Title: Cold and Damp
II [Dead Seoul]
Pairings: Hanchul, Kyumin, Kangteuk
Warnings: Smut (mildly forced)
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
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His hands shook, his lips quivered. Heechul’s body was limp in his arms, a dead weight in his lap as he pressed him close to his chest and rocked back and forth on the floor, sobbing into his hair. His shirt was wet with blood, sticking to his skin, and Heechul’s hair was matted as it clung to his red face and neck. What had he done? All he was trying to do was save him, but somehow he’d ended up doing the exact opposite. Minutes passed as he sat there, trembling, rocking, and whispering apologies into Heechul’s deaf ears. Had he got it wrong? He thought he’d heal, that if he waited long enough his eyes would open and he’d gasp for air and things would be right again, but he was growing colder by the second. He loosened his grip on Heechul’s body, felt him slacken in his arms, his head lolling to the side. The wound was terrible, a huge chunk of flesh torn from his neck. When he looked closer, he noticed something was wrong. He could see bone beneath the blood and tissue and muscle, and something else, the broken shards of a bullet strewn about inside, jammed into his windpipe. He started to sweat as the reality hit him hard like a sharp slap in the face – if the bullet was stuck, Heechul wouldn’t heal. He had to take it out, but he didn’t know how. Either way, he had to do it fast.
He carried Heechul into the computer room and lay him on the flat, sunken mattress. He turned the room upside down in search for something thin he could get the shards out with, something tweezer-like, but he found nothing. Desperate, he rushed about in the kitchen, returning with a pair of chopsticks. It wasn’t an ideal tool, but it was all he had. They were thick, and he knew he’d severely damage the tissue surrounding Heechul’s upper spine and probably disrupt some of his muscle too, but if he did it right then maybe Heechul would heal even that. He had to try – and he had to try fast, before his pulse faded completely. It was terribly dark in here, and he rummaged around behind his mattress in his gun bag, pulling out a torch and flicking the switch before shoving it in his mouth, the light shining onto Heechul’s face. He turned his face to the side, and his hands trembled slightly as he picked up his chopsticks, pulled the frayed skin away from the wound. He took a deep breath and tried to calm his nerves. If he did this wrong, Heechul would die. He’d be alone.
It was a miracle that Heechul didn’t get blown apart completely, the bullet hitting him at an odd angle and breaking apart on impact instead of ripping through muscle and flesh and bone. Tears stung his eyes, and he delved inside.
The shards of the shotgun round lay in a red patch on the flat yellowed pillow beside Heechul’s head. His lips were paler than their usual rich red and his open eyes were rheumy and distant. Hankyung lay beside him, his fingers running through Heechul’s blood-matted hair.
'Please, please wake up.' He didn't want to be alone, not again.
His heart jumped when Heechul’s lips quivered slightly. A choked noise erupted from his throat before his body jolted and blood gushed from his wound and his mouth, running down his chin. His eyes rolled back before looking left, then right, before focusing on Hankyung’s face dizzily. He could see the pain and confusion in Heechul’s eyes before his eyelids closed heavily and he fell into a deep, healing sleep. Hankyung felt a cold, hard guilt settle in his chest, a weight on his shoulders as he dwelt in the knowledge that he’d made Heechul die two deaths. He lay there beside him for a while, two fingers pressed to the pulse in his neck, feeling it grow stronger and stronger; but he knew Heechul had lost too much blood. There were no hospitals anymore, and if there were, they wouldn’t be able to help Heechul anyway. Only he could save him, only his blood.
He knew Heechul would hate him for what he was about to do, but it was either that or watch him die and know that he could’ve prevented it. He took brisk steps into the kitchen, returning with a knife, and kneeling over Heechul’s body, he held his wrist above his mouth. He sliced a deep cut into his wrist and gently pulled apart his lips, letting the blood drip between his teeth, onto his tongue, down his throat. At first he choked, but his body quickly responded to the taste, and he started to swallow hungrily. It was mesmerising, and Hankyung didn’t even notice his vision beginning to blur, blacken. He collapsed on the pillow beside Heechul, his wrist still against Heechul’s mouth even as his own skin started to heal.
They fled hastily as the gunshot echoed in their ears. They ran and ran until they couldn’t breathe and they stopped, their hands on their knees as they gasped for air. Sungmin took the short breather to ask where they were going. ‘I found two guys at the gas station when I was getting petrol,’ Kyuhyun replied, ‘I told them I’d go back for them.’
Sungmin smirked, ‘When did you start caring about other people?’ he mocked, and Kyuhyun scoffed, shoved him playfully. He started to run again, and Sungmin felt himself laugh, as if a weight had been lifted from his chest, and he jogged after Kyuhyun.
They reached the gas station, but as they approached, Kyuhyun seemed hesitant. ‘What’s wrong?’ asked Sungmin, and Kyuhyun sighed.
‘I told them to go somewhere safe.’
‘And where would that be?’
They heard a car beep behind them, and when they turned towards the noise Sungmin saw a chubby face pressed against the passenger window of a range rover, a pair of hands waving frantically at them. He looked at Kyuhyun in time to see his face light up in a way he’d never seen before, and it took him back a bit. He smiled at Sungmin, and grabbed his hand, pulling him towards the car with almost childish glee.
They slid into the plush leather seats, slamming the door behind them, and the chubby faced boy peered at Sungmin from behind his seat, curious and friendly. He’d never been in such a luxurious car before, even with the blood spatter on the windows and the foul stench rising from the boot it was miles better than his Ford Escort. The car sped into motion, and the driver called back to them asking where they should drive to. His voice was high, cheerful, and he had an accent. ‘Just go anywhere, as far away from here as you can.’ Kyuhyun replied. He looked at Sungmin and gestured to the boy in the passenger seat. ‘This is Henry, and that’s Zhoumi.’ The driver turned to give Sungmin a quick smile before turning back again, a large nose and a big smile that made Sungmin feel comfortable instantly. Henry reached his hand out, and Sungmin shook it with a smile. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. ‘And this is Sungmin.’
‘Where are the rest of your friends?’ asked Henry. He reminded Sungmin of some small animal, a chinchilla or a gerbil or something.
‘I’ll explain everything once we’ve caught our breath.’ Kyuhyun said, leaning back into his seat and stretching his long legs. He closed his eyes, and he seemed to relax visibly. A few minutes passed before his breathing evened out and he fell asleep. When Sungmin drew his eyes away from Kyuhyun’s peaceful face, he saw Henry was still staring at him.
‘Is there any music to put on?’ Sungmin asked, ‘I know the radio isn’t up to much any more but there might be some CD’s’
Henry rummaged around in the dashboard for a moment before sighing. ‘It’s all trot.’
He pushed the disk in and Sungmin felt warmth in his chest at the sound of music. When was the last time he’d heard music? Before he knew it he was singing along, word for word. He didn’t notice Kyuhyun open his eyes to watch him, or the small smile that tugged at his lips as he did.
The sound of his retching echoed in the cellar bathroom as he hunched over the sink. Wiping his mouth, he straightened, looking at his reflection in the mirror as a stranger stared back; eyes red rimmed and sunken, a swollen mouth and a grim expression. More than a month had passed since he and Youngwoon had escaped the shopping mall, and Youngwoon’s apologies came less and less frequently now. He padded over to the bath with muscles sore and stiff from lack of exercise, and he turned the taps, watched the bath fill. His bones stood stark from his skin, a lack of appetite making his weight drop drastically in a matter of weeks. He'd always been thin, but this was on another level.
Maybe it was for the best that he didn’t eat much; there wasn’t a lot of food to go around anyway. He lowered his aching body into the icy bath, and he let it fill more and more until it reached his neck, his lips, and he slid beneath the water. The sound of it rumbled in his ears, and as the urge to breath overwhelmed him he grabbed the sides of the bath, forcing himself to stay under. His legs thrashed as his body desperately fought for breath, his lungs filling with water with every futile gasp. Moments passed, and his struggle became weaker and weaker, and as numbness crawled up his toes, his legs, he felt peace wash over him.
And then there was pain. He felt air rush against his face, and he choked hard as oxygen forced its way into his burning, saturated lungs. Strong hands were running through his hair frantically, clinging at the skin of his face. He opened his sore eyes and saw Youngwoon staring back, an angry, confused expression in place and he wondered if this torture would ever end, if he’d ever see another persons face again.
Night fell abruptly as they drove, and the car was filled with noise as they all sang along to the awful trot cd’s that were stuffed into the dashboard. The song ended, and Sungmin smiled. ‘In another life we could’ve been a band.’
Kyuhyun laughed. ‘Henry would have to play an instrument then.’ They all laughed, and Henry looked over his shoulder at Kyuhyun in mock offense.
‘We should probably think about stopping somewhere for the night, maybe find somewhere to sleep.’ Zhoumi suggested, tapping his fingers on the wheel.
‘We can just sleep in the car,’ said Kyuhyun with a shrug. ‘Where did you find this thing anyway? And more importantly, how did you get it started without any keys?’ He asked, leaning forward and regarding the mess of wires hanging out behind the wheel.
Zhoumi laughed nervously. ‘That's for me to know and you to hopefully never find out. Staying in the car sounds safer; I just thought you and Sungmin might want your privacy.’
Kyuhyun sat back as his face reddened and he turned to look out of the window. Sungmin smiled, confused. ‘What do you mean by that?’
The Chinese man smiled brightly, looking at Sungmin in the rear-view mirror. ‘Nothing. We should probably take it in turns to sleep, though. Anything could happen to us if we all sleep at the same time.’
‘Sungmin and I will get in the front while you two get some rest,’ Kyuhyun said, ‘After what just happened, I don’t think we’ll sleep well tonight anyway.'
Soon a soft harmony of snores filled the back of the car. They were parked on a country road, and Sungmin rolled the window down to breathe the fresh country air. They sat in silence, enjoying the relief of being away from the drama that seemed to surround Hankyung and Heechul, basking in the knowledge that they were miles away from that nightmare. A moth drifted in through the window and fluttered around the light built into the roof of the car before settling on Sungmin’s hand. He smiled and lifted his hand towards Kyuhyun. ‘Look.’ He said softly, but the look on Kyuhyun’s face when he did wasn’t what he’d been expecting. The teen flinched away with horror, waving his arms around pathetically as he gasped like a fish out of water. Sungmin couldn’t hold his laughter at the sight of Kyuhyun so utterly terrified of something so small. ‘You’re scared of moths?’ he asked patronisingly as it flew away.
‘I hate things that fly at me, I choked on a moth once – it’s trauma.’ He mumbled, flustered.
He smiled and turned away from Kyuhyun, looking out at the moonlit fields stretching before him and he spoke wistfully, ‘I wish I could fly. I’d fly away from here; I’d fly to another planet, a parallel universe where things were the same as before - before this… mess.’ He sighed. ‘And I wouldn’t have to spend every waking moment terrified of what would happen next.’
Kyuhyun looked at him as he spoke, saddened by his words, and silently he vowed to take him away from this place, this apocalypse. He’d find somewhere safe, find freedom, no matter how long it took.
'I can relate to that.'
Sungmin shook his head softly. 'I just keep seeing the blood. I've never seen someone get shot, I'm probably still in shock.' He took a breath, hesitant to ask the question that had been playing on his mind since they'd fled the van. 'Do you think Heechul is okay?'
Kyuhyun didn't know how to answer – there was nothing reassuring he could say. 'I have no idea. We just have to keep moving on.'
'For how long? Will we ever stop moving on?' Sungmin's voice began to sound desperate. His eyes were wide, full of fear and weariness. 'I miss my parents, my friends... everyone's dead.'
'You don't know that-'
'I'm not stupid, Kyuhyun. It's a fact and I've accepted it.' His voice wavered slowly. 'It just hurts so much. So much has changed so fast and I just don't know if I can keep up any more...'
'You can.' Kyuhyun stated with conviction. 'I'm not going anywhere. Especially not without you.'
Sungmin was taken aback by the earnestness in his words, his honest, open expression. Only now did he take in just how much Kyuhyun's face had changed since that afternoon, since he'd returned to life. His eyes were glimmering, his skin full of colour. He'd always been handsome, but now it only showed more, now that Sungmin had seen the alternative. He smiled softly, feeling his chest tighten with emotion.
He may have lost everything, his family and his best friend, but at the very least he had just one last person to love.
They didn't speak after that, simply enjoying the silence and safety of the countryside, the odd security they felt within that car. Neither of them quite noticed when their hands ended up entwined between the seats, thumbs caressing knuckles softly, hearts pumping to the same rhythm.