Pairings: Hanchul, Kyumin, Kangteuk (minor eunhae)
Warnings: Mild Kangteuk action
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
A dirty sneaker kicked open the shop door making it slam noisily against the inside wall, a bell chiming cheerfully, and Hyukjae stepped inside with Youngwoon in tow. A sharp smack to the back of his neck made Hyukjae yelp, and Youngwoon shook his head, walking into the shop. ‘You don’t have to be so noisy, goddamn.’ He said. ‘I’m surprised you survived this long, Donghae must be fed up with you.’ He disappeared behind a tall shelf, and Hyukjae shrugged. He pulled on the door handle, letting it swing shut, the bell above it jingling noisily as it slammed. Youngwoon’s irritated face leered at him between two boxes of cereal and Hyukjae laughed weakly, turning his attention to something less noisy. He leaned against the checkout counter, pressing random buttons on the cash register as Youngwoon threw cans lazily into a shopping basket.
‘Do you think there’s anybody here? I mean, like, anything?’
He heard Youngwoon toss a few more cans into the basket before he replied. ‘If there was, they’d be here by now with all the fucking noise you’re making.’
Hyukjae laughed, pressing more buttons. ‘Don’t you think it’s weird, though?’ He said.
‘I don’t know… We haven’t seen many, have we? Zombies, I mean. Even on the highway there were only a few.’ Youngwoon grunted his agreement, checking the expiry date on a tin of beans. ‘We should’ve taken way longer to get this far, right? That’s what it’s like in all the movies…’ Hyukjae stopped speaking abruptly as the drawer of the cash register popped out, hitting him hard in the stomach. Youngwoon clicked his tongue and kept looking around the shop, picking up snacks here and there.
But Hyukjae had raised a good point. Two weeks and they were already miles away from Seoul, just a few more days and they’d be past Incheon, too. Nobody had been bitten, scratched; in fact, nobody had been hurt at all. The only dangerous encounter they’d had was weeks ago when Youngwoon had a struggle at the supermarket, and even that wasn’t too bad. He could hear Hyukjae exclaiming about how full the cash drawer was, counting the money out loud. Money was no use now though, was it? It was odd how the whole world could collapse beneath the threat of the undead, while just four young men could stroll along a car-wrecked highway without feeling any sense of peril. Where had they gone, all these undead? It was ominous, and a deep frown settled on Youngwoon’s forehead. The lights going out last night had unnerved him… and Jungsu, too.
He slid open the small freezer beside the counter and reached inside, picking up an ice-cream and feeling the contents slosh around inside the wrapper. He dropped it back down, sighing. ‘It’s really gone, then.’
Hyukjae stopped counting for a moment, leaned over the counter to see what he was doing. ‘What’s gone? Hyung, there are other ice-creams; you don’t have to look so disappointed.’
‘I’m not talking about ice-cream you idiot. The electricity is gone.’
‘Oh. Well, still, we don’t need electricity, do we? What does it matter?’
‘It doesn’t matter.’ Youngwoon walked to the fridge. ‘But it feels like a bad sign.’
‘Hey, lighten up!’ Hyukjae grumbled. ‘You never used to be like this, we can’t even joke around with you anymore ‘cos it feels like you’re gonna kill us.’
Youngwoon chuckled. ‘Yeah, I know. I’m sorry for being grumpy, things are just...’ he opened the fridge, browsing. ‘I’ve been a bad friend lately, haven’t I?’ He grabbed a can of coke, still cool, and jumped when Hyukjae’s face appeared beside him, gummy smile in place. ‘What?’ He laughed.
‘What’s going on with you and Jungsu, then?’ He beamed, and Youngwoon groaned.
‘It’s none of your business.’
‘Ah~, so it’s true?’ He grinned wider. ‘I never thought this would happen, I thought you were all about the ladies.’
Youngwoon slammed the fridge door, cursing lightly under his breath as he checked behind the counter for some alcohol. ‘What about you?’
‘You and Donghae,’ Youngwoon expanded. ‘You seem close.’
He heard Hyukjae laugh nervously behind him. ‘It’s nothing like that, we’re just friends.’
‘You went through a lot just to save your friend, don’t you think?’
‘What do you mean?’ Hyukjae said weakly, warily. ‘Anyone would do that much for a friend.’
‘Well, Donghae must be a really special friend if you’re ready to do something that drastic in a heartbeat.’
He heard Hyukjae step closer, a hint of anger in his voice. ‘What are you implying?’
‘You could’ve saved Kibum, right?’ Youngwoon asked lightly, calmly. ‘But you just left him to die. Wasn’t he your friend, too?’
There was a long pause; Youngwoon could almost hear Hyukjae thinking up a reply, an excuse. But all that he heard was a bitter laugh. ‘Kibum would’ve slowed us down.’ He said simply, as if it were a casual chat. ‘His ankle would’ve gotten infected, anyway. I was pumped up on adrenaline; I just grabbed Donghae and ran. Kibum was my friend; I wouldn’t have left him if there was a better option.’
Youngwoon gave a lazy nod, dismissing his excuses. He grabbed a few cans of beer, tossed them into the basket and turned, fixing Hyukjae with a cold, hard stare.
‘I’m not as stupid as I look. Don’t even think about trying anything on me. I know you’re plotting something, but I’m getting Jungsu safe whether you like it or not, and you better not try and stop us. I like you, Hyuk; but if I have to hurt you, I will.’
He walked out of the shop, the bell chiming as Hyukjae stood, dumbfounded; but his surprise turned to stone-cold resolve in seconds, and he followed Youngwoon grudgingly back to the cars. He rubbed at a sore scar on the back of his head from where he’d fallen in the woods, and glared coldly at Youngwoon’s back. He could prove to be more trouble than Hyukjae had originally thought, and a wicked smile spread across his face. Yes, they’d be easy to deal with.
And then Donghae would be his.
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?