In a world where people get flowered tattoos wherever their soulmates receive a scar, Kim Rok Soo’s body looked like the prettiest garden.
Living the lives that they did, both Lee Soo Hyuk and Choi Jung Soo got new scars all the time, be them big or small, temporary or permanent. And for each of them, like some sort of distorted reflection, there was a flower in Rok Soo’s skin to mirror it.
It was just as beautiful as it was horrifying.
(The world after the cataclysm was one full of flowers.)
Rok Soo heard them coming long before he saw them, and he barely managed to avoid a bone crushing hug from both his hyungs when they finally reached him. What he got instead were twin worried expressions far too close to his face.
Unconsciously, his eyes trailed over the chives delicately tattooed on the side of Soo Hyuk and Jung Soo’s faces, going over their jaws in a vertical line that had no business being as pretty as it was, and he winced. He’d got his face slashed by a Grade One monster while pushing an injured teammate out the way earlier that day and had since been healed, but the scar would remain.
Of course, his hyungs misunderstood his reaction.
“Are you still in pain, dongsaeng?”
“We can get you something if you are, you know?”
He held back the urge to sigh. Rok Soo’s body was the one with the most flowers out of the three of them, yet for some reason they always made such a fuss whenever he got even the smallest of scars.
“I’m fine,” he said simply, but couldn’t stop his eyes from sliding towards the chives again. “They said the scar’s permanent, sorry.”
Soo Hyuk and Jung Soo exchanged a look that he was far too tired to bother deciphering.
“What’re you apologizing for, you punk? It’s not like we’re the ones that got hurt!”
“Yeah, dongsaeng! You should be worrying more about yourself!”
Rok Soo’s lip curled down in a frown then.
“But the flowers will be permanent too.”
“So what?” Soo Hyuk raised an eyebrow, grinning even as his fingers traced over the flowers in his face. “I think chives look good on me, don’t you agree?”
“Oh!” Jung Soo exclaimed, completely ignoring his hyung’s question. “So that’s what they were! As expected of our team leader.”
“Everyone knows what those are,” Rok Soo deadpanned. “You just didn’t pay attention in school.”
“Hey, that’s not true!” he protested, getting two identical skeptical expression in response. “Ugh, my dongsaeng is so mean…”
“It's what you get...”
Rok Soo rolled his eyes as he tuned out their bickering.
His hyungs would have matching chives in their faces for years to come, but at least they didn’t seem too bothered by it.
When Kim Rok Soo woke up after the unranked monster was defeated, his skin was bereft of any flowers.
And his heart had never felt heavier.
He stared at the reflection in the mirror with a frown that was equal parts trepidation and relief. Red-brown eyes now framed by blood red hair stared back.
The fact that he’d apparently transmigrated into the novel he was reading last night was the least of his problems right now. No, the main issue at hand was his new body.
Perfect smooth white skin, slightly red after coming out of a bath. Not a trace of any scars unlike his previous body, as expected of a noble even if it was a trashy one, which was the reason for his relief.
His unease, on the other hand, came when he saw the many, many aconitums placed just about everywhere visible. He blinked and another small one appeared on the side of his stomach in the distinctive form of a slash.
(Instinctively, he knew his soulmate was hurting. He shoved that thought away for later. Nothing he could do about that now.)
He stared for moment longer, flinching when he saw a white heather form on the side of his temple. Given that the aconitums had yet to stop appearing, that could only mean one thing…
He groaned, letting his head fall on his hands.
[The Birth of a Hero] never mentioned Cale Henituse having soulmates.
There was a grey cat with an injury conveniently placed in the same spot Cale’s white heather was.
Cale stared at it, eyes narrowed. He knew this was a fantasy world but… having a cat as a soulmate was a little too much, wasn’t it? Just how lonely was the original Cale Henituse that the universe decided to assign an animal as his soulmate?
The other smaller cat meowed then, and he sighed, giving them a loaf of bread before continuing on his way.
He would deal with this after getting the Indestructible Shield.
It turned out that the cats were actually Cats with a capital C and suddenly everything made a whole lot more sense. After that, it didn’t take him long to realize that it wasn’t just On that was his soulmate, but also her brother Hong as well.
The white heather had already disappeared, but after some further investigation, Cale found some other faded flowers among the ever growing aconitums, and he was sure these belonged to the siblings.
With a displeased frown, he decided that these would be the last scars those two kids got now that they were his responsability.
Cale had a small suspicion that only grew stronger the longer he looked at the black dragon in his arms.
Still, he ignored it with all the conviction of someone who wanted a peaceful life and knew that having a dragon around would lead him in the exact opposite direction.
He then healed the dragon’s wounds with a potion.
The aconitums in his own skin faded away.
Resigned to the fact that he was apparently the soul parent of three far too powerful and far too vicious children, Cale promised himself to never let another flower bloom in his skin from his kids’ pain.
In turn, the Vitality of the Heart would make sure that no flowers appeared in their bodies either.
When Cale woke up after using Instant, half way through Mila’s treatment, the first thing his eyes focused on was the purple hyacinths tattooed over Raon’s scales. Somehow, the knowledge that Raon, On, and Hong all had that poor excuse for an apology in their bodies felt even more painful than his actual injuries.
And so there were no words that could describe just how relieved he was that Mila was able to get rid of all his scars.
The children didn’t deserve to carry the weight of Cale’s decisions in their skins. Not now, not ever.
In another world, a scarred man found a little girl among a group of survivors.
Her skin was covered in hyssops, each and every one matching the scars on his body.
The newly named Kim Rok Soo locked eyes with her and immediately knew who this girl was.
He would make sure no flowers bloomed in his skin from now on, he promised himself as he made the decision to take her in.