strike crater.
Chen's head snaps up, the rain ceasing as a low chuckle echoes out across the flat desert before rising to a full blown rumbling laugh.
Chanyeol, cloaked in red flame, rises out of the depression in the ground with a triumphant grin.
"You really thought you won," he says, equal parts disbelieving and amused. "You really thought you won, when I have thousands of followers and you have no one to help you."
Chen can't even bring himself to stand. He's so tired. Suho is dead and it hurts to breathe.
"Kill me then," he tells Chanyeol. He's died before, or so he's been told. Maybe he'll be with Suho again.
Chanyeol's smirk as he lands in front of Chen is mocking and triumphant.
"As you wish," he sneers, flames spreading out from his feet and licking at Chen's black feathers.
Chen closes his eyes, smoke filling his mouth and nose and making him cough. He's just feeling the first burn on his skin when silver light flashes through his closed eyelids and Chanyeol yells in pain.
Confused, Chen opens his eyes. A huge silver stag stands in front of Chen, head lowered and antlers aimed directly at the phoenix. Chanyeol is clutching his side, blood leaking from between his fingers.
"Damn you," he hisses at the stag. "You'll pay for this, Lu Han."
The stag snorts and scrapes the ground with a front hoof, clearly challenging the phoenix to go ahead and try. Chanyeol takes a step forward, sparks trailing from his fingers, when a gust of wind knocks him back, pushing him almost to the crater before he digs his feet in enough to stop.
Kyungsoo steps from the air, his huge eyes burning green and his thick eyebrows pulled low in anger. Chanyeol sweeps his hand through the air and a wall of fire rushes forward. Kyungsoo doesn't move but a sudden rush of air leaves the fire without any fuel and it dies a foot from the sylphid.
Lu Han nudges Chen to his feet and stands at his side, cool air radiating out from his fur and cutting through the desert heat.
Chanyeol steps forward again and is blasted back again by Kyungsoo's winds. The sylphid is motionless, arms crossed over his bare chest, but his eyes dance with flickering hues of green as the wind swirls around him.
Chanyeol snarls, lashing out with long tongues of flame that Kyungsoo deftly deflects.
"You'll burn for this," Chanyeol growls. "Just like the hyperion."
Kyungsoo's eyes flash vivid spring green and he finally moves, reaching out a hand and bringing it down in a broad sweep.
Slowly, almost imperceptibly, a cloud high above the battling Adar starts to swirl, a long tendril snaking out and reaching for the ground. Chanyeol raises his hand, about to shoot a fresh spout of flame at Kyungsoo, when a tornado touches down in front of the sylphid with a terrifying howl, kicking up a cloud of sand and wind.
Chen braces against the furious wind, grains of sand stinging his face and eyes. Lu Han lowers his antlered head and acts as a windbreaker for the exhausted thunderbird, and Kyungsoo pushes the tornado forward, green eyes focused on Chanyeol's now truly frightened face.
The phoenix throws flame at the huge spinning pillar of air, backing away as the cyclone swallows it with a howling roar and continues to bear down on him, spitting out sand and rock in every direction.
Chanyeol tries to back away, only to find that his feet are trapped by a sheet of rapidly growing ice. A whirl of fog and snow sweeps past Chanyeol and Xiumin steps out next to Kyungsoo, shaking from the effort of holding Chanyeol with his ice. Chanyeol screams in frustration, but as fast as he melts the ice, Xiumin refreezes him and still the tornado charges towards him. Just as Chanyeol blasts the last of the ice off and Xiumin collapses from exhaustion, the tempest swallows up Chanyeol. With a burst of orange flame that's quickly extinguished by the raging wind, Chanyeol disappears.
Wu Fan's voice rings out over the desert, and with a visible effort, Kyungsoo unravels the enormous tornado and a ragged crimson-feathered heap falls from the sky and lands with a dull thud on the sand.
Hearing his brother's voice, Lu Han shifts out of his stag form and looks up, eyes bright with relieved tears as Wu Fan touches down lightly in front of Chanyeol.
"Phoenix," Wu Fan rumbles, and Chanyeol raises himself up shakily, seeming to crumple in on himself as Wu Fan surveys him with quiet, cold anger.
"I revoke your fire," Wu Fan says calmly, and Chanyeol's eyes widen as he backs away, pressing a hand to his chest.
"N-no!" Chanyeol whimpers. "You can't!"
A pulse of light and raw power forces Chanyeol to his knees, where he stares up at Wu Fan, terror leaking into his face.
"You," Wu Fan almost spits, the light shining out of his skin almost blinding, "do not tell me what I can and cannot do. I made you what you are. I can unmake you just as easily."
Chanyeol whimpers again as Wu Fan stretches a hand out and presses it to the kneeling Adar's chest. When he pulls it away, a long, shining string of red flame follows. A cry of pain, raw and desperate, comes from Chanyeol, and he lifts shaking hands to his chest, trying helplessly to pull his fire back inside of him.
As Chen watches with a sense of grim satisfaction, Chanyeol seems to shrink, the color leaching out of his hair and clothes and eyes and skin, small feathers sprouting all over his body. White feathers spring from his hair and hands and keep growing all over his skin as his eyes remain fixed on Wu Fan, who is still pulling fire from Chanyeol's body. Chanyeol's pleas for mercy turn to bird squawks as his lips and nose melt into a beak. Within a matter of minutes, the phoenix is no more. In his place is a large, pristinely white swan, honking confusedly.
Wu Fan, holding the phoenix's fire in his hand, gives the swan a look of disdain before waving his hand. The bird blinks stupidly before spreading its wings and flapping away.
Chen lets out a shaky breath. It's over. Chanyeol will not hurt anyone ever again.
Not like he hurt Suho, Chen thinks numbly.
Chen manages to make his way back to Suho's side. Xiumin and Kyungsoo are already there, haggard lines etched into their faces. Chen kneels next to the body, more tears filling his eyes. Softly, under his breath, he sings.
He sings the song Suho only heard once, so many years ago, when they were both small and knew nothing of the pain and troubles ahead. Suho had tied a bandage around Chen's knee and smiled that kind, gentle smile of his, the one that had touched Chen's heart and made him start to care about the little human boy.
The clouds above respond to Chen's song, even though his breath catches on sobs and his voice trembles and breaks. Rain, gentle and warm, falls across the land, from the vast expanse of the desert to the far northern mountains. For the first time in many, many years, the drought is truly broken.
The rain keeps falling, even after Chen finishes his song and presses trembling lips to Suho's cold forehead.
"Rain for Suho," he whispers, lips twitching into an almost smile before he presses them together and tears roll down his face.
Chanyeol is defeated. Wu Fan is awake.
And Suho is dead.
Chen knows they've won, but it feels like he's lost everything.
He doesn't know how long he sits by Suho's body. It feels like an eternity. But when a hand on his shoulder makes him jump and look up, the light has barely changed and everything looks the same.
Kyungsoo leaves his hand on Chen's shoulder as he looks sadly down at the curled body.
"We should take him to his family," the sylphid murmurs. Chen nods mutely, gathering Suho into his arms and standing up slowly. Suho feels so light.
Lu Han steps forward and places a soft kiss on Suho's forehead. There's a subtle silver glow around Suho's body before the blackness seems to slough off, revealing Suho's pale skin and dark hair, his eyes closed as if in slumber.
Chen half smiles at the still face before looking at Lu Han, an accusation on his lips.
"I couldn't have healed him," Lu Han says, eyes fixed on Suho. "This is an illusion. It shows him as he was. I thought it would be better for his family."
Chen nods, suddenly grateful.
The flight to Suho's home is solemn, Chen flying in front with the other two Adar on each side and slightly behind, Lu Han and Wu Fan trailing behind, hands clasped. It's still raining. Chen doesn't think it will ever stop.
Yixing, wearing his horse form, is waiting for them at Suho's home. When Chen touches down lightly, Yixing surges forward, dropping the facade, hope shining in his face. But when he catches sight of the still form in Chen's arms and sees the sorrow on the thunderbird's face, Yixing sobs and drops to his knees in the mud.
Chen stands frozen as the door to Suho's home opens and three figures step out. He recognizes them by sight, but not by name. There's Suho's brother, and his sister, and his mother. They stand stunned for a few moments, overwhelmed by the figures of myth standing in front of them, but then Suho's brother sees Suho lying in Chen's arms and runs forward, eyes wide.
Chen resists the urge to pull away. This is Suho's family. He should be given to them. Suho's brother reaches out and presses a hand to Suho's cold arm and yanks back, understanding and horror washing over his face.
The boy looks up at Chen, and Chen looks away. It seems that is enough of an answer. The boy steps back, desperation and fear mixing as his mouth works soundlessly, trying to say something, anything.
"Sehun…" Kyungsoo says gently, stepping towards the stricken boy. Sehun shakes his head stubbornly and backs away, tears glistening in his eyes.
"You said," Sehun says, voice rising in pitch. "You said he'd be okay! You promised!"
Kyungsoo's expression twists and he looks down, winds stilling around him.
"I'm sorry," he says quietly.
Sehun makes a noise somewhere between a sob and a scream and runs, taking off towards the little spring that Chen knows so well.
He watches the little boy go, and doesn't notice how Suho's mother has moved close to him. He jerks in surprise when the woman tries to take Suho from him, sparks dancing along his skin and thunder rumbling overhead.
"We need to bury him," she says quietly, holding Chen's gaze with such unnatural calm Chen almost feels tranquil himself. When Suho's mother reaches for the body again, he doesn't stop her, and she cradles her son to her chest, eyes fixed on his pale face. Her hair falls away from her ears and Chen can see the glint of silver studs.
"When he first met you, I told him what you were." She's not looking at him, but Chen knows that her words are for him. "He was so happy. You should have seen the light in his eyes. And then, when I saw his arm…saw the scars…I think I knew that it would end like this."
She finally lifts her head, and the look in her eyes is broken. Chen wonders if that's how he looks as well.
"Humans always suffer when the gods fight."
Without another word, she turns and starts to carry Suho back to the house. Chen watches her go, hands hanging limply at his sides. None of the others leave. It would disrespect the boy who died to wake the sun.
When the woman finally emerges from her house again, Suho's body is wrapped in white cloth. She walks past Chen without a word, but he follows her anyway. He will bury Suho.
It's a funeral procession fit for a king, Chen thinks as they walk down the well-worn trail to the spring. Suho's sister clings to her mother's skirts, silent, eyes wide and lips thin.
Suho's mother pauses at the edge of the water, rain soaking her clothes and hair.
"He'd want to be buried here," she says quietly.
Chen agrees. This was Suho's favorite place on the farm. Lu Han steps forward and taps the earth with his foot. The ground ripples and collapses, leaving a hole large enough for Suho's curled, white-wrapped form.
His mother simply stares at the hole, arms tightening around Suho's body as tears threaten to spill down her face. Chen steps forward and holds out his hands, making eye contact with the grieving woman. She nods slightly and Chen takes Suho from her, cradling the boy in his arms for a few more seconds before kneeling and placing the body in the earth.
He wishes he could see Suho's face. Another glimpse, one last look before he's sealed away forever. He swallows around the pain strangling him and stands back up. He feels like he should say something. But when he opens his mouth, nothing comes out.
No one speaks. There is much that could be said, and it will be said someday, but somehow, thunder and the sound of rain seem a more fitting eulogy for Suho than anything else. Finally, Lu Han taps his foot again, and the earth shudders, closing over the body and hardly leaving a trace except for a long scar of dark soil in the grass covered banks of the spring. It's like Suho has been erased from the world.
Chen can't stop himself from crying.
Wu Fan, dry and bright even in the downpour, raindrops sizzling on his skin, walks to the head of Suho's grave and kneels, placing both hands on the damp grass. Chen feels the ripple of his lord's light and heat that precedes one of his workings, and steps back.
Something white erupts from the ground, pushing up to the sky. It's a huge marble slab, ten feet high, and as Chen watches, the sun and the moon approach it, placing their linked hands on the stone. Light shoots through the veins of the marble and with a deafening crack, huge chunks of stone fall away and sink into the ground.
Chen stares. It's Suho. A statue of Suho. It's so lifelike, Chen half-expects the stone boy to step off his pedestal and ask why everyone looks so sad. At the foot of the statue, words are carved in the rock.
In honor of his sacrifice
Suho, the One Who Woke the Sun
"He will not be forgotten," Wu Fan says, touching the statue gently. "I promised him."
The sun turns to Suho's mother, and she bows, sinking to the ground. The little girl clinging to her mother's skirts follows her mother's example.
"I owe your son a debt that I can not truly repay. Is there anything you would ask of me?"
"Take care of my family, lord," the woman answers, daring to look up. "Do not let us starve."
Wu Fan nods, but Chen isn't paying attention anymore. Sehun, Suho's brother, peeks out from behind a tree, eyes wide and face grubby and wet with tears and rain.
Chen remembers how Suho used to comfort his little brother, and it compels him to walk around the spring and stop in front of the boy. Sehun shrinks back, face scrunching up, and Chen kneels, looking at the boy's face. There's some resemblance, same dark hair, same pale skin, but Sehun is gangly and thin and tall for his age where Suho was smaller but more muscled.
"Hello," Chen says quietly. "My name is Chen."
Sehun doesn't reply, face still twisted as he clutches at the hem of his muddy shirt.
"Your brother probably never told you about me," Chen continues, "but we were very good friends."
"He kissed you," Sehun blurts, and Chen blinks in slight confusion, before the memory comes to him. A jeering crowd, a knife dropped in the dirt, and Suho's lips pressed to his. He nods, inexplicably shy.
"Did the phoenix kill him?" Sehun whispers, edging closer, eyes brimming with tears and lip quivering. Chen nods again and tears start to drip down the human boy's cheeks.
"Why?" Sehun asks, twisting his shirt in his fingers.
Chen looks down at his hands. Because I claimed him as mine, he thinks, clenching his hands and looking back at the little boy.
"Would you like me to tell you the whole story?"
And when Sehun nods, Chen tells him.
True to his word, Wu Fan makes sure that Suho is not forgotten. Within a year, the story of Suho and his tragic death spreads across the entire land, and within five, the world knows of the boy who died to wake the sun. Not everyone believes it, of course. They dismiss it as legend and hearsay, but the statue and the dissolution of the Church of Light serves as a reminder to the people of the village that it was all very, very real.
Baekhyun and the other priests are disgraced and exiled, and the churches are torn down, shrines to the Adar and the sun and the moon built in their place.
The statue of Suho becomes a holy place itself, drawing pilgrims from all over to make the journey to the little village and visit Suho's grave. Almost six years after Suho's death, a nomad caravan arrives and a man steps out of one of the wagons, his left arm scarred and his face sharp and foreboding.
Zitao approaches the statue and bows in front of it, face softening into an expression of sorrow. A cold wind creeps around him and frozen fingers press against his own. Xiumin takes Zitao's hand and looks up at the white statue, face unreadable.
They stand silently for a while until Zitao speaks.
"I wish I could have helped him."
"You were halfway across the world," Xiumin reminds him gently.
"I could've saved him," Zitao insists. He doesn't know if that's true, but perhaps Suho would've stood a better chance if Zitao was at his side.
"His sacrifice wasn't in vain," Xiumin says. "Lu Han and Wu Fan are grateful."
Zitao nods slowly and swallows the retort he wants to say. If the gods were so grateful why didn't they save him?
Instead he turns around and walks to the little farmhouse that has not changed much throughout the years. The woman who opens the door meets her nephew for the very first time, and Sehun finds himself intrigued by the dark stranger with silver in his ears.
The years pass and the world keeps turning. Wu Fan chooses a new phoenix, a peregrine falcon who calls himself Minho. Chen avoids him, not able to face the flames that ended Suho's life, even if they belong to a new Adar. For a long time Chen can't face Suho's grave, because when he stays away he can almost convince himself it was all a bad dream. But every storm over the land sweeps him over the white marble statue and reminds him of reality.
Time slips away from him, now that he has no reason to keep track of humans. The village grows and expands like a living thing, discoveries accelerating the growth by leaps and bounds and somehow before Chen realizes it, a city has grown around the spring and the statue.
The final time they meet is fate.
Chen feels the urge to walk among humans one cloudy evening after he finishes singing his rain song. He hasn't felt this way in centuries, but he decides to indulge it, catching a thunderbolt and jumping to the ground with a flash and crackling roar. He shakes his hair out and begins walking, feather cloak ruffling in the light wind. It takes a few strange looks from passerby before he realizes that cloaks are no longer the fashion, and he pauses in front of a large glass window showcasing clothing.
As he stands there, purple white sparks flicker over his body and his feathers melt and ripple into a well-fitted black suit. He tugs on his sleeves and smiles lightly at his reflection. He wonders what Suho would think and then frowns. Even after centuries of separation, the pain of Suho's death has not stopped aching.
The ache in his chest sends a rumble through the clouds and Chen turns on his heel, walking briskly down the paved street. He walks without a destination, simply pushing through the tide of people and smiling to himself whenever someone tries to push him back and is shocked for their efforts.
He frowns when he reaches a green patch. It feels familiar, but he isn't sure why. A path paved with river stones winds through the grass and he follows it, brows furrowing as memories he thought were long gone rise to the surface and by the time he reaches the spring, and sees the white statue towering over the pool of clear water, he remembers.
This is Suho's grave.
He has to take a moment to remember to breathe. The statue looks as new as the day it was created, the lines of Suho's face achingly familiar.
He's so lost in his memories that he doesn't register the person climbing on the pedestal until they almost fall off of it, grabbing onto the marble arm with a strangled yell. Chen blinks and then steps forward, anger rushing up within him like a storm front.
How dare they touch Suho? Who does this human think they are?
Lightning is already snapping in the air around him when the person clinging to the statue rights themselves and turns around with a breathy laugh.
Chen feels all of the air leave his lungs as though he's been punched in the stomach. Time stops as he stumbles to a halt, eyes fixed on the laughing face of the man on the pedestal.
"Suho?" he whispers, not daring to believe it. It has to be a dream or a trick or something. The man standing in front of the statue has dark red hair and is taller and older than Chen remembers but there's no mistaking that smile and those eyes and the way he carries himself and Chen almost falls to his knees because it's Suho.
The man looks up at the statue's face and laughs.
"Yeah, that's this guy," he says, and god he sounds just like Suho. Chen doesn't know whether to laugh or scream. "My friends say I look like him, but I can't see the resemblance."
He's starting to lean towards screaming.
"Who," Chen asks, his voice hardly more than a croak. He clears his throat and starts over. "Who are you?"
"Me?" The man hops down from the pedestal and smiles, brushing off his pants. "My name is Joonmyun. Who are you?"
Joonmyun. Not Suho. Joonmyun. He could be Suho's twin. Joonmyun.
"I'm Chen," Chen says faintly, unable to move from his spot, eyes moving from the statue to Joonmyun to the place where he buried Suho and back again to Joonmyun.
"Nice to meet you," Joonmyun says, and he extends a hand to shake Chen's. Chen mirrors him on instinct, and starts when a spark jumps between their fingers, unbidden by him. Joonmyun shakes his hand and smiles in apology.
"Sorry, that happens a lot. I'm like a walking battery."
Chen doesn't know what a battery is but that spark between them causes some mad desire to seize him and he grabs Joonmyun's left arm, shoving the long sleeve up and revealing a patchwork of scars running up the entire length of the arm. Joonmyun shakes him off, a frown creeping across his face as he pulls his sleeve back down.
"I hide my birthmark for a reason," he mumbles, and Chen tells himself that this is impossible but a stupid smile is spreading across his face and he steps forward, tears starting to brim in his eyes.
"Suho," he whispers. Joonmyun's frown deepens.
"I'm Joonmyun," he repeats, backing up, but Chen keeps moving forward and Joonmyun keeps moving back until his back hits the pedestal and Chen is standing in front of him. Chen can't stop the smile on his face or the tears streaming down his cheeks and something flickers deep in Joonmyun's eyes. Something makes Joonmyun reach out and touch Chen's cheek gently, confusion plain on his face.
Chen cups the man's face and seals their lips together. It's chaste, nothing heated or passionate about it, but when he pulls back from Joonmyun, the other man still has his eyes closed and his cheeks are flushed pink.
Chen strokes Joonmyun's face with his thumbs until Joonmyun opens his eyes, brows furrowing together.
"Have…have we met before?" he asks softly, and Chen can almost see Suho the boy in Joonmyun's eyes. His face softens into a smile and he strokes Joonmyun's cheek again. "Yes. A long, long time ago."
"Who are you?" Joonmyun asks, and Chen knows he doesn't mean his name.
As an answer, Chen picks up Joonmyun's left hand and pushes his sleeve up slightly, fingers dancing over the scars, and when he's sure that Joonmyun is watching, Chen sends an array of sparks shooting across Joonmyun's skin.
Joonmyun gasps, and when he looks at Chen again, something akin to recognition glows in his eyes.
"Chen?" he breathes, and Chen smiles.
"I missed you so much," he says, tracing Joonmyun's cheek. "We have a lot to talk about."
I had an alternate ending where Suho became the new phoenix. I might still write that at some point, but I prefer this ending honestly. Thank you so much for reading, I'm sure I've tried your patience with my inability to update. The fic I'm working on right now is actually a BAP fic, I think I'll actually finish writing it before I post it up here. It's also on my AFF account but I'm aware that a lot of people don't like AFF (I don't mind it myself, I just like to write and post stuff so I'm like whatever). Anyway, you can look forward to that, it's a Daelo fic called "Ghost in the Machine" and it has robot Zelo. Thank you again, I hope I didn't disappoint you!