Pairings: Hanchul, Kyumin, Kangteuk (minor eunhae)
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?
prequel 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Heechul glanced toward the sudden flood of lamplight spilling in through the uplifted kitchen curtain, his eyes taking in Hankyung’s tall form, and he looked away. The room darkened as the Chinese man dropped the curtain, sitting down on the mattress beside Heechul. He looked at his hands, at Heechul, and back at his hands.
‘Are you mad at me?’
‘Of course I’m mad at you, you bastard.’ Heechul grumbled. Hankyung smiled slightly and let out a sigh, falling back on the mattress.
‘I should’ve picked my words better-‘
‘-but my point still stands. I have no idea whether Jungsu and Youngwoon are still alive.’ Heechul turned his head slightly then, his shoulder-length hair falling in front of his dark eyes. Hankyung continued, speaking softly. ‘The most important thing right now is finding the facility – finding answers. If I get answers then I can keep you safe. I can keep you by my side.’
Heechul smiled, laughed softly. ‘You say the cheesiest things.’ He lay beside Hankyung on the mattress, cupped his chin, and kissed him. ‘What answers could keep me safe? I’m safe already, and I’m by your side right now. Isn’t that enough?’
Hankyung didn’t reply, though. He held Heechul close, savoured the moment, because it wasn’t enough. Heechul wouldn’t stay by his side without the answers. Not for long, anyway.
Sungmin woke up feeling weak and heavy, and when he opened his eyes he saw Kyuhyun’s staring right back, pale and unblinking. His first instinct was to check his neck, to see if it had really happened, because he should’ve been dead, right? But there was nothing, just dry blood clinging to his skin. Had he healed from that? How long had he been asleep?
‘What happened?’ He asked Kyuhyun, who seemed startled by his sudden speech. Kyuhyun’s voice was raw and gravelly, hard to understand. ‘Bit you,’ and ‘passed out’ were the only words that Sungmin could discern, and he sat up dizzily.
‘Why am I alive?’ he breathed, but Kyuhyun only looked at him blankly. ‘Where are we?’ He looked around himself, took in the heaps of clothes on the floor and the crisp bed sheets tangled around his legs and shook his head. He was in the van. ‘Never mind.’ He swallowed, lay back down. ‘I’m thirsty; could you get me a drink?’
Kyuhyun seemed hesitant to obey, but nodded his head anyway, slowly leaving the room. Why was Kyuhyun in the van? Had he done something to Heechul and Hankyung? His mind tracked back to his last memories, Kyuhyun’s teeth in his neck, and he felt the heat rise in his cheeks. He’d been aroused, hadn’t he? Just thinking about it made him embarrassed, disgusted. How could he have enjoyed having his flesh chewed off? What was wrong with him? The worst part was how much he wanted more.
Hankyung had said Kyuhyun was a zombie now, so how could he speak? He’d definitely answered Sungmin’s question, even if it was practically unintelligible. He’d bitten Sungmin so hard, tore the very flesh from his neck, yet here he was – alive. Did he still have feelings, then – or at least enough of his previous self to keep Sungmin alive? The door opened, interrupting his thoughts. Kyuhyun entered the room, handed him a glass of water before sitting beside him, and to Sungmin’s surprise, Hankyung followed behind. The Chinese man smiled at him, though Sungmin felt it didn’t reach his eyes, and stood beside the door. He looked at him for a moment before speaking.
‘You seem to be okay.’ He said, and Sungmin sat up weakly. So Kyuhyun hadn’t killed Hankyung.
‘What happened?’ Sungmin asked. Maybe Hankyung would give him a more understandable answer than Kyuhyun had.
‘Well, Kyuhyun took his fill. You passed out and Heechul made a ruckus, so a few uninvited guests showed up. We had to drive away.’
‘Where are we going?’
‘We’re in Incheon right now, near Dong-gu. The sun’s coming up so we’ll stop somewhere safe, find some supplies. We’ll head for the other facility tomorrow.’
Sungmin nodded, though he wasn’t really sure what Hankyung was talking about. He glanced at Kyuhyun quickly, but found himself double-taking. Why was he staring at him like that?
‘Kyuhyun,’ said Hankyung, diverting Kyuhyun’s attention from Sungmin. ‘I need to talk to you quickly.’
Once again, Kyuhyun left the room with hesitation, a lingering look. Sungmin stood, feeling an ache in his ribs. Kyuhyun must’ve bruised them, holding him too tight. Blood dotted his t-shirt, and he leaned against the door, pressing his ear to it.
Whatever they were talking about, he wanted to hear it.
Kyuhyun followed Hankyung into the next room warily, reluctant to leave Sungmin’s side. Hankyung seated himself in the swivel chair beside the monitors, and he offered a smile. ‘You don’t have to be so hostile; I’m not going to do anything to you. I just need your help.’ He said. He looked at Heechul, hovering like a shadow in the corner of the room. ‘I need to talk to Kyuhyun privately.’
Heechul detached himself from the darkness, the dim light of the monitors casting a green-ish hue on his sour face as he passed Kyuhyun by and joined Sungmin in the bedroom. Kyuhyun gestured toward the door as it closed. ‘What about him?’ he rasped.
‘Heechul won’t do anything, he’s just cautious. You should know why.’ But Kyuhyun didn’t know why, and after a few moments of silence Hankyung filled in the blanks. ‘When Heechul looks at you he can see himself – or to put it simply, what he’ll become.’
Kyuhyun had guessed something along those lines, but he had little interest in Heechul’s problems. ‘Why do you need my help?’
‘Your DNA.’ Hankyung said simply. ‘It could be useful when we reach the facility; I’m just grasping at straws but it’s all I can think of-‘
‘-Heechul’s life is of no interest to me. I’ll cooperate as long as Sungmin is safe, that’s all.’
Hankyung nodded. ‘Yeah… I thought you’d say that.’
Sungmin jumped as the door opened, and Heechul entered, frowned at him. ‘You should be in bed.’ He said dully, and Sungmin huffed.
‘I’m not weak, I’m fine. You should all stop treating me like a child.’ He watched Heechul climb onto the top bunk, sigh. ‘Why are you in here?’
‘Hankyung told me to give him and Kyuhyun some privacy.’
‘Do you always do what Hankyung says?’
His words seemed to hit a nerve, and Heechul glared at him weakly, shrugged his shoulders. But it made Heechul think about just how often he heeded Hankyung’s words. Not only now, but before, too. It just felt natural to do what Hankyung told him to do. Kim Heechul had been tamed. If Youngwoon could see this, he’d laugh until he cried. For some reason the thought of Youngwoon made him feel sad, but he shrugged it off. There was no way he was missing that bastard; he just hoped Jungsu was with him. Sungmin interrupted his thoughts.
‘Don’t you want to hear what they’re saying?’ He asked, creeping towards the door again. Heechul made a face.
‘It’s probably nothing interesting. Kyuhyun’s a corpse; I doubt anything he says will be stimulating.’ Heechul smirked. ‘He’s probably telling him not to eat us.’
Sungmin scoffed, smiled deviously. ‘Why would Hankyung send you away if it was something silly? It’s obviously something he doesn’t want us to hear - something he doesn’t want you to hear.’ But despite his provocations, Heechul still shrugged, lay back on the bed.
‘If it’s something he doesn’t want us to hear, then I don’t want to hear it.’
Sungmin puffed out his cheeks childishly, pressing his ear to the door again anyway. Hankyung’s soft speech was muffled, but Sungmin heard his shocking words clearly.
‘When Heechul looks at you, he can see himself – or to put it simply, what he’ll become.’
He moved away from the door, then, and looked at Heechul in distress. Now that he thought about it, Heechul seemed paler than he’d been before, thinner. When he’d first met up with Heechul and Hankyung, Heechul was all personality, loud and hard to ignore. But now he was almost quiet, passive. Heechul sat up, frowned at Sungmin’s worried expression. ‘What?’ he asked. Sungmin shook his head, plastering on a smile.
‘Nothing, I’m just feeling a bit dizzy.’
He sat on the bottom bunk, running his fingers through his hair. Had he heard Hankyung wrong? Maybe he’d misinterpreted what he’d said? Either way, whatever he’d heard was something Heechul didn’t need to know about. He’d talk to Hankyung about it later.
A thought lingered in his mind, though, insistent as it repeated and repeated, over and over. If Heechul was growing colder, barely human like Kyuhyun… would Kyuhyun become as human as Heechul?
Hankyung drove through a small residential area, feeling it was safe enough to make a stop at. They parked up in a high-street, close to various shops. Sungmin stayed with the van to keep an eye on things while Kyuhyun made for the small gas station a few streets back. Hankyung had said that the undead probably wouldn’t notice him if he was quiet, so there was no need for anyone else to go with him.
Heechul and Hankyung scoped out a small convenience store to find anything edible. The floor was wet, the freezers all defrosted and leaking, and the shelves were all collapsed and smashed up. Hankyung’s pistol tapped gently against his side as he walked around the store, and Heechul looked at it oddly, though the Chinese man didn’t notice.
‘Why didn’t you get more food if you knew we’d be joining you?’ Heechul asked, looking miserably into the freezer at the submerged ice lollies floating around.
‘There weren’t any stores near the facility; it was hard to keep slipping past all of those armed military guys all the time.’ He shoved some tins into his rucksack. ‘If I tried to get more food I probably would’ve got caught.’
Heechul hummed, not interested in Hankyung’s reply. He leaned over the freezer, dipping his hand into the pool of melted ice absentmindedly. Hankyung took a moment to admire Heechul’s figure, noticing how tight his jeans were. His boots looked a bit loose, too. ‘Are those clothes okay?’ He asked, focusing his attention on something other than Heechul’s backside.
‘No, this shirt stinks, and these jeans make me look fat.’ Heechul grumbled.
‘The jeans look fine.’ Hankyung sighed. They looked more than fine, but Heechul must’ve been terribly uncomfortable in them. ‘There’s a clothes store across the way, we can pop in. Sungmin probably needs something more to his size anyway.’
There was a gentle breeze ruffling Kyuhyun’s tangled, unruly hair, and the air smelled sweet and hot. The gas station loomed ahead, and as much as Kyuhyun listened all he heard was silence. He couldn’t even hear birds, just the wind rustling through the trees. How could this place be so deserted? It seemed almost untouched by the undead panic; the shops and small houses along the road were all intact save for a few broken windows, and cars were still parked along the kerb. A feeling of unease settled over him and his feet moved faster until the gas station was before him. A large petrol jug lay overturned beside a pump, and he picked it up, shook it to see if there were any dregs left behind, but it was empty. He kept it anyway, checking the pump for gas, but that was dry too.
He looked around slowly; saw the vans and trucks parked nearby. Would they be full? Maybe they’d been left behind because they were empty. There was a car parked at a pump behind him, though, and he struck gold. He knelt beside the car and tried to siphon the petrol out into the jug, distracted from the movement in his blind spot.
He froze at the sound of footsteps, heavy breathing, and pressed himself against the side of the car. He peered around the bonnet as a young woman stumbled by, dishevelled and rotting, armless and blind. He wobbled in his unbalanced position, shifted his weight, and clenched his teeth tightly as he knocked the jug over. He caught it deftly, but the noise of his scramble had already reached her ears. When he looked, she was looking back with her empty, blind eyes. Her mouth twitched grotesquely, and she took another step. Kyuhyun was ready to deal with her if she came near, but instead she turned away, continued walking without any interest in Kyuhyun.
He knelt there beside the car for a moment, stunned. Was it his smell? She’d definitely noticed him, but something had turned her off. Could she tell him apart from a human? It made sense; he supposed… they never fought eachother, the undead. They must’ve had some way to tell the living apart from the dead.
Did that mean he was dead, too?
He managed to fill the jug halfway, but that wasn’t enough. The vans and trucks were all dry, and he decided to check inside the gas station for any petrol they might have stashed away. He glanced at the windows of the living space above the station, and frowned as a curtain twitched, swayed. Someone was here.
He entered slowly, cautiously, the light door closing quietly behind him as his dirty sneakers squeaked on the lino. His eyes followed bloody drag marks, dark and dry, to a pair of corpses lying rotting and swollen, flies buzzing around the dead flesh. He looked them over curiously; they looked like they’d been dead for a long time. There were gunshot wounds in their chests, their legs… and their foreheads. Someone had shot them, and they hadn’t died until that last bullet hit the sweet spot. If they were zombies, then maybe someone – someone alive – was still here, hiding, waiting for more to come. Glass crunched beneath his feet as he stepped over broken milk bottles, past blood smeared freezers and collapsed shelves. He approached the cash register, and with caution he leant across the counter, checking beneath. Nobody was there, yet the unease still gripped him.
Maybe it was just his imagination.
He got back on task, made for the staff door, and tapped it open gently. The hairs on his arms stood to attention at the sound of shuffling, and he listened hard as he stepped into a small hallway. Muffled, fast breathing came from the top of the staircase before him, a dim light swinging back and forth eerily. The door at the top of the stairs was slightly ajar, and he walked up quietly, warily. The breathing grew louder in his ears as he approached the top, and when he twisted the doorknob he heard a whisper, something he couldn’t understand.
He entered a small flat, wrecked and filled with garbage, tatty curtains barely covering the windows. He knew there was someone here, but where? The room was dim despite the light struggling in through the curtains, and garbage bags were everywhere. He walked further into the room, but before he could speak a bag toppled over, the contents spilling out onto the floor followed by a panicked squeak and a heavily accented voice hissing ‘Henry!’
He stepped toward the voices, and when he peered over the tower of garbage he found two young men looking back at him with terror in their eyes. Before he could speak, the smaller man let out a yell, and the skinnier man beside him fumbled around himself. In the blink of an eye Kyuhyun was staring down the barrel of a shotgun, and he twisted away in shock, but it was too late.
He fell to the ground with an agonised grunt, clutching the wound in his chest. They’d shot his heart, and if he hadn’t have moved before, they would’ve shot his head. He wheezed, panicking. The pain was immense, was he going to die? He looked at his hands in his shock, expecting them to be covered with blood, but they were clean. His hands stopped trembling and he let out a shaky breath. It was just a panic attack, his mind telling him to react. Of course he wouldn’t die, nor would he bleed. He had no blood. He had no heartbeat.
The two men stood over him, the skinny, lanky man still pointing the shotgun in his face. If he moved they’d shoot him, and this time he’d die. The smaller man said something, then, quick and strange. Chinese? He took the chance, then, as the taller man was distracted.
‘Wait!’ He yelled, and the two Chinese men looked ready to scream. ‘I’m not going to hurt you.’
They exchanged looks, stunned. The taller man let his gun slacken, but his eyes were still wide and unblinking as he stared at Kyuhyun, even as he readjusted his glasses. The smaller man was the first to speak.
‘Why can you speak?’ he said in a rush. His accent was odd, a western twang to it.
‘It’s complicated.’ Kyuhyun groaned. He pressed his hand to where the bullet tore through his muscles. It was still tender, even if it wasn’t fatal. ‘Could you give me a hand?’ he asked the smaller man, and he was quick to oblige. The lanky man was still staring at him, and Kyuhyun stared back as he got to his feet, making him step back and stumble over a pile of rubbish, falling ungracefully. The smaller man didn’t seem to care about his friend, still cautious about Kyuhyun.
‘What are you here for? We don’t want trouble.’
‘I was looking for some petrol.’ He pulled the lanky Chinese man back to his feet with ease. ‘You two just happened to be here. What about you? Why are you here?’ For some reason, he felt comfortable talking to them – well, the smaller man, anyway. Could the taller man even speak Korean?
‘We’ve been here for a few months hiding. You gave us a shock, nobodies been here for a while so we weren’t ready.’ The smaller man explained. ‘I’m Henry, by the way.’ He gestured to the rumpled Chinese man beside him. ‘This is Zhoumi’
Zhoumi spoke, then, a 1000 watt smile on his face so bright Kyuhyun almost flinched. ‘Are you some sort of superhuman zombie superhero?’
There was a pause, and Henry almost jumped out of his skin as a hearty laugh burst from Kyuhyun’s lungs. ‘Yeah,’ he said, still laughing, ‘something like that.’
Sungmin swivelled around lazily on Hankyung’s chair, his head lolling back, wishing he was outside too. He’d been in the van for two hours now, and he was beyond fed up. What was his part in all this anyway? Heechul and Hankyung were weirder than before, and Kyuhyun wasn’t even human – so what about him? He felt exactly the same, useless. Was he just Kyuhyun’s meat, now, or was there something else Hankyung was keeping him for? He hated feeling useless. He still felt tired from the blood loss of last night, and he knew Kyuhyun would want more soon. Would he be this weak every time?
He hated being treated like a piece of delicate china. Ever since that night of college he’d been doted on by everybody, weak and useless. He was strong and quick; he’d even dabbled in martial arts back in school. When would he get the chance to be of use?
He puffed out his cheeks, cursing his cuteness for misleading people. He rested his legs on the desk before him, wondering if Kyuhyun was okay. He’d been gone for a while now; it shouldn’t be taking him so long just to find gas, surely? Heechul and Hankyung were so lucky, he thought. He had no idea what Kyuhyun was, now. He had no idea what he was thinking.
He glanced briefly at the screens to see if anybody was around, but his quick glance changed to a closer look. Panic settled in his chest for a moment, but it dissipated. There was a small group of undead passing by one of the cameras, and even then they were in the distance. He leaned back in the chair again. They wouldn’t be much trouble, they’d probably go right past.
But as he watched the screen, panic filled him once again. There were more, and more after that. They were spread apart at first, but then the crowd started to thicken. In seconds every screen showed a horde writhing past the cameras, he could hear them outside moaning, brushing against the van.
He gripped the chairs armrests in terror. He needed to warn everybody, but how? The van felt safe enough, but what if they somehow managed to get in? Did they know he was inside?
He looked at the screens in despair, and silently he prayed Kyuhyun came back alive.
They camped out on a hill that night, bare road and vast fields all around them. Jungsu leant against the bonnet of the van, hands deep in his pockets as he gazed absentmindedly into the distance. The sky was clear and the snow had melted quickly with the coming of spring. Lights twinkled in the darkness, either fires or street lamps. Or maybe there were still people out there, holding on like him.
He touched his fingers gently to the soreness of his neck, felt the heat rise in his cheeks. His mind had been filled with thoughts of the morning all day, just looking at Youngwoon made him shiver. Only in his fantasies had he ever imagined Youngwoon touching him like that, but in reality it felt so much better. His neck and chest were covered in small bruises, his lips still sore from Youngwoon’s rough kisses.
He sighed out loud, but this wasn’t a sigh of frustration or sadness, it was one of satisfaction. He tilted his head back, smiled at the stars. Youngwoon wanted him and that was more than enough reason to be happy.
The stench of sweat and semen clung to his skin, though, and his smile wilted a little. He’d kill for a shower. He didn’t want Youngwoon around him when he was so dirty, it was embarrassing. His hair was greasy and limp, still messy from their morning tussle, and his jaw was prickly with stubble.
‘Hey.’ Jungsu jumped out of skin, looking sharply towards the voice to see Youngwoon walking towards him.
‘You scared me.’
Youngwoon sat on the bonnet beside Jungsu, looked down at his hands. ‘I’m sorry.’ He mumbled solemnly, and Jungsu smiled.
‘It’s okay I should be paying more attention, you could’ve been one of those things…’
‘Not for that.’
He frowned. ‘Then for what?’
‘For being a bastard,’ He kept his eyes cast downward, ‘All the time.’
Jungsu laughed softly, looking fondly at Youngwoon. ‘It’s okay. I’m used to it.’
Youngwoon looked at him then, and Jungsu felt his heart quicken. ‘You shouldn’t have to be used to it.’ He said with a voice more earnest than Jungsu had ever heard it before.
‘I’ve treated you like crap and I’ve hurt you, and I just… I’ll never do it again.’
Jungsu’s palms were sweating nervously and he rubbed them on his jeans, looking away. Youngwoon’s gaze was intense.
‘Where did this come from all of a sudden?’ He asked with exasperation. ‘You’re like a completely different person today.’
He felt Youngwoon’s fingers touch his own, and when he looked down they were entwined. He met Youngwoon’s eyes again, but his face was closer now.
‘Do you like this new person?’ He asked. Jungsu smiled.
‘It’s an improvement.’
Youngwoon closed the distance, and Jungsu couldn’t help smiling into the kiss, throwing his arms around Youngwoon’s shoulders as the bigger man spread his legs, pressed him against the bonnet. When they broke apart for air, Jungsu was still smiling.
‘What are you smiling at?’ Youngwoon grinned.
‘So do you.’ He kissed Jungsu again, and they broke apart laughing.
But something caught Jungsu’s eye, then. Was it getting darker? Light twinkled in the corner of his eye, and he looked past Youngwoon, past the sprawling fields to the deserted city beyond.
‘What’s wrong?’ Youngwoon asked, turning to see what Jungsu was gawking at.
Together they stared with an unexplainable disquiet as the city turned black, twinkling lights going out one by one until only flames and stars remained.
‘I don’t think that’s a good sign.’ Jungsu said quietly.
‘No. Me neither.’