deplore: (Default)
♕ ([personal profile] deplore) wrote2012-11-26 11:55 pm
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If murmurs are allowed to build up, interlacing with each other and reinforcing each other, then they become something more pervasive and profound than a single loud shout. It is because of this that the reputation of the Infinite precedes itself, even before anybody knows anything about it. Everybody is convinced, though, that it will be the crown jewel of the Woollim Private Aeronautic Agency’s space program - something unique, something grand, something that has never been attempted before.

Though they do not know anything else - not yet - they do know that it is the Infinite that brings the seven of them together, sitting on the same side of a table that is far too wide, waiting on their agency’s director to tell them why they are here. None of them talk to each other - some of them seem unsure of whether or not they should even acknowledge each other, wondering whether or not they should consider each other competition or teammates or both. By the time the director, Jungyeop, enters the room, the atmosphere is already anxious and uncertain, but he seems to completely disregard the tension in the air.

“Welcome,” says Jungyeop, and smiles as he takes a seat across from them. Compared to the chairs that they sit in, his exudes a certain authority: it is luxuriously padded, and swivels at the slightest shift in posture. “You’ve all been invited here because we believe you have the necessary qualifications to be part of the first crew of the Infinite, our newest space exploration model. I’m sure you have many questions, so let me get the biggest one out of the way first.”

He swings his weight across the chair, which rotates so that he can see the projection screen behind him. Behind him, a diagram of the Infinite flickers to life. Compared to regulation space exploration vehicles, there is something odd about this one - the bulk of it is taken up by some sort of intricate machinery at the base of the vehicle. “You’re wondering why the design is so peculiar, of course,” Jungyeop explains, as he turns back to face them again. “It’s because we’ve worked on implementing new technology into the Infinite. Space exploration - it’s impractical because everything is so far away, of course. So to be more effective, we need to scale up the maximum velocity that the vehicle can move at.”

Across the table, there is faint recognition dawning upon them, though none say anything. “The Infinite will be the first manned vehicle specifically designed to move at velocities close to the speed of light,” Jungyeop continues. “The prototype for many more to come, we hope. And as such, we need the most qualified astronauts to be the first crew for the Infinite - to test its capabilities, to collect first-hand data, and to help us improve. If you choose to accept the mission, then you will be pioneers for a new future in space exploration.”

For a few moments, there is silence, until it is broken by one of them suddenly speaking up: “You’re talking about traveling at the speed of light,” he says. “And you’re... really serious about that?”

Jungyeop nods. “I understand that it might be difficult to believe, Woohyun. But it’s true - this is what Woollim has been working towards for years now. We believe there is a strong chance for success at this point. But what will make or break the mission is the ability of the people on board.”

It is not a subtle attempt at flattery. “If you agree to be part of the project, then your lives will change from here on out. Your training will be increased, both physically and mentally. You won’t be able to associate with other astronauts here, nor the scientists, outside of a few that have authorization to work with the Infinite. This is a top secret, make-or-break mission. We need you to be able to give up everything else to give the Infinite its the best chances at coming back safely.” Jungyeop pauses, and adds, “You don’t have to decide right now, of course. But the sooner you can reply, the better. If you choose to decline, then we’ll ask that you sign a document of confidentiality, and you’ll return to your normal duties. If you choose to accept -” he smiles lightly “- then we would be happy to welcome you aboard the Infinite.”

- - -

Nobody tells them this, but all of them know it: should the Infinite fly, then by the time it returns, the world that they come back to will be a radically different place. Though the mission is only slated to last a few months, the unique way that mass and space and time interact when speeds approach the velocity of light makes it such that time no longer flows the same - that is what Albert Einstein once predicted when he theorized that objects moving at higher velocities will move in a different frame of time, relatively slower than those at slower velocities. There is nothing in the universe that travels faster than light: that means that by the time they return, a time far greater will have already passed on Earth. Instead of the months that they experienced on board, they will have been gone for decades upon decades. It is all too possible that everything that they once knew will have passed, and that everyone that they once loved will be long dead and buried. They cannot even be promised that the place that they will return to is one that they will recognize at all - and this is if they make it back at all.

In the years that pass on Earth, space travel at speeds close to light will become more efficient, more practical, and more advanced. They will find ways to counteract the effects of time dilation, so that travel at high velocities will become something useful, not limited by the adverse effects of special relativity. They will send hundreds of other astronauts on dozens of different missions, and all of them will return to Earth far before the seven astronauts on the Infinite will, if they ever do. But they are necessary, because they are the beginning, and there can be no improvement if there is no start at all.

They are all of them people of science - they are physicists, they are mathematicians, they are chemists, they are biologists. They all understand perfectly well that they are not heroes, nor are they pioneers. They are sacrifices.

It takes less than thirty-six hours for all of them to give their final decisions. Unanimously, all accept.

- - -

The seven who are picked to fly the Infinite are Kim Sunggyu and Jang Dongwoo and Nam Woohyun and Lee Howon and and Lee Sungyeol and Kim Myungsoo and Lee Sungjong, who are all as different as they are the same. Together, they move into the same dormitory suite soon afterwards. “You need to be more than a team,” Jungyeop tells them. “You need to be so close that working together is first nature, not second. Normally, we tell training astronauts that you don’t have to be friends as long as you can work together as colleagues, which is why we don’t normally make teams live in the same unit, but for your crew - it’s different. Of course it has to be different.”

At their second official meeting, Kim Sunggyu is chosen to be the commander pilot of the Infinite. He is picked not only because he is the oldest and the most experienced but also he because has a deep understanding of sacrifice and hard work. Most importantly, though, he has a certain brand of single-minded tenacity: for him, there is no such thing as succeeding unless he has done the very best. He accepts nothing lower than that, even if going at half-effort is still good enough in terms of completing the mission specs.

“Congratulations,” Hoya tells him after they have returned to their dorm after the decision is announced. Out of all of the people who are now part of the Infinite, Kim Sunggyu and Lee Howon are unique because they are the only two who knew each other before they were chosen, the only two who can already call themselves companions, teammates, friends. “You’ll do well. I’m sure of it.”

Sunggyu wonders if he should consider it a compliment or not. “I have to,” he says. “There’s no choice. We all have to do well.”

“Of course,” Hoya murmurs, and smiles wanly. “That’s why we were all chosen, weren’t we? Because we’re the ones they think will do the best.”

“There’s no point in thinking about why we were picked,” Sunggyu says, a little too quickly, because there are too many implications in what Hoya is trying to say that are better not being thought about. “We’re already past that point. Now it’s time to look forward.”

For them, looking forward is, in the short term, packing up their things and moving into a different dormitory. They are broken up into groups of roommates by their different positions. The two pilots, Woohyun and Sunggyu, take one room. Hoya and Dongwoo take another. The last is taken by Myungsoo, Sungyeol, and Sungjong. They share one bathroom, one kitchenette, and one communal space. Their suite is larger than most in the agency - they are, after all, no ordinary crew - but even still, it is not a place designed to fit seven people with very different lifestyles and preferences. Nobody complains out loud, but there is a certain muted feeling of annoyance that lingers in the atmosphere around their new dorm.

Though they all have their own daily schedules, they always do these two things together: they always get up at the same time, with Sunggyu shaking any stragglers awake, and eat breakfast together; then again at night, they sit in the communal space and are forced to talk about their day before they can go to sleep. This is the time they are encouraged to air their grievances, to talk about their worries, to share any happy moments - in other words, their bonding time.

The first few weeks, it goes something like this: Sunggyu starts off by saying, “How were everybody’s days? Mine was long.”

Everybody is silent. “I thought it was okay,” Dongwoo says, and smiles.

Inevitably, somebody will mention needing to get stronger coffee for their morning breakfasts. Nobody ever does, nor do they elaborate on any of their days beyond ‘difficult,’ ‘interesting,’ ‘hard.’ Instead, they stare at each other blankly, sleepily, until one of them - usually Sungyeol or Woohyun - works up the nerve to snap something like, “Can’t we get to bed now? It’s late and we don’t get enough rest as it is.”

Sunggyu has to remind himself that one cannot force relationships along as he dismisses them with an empty smile.

- - -

All of them decide they want to be an astronaut for many different reasons, but ultimately, the most important factor boils down to this: nobody who wants to become an astronaut does it under the belief that they are mediocre. A person can be demure, modest, and humble, yet at the same time, simply by entering the training program they have already declared that they think they have the potential to be the best of the best, both physically and mentally. One does not willingly agree to bargain away the best years of their life to compete for a dream that may not come true against people equally as driven and talented if they do not have an underlying belief that they can come out of the competition on top.

Although at first glance Kim Myungsoo seems as far as he can be from a subversion to this, he is perhaps the closest to an exception out of everybody at the space agency. It is easy to be deceived by him because he is calm and collected and cold on the outside, and goes through all his duties with a perfunctory sort of grace, a paragon of the type of person who, undoubtedly, will eventually fly in outer space and perform his mission faultlessly. On the inside, though, he is full of fears and flaws and insecurities and worries that he will never be as good as he needs to be. Out of all of them, he is the one who feels a silent dread pooling in his stomach at flying in the Infinite the most, and it is only by concentrating on keeping up his cool exterior that he can convince himself he does not face the future with anticipation clawing at his insides. He pretends to be confident because he knows he must for his own sake: the moment he stops being able to convince himself that he can slide into his unflappable, self-assured persona is the moment that he will fail, and there is no room for failure on the Infinite.

In contrast, Lee Sungyeol decided as a child to become an astronaut simply because he hates it when people tell him that there are things that he is not, cannot be, is incapable of achieving, and so many people laughed at his childhood dream of sailing to the stars that he vowed to himself that he must fulfill it, even though he only ever thought of it as a flight of fancy, nothing that he ever intended to commit himself to. It is not in his nature to wonder whether going so far simply to prove a point is too extreme - that’s just how he is, and he doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with being true to himself. As a college student, and again as an astronaut-in-training at Woollim, he fought tooth and nail for recognition. He’s not the best at anything - in fact, he can be best described as astoundingly average all-around - but his sheer will to push himself up is nearly unparalleled. Determination is one of the things that sets astronauts apart, and even among the multitudes of people competing to become one, his is remarkable. His belief in his ability to succeed is part spite, part self-confidence, and wholly inspirational.

Together, they are tasked with doing two main jobs: they learn and analyze the calculations necessary to calibrate the Infinite to accelerate towards the speed of light, then to equilibrium once maximum velocity is attained, and they are the ones who will have to physically exit the spaceship and do any repairs if necessary. That they end up having to work together is a study in opposites - Sungyeol is brash and straightforward, admitting from the first day that he is error-prone in computational arithmetic and tells Myungsoo that he’d like it if they could check over each others’ work before submitting anything officially. But Myungsoo is full of ambiguities, a fact that nobody hates more than Myungsoo himself, and he always hesitates to point out the mistakes that Sungyeol makes, yielding to politeness while trying to convince himself it is the path of least resistance. Every time he sees a mistake in Sungyeol’s work - they’re never large ones, just numbers that he forgets to carry, or something accidentally dropped as he moves from one column of calculations to another - he feels his stomach twist a little as he opens his mouth to attempt to correct the mistake, and he loses the will to speak. Instead, he makes a mental note of whatever was wrong and fixes whenever Sungyeol’s not looking.

This cannot go on for forever, of course. In fact, it doesn’t even go on for two weeks before Sungyeol notices, and catches him in the act.

“You have a pretty good gut instinct, don’t you?” Sungyeol asks, almost accusingly. “I saw how you looked when I made that calculation error. You noticed it and you didn’t say anything and tried to correct it behind my back instead of just saying it right then and there. Did you really think I would appreciate that? Really?

“I,” Myungsoo says, but his mind goes blank and he can’t seem to find any words in his mouth.

“It’s not like I would’ve gotten mad or anything. I told you that I preferred to have my work double-checked from the very start, didn’t I? But if you’re going to be so - I don’t know - so two-faced about it then how can I not get angry?” Sungyeol continues, and Myungsoo can feel himself withering.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I really am,” he tries to say. Instead, though, all that comes out is a single, “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again,” in a voice that he thinks is too collected to actually be his.

Sungyeol looks suspicious but nods slowly. “You’d better,” he says, and he glares for a few moments before turning his back to start on a new set of calculations. Myungsoo closes his eyes and desperately attempts to will his real self to come out and apologize, but nothing happens. This is how it has always been for him, and secretly, he wonders if he would still have been chosen if somebody knew what he is like on the inside.

- - -

Nam Woohyun and Kim Sunggyu are both pilots, undebatably the best in their respective classes. It is decided that they will jointly command the controls of the Infinite, which has so many extra machinations for its unique functions that at least two pilots are needed to keep things running smoothly.

The first few weeks that they run through test simulations are rough. They are used to working alone, to undeniably being the leading pilot at the helm, and accommodating another person feels awkward and wrong, like somebody’s grafted a foreign arm onto them that they can’t seem to make work like their own. Woohyun is constantly reaching over Sunggyu’s lap to try to adjust the levers at the other side of the cockpit, only to find them just out of his arm’s length, a habit that makes Sunggyu snap at him irritably, but Sunggyu is no better at cooperating. Their teamwork is a mess, so detrimental that it takes away from their individual abilities, and it’s only because of the relative ease of the first few simulations that they manage to make it through the tests.

By the beginning of the second month, though, the difficulty curve reaches an intense spike. They start training to prepare for any emergency situation, each of which become more and more intricately problematic. It is only after their first failure that they finally blow up at each other, with Sunggyu screaming at Woohyun for not respecting his position enough, and Woohyun yelling in return that age doesn’t make experience or ability, fighting with each other until their voices go hoarse and Dongwoo has to get Hoya to help him physically drag them to separate rooms. The scientists in charge of overseeing their simulations say nothing about this, but pen their notes as emotionlessly as they always do.

This is not enough to put a halt to their training. The next day, they are back in another simulation, this time of a systems breakdown so serious that all their controls have to be controlled manually, without any autopilot to rely on. For the first twenty minutes they fumble at the controls on their respective halves of the cockpit, each careful not to cross the other’s boundaries, and Woohyun defers steering to Sunggyu simply because Sunggyu is the first to put his hands on the controls.

Minutes fly by like seconds. The shuttle model begins to shake more and more violently - their stability drops drastically, and finally, Sunggyu says, “Take the controls.” Woohyun is so surprised that he almost flinches back from the dashboard.

“What?” he asks, still unsure whether he heard correctly.

“I said to take the controls,” Sunggyu says, and Woohyun can hear him restraining the urge to snarl underneath his even tone. They are both men of pride - Woohyun understands deeply how much strength Sunggyu must have to control himself enough to be able to say these words. “You’re better at this kind of maneuvering than I am. I’ll take backup. Tell me what I’m doing.”

“Got it,” Woohyun says. He is still unsure, but he accepts the command and slides into the position of frontman. “You keep things in equilibrium, I’ll let you know when I want things adjusted. Sound good to you?”

“Works for me,” Sunggyu says, and lets go of the controls. Woohyun’s hands are on it seamlessly, and Sunggyu gets to work on monitoring the rest of the dashboard, keeping things so in balance that Woohyun almost forgets that they’re flying in a simulation of a serious disaster. The rest of the test goes smoothly and they complete it without any major problems, and the one of the scientists monitoring them gives the pair a relieved smile as they go over the performance review. It is the first time any of them show a sign of having any feelings past acceptance and disapproval.

“That was good,” Sunggyu murmurs to him as they leave. “You... I mean, you did a really great job. Honestly. I wouldn’t have been able to do as well as you did, in a situation like that.”

“Only because you were doing your part so well, though,” Woohyun replies. Both of them are unsuited to speaking gentle words so easily, and there is a certain roughness to the way they speak to each other. It’s not like Woohyun to compliment others, but he can tell it’s not much like Sunggyu either, and he can recognize the offering of an olive branch when he sees it.

Sunggyu closes his eyes and sighs. “We have to get better,” he says.

“I know. I understand,” Woohyun replies. He is almost a little surprised to hear the truthfulness in his own voice.

“I’m going to trust you from now on, Nam Woohyun,” Sunggyu says, opening his eyes and staring straight at him. Sunggyu’s gaze is honest, and looking back, Woohyun will realize that this is the moment that Sunggyu irrevocably wins his trust. “I hope you can do the same for me, too. Because I refuse to give up the Infinite because we couldn’t put aside our differences.”

“I think I can do that,” Woohyun replies. That, for them - both people who would rather walk through hell than go back on their word - it is as good as blood oath.

- - -

Sungjong was five when he first dreamed of flying in outer space - a childish sort of fantasy, one where the world inside the mind is nothing like the reality, but it sticks to him and doesn’t let go. It is not that he particularly wanted to be an astronaut - to this day, he still doesn’t particularly feel anything towards the job itself - instead, it is a whimsical idea that stays in his head no matter how hard he tries to shake it out. Even as he made his way through medical school, he would often go to sleep dreaming not of saving lives but of drifting through the endless expanse of space, going somewhere that nobody else has been before.

His mother has always told him that dreams are important, so after he gets his degree he turns down the numerous research and residency offers that he receives and enters the Woollim Private Aeronautic Agency. Whatever it is that he is meant to do in life, he thinks, must have something to do with flying in space - if there is something else, then it will not come until his first dream is fulfilled. Only then can he let go of space and fill his head with another ambition.

He is different from the rest of the people at the agency, because he is not there for the same reasons. Instead of the normal training, he spends hours researching the effects of space travel, running experiments to find the best ways to counteract them. He develops methods of building up the body to best endure zero gravity, and tests them to see whether or not they are effective. Singlehandedly, he manages to come up with pre-mission training programs that reduce loss of bone and muscle density by a significant percentage in Woollim’s astronauts, and he is heralded as a young prodigy. There are flurries of rumors that follow after him which he ignores with a presence of mind that people far older and wiser than he is could be jealous of.

Of all of the people chosen to fly on the Infinite, he is the one who should have refused. He could fly on any number of commercial flights, or do sponsored missions that would not be nearly so dangerous nor so self-sacrificing. He goes to the meeting, and goes out of it convinced that he should reject the offer.

But that night, he goes to sleep and dreams the same dream that he has been for years: floating through the expanse of space, so far and so wide that he can’t be sure if it is everything or if it is nothing. He wakes up far too early in the morning and wonders if is such a thing as fate, and sends in his acceptance hours later.

- - -

Out of the seven of them, the only one without any clear role to play is Hoya, who has dabbled in a little of everything: he started off as a pilot in the same class as Woohyun, then moved into flight engineer training. Officially, he is a mission specialist like Sungyeol and Myungsoo, but unofficially, he is whatever they most need him to be at the moment. As such, he trains with everybody on irregular intervals, spending most of his time with Dongwoo - having as many people qualified to handle the controls of the Infinite will be a major asset - but works with the rest of them at on-off frequencies. Dongwoo affectionately calls him their all-around ace, and if it came from anybody else, Hoya would have thought it was disdainful or sarcastic or hurtful, because he is too used to hearing back-handed compliments from other trainees at the agency, but when the words come from Dongwoo’s mouth they sound good in his ears.

He does a little bit of everything: he learns out-of-shuttle protocol with Sungyeol and Myungsoo, he learns how to use the technology to monitor bodily responses from Sungjong, he sits beside Woohyun and Sunggyu as they go through simulation after simulation. Like a chameleon, he changes himself to fit his surroundings, to be able to be the most effective at what he needs to do.

“Stop it,” Woohyun tells him, mostly jokingly, while they are on their lunch hour, sitting alone in one of the break rooms. “Stop being so good at everything. You’re making us one-trick ponies look bad in comparison.”

“Tell me that when you’re not the one flying us,” Hoya replies.

“But Sunggyu can fly you guys just fine too,” Woohyun says dismissively, but it’s Woohyun, who brushes off everything with a sharp, biting comment or a teasing joke or sometimes something that straddles the line between a little too ambiguously. Hoya wonders if, maybe, there’s a bit of truth mixed in. “You guys don’t need me,” he says, and sighs with exaggerated dramatism.

“I think Sunggyu would kick you if he heard you say that,” Hoya says.

“He would kick people for far lesser offenses. He’s feisty, you know?”

“Look who’s talking,” Hoya replies, and he’s not sure whether or not he means it as a compliment or an insult.

“Do you really think that? I feel almost like I should thank you or something. I’m a little flattered, honestly,” Woohyun says, but when he smiles he shows his teeth.

Hoya shrugs. “That’s just what I think.”

“Well, at any rate, better to be too spirited than too listless.” Woohyun leans back in his chair, the front two legs lifting off of the floor.

“In our case? Yeah, probably. Not always, though,” Hoya replies.

“You think so? Well, you’re more of the type to keep your emotions under control than I am, anyway.”

Hoya thinks that Woohyun probably says that because Woohyun can’t get him riled up, but really, Woohyun just doesn’t know the right words to say. They sit in silence, Woohyun leaning further and further back in his chair. Hoya waits for him to fall, but he doesn’t.

- - -

When Jungyeop decides the line of command after Sunggyu, it goes like this: Woohyun is next, then Hoya and Dongwoo. Myungsoo and Sungyeol can be considered the same roughly the same rank, and Sungjong is unranked not because he is unimportant but rather that his job is fundamentally different from the rest of theirs. They all try not to think about what the fact that they need to establish a line so far down despite the fact that there are so few of them suggests about the nature of their mission.

Were it any other crew for any other mission, this is the point where there would have been furious whispers and backtalking about the unfairness of the line of command, about how obvious the director’s favorites are and who is getting shafted in favor of somebody less talented. For them, though, the rankings are quietly and completely accepted, not because everybody agrees with them but because they are chosen with strict impartiality and practicality on mind. The ability to continuing to pilot the Infinite in case of emergency is the key, and it makes perfect sense that they should be decided based off of that.

So if Woohyun becomes Sunggyu’s right hand then Dongwoo is his left, full of encouragement and praise no matter what the situation is. Whereas Woohyun is almost as draconian as Sunggyu can be at times, Dongwoo laughs easily and cheerfully, never a criticism at his tongue if there isn’t also a compliment as well. He’s airy and light-hearted and maybe a little too lenient, but at the same time he’s sharp and perceptive, and he takes care of them in a way that Sunggyu can’t: Sunggyu guides them down their paths and keeps them steady when they think they are going to fall, but it’s Dongwoo who keeps their hearts from becoming too numb. Dongwoo is the one who reminds them that they are humans when they start to feel more like intricate machines, ones that might be scrapped for the latest and best model at any moment, and that being human is a beautiful thing.

As the Infinite’s primary flight engineer, it is his task to replace Sunggyu or Woohyun at the helm if something happens to either of the pilots - as such, he too spends time in simulation training with the both of them, usually as a trio but sometimes in pairs as well. Their teamwork dynamic shifts drastically whenever Dongwoo is there - he and Woohyun joke around comfortably and Sunggyu can’t find it in him to tell them to stop because even he can’t hold back a smile. The simulation missions they run aren’t easier when Dongwoo pilots with them so much as they are easier to bear, as if his very presence somehow makes the weight of responsibility a little less burdensome on them. They are not the only ones who feel that way: if there is one of them that is objectively and wholeheartedly liked by the rest, then it has to be Jang Dongwoo, because Dongwoo loves them desperately.

Sometimes they teasingly call him the heart of the Infinite, but it is a little too true, because Dongwoo is so full of love for them that it makes him fragile around the edges. Just as the Infinite needs delicate, careful handling, so does he - none of them wants to be the one to cause their mission to fail, just as none of them want to be the one who makes him come apart.

Nobody says anything, but all of them think this: if there is such a thing as loving too much and too deeply, then Dongwoo does.

- - -

“I knew you were still doing it,” Sungyeol says accusingly as Myungsoo looms guiltily over a stack of manuscripts, holding his rubber eraser in one hand and blue pencil in the other. He feels like he should be furious, but there is a look in Myungsoo’s eyes that reminds him of a child panicking as he gets caught out after curfew, not because he wanted to, but because somebody else had dared him to and he simply could not say no, and it dulls any anger in his heart, though it does nothing for how insulted he feels.

“Is it that difficult to just say it when it happens instead of doing it like this? I told you from the very start that I would probably make mistakes, didn’t I?” Sungyeol knows he should be gentler with his words, probably, because they’re supposed to all play nice with each other, but he can’t stop himself. “I can’t believe that you don’t understand how I feel about this. Like you don’t think I’m good enough. Like you don’t think I’m worthy of your trust. Like I’m too dumb to keep up with you.”

They stare at each other for a few long moments before Myungsoo murmurs, “I’m sorry,” and it’s the first time Sungyeol thinks he has heard Myungsoo’s real voice, and he has this feeling that maybe Myungsoo himself looks even more surprised than Sungyeol feels.

“It’s okay,” says Sungyeol, because he’s not sure what else to say - he doesn’t want to be upset, he really doesn’t, but he can’t stop himself from feeling that way. “Well, I mean, if you really do stop it then it’s okay. But you didn’t stop last time so I don’t... know what else to say, honestly.”

“It’s not that I think that you’re stupid or untrustworthy or any of that,” Myungsoo says, softly at first, but with every word the volume rises, almost as he can’t control what’s boiling over. “It’s my fault, it’s really all my fault, I just - it’s just hard for me, to be able to -” He closes his eyes and sighs. “I don’t know how to explain it, but honestly - honestly - it’s not you. It’s not you at all. I promise.”

Sungyeol looks at Myungsoo, really considers him as a human being for the first time, instead of somebody he’s been forced to work with whether he likes it or not. “I believe you,” he says, because Myungsoo looks a scared and exposed and unsure and these are all things that Sungyeol can empathize with deeply. They are all emotions that he never expected to see in Myungsoo and he realizes that it makes him like Myungsoo a little bit. “Myungsoo, are you scared?”

“I’m... not scared,” Myungsoo says. His face performs to the lie perfectly, but his eyes betray him completely. Sungyeol almost smiles.

“I’m terrified,” Sungyeol admits. “Of a lot of things. Is that so bad, to be scared?”

Myungsoo hesitates before he answers. “It should be. We don’t have room to be scared, not when there’s so much on the line, not when... not when there are other lives depending on us.”

That is the exact kind of person Sungyeol hates: self-sacrificing to a fault, so convinced that they have to be somebody that they’re not to succeed. But somehow, when Myungsoo says it, he feels like he understands, and he decides to take a chance on that feeling, because there is something in Myungsoo’s face that makes Sungyeol think that there is more beneath the surface. “Kim Myungsoo, this might be the first time that I’ve ever said something like this, especially to somebody else at Woollim,” Sungyeol tells him, and holds his hand out. “But let’s be friends.”

Myungsoo blinks, surprised, but takes Sungyeol’s hand in his own. “Okay,” he agrees, and Sungyeol grins at him until he can’t help but smile back a little bit.

- - -

part two.

- - -

fandom: Infinite - OT7
rating: PG-13
length: ~11,000
description: astronaut au. Seven young astronauts in training are given the honor of becoming the first crew of the Infinite, a spacecraft that will revolutionize space exploration. In exchange, they will sacrifice their futures.
author's notes: i'm so sorry to any physics/astronomy people who read this seriously, i made so much stuff up :( and i barely remember how special relativity works so i cannot really account for accuracy. writing this was an exercise in me figuring out which members i know well enough to write about (haha) so if you're wondering, "why does ___ not get that much presence??" it's.... bc i didn't really know what i was doing when i wrote them :( but anyway, i hope it is enjoyable despite its flaws!! it's the longest one-shot i've ever written. i was seriously like ⊙▽⊙ when i realized i would need two posts for the whole thing.
re: my on-going ot7 infinite fic - it's coming along. i do best when i have a lot of different things to work on simultaneously, so i always have something that i have some inspiration to work on. it just happens that this one was finished first.