trigger-warnings: suicide attempts (if you squint) + firearms
pairing: woohyun x sunggyu
summary: woohyun is a music composer stuck in a box and sunggyu is his muse.
they keep woohyun in a box and say woohyun needs to finish his song. it's not exactly a box, it's actually a whole mansion with a huge sprawling green garden and a stable, complete with servants running about the estate. but it's not like woohyun goes to the other areas of the house. he keeps to his study (not even his bedroom) where the piano and the desk is. his agents worry for him but he only hears them when they're standing outside his study, discussing his health or his progress on the new song.
the study doesn't even have windows. and the walls muffle any sound coming from outside, so his agents have to be pretty darn loud to be heard through the door. the walls are painted grey, casting a perpetual dull sadness on woohyun's sentiments. the piano is white, ivory keys stained with oily fingerprints. woohyun is almost always wrapped in his deep royal purple robe. he takes it off only when he feels a feverish inspiration and it gets too hot as he's banging out a tune. and after sweating the inspiration out, he falls into a sleepy lull and dozes off on the piano bench, straddling it and cheek flat to the sticky leather.
the agents never like it when woohyun has his bouts of fanatical revelations. too messy, they murmur with discreet disapproval as their eyes merely glance at the music sheet that has been dotted and crossed and lined over and over again with angry pencil marks. too radical, they sniff derisively just after praising woohyun for being a revolutionary young composer with a bright future. too... well to be brutally honest, too provocative, they whisper provocative as if it's a sin even to say the word.
woohyun can only laugh as he washes his face for the first time in 3 weeks. his hair is oily and flat, his skin is still itchy even after an hour long bath, and his mind is tired and frankly uninspired. he wants to give up, kill himself and bleed out in the dirty bath water. really, he only gets out because his agents are pulling him out of the tub. they let the servants dry him off and dress him.
“it's over for me, isn't it?” woohyun laments. “i reached my peak with my last song and now i can only go downwards.” he's put back in those dreaded royal purple robes and led back into the dreaded grey-walled study room.
“of course not.” agent no. 1 says. he stacks the music sheets into a neat pile then shoves the stack into a drawer of woohyun's desk, nulling the need for neatness in the first place. “you just need to clear your mind a bit.”
the outdoors, woohyun immediately thinks, face breaking into a huge beam. “yes, yes, fresh air.”
“no time for fresh air.” agent no. 2 laughs, as if woohyun was a child. “you have a song to write. and we brought you something to help.”
agent no. 1 pushes woohyun down by the shoulders to sit on his high-back chair. and agent no. 2 puts a brown paper back on the desk in front of him. there used to be a time when woohyun would be hopping in his chair in excitement of a gift. now he just sighs and expects something adult-like and boring, maybe a stack of doilies or a stylish new fountain pen, a small tidbit of average price to reward woohyun for his hard work but not too much of a reward. he can only have just a taste of the luxury he could get once he finishes the song.
inside the bag is a plain brown wood musical box, a small crank sticking out from the side. the box is rectangular and plain, much like a matchstick box. woohyun wasn't expecting anything, but he couldn't help but feel incredibly disappointed.
“open it.” agent no. 1 says, excitement in his voice. woohyun is glad that at least they're eager about the gift. “don't forget to wind it up.”
woohyun does as he's told. and the lid pops open to a mirror on the underside, and a little prince figurine on a spring straightening up to slowly make turns to the rhythmless tinkling. this isn't even music. woohyun almost sneers at the gift, remembering politeness only at the last moment.
“it's wonderful.” he says. 2 word lies like 'i'm okay', 'i'm eating' and 'i'm sleeping' come second nature to woohyun nowadays. “i'll definitely finish the song by the end of the week.”
the agents are thoroughly satisfied with themselves. they've visited him, they've made sure he's alive, washed him, clothed him, fed him and encouraged him. now they can leave without guilt. if the young man says he's all right, then he's all right, never mind the 3 attempts of suicide, emergency calls in the middle of 5 nights, or 6 kilograms he has dropped in the last 2 months. the agents leave woohyun without a backward glance, only a lofty “good luck”. the door snaps close behind them.
now that they're gone...
woohyun opens the drawer he keeps locked with the key on a string around his neck, and takes out the revolver from it. he puts the barrel between his teeth. his hands only start to shake when he realizes they weren't shaking. so used to this nightly routine that his hands have forgotten how to shake.
and then the piano starts playing. or rather, someone starts playing the piano. woohyun looks up from the barrel to find the back of a boy with caramel-coloured hair facing him. woohyun's breath catches in his throat, and he starts to turn the barrel of the gun towards the stranger instead. he gets up from his seat and quietly creeps over. the boy turns his head when the gun taps his skull, so the barrel now points to the middle of his forehead, between two frowning eyebrows.
“what are you doing?” he asks. his voice is soft and sweet and familiar.
“what are you doing?” woohyun retorts. dammit, his hands are shaking. “how did you get in?”
“you let me in.” he stands from the piano bench, and strides confidently to woohyun's desk. he leans against the desk and raises his eyebrows at woohyun. “come over and put that gun away.”
he's here to kill me, woohyun thinks. and he's glad to hand over the gun to the boy. they're smiling at each other. but then the boy is putting the gun down on to the desk and he's pulling woohyun towards him. he puts woohyun's arm around his waist and then his own hand on the nape of woohyun's neck. woohyun's other hand freezes at his side as he's kissed. what a strange way to kill me, woohyun thinks. but he's surely to die, because his knees are turning into jelly and his mind is going out of itself and he can't breathe.
and then he's being hugged to an inch of his life. and suddenly he knows who the stranger is and he thinks, he's here to save me.
when woohyun was younger – he can't remember his exact age but he knows it's when his parents just discovered his talent for music, and he was still too short to reach the top of the fridge where the cookie jar was kept – his parents gave him a musical box almost exactly the same as the one he has now. the musical box was newer, and there were words painted in gold on the lid that said, for sunggyu.
woohyun received the musical box eagerly but grimaced when he read for sunggyu. his name definitely wasn't sunggyu, who the heck is sunggyu? sunggyu was the boy who came with the musical box. woohyun also can't remember exactly when sunggyu appeared by his side. it seemed like he just did.
woohyun was sitting at the piano, playing with two keys and then sunggyu was sharing the bench with him, the musical box in his small hands.
“this was mine.” sunggyu said. “that's my name, see.”
woohyun's parents had given him a playmate, and woohyun wouldn't be delighted with any other reason for sunggyu's appearance. they were living in a friendless box so they decided to bring a friend in for woohyun, it was plain and simple and wonderful. sunggyu was pretty with caramel hair and small eyes that shaped into crescents when he laughed or smiled. and oh woohyun loved making sunggyu laugh and smile, because he gave rhythm to the otherwise rhythmless box woohyun lived in.
it was sunggyu's hands that played the piano because they were always over woohuyn's, guiding them across the keyboard. it was his voice that accompanied the chords and progression. it was his clever fingers that scribbled the notes on the music sheets. and woohyun's parents always pretended it was their son who was the maestro, completely ignoring sunggyu. but sunggyu never protested, just sat quietly next to woohyun as turned the crank of the musical box.
sunggyu wasn't there when woohyun played his first song at a concert hall. woohyun completely bungled the performance, convinced he couldn't do it without sunggyu. when he reached home, sunggyu wasn't there. of course he wouldn't be there, sunggyu belonged to a family and had a home to go to, it wasn't woohyun's place to want sunggyu to be around whenever he wanted. he could only find solace in the musical box.
that night, after half-heartedly agreeing with his parents to continue to pursue his (despondent) pianist future, he lay down in his bed and played the musical box. the lid opened and his favourite prince leapt to attention, spinning round on his circular plate as if the tinkling sound could be something to dance to. woohyun put it on his nightstand and when he leaned back to rest, he found himself leaning back into a pair of arms.
woohyun can't remember exactly how old he was when he had his first recital, but he remembers he was old enough to kiss sunggyu back when he felt lips on his own. he was old enough to know it wasn't wrong for 2 boys to be kissing, but to also feel the shame of fearing that someone would catch them. he was old enough to instinctively put his hands up sunggyu's shirt, and gasp when sunggyu's hands went down his pants. he was old enough to know what love meant, enough to recognize it in sunggyu's eyes and acknowledge it in sunggyu's words.
“i'm sorry i couldn't be there for you tonight.” sunggyu apologized.
“i didn't want to play the songs, anyway,” woohyun said, kissing sunggyu between his eyebrows. “they're not my songs. they're ours.”
woohyun phones his agents up to thank them and they insist it was no trouble at all. woohyun is probably laying it on thick on the gratitude, but he really has no words for how grateful he is. he tells them he's never felt happier, or healthier, and he looks at sunggyu who's sitting at the piano waiting for him. sunggyu smiles at him and he smiles back.
“how did you find him?”
“him? oh,” agent no. 1 says. “we just asked your parents.”
“of course!” woohyun exclaims. “they were the ones who brought him to me, and they were the ones who took him away. of course they'd know. i just didn't think they'd tell you so easily.”
“your parents told us you're old enough now, so it was no problem to give your muse back to you.”
woohyun laughs. “i'm old enough now, am i?”
“yes, you are. how is the song coming along?”
“amazing, it should be done before the week is over.”
agent no. 1 hangs up without a salutation. and woohyun could care less. he flings the phone away, practically prances to sunggyu, sweeps him up into his arms and kisses him for as long as he likes.
sunggyu is a stiff dancer but a fierce teacher. woohyun's hand has to be here, and his other hand has to be there, and look up, woohyun, don't look at your feet. and when woohyun thinks they're going to ballroom dance slowly, step-by-step, a grin spreads across sunggyu's face and they're spinning. sunggyu is spinning them round and round, arms stretching out till the only anchor woohyun has is sunggyu's hands. they're spinning so quickly and childishly, laughter is torn from his throat. and then sunggyu is gathering them back together again, chest-to-chest, closer than their first stance.
“are you dizzy?” sunggyu asks.
“not at all.” woohyun boasts, arms wrapping around sunggyu's torso like an octopus. “are you?”
“i've been doing this all my life.” sunggyu says, and he seems true to his word, leading woohyun into slow circles steadily. his breath is hot against woohyun's ears. he takes woohyun's face in his hands and woohyun is forced to focus on the dark lashes around sunggyu's eyes. he doesn't have time to register anything else because sunggyu is kissing him and taking the breath out of him and making him dizzier.
they do little else but kiss.
woohyun isn't even sure he's eating the food that his servants bring him. he can't remember seeing or speaking to anyone but sunggyu. but surely he's eating because how else would he be alive? surely he's sleeping because how else would he still feel alive? or-maybe-or-maybe, sunggyu just being there is giving woohyun life. because the past years have all been a blur of 'woohyun can't remember exactly old he was when he-', and now he knows and remembers everything (except of course whether he has eaten or slept) according to the sunggyu calendar.
and woohyun knows he promised his agents he'd finish the song, and he will, he's just not gotten to starting on it. you see, he has been deprived of sunggyu for the past woohyun can't remember how many years, so 1 kiss won't make up for it; 2 kisses will not either. 4, 7 or 9 kisses will never make up for it. maybe 179 kisses and 5 long fucks will. the exact numbers are irrelevant, as long as the numbers seem large and excessive.
sunggyu needs to be an overdose, as a fuck you to woohyun's parents for keeping them apart for so long. the itch in woohyun's core won't go away until he or sunggyu is well-fucked and sharing each other's breaths and tangled in cotton sheets.
“why did they take you away from me?” woohyun asks.
“shouldn't you know better than me?”
“they said i was growing too attached to you,” woohyun says. “they don't think you're real.”
“am i real?”
“if you weren't,” woohyun smiles weakly. “how are the songs being written?”
living in a grey-walled box with muffled walls containing nothing else but an old bed, an old piano and old desk with an unused revolver locked in one of its drawers – it's not too bad when there's someone else with you, teaching you to dance to rhythmless music.
it's fun and everything to just sleep days away with sunggyu but the week is almost to an end and they haven't got 1 note on the music sheet. as much as it's boring and adult-like, they have to got to be getting down to work. so woohyun pulls sunggyu down on to the piano bench with him. the piano bench has only enough space for both their bums, now that they're both grown-ups.
they play a few notes, write down a few lines, but sunggyu gets bored fast. he wants to get out of the study room. he wants to roam the gardens. so woohyun kisses him and tells him, “okay, after this verse.” and he hates how awfully boring and unfortunately responsible he sounds. sunggyu distracts him by singing as he pens down notes on the music sheet. and when woohyun is finally done, he finishes singing the song sunggyu is humming.
“even when we were young, we never go out to play.” sunggyu says. “we're always playing the fucking piano.”
“hey, you like playing the piano.” woohyun protests, laughing as sunggyu drags them to sit in the flower fields. it has always been hard for woohyun to describe flower fields, besides the obvious colours. you know, there are red, white, blue and yellow flowers with soft silky petals of different shapes. the yellow petals are thin and pointy, and the red petals are large and pinker nearer to the stigma. woohyun doesn't know flower species, or whether or not they can be sat on (probably not), all he knows is that they're colourful, not even pretty. because pretty? pretty is sunggyu laying among the flowers, eyes closed, nose sniffing and pink lips parted in a soundless sigh. he looks natural, he looks comfortable, he looks like the music woohyun wants to play.
“what?” sunggyu asks, frowning a bit at woohyun's staring.
woohyun puts his hands out in a v-shape under his chin, mimicking a flower. “aren't i prettier than the flowers?”
sunggyu laughs, berates him for his cheesiness but kisses him for it as well.
“how are you even real?” sunggyu asks, brushing woohyun's hair from his eyes.
“i could ask you the same thing.” woohyun traces sunggyu's jaw with a finger and then carefully follows that line with his lips. “i constantly worry you're a mirage.”
woohyun hears a gasp. he sits up quickly. a servant girl is staring at him, and her eyes only grow wider when he spots her. her cheeks grow pink and she's about to hurry away when woohyun stops her. he meant to introduce her to sunggyu but when he makes to take sunggyu's hand, he discovers sunggyu is gone. his entire body shivers but he quickly shakes it off.
“did you see him?” woohyun demands. “did you see the boy i was with?”
the servant girl was flustered, confused, and she clearly thought woohyun was either mad or the devil. “y-yes, i did, b-but where... where d-did he go?”
woohyun gets to his feet and sprints back to his study. he slams the door shut behind him, locks it and then dashes over to his desk. he throws everything off his desk in search for his musical box. and only when everything that used to be in the drawers was on the floor, he found the musical box on the piano. the musical box was shut and silent. so woohyun cranked it and it opened to play the soft bells.
and sunggyu was on the piano bench, smiling softly at him, beckoning him to sit down so they could figure out the rest of the song together.
woohyun can only laugh in defeat and feel his soul leave his body as he slumps down on to the bench, bones turning soft so he has to lean against sunggyu. his head on sunggyu's shoulder, he murmurs, “you're really living in a fucking box.”
woohyun's agents visit the next day after a distressing call from the servant girl. woohyun's supposed spirit friend isn't around when they unlock his study room door. they only find a gaunt-looking, exhausted woohyun unconscious on the piano bench. they bathe him, feed him and tuck him into bed in the study room. and as they stand just outside woohyun's door to talk to the servant girl, woohyun forces himself to stay awake, hands gripping the musical box he snuck into bed with him.
the agents are scolding the girl, and the girl screams back at them that she saw 'him', a boy with caramel-coloured hair. she saw him and woohyun in the flower fields, doing 'naughty' things. woohyun doesn't know which made the agents angrier, that the servant girl is implying that there is a dangerous stranger hanging around woohyun or that she is implying woohyun is a homosexual. they fire her on the spot. she leaves in tears. woohyun doesn't give a shit. he goes to sleep.
when woohyun wakes up, his agents are still there. they're gazing down at him with worry. woohyun almost believes they're worried about him.
“how are you feeling?” agent no. 2 asks.
“better.” woohyun answers truthfully.
agent no. 1 clears his throat and asks with little shame, “and the progress on the song?”
woohyun gives a half-smile and shrugs. “coming along all right, i guess.”
“mind giving us a little sample?”
“i do mind, actually.” woohyun says. his casual and cheery tone betrays the sting of his words. “i promise you this song is good. i just need a few more days to polish it to perfection.”
the agents exchange nervous looks. “all right.”
agent no. 2 clears his throat and daringly sits down on the edge of woohyun's bed. “now, what's this about keeping another boy around the house?”
woohyun laughs. “oh, yes, the boy.”
agent no. 2's eyes widen in shock, and agent no. 1 actually jumps a bit. “so there is a boy?”
“oh, yes.” woohyun pulls out the musical box from under the sheets and taps the lid. “in here.”
relief instantly floods both the agents' bodies, evident in how their straightened backs go slack. “right, the little prince figurine in the musical box.”
woohyun smiles. “yes, him.”
sunggyu feels real. he looks real. and he sounds real. he can write, he can play the piano, he can dance and he can sing. he talks about different cultures, and he sings songs from different countries, and he shows woohyun different types of pleasures. he can't possibly live in a box, not even a metaphorical one. there's only one thing he has limited knowledge on – dance. he can be a fantastic dancer if he tried, but he insists on one dance, and one dance only. just spinning round and round till woohyun gets dizzy.
but sunggyu has to be real, he's real enough to have a name of his own. the only evidence he lives in a box is his way of dancing, and that could hardly count as evidence. sunggyu is real. but why does he disappear when the musical box shuts? and why does he reappear when woohyun reopens it?
even sunggyu himself has no answers to this. just, “isn't that how a muse works? it just comes and goes.”
woohyun actually finishes the song in time, with sunggyu's help. and when he calls his agents up, he actually feels happy for once. sunggyu sits by his side, toying with his fingers, smiling and kissing woohyun's neck. he feels free when he hangs up. he tells sunggyu they're going to be coming by in a few hours, and then he asks if he'd like to meet them.
“no, i don't want to.” sunggyu says. “i don't think they'll be happy to know you kiss boys for inspiration.”
“i don't kiss boys,” woohyun says, wrinkling his nose. “i kiss just one boy. anyway, i want you by my side when i play it for them.”
“keep the box by your side then. it's as good as me.”
“what if i want to play it for you?”
“you've played it for me countless times.”
“but not the complete song. this is our song.”
sunggyu laughs, and then puts his hand over woohyun's. he leans in so their noses brush. “give yourself more credit. it's your song.” and then he closes the lid of the musical box.
the agents are delighted with the new song. they clap their hands enthusiastically as woohyun bows with dramatic flourish, beam on his face. he's buzzing with good energy, eager to get back to holding hands with sunggyu, if he were honest. he's trying to focus on the suggestions and praises his agents are giving him, but his eyes keep darting to his brown musical box.
they sit with him, squeezing on to the piano bench with woohyun between them, and they fix the song with him. it only takes an hour and finally they're satisfied. and then agent no. 1 asks off-handedly where woohyun gets his brilliance from, and woohyun grins at them and says proudly, “the boy in the box of course.”
and that seems to remind them of something important. because agent no. 2's eyebrows raise and agent no. 1 says “oh, right” softly. and then agent no. 2 snatches the box from off woohyun's desk. woohyun immediately stands, shocked to attention. he seems to be admiring it at first, just turning it around on his palm, not opening it, just peering at it as if trying to find its secrets. all he needs to do, really, is open the box. woohyun laughs nervously, heart beating like a drum in his ears.
“special, isn't it?” woohyun says.
“yes, we didn't get to study it properly at first.” agent no. 1 says, joining his partner by his side.
woohyun walks stiffly over to his desk, to get nearer to them. “it's plain but special to me.”
“your parents did say you depend heavily on it.”
“yes, which is why you should put it back on the table where it should be, please.”
“well...” agent no. 1 has to fucking gall to look guilty and uneasy as he takes the box from his partner and puts it into his breast pocket. “you do seem to depend very much on it.”
“then what in actual fuck are you doing?” woohyun demands, seething now, as he almost clambers over the desk to scrabble at the agent's disgusting yellow blazer. “give him back to me now.”
woohyun has no idea why the agents are so shocked by his burst of temper. they're literally stealing from him right now, they're stealing something that woohyun has made clear is very precious and necessary to him. they should be shocked that woohyun is not clobbering them at the moment.
“well, we can't give it back to you if you depend on it!” agent no. 2 says as if that explains everything. “but if we keep it, you see, then you'll have to depend on us. and then you'll keep writing songs for... us.”
woohyun is raging now. he throws the papers off his desk and he scrambles to unlock a drawer, and he whips out his revolver. his hands almost automatically guide the revolver to his lips, but he snaps his arms out and points it resolutely at agent no. 1. if their eyebrows could, they'd never have disappeared behind their hairlines. woohyun would have laughed if he wasn't serious about blowing their fucking heads off.
“give him back to me.” woohyun's demands through gritted teeth. “now.”
“why do you refer to the box as 'him'?” agent no. 2 asks. “and would you calm down? we're not going to burn the thing.”
woohyun pulls the trigger and shoots the spot on the wall just above agent no. 2's head. there's a scream from somewhere within the house. and the 2 agents just stand there, frozen to the spot. agent no. 1 seems to get the gist or he's just pissing himself with fear. he's scared now. his hands tremble as he takes the box out of his pocket. he offers it to woohyun, not daring to take a step.
“you want to know why i keep referring the box as 'him'?” woohyun asks. “open it.”
agent no. 1 didn't really mean to open the box, his hands are shaking too much to operate an action as delicate as opening a box. he just fumbles and the box drops to the floor and woohyun is about ready to shoot the man dead for his carelessness, when two hands envelope his around the handle of the revolver.
“who do you hate more?” sunggyu asks, voice at his ear, body against his back, and arms encasing his. “who should we shoot first?”
the 2 agents have their hands in the air, face pale, lips trembling and eyes wide. they're crying, those fucks. woohyun doesn't care for killing them any more. but his hands have never been steadier while holding a gun. he feels a surge of confidence. and the soft tinkling from the musical box reminds him of laughter.
“i'll get the both of us out of this fucking box.”
and then 2 shots ring out.
- fin -
a/n: please watch love & mercy, a 2015 film starring john cusack, elizabeth banks and paul dano. it's great if you don't mind slow story build-up. it's very real because it's a biopic, and yeah. this fic was inspired by that movie, sort of. um. i don't know. ask.fm