Title: Amazing (1/3)
Pairing: Kiwoon, Kikwang-centric
Summary: She doesn't understand why no one sees it.
A/N: So moonhunter666 showed me a song a while ago, called Amazing by Janelle and I know she told me that it was her perfect DooSeob song, which I completely agree it is, but in the comments on the YT video, it said something along the lines of how it was like a song meant from a mother to her newborn child. So I was listening to it on my way to D.C. earlier today with my family, and started imagining for some reason Kikwang and his mom from that one scene in Angel. And then...this fic was born. I've always loved doing oneshots that span a huge amount of time of someone's life, and that whole kind of thing, so this was...I feel like it'd be wrong to say fun because this first part is really sad TT.TT. A new and different kind of sad than Junseung-sad. But yeah. I'm going to stop rambling now and I had to split this into two parts because I knew it'd be too long for one post but I could only find a split-appropriate place right where I stopped here. So yeah. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to go and hug my mother TT.TT.
Part 1 // Part 2
The first time she sees him, she thinks he’s beautiful.
She thinks he’s beautiful, and she almost feels sorry that this has to be their first meeting because she knows she doesn’t look the best she should—she wishes that their first meeting could’ve been maybe when she wasn’t drenched in sweat and panting because she can’t seem to get enough oxygen in her lungs at the moment. It’s not the best first impression she’s put on, definitely, but at the very least, the waiting is over because she’s wanted to meet him for a while now and nine months of having to wait would make anyone antsy.
So she reaches up and takes him into her arms, giving him a small smile that he’s clearly not going to be returning any time soon (which is okay, they’re both tired and it’s been a long ride), and mentally apologizes to him for not being able to spend too much time on their first meeting since she’s sure they both want to get some sleep and she’s also pretty sure that if things don’t start settling down her husband might pass out on the hospital room floor in a few seconds.
Her husband sighs next to her, and she has to sigh too as the cries start ringing through the darkness again. It’s her turn this time, so she tries not to stumble as she feels around for her slippers and forces her body out of the bed. She only has to pad a few steps before her stomach comes into contact with the edge of the crib and she reaches in, picking him up and resting him against her chest and shoulder.
He quiets down just a little after that, but there’s still little discontented whimpers muffled against her neck so she walks out of the bedroom and heads for the living room, flicking on the lights as she goes. He continues to whine in her arms until she brings him to the windows that overlook Seoul from their apartment. From there, he never fails to stop crying.
She sits down on the couch and props him up in her lap so he’s facing her, while her hands support his back and head. His wide eyes—tearstained but ever clear and huge—blink up at her like he hasn’t just woken her up for the twenty-third time in less than three hours. She sighs at him a little. “You know,” she says and tries not to think about how it probably spells some sort of mental illness stemmed from exhaustion if you start a full-on conversation with your infant son at three in the morning, “if you make a girl mad and then look at her like that, you’re just going to get slapped. And then you’ll be lonely forever.”
He blinks at her again, and then reaches out to rest one tiny, chubby hand on her arm, patting it. “It might work with me,” she says, “but it’s not going to work on other girls, okay?” She points her finger in his face and he grabs it with both of his hands, holding on tightly. He smiles brightly then, and those round eyes vanish and as tired as she is, she finds herself smiling back.
His first word ends up being Appa which means that her husband gets gloating rights and gets to finger-flick her, and all she can do is glare at him while he kisses her playfully on the lips because she was the one who started the bet in the first place. So when her husband leaves for a short trip to the market to restock on diapers amongst other things, she takes Kikwang back into the bedroom so she can put him down for his nap.
“The next time you want to stack blocks,” she says glumly, resting her chin on the edge of his crib as he lies there and looks up at her, wide awake as if nothing is wrong and it’s not time for his nap, “stack them with Appa, okay?”
He just blinks up at her like he always does, one hand reaching up toward her and she sighs because it’s not like she’s ever going to be able to say no and takes his tiny hand in hers. The moment her fingers wrap around his wrist and his small fingers take hold of her thumb, his eyes disappear again and he even gurgles a little laugh.
She rolls her eyes and takes his other hand (really, it’s his hand and wrist and part of his arm because he’s still so tiny) in hers and moves them up and down a few times so he starts laughing until she’s almost afraid he might suffocate because he’s laughing so hard (as hard as a baby can) and while she has no idea what’s so amusing (if he’s laughing at her face, then she might just kill herself), she can’t find it in herself to stop and let him take his nap.
But once her husband comes back, diapers in tow, and pins her to the wall of the living room, she supposes that she can sacrifice maybe an hour or two and let Kikwang sleep.
When Kikwang says Umma for the first time, she slaps her husband’s shoulder so hard that he falls off the couch.
Once he can walk, once he can talk, once he can do a little bit more than simply blinking his eyes up at her and having them disappear into a laugh or a smile without her exactly knowing what he finds so amusing (because he seems to find a lot amusing), she starts to learn that Kikwang is almost perpetually happy despite how much he liked to cry at night when he was younger.
Even when he has little accidents, when he stumbles or trips or bumps into things, he doesn’t really cry. His eyes will fill up with tears and he’ll start whimpering and asking for her to make it better or stop it from hurting, but he doesn’t cry—he doesn’t scream or shriek like she’s always seen toddlers do.
And she can’t really put her finger on it, but—even though there’s no mother that would want her child to cry—there’s something about Kikwang crying that wrings her heart a little bit more than she’d ever expect. Kikwang’s teacher at his preschool, and the adults at the play centers would always say it too. That whether it’s because he only cries if something is truly serious unlike most of the other children, or whether it’s just because he’s a good-looking child like his parents (that always makes her smile), there’s something different and heartbreaking when Kikwang cries.
So as he runs to her as she stands in the classroom at the end of the school day (barely a few hours because it’s only still preschool), and promptly attaches himself to her right leg, she thinks that it’s a good thing she’ll be around for a while to make sure that Kikwang cries as little as possible.
She puts him in his bed and his little arms let go of her neck as he plops down onto the mattress and slips his feet into the blanket. She doesn’t take his socks off tonight because even with the heater on at full blast, it’s still colder than ever and she can still hear the ice rain going on outside the windows. He’s already half-asleep but he’s still holding onto her hand and when she tries to pull away, his grip is firm.
She pats his leg. “You have to sleep now, sweetheart,” she says, “and it’s bed time for Umma, too.”
“Can I play in the snow again tomorrow?” he mumbles, turning onto his side, and yawning. She pulls the covers a little higher on him, tucking them around his small body so there won’t be any cold getting to him during the night (although she usually checks up on him anyway later on and adds another blanket just in case).
She strokes his hair down on his head as she watches his eyelids droop over even though he’s clearly trying to keep them open long enough to hear the answer he wants. “We’ll see,” she says, even though she’s pretty sure that tomorrow it’s going to be more ice than snow and she and her husband have to go out and leave Kikwang with the babysitter anyway. “Good night, now.”
“Bye, Umma,” he murmurs, his lashes finally touching down against his cheek.
It was nothing weird at the moment, because Kikwang always tells her bye whenever she or her husband tells him good night. He always does that so it never strikes her as weird.
She only realizes later on how fitting it is.
The car crash happens out of no one’s fault, except maybe nature’s.
The road is winding and small and the roads are icy and both cars collide just as they are turning on a part where neither driver could see what’s coming until it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the road is on the edge of a high rise and even if there was a chance for any of the involved to survive, both cars went tumbling down the icy hillside.
There’s not much horror involved for her—she watches her husband blackout first in the midst of trying to swerve out of the way, and she blacks out next without being able to utter another word or take another breath.
When she next opens her eyes, she knows she’s no longer alive.
They still let her see him. It wouldn’t make sense if they didn’t because she’s supposed to have everything she wants here. She’s with her husband, and both of them are with their parents and for a while everything is fine. It’s definitely odd, definitely terribly strange and wonderful and lovely telling her mother and father all about Kikwang even though obviously her parents already know and have already seen him even if not quite in person.
It doesn’t quite strike her while she’s with her parents and her husband and her husband’s parents, it doesn’t quite strike her or her husband for the first few moments (Days? Weeks? They don’t know how time passes in this place) that because their parents are here with them, because all of their relatives are already here with them, that there’s no one down there with Kikwang.
That’s when she and her husband ask to see him.
It’s not hard, apparently, to look down.
They can look whenever they want and most everyone spends a great deal of time looking down and watching their loved ones who haven’t made it upstairs yet.
So she looks down.
He’s taken to an orphanage.
He’s taken to an orphanage and for a while everything is fine since the orphanage is run by nuns and they take care of him as well as she could’ve hoped that he would be taken care of without her doing it herself. It’s not exactly the best, the nuns can’t give him all their attention because obviously there are other children, but it’s better than nothing and she tries not to get too upset whenever she sees tiny things like Kikwang being overlooked when he needs someone to open a bottle for him or when he’s lonely because all of the nuns are busy and none of the children want to play with him.
She tries not to get too upset and it’s not hard to be happy where she is because it’s a place where everyone is happy—and she is. She is, truly. She knows that it’s not just her who has a bit of yearning inside themselves to be back on earth only for the ones they had to leave behind. Everyone is supposed to feel that way and everyone does—her parents tell her that they felt that way all up until the moment she joined them.
Even though the nuns all have other children to attend to, she wishes that they’d give Kikwang a little more attention. She doesn’t understand why they can’t see how lonely he is.
He’s sent to a foster home not very long after—maybe a few years, give or take. He’s sent to a foster home around the same time that he starts to lose teeth and she smiles when that happens for the first time—calls her husband over and points down where a nun is helping him give the tooth that final twist to bring it out of his mouth. It makes her laugh a little the next time he gives one of his huge smiles and there’s a gap where a tooth should be.
For a few weeks, the foster parents seem quite all right.
The house isn’t in the greatest part of Seoul and the husband and wife don’t bring in the greatest income, but it’s passable and she watches as Kikwang quickly takes to them because that’s what Kikwang always does—how he’s always been. As long as you’re kind to him, he’ll smile at you and he’ll love you with everything he has and she waits and watches to see if this man and woman will love him back.
It gets to a point where she doesn’t even understand—can’t even comprehend—why they would sign themselves up as foster parents because they hardly pay attention to him other than feeding him and dragging him to and fro school. They never really speak to him, they never ask him about his grades even when he shows them a succeeding row of A’s, they never smile at him, they never do anything with him and it makes her so angry that Seoul suffers a week of thunderstorms.
At school, it’s even worse.
It’s worse because rather than neglecting him, for a reason that she can’t fathom, they bully him. They push him around because he’s small, they make fun of him because he wears glasses, they make fun of him because he doesn’t have real parents, they make fun of him because he’s too skinny, they make fun of him because he laughs too much—because he smiles too much when nothing’s even that funny, and she’s angry. She’s so angry she thinks she might cry, but then Seoul would probably end up drowning.
Her husband is hurting too and he sits there with her, looking down, his arms around her waist and his cheek on her shoulder and tries to tell her that there’s supposed to be a reason. That one thing they’ve learned being here for all this time, is that everything happens for a reason and apparently Kikwang has a reason that they just have to wait and watch for.
He’s barely out of childhood—barely into that stage between a boy and a young man—when something happens that not only launches Seoul into a state of thunderstorms, but all of Korea into various states of terrible, horrible chaotic weather.
It wouldn’t have happened, she thinks, it wouldn’t have happened if those terrible foster non-parents had paid attention even for just a moment when Kikwang told them about the bullying—when Kikwang came home with bruises, when even the teachers mentioned that Kikwang was having trouble with classmates at school, when the teacher mentioned that Kikwang was having trouble getting along in particular with sunbaes.
It wouldn’t have happened, she thinks and even though she doesn’t want to end up flooding the entire country, she can’t hold the tears back and they stream down and soak the clouds beneath her. It wouldn’t have happened, she thinks as she can’t take her eyes away as the older boy—so much larger than Kikwang even if he’s only two years older—does what he’s clearly been intending to do since he gagged and dragged Kikwang into the bathroom stall.
None of this would’ve happened, she thinks as she finally buries her face into her husband’s chest because she can’t look any more when Kikwang starts to scream, if she was still on earth.
He gets transferred to a new school then, and with new foster parents.
None of it is any better.
He’s almost close to absolutely silent now, during an age where he’s supposed to be talking more and making more friends. He still smiles—that’s one thing that almost shocks her and her husband to a point where they can’t speak. The fact that he somehow still smiles—true smiles, real smiles, when she remembers how she always used to grouch and grumble at the tiniest things like not being able to put her hair up right for school when she was his age.
When he meets his new foster parents, despite their obvious reluctance, he still smiles (it’s not as bright as before, a little weaker, but it’s still beautiful and she wants to cry). When he’s introduced at his new school—a middle school now—he smiles even though the school is dingy and old and worn and it’s more than clear that the kids here have no interest in learning, have no interest in anything other than the darkest parts of humanity.
She hopes and hopes and hopes that maybe the reason will show up soon, whatever it might be, because she can’t take any more of this. It’s been eight years since she and her husband have left, and she doesn’t want it to be any more. Any more years, and she’s afraid that Kikwang won’t be able to smile like that anymore—it’s already a miracle that he can still smile now.
Her hopes fall flat.
At first—at first—it looks like it might get better.
There’s a teacher at this school, a young man who’s dry and witty and Kikwang takes to him and he seems to take to Kikwang. Whenever Kikwang wants to get away from the other kids during lunch and recess, this teacher will always let Kikwang into his classroom, will show Kikwang parts of his life—will teach Kikwang some things here and there about music, songs, singing, dancing and she watches, fascinated and delighted the only way a parent can, as he learns to move his body fluidly and flawlessly to deep melodies and booming harmonies.
She makes a mental note to put in a good word for this teacher, whenever his time comes to join them upstairs. It helps that he’s good-looking, and that earns a few minutes of pouting from her husband.
But in a way, this makes it worse.
It’s middle school, and Kikwang is still a little bit small, still a little bit skinny, and the older boys still bully him. They go on relentlessly, cornering him behind the school, about how he always spends so much time with Jung-seonsangnim, about how he’s always cooped up in that classroom, and what would he be doing with the music teacher? What could someone like him be doing with Jung-seonsangnim—something inappropriate? Something gross? Something disgusting? What’s Kikwang doing—and they prod him and kick him and hit him and she doesn’t understand.
She doesn’t understand, because she thought (didn’t his preschool teachers and the adults at the play centers) that just the sight of Kikwang crying breaks hearts, so she doesn’t understand why all of these boys—why everyone—she doesn’t understand how anyone can stand to hurt him. She doesn’t understand—doesn’t understand—doesn’t understand—it’s just confusing, it’s awful and horrible and she can’t comprehend any of it.
If this reason waits any longer, then Kikwang will never smile again and the reason will be useless—whatever the fuck that reason even is.
The next time it happens, she thinks that while she still doesn’t understand why they have to hurt him, she can somewhat understand the sick, sick, sick reasoning that goes on in their minds.
It’s because Kikwang is pretty.
It’s because he’s too pretty—with a face like a doll, with eyes that are rounder than the girl’s, with eyes that curve into crescents when he smiles (he’s still smiling, yes, and it still astounds her), with a body that hasn’t quite grown yet—and it’s sick, it’s sick, it’s sick and twisted but the neighborhood that this school is in isn’t the greatest in Seoul and everyone here is sick and twisted and so it happens.
It happens again and again to the point where Kikwang no longer really fights back and Seoul doesn’t go through anymore thunder or rainstorms, because after it becomes something so regular, she doesn’t think she has any more tears left. She doesn’t think that her eyes can produce any more tears—she thinks they’ve all already been cried because it hurts too much and even her husband’s eyes are dry now.
Her parents still try to console her—still try to tell her again and again that there is a reason, there always is, if she just waits then she’ll be able to see—
But she doesn’t care anymore.
If there’s a reason, then there’s a reason, but right now, all she can see—all she can ever think about—is Kikwang huddled in the corner of his bedroom, holding her picture in his hands and smiling down at her photographed face through his tears. It’s her birthday today, and he’s asking her how she’s doing, and—and—
She thought her eyes were dry.
Seoul nearly floods.