From Seoul to Busan (I met a stranger named Kim…)

They met on the train. On December 22nd, when the sun begins to pile up for Christmas and New Year. When the kids begin to drink hot chocolate mug after mug and when couples become forget their worries just for a little while.

It was a cold day, chilly and unpleasant.

Park Chanyeol, a business man was heading to Busan to meet his fiancé.

Like in the movies, books and real life, he confessed and proposed first. She said yes without thinking much.

Chanyeol closed the window as a bunch of snowflakes slapped his face harshly.

Grabbing his coat from the seat in front of him, he called the conductor for a cup of hot coffee or tea, but they didn’t have tea at the moment, so coffee it was.

He slipped on his headphones, gradually increasing the volume and opened the dog-eared page to the book he was reading.

It was a mix of romance and mystery, and he liked both. Falling in love and then finding out that the lover was actually a killer amused and bemused him at the same time.

The door opened again and Chanyeol looked up since he was urging to place his cold hands on the warm cup, however instead an unknown figure entered his compartment.

Placing his backpack above the seat, he sat right across Chanyeol and smiled.

Chanyeol smiled back and a little disappointedly averted his gaze back to his book.

He was in the part where the suspense was to be revealed. Who the murderer was and what reason did he had to kill his beloved girlfriend, but once more he had to stop reading considering it was the conductor this time with his cup of hot coffee.

Sighing, and deciding to read the book a little later, Chanyeol wrapped his thick and rough hands over the cup, like a tiny blanket.

He looked at the stranger and saw him reading a book as well. Murder at the Orient express by Agatha Christie.

Interesting, thought Chanyeol and took a tiny sip.

Ah…the warmth he felt down his throat was as good as melting an ice with the fire torch.

The stranger looked at Chanyeol, their eyes meeting only for a mere second and then shying away to somewhere else.

Chanyeol adjusted himself in his place, whereas the latter wore his headphones and immersed himself in a different world.

Rude, thought Chanyeol since the stranger could have at-least smiled at him, but not that he cared because his cup of hot coffee was getting cold.

There was another hour and half for the train to reach Busan and Chanyeol was bored, so bored that the words he was reading were beginning to feel like jokes to him.

On the headlines today was, “Byun Baekhyun runs off from his entertainment company and marries his former girlfriend, Kim-“

When right then there was a knock on the door. Promptly it opened and the conductor appeared again.

“What would you like to have for dinner sire?” The Conductor asked and handed him a menu card that looked like a pamphlet of some retro soap opera.

Choosing whatever he presumed would be to his liking, the conductor gave his best smile and turned towards the stranger who was asleep with the headphones still on and the book just about to fall off of his lap.

“Excuse me sire?” He tried to wake him up, but considering no noise could enter his ears at the moment, the conductor gave up and decided to come back later.

Chanyeol folded the newspaper the way it was before and threw it beside him.

Looking outside, he couldn’t see a thing due to the foggy glass and tiny particles of snow-flakes, and he dared not open the window lest the cold would kill the warmness inside the compartment.

The book the stranger was deliberately holding, suddenly fell, making the latter jolt open his heavy-lidded eyes.

As fast as Chanyeol’s reflexes were, he quickly leaned in forward and picked up the book.

“Here.” He handed it over to him with a gentle smile.

“Thank you.” The stranger spoke for the first time and pushed back his headphones.

For some reason, Chanyeol thought that this was the best opening for him to introduce himself before the stranger would once more go back to his own individual heavenly body.

“Hi, I’m Park Chanyeol.” He reached out his hand and waited.

The stranger hesitated for a moment, his lips twitched but no words surrendered.

“Uh..what’s your name?”

The stranger finally reached out his hand and unrolled his tongue, “I’m Kim-“

Once again, there was a knock on the door and in entered the conductor with Chanyeol’s meal.

Unconsciously, the both of them let go of each others hand and rearranged themselves in their places.

“Ah sire, you are awake now. What would you like to have for dinner?” He asked, carefully placing Chanyeol’s meal on his table.

The stranger didn’t answer.

“Sire?” He asked again.

And Chanyeol noticed, that the latter was rather too shy to talk.

“You want to have what I’m having?” He asked, and the stranger shrugged.

A sigh escaped the conductors lips as he looked at Chanyeol, “He will have the same.” Chanyeol said and the conductor nodded, immediately leaving their compartment.

The sound of fork and knife clanking to the China ware created a noisy atmosphere in the noiseless compartment of Park Chanyeol’s and the stranger’s.

Gradually chewing on his steak, he would time and time again look at the unfamiliar individual amusingly.

There were no talks between them, just eye contacts, but short ones.

The train had arrived it’s destination and Chanyeol was way too excited to meet her.

Before leaving the compartment, he turned towards the stranger once and asked, “You never said your name.”

But the stranger slipped on his headphones and increased it’s volume, so loud that Chanyeol could hear it himself. Soft music. Nice choice.

Chanyeol reasoned that it wasn’t on purpose that he didn’t hear him and that his timing was a bit off, so he cracked a forceful smile to himself and left.

They met on the train the second time. On February 1st. When the weather is just too normal and perfect, and when the clouds are puffy and you can make shapes out of them.

Park Chanyeol was heading to Busan to bring back his wife to Seoul.

Today’s headlines was, “Seoul’s top business man, Oh Sehun falls in bankruptcy.”

And on the next page was a tiny article on the interesting character Byun Baekhyun, “The famous Idol, Byun Baekhyun also known as the Bacon and RapByun by his beloved fans sues his entertainment company for not paying the amount he was to receive, on the other hand, rumors has it that his wife Kim-.”

The door slid open and in entered a someone wearing all-black. His face was covered with a mask, and the upper-part of his face with a cap.

The stranger placed his back pack under his seat and sat across Chanyeol.

The man looked up and Chanyeol smiled, but it was hard to tell if he received a smile as well or not.

Folding the paper neatly, he placed it in the table in front of him and sighed.

“The weathers nice eh?” Chanyeol spoke but got no response. In fact he, himself had no idea why he had to open his mouth for no reason.

The man took off his cap and slid on the headphones.

Chanyeol frowned upon noticing the familiarity of the headphones and those eyes.

“Uh-” He straightened himself a little and slightly leaned in forward.

“Congrats.” The man suddenly said, making Chanyeol’s eyes jolt wide open and blurt a confused expression. “Huh?”

“The ring. You’re married aren’t you?” He spoke from behind his mask.

Chanyeol’s heart let out a kind of excitement and surprise that the man he met two months ago, still remembers him.

“So you noticed huh?” Chanyeol said in a tone of amusement.

“Uh-huh.” The man nodded. “Park Chanyeol right?”

And his heart jumped, like from a trampoline again and again.

The one thing Park Chanyeol didn’t fathom was that, why was he so happy just knowing that a stranger knows, or remembers him?

“Right!” Chanyeol reached out his hand like the last time. “Nice to meet you-?”

“I’m Kim-.”

“We are sorry to announce you that the train will depart after a short while due to some engine failure, I request you all, please to be patient and to consider the current situation. Thank you.”

A lady suddenly announced and unconsciously Chanyeol took back his hand. “Aish…That’s too bad.”

He looked at the man and saw that he had increased the volume on his headphones and closed his eyes.

Shrugging, that though it was rude to cut off their talk so abruptly, there was still two hours left for them to get to know each other, so Chanyeol took out his current book from his briefcase and immersed himself until he himself was inside the book as the main character, not to mention, the detective.

Chanyeol woke up by the sound of clinking and clanking.

“What is that irritating sound”, he thought as he took off the book from his face.

Bright light smiled upon him just as he opened his tired eyes.

“Oh…sorry did I disturb you?” The man asked, finally placing down the spoon before tapping on the rim of the cup thrice.

“Kind of..” Chanyeol replied and rubbed his eyes. The tiredness slowly vanishing away.

“Coffee?” He asked and the latter nodded.

Again, Chanyeol was happy that his compartment partner was talking to him.

This feeling, though he knew that it was happiness, there was something more to it than that. Something that was strange to Chanyeol.

Coffee with milk and two sugar cubes was how Chanyeol liked to drink, but the man liked it black with one sugar cube.

Chanyeol liked mystery and romance whereas the man only liked mystery, romance wasn’t in his list at all.

Chanyeol listens to rock music, and the man listens to the complete opposite of it.

They both didn’t have anything in common.

There was nothing there could actually agree on one thing, however somehow it made them more curious about each other.

The man was unmarried, he did have a girlfriend but although there were no signs of break-up, they just don’t talk to each other.

“Women…they are weird.” He said. “I can’t believe you married one.”

“Well buddy, it’s love.” Chanyeol chuckled. “Maybe one day, she will come running to you and you can get married as well.”

All he did was shrug.

Half an hour more to reach their destination.

“You can’t find a perfect gift for her?” The man asked.

“Uh-huh, I want to give her something unique, something which no man has ever given to a women.”

“I don’t think there is such a thing..Many great a men have given greater things to their women.”

“I know, but there must be one thing no great man has ever given right?”

The man thoughtfully rubbed his chin.

“You’re thinking too hard, it’s alright though.” Chanyeol laughed.

“No, wait, I think I can at least throw you one object.”

“And what is that?”

“Your heart.”

“My heart?”

“Yea, if you love her so much, give her your heart.”

“Do you mean literally or metaphorically?” Chanyeol’s brows knitted.

“To be honest, literally, but as a joke, metaphorically.”

“Hm, that’s actually a great idea but what happens when I give her my heart?”

“You place yourself inside her. That’s the best gift any husband could give to her wife.”

“But what if she wants to hold me? Literally.”

The man laughed, “She has you. She has your heart, what more could she want?”

Chanyeol sighed. “That’s just plain sad man..”

“Tragic right.”

“Without doubt.”

The train came to a halt, and Chanyeol and the man looked at each other wordlessly.

It seemed like they used so many words that none were escaping from their mouths right now.

“So…see you later then.” Chanyeol muttered.

“Sure.” The man nodded.

“Uh…I still didn’t get your name Mr.Kim..?”

The man chuckled, “I’m Kim-.”

Chanyeol’s phone rang, “Kim?”

The phone kept ringing, “First take the call, might be important.”

“Aish..” Chanyeol took out his phone. It was his wife.

Without delay, he picked it up and unconsciously, while talking left the compartment without saying his goodbyes to the stranger.

They met on the train the third time. On June 19th. When the world darkens and falls into gloom. When some hate it, and others feel alive when it drops hard and sometimes soft on their bare skin. The month of wet and damp grass, the month of too much sales of Umbrellas, and the month of couples going together under one (Some purposefully forgetting)

Park Chanyeol was heading to Busan to meet his sick parents. Nothing serious but he was forced to go by his wife for a day or two.

Todays top headlines were, “The famous Chinese Author, Zhang Yixing, set to release his new book called ONE, on end of October.”

Chanyeol flipped the page to find something on Byun Baekhyun but all he saw were random articles on other singers.

“What happened to Baekhyun?” Thought Chanyeol, since the only time he really reads newspapers are when he’s on the train, and inexplicably, it hurts not gaining any news of the idol he knew so little about. Did he win the law suit? What happened to his wife Kim-

And as he knew that there was going to be someone who would enter his compartment anytime, the door opened and in entered a man, wearing a checked black and white coat, his hair wet and disheveled, and his shoes bringing in mud into the neat cabin.

“Ah!” The strangers mouth opened in surprise upon seeing the latter. “We meet again Park Chanyeol.”

“It’s still a mystery to me how we end up in the same compartment time after time.” Chanyeol laughed.

The man threw his wet bag pack under the seat and sat across Chanyeol. “Fate? Destiny? What do you want to call it?” He chuckled and ruffled his hair, following with a sneeze. “Sorry…Man I hate rains..”

“I have to say, I’m quite opposite once again.”

“Rain lover eh?” He sneezed again and immediately, Chanyeol took out his kerchief from his coat pocket and handed it to him.

“I’m alright Chan-.”

“Take it, I have a twin.”

“Thank you.”

Both of them ordered hot coffee, the way they liked it separately. The rains were chilling the atmosphere, albeit it was only twelve in the afternoon, there was no sign of the sun whatsoever.

It hid behind the beauty of the thunder clouds, behind the strikes and the trembles.

“You never said what you do for a living?” Chanyeol asked.

“Nothing much.”

“That’s not the right answer.”

“I don’t think you want to know, and I’m too embarrassed to say it. In all truthfulness.”

“I won’t laugh. You know what I do, so it’s only fair.”

“Hm…”

“Come on, I regard and respect all types of occupations.”

“Well…I sing for a living, in a bar, part time. Seoul pays good.”

“I knew you were hard working.”

He laughed.

“And what about after the part time?”

“I uh..work in a restaurant in Busan. It gives me enough for my necessities.”

“Wow, I’m fascinated.”

“What’s there to be fascinated about?”

“I don’t know…I just think that my respect for you has reached the top level.”

“What the-?” The man laughed confusedly.

“No really, the kind of man you are- I just want to admire you. I like that hardworking characteristic of yours.”

“Park Chanyeol, you really know how to flatter people by your words.”  He chuckled shyly.

“I might even start calling you Hyung.”

The stranger stopped chuckling, and rose his brows high. “Hyung?”

“Yea, I’m guessing you are older than me?”

The man was faltering between a yes and a no.

“You look pretty surprised..” Chanyeol muttered.

“Sorry it’s just that…You are the first one to say something like this before.” The mans voice softened.

Chanyeol bit his lip, “You lack of friends right?”

The man shrugged.

“If you like, I can call you Hyung. If it makes you feel any better.”

“You try too hard Park Chanyeol.. To make people smile right?”

“I don’t think so, I have always been just able to make people smile.” He laughed.

“I hate people who self-praise.”

“Then I might as well stop it.”

“But after meeting you…I think they are not so bad either..”

“Wahh I really can’t figure out what you are thinking, or what you are going to think..Hyung.”

The man’s lips stretched from ear to ear upon the hearing of the word ‘Hyung’.

“I don’t think I’m older than you though..”

“Who cares. I have gotten used to it now.”

“You only said it once.”

“Once is enough for me to get used to something.”

“Park Chanyeol, I really can’t figure what you are thinking, or what you are going to think.” He repeated those exact words to him.

Chanyeol laughed.

“I would like to be mysterious. Just like you.”

“I am mysterious ain’t I?” He smirked.

“Uh-huh, so mysterious that I still don’t know your name Hyung. There’s always some kind of a distraction and I don’t get to hear after the name Kim.”

“So I noticed as well.”

“And so before any more distractions, I’m eager to know your good name.”

“Park Chanyeol, I’m Kim-.”

The train shook violently, the lights flickered and everything happened so fast but yet in slow motion that Chanyeol’s heart stopped racing for a long second.

He was being thrown to the other side, and so was the man whose eyes were tightly closed.

The windows shattered into shards, arrowing them painfully. Their belongings tumbling on top of them, they tumbled as well. Rolled and rolled, banging their heads on the table, and the upper steel beds.

Their shouts were indistinct. Chanyeol knew he and his Hyung were screaming from on top of their lungs, but he couldn’t hear it.

His body was numb, his brain became too slow to function properly, and for some reason, actually for all the more reasons, he felt that he was going to die. That his heart can’t beat any longer, that his soul was ready to leave his wounded, and broken body.

Gradually, he forced his bloody brown eyes open. The vision was blurry, but he blinked. It hurt but he blinked. Painless tears streamed down from the corners of his eyes. He wanted to scream, open his mouth, cry out loud but it was like something was choking him from doing so.

His neck was unmovable, like the strings were finally cut off.

And there he was, his Hyung. Bleeding all over, lying with his eyes stuck to Park Chanyeol.

Their bodies were between the gap of the two seats, their things messily fallen around them like a kids play area on the red pool.

His hands were stretching out for help, weak, muscle torn fingers were trying to reach Chanyeol’s.

“Hyung.” Thought Chanyeol and his body behaved on its own. He was moving his hand towards the man.

“It’s okay, I’m here…”

But before he could touch the gaping finger tips of his Hyung, Chanyeol’s heart cringed terribly, and after a long gasp of damp air, his eyes clouded slowly, and then all at once.

“You try too hard Park Chanyeol.. To make people smile right?”

“I might even start calling you Hyung.”

“Tragic right.”

“Without doubt.”

“Your heart.”

“The ring. You’re married aren’t you?”

“Hi, I’m Park Chanyeol.”

“I’m Kim-“

December 22nd, when the sun begins to pile up for Christmas and New Year. When the kids begin to drink hot chocolate mug after mug and when couples become forget their worries just for a little while.

It was a cold day, chilly and unpleasant. Park Chanyeol’s eyes shot open after 4 years. He was in a deep sleep, a sleep that wasn’t peaceful at all.

The headlines 4 years ago, on June 19th 2012 was, “From Seoul to Busan, the KTX train met with a major accident, injuring and killing hundreds at the same time.”

Chanyeol remembered everything, at-least most of it.

The talks on the train rides, the mysterious stranger, and the accident. Everything came to him in random flashes, like monochromatic film reels.

His wife had a baby two years ago, she named him April, just as they had discussed.

Chanyeol’s body, however was yet to be healed completely. He had a vast number of fractures, bruises, and deep cuts that would eventually take a long time cure.

His voice wasn’t back either and he was having a hard time choosing the right words to speak to his wife and parents, but they all told him to take his time since all they were happy for was that Chanyeol was alive again. That his soul wasn’t taken away yet by death, and that he can start a new life, afresh after he gets back on his feet.

It was actually their mere belief of being reborn and all that stuff, but Chanyeol never believed in such a thing.

“Fate? Destiny? What do you want to call it?”

As a matter of fact, he believed in Karma.

Chanyeol didn’t realize it only after he had wholly came back to his senses that a folded paper was underneath his pillow, he was only trying to find the T.V remote.

He asked his wife who it was from, but all she did was frown at his question.

He even asked his parents, and the nurses as well but to no avail.

Perplexed at what might be written inside and from who, Chanyeol unfolded the creased sheet.

His heart stopped beating for a moment, for more than a moment, or even longer.

For some reason he knew that it was a letter from his Hyung. The stranger he met on the train.

“Hey Park Chanyeol, I hope you are dreaming well, but I wish you could wake up soon because I still haven’t told you what my name is.

Sorry for the bad handwriting though, I have a broken arm.

Anyways, the doctors keep saying you need a new heart urgently or else you won’t live. You won’t live to see your wife Chanyeol, so here, take my heart. LITERALLY NOT METAPHORICALLY.

I’m giving it to you only because you called me Hyung.

I’m placing myself inside of you, because that’s the only gift I can give you for making me feel…less depressed and orphan.

Don’t worry about my life, live yours.

You have me, you have my heart, what more could you want right?

Though it’s ending way too sadly than I imagined it would be.

Tragic right?

Park Chanyeol, for the first time you will get to know my name without any distractions.

I’m Kim-.”

Cold tears fell on the strangers name, smudging every single letter from it’s place before Chanyeol could find out.

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