Fandom Cinderella Unni
Pairings/Main Characters ref to canon Eunjo/Kihoon, Eunjo, Hyosun's father
Summary Set just before end of ep4, before the timeskip. Eunjo dealing with Kihoon leaving, her relationship with her stepfather. Boxing. Vague spoilers, nothing major/specific.
After Hyosun’s father leads Eunjo back into the house, she sits in a bare corner and thinks about why she let him when all she wants to do is run. Her fingers claw at her tattered feet, rubbing over the peeling skin. She thinks of Hyosun’s father just in time and swallows her scream.
Hyosun’s bright smile in the morning still creeps her out. Eunjo turns away while the –family- eats breakfast, but Hyosun’s father is sitting opposite her, so after a minute she shuffles back a little on the pretext of reaching for some water.
She’s been hiding her red eyes behind her hair and sneaks a glance from under it, and Hyosun’s father is still smiling that understanding smile, even while he eats.
He looks so content. Eunjo glances at Hyosun. She’s eating blithely away within the opaque walls of her perfect world. She looks at her mother. Her mother’s crabby hands are shoving food into her mouth just a little too fast, as she always does. Her mother’s so transparent. Eunjo doesn’t understand how this ridiculous father-daughter pair are fooled.
Eunjo sits silently in her room, trying not to think about geography. A gentle knock sounds on the door, and Hyosun’s father steps in, slowly, giving her room to object.
He sits next to her, and speaks without looking at her. Eunjo listens.
“I know a man. I want you to meet him.”
She looks at him, shocked, a glare in her eyes, but he smiles reassuringly and she finds herself somewhat soothed, even kind of uncaring. She gives him a curt nod and turns away because there’s no one there so it’s safe.
Hyosun’s father takes Eunjo to a large, dirty building in a grimy back street. Eunjo finds herself surprised by this man once again. She raises an eyebrow. He wants to introduce her to a man who lives –here-?
He puts a hand on her back, herding her towards the nondescript metal shutter. When she starts walking he overtakes her and pulls the shutter up. He walks through the door behind it, and Eunjo follows. Despite herself, she is intrigued.
Down some steps in near pitch blackness, they are let in to a basement by a shadowed form.
Hyosun’s father walks right in, shakes the hand of a moustached man in his late thirties, and smiles over at Eunjo. She gapes.
Her speech is polite, but her tone is not. Some of Hyosun’s father’s smile fades, and then his eyes crinkle up in amusement.
“Eunjo-yah. This man – if you agree – will be your boxing teacher.”
Eunjo’s jaw drops. She stares at the instructor. He holds out a pair of boxing gloves wordlessly. Eunjo’s hesitation melts away into a forgotten wind.
Eunjo finds herself facing the punching bag eagerly. She is impatient to begin, but the instructor wants her to warm up first. She’s frustrated, but then she relishes the chance, savouring the moment, wanting to be in full form.
His face, his stupid, smiling face is already taunting her. She lets out a scream as she twists and tumbles, and it is perfectly under her control.
She spends so much time in her little basement that her mother actually complains about it. Eunjo is very, very, very slightly awed by this, and when she passes Hyosun before leaving for another bout, she grants her what some might call a smile. She often passes Hyosun’s father when she gets in at night, and the glow of satisfaction on her face doesn’t disappear when she looks him in the eye and greets him. His eyes are warm. Her body aches often, and it is delicious.
Eunjo tells her instructor she doesn’t want to come to this ridiculous place to train anymore, and doesn’t let him disagree. He has come to see her as a prodigy or some such, and doesn’t fight too hard. They manage to arrange a cleaner building, and he tells her on the way that she’s not a boxing prodigy, she just lusts for it in a way he might only see again once or twice in his life. She smirks sideways and gives just the tiniest bow. She might mutter that he’s not such an awful teacher himself. In a week or two.
The one thing she absolutely refuses is to train with anyone else. Everyone else is a distraction. People require concentration; they need to be taught their place. She doesn’t have time for teaching right now. She only wishes to learn.
She doesn’t need to scream anymore. His face is still around, but Eunjo – Eunjo boxes.
After about a month or two, Hyosun’s father comes by to watch her train. Eunjo is aware of the man who introduced her to this watching her – Hyosun’s father – and trains hard, pummelling the punching bag and even landing a slight knock or two on her teacher. And then she pushes herself more, and even more, and her blood is rushing vehemently in her veins. Afterwards, Hyosun’s father pats her on the back and tells her she is good. Sweat drips from her face onto the floor; her long ponytail swings behind her like an axe. Panting, she grins at him. His eyes crinkle in response. They walk home together.
Eunjo finds herself falling in love with boxing. She looks stuff up on the internet, and it excites her even more. She makes an exception to her rule and sits in at the next group boxing session. She is careful to blend into the background; she doesn’t wish to be seen. Eunjo knows that soon she’ll be good enough to fight others, to actually box with an opponent who wants to defeat her and to do that, she needs to see others fight.
Eunjo is a little surprised to see no other females there, but she hardens her jaw and concentrates on the fighters. She really, -really- wants to fight some men.
She finds her own fists reacting like ghosts, jabbing and crossing and cutting. She is immersed. It’s not like it is when she boxes, but she knows this game now and technique and stamina and how it affects the players is enthralling to her because she knows it.
She lingers uncertainly when they’re done, watching them high-five each other and discuss strengths and counter-punching. She is about to slip away when one of them runs into the room, calling excitedly to the others.
They crowd around and Eunjo has no idea what’s going on, but the boxers are suddenly milling and loud and she can see their eyes shining and Eunjo wants –in-.
She holds back for a second and then she is charging forward, demanding to know what they’re all looking at. They stare at her and she lets them know she’s the private student, and it seems her instructor’s talked about her after all. She is much smaller than these men, but she matches them stare for stare and after a moment the guy who brought in the flyer draws close and whispers that every couple of months there are illegal, extremely high-profile boxing tournaments, and if they can find out where they are, the team goes to watch.
“The rules are different, see,” another guy informs her, unable to repress the spark in his voice. “It’s dirty and basic; all the contestants are untrained. It’s like a different world to what we do. Sometimes we incorporate some of the stuff those boxers do that we can get away with, and sometimes it’s shit but sometimes…”
He trails off, gesticulating, unable to find the words.
“Knockout?” Eunjo asks, and the guy nods. Already she is one of them: she feels their desire. She wants it from her bones. What it is, precisely, that she can’t articulate just yet.
Still. Things are gonna happen.
She gets home and looks up the name of the tournament that was on the flyer. There’s not much of substance, but there’s a page with some anonymously snapped pictures and Eunjo is choking and breathless. Her heart thumps. –Yes.-
She still likes it better to train on her own, but she also attends a few group practices now, and then increasingly more and more. The men close ranks around her, and she fights them, and they fight her, and they fight together.
They go to watch, but Eunjo’s thoughts have already gone in a different direction.
School is a futile distraction to her now. And then she comes home, with a week left to go, and she finds Hyosun’s father sitting in her room, his face grave. She looks up to her computer screen and sees the page she left open this morning. Her heart goes still, but only for a moment. She straightens her back. He only looks at her with that open, probing stare and Eunjo is sorry to him, but not sorry at all.
“I’m already too far gone.”
She turns her back – and then has an idea. She goes to sit next to him, cautiously touches his arm, and asks – “Come with me.”
She goes with her team and she is silent the entire way. As soon as she steps in the door her ears are assaulted; the noise level is insane. All these people crowded close together, baying for blood. It’s just as she expected it to be. She smiles.
The ring is cramped, which worries her a bit but she shrugs it off. Her group tug her towards a likely spot with a decent view. Eunjo is excited too, but she is focusing her mind. She warms up her body, shakes herself out lightly. No one notices, with all eyes on the ring.
The first match starts and the crowd are hushed – until the first punch lands and then they’re on their feet and roaring their approval, and then it doesn’t stop until one of them is lying near-dead on the ground. The winner grins through the blood staining his mouth and Eunjo thinks, this is perfect.
A few more matches and then it’s an open call. The audience are eyeing each other, clamouring for someone to take up the mantle of their honour. Eunjo eyes the reigning champion. He’s tall and well-built. She edges closer, slipping between the hands of her companions and threading through the strangers with which she has just developed a primitive kinship. She gets close enough to see his face, and her doubts fade because he’s not like the other broken shards, he’s not hungry or vengeful. He’s cocky and he’s lucky, and he’ll do just fine.
Eunjo ducks under the ropes and slides into the ring. The guy is turned around and hasn’t even seen her yet, so she approaches his back and the crowd lets out a thunderous scream. It slides its way into her blood and fleetingly Eunjo imagines if –he- were here now what he would do, what he would think and then Eunjo’s body is singing and this isn’t even an excuse anymore.
She casts off her jacket and gets in a light punch and then backs away nimbly while her opponent turns around and finds her. His brow wrinkles, and Eunjo is smirking and dashes in again, thinking -I’ll show you little girl-
And then he’s growling and she’s fighting him and not giving him a chance to think about who he’s fighting. She gets battered and it feels good and fine because she –slaughters- him, and her eye is so swollen she can barely see but this is it. She stands over him and sees all the ‘fathers’ who have abused her and her mother, sees –him-, sees her mother and Hyosun and almost everyone she has ever known in her life. The throngs are screaming her name – her team must have started it – and Eunjo is flying on a precipice and now she thinks she can stand up again.
She gets down and before anyone else can approach her, there he is before her – Hyosun’s father. She beams with her good eye, because she is joyous. He is standing there, still smiling and Eunjo knows that he, -he- would never leave her. She steps to him first and he envelops her in a hug and pats her back gently, and she can’t say it just yet, not for a long time but it’s the first time Eunjo –feels- the sensation of Father.
Eunjo trains for science and rice wine instead, after that. She likes it and is good at it, and it’s another connection she can establish with her stepfather. Occasionally, however, Eunjo dusts off her old boxing gloves and goes down to a dingy basement – they relocated back – and leaves everything behind to spar for hours with some old friends who call her a legend.
thanks for reading! comments and concrit much loved.
thanks for reading! comments and concrit much loved.