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 looked up when he heard approaching footsteps, and saw Heechul sauntering over with a very uncomfortable looking cat in his arms.
'Why do you have a cat. Heechul?' Jungsu asked tiredly, regarding him as he walked closer to the group surrounding the display bed Sungmin was currently lying on, sweating in his sleep. He’d been watching over the teen for a little over an hour by then, and with only a few hours sleep in three days he was feeling pretty groggy.
'Found it, the thing loves me!' he cooed, squeezing it tighter in his arms. He didn't seem to notice how its eyes were bulging or the way its claws were embedded in his forearm. Or rather, he didn't acknowledge it.
Heechul pulled up a seat next to Jungsu and nodded toward the teen looking clammy and uncomfortable on the bed.
‘How long does he have left?’
‘Till he dies,’ Heechul snorted, patting the poor cat in his lap roughly.
‘That’s not funny,’ Jungsu sighed. He looked back at the two teens sleeping on the bed before him. Kyuhyun was kneeling beside Sungmin on the floor, his head resting on the sheets and his hand clasped with the younger boys.
Youngwoon’s snores could be heard from where he was napping – again – on a nearby bench. Heechul looked irritated.
‘Why can’t you two just get along?’ Jungsu asked, looking between the two. Heechul frowned. ‘You’re going to have to get used to each other whether you like it or not.’
Heechul pouted and crossed his arms sulkily, ‘Why should I? You shouldn’t have brought him.’
‘Why not? He’s my friend; I wouldn’t leave him there to die, just like I wouldn’t leave you.’ He didn’t see why he had to explain himself. Youngwoon had hurt himself trying to make sure he was safe, so why shouldn’t he return the favour?
‘He’s not worth the hassle. What has he ever done for you?’
It was a fair question if he thought about it. He’d always been the one cleaning up the mess Youngwoon left behind. Not once had Youngwoon apologised for the harsh way he treated him, but Jungsu never paid it any heed. That was just the way Youngwoon was; in the same sense that Heechul was bratty and pampered, Youngwoon was thick-headed and brusque.
‘I’ve never asked him for anything,’ Jungsu replied evasively. Heechul quirked a brow and opened his mouth to argue, but Jungsu shook his head. ‘Just leave it, Heechul.’
The younger man shook his head in frustration and let out an exasperated sigh, but dropped the subject anyway.
‘Anyway,’ Jungsu continued after a short pause, ‘Where’s Hankyung? And who is he exactly?’
‘I left him in the basement,’ Heechul said vaguely, ‘I woke up and he was here. I’ve only known him since this morning.’
Jungsu gawked, ‘You woke up and he was here? What do you mean?’
‘I mean, I fell asleep as soon as I found this place. He was in bed with me when I woke up.’
‘Did he touch you?’
‘Excuse me?’ Heechul snorted ungracefully. Heechul was impossible. 'If he'd touched me there'd be a funny smell coming from beneath the bed where I'd have shoved his corpse.'
‘You’re impossible,’ Jungsu sighed, getting to his feet, ‘Do you think we’ll be safe here?’ he paced back and forth, ‘I wonder if my family is okay. I should call.’
‘Relax. You heard what Kyuhyun said, they were probably evacuated.’
‘That doesn’t stop me worrying, though.’
‘Well worry somewhere else. Make some food, I’m starving.’
‘You’re really rude, you know that?’ Jungsu muttered as he walked away, tapping Youngwoon gently on the shoulder as he passed.
Youngwoon didn’t look all too happy about being woken up, but he dropped his irritated expression slightly when he saw Jungsu’s face. Heechul was very observant. He’d expected Youngwoon to just shrug him off and tell him to get lost, but instead he followed Jungsu obediently into the restaurant, leaving Heechul slightly bewildered at his change in attitude.
He sighed; realising he was alone – minus the two unconscious teenagers. He took a moment to really think about what Jungsu had said. Were they safe here?
He’d just been going with the flow since he woke up. Hankyung hadn’t set off any alarm bells in his head since they’d met, so he hadn’t felt the need to be cautious of the younger man. And he’d be lying if he said he didn’t find the Chinese man attractive. Heechul found himself inexplicably safe around him, which was strange, because he was usually unreasonably wary of other people, especially if he woke up in bed with them. Not that it had happened before.
In all honesty, Jungsu was the only real friend he had.
He had acquaintances, of course, from classes, but he never got any closer than the occasional drinking buddy.
But really, he was too hungry to think about something so dull, not to mention bored out of his mind. He’d already torn the clothing department apart that morning, and he was surprised at how little activity he could come up with in such a large department store.
The cat leapt from his arms as he slackened his hold, not forgetting to hiss and spit as it tottered away.
‘What’s your problem with Heechul?’ Jungsu asked, immediately interrogating Youngwoon as soon as the kitchen door was closed. It was a small kitchen if you considered the size of the restaurant, and Youngwoon was feeling slightly claustrophobic.
‘What’s this all of a sudden?’ He replied evasively, squirming under Jungsu’s critical gaze. He wasn’t used to seeing a pissed off Jungsu. It was usually him in control.
‘I know you two have never seen eye to eye, but if I’m going to be stuck in this place with the two of you at each other’s throats then I want this sorted out as soon as possible.’
It was reasonable enough, but Youngwoon knew that if he told him why he and Heechul had always been at each other’s throats, Jungsu would be disgusted. He didn’t know why the thought of that was so upsetting.
‘W-well,’ he stuttered defensively, crossing his arms, ‘It’s not like he’s been all too friendly with me.’
Jungsu sighed and leant against one of the gaudy, maroon marble counters. ‘That’s just the way he is,’ he looked away for a second, ‘You must have done something for him to hold a grudge this long.’
Youngwoon shrugged. He didn’t like being put on the spot, and he wished Jungsu would just drop the subject. ‘Wouldn’t it be better to ask him?’
Jungsu shook his head instantly, ‘He wouldn’t tell me even if I asked.’
‘I thought you two were close.’
‘Just answer my question.’
Youngwoon rolled his eyes on impulse, regretting it instantly when Jungsu frowned, looking like he wanted to give him a good smack around the head. He walked over to the fridge-freezer and looked inside, pointedly trying to change the topic. ‘What are you gonna cook, then?’
‘Youngwoon!’ Jungsu snapped. Youngwoon turned back to face him, a childish pout on his face as he closed the door to the freezer.
‘I’ve never even spoken to him before now,’ he lied, looking down at the floor, suddenly very interested in the tiles.
‘Not a word?’
‘Well,’ Youngwoon spoke slowly, ‘I may have… said a few things, a while ago.’
‘Like what?’ Jungsu pried; relieved he was finally getting somewhere. Youngwoon’s eyes darted here and there.
‘It’s really nothing.’
Jungsu straightened up and crossed his arms, furrowing his brows again, ‘What did you say, Youngwoon?’
‘I,’ he fumbled with his hands, ‘I called him a faggot.’
Jungsu reached for the nearest blunt object.
Hankyung stepped out into the brisk, February night air, shifting the limp, heavy body slung over his shoulder as he made way over to the large dumpsters situated at the side of the building. He lifted the heavy, metal lid with a strong arm and dumped the body inside with all the delicacy he could muster, trying to be as silent as possible.
Really, that Heechul guy was insufferable, making him do all the work alone.
There was a deep humming sound all around him, but he shrugged it off. It was probably just bugs or a car engine. He looked up. It was too dark for six o’clock at night, even in February. The sky was cloudy, the moon completely hidden by smoke and the only light he could see was from the few street lamps still working and the buildings burning nearby.
He took a deep breath, inhaling the cool night air. It would have been refreshing if it didn’t stink of burning and petrol and something else he didn’t like the smell of. It kind of smelt like something was rotting. Probably just the bins.
Now that he looked at it, the department store was lit up like a Christmas tree. He hadn’t boarded up the upper floor windows, so light was spilling out, bright and yellow into the dark. That was when he realised something was off.
He listened intently for a second. The humming was too deep for a gathering of insects, and too loud for a car engine. He kept his breathing as quiet as he could, pressing his back against the brick wall and edging closer to the corner, peering round to see the front of the building slowly.
Heechul had just finished unfolding the last duvet for the twenty-sofa fort he’d made when a very sweaty Hankyung came bursting through the staff entrance, squeaking across the large room towards him. He looked panicked, an expression Heechul hadn’t seen the younger man wear since they’d met all of nine hours ago.
‘Heechul,’ he called as he got closer, and Heechul walked towards him, confused.
‘Well-‘ he paused, ‘what on earth have you been doing?’ he looked hopelessly at the make-shift camp Heechul had set up in the middle of the room; a mess of bed sheets and duvets pulled over settees with mattresses piled underneath.
‘I got bored.’
Hankyung looked at him hopelessly, shaking his head in exasperation. He walked past Heechul towards his hand-made abomination, dipping beneath the canopy of sheets to take a seat inside.
After they’d got comfortable on the dense pile of duvets and cushions, Hankyung continued.
‘I went outside to dispose of the body you oh-so-graciously left for me to clean up,’ He looked pointedly at Heechul, but the prettier man just shrugged, ‘And I stumbled upon a rather disconcerting sight.’
‘Something bad, Heechul.’
‘Oh, okay, could’ve just said that, then.’ Heechul shook his head, ‘Well, what was so bad that you came back smelling like a pair of dirty socks?’ He asked, waving his hand in front of his face dramatically.
Hankyung ignored Heechul's attempt at humour and continued, ‘I was out the back, near the dumpsters, but there was this noise. It was like rumbling or a loud hum.’
‘So, I took a look round the front of the building and there were hundreds of them, all looking up at the building. More kept coming. They didn’t see me.’
‘When you say “them”, you mean…?’
‘Those things. The zombies, as Kyuhyun called them.’
‘So you’re saying there’s a horde of them outside?’ Heechul asked disinterestedly, playing with his nails.
‘Yes. I blocked off the basement when I came back inside, which is why I’m a bit sweaty.’
‘Why are there so many? Why here?’
Kyuhyun looked at Hankyung blankly.
‘So there’s hundreds of undead heading straight for us because we’re the only building with the lights still on?’
‘Hankyung,’ Kyuhyun started, staring off into space in the same disinterested manner as usual, ‘did you board up the entrance when you… secured the building?’
Hankyung shook his head. ‘I locked the doors.’
‘So you didn’t board up the big, glass doors that lead directly into the building?’
Heechul clicked his tongue, ‘You should really get that stick out of your ass, kid,’ he spat, throwing Kyuhyun a withering look, which he ignored with ease.
In his opinion, he could’ve found somewhere much better to stay. If he hadn’t brought Sungmin along, he wouldn’t have to put up with this bunch of idiots. He could've kept going, rather than settling for the first safe place he could find.
They were sat around Sungmin’s bed again, all five of them. Kyuhyun had woken up and joined them, reluctantly. Youngwoon was sat beside him, looking very uncomfortable and sporting a large, red mark on his forehead. Jungsu was sat on the other side of the lanky teen, a tense expression on his face.
‘He has a point, though,’ Youngwoon said, referring to Kyuhyun’s earlier comment, ‘We should turn the lights out, at least, and bar the entrance.’
‘And then eat,’ Heechul added with enthusiasm.
Kyuhyun looked at Hankyung testily, ‘What’s the plan then, sir,’ he asked, cocking his head to the side and stretching his long legs out a little. He was used to being in charge. Whenever he was forced into a group project or a team-building activity, he always took the role as leader. But it was fun to watch other people squirm once in a while.
Hankyung leaned against the wall and seemed to take a moment to think.
He seemed to think something up pretty fast, though, as he looked back at them after a few seconds. Not that Kyuhyun was praising him. He wouldn’t have had to think.
‘Firstly we light as many lamps and candles as we can find. That way we can make our way around the building without using the lights, and the building will be a lot dimmer from the outside. Hopefully those things outside will give up after a while.’ Everyone nodded, save for Kyuhyun.
‘And then what?’ He asked. Hankyung was too calm for his liking. He couldn’t read him like he read other people, and he didn’t like how similar the Chinese man was to himself.
‘We should have two people on watch through the night, changing every four hours so we can all get a fair amount of sleep. We’ll block off the entrance in the morning.’
‘Who’s watching with who and what are we watching?’ Heechul asked, earning a few confused glances.
‘Huh?’ Youngwoon grunted dumbly.
‘Who’s going to be watching with whom, and what are we watching for?’ Jungsu simplified.
‘Oh,’ Hankyung looked at Sungmin’s sleeping form on the bed, still slightly pale with a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead, ‘there’s an odd number because of him, so…’
‘I’ll watch on my own.’ Kyuhyun interrupted. It was more of a statement than an offer. He preferred his own company, anyway. And it would give him a chance to have a good look around. Maybe he’d find a laptop in one of the offices..
Hankyung nodded, ‘If you’re sure, then I’ll watch first with Youngwoon. I’ll wake you two up when it’s your turn.’ He said, motioning to Heechul and Jungsu.
Youngwoon looked dumbfounded.
‘Why am I with you?’ he spluttered.
‘We need to talk.’
Youngwoon pulled his jacket tighter around his broad shoulders, nursing the rapidly cooling cup of coffee Jungsu had practically thrown in his face. Even when Jungsu was angry, he still cared.
He leaned over the railing, looking down on the congregation slowly building below. Even from the roof he could hear them moaning, growling. The noise seemed to be attracting more, just as Hankyung had said. Street lamps had started to flicker and go out one by one since he’d been standing watch, and now the only light came from the smouldering fires of nearby buildings and the dim glow of the department store; illuminating the rabid, heaving mass below.
Hankyung was stood on the opposite side of the roof, looking down on the parking lot. He hadn’t spoken a word since they’d started their shift an hour ago, and Youngwoon was growing more anxious by the second.
The Chinese man was an awkward person to be around; not only because of his apparent distaste towards Youngwoon's opinions, but because he was a man of few words, and Youngwoon didn’t know whether he actually wanted to initiate a conversation. He had a feeling that if he said anything it’d only end in an awkward exchange of words before they both turned silent again. And for a second he thought he’d prefer to be on watch with an angry Jungsu – at least then there’d be conversation, be it heated or not.
Besides the thick, stifling silence, Youngwoon was uncomfortable for another reason. He had absolutely no idea what he was supposed to do. The ‘zombies’ down on the ground weren’t up to much; just aimlessly pushing and shoving each other, and it was bitingly cold; the wind blowing his jet black, short hair all over the place and turning his nose a deep pink.
He could only grumble to himself about how much he wished the whole ‘end of the world’ business had waited until summer. Though, even if he didn’t listen much in Biology, he knew rotting flesh didn’t half reek if you turned the temperature up. He kept that in mind as his fingers started to grow stiff and his ears started to sting. Beneath his ‘muscle’, Youngwoon was a big baby on the inside.
He’d much rather be back indoors; covered with expensive blankets and lying on soft, duck-feathered pillows; but instead he was stuck up on the roof, in the cold, with Mr. Silent.
‘So,’ Hankyung spoke suddenly, making Youngwoon jump slightly and betraying the choice nickname he’d just been given, ‘what happened between you and Jungsu?’
‘What do you mean?’ Youngwoon answered on reflex, the question seeming to come out of nowhere and catch him off guard. Though he wasn’t facing the older man, he could tell he’d turned towards him – he could practically feel his eyes boring into his back.
‘I’ve went to the same college as you guys for almost two years, and I’ve never seen Jungsu that mad.’
Youngwoon grimaced. Two years? He couldn’t remember seeing the Chinese man even once.
‘And you’ve got a nice bump on your forehead.’
'It’s none of your business.’ Youngwoon retorted, taking a sip of his coffee and frowning at its lukewarm temperature before flinging the thermal paper cup over the railing absent-mindedly.
‘While you’re here - in my hideout - it is. You two having a lovers tiff could affect how we work as a team if worst comes to worst.’ Youngwoon twitched - lovers tiff? He’d punched people for less. ‘And maybe I’m just nosey.’ Hankyung added before Youngwoon could run his mouth off about his little quip.
The stouter man drew his gaze away from the writhing crowd below and turned to look at the Chinese man stood across from him. It was a wonder, really, that he could hear him so clearly, considering the distance; and the wind was howling – carrying the moans for miles around in a hollow cry. He sighed, leaning back against the rusty, unsecured railing; he was already in Hankyung’s bad books, and he knew he was treading on broken glass.
He winced – that was a bad metaphor.
‘I don’t have a grudge against you, let’s just talk. We have another three hours, after all.’
Youngwoon rolled his eyes. Why was this guy so nosey? But the thought of another three hours in the cold with nothing to take his mind off his rapidly numbing appendages didn’t sound too good to him, and he guessed Hankyung wasn’t so bad.
‘It wasn’t my fault,’ Youngwoon blurted quickly, ‘I was hardly involved.’
‘Just tell me.’ Hankyung persisted, his voice always retaining that cool, calm tone. It was slightly irritating.
He frowned, looking down at his feet before sinking down onto the concrete; resting his head against the cold, metal railing. Hankyung mirrored him, though his head was turned to the side, looking through the bars to the parking lot below.
Youngwoon cleared his throat. ‘Back in high school I was involved with a bad crowd. I was a new transfer, mid-way into the year, and my group already had a problem with Heechul. I just went along with it. He brought it on himself, really,’ he smirked, ‘only an idiot would come out of the closet in high school.’
‘So you and Heechul hate each other so much because of some petty high school bullying?’ Hankyung looked at Youngwoon for the first time since the latter had started talking, ‘Tell me the rest.’
Youngwoon could really see why Heechul got along with this guy – neither of them knew when to keep their noses out of other people’s business.
He picked at a flaking scrap of paint on a the rail beside his head, pouting. ‘That’s all.’ He mumbled.
‘If that was all, I don’t think Jungsu would have attacked you like that.’
Youngwoon grit his teeth, the scowl on his face deepening by the second. If he just stopped talking, maybe Hankyung would get bored and just drop the subject.
Half an hour passed. Hankyung had one hell of a stare. The taller man had moved to lean against the railing beside Youngwoon, his arms crossed over his broad chest and his eyes boring into Youngwoon’s. Youngwoon couldn’t tell in the dim light, but it felt as though the Chinese man hadn’t blinked once.
He cleared his throat, tired of the silence. ‘The guys I hung around with used to use Jungsu as a punching bag. Heechul made a deal with me.’
‘Well, more like he threatened to cut me into pieces and post them to my mother if I didn’t comply.’ he shrugged, ‘He told me to draw their attention away from Jungsu - and not to tell Jungsu anything.’
He remembered when Heechul had made that little compromise. For some reason, he could tell just by looking into his eyes that the older boys threat wasn't a joke, and he couldn’t bear to imagine his mothers face when she opened the mail, tiny chunks of her son falling out.
‘And did you?’
‘It was a good compromise. A geek for a gay.’ he chuckled. Hankyung didn’t seem to get the joke.
‘Why did you stop bullying Jungsu? You could’ve just ignored Heechul’s request – tortured them both.’
Youngwoon fidgeted, stuttering, ‘Well-‘
Hankyung cut him off, ‘Would you hate Jungsu, too, if he was gay?’ he asked pointedly, daring him to answer.
Youngwoon opened his mouth to reply, make a ‘witty’ retort, but stopped. Jungsu was the closest thing to a best friend he’d ever had; was he really so fickle?