Title: Runner: Chapter 7, No time for heroes
Genre: AU ( another place and time), friendship, angst
A/N: very short chapter
Summary: 5 young men dream of growing up together and being friends forever, but wishes don’t always come true.
The aircraft stalled; his hands shook as he gripped the stick. Smoke billowed from the engine as he tried to regain control. But it was hopeless. He wiped soot away from his goggles and tried to ignore the pain in his leg. He could smell the blood; feel it trickling from the bullet hole.
“Must concentrate,” he told himself as he struggled to keep his plane airborne.
The engine sputtered again; there was no doubt it wouldn’t make it back to base. But he had to land before he went up in flames.
“I won’t be burned,” he told himself. “I won’t die; not like this.”
He had every right to fear; his plane was nothing more than a flying coffin. He had seen the burn victims; he refused to be one of them.
His head turned side to side like a swivel; ever watchful for the enemy. The squadron had been surprised; luckily, the enemy backed off when they saw his engine caught fire. If the pilot had been a more ruthless man, he would have pursued his pray and riddled him with gunfire until he was dead.
But today was not Jung Yunho’s day to die.
He spotted a clearing up ahead and with all the strength that was left in him, he steered for it. Praying hard, he brought the fighter down; bumpy landing make him wince in pain.
The flames grew higher and Yunho knew he was out of time. He unstrapped himself and climbed out of the plane. Hitting the ground he cried out; leg too damaged to support him.
“Crawl, damn you; crawl for your bloody life.”
He didn’t get far.
The explosion shook the ground. Instinctively he covered his head as the debris flew around him. The smell of smoke, fuel and his burning craft filled the air. He looked up at the wreckage and sighed.
“Goodbye old friend,” he whispered, as all around him turned to black…
His recovery was slow; the doctors grounding him for the rest of the war. The bullet and the fall from the plane had taken it’s toll. Still, it could have been worse; he could have lost his leg or been killed. He considered himself lucky; many fliers never made it. He had become an ace; his coolness under pressure, his keen eye and leadership abilities had paid off. He had nothing to be ashamed of; he had done his duty. So now he flew a desk; his days filled with paperwork and filing reports. The only thing that broke up the boredom were his visits from Changmin.
He was genuinely concerned about his junior; the war had changed him; hardened him. He had always had a cynical streak and a playful “meanness” that garnished him the nickname of “evil genius.” Yunho worried that the horrors of war would affect Min in more ways than he could count. The High Command had seen in Changmin the mindset and skills to be a ruthless political officer. Yunho feared that Min would lose his sense of right and wrong; that he would lose himself in the frenzy of war and become an animal; a ruthless, unforgiving beast.
Yunho chuckled to himself.
“Fine talk from someone who had their fair share of killing.”
Yunho tried to convince himself long ago that fliers were “gentlemen of the skies;” like knights of old they were chivalrous and fought in accordance to some ancient code.
“Bullshit,” he grumbled.
Killing was killing; there was nothing glorious about it.
As he sat in his room, fireplace flickering, he sighed. He took a sip of claret and closed his eyes. A gentle knock on the door interrupted his solitude.
The door creaked open; a young private entered the room; a mail sack slung over his shoulder.
He saluted and asked permission to speak.
“A letter arrived for you today sir; a letter with no stamp and no return address.”
The private handed Yunho the letter and saluted again. The officer dismissed him, and he was once more, alone.
Yunho examined the letter. The private had been correct. There was nothing on the envelope except his name. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he swallowed hard and stared in disbelief.
He recognized the handwriting.
Shaking hands opened the letter; they unfolded the page slowly and grasped it as if the parchment was the most precious thing in the world.
“I heard you were shot down.”
He fold up the letter and took a deep breath.
There was only one way to get a letter like this across enemy lines.
His fingers fondled the paper; eyes fixated on the the words neatly written in black ink.
“I’m glad you are safe and out of harms way. I am well. The others are here with me. Take care of Changmin; he looks up to you.”
The message was short, simple, and to the point. There was nothing else. The initial “J” was the signature, but Yunho knew who it was from.
He sipped on his claret as he watched the letter burn; a single teardrop falling down his scarred cheek.