Eight

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Jongho

Load the ships. Carry the cargo. Load the ships. Stay out of the way. Do as you're told. Jongho sighed as he chanted his instructions to himself. Every day was the same exact thing. He worked in the ship yard for one of the larger ocean cities, tending to the ships that came to port there.

The monotony was the only thing that kept him sane, so he didn't mind it. It also meant he didn't have to talk with people if he could avoid it. All he needed to be told was what went on what ship and when it needed to be done by.

If he was being honest, he hated his life though. He hated being around people. Ever since his parents had just up and left him, leaving him to fend for himself since he was 9, he had learned that people couldn't be trusted.
So he put all of his trust in himself and worked hard to save up enough money to hopefully get out of this hell-hole one day.

All he needed to do was find the right ship that would be willing to take him to some remote island. He would pay them what he had and the work for the rest of the trip. He just wanted to be alone, with his thoughts, in a place where no one could hurt him ever again.

On one, annoyingly hot day, Jongho was tasked with loading barrels of fish onto a cargo ship. He got twice as much work done as any of the other loaders, seeing as he could lift one barrel by himself while everyone else needed at least two people.

He grumbled to himself as he worked, thinking everyone else was just slacking. The sooner they finished, the sooner he could go home.As he got down to the last few barrels, he spotted a smaller ship pulling into the docks. It was barely tied off before a man with platinum blonde hair jumped off it, not even waiting for the gangplank to be put down. He bolted into the market with a sense of urgency.

Two more walked down the ramp. An extremely tall man with dark blue hair, and a shorter man with bright pink hair. Jongho raised an eyebrow at their choice of hairstyle. Around here, people did the best they could to blend in, not stand out. But they didn't look like normal sailors. He didn't know why, but Jongho found himself suddenly walking over to the couple.

They stopped when they saw him approaching and the taller man placed a hand on his sword with a frown, "What do you want?"

"I'd like to talk to you about buying passage on your ship." Jongho said, staring down the man.

"Excuse me?" His eyes widened and he glanced at his companion.

"I want to buy passage on your ship. I have gold, and I can work."

The man started laughing. "You've got some guts kid. Why should we help you?"

Jongho ground his teeth together. "I just offered to pay you. I want out of this hellhole. Seems like a win-win to me."

"Get lost kid." The man said, waiving him off and walking away.

"Hey! Don't walk away from me!" Jongho said. He turned and grabbed a piece of fruit from a nearby container and threw it at the side of the building the couple walked by. It exploded on impact.

"Whoah! What the hell?" The blue-haired man spun around and marched over to him, pulling out his sword.
Jongho raised his fists, ready to defend himself.

"Mingi! What on earth is going on here? You're supposed to be getting supplies for us!" A new voice called from the ship.

"This boy here is harassing us, Captain," Mingi called out, keeping his sword pointed at Jongho's chest. The pink haired one nodded quickly and stood off to the side.

"Oh really? What do you want, boy?"

Jongho turned to see a shorter man sporting a ridiculous looking mullet walking over to him. "I want you to take me to a remote island. I have gold, and I can work. I don't get what the big deal is!" He yelled. "Who doesn't want to get paid for just giving someone a ride?"

"Calm down, kid." The captain held his hands up.

"I AM NOT A KID!"

"Ok, ok. What's your name?"

"Jongho." He snarled.

"I'm Hongjoong. That's Mingi and Yeosang. Why do you want us to take you to an island?"

"Why does it matter? I'm willing to pay and work." Jongho felt his blood start to boil. This was turning out to be a waste of time.

Hongjoong stared at him for a long time, rubbing his chin. Then he sighed and looked at Mingi, "What the hell... What's one more mouth to feed? Go get your things, I hope you know you'll be working hard. I saw you throw that piece of fruit, we need some muscle on our ship."

"That's fine. I'm used to it. First remote island we get to and I'll be out of your hair," Jongho dropped his fists.

"You've got 15 minutes." Hongjoong said, turning to walk back to his ship. "Mingi, Yeosang, finish getting the supplies. Hopefully Seonghwa will be back soon."

Jongho made his way back to his small shack, quickly gathering the few clothes he had and retrieving his sack of gold from below a loose floorboard.
He made it back to the ship and walked on board. There was a taller man sitting at the front of the ship polishing weapons who looked up at him and gave him a weak smile before returning to his work.

Then a door flew open and a red and black haired boy ran out calling for Hongjoong, who quickly appeared from another room, "Where's Seonghwa?! He's getting worse!"

"He's still getting supplies..." Hongjoong chewed on his lip. "Let's go find him. Come on." The couple ran from the ship.

Jongho pursed his lips and glanced at the door the first boy had come through. His curiosity got the better of him and he walked over to it and pushed the door open. He was shocked to see yet another boy lying face down on a table. His back was split open with several lashes, some were scabbing over, but some looked so deep they would probably take weeks to heal. The boy whimpered in his sleep.

Jongho tilted his head a little. He had such a sweet face that it didn't look natural for it to be twisted in pain.
Looking around, he saw a bucket of water and some rags. He walked to it and soaked on of the rags before placing it against the boy's forehead.
He could feel the heat radiating from his skin. A small part of him felt sorry for the boy. No one deserved to be whipped like this.

Jongho stayed there for a long time, switching out rags, until the door burst open and two people ran in. Both slide to a stop when they saw him, then the black haired boy he had seen run from this room earlier screamed at him, "Get away from him!" He ran forward and shoved Jongho to the side.

"Hey!" Jongho yelled, getting ready to shove back.

"Enough! We don't have time for this. I don't know who you are, but I need you to leave, now," The blonde said, his tone sharp.

Jongho nodded once and glared at the other boy before storming out of the room.

"Jongho? What were you doing in there?" Yeosang asked, stopping to look at him in surprise.

"Nothing. Where am I staying?"

"Through here. You can bunk with me," The taller led him to another room and motioned to the door. Jongho didn't say anything as he shoved his way into the room and threw down his bag on the bed that looked unused and grabbed the bag of gold. He made his way to the room he had seen the captain run out of earlier and knocked on the door.

"Come in."

Jongho marched in and dropped the bag of gold on the desk. Hongjoong raised his eyebrows, taking the bag of gold and opening it to reveal it is in fact gold, "Welcome aboard, kid."

~~~~

Written by flamewhipper

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