Chapter rating: G
Word count: ~18 800
Summary: They are exceptional people; talented and cool, yet warm and friendly. From the very first moment, they feel like a family to him.
A/N: I watched Opera MV (the Japanese version, to be exact). Suddenly the plot of this fic appeared into my mind, and I just couldn’t leave it unwritten. The ratings of the chapters vary from G to R.
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When observed from above, the lights of the city look like stars, twinkling in the night like their distant role models somewhere behind the thick cloud layer that is covering the sky.
Youngwoon leans against the rusty railing of the steep hillside. It’s so dark, he can hardly see the narrow pathway he’s been stumbling uphill for an hour or so. He doesn’t mind the darkness. It doesn’t matter to him. Nothing matters to him anymore. Except maybe the city lights. There is something reassuring in them; something that makes it easier to inhale just one more time, and one more, and one again and again.
He doesn’t know what makes the city lights so special - they just are.
Maybe it’s because they make him feel less alone. Maybe it’s because they never tell him he’s useless and hopeless. Or maybe it’s because at least they will look the same every night, no matter what a mess the rest of the world is.
He grew up in the city, learned its ways and loved it. Now the same city is the one pushing him away, telling him there’s no place for him anymore.
The only friendly thing in that city is the light of it.
It’s cold. Youngwoon shivers and rubs his arms with his hands when the wind blows straight through his thin jacket. He wonders if he should have taken another jacket with him but it’s too late now. He’ll just have to bear with the one he has.
The railing lets out a creaky wail and yields under his weight when he slumps against it again with a sigh. He’s a man, and men don’t mind a bit of cold every now and then.
- - -
A rustle of gravel and a sound of small sticks snapping under heavy feet some distance away made Youngwoon twitch his head up. He felt dizzy, as if he had just woken up from a nap, and had to blink a few times to clear his head.
“Who’s there?” he asked into the dark. He wasn’t afraid of anyone who might be taking a nightly walk but he personally preferred not to be surprised in the dark. He supposed the other person would appreciate him announcing his presence before they’d actually bump into each other.
The footsteps stopped, and Youngwoon could only hear his own slow breaths along with the gusty wind that made some dry leaves of the previous autumn dance in his feet.
“What are you doing here?” he heard a low, soft voice asking in the dark as the footsteps started coming closer again, until Youngwoon could see another man who stopped in front of him on the pathway. “Don’t you even have a light with you?”
“I forgot,” Youngwoon said, shrugging. He hadn’t dedicated one thought for such a thing as darkness when he had marched out of the apartment that he had, until a few hours ago, called his home. Well, technically it still was his home, but it wouldn’t be for a long time anymore, so he could as well stop calling it so.
“You forgot,” the man repeated, and Youngwoon thought he heard a hint of amusement in his voice.
Youngwoon pushed his hands into the pockets of his jacket. “Yeah. I did.”
The man took a long look at him before he stepped closer to the railing and glanced down at the city. Youngwoon couldn't see his face in the dark, but his black silhouette against the dim light was slender and beautiful. It would have made a breathtaking photo, Youngwoon found himself thinking.
“Look, I think you should come with me,” the man said as he turned to look at Youngwoon again. “You’ll freeze if you spend the night out here. I live with a couple of friends but they won’t mind a visitor.”
To be honest Youngwoon wasn’t especially eager to meet any more people, but the man was right about the cold. When the man continued his walk even higher uphill, Youngwoon only hesitated for a second before following him.
“Do you really live up here?” Youngwoon couldn’t help grunting after a long while of walking. “Why would anyone want to live in the middle of such a nowhere?”
“Just wait,” the man said with the warmth of a smile in his voice. “Yes, it’s quite far from everything but you’ll understand soon enough why I like living there.”
The man’s prediction hit the bull’s eye; Youngwoon felt his jaw dropping when he finally saw a building in the end of the pathway. There was a big staircase, and on the both sides if the massive wooden main doors were lanterns with dim lights in them. Most of the windows were black but there were a few windows with the lights on in the rooms behind them. The gabled roof with two chimneys stood out as another black silhouette against the sky. It wasn’t just any building; no, that was almost a castle!
“Well not quite,” the other man laughed when Youngwoon voiced out his amazement, but he sounded pleased all the same. “It’s just a small old manor. It looks much bigger outside than what it is inside, really. It’s just the style of construction - it was built in the beginning of the last century by the Europeans, when such a pompous style was in fashion. In fact, there aren’t even own rooms for everyone.”
“Surely there must be a few rooms that can do for bedrooms for you and your friends,” Youngwoon snorted when he followed the man up the stairs.
“A few, yes,” the man chuckled as he pushed the door open. “But the thing is, a few isn’t quite enough for us.”
After the chilly night air the cozy warmth of the hallway of the manor felt like the sweetest thing ever. Youngwoon hadn't even noticed how cold he had been until then.
Youngwoon let his gaze brush across the wooden walls and the stylish, old-fashioned staircase. There was a wine red carpet on the floor, crystal crowns hanging from the ceiling, and old paintings of beautiful landscapes on the walls. For a moment Youngwoon wondered if the things around him could even be real; it sure felt like a fairy tale. The hallway was, indeed, smaller than what one might have expected, but it didn’t lessen the impression an inch.
“Hi!” said a cheerful voice when the door on the left side opened. “Hey, everyone! Teukie hyung is back!”
A short man with a thin nose, a friendly smile, and the ugliest sweater Youngwoon had ever seen, stepped into the hallway. The man's eyes widened when he saw Youngwoon behind the man who had lead him in.
“Oh,” the short man said and blinked. “Hi. Who are you?”
“Hi,” Youngwoon said slowly, quite unsure what else to do. Before he managed to say more, however, the man with him turned to look at him. Suddenly, Youngwoon forgot everything he might have been thinking until then.
He was the most beautiful man Youngwoon had ever seen, with his delicate features and gentle, twinkling eyes. His dark brown hair was cut short and simple, and it fit him perfectly just like that. There was a dimple on his left cheek, one that became even more obvious when the man's bright smile seemed to light up the whole room.
“I’m sorry!” the man said, his smile turning sheepish. “I just dragged you up here even though we haven’t even been introduced yet!”
“Kim Youngwoon,” Youngwoon offered first, he was an intruder in other people’s home after all.
“Such a nice name,” the short man said with a longing smile, but he fell silent when he received a sharp look from the other man.
“It is a nice name indeed. Have you ever had a nickname though? Full names are so formal; we all use first names or nicknames here. Do you mind if I come up with one for you, too? You’d fit in a bit better!” he said with his shining smile, all in one breath, and Youngwoon shrugged. Even though he found the thought a bit weird, he couldn’t say he minded, either.
“Let’s see,” the man said, obviously pleased when Youngwoon promised he’d answer to a nickname as well. “You have such a nice body type, did you know? So manly and all. Oh now I know! You could be Kangin! It’s because you look so strong, and a really nice guy too. It’s always nice when one’s nickname matches with their personality, isn’t it?”
Youngwoon blinked, baffled by the man’s description of him. It wasn’t that he didn’t agree with the man’s opinion. In fact, in the privacy of his mind he rather agreed with him. But how could such a new acquaintance read him like that so soon?
“You can call me Leeteuk,” the man said, his smile never fading. “For some reason these brats also like to call me Teukie. You can choose either one, as you wish.”
“My name is Ryeowook,” the short man said and gave Youngwoon a friendly smile. “Don’t mind hyung; he’s always like that. He’s the oldest of us all but he’s the biggest kid, really.”
“Of you all?” Youngwoon chuckled. Ryeowook talked about himself and Leeteuk and their supposed third flatmate as if they were a whole classroom of kids instead of three men.
He got an answer to his question soon, when another face appeared into the doorstep; a tall man with a fluffy black hair and thin yet wide eyes.
“What are you keeping him in the hallway for,” the man scolded Ryeowook with a soft fake-slap on the back of his head. “Everyone’s waiting in the table already.”
The third man, called Yesung as Youngwoon got to know as soon as Leeteuk pushed him through the door into the dinner room, was not the last roommate Youngwoon had supposed he would have been. Neither was the tall handsome man called Siwon nor the two inseparable rascals that Youngwoon soon learned to know as Eunhyuk and Donghae. Even after them there were still the funny guy called Shindong, the snarky one called Heechul, the one with the darkest eyes Youngwoon had ever seen - he was called Kyuhyun - and a quiet, serene-looking guy named Sungmin.
There weren’t three young men living in the manor. There were ten of them.
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