Word Count: 1,780
Genre: Fantasy, oneshot
Synopsis: In which Hankyung is Fire and Heechul is Ice.
A/N: Welp, i'd been working on this one for a while and I finally got to finishing it! I wrote this in a style reminiscent of Antoine de Saint-Exupery. He wrote my favorite book, after all. I like his simplistic but deep way of writing, so I tried to mirror that. I had lots of fun writing this.
It wasn't always this way, because everyone knows that ice was once free flowing water. Water has no restrictions, but ice is stuck, stuck in a mold that's nearly impossible to break. It takes an outside force to break ice, like a hammer or a winter boot, but not all pieces of ice are broken. Besides, its not a priority to break all the ice. No one cares enough.
No one ever cares about ice.
Fire has to be made. Whether it be by a lightning strike or match, it must be created. And it is -- fire is useful, after all. It warms a home, offers a romantic atmosphere, and keeps away cold. In other words, it melts ice.
That's why he was completely baffled when a collection of flames, bright and energetic, bounced along the ice sheets towards him, melting smaller, weaker glaciers in its path.
"Halt," he said, holding out his hand when the flames came a little too close for comfort. "What's the meaning of this?"
The fire looked around to see if the ice man was talking to someone else, but he saw no one. He raised an eyebrow and asked, "Meaning of what?"
"Off waltzing in here, completely ignorant of the consequences!" Surely these flames were stupid.
"I don't see anything wrong with making new friends," he replied with a shrug of his shoulders. "What's your name?"
Ice, now he was taken aback by this question. "My name?"
"What is this thing you call a name?"
Fire stroked his chin and thought about how he should go about answering. He never had to explain what a name was before.
"Well," he said, after much thought. "Its what you're called. For instance, if I wanted to get your attention, I'd call your name."
"I have a name," he scoffed. "Of course I do."
"Then what is it?"
"Ice, you idiot!"
The flames began to laugh, which made Ice ball his fists in anger. "What is so funny?"
"Thats not a name," he replied. "That's what you are. There's a difference between what you are and what your name is."
"And what would that be?"
“A name sets you apart from the rest. It makes you unique. If your name is Ice then you are no different from all the other chunks of ice.”
Surely Ice was unique. He was in fact different from the other chunks of ice, but if what the flames said were true... he would need a name.
“Give me one of these ‘names’,” he demanded firmly.
“It’s not that easy, you see,” he tutted. “A name is something to be carried with you your whole life, therefore it must represent you. I need to get to know you before I can give you a name.”
Ice groaned in frustration. It seemed as though the flames would be around often, and he wasn’t thrilled, to say the very least. The flames were too... jovial. Not nearly serious enough for Ice’s tastes.
“Well you seem to know a lot about names,” Ice said, crossing his arms. “What’s yours?”
“Hankyung,” the flames said proudly. It almost made Ice a bit jealous, as he felt something pinge at his heart at how prideful Hankyung was. To have a name must be something quite special, he thought.
“Well, Hankyung,” Ice said, turning his back. “Looks like you’ll be staying awhile. That is, until I receive my name, anyway.” Hankyung nodded. “Just stay out of my way.” Ice stomped off to tend to his duties.
Ice concentrated with all his might.
“Um... what are you doing?” Hankyung asked meekly.
“What does it look like?” Ice said snidely. “I’m doing my job.”
“But... you’re just standing there.”
Ice sighed, annoyed. “And?”
“Well if you’re just standing there, you’re doing nothing more than being yourself. That’s not really work, is it?”
Ice balled his hands into fists. “Did it ever occur to you,” he said through his teeth. “That maybe I wasn’t always ice?”
“Well, I suppose not,” Hankyung said, stroking his chin. “If you weren’t always ice, then what were you?”
“You know nothing, you fool,” Ice bit out angrily, stomping away from Hankyung and sitting down, holding his knees to his chest. Suddenly he felt a feeling wash over him, one he couldn’t quite explain. Perhaps it was longing, but what he longed for he did not know.
He heard Hankyung approaching from behind. “Hey,” he said softly. “Hey, I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“Step back!” Ice warned. “I feel your heat.” Hankyung let out a startled noise and quickly took a few steps back.
“What do you want most of all?” Hankyung asked.
Ice laughed bitterly. “I want many things, Hankyung. I want to be understood, I want a friend...” He trailed off. “But mostly, I want to be free.”
Hankyung was silent for a moment, until finally, he said, “Heechul.”
Ice looked at him in curiosity. “What?”
“Heechul,” he repeated softly. “Your name shall be Heechul.”
And so it was.
“How long have you been here?” Hankyung asked, melting holes with his fingertips into the snow on the ground on which they sat.
“As long as I can remember,” the newly named Heechul said. “And i’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.”
“If you can remember no different,” Hankyung asked. “How do you know you were once something else?”
“I do not know,” Heechul said. “I can’t know for certain, but I just feel something. I feel that this isn’t who I am, that there was a time of happiness once, a time of--”
“Freedom?” Hankyung finished.
“Yes,” he nodded. “Freedom.”
“Whatever you want, I hope you become it.”
“You said I could stay until i’ve given you a name,” Hankyung remembered. “I’ve given you a name, and you haven’t told me to leave.”
Heechul had said that. “Perhaps I enjoy your company. I’d like you to stay, that is, if you’d like to as well.” He looked away from Hankyung, strangely embarrassed. He’d never asked anything of anyone before. Truthfully he’d never needed anyone else. But something about Hankyung was different, and from the short time of being with him he really couldn’t imagine otherwise. He didn’t know how he had lived his life alone for as long as he had.
“I would like to stay, yes,” Hankyung said, putting his beating heart at ease. “Would you say we’ve become friends?”
“I cannot say, for i’ve never had a friend before.”
“If I was your friend, you’d take care of me when I fall ill,” he said. “You would tell me all your secrets, and you’d listen to all of mine. You would miss me when i’m gone.”
“Then I am your friend,” Heechul agreed. “My only wish is that -- oh, never mind it.”
Hankyung looked at him expectantly. “What is it?”
Heechul took a deep breath. “My only wish is that one day, we’d be able to touch. That way I can feel your forehead when you fall ill, move your hair to whisper my secrets into your ear, and hug you when you return from being gone...” He noticed Hankyung’s expression change. “Hold your hand, at times like this.”
“I wish that too, Heechul,” Hankyung said. “I really do. If only when we touched, you didn’t melt, melt into -- oh my.”
“What is it?” Heechul asked. “You’ve got an idea.”
“I do,” Hankyung admitted. “But... I don’t want to share it with you.”
“Well, why ever not?” Heechul asked, offended. “Friends share these sorts of things with each other, do they not?”
“It’s selfish, really,” Hankyung said, hanging his head. “You see, I thought of a way to make you happy, to give you your freedom but... It would mean us becoming separated.”
Hankyung explained his idea. He figured that if Heechul didn’t want to be ice anymore, he could be water. He wouldn’t be constricted, and he could be free, fit any mold he pleased. All Hankyung would have to do was touch him.
“It’s a nice idea,” Heechul said. Once he thought about it, however, it didn’t seem quite as appealing. Yes, he despised being ice, but... It was bearable with his only friend. Was freedom worth losing Hankyung? He didn’t think it was. “It’s a nice idea, but I am not interested.”
Hankyung blinked at him. “Really? But it’s what you’ve always wanted!”
“A friend is a precious thing, and losing one doesn’t bear thinking about.” Heechul smiled.
Years had passed, years of constant friendship between the two. They laughed and talked and enjoyed each other’s company, but one thing was on both their minds.
“It frustrates me,” Hankyung said. “You’re my friend, yet I can’t sit next to you! I can’t even sit next to you for fear of losing you! It’s not fair.”
Heechul hated the world for forcing them to be opposites. In his distress he began to cry, his tears immediately freezing on his cheeks.
“I want nothing more than to hold you in my arms this very moment,” Hankyung said softly.
Heechul took a deep breath. “Then do it.”
“But you know you’ll--”
“I know,” Heechul said. “I know, i’ll perish. But I don’t think I can continue living without knowing what it feels like to be in your embrace.” He walked a little closer to Hankyung, already feeling the heat. “And when I melt, think of me as being happy.” He smiled sadly. “Happy for meeting you, and happy for being free. But know that meeting you, Hankyung, it’s changed me. I can go knowing I had a friend, once, better than any other.”
“When you become free,” Hankyung said, holding back his own tears. “Don’t you forget me.”
“I swear it,” Heechul said.
With one last glance, the two embraced. Hankyung’s flame dimmed while he felt Heechul slowly slipping, slowly melting until he was only holding onto nothing but air. He looked down at the puddle beneath his feet, and cried.
For a brief moment, he had held Heechul in his arms, and that was enough. That’s what he told himself, at least. His flames remained dim, most likely from the ice, but he knew it was from the unbearable loss. He had dimmed on the inside, too.
And so he went on wandering, through both mountains of ice and fire, telling the story of his friend Heechul to anyone willing to listen. It was the only way he could think of keeping Heechul’s memory alive.
And on each journey, he never forgot to look down at his feet and say hello to the puddles.