Pairings: 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 - but where are Heechul and Sungmin? What happened to Hankyung? Did Youngwoon and Jungsu escape? And is Kyuhyun really dead?
Notes: Kangteuk this chapter and the next chapter.
prequel 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Youngwoon’s heart was racing, pounding in his chest as he watched with dark eyes the helicopter descend. They all looked so happy, the idiots, grinning like fools – how could they not see it? Were they really so naive?
He took a step closer to Jungsu, readying himself to grab him and run, to pull him away. There was no way he could leave him behind; he had to save him - if no one else. His mind was foggy from alcohol, but that only strengthened his resolve.
As the helicopter touched down on the asphalt, a bead of sweat trickled down his neck. Now. Now was the moment.
But he was distracted for a second at the sudden movement in the corner of his eye, and he turned to see Kyuhyun stood behind him, the doors thrust open at his sides with the dark stairwell as his backdrop; his jaw slack and his limbs loose and Youngwoon knew he had to get out of there.
That wasn’t Kyuhyun any more; he knew it even before the boy looked at him with those terrible blue eyes.
He snatched Jungsu’s hand without a moments thought, and whatever the older man said in protest was lost over the roar of the helicopter’s propellers. Kyuhyun was too slow to catch them as they ran past, and instead he went for Sungmin. That was the last thing he saw, the spray of blood from Sungmin’s neck, Kyuhyun’s teeth tearing away a massive chunk of flesh and Sungmin falling to his knees, to the ground, before they plunged into the darkness of the stairwell, not once looking back.
They ran down step after step into the darkness until the sounds were mere echoes and they were on the ground floor. The hinges on the staff door were barely holding on, and as they ran past, he could see their ugly faces peering through the gaps they’d ripped in the metal and they roared and screamed at the sight of meat and fought all the harder to get inside.
He pretty much threw Jungsu into the warehouse before he slammed the door behind them. They stood there in the dusty, dim light; wide-eyed, breathless and terrified. Jungsu had seen it too, he was sure. The way Sungmin fell, the look in his eyes – the look in Kyuhyun’s eyes.
It really happened. People really changed. It could happen to any of them – it was real now.
It was as if he’d been in a nightmare, only to realise it was reality. He wasn’t asleep. The monsters were real and they were after him and he’d never wake up.
He leant back against the heavy warehouse door, letting himself slide to the floor, and he held his head in his hands. He had the worst headache, why had he drank so much? It seemed Jungsu was frozen in place, still staring at the floor with a haunted look in his eyes. He seemed to have aged years in a matter of minutes.
A gunshot rang out in the silence of the warehouse, and Youngwoon’s heart was in his mouth. The people from the helicopter were inside. The undead or the living, Youngwoon knew neither of them were there to save them. If he and Jungsu went out there, they'd be the ones getting shot.
What would happen when they were done with the undead? They’d come looking for them. They’d come in there.
They had to leave; they had to get out right now. He looked around wildly, frantically. Jungsu came to stand beside him, ghostly pale and shaking. The crappy Pinto they’d got here in was in the middle of the large warehouse, but it had no gas, and even if they filled it up it wouldn’t last much longer – not to mention the floor of the car was covered in his vomit. Two large delivery lorries were parked side by side in the far corner of the room, but he had no idea of how to drive such a large vehicle.
It would have to do.
Jungsu didn’t respond when Youngwoon tried to speak to him, and he had to practically drag him over to the closest lorry. He was shaking terribly, and he could barely get into the van without Youngwoon’s help. As he slammed the passenger door shut, he heard the gunshots raining down inside, closer and closer amongst the moans and cries of the undead.
He ran towards the corrugated metal doors separating them from the parking lot, and flicked the switch on the control panel, running back to the lorry without waiting for them to rise. Thankfully, the keys had been left in the ignition, and with a flick of his wrist the engine was roaring to life and his feet found the pedals just as the gunshots came dangerously close to the warehouse door. The lorry screeched out into the parking lot, and he let himself take a deep breath, a sigh of relief as he relaxed into the worn-out drivers seat.
He knew they weren’t safe yet, and they probably wouldn’t be for a long time, but he hadn’t expected it to be so bad. His eyes widened as he drove into the precinct, past the store. There were hundreds of them swarming around the entrance, and the roars were deafening. More and more were flooding in, attracted to the noise of the gunshots like ants to sugar.
Thankfully, though, it drew them away from him. The road away from the department store was clear apart from a few wrecked cars. He could breathe easy for a while.
Jungsu sat in the passenger seat silently, staring out of the window. He was thinking of the others, of what he’d just seen, Youngwoon was sure. Even though he barely knew them, except for Heechul, he was probably blaming himself for leaving them behind. Thinking about all the possibilities, all the terrible things that might have happened to them after they’d escaped. He wanted to reassure him, to say it wasn’t his fault, but he hadn’t the words.
Or maybe he was thinking of the helicopter – their ticket to safety. If he leaned toward the windshield he could see it flying away. But he knew, somehow, it wasn’t safety it was flying to. That helicopter was worse than the fate that awaited them outside. It was all too sinister; he could just feel it in his gut. Something was wrong and he sure as hell wasn’t going to let them take Jungsu too.
They drove for hours in silence, and it was dark by the time they found somewhere relatively safe to park. They hadn’t seen a single one of those things since they left the Galleria, and although he found it odd, he was thankful. They had no weapons, no energy, and he wasn’t even sure he could bring himself to kill one of them.
Jungsu hadn’t taken his eyes off the window even once, and when Jungsu stood up and climbed into the back of the van, Youngwoon nearly jumped.
‘You know,’ he mumbled, ‘you know we had to run, right?’ He needed to hear Jungsu speak, just a word, even a mumble, but he only nodded. It was as if he was a ghost. ‘They weren’t there to save us, you know.’ he started again, and this time he didn’t know whether he was talking to Jungsu or to himself. ‘This was the right thing to do.’
Jungsu nodded once more before carrying on into the back of the van, and it was too dark in there for Youngwoon to see what he was doing. He drove and drove until nothing but empty motorway stretched before and behind him. Letting out a mighty sigh, he ran his hand through his hair and sat back in the drivers seat, stretching his feet out and cutting the engine.
It’d get cold soon without the engine on, and he pulled his jacket tighter around himself, staring numbly out into the darkness.
The blood, the blood, the blood. It was all he could see, all he could think of. The way Kyuhyun bit so brutally into Sungmin’s throat was inhuman. It could have been any one of them he attacked, but it ended up being the one person he’d tried to protect the most. It was terrifying to think it actually happened, that he'd actually turned into one of them.
He’d left Heechul behind. He’d let Youngwoon pull him away and he’d ran and hadn’t looked back. He’d left him. His best friend was in mortal danger and he didn’t save him, the man he grew up with. He felt sick, dizzy, as if the floor had given way beneath his body and he was falling and falling. What had happened after he’d left? Had Kyuhyun attacked Heechul too? Hankyung?
How could they not have noticed Kyuhyun was infected? When he thought about it, it was so obvious, how Sungmin avoided the subject so awkwardly.
He was so tired, but too many thoughts were screaming in his mind, most of all - why had Youngwoon saved him? If he’d left him behind, he’d have been safer; he would’ve got away faster. There’d be one less mouth to feed, one less person to worry about. Yet he was relieved, somewhere in his confusion, that Youngwoon had taken him. He felt safe with him, though he knew the younger man was useless. All brawn and no brains, but it was more than nothing. He was a good man when it was just the two of them, and when he was sober. That was why he loved him.
He curled his knees to his chest. He’d found a stack of mattresses up against the wall of the truck, along with new pillows and duvets and other bedding. Apparently nobody had unloaded the van. He was too numb to feel happy about it when he'd first stumbled into the back of the vehicle, but now it was a godsend. It was cold now, and he ripped the plastic packing apart, pulling the duvet up to his chin. He balled his fists in the soft material and lay on the floor, listening to the hum of the engine and praying for sleep.
Youngwoon didn’t sit there for long. It grew too cold, sitting still with only a thin jacket to keep him warm. He was tempted to turn the engine back on, but the thought of Jungsu sleeping defencelessly in the back made him stop. If those things saw the lights on, heard the engine, they’d swarm and he wouldn’t be able to do a thing. His stomach growled and he grumbled to himself, he’d have to get food for the both of them, he knew it. Jungsu was too weak and petrified to do it, and honestly he’d rather go himself than sit worrying about the older man.
The lorry was parked on a bridge, a lake running beneath it. Further ahead lay a thick cluster of trees to either side of the motorway. He’d be able to see if anything was coming, if need be. There were no stars tonight, too much smoke in the air, too many clouds. He could see a fire glowing faintly in the distance. Maybe they’d set the Galleria alight? Maybe. It would be far easier than shooting every single one of those zom- no. He couldn’t even bear to think the word. Zombies. How stupid - a thing of horror films and bad fiction novels. Yet here they were, right before his eyes.
Hungry. Mindless. Terrifying.
He yawned, rubbing his eyes wearily. He was tired and cold and fed up. He’d seen enough for one day. He stood and went to climb into the back of the lorry, but stopped, remembering to lock the doors, and then continued. He would’ve tripped over Jungsu if he hadn’t been using his cell phone to see in the darkness. He’d had it in his pocket the whole time, though it was useless. The battery was critical and there was no signal.
The back of the lorry was filled with mattresses and bedding, but Jungsu lay shivering on the floor beneath a thin duvet in the middle of it all. He watched him lying there for a few seconds before pulling off his shoes and lifting the duvet, lying beside him. He didn’t think about the fact he was under the sheets with another man, he was far too tired, far too comfortable.
And Jungsu was warm.
It was cold when he awoke, and he nuzzled closer to the warmth at his chest until the last dregs of sleep left his foggy mind and his eyes struggled open, only to land on the sleeping face of Jungsu, his body closely entwined with his own. His face was more serene than he had ever seen it, the worry gone from his handsome face.
His first instinct was to wriggle away, to untangle himself from the older man as fast as physically possible, yet something stopped him.
Maybe it was just how tired Jungsu looked, how worn and weary. He couldn’t bring himself to move, to disturb him, so he lay back down and pushed away the feeling of repulsion stirring in his gut at the thought of being so close to another man. Instead he wrapped his thick arms around Jungsu’s back, pulling his warmth closer to his broad chest. He watched Jungsu sleep until he fell back to sleep himself.
When he awoke for the second time, it was much colder than before, and when he opened his eyes, Jungsu was not beside him. A pinprick of panic rippled through his chest, a swirling, sickening feeling of fear coiling in his stomach. He got to his wobbly feet, eyes frantic and ready to shout his name before a quiet voice cut him short.
‘I’m hungry’ Jungsu said, his voice papery thin and as rough as sandpaper. He was sat in the passenger seat once again, and Youngwoon had to shield his eyes to look at him. It was blindingly bright at the front of the lorry compared to the back, it must’ve been around midday, and when his eyes finally adjusted to the light he had to fight back a gasp.
Jungsu looked terrible. Worse than he had ever seen him. His skin was pale and his face was hollow, drawn. His eyes were deeply set, dark bags under each one like bruises.
He hadn’t realised he’d been staring until Jungsu spoke again, not once turning to face him.
‘We’ll have to get food.’
Youngwoon knew what he really meant, though, and he groaned.
Not ‘we’ll have to get food,’ but ‘you’ll have to get food’.
They drove til they saw the signs for a rest stop, and they parked a safe distance away, keeping the van out of sight. They were hidden behind a thick cluster of trees, or at least... he was. Jungsu was alone, waiting.
Youngwoon hadn’t looked the slightest bit enthusiastic about leaving the safety of the truck, but Jungsu couldn’t bring himself to feel bad for guilting him into it. He was starving, and he was weak. Youngwoon had enough fat hanging off his bones to last him another week.
But he’d been gone for far too long now, and the beginnings of worry had started to swirl in his chest. His hand rested contemplatively on the door handle, but common sense hadn’t abandoned him just yet. If Youngwoon was in trouble, what help would he be? He’d just get in the way. He was safer in the truck.
His stomach growled mournfully, loud in the tense silence that filled the truck and he sighed heartily. His eyes still felt heavy after his short sleep, and he couldn’t bring himself to check his reflection in the rear-view mirror.
He must’ve only had four or five hours sleep. He was still awake when Youngwoon had joined him under the duvet, and the shock of being so close to him had kept him awake for hours. The only time he’d ever seen Youngwoon sleep so close was when the younger man was drunk, but this was different. Youngwoon knew where he was, who he was with and – if he wasn’t as stupid as he made himself out to be – he knew how Jungsu felt.
Waking up was worse.
He was so warm that it was almost painful to open his eyes, scared to break the cocoon of warmth he was wrapped in. But when he did, he found it wasn’t a cocoon, it was Youngwoon.
And oh, how his heart had jumped.
He must’ve stopped breathing for a moment, and he’d thought it was a dream at first. He’d let himself relax into what he'd thought was his imaginary embrace, but when the bigger man fidgeted in his sleep, he was shocked back to reality once again. Obviously Youngwoon had cuddled up to him in his sleep. He was unconscious, he didn’t know what he was doing. Jungsu was warm, that was all.
And if Youngwoon woke up and found himself in kissing distance, what would he have done then? Jungsu was under no illusion that he’d simply go back to sleep, and he disentangled himself from the bigger man as quickly and quietly as he possibly could. He’d seen Youngwoon freak out far too many times, and if he was going to be trapped in this truck with him for a long time, he wanted the atmosphere between them to be as frictionless as possible. He couldn’t show him how much he longed to throw himself into those arms and sob; to tell him how scared he was and how he loved him so much more for saving him from the fate the others had inevitably suffered. He couldn’t succumb to his desire to cover his thin lips with his own plump ones and tell him once again just how much he loved him, how long he’d wanted to be close to him, how he’d dreamt of his body impossibly close to his, naked and honest.
He sat in the passenger seat for three hours or so, cold and hungry and tired, watching Youngwoon sleep. He thought about turning the engine on, getting the truck warmed up, but it would be too noisy, too risky. Somewhere in his bundle of confused, tangled up emotions was a fear so deep he couldn’t bring himself to think about it. The fear of them. Those things doing what Kyuhyun did to Sungmin – doing what Kyuhyun could’ve done to him.
Ripping, tearing, peeling the flesh off his bones with their teeth, with their hands as he screamed and cried and nobody would save him. Not this time. Because Youngwoon was all he had left, and they’d get him too.
When Youngwoon had woken up, he’d felt a flicker of hope spark in his chest at the frantic, searching look on his face. He was worried about him, he cared.
The younger man had given him his jacket before he’d left to check out the supermarket, and Jungsu pulled it tight around his shoulders, leaning back into the stiff passenger seat and closing his eyes. He inhaled deeply, his nose buried in the fabric, a scent like beer and sweat and Youngwoon.
The air was crisp and his breath came out in white puffs of vapour as soon as he left the truck, and he thought maybe he shouldn’t have left his jacket with Jungsu after all. He made off toward the supermarket, anyway. The fresh, cold air had woken him up completely before he’d even stepped into the thick cluster of trees that separated the lorry from the supermarket. Frozen twigs snapped underfoot, deafeningly loud in the silence around him and he clenched his teeth with every noisy step he took. It was light in the woods, thankfully, the pale grey sky looming overhead as thin, finger-like branches reached upwards towards it.
He hurried his steps, though he had no reason to. Surely there was more danger awaiting him outside of the trees than in. He trudged on ruthlessly, however. The sound of snapping twigs and dead, crunching leaves became almost rhythmic, and with every footfall his thoughts turned more and more to Jungsu.
He’d been truly terrified when he’d woken up alone, and he was sick of making excuses. He was worried about Jungsu – no, more than worried. He was petrified of what could have happened to him. He was all Youngwoon had, and he meant that in earnest. He hadn’t taken Jungsu with him on a whim, nor had he took him for safety in numbers. He’d known that helicopter was bad news, and he’d known he had to take Jungsu and only Jungsu.
Because Jungsu loved him.
How he hadn’t noticed before he couldn’t figure out for the life of him. He’d always been there. Always. Even though Youngwoon was no good and violent and mean and drunk, he’d take it all, and he wouldn’t complain. He’d look after him when he’d pass out in Jungsu’s dorm, even when his room-mate grumbled about it – what was his name again... Jongwoon? In fact, he couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t found himself in Jungsu’s bed after a party, a glass of water and a pack of painkillers on the bedside table.
He didn’t know who was more idiotic. Him for being too ignorant to notice, or Jungsu for even caring about a worthless sack of shit like him.
Youngwoon’s feet slowed in their rhythmic pounding of the forest floor until they ceased to move at all. He stood there, motionless, and it seemed to hit him all of a sudden, as hard as a ton of bricks.
He loved Jungsu, too. It wasn’t hatred he’d felt when he’d heard Jungsu say those same three words only a day before, it was shock. It was denial.
He started walking again, faster than before. And soon he was jogging, running, sprinting and he was out in the parking lot, feeling more alive than he’d ever felt before. He’d had girlfriends, lots, and he’d had sex with more girls than he could count; but he’d never been in love. His chest felt like fire and a stupidly wide grin spread across his face. He rested his hands on his knees and caught his breath, and he laughed to himself. How stupid he was. How terribly stupid.
Only when he stood back up did he realise how true that was.
The supermarket stood about 30 feet from where he stood, the neon lettering above the doors swinging precariously on its hinges. The front windows were smashed and a pile of shopping carts blocked the entrance.
But that wasn’t where he was looking.
There were around 40 of those things meandering about the parking lot – or at least they were meandering about before he starting making a scene. Now they were looking right at him.
And now they were coming straight for him.
Why had he started laughing? Why had he ran straight out of the woods instead of hanging back and waiting? He spat on the concrete in frustration and bared his teeth mockingly at the creatures shambling slowly towards him.
And he ran.
He sprinted through the parking lot, weaving through outstretched arms and groping, clammy fingers; and he leapt through the wide, shattered window of the supermarket, landing on his side with a crunch, the broken glass embedding itself in his skin. The adrenaline coursing through his veins didn’t let him feel the pain, though, and he was back on his feet in seconds. He grabbed tins of canned fruit and soups and beans and whatever else he could get his hands on, whatever he could fit in his arms.
When he turned to go back the way he’d come, he stopped short. They were there, shambling in that awkward way of theirs, their twisted feet crunching on the broken glass, slipping on the linoleum.
‘Shit,’ he breathed, ‘Shit, shit, shit!’
He ran the other way. There had to be a staff room, a back door, anything. His shoes slipped on the smooth, polished linoleum floors as he ran down aisle after aisle and they squeaked as the moans of the approaching undead grew nearer and nearer and louder and louder. He nearly screamed with joy at the sight of a door. ‘Staff only’ it read, and he threw himself at it, falling against crates and empty boxes. He dropped all the food in his arms and slammed the heavy fire door shut, hooking the latch and pushing the heavy crates up against it.
He was dripping with sweat by the time the door started to shake with the thunderous impact of dead-weight hands pounding relentlessly. Thud. Thud. Thud.
Youngwoon looked around the room he was stood in for the first time. It was small and narrow, filled with crates. A single light bulb dangled from the high ceiling, flickering on and off.
There was no door.
It was a dead end.
He slumped against the crate he was sat on, the adrenaline kick fading rapidly only to be replaced by despair and a flesh-deep agony. He choked back a sob and looked for the source of the pain, and when he found it it took all his willpower not to vomit.
A deep, bloody gash was ripped into his arm, a shard of glass protruding from the wound. In fact, he was covered in blood. He’d been too terrified to realise he was bleeding, his mind too occupied by thoughts of escape. Every movement sent shocks of pain up his arm and he had to bite his lip to contain a scream of agony, throwing his head back at the white-hot pain engulfing his arm and it took all his willpower to not simply burst into tears. It was then, staring listlessly at the ceiling, that he saw his saviour; and if he believed in God that would’ve been the moment he thanked him.
A vent, wide and sturdy, hung from the ceiling. If he moved the crates, piled them atop of each other, he could climb in. He could escape.
He ripped the edge of his sweat-soaked shirt, tearing a strip off and rolling it up before putting it in his mouth and biting it like a gag. The pain was immense, and climbing through that vent was going to rip his arm to pieces. He didn't want to end up biting his tongue, bleeding out on his way to safety, did he? He stood and went for the nearest crate, and as he did he knew it was the right decision to gag himself. His jaw clenched like a vice at the strain on his arm from pushing the heavy crates, and tears ran down his cheeks. The pain and the sound of the undead moaning and roaring and screaming only pushed him on, though. He couldn’t die here. If he died, what would happen to Jungsu? Would he come looking for him only to find him torn to pieces? Or would those things find him first?
Yes. He needed to live. For Jungsu, if nothing else.---