The Secrets of Capricorn

If he had the choice between changing a single person’s life and changing the world, what would he choose? If it means giving up all that he’s ever loved, would he really take that place for the one person he cares about the most and stand in the front row, armed and ready to fight against the Last Apocalypse?

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He needed to drain the formaldehyde – that was the first thought on his mind. He couldn’t just grab the rotten, wooden chair from the corner of the room, stand on it and fish the boy out of the glass container. Even though it wouldn’t affect him, he would have no time to stop and wash his hands. He couldn’t risk getting the liquid on his face, especially in his eyes. His hands wouldn’t scab up and the skin in his palms wouldn’t peel off but he really didn’t want to touch the liquid. The smell had already sunk itself into him, and he knew that if he didn’t get home quick enough to shower, his mother would know straight away of what he’d been up to.

On his hands and knees, Junhyung crawled on the eroded floor of the room. He scurried round the container in search of anything that could help him drain the substance as fast as he could. He didn’t know the exact time, and he couldn’t waste anymore seconds checking, so he decided that it was best not to check his wristwatch. SO-1 was more important. And the both of them had to get back to Junhyung’s house safe and sound and in one piece, without getting caught.

Junhyung smeared his hands on the black, metal ring that was holding the container upright. There had to be something, anything that could help him out. His mind let out a cheer when the tips of his fingers hit the side of a cold button. He wondered for a moment before hesitantly pressing the button. He stared back at the glass tank and watched the liquid slowly drain away. Junhyung smiled at the boy, who was currently in a daze and stood up again. He hurried over to the back of the tank to where SO-1’s umbilical cord was and dropped his messenger bag onto the floor beside him.

Hastily, Junhyung pulled his Swiss army knife out of his left side pocket and flicked through each of the tools, in search for the right knife to cut SO-1’s cord. Not a single instrument on the tool was sterilised, so the odds had to be in his favour, for he couldn’t mess up now. He didn’t want the helpless boy to contract any sort of infection. He positioned his pliers so that they’d clamp around the glass tube and prayed that this wouldn’t hurt the other male. Grasping tightly on the rubber-coated handles, Junhyung tightly squeezed his eyes shut as the glass finally broke into silent tiny fragments. He checked the experiment to see if he was all right and smiled at his own success.

Now all Junhyung had to do was fish the boy out of the glass tank. Well, that should be easy for him, right? The male proceeded to drag an unsteady chair from across the room and place it up against the glass. He inhaled a deep, sharp breath before climbing onto the piece of furniture. He pressed his fingertips to his face and trailed them down his skin, applying a large amount of force to them. Every second that passed, every step he took, added to anxious feeling building up inside him, making his heart pound and the insides of his stomach churn. He detached his hands from his cheeks and placed them on the opening of the glass container. He stood on the tips of his toes while leaning on the rim of the tank and peered down at SO-1. The boy was still huddled together, at the end of the tank.

Junhyung hung his arms over in attempt to reach out to the boy, but it was no use. SO-1 had to stand up in order for him to lug him out. He couldn’t jump in with the boy as well. He couldn’t afford to make any loud noises and attract attention. They’d probably kill him if they found him snooping around the laboratory. Junhyung settled down again and propped his elbows on the opening, cupping his chin in his palms. As if they were controlled by themselves, his feet began to tap against the chair in frustration. This was going to be harder than he thought, and his dancing feet were not helping, they were only adding to his dilemma.

It finally struck him, the way of attracting the attention of SO-1, after a moment of deep thought. He slid his hands behind his neck and unclasped the dog tag from underneath his shirt. He pulled it off, held it as tightly as he could in his grip and stared at it.

He remembered when he acquired the certain piece of jewellery. It was a birthday present from the father of his rich best friend, Yoon Doojoon. Doojoon’s father was a jeweller who owned his own store. On Junhyung’s 18th birthday, Mr Yoon took him to the workshop at the back of his shop and asked him to choose what type of piece he would like. To Mr Yoon’s surprise, Junhyung had asked for a dog tag, but not just any normal one. He asked for a silver dog tag engraved with his fingerprint. The whole idea of Junhyung’s request made Doojoon’s father smile. He knew that Junhyung was a bright and unique young man, with big dreams and high potential, and he wanted to make sure he got what he wanted.

Junhyung smiled at the rush of memories flooding his mind. It took him a few seconds to regain composure and remember where exactly he was. When he was finally ready, he nodded to thin air and leant over the tank again. As slowly and as carefully as he possibly could, he swung his necklace forward, like a pendulum. He repeated his actions until the metal dog tag lightly swiped across SO-1’s cheek, causing him to jerk his head up in complete surprise.

The boy’s doe-shaped eyes were fully dilated when they met Junhyung’s. Instead of shuffling back in fear, he was frozen on the spot. He hadn’t really noticed in the change in environment as he was still in shock from the pain coursing through his veins. He couldn’t tear his gaze away from the man on the outside, and Junhyung couldn’t do the same. Junhyung decided to wait a while, if SO-1 moved away from him, he would know that he had scared him. If not, he would make a move. Time was not on their side today. Junhyung could sense the change as the room had darkened.

His patience was wearing thin, and he knew that his mother would lecture him when he got home. After stuffing his necklace in his back pocket, Junhyung used his outstretched arms to signal the other to stand up. Surprisingly, SO-1 obliged, and after struggling, he stood up and slowly moved closer to Junhyung’s hands. As soon as their skin was almost touching, Junhyung grabbed the boy from underneath his arms and hauled him up. Unlike he once thought, SO-1 was not as heavy as he imagined. In fact, he was as light as a child. But maybe that was because Junhyung went to the gym quite a bit, or maybe not.

Junhyung was quick to get SO-1 out of the tank, but there were still two things he had to do before they both left, take the plastic mask off the boy and put some clothes on him. Once he had settled the boy down on his lap, Junhyung reached over to his right side and picked up his Swiss army knife from the table beside him. He held the side of the boys face in the palm of his left hand firmly and using his right hand, he flicked out the knife’s scissors and began to cut the mask off SO-1’s face. With each snip, he saw the boy’s straight face contort into a worried frown.

SO-1 had a strange feeling that the man had no intention of hurting him, but that didn’t stop the thoughts of the side of his face being cut down the side with the unfamiliar metal instrument in his hand.

After the plastic had been disposed of on his side, Junhyung placed his Swiss army knife in the pouch attached to his belt and stared down at SO-1. The boy let out a much needed sigh of relief and closed his eyes. Junhyung could only smile at him. Unintentionally, Junhyung’s hand found its way to the boy’s face and lightly stroked his cheek.

“You’re so beautiful, you should know that.” His voice was low and hoarse and his eyes were half lidded.

He ran his fingers through SO-1’s damp blonde hair and trailed his tips over the boy’s forehead. If there was anything in that precise moment that could define flawless perfection, it was SO-1. Without prolonging his job any further, Junhyung pulled his white v-neck t-shirt and his black shorts he used to play football with and slipped the clothing onto the boy’s motionless body.

‘He must have been tired,’ Junhyung thought to himself. He decided to give the boy his jacket too in case it was cold outside.

‘I hope I don’t wake him up now.’

After dressing him, he carried the boy as if her were a young child, with SO-1’s legs wrapped around his waist and his arms draped over his shoulders.

‘This is it. Either we’ll make it home or not. And I hope it’s not the latter.’

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