Far Away From Home

Chapter Three

Haliae

A/N: Much thanks to everyone who reviewed! :D You made my day~ Even the nasty 'ol trolls helped. I have 6 reviews 3 Let's shoot for 12! And more? Yeah? Yeah!

Aurelia Faiza: Here ya go 3

Jesserfly: Awwwww, thank you for your kind words! *hugs* Reviews like yours make me so happy xD And I absolutely adore Leo too :D Who is one of the cutest boys to ever grace video games~ I hope you enjoy this chapter ,

Devil's Demon Bird: Thank you so much! 3 I'm so glad :3 Hwoarang was hard to write O_O and I'm glad you enjoyed his bickering with Eagle~ I really had fun writing it :D And it pleases me to know you find humor in my writing! Though this chapter is definitely going to be on the angsty side...I hope you like it :P

Lily: I don't really know how to take that...

too lazy to sign in: Haha, sorry about that xD Well, here is the next chapter ;D Enjoy~

Dear Journal,

I read once in one of my father's old journals that love was an immeasurable force, much like the ocean crashing over your head, filling up your lungs—and you couldn't fight it.

You could only struggle until that moment when you realize that the surface is too far over your head. Too far past your fingertips. And in that moment, when you stop struggling and allow yourself to drown, you forget what it was like to breathe in air. But you don't miss it.

I always wanted to ask him about that. Did that mean being in love was close to dying?

Because I feel like I am.

...

Hwoarang rested his forehead against the tile wall, concentrating solely on the near scalding water running down his neck and back, curving along his shoulders and down over his chest. Holding his breath, he straightened and tilted his head back into the shower stream, letting the water flow over his face and throat. Even then, submerged in hot tap water, he found himself thinking—precisely what he was trying not to do. He was thinking and wishing that his problems would run down his legs like the water; that they would wash down the drain with the sweat and the grime from yet another meaningless day.

If only it could be that easy.

He let his head fall again and stared ahead at the dingy blue tile, wondering not for the hundredth time why he was allowing himself to wallow in his depressing thoughts. Why he wasn't out trying to forget. His hand clenched against the wall and he sighed, not even sputtering as some of the hot water spilled into his mouth.

But what could he do now?

Hwoarang didn't know how to mourn.

...

Leo left the food to cool on the stove. He was sorry he couldn't make potato dumplings like Tabea had wanted, but he reasoned that the dessert he had stored in the refrigerator would make up for it. He knew that she loved to eat his Zuckerkuchen—it was usually the first thing Niklaus stole from his school lunches for her. The thought of it made the blonde smile softly to himself.

Rubbing his hands together, Leo gave the kitchen a good once over before deciding he would find Tabea and Niklaus. By the time he brought them down, he figured the food would be cool enough to serve. Leo grabbed his book bag from the kitchen table and slung it over his shoulder as he headed out, flicking the light off after him.

Leo gulped as he climbed up the stairs, realizing that he was now that much closer to telling the beautiful girl of his dreams that he liked her. A lot. That he loved her. He face grew warm again at the thought and he had to stop a moment on the staircase, covering his cheeks with his hands as he willed his blush to go away.

After a moment, he straightened with a sigh and climbed the rest of the way.

Don't chicken out, Leo!

The blonde nodded his head to himself in determination, even as he felt his cheeks heating up again. He walked down the hall and stopped at the entertainment room, a door away from his own bedroom. Leo squared his shoulder and inhaled slowly, trying to steady his heart rate before he gave himself a heart attack.

Don't chicken out, Leo, he told himself again before gaining the courage to open up the door.

"The food's ready you..." Leo stopped and blinked. "Guys..."

The blonde let his hand fall away from the handle as he observed the empty room before him. It didn't look as if anyone had even been inside. That, or Niklaus had finally learned to clean up after himself. Leo nudged the door close and considered where his two friends might have gone.

He checked all the rooms on the second floor, his bedroom, the bathroom, the balcony even. Frowning, Leo closed the sliding doors and chewed on his lip in thought. Sighing in slight irritation, he decided he would look downstairs again when he heard a noise, something like a thump, upstairs in the attic. Leo felt his curiosity pique and headed to the staircase leading up to the third level of the house. The attic held his grandfather's little library and the blonde had thought for sure his older friend wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere near a book after school hours. He couldn't help but be a little curious as to what his friend had found interesting within the dusty old room.

Leo climbed the stairs to the attic, his heart beating a little faster with each step on the stairwell. Soon he came upon the door, which was slightly ajar. Knowing Tabea was definitely in the room was like a kick to his already frazzled nerves and he swallowed. He gave himself a moment to get his bearings—because heck, he was a heartbeat away from hyperventilating—before he pushed the door open, letting light flood into the dark room.

And onto two intertwined figures nestled beside a bookcase against the wall.

Leo dropped his bag.

It was Niklous and Tabea. Tabea pinned underneath Niklous, pink lips swollen and slender fingers tangled in his dark hair. One leg was being held up to his hip, dress hiking up a smooth and creamy thigh. Niklous' hand was there, hidden underneath the pink material.

Tabea's breathless voice reached him and Leo's eyes widened.

He ran.

Down the stairs, to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him. His back to the door, he let his head fall back as he looked to the ceiling, breathing heavily.

He saw Tabae there. She was flushed and panting and Niklaus was there too, underneath her little pink dress. Leo choked and slid down to the cold tile floor, bringing his knees up to his chest. He wrapped his arms around them and buried his face into the fabric of his jeans, not bothering to reach up and lock the bathroom door.

He waited for the tears to come.

...

That night, Hwoarang came home to an empty apartment.

But then again, every night he came home to an empty apartment.

When Baek was is in Seoul, Hwoarang would return too worn, too exhausted to notice anything other than the soreness of his muscles and the contentment of having sparred with his master. When Baek was gone, Hwoarang was too wasted to think about anything other than not falling on his face and getting to his bed without vomiting on the carpet.

And when Jin was alive…

The redhead closed the fridge and chugged a liter of soda straight from the bottle. Not as strong as he would have liked, but it was better than nothing.

When Jin was alive, his thoughts were usually occupied with how he could get stronger…strong enough to beat him. Defeat him like Hwoarang knew he most certainly could.

And now that his rival was gone, he realized just how pointless everything in his life was. There was no goal, no point for him to reach. Nothing to train for, nothing to work towards. And now…now when he walked into his empty apartment, he noticed just that, how empty it was.

He never knew anything could affect him this bad, especially the death of his rival. But his master was gone again, the fights for his street gang were routine at best, and his best friend was slipping away. Or as he was constantly reminded, already gone—along with the end he had once saw for himself.

In it's place was the realization that he had nothing in sight afterward.

Suddenly, he had the greatest urge for a drink.

Hwoarang turned around and flipped the lights off as he headed back to the front door. He locked the door behind him.

He wouldn't be back anytime soon.

...

Leo stared down at his food, hands moving on their own accord to cut the roulade on his plate into thin little slices. There was a thick cloud of tension that had settled over the table. It weighed down the air—Leo could see it in the way Niklaus's shoulders slumped and his head hung low. Leo knew he must have looked the same, but he was too concentrated on ignoring his two friends that he didn't pay it too much attention.

Of course he wasn't able to ignore them. Not really.

As much as he told himself that he didn't care, the blonde couldn't help but notice Niklaus opening his mouth at times and being unable to say anything after. Or Tabea's mindless nervous chatter about inconsequential things, the only sound in the room beside the whirring of the ceiling fan above them.

Leo hardly noticed that she had stopped talking until he heard an airy laugh cutting into the silence of the room. The sound sent his heart skipping; chased his breath to a place in his throat where it stuck. He was looking up at her before he could think of why he shouldn't. Why it wasn't a good idea.

Tabea was looking at him from across the table apologetically, dark eyes swimming with a genuineness that made the food in Leo's stomach churn. The fact that he couldn't look away didn't help the matter.

"I'm so sorry, Leo" she said sweetly. Long lashes lowered. "I bet it was awkward seeing us together like that. I mean...Niklaus is like your brother, right? I'd feel weird too"

If possible, the weight in the air doubled. The knife in Leo's hand stopped moving across his plate as his heart fell.

She didn't even know.

Niklaus coughed.

"Oh! I know! You don't have a girlfriend yet, right Leo?"

There were so many things Leo wanted to say to that—I wanted you to be my girlfriend. No other girl was able to compare to you—but his tongue evaded his thoughts and he found he couldn't speak. But Tabae plowed on, apparently finding his dazed expression and lack of response answer enough.

She was smiling, white teeth flashing between rosy pink lips. Leo remembered that Niklaus had been kissing them.

"Maybe we can find you a girlfriend"

Stab.

"Is there any girl you like?"

He never had a chance, did he?

Niklaus coughed again, louder this time.

"Yes" Leo answered quietly. He didn't recognize his voice in his own ears, almost as if it belonged to someone else. He was surprised to hear that he had spoken—his throat seemed too dry to get any words through.

"Oh! Who is she? Maybe Niklaus and I can—"

"Tab. I think we should go"

Leo would have been surprised to hear Niklaus speak, if not for the surge of anger he felt boiling underneath his skin or the numbness that settled over him after. He heard Tabea complain in response after that. She wanted to stay longer. They had to help with the dishes. There was no school the next day. But Niklaus was already ushering her away from the dining room table—there were things he needed to do and he wanted to take her home—and Tabea followed the motions.

Leo followed after.

Being taught for years to be the perfect host, the perfect gentleman, he saw his two friends out. Forced a smile when Tabea smiled and somehow managed a goodbye when Tabea said hers. Niklaus was quiet the entire time, letting the bouncing girl beside him fill in the spaces of silence. His dark eyes averted Leo's own and when Tabea stepped passed him onto the porch, Niklaus stepped down too.

For a moment, his friend since as long as he could remember stood on the porch, lips pressed into a thin line.

Some part of Leo hoped that he would say something. Anything. Something he could work with. Something to let him know why his best friend was dating the girl he had been crazy about since they were both children. How he was able to keep it from him for goodness knows how long. And smile in his face when he talked about how much he wanted to be with her.

The brunette sighed and stepped outside of the porch into the chill of evening, closing the screen door behind him.

Leo felt his fingers twitch on the door frame and he opened his mouth to call his friend back.

Through the mesh of the porch screens, Niklaus's hand found it's way to the small of Tabea's back at the same time she stepped closer to him. The two began their march through the grass, heads bowed and shoulders touching as they talked amongst themselves.

In the end, Leo closed the front door without saying a word.

The sound of the door closing resounded in his head and off the walls in the suddenly empty house. Exhaling shakingly, Leo's feet carried him through the sitting room and back to the dining room table. He found himself standing over the chair where Tabea had been sitting, looking down at her china plate when he saw a raindrop fall on the leftover food. More fell and Leo began to realize that they were coming from his face.

Frowning, he wiped them away angrily with the back of his sleeve. He hadn't cried in the bathroom and he wouldn't cry now. Tears never fixed anything.

With that in mind, Leo collected the plates on the table, ignoring the chill that ran his blood cold when he stacked Niklaus's own on top.

Washing the dishes helped keep his mind off the hurt only minutely—Leo was glad he waited to wash the pots—so the blonde threw himself into other things. He swept and mopped, reasoning he should do it a second time before bed. He cooked dinner for the next day. The rouladen from the night could be eaten again for lunch. He washed those pots and pans too.

And as he worked, he still couldn't keep away thoughts from the day. He saw Tabea and Niklaus intertwined together on the floor tiles and holding hands in the dishwater. A flattening sense of betrayal made his trek up the stairs for more cleaning products—when was the last time the closet was cleaned out anyway?-twice as long as it should have been.

By the time Leo was too exhausted to do much else, those thoughts were a faint and wispy clutter in his mind. His calves protested another climb upstairs, even for bed, so he trudged over to the living room couch where he collapsed.

Later he had a dream where his grandfather walked in and sat in the lounge chair beside him. The elderly man sat there in the darkness of the room for some time before Leo felt cool fingers touch his cheek. And then he was gone.

...

Yay! An update! I'm sorry if it seems rushed D: This chapter gave me quite some trouble,haha. Please leave a review, it doesn't matter how small. I want (need, yeah, I'm desperate) to see what you guys and gals think.

I think there will be one more chapter before our two boys meet. I can't wait!

Thanks for reading~

Oh and yeaaaaah, how surprised were you guys with the whole Niklaus and Tabea thing? I tried dropping hints but I'm not sure if I failed with that or not...