Minho was Taemin's very first toy. Taemin got him around the time when he was interested in cowboys and guns. He could still remember the day Taemin took him out of the box and scribbled something on back of his right shoe — Taemin's eyebrows were furrowed, his nose scrunched in determination; he gripped the crayon tightly.
"Mhmm, Tae— Min," Taemin said in his tiny, tiny voice, and Minho resisted the urge to laugh.
Eight months after, when the crayon writing on his right boot had worn out, Taemin wrote his name with a white board marker. New toys arrived, others thrown away or donated to some other lucky owner, but the writing was still there, clear and crisp as if it had only been written yesterday.
The new toys got the same marking on their shoes, too.
Jinki, the T-rex who loved rainbows and cotton candies, came around two months after the crayon writing wore off. Youngwoon and Heechul, the Potato Heads, came soon after. Yunho, the evilest, most daring coin bank-slash-villain of all time was next, followed by Key, the other, more fashionable cowboy who was never found without his horse, Bullseye. Jonghyun, the space ranger, was the last to arrive, along with his bunch of aliens — Hyukjae, Junsu and Donghae.
Taemin played with them everyday, treated them all with equal love and respect. Even if Yunho had always been the villain, Taemin loved him just the same. Even if the Potato Heads were mean and always stole money from the aliens, Taemin didn't love them any less. But Minho— Oh, Minho had always been special, and always portrayed the role of the protagonist. He would take down those creatures that Jonghyun wouldn't be able to with his laser, his skills in fighting and his wit unmatched by any other toy in the world.
That was because he was Minho, Taemin's first toy ever.
So when Taemin held onto him, even if it was already sleeping time, Minho smiled a little and though, maybe this will last forever, after all.
Three years and a couple of months after, Minho's faith started to teeter.
It was 5:30 a.m. The alarm went off for a full minute until Taemin pressed the 'turn off alarm' button, rolling on his tummy and crushing Minho's tiny body in the process. Minho's eyes flew wide open as he struggled for air until he realized that it was time for Taemin to get up. He reached for Taemin's belly button, tickled Taemin, and earned soft giggling from the latter.
"Stop it, Minho. It tickles."
Taemin rolled over, lying flat on his back, eyes still half-lidded in sleepiness. A couple of minutes after, Taemin got up and lazily walked out of his room, calling out to his mother for breakfast.
It was the first day of Taemin's last year in high school. The play times had been steadily decreasing over the past few months. Taemin's graduation was fast approaching, his adulthood even faster than the latter. Minho sank in the pillow and asked himself, is it too much to ask for ten minutes of Taemin's time?
This is not a story about toys.
This is a story about how a boy named Taemin picks out a cowboy figure from a bunch of toys at a toy store for his eighth birthday and names the cowboy figure 'Minho'. This is a story about how a friendship between a toy (Minho) and a human (Taemin) develops through the years, how a friendship between the first toy and the succeeding toys develop, too. This is a story about growing up and outgrowing childish things, but never outgrowing youth.
But this is definitely not a story about toys.
Jonghyun and Minho have already talked about this — tell everyone about the situation calmly because Jinki will surely freak out and, "You know how much of an emotional wreck Kibum is." Minho nods approvingly and takes a deep breath.
"We're in this together. Always. Remember that," Minho tells Jonghyun, earning a small smile from the latter.
"We're all in this together."
So when Jonghyun suddenly says, "It's over, Minho," Minho can't help but feel a bit betrayed.
"Oh, don't say that!" Minho waves Jonghyun off, hitting Jonghyun's helmet activator button before Jonghyun can even say anything. "I'm sure Taemin will pick us up soon! He'll come home from his last exam at four so we should be ready at least thirty minute before that and—"
"And what?" Kibum asks as he gets down from Bullseye. "He'll just go straight to bed, Minho. He won't pick us up. He'll never pick us up again."
Minho pauses tentatively, worrying his lower lip. He doesn't normally let it show, but it's hard keeping it all in. At one point in time, Taemin will really get rid of them, forget them completely. There's always the hope of being kept, yes, but the chances are slim.
"We have to make it easier for Taemin, Minho," Jonghyun pauses, slinging an arm around Minho's shoulder. "We have to make it easier for ourselves, too."
"By abandoning Taemin? By just putting everything behind? I thought we were in this together!"
"No. You're leaving Taemin behind!"
"We're leaving Taemin behind?" Jinki takes a few steps forward, his tiny hands clenching uncomfortably. "But we can't do that. That will make Taemin feel bad."
Silence washes over the room, only to be broken by the doorbell sounding off.
"He's here! Quick, back to the box!" Minho waits until everyone has gotten inside the box before he hides. He lifts the cover a bit, worrying his lips a bit when he sees the exhausted look on Taemin's features. Maybe Kibum is right; maybe Taemin will never pick them up again. He slowly pulls the cover down and thinks to himself, some things just don't last forever.