After an accident at work, 25-year-old Minghao comes into the physical therapy clinic and votes that Wonwoo would beat Mingyu in a fistfight.
Ten years ago, Mingyu makes a big scene in the cafeteria and therefore ruins Minghao's high school career.
Ten years later, Minghao makes Mingyu realize that not everything he does is as momentous as he assumes it to be.
A story where two people help each other recover in different ways.
This is a cross-post from my AO3 account!
I'll be one update ahead on AO3 and this story will update every other day during SVT's comeback!
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Mingyu likes his job working as a PT.
A physical therapist, not to be confused with a personal trainer (that was his job in college). There’s something nicely methodical about creating low-impact exercise regimens for athletes and the elderly. There’s little responsibility in his job and no one’s life is at stake. His job is just to make people feel better and recover and that’s fine with him. He remembers his manager’s warning about not ‘flirting or falling in love with the patients’ which he doesn’t have to worry about. Mingyu hasn’t always been a head over heart kind of guy, but while other people were partying in school, he was hitting the books and staying in. He had his share of fun—the post-finals karaoke nights and Sunday morning hangovers from wild parties at Jungkook’s fraternity—but it was always the future first. He honored his parents’ sacrifice to put him through college and his master’s degree, and now at 26, he’s happy to have a stable job and finally start repaying them without burden.
It’s kind of a bittersweet happiness.
He works from 9 to 3 on most days with a lunch break whenever he wants, shorter hours since he’s still on trial before he can be a resident, but it’s better than the hours he had a few months ago. It’s a peaceful and quiet job and his patience is often never tested. The clients they accept are all here for recovery and if Joshua’s voice didn’t disarm them at the front desk, coming into a room where someone as aesthetically pleasing as Mingyu or Jeonghan has to put their hands on you often gets rid of any remaining malintent. They often joke around and make the patients laugh in passing; the atmosphere is usually cheery and light. This is recovery after all.
It’s bittersweet because he gets attached. It’s hard not to.
It’s hard not to when you’re holding the hand of a five-year-old who fell out of a tree after playing adventure and she comes in with an arm brace that’s as big as her backpack. Her mom gives you a sympathetic smile as she whines about doing exercises and stretching, but you give her a lollipop and things get better. And weeks later, she brings you a drawing that she made at school depicting you helping her and she feels like a million bucks and all of a sudden you’ve gone from being a nobody-temp into being some kid’s superhero. But then you realize that once they feel better, that you’ve done your job and you’ve got to let go. You’ll likely never see them again and they’re on to bigger and better (and hopefully safer) adventures. It feels sad, but it feels good. He still has Sophia’s drawing hung up above his desk in his home office among a couple other ‘Thank You’ cards and a macramé fish that Jiyoung’s daughter made him after helping her mom feel better. It’s all stuff that holds a place in his heart and in his memory.
And as Joshua had told him when he first signed on, “A job like this is sometimes hard to handle. You help people recover, so… unlike other medical jobs, it’s a good thing when you don’t see them again.”
Mingyu is a professional.
He’s a sweet talker and has charisma out the roof and honestly brings in more business for the clinic (as Joshua has mentioned offhandedly several times: “People come for therapy, but stay to gawk at Mingyu” to which he remembers Jeonghan responding with a retch) and Mingyu’s not shy about it. It’s been like this since puberty hit him in high school. He’s been at the center of social circles and penned amongst hearts in the notebooks of fellow students. Mingyu’s nice to everyone, he’s disgustingly polite and sociable with a great physique and a one-shot-one-kill grin. He would be considered an Adonis if he wasn’t so clumsy. But, whatever, he’s making good money at a stable job that he’s held for almost six months and he’ll likely be signed on full-time at the year-end review. Then all will be even more stable, impossibly stable. He’ll have a good career that’ll make his parents proud. In a few years he’ll start dating again and maybe get married and carry on what he believed to be the perfect, stable life plan. In case you haven’t noticed, stability is the main theme in Mingyu’s long-term goals.
“Hey, don’t forget to pick up the new client list on your way out.” Jeonghan reminds him.
He forgets on occasion, but it’s especially important today since Jeonghan is going on a well-deserved vacation. He’ll be out for a month, vacationing the tropics with a friend from college. He told Mingyu that he’ll bring him back a jar of air to which Mingyu can only roll his eyes. He would much rather have something he can add to his desk-collection of memories and a jar of air just doesn’t fit in. Above all else, jars of air are only impressive if they’re from the tops of mountains hiked with- His thoughts are interrupted by Joshua handing him a clipboard and a stack of patient files. Most of the names look familiar. Actually, all of them do.
“No one new?”
“Uh,” Joshua turns his attention back to his screen and clicks a few times, “No, there should be at least one new patient in there. I kept most of your patients the same, but I moved a couple over from Jeonghan’s list since I don’t want to overwork the new guy.”
Right, the new guy, Wonwoo. He should be starting in a few days, after the weekend. He’s experienced, having worked in the field a bit longer than Mingyu. He apparently skipped his trial period since his last clinic liked him so much and hired him right after he finished his internship. Mingyu wonders what would move him out of the city and to a smaller, suburban college-town like this. It’s dead in the summer and there’s nothing to do if you aren’t over 70 and under 12. But he can’t say much, he’s here, isn’t he?
Mingyu looks through the names tabs again, wondering why none of them stood out.
“Ah, Minghao Xu. That should be your only new patient.” Mingyu pulls out the folder and looks at it, flipping through it briefly. He vaguely remembers the name. He thinks for a minute, shuffling through names and faces of people he’s met within the last few years. When nothing comes up, he tries to think about people he met in college and even further back than that- Then it hits him. This is going to be awkward. This is going to be the worst.
“Can I switch with the new guy?”
“Why?” Joshua doesn’t even look up.
“No reason in particular.”
“Wonwoo focuses on waist-up recovery and since you’re a generalist I thought you could take leg-guy.”
“Leg-guy?” Mingyu flips through the file again. Right, damaged ACL and meniscus. Rarer in men than it is in women thanks to muscle formations, but it’s no surprise. Back in high school, Minghao was an avid dancer. Maybe his risky dance moves were starting to catch up with him.
“Yeah.” All he hears is the keyboard clacking and not a sprinkle of sympathy from the cat-eyed manager. Not that Joshua would be any the wiser, he doesn’t know anything about Mingyu’s past with Minghao or what little there was of it.
He sighs, “Okay, I’ll see you on Monday.”
“Have a good day, Mingyu. I’ll message you if anyone switches their appointments around.”
This was going to be hell.