ℰmmi (seulpeo) wrote in galaxyabandoned,

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{exo; kai/d.o} red hands and blindfolds

Title: red hands and blindfolds
Fandom: exo
Pairing: kai/d.o
Word Count: ~3200
Rating: pg-13
Summary: Palace guard Kyungsoo’s career centers around his home country, Lucis, especially when warring country Apertus proposes a peace treaty.
A/N: again, for sncj_reversebb, written off of this picture by karimjong!! so um when i asked to pitchhit, i had this as my second choice, and panicked the second i got my assignment bcos i bit off more than i could chew--action is anything but my forte, im a fan of happy endings and cuddles and stuff ;;;; but thankfully my artist enjoyed the (very short) fic i wrote for it, and maybe ill expand it!? i saw some demands for a sequel, there are a lot of questions left unanswered~ also i think fic exchanges force me to oneshot bcos i cant write short things otherwise; i have more wips than i have fingers atm, and they are pretty long for the most part. please anticipate! ♥

ps: lucis is latin for “light,” and apertus means “open.” id be happy to explain the latter if you want to know the meaning!

red hands and blindfolds

"Kyungsoo! Hey, Kyungsoo!" a voice calls urgently from behind him, and there is the rapid patter of footsteps coming from behind him, increasing with volume at an alarming speed. He turns, raising his eyebrows at the unusual sight of one of his fellow guards, a man named Park Chanyeol, who joined the Lucis guard force a mere two months after Kyungsoo did, a few years back. Guard Chanyeol is often in a hurry, rushing from hallway to chamber to garden on those long legs, but something almost desperate in his wide, brown eyes catches Kyungsoo's attention and holds him in place until Chanyeol reaches him.

"What is it?" Kyungsoo asks him, concerned. Kim Joonmyun, Head of the Guard Force and ultimately (or secretly) one of the key advisors to the King and his Council of their state, told him the previous evening that Kyungsoo would be taking the patrol alone as per usual, and there would be no reason for the orders to change overnight. Kyungsoo, as always, took his word for it and sped through a simple breakfast under the worried, almost maternal eye of the head cook, finishing with enough time to change into his well-worn, crimson guard uniform, straightening every skewed fold, every metal fastening. Each buckle had been shined to the best gleam that could be coaxed out of the metal, with the same steadfast and ritualistic mindset Kyungsoo applied to his job, making sure that every crevice and alcove was checked thoroughly, that every button and buckle was clean enough to check his reflection in.

"Peace meeting," Chanyeol manages. "Lucis and Apertus."

"That's impossible," Kyungsoo says at once, his voice flat. The two neighboring territories have been warring against each other for enough generations that every child has been ingrained with hatred, a dangerous bias that only fuels the schism even more. With general economic and political tensions running high and both sets of royal, throne-based families harboring a dark loathing for the other, Kyungsoo generally avoids the affairs of the Council Room, unwilling to be tangled in the volatile mood of the Council, but last time he checked, Apertus was the territory that refused to trade their goods with one particular neighbor, being Lucis. For Apertus to suggest peace out of the blue couldn't possibly bode well for Lucis, a blessing at the hand of the wrong God.

Chanyeol shrugs, shaking his head, and the threads of hair that have slipped from his trademark ponytail swirl around his face frantically. The castle is slipping. "Our King has agreed." At the look of incredulity on Kyungsoo's face, he adds, "A war is always taxing, you know that. His Majesty would not reject the possibility of peace out of spite."

"But this is practically allowing the enemy to attack us," says Kyungsoo angrily, fear making his words harsh.

"Nothing will happen," Chanyeol says, his deep voice firm with the force of his conviction. "Not when we are defending the castle."

Kyungsoo looks at him wordlessly, pressing his lips into a firm line of disapproval. "We'll need full patrols for the next few weeks."

"I'm supposed to inform you that Joonmyun wants us both on guard for the first day of peace meetings in the Council rooms, placed along the halls around them, and along the walls of the throne room, when the King and the Prince receive the Apertus ambassador party two days from today," Chanyeol says.

"Is their King really coming, or just his men?" asks Kyungsoo.

"He will be there, as well as their Prince himself and several men trained in diplomacy, to attend the meetings. A large party to house for an entire week, so they should be bringing servants of their own," Chanyeol comments. "All in all, a large affair."

Kyungsoo nods in agreement absently, preoccupied by the task ahead. Such events are usually carefully negotiated and arranged, and Kyungsoo can't help but feel thrown off-kilter at the haste of this supposed peace meeting. Something is wrong, he decides. Something that Apertus is trying to win underhandedly, that Lucis cannot lose at all costs.

And if Kyungsoo has anything to do with it, Lucis will not.

It is a grand progression. The rumors buzzing throughout the Lucis palace have undoubtedly run wild into exaggeration throughout the ambassador party's travel from the heart of Apertus to the capital of Lucis, but even Kyungsoo cannot deny them when he sets eyes on the sent carriages. Even after the costly years of war, the royal crown of Apertus has been overly, if not with a sort of silent challenge, flamboyant with the decorations of their carriages, down to the plumes of feathers attached to the horses' bridles. The cold mornings of fall have been colored by this display of finery and luxury, leaking echoes of pigment into the frosty chill that bites at Kyungsoo's hands despite his gloves.

The curtain shielding one of the largest carriages' windows flickers to the side, a pair of dark eyes peering up into Kyungsoo's for a heartbeat, and Kyungsoo catches the slight curve of full, full lips stained red with wine before the fabric shrouds the occupant of the carriage in secret again.

"Kyungsoo," Joonmyun says from behind him. Kyungsoo jerks around, bestowing a rushed bow to his superior, but Joonmyun waves him off. "Chanyeol told you of the new orders?"

"Yes, sir," Kyungsoo says.

Joonmyun sighs, rubbing at his left temple, and Kyungsoo can see shadows creeping along the rims of his eyes. Their Head of Guard is a worrier, too emphatic at times for his job but always able to deliver when he is called upon. He is a good leader, and a good man. "Then you know your positions for the Council meeting tomorrow?"

"And the night shifts for tomorrow and the day after, sir," says Kyungsoo.

"Good. You'll be with me in the throne room tonight, as well as Guard Sehun. Chanyeol and his men will cover the other side of the room well enough, I'm sure." Joonmyun pauses at Kyungsoo's start of surprise, looking Kyungsoo in the eye. "You protest?"

"Isn't, isn't Sehun a bit young?" Kyungsoo says tentatively.

"Sehun is old enough now," Joonmyun says, not unkindly. "He shows a lot of promise, Kyungsoo."

"Yes, but. He trained as a serf for so long, I just expected--" Kyungsoo catches himself hurriedly; his concerns are his own, as they always are. "As you wish, sir."

"I'll take care of Sehun, you'll need be to alert for any possible threats in the ambassador party," says Joonmyun, gentle and firm as only he can be. "I trust you, Do Kyungsoo."

Kyungsoo ducks his head. "Yes, sir."

The evening creeps in quickly, every single servant in the palace panicking and tripping across every room in an effort to serve the sudden surplus of nobles walking through their castle. In the throne room minutes before the meeting is to take place, Kyungsoo takes his position with Joonmyun and Sehun, who looks pale--but Kyungsoo has never seen him otherwise--the young face smooth of emotion, long fingers curled into tight fists then smoothed out flat before stress has them closing again. Across the room, his hair smoothed back and straight once again, Chanyeol catches Kyungsoo's eye and winks.

At the entrance of their king, the palace guards automatically kneel, the nobles fluttering and paying their due respects, until King Byun waves them off; his own private guard, captained by Guards Jung Yunho and Shim Changmin are the hardened, proven best of the security force. Looking as well put together as ever, the Crown Prince Baekhyun follows closely behind, tiny in stature but, Kyungsoo thinks wryly, surprisingly fierce for a face that veers more towards effeminate, more towards that of the queen. Prince Baekhyun is capable enough, well-adored by his people and easily the primary object of the village girls' romantic fantasies, but he is more often closed away in his study than not in order to prepare for the kingdom he must shoulder someday. On the rare occasions the guard needed to come into contact with the royal family, Prince Baekhyun was always cordial and gracious, and he is respected among his soldiers.

Prince Baekhyun takes a seat at his father's right hand, eyes full of the solemn occasion but none of the hope Kyungsoo guessed he would have. The chatter of the nobles fills the wait for the ambassador party to arrive, the king and the prince drawing their heads close to speak without being heard, and Kyungsoo scans the room ritually. He is on his third round, eyes searching, always searching, when the fanfare announces Apertus.

All of the luxury poured into their arrival was not stemmed, and it is apparent King Kim and his men are decked in their finest for this meeting, unabashed and grand. Neither of the kings give beyond a gracious tilt of the head, and Kyungsoo examines the enemy king's face silently, as he knows his fellow guards are doing. Kim is a man of presence but less poise than King Byun, and his broad stance and gravely voice are confident. "Apertus, from the squalling infants to the ancient elders, is deeply grateful for this opportunity to create peace for our kingdoms," he rumbles, a smile teasing his lips under his greyed beard.

"As for Lucis," says King Byun generously, graciously. His eyes are guileless and clear, but Kyungsoo believes in his king.

As the kings follow through the expected, traditional greetings and begin to discuss the terms for the council meetings, Kyungsoo takes his chance to study the rest of King Kim's men. His diplomats are a tight crowd, bunched together behind the king and prince, and whisper in hushed voices that Kyungsoo just barely cannot hear; they are all dressed in their finest as well, the staple being velvet tucked around scrawny necks. His prince, however, the prince carries himself as the physical manifestation of his father's overbearing self-confidence. Dark eyes, full lips shrouded by pitch black hair, lean body apparent even clothed in the finery he is decked in, the prince of Apertus cuts a striking figure. Those dark eyes sweep languidly over the entire throne room, quelling nobles without a word, and Kyungsoo stiffens when the prince's gaze stops on him. If Prince Baekhyun is pretty, kind, and able, this man is his polar opposite though undoubtedly attractive and strong as well, undoubtedly the heart breaker of his entire territory.

Eventually, the Kim prince looks away, turning his piercing eyes to the front of the room. "The prince," Kyungsoo murmurs to Joonmyun, "what is his name?"

The kings are finished, and the Apertus party preparing to leave the room and return to their chambers in the palace. Amid the movement, Joonmyun shushes him, but Sehun shifts towards him, mouth close to Kyungsoo's ear. "His name, is Kim Jongin," Sehun whispers.

The first day of peace meetings go well, Kyungsoo straining to listen for shouting and screaming coming from the Council Room only to have wasted his efforts. For all of the long, careful hours spent going over terms for a treaty that may bridge into an alliance, Joonmyun informs him later, the Apertus diplomats are almost much too lenient. "They've given up swathes of land," Joonmyun tells him after the meeting, Kyungsoo having joined him in the now evacuated room. "Huge pieces along river banks that could easily develop into capital-rich cities. And any child knows the Apertus are based in commerce and trade."

Kyungsoo refuses to believe the ambassador party means well, especially after brushing past Apertus Prince Kim Jongin in the halls during his usual solo patrol in the morning. They had not exchanged a single word, but the foreboding look in Jongin's eyes, contempt and darkness flickering behind something polite, had been enough for Kyungsoo. "Joonmyun?"

"Yes?" asks the Head of Guard, looking up from his plans detailing the rest of the week.

"Where are the Apertus living? What wings of the palace?"

Joonmyun gestures at the floor plan tacked to the wall. A circle made in red ink marks the west side of the palace, the chambers detailed neatly with words such as "King Kim" and "Prince Kim" in Joonmyun's careful script. Nodding to himself, Kyungsoo memorizes the location of the prince's rooms and mentally shuffles his night patrol to pass by it that night.

When the cloak of autumn night approaches, Kyungsoo does not execute his usual ritual. He does not fold his uniform and stow it carefully in his drawers, he does not peel back his covers so the stove he did not light tonight can warm his room, he does not wash his face with the shockingly cold water his spout only knows how to produce. Instead, he straightens every stitch and buckle, collects the sword he always keeps on hand at his hip but rarely finds the need to resort to (or so he strives to maintain), and slips back into the shadowy halls of his palace. Kyungsoo knows the palace like he knows his own body, every organ and cell; the heart is the prince's chambers, the mind is the king's, the diligent feet are for the servants. The hands, of course, are for the guards.

Tonight, the west wing is an extra appendage on Kyungsoo's body, and every threat must be eliminated. Alert, silent, and meticulous, Kyungsoo slips through the looming hallways and into the staircase that will take him past the Council Room and down to the Apertus prince's chambers.

Like clockwork, like the clogs of a grandfather clock, Kyungsoo hears a quiet rustle as he passes the Council Room. The sound of breathing. A muffled footstep.

Kyungsoo knows the door of the Council Room was made to be silent, as not to interfere with meetings in session when a man needed to excuse himself and leave the room. Now, the door serves him in silence, giving him a moment of advantage when he slips into the Council Room and presses the door closed behind his back. Moonlight spills into the room, attempting, attempting but failing at the black fabric that has been erected before the window. A hunched figure is crouched over the cabinets Yunho and Joonmyun store important wartime documents, the sound of metal clinking against metal between its hands, and Kyungsoo lets out a hiss reflexively.

It is too much. The figure jerks upright and whirls around, seemingly unsurprised by the drawn sword in Kyungsoo's hand, and dark eyes are lost in a face mask that does nothing to hide the glare.

"What are you doing?" Kyungsoo demands.

"What does it look like I am doing?" comes the reply, sharp and clipped. "Times of war are times of wrong."

"War?" Kyungsoo repeats. "Or peace?"

The man dressed in black, head to toe, encased with glossy fabric that accentuates every plane and line, scoffs. When he turns away from the cabinet, white scrolls fisted in his hands a striking contrast, and advances toward Kyungsoo, Kyungsoo points his sword toward him instantly. Prince Jongin--it must be, it can only be him--smiles faintly at the silver blade, the one thing in the entire room that catches the moonlight.

In a smooth movement that has Kyungsoo's mind spinning like the solar system thrown out of balance, every sparring practice laid to waste by those coiled muscles, Prince Jongin disarms him with a blow that rings searing pain through Kyungsoo's wrist, fist clenched in the collar of Kyungsoo's guard uniform. Kyungsoo reels, curling his lip in a near snarl as Jongin presses close. "You don't know anything," he says slowly, softly. "Not even your precious Head of Guard, nor your dainty little Prince knows."

"Stop," Kyungsoo says angrily. "You aren't right either!"

"I know everything, guard," Prince Jongin sneers. "Enough to know we must win this war, or suffer the plans your wise, old king has laid out for us otherwise."

"There are no such plans!" Kyungsoo spits.

Jongin cocks his head, raising the scrolls in his hand while simultaneously tightening his grip on Kyungsoo's collar. The crimson fabric wrinkles at the aggressive touch, pooling around Jongin's hand, and Kyungsoo abruptly recalls that bitter training session after the loss of three of their very best guards, Kim Jaejoong and Park Yoochun and Kim Junsu, when Guard Yunho refused to leave his chambers for weeks and Guard Changmin, his usual snark ripped with hatred, had commented that the color of their uniforms was the color of blood, fresh blood from a sword wound. "They are right here," Jongin says. "Right here as we speak."

Kyungsoo growls. The only warning of his next action is the tensing of his muscles, and then he draws the dagger hidden in his belt and drags a line down Jongin's face, the pain enough for Jongin to release him. For the most part, his face mask protected him, but the dagger cut into Jongin's cheek to draw blood. Each crimson drop disappears into Kyungsoo's red uniform, Jongin's black outfit, but lingers perpetually on the bone white document.

Wary of Jongin's response, Kyungsoo wishes he could grapple for his sword scattered somewhere in the dark, but Jongin merely cocks his head back and laughs, mirthless and cold. The blood seeps down his bronze skin, torturous and slow, as it does off Kyungsoo's blade. "You don't know, do you? Your king wants to eradicate my bloodline off the surface of this earth. He wants to loot my land, the land I have felt always as another part of my body, my life. He wants to enslave my people and lay waste to every plant, every livestock, because one bad decision and then your Crown Prince is my half-brother." At the shock on Kyungsoo's face, Jongin smirks. "Surprise you, doesn't it? Do you see much of him at all? Byun Baekhyun is no Lucis pureblood. He is as much ours and yours, and under our victory, the two of us will rule side by side."

"You lie!" Kyungsoo shouts. His mind has choked, his mind, his king, his palace, screeching to a stop of unjustified finality. All of his life, he has cherished Lucis as his own, the same way Apertus is Prince Jongin's, only to discover poison leaking through its foundations.

"Is this the face of a liar?" Jongin asks, and Kyungsoo hates himself for looking. There is no deception, no betrayal, honesty screaming from every orifice. From one guardian to another, one palace guard to a crown prince, there are no untruths.

At times, not taking action is just as difficult as taking action. As Kyungsoo wordlessly allows Jongin to leave, to plunge the country he has defended all his life into chaos and defeat because it is the right thing to do, Jongin stops once they were standing right in front of each other once again. With the cut on his face still flowing freely, Jongin speaks once more.

"You, you will be safe. I swear it, upon my honor as a prince."
Tags: fandom: exo, pairing: kai/d.o
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