By any other name
genre: general?, au, everyone lives/canon? don’t know her/ fix it fic
where hanseo does not die and actually gets to live his best life and enjoy hot girl summer
summary: He is not a puppet, but he knows how to cut strings.
wordcount: 889 words
unedited, we die like men
(and cry like babies)
Dying feels… not exactly as Hanseo had imagined. In dreams –of the worst kind, chilling to the bone and with the power to twists his insides – Hanseo imagined his death to be a slow deed. His brother would stand tall in front of him, no remorse in his eyes, as he condemned Hanseo to the same fate of their father. Of his mother. It was only a matter of ‘when’, never an if. As soon as little Hanseo came to the Jang household, he knew there was no turning back. His fate was decided, sealed by the anger in Hanseok’s fists.
Cho Dasom’s biggest sin was falling in love with a man whose heart ought to be taken and daring to bare him a son that was not born out of duty. As a child, Hanseo liked to think of his mom as a princess that fell in love in a way that would put other love stories to shame. The Cinderella that went to the dance, falling for a prince despite her low upbringing. Grandma would not approve, hushing him: Silly boy, she would say, tears of embarrassment in her eyes. That was before he learnt that he had to keep his head low around Mr. Jang’s -Father- wife.
From his earlier memories, Cho Dasom was a sweet creature of honest smiles and bright eyes. Her voice sounded like spring as she lulled him to sleep, his body pressed tight against her in the warmest of hugs. Cho Dasom was light. Bright, and warm, and soft as a summer in the country – until winter came. Until her fire was extinguished, like a candle. She died on a snowy night, having fallen into the frozen river. What she was doing outside of home in the middle of the night was never cleared. How she fell was explained like an epic movie scene. Hanseo feared his father knew the answer. Hanseo feared Father chose to ignore the culprit – Hanseo feared he already knew who it was.
Brother’s -Hanseok- cold lasted for two weeks.
Hanseo wanted to think his fate was sealed as soon as his mother drew her last breath, alone and terrified, needing someone to blame. Sometimes he changed the culprit, rage and shame entwined. Maybe his fate was decided when his father named him, sealing him to his punisher. The thought of his destiny having been decided as soon as he saw the light of day was depressing to entertain, no matter how logical it sounded to the mind of a man who grew in the dark.
Hanseo’s fate may have been decided before he could have a say in it, but Francesco’s was not. He was born in a secretive hospital room, surrounded by people who spoke in foreign tongues – whose melodic voices came to him like a fog. A Babel tower of sorts. Pain infected his every muscle and trying to keep his eyes open proved to be a herculean feat. But he was alive, alive for the very first time! Francesco chose his own name, having heard it in a movie he saw in a past life, once. The rest of his memories were buried deep within him. There was nothing worth remembering.
Francesco Cassano may wear the face of an Asian man, but he is Italian by family – sealed to a man he chose as his brother, and who in turn chose him. Hanseo, the useless bastard. Hanseo, the idiot puppet. Hanseo, the rabid dog that bit his master’s hand, that cut his own collar – only to die from a bullet to his shoulder.
“You’re lost in your thoughts again,” Signore Rossi is as patient as a saint, but he still has his limits. And those include not listening when it’s turn to study il congiuntivo. Letting out a long, tired sigh, the older man stares at his student.
Francesco has the sense to appear embarrassed, mumbling a timid “mi dispiace.”
“Let us take a few minutes, okay?” the teacher proposes, dragging out a cigarette.
Experience had taught Alonzo Rossi not to push Francesco too much – there were times when, if he moved too fast, he’d clench his teeth as if awaiting a hit. Teaching him was like walking on eggshells at first, but Rossi can’t say he hasn’t taken a liking to his rather stubborn student. He might not be the most brilliant of them all – but he for sure is a hard worker. The pay is good so long as he does not ask questions, even if at times there is nothing he wants more than to know about how the man that is learning Italian from him came to this side of the world.
Watching the retreating form of his teacher, Francesco allows himself to relax. He will work harder tomorrow, he promises, for there is a tomorrow to look forward to. An opportunity presented like a gift that will never be taken for granted.
Hanseo died a prisoner in his homeland, mourned by no one and parting without fanfare. Francesco is a free man in a country blessed by the sun, surrounded by a family of his own choosing and with his fate in no one else’s hands but his. His to make, his to bend, his to end. Francesco is no puppet, but he learnt to cut the strings.