Title: Cold and Damp
Pairing: Hanchul, Kyumin, Kangteuk
Summary: After Seoul becomes infested with the living dead and the government abandons them; it's only natural that they realise hidden feelings in the midst of disaster.intro
Jungsu towel-dried his rich auburn hair, kicking a few books out of his path as he walked over to his bed. There was a commotion outside - different to the usual. He could hear people coming out of their rooms, asking what the fuss was about.
He pulled his towel off and wrapped it around his shoulders, turning to look at his roommate.
'Jongwoon, what's wrong?' he asked, noticing the tense expression on the younger mans’ normally calm, open face. Jongwoon stood up from his bed and walked into their small kitchen, grabbing snacks and bottled water before pulling a large duffel bag from under his bed and dropping everything inside it.
'Jongwoon?' Jungsu gave the boy a questioning look, wondering where his roommate would be going so late at night - and in such a rush, at that.
'Hyung, don't wait for me, okay? I'm going to find Ryeowook and Shindong.' Jongwoon said hastily, not even glancing at Jungsu as he strode towards the door.
'Why? What's wrong?' Jungsu stood up, worry etched into his features. Jongwoon stopped and turned around, fixing Jungsu with a hard look.
'While you were in the shower, I heard people outside.' he started, his words falling from his mouth so fast he stumbled over the syllables, 'They said they saw soldiers - with guns. It looks like they're coming this way. Don't look out of the window.' He turned to the door again, opening it and stepping into the hallway before looking once more over his shoulder at Jungsu. 'Get out of here, hyung.'
Jungsu watched as his roommate took off down the corridor, leaving their door ajar and Jungsu completely confused. 'Don't look out the window? Why?' he mumbled to himself. He wasn't stupid, so he didn't pull back the tatty, cheap curtains to look outside - not noticing the rumbling of engines slowly drawing nearer to the building as he pulled on a pair of jogging bottoms and thick warm socks, getting comfortable at his small desk and poring over some books.
He nudged his glasses with a pale knuckle as they slipped down the bridge of his nose.
He closed the book he was looking at; he was too tense to concentrate. He knew his best friend had gone drinking with Ryeowook and a few other guys from his little group of under-achievers. Worthless, the lot of them. All they did was drink the day away, never spending any time on their studies and pushing the other students around like they owned the place.
Jungsu always thought Youngwoon was better than that, but he noticed how the younger man would always ignore him if his friends were around. He was too ashamed to be anywhere near Jungsu in case his friends saw, only coming over when they were busy or he was too hung-over to go out and party with them.
Jungsu pulled on a warm sweater and slipped on his cheap, second-hand Nikes’. Heechul always told him off for being too frumpy, but he valued comfort over fashion, and it was a cold night. He stepped out into the corridor, seeing Shindong’s chubby face amongst a group of students bustling about in the narrow hallway. He waved him over.
'Any idea what's going on?' he asked the chubbier boy, a soft smile on his face. However calm he looked on the outside, he was feeling the complete opposite inside. The people pushing past them were making him anxious. What was the rush? Was Jongwoon being serious?
'Not a clue. I was just going to check what the commotion was. People keep talking about soldiers, there are like twenty huge vans pulled up out front. Something to do with an evacuation or something...'
'An evacuation? Why?'
'I don't know, honestly. I'm gonna walk ahead. Stay safe, hyung.' Shindong gave him a quick smile and patted him on the back before weaving through the crowd with admirable swiftness - for someone with such a big body, he was surprisingly agile.
Jungsu calmly made his way through the corridor, being pushed and shoved as he went by frantic students. He found himself in a large circle of people, maybe sixty or more, all gathered in the small dorm lobby. He glanced around the room at their faces, noting how tense and confused everyone looked. There was only a little bit of chatting, a quiet hum buzzing around the room as people whispered between themselves, all asking what was going on. He spotted one of his classmates in the crowd and made his way over, pushing past the tightly-packed bodies in his way.
'Hyukjae' he whispered to the boy, it felt wrong to talk at a normal volume whilst everyone else was so hushed. Hyukjae seemed to snap out of a daze as he whipped his head towards Jungsu, almost head-butting him in their close proximity.
'Hyung.' he smiled. It wasn't his usual wide, gummy smile. He looked tense. Why was everyone so tense?
'Any idea what's going on?' he nodded towards the people around them, 'Why is everyone in here?'
'One of the lecturers just came in. He said the soldiers were going to examine us and look around our dorms. They're going to take us away with them.' he looked away, 'He didn't say why, or where.'
Jungsu stood, staring at Hyukjae for a few still moments. Why would they need to examine them? Where were they taking them? Half of the people who lived in the dorms weren't even there right then, either out in town partying or working their part-time jobs. What about them?
As he was thinking to himself, he noticed that the room had gone completely silent, the atmosphere suddenly so tense you could slice it with a knife. Jungsu sucked in a shuddering breath.
Everyone turned towards the doors at the front of the room as they were thrust open. In trudged a solder. Two solders. Three. More and more started filing in one after the other, students having to push themselves back against the walls as the room filled up. There were about twenty soldiers, all armed and expressionless.
A big, burly man - Jungsu assumed he was the man in command - stepped forward and regarded the students with a long, cold stare. Jungsu swallowed thickly, regretting his decision to wear a thick jumper as the air in the room started to grow thick and humid.
Finally, the man spoke, his voice deep and sharp.
'Each of you must undergo a quick, simple examination. Do not resist. Do not ask questions. When we have finished the examinations you may return to your rooms to gather your belongings. Return here immediately. That is all.' He turned on his heel and strode back out of the building.
They were lead outside into the courtyard, lined up in front of a large, white tent. It was eerily silent, the only noise being the crunch of feet against the gravel and the sharp click of the soldiers’ rifles as they paced back and forth.
He heard a commotion from the front of the line - he was quite far back - and noticed how the soldiers to his left and right seemed to grip their rifles tighter, faces pulled taught and stern. There was shouting and movement near the tent, whispering and mumbling passing along the line like a noisy game of Chinese whispers.
He threw himself to the ground as a gunshot rang out across the courtyard, echoing in his head and halting the breath passing through his lips. He felt the gravel graze his chin, and tentatively lifted his head, quickly glancing around to see what was going on. Everyone had reacted in the same manner as Jungsu, all crouching low to the ground and not daring to move too much - if these guys were shooting, it would be best not to attract their attention.
Jungsu flinched as a girl not too far in front of him let out a sharp, shrill keening noise. He watched with his face close to the ground as her back shook violently, sobs echoing in the silence, shouts and screams seeming to ring out from every direction moments later as students slowly got to their feet, leaving Jungsu crouched down, hands and elbows digging harshly into the small stones beneath them as he fought for breath. He didn't deal well with stress.
He fought against his instinct to stay as still as possible, shaking as he rose unsteadily to his feet and looked past the frantic students towards the tent. He felt his heart skip a beat as his eyes took in the scene before him.
The soldiers had all gathered around the tent, faces grim, weapons raised. There was a leg lying limp at the edge of the tent, body hidden behind the blood-soaked material as the campus flood-lights illuminated the viscous, crimson liquid dripping down into the grass.
He stood rooted to the spot, throwing out a hand to grab Hyukjae as he ran past, but flinching back when he saw the look on the boy’s face. He supposed must've looked somewhat the same. He was pale, his eyes wide and frantic, thick lips pulled taught and stiff. Jungsu let go. Hyukjae carried on running.
He started walking backwards; where could he go? He needed to warn his friends.
He knew the man would be too drunk to listen, and he had no idea where he was, anyway. He placed his bets on Jongwoon finding him with Ryeowook and taking them to safety. He sprinted away from the tents, fighting against the students as he went in the opposite direction, away from his dorm.
He hoped to God his best friend was still awake - there were consequences for waking a sleepy Kim Heechul, and being shot seemed like a nice way to go in comparison.
He practically threw himself at the push doors, flying through and knocking into a few other students, all giving him curious glances. People were gathered around the windows, obviously having heard the gunshot. Jungsu kept running.
He skidded along the laminate flooring as he reached his childhood friends dorm, pushing the door open he threw himself onto the floor, catching his breath and spitting out the fluff from the awful pink shag carpet.
'Jungsu?' came Heechul’s disinterested murmur. 'I'm guessing you're here because of that gunshot, right?'
‘How did you know it was a gunshot? I thought it was a firework at first and you’re much further away than I was.’
Heechul sat back on his bed, bringing his slender legs up to his chin and wrapping his thin arms around them, tilting his head to look condescendingly down at Jungsu sprawled out on his floor, sweaty and panting for breath. He yawned.
'Heechul,' Jungsu panted, pushing himself off the floor and looking up at his friend, eyes wide and deep worry lines set into his forehead, 'These people… they just shot someone right in front of my eyes, dead.'
'What?' Heechul’s eyes widened - more than usual, if that was possible. 'Who?'
'I don't know; I could only see their leg sticking out of the te-'
'No, I meant who shot them, stop being stupid.' Heechul cut in, narrowing his eyes and shaking his head as if he was talking to a child.
'There are soldiers, lots of them. I…I didn't wait around to see what happened next.'
Heechul sat up suddenly, wobbling a little as his bed bounced beneath the movement, knocking a few stuffed toys onto the floor.
'You serious?' he gawked at Jungsu, suddenly looking extremely interested in what he was telling him.
'Yes, I was there, I think a few people were still asleep in their dorms when it happened, though.' Jungsu stood up; pushing his hair out of his face and nudging his glasses back against the bridge of his nose.
Jungsu almost jumped out of his skin when another gunshot shook the building, hearing a dull thud as Heechul fell off his bed.
'Holy Christ!' He heard him exclaim from the other side of the bed. He jumped up and started running around his small room.
'What're you doing?'
'You think?' Jungsu chuckled, proud of his wit, before he felt something hard hit the back of his head.
He watched his friend flit around, grabbing bundles of clothing from his messy floor and shoving them into his pink backpack.
'Why on Earth are you packing clothes?' Jungsu asked, incredulous.
'Clothes are important!' Jungsu didn't laugh. Heechul was dead serious. 'Aren't you going to look for your boyfriend?' smirked Heechul, slinging his backpack over a skinny shoulder and slipping his sockless feet into an expensive-looking pair of leather boots.
Heechul's parents were painfully rich, but they sent him to this shitty college in an attempt of straightening him out. It didn't work. There was no iron on Earth that could straighten the creases out of Kim Heechul.
'He's not my boyfriend, shut up.' Jungsu huffed indignantly, turning towards the window to hide his burning cheeks.
'Yeah, not while you dress like that anyway, you look like a member of H.O.T' he stuck out his tongue as Jungsu turned to shoot him a glare.
'Where are you going?' he asked as he watched Heechul make for the door.
'Uh, as far away from the scary men with guns as possible? I've already planned out my death and it 'aint nothin' like this...' Heechul mumbled as he walked out of his room and down the corridor, only a bag of clothes and designer shoes to his name.
After Heechul left, the gunfire became much more frequent. There was at least one shot every few minutes, and Jungsu jumped out of his skin each and every time. He left Heechul’s room after a few minutes, letting himself calm down before even attempting to go in search of Youngwoon. On his way out of the building he quickly called into all the rooms, telling the students to get away as soon as possible.
He'd bumped into Donghae and Kibum outside of the lecture building, they were searching for Hyukjae. Apparently they'd seen Youngwoon wobbling across campus; barefoot and shitfaced and heading towards Jungsu's dorm building. It sounded quite accurate in the respect that Youngwoon couldn't hold his liquor for the life of him, and it was just like him to be getting drunk at such a bad time. They begged him to stay with them, warning him of how bad things had gotten, but he only shook his head and thanked them, leaving them behind.
He spotted Shindong walking with Ryeowook and Jongwoon on his way out of the building, and he apprehended them. All three of them looked like they were in a rush.
'He was pretty drunk, Hyung.' Ryeowook told him when he asked about Youngwoon. 'He'd been drinking himself into the couch all night; I'm surprised he could even walk. He wouldn't listen to me when I asked him to stay with us. He went looking for you, so you'd better run if you want to find him, he left a good five minutes ago, and your building is on fire...' Ryeowook trailed off as Jungsu turned to sprint, leaving him mid-sentence.
Jungsu sprinted across the large expanse of grass from where he was stood with the other boys, an orange glow setting his features alight, flames dancing and flickering in his dark, brown eyes. He slowed down, needing to catch his breath and collect his thoughts. His dorm was on fire. Youngwoon was most likely in his dorm. The windows were closed.
He tensed his muscles underneath his thick sweater, covering his face with his sleeve and charging at his window, squeezing his eyes shut as the glass shattered and fell around him. He felt the floor hard beneath him and ignored the dull ache in his shoulder from the impact, choking on the smoke filling his lungs. He got to his knees with intent, shaking his head to free himself of his shattered glasses.
He looked around, trying to stay calm even as sweat clung to his skin. The room slowly cleared as the smoke passed out of the window and he could see the curtains were quickly burning away, the newly found oxygen feeding the flames.
His eyes started to sting, and as he scanned the room he gasped, seeing the shape of Youngwoon lying face-down next to his bed, the flames starting to lick at his jeans.
Contrary to popular belief, Jungsu was actually quite strong. He crawled over to where Youngwoon lay, slinging one of Youngwoon’s limp, heavy arms over one of his bony shoulders. He groaned as he stood, lifting Youngwoon’s dead-weight up and dragging him out into the hallway.
He instantly understood what Donghae had meant when he said things had gotten worse. People were running frantically up and down the smoky hallway, all looking completely terrified. He saw a girl run past him; she was bloody, her hair everywhere. There was a large wound on her shoulder; the skin and flesh seemingly bitten clean off. She was manic, eyes wild and unfocused. He watched as she jumped on another student, sinking her teeth into his neck as he screamed and thrashed around, begging for someone to help. Anyone.
Jungsu couldn't watch any longer, closing his eyes and taking a breath, people knocking into him every few seconds. He heard the door to his left open, looking up as Kyuhyun emerged carrying Sungmin on his shoulder. The smaller boy was completely limp, skin pale and scratched up. He was covered in dust and pieces of plaster, spots of blood on his forehead. Kyuhyun didn't waste any time, taking off at an admirable pace and not even sparing a glance at Jungsu.
Thinking it was about time he got out too, he followed Kyuhyun’s lead, the weight of Jongwoon on his shoulder making the going tough as his bare, bloody feet dragged a red line along the carpet. He strode with determination, his focus solely on escaping. He walked through the glassless gaps in the rotating doors, hearing the glass crunch beneath his shoes. He didn’t look back; he just kept walking as fast as he could across campus towards the parking lot.
He heaved a sigh of relief when he finally dropped Youngwoon’s heavy body onto the bonnet of his car, his nervous fingers fumbling at his keys. He could hear the screams and gunfire all around him, and he cursed as his keys fell from his trembling hands. He grabbed them, turning them in the lock and pulling open the driver’s door. After arduously pulling back his seat and throwing Youngwoon in the back of the car, he wiped the sweat from his brow and sank into the driver’s seat, resting his head for a moment on the cold leather of the steering wheel.
He couldn’t believe this was really happening.
Jungsu reminded himself to punch Youngwoon when he woke up.
He strapped himself in and pulled out of the parking lot, noticing with distaste the lack of gas in the tank. He didn't know where he was going to go; he just hoped he wouldn't be stopping any time soon.