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Epilogue - The City of Glass

 

Time passes and move forward, and you want me to go. We’ve been together for so long, but it seems like you don’t need me anymore.

You have to stay at the hospital for quite a long time. Everyone is scared that you might fall right into my arms again, and sometimes you’re a bit concerned too, but there’s Park Chanyeol keeping his promise and coming to visit every day and he tells you that it won’t happen.

He makes you happy when he says it. And after all he’s right: the flowers will go away if there’s nothing in your chest for them to feed on. You almost lost, but in the end you made it.

Doctor Kim Junmyeon seems very, very relieved. You were always a little of a pest to him, coming to the hospital to talk with his patients behind his back and walking uninvited to the restricted zone, but even if he tends to scold you when you get into his nerves a little too much he’s a kind guy and cares about you and what you have to say.

“We of course know that the sickness is mental,” he tells you in one of your daily check-ups, because you have discovered you enjoy talking to him, both about your own ideas and about the things Chanyeol tells you. “The flowers grow because of the patient’s own feelings after all. You see all those CFCS romance novels out there, where someone falls sick and is saved because the person they used to love suddenly discovers they return those feelings, but things aren’t that simple. You can be loved back by your partner or your family and still think you don’t - and that will make you ill. That’s why the Shepherds always treat the patient, and not the people in their environment.”

You know that well. You made someone sick, even after you developed feelings for him. You remained sick, even after he cared for you - right until the last moment. You understand all of that better than anyone else could, because you’ve had me with you for years and only now you’re getting ready for goodbyes.

“But do you think that’s the best option?” you say. “Treating only us, and doing that with people with crow masks?”

“Well, Chanyeol doesn’t agree,” Doctor Kim replies to you.

“Ah, I don’t either.” You shrug. “What made me sick was the thing that was eating me up from the inside, but in the end what I needed wasn’t talking about it to a stranger, or having it removed. I thought it would made it worse, if Chanyeol learned about what I had done, but I felt so relieved when he understood. You really have no idea.”

“I do agree about the Shepherd system not being perfect, but it’s not something that can be changed in a while just because your CFCS got better,” Doctor Kim tells you with a sigh. “I think alternative ideas are worth trying and I’ve… talked with people about it, but you know how slowly those things move. And still, Park Chanyeol is giving them hell, isn’t he?”

“What can I say, Arcadia loves him.”

“Yeah, him and that Jongin boy, too.”

They do, so much it’s funny. And your father is very, very angry about it.

He’s come to visit you five or six times in these two months - not as much as your mother or your brother, who come almost every day of the week, but it still surprises you. He doesn’t talk much, and even when he does he spends half of the time ranting about all the difficulties he’s going through at work because you and your friend’s violent activism and the other half talking about how your mother’s worried, or your brother’s worried, or how the doctors are optimistic about your condition, but you guess it’s something. And it gets a bit on your nerves at first, that you have to be the one trying your best to go from hostile to at least cordial, but Jongdae, and Seulgi, and Jongin, and Jisung, and even Chanyeol (who is that one guy who told your father to fuck off, repeatedly) insist that he’s trying.

Well, your dad’s way more hopeless than you are, it seems, and that three-years-ago version of you that caused all this mess was one big, ugly son of a bitch, so you’ll have to give the guy at least one more opportunity.

You can always send him to hell with your best regards if he goes full asshole again, or that’s what Chanyeol says. And Chanyeol tends to be right, so you listen to him.

He’s happy, Chanyeol. You know because he tells you, and also because he really looks the part, and it makes you feel all warm inside. He laughs at you, the idiot, because it’s been months and you keep coughing flowers, even if you haven’t been producing new ones at all.

“It’s not only that: you keep sneezing them,” he says, trying to justify that half-amused, half-fond face he makes every time you end up throwing a sakura projectile to his chest or to his face. “How many of them did you have in there to begin with?”

“A whole garden, apparently,” you reply, feigning an annoyance you really don’t feel. But you know that he knows, right? The bastard. “Almost three years worth of them. They won’t let me out until all of them are gone.”

“And until your lungs work, mister.”

After making them for Jisung during all those weeks, Chanyeol has taken a liking to the origami thing, so he brings colorful figures to you every day that he comes - which means you already have over fifty of them. He makes these ridiculously difficult figures, maybe because he thinks he’ll impress you by folding a paper one hundred times, and well, you are impressed but you’re not going to tell him.

He knows, probably.

He’s so smug about it every time he takes a new one out of his pocket.

You keep them all in your room anyway, because it makes him happy and he makes you happy too.

Disgusting, you two. So disgusting, but what do I know.

“Do you know what? The government has postponed that law again,” he tells you, beaming.

“I know. I’m here all day, I have nothing much to do except for watching the news. They mention Jongin in them.”

“Him all the time and not me, huh?” he complains, even though you know he has no reason to. He doesn’t love the attention that much, so even if he’s on TV with Jongin every once in a while, he’s mostly working backstage both with him and with favorable figures at the government, EDN-Pia and the hospital to try to push a new crowless therapy system forward. That way, he also has a pretty good excuse to come to see you. Not that you’re complaining.

“Well, you’re doing your own thing. And you haven’t told me how that is going.”

“Uh, let’s see.” You’re both sitting on the private balcony of your very expensive private room, and even if you don’t like the luxury, at least you appreciate the late summer sunshine on his hair, and the privacy of the place. “I’ve went with Doctor Kim, and Jongin, and a couple of people to meet the head of the EDN-Pia Shepherd system, and I left the place with one internship offer from them and another one for this hospital. They could use my skills, they say.”

You raise your eyebrows. “Ow. Successful.”

“Yeah. And badass. I turned them down.”

He looks anything but as he smiles down at you, and you laugh. You love this. You love him. Oh well. “The biggest ones in town. I’m impressed, Park.”

“You better be,” he replies. “I think I’ll be joining that project Jongin is making, once university is over. He’s managed to get quite a group of talented people, and he’s invested a lot of money for research purposes. I don’t mind being the face to that, I know he’ll listen to me.”

You hum.

“What about you?” he asks.

“I don’t know.” It’s not like you can appear on TV, when you still have weeks left to remain at the hospital. But even then… “Maybe I’ll take a little break when I get out from this place. To focus on studying, and living in general.”

“And dating me.”

You try your very best to scoff at him. “You’re at it again, eh?”

“Listen to me, Byun. Half of this city started to watch me speak because for them I am The Boyfriend. It feels kind of weird not to really, one hundred percent be. It’s like I’m fake-dating you.”

“Deceptive advertising,” you tell him. “You’re playing with their feelings.”

“Technically it’s not a complete lie.”

“You’ll be able to tell them all it’s official once I leave this place.”

“Alright,” he says. He has the guts to go and sit on your lap, even though the idiot is big and heavy and sort of crushing you. You don’t seem to mind much though, because you laugh and curl one lock of dark hair around your finger when he tries to accomodate on you and manages to sink his head in the crook of your neck. “But you did all this in case I decided to change my mind about us and I’m not changing it, Baekhyun. Not a bit.”

“Yeah,” you murmur, and he’s warm, and cute, and you love him.

You feel a bit sorry, sometimes, about having told him to see and try before going for the whole boyfriend thing - and Jisung scolded you about it, one of those days he came to meet his brother - but you’re stubborn and Chanyeol seems to understand anyway. You want him to know you , and you want to know this version of him, even if you already like it as much, or even better.

Don’t hurt him, Jongdae warned you, even if there was no bite in his voice, and you want to be fair to yourself, to Chanyeol and even to him, since they both are trying to learn to know each other again. That also makes you warm inside, and you wonder if you’ll soon be able to take another photo like the one you have in your room. The three of you, smiling.

“Well, not much more until you’re free of the glass room and the ugly hospital gown, so I have almost gotten the boy.”

You should tell him that, in your humble opinion, you’re the one who should brag about getting the boy, but you just grin. “Almost, almost,” you tease.

“So I could technically kiss you. To reinstate my claim. And so you know.”

He’s done that before. And you’ve done that too. It’s still hard not to feel breathless sometimes, but you’re getting stronger. Better.

And Chanyeol loves you, even if you thought something like that could never, ever happen.

You feel his lips on your neck and you shiver. Your free hand grips the fabric of his sweater, on his back.

Oh, you’re going to make Doctor Kim so upset if he finds out.

But, “Hey, Chanyeol,” you whisper. “How partial are you to making out in hospital rooms?”

He retreats just enough to look at you. He blinks, then he smirks. “Very,” he says, and he kisses you.

The flowers inside your chest are withering, but you feel like you’re blooming.

This is a city of flowers and ravens, where every heart is made of glass, and yours is mended and beating, so I think it’s finally my time to sleep.

May your futures always blossom, painted oh so silver bright.