It was Friday, the last period of the day. The halls were quiet; empty of any students, teachers, or even janitors. In Mr. Barn’s 3rd year English class, the atmosphere was mostly the same, save for the sound of chalk writing on the board and the droning of his voice. In the back, a particular group of four students sat. One was diligently taking notes; another was asleep and drooling on his desk, arms cradling his head; the final two were sitting very still, as though trying to not draw attention. One might assume them to be model students, but their stifled laughter and furtive glances at each other and the clock would betray their true intentions.
“Five…” Jinwoo whispered.
“Four…” continued Myungjun.
“One,” they finished in unison. Right at that moment the clock struck three and all hell broke loose. All over the school, including in the principal’s office and the parking lot, a cacophonous roar erupted. Alarms, bells, horns, music; a multitude of noises filled every inch of air, and soon everyone was leaving their seats to run outside and attempt to escape the noise. All but Myungjun and Jinwoo, who were laughing so hard tears were rolling down their faces. Dongmin had scowled at them before fleeing the room, eyes promising a stern lecture later. Bin had woken with a start and was being dragged out by Dongmin in a very bewildered state.
Even when the noise had died down and the school fell back into being eerily quiet after all the sound, Myungjun and Jinwoo were still sitting in the classroom, catching their breath. They grinned at each other, and Jinwoo held up his hand. Myungjun grinned impossibly wider and returned the high five with a whoop. Then the door burst open.
“PARK JINWOO! KIM MYUNGJUN! OFFICE! NOW!” Their principal, Ms. Liona Welch, stood fuming in the door way looking absolutely livid. She spun on her heel, and stalked down the hallway. Jinwoo and Myungjun exchanged nervous glances, and followed after her.
When they reached her office, she ushered them in and into chairs facing her desk. She leaned on the front of the desk and rubbed her temples, taking slow breaths to calm herself. When she looked up her gaze was hard. Then she sighed.
“What am I going to do with you two?”
“Be kind and benevolent and let us off with a warning?” Myungjun offered. He was silenced with another look.
“Almost every week I have to deal with the after effects of one of your schemes. This has to stop! You two are such good students otherwise, you do your work and are relatively respectful to your teachers.” She shot a pointed look at Myungjun, then continued. “I just don’t understand why you feel the need to cause such regular mayhem.”
“We don’t hurt anybody,” Myungjun frowned.
“Yes, I know, you aren’t bullies. But have you ever thought that someone might be hurt on accident by these stunts of yours?”
“We plan them very well. And we try to limit the disruption. I mean, we set it off at the final bell!” Jinwoo defended.
“Yes, thank you for that, I suppose. But you should be applying your talents to other endeavors!”
“But we enjoy the challenge. Figuring out the perfect prank takes so much thought and creativity. That excitement when you manage to pull it off perfectly and it all goes to plan… nothing beats that.” Jinwoo explained, looking her straight in the eye.
“So you don’t feel challenged in school?”
“Not in a way that’s rewarding.” Ms. Welch was silent for a minute, looking at them both carefully. Then she let out another sigh.
“I’ll tell you what. I will find you an official outlet for your endeavors that does not involve alarm clocks in my office. But in return, you have four weeks of detention and you have to promise to not pull anymore stunts in the meantime.”
“Seriously?” Myungjun asked, flabbergasted.
“Yes. Don’t make me change my mind.”
“Understood. Thanks Ms. Welch!” Jinwoo gave her a salute. “You have our word!” She waved them out of her office, and they made a quick exit. The office was quiet again. She let out another sigh. Honestly, the talents those boys possessed were impressive. If it weren’t for the fact that they were breaking several rules, she would have applauded them. She heard a tick under her desk, and reached down, picking up an alarm clock. She snorted, and dumped it in her trashcan.
Dongmin was waiting for them outside. His arms were crossed and he had his stern mom expression on. Bin was standing bored with his hands behind his head. Next to them stood two new boys: Minhyuk and Sanha from the year below theirs. Bin and Minhyuk had met in dance club, and Sanha was best friends with Minhyuk. They had both quickly become part of the group. Sanha grinned and waved when he spotted Jinwoo and Myungjun coming out of the school.
“That was awesome! How’d you manage to get an air-horn in the skeleton in the science labs? It went off and I swear Dr. Hazard almost had a heart attack!” He gushed. Dongmin frowned even harder.
“Don’t encourage them! They caused a lot of panic and havoc.” Jinwoo and Myungjun grinned as they reached their friends. “And don’t looked so pleased about that!”
“Aw lay off Dongmin, I’m sure they got wrung out plenty by Welch,” Bin broke in.
“So, you guys get suspended or what?” Minhyuk asked.
“Nope! Only four week’s detention. And she made us promise to not pull anything else for a while.” Jinwoo grinned.
“And get this! She’s going to find us a way to pull off our pranks in a more sanctioned manner! Guess she gave up fighting us.”
“What?!” Dongmin exclaimed. “So she’s going to condone this behavior?!”
“Yup! Sorry Min, you are the only one fighting this now!” Myungjun cackled. Bin turned to Jinwoo.
“He’s telling the truth?”
“Yup. No idea what got into her, but I’m not arguing.”
“Man that’s so cool!” Sanha chirped.
“No, it’s not.” Dongmin glared, then deflated with a sigh. “Whatever, I can see I’m outnumbered. I’ll drop it for now.”
“Alright, with that out of the way, what do we want to do? Food? Video games? Movie night?” Minhyuk asked, leaning on Sanha.
“I vote food, I’m starving!” Bin said. Minhyuk rolled his eyes.
“You’re always hungry.” Bin pouted.
“How about we go to Dongmin’s place for a movie and order pizza?” Jinwoo suggested.
“Why my place?”
“Because your place is the nicest. And you have a TV bigger than a cereal box.”
“Fine, but you lot are paying for the pizza.”
“Deal! To Dongmin’s house!” Jinwoo cried. They all cheered in return.
They ended up having a movie marathon, putting in one after the other. They finished up by watching a horror movie. Most of them had fallen asleep, Bin drooling on the arm of the couch. But Myungjun and Jinwoo were still awake, watching the credits roll. Myungjun was curled into Jinwoo’s side, having hid for most of the movie in his shoulder. They sat in silence, enjoying each other’s company. Myungjun was the first to break the quiet.
“It would be awful to get stuck in a mirror dimension like that. Can you imagine? Being forced to watch silently as everyone moves on around you and you are stuck as a ghost. Unable to interact or escape. I think that’s even scarier than a masked murderer coming in and decapitating you.” Jinwoo hummed in agreement. “No seriously! Like, if you’re dead at least you have no awareness of what’s happening. This is worse than being a ghost. At least ghosts can move candle sticks and stuff.”
“I think,” Jinwoo started, “that you need to sleep before you get weird ideas in your head that will keep you up.” Jinwoo disentangled himself and got up. He grabbed a blanket and gently forced Myungjun down, laying the blanket on top. “Good night MJ, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Where are you going?”
“I have to head home, I have work tomorrow and if I stay you know I won’t get up in time.”
“But it’s so late!”
“I’ll be fine. I’ve done this a hundred times.” Myungjun bit his lip.
“Alright, good night. Stay safe, okay JinJin?”
“I will. Bye MJ.” Jinwoo gave one last smile and walked away. Myungjun watched until he closed the door and then closed his eyes, flopping back down onto the pillow he had stolen from the couch. Jinwoo would be fine…. He hugged the blanket around him tighter.
Jinwoo blew on his hands in an attempt to warm them. Maybe he should have just stayed. It was freezing out and though the walk wasn’t long, it was enough for him to wish he had worn a better jacket. He pulled out his phone. 1:27 am. Wow they had stayed up late watching movies.
He thought back to the last one. It honestly hadn’t been that scary, though Myungjun was right in that the concept of being forever trapped in a mirror world was terrifying. Myungjun… honestly Jinwoo had no idea why he always wanted to watch horror movies. He always ended up not watching most of it and clinging to Jinwoo. Not that Jinwoo minded. He suddenly felt a bit warmer.
Then, to his left, Jinwoo heard a crack. Startled, he turned and looked at the wall next to him. Seeing nothing, he slowly turned back around. Maybe that movie was scarier than he thought, if he was freaking out over wind. He shook his head. But just as he was about to move forward, he suddenly found himself frozen. He tried to move but it was as if his entire body was paralyzed. His breathing grew harsh. Then the world around him seemed to shatter like glass, and he fell into darkness. The world reformed and only his dropped phone and the echo of his scream remained to prove he was ever there at all.
Thanks so much for reading! Feel free to leave any comments, critiques, or questions. ^.^ I will see all you lovely people later!
Chapter 2: Cold Case
Jinwoo is missing, and Myungjun is frantic.
Alright! Welcome back! I'll be trying to update this story every Tuesday, so we'll see what happens. This chapter is on the decent to angst, but it's no where near as bad as the next one. After that it should move more towards mystery. Anyways, enjoy the chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Myungjun woke up to the sound of his phone ringing. Groggily, he reached around before finding it near his head.
“…Hello?” He mumbled once he answered it.
“Hello Myungjun, it’s Jinwoo’s mother. Is he there with you? I didn’t hear him come home last night and his work called to ask where he was. Apparently he never showed up.” Myungjun quickly sat up, now awake.
“No, he left late last night to go home.”
“What? Oh dear, and he’s not picking up, It just rings and then goes to voicemail.” Myungjun was now very worried. Something must have happened to Jinwoo, he would never blow off work.
“I’ll try calling him. Hold on a minute.” Myungjun hung up, and then hit his first speed dial. It rang, and rang, and just like Mrs. Park said it went to voicemail. Jinwoo was slow but he never failed to answer Myungjun. Now borderline panicking, Myungjun called back Jinwoo’s mother. The others were starting to wake up around him, stirred by him talking.
“No. He didn’t answer.”
“Oh no, what if something happened to him?” She sounded as worried as Myungjun felt.
“We’ll go out looking, maybe we can find something. If he doesn’t contact you in a few hours call the police. Jinwoo wouldn’t just up and disappear.” The others were now staring at him in concern, eyes widening at the tail end of his instructions.
“Thank you MJ, keep me updated.”
“I will.” MJ hung up the phone and was quickly bombarded by questions.
“What’s going on?” Minhyuk asked
“Jinwoo is missing?” Sanha jumped in.
“When did he leave?”
“Do you think he’s okay?” Dongmin asked. Myungjun held up his hands in a signal for them to quiet down.
“Jinwoo left to go home last night after you all fell asleep. He had work this morning. Only, he never showed up for work and his mom said he never came home last night. And he’s not answering, not even me.” Their faces mirrored his, full of worry and mild horror. “So, we are going to go look for him. Everyone get your butts up!”
Everyone scrambled up and in record time they had their shoes on and were out the door. They scoured the path Jinwoo normally took home, calling his phone and his name out loud. Neither received a response.
As Myungjun walked down the path he tried Jinwoo’s phone again. It was just ringing like before, though it sounded a little different. It took Myungjun a second to realize he heard a buzzing sound that mirrored the ringing in his ear. He whipped around, looking for the source, when he spotted it. Jinwoo’s phone was laying on the sidewalk next to a wall, face cracked. It was hidden in the wall’s shadow. Myungjun rushed over and delicately picked it up. It was Jinwoo’s alright. And it looked like it had been dropped in a hurry. His stomach dropped as he realized his worst fears had come true. Something bad had happened to Jinwoo.
By the next morning the entire town was buzzing with the news of Park Jinwoo’s disappearance. It even made the local news. Myungjun currently found himself sitting in an office with a middle aged police officer. His friends were in the building, also being questioned on what they knew.
“So you say Jinwoo left the house between 1 and 1:30 in the morning?”
“Yes, it was somewhere around there.”
“And you say he does this often?”
“He works on the weekends part time, and he has the morning shift, so he doesn’t often spend the night on Fridays.”
“He has quite the school record. Large scale disruptions, tampering with school property, disrespect for authority… Are you sure he didn’t just feel like disappearing for a bit?”
“He’s not a bad person!” Myungjun bristled. “Those were all harmless pranks! No one got hurt, and they never were directed at a single person!”
“It says here you were his accomplice in all of them.”
“I don’t see what our tendency for creative mischief has to do with anything! My best friend has gone missing! And we are wasting time here debating his school record instead of searching for him!”
“Calm down son, I am just trying to see this from all angles.”
“Well this is the wrong angle! Jinwoo might like to pull some pranks, but he is one of the kindest, most loyal people you will ever meet! If you bother to look at his report cards and work reviews you’ll see that he gets good grades and is very dedicated at work! He wouldn’t just up and vanish! Especially not without telling me!”
“Alright, alright. Just calm down. I’m sorry for my assumptions. Do you know of anyone who would want to hurt Jinwoo? Or have you noticed anyone suspicious around recently?”
Myungjun deflated and started worrying at his lips. “No. No one like that at all. Like I said, Jinwoo might have been mischievous, but he was a good person, and everyone liked him. He had a way with people.”
“And there was nothing strange about him when you saw him last?”
“Not that I noticed. And I would have.”
“…You sound very close.”
“Jinwoo is my best friend, we are closer than family.”
“Well, we will do our best to find him.”
“Please.” Myungjun replied in a tiny voice, on the verge of tears. He couldn’t lose Jinwoo. He wouldn’t be able to survive.
Derek Weaver has worked for the police department as a detective for several years, and this was the first time a case had stumped him so completely.
“It makes no sense!” He complained to his partner Ben. “There is no trace of a struggle, or that he was even at there that night except for his phone! It’s like he was just spirited away!” He rustled through some statements. “And every person we interview just talks about what a great guy he is! Even his principal’s only gripe was that he wouldn’t put his talents to better use! I don’t see how a kid like that would want to run away.”
“There must be something we’re missing.” Ben scowled, rubbing the tension in his neck.
“But what? I’ve checked, there aren’t any surveillance cameras in the area. If only we could see what happened.” There was a knock at the door. An officer came in.
“We’ve got permission to search his room.” Derek’s face brightened.
“Finally! Maybe we can find a clue in his room somewhere. A diary, something!” He grabbed his coat and followed after the officer.
Derek was becoming very disappointed. Jinwoo’s room had unveiled no deep secrets. He appeared to be a normal boy with a slightly messy room and a strong affiliation for music and dance, if the mass quantities of CDs and worn out dance shoes were anything to go by. They were scourging his room, looking through every paper, but nothing had come up that pointed in any particular direction.
“Oi, detective! Found a book, looks kinda like a journal.”
“Let me see it.” Derek grabbed the book and flipped through eagerly, slowing when he realized what it was. It was a lyric book. He must have been writing music. Rap by the looks of it. “Well, it’s not exactly a diary, but it might give us some insight into his psyche.” He read some of it.
‘It’s so good to see you
Your mouth is caught in my ear
Looking at me, I’m feeling a lot changed
You know if I think you did not feel your beauty
This preciousness of happiness
I did not even know you were precious’
He flipped to the next page.
‘I’m walking on air
I can’t move when I see you
I was so thrilled
So I was tossing and turning
Every day is new
And I’m trembling because of you
How are you today?
From a lover not a friend
He continued to flip through the pages, realizing many had the same theme. There were some about friendship and life in general, but many of them, especially the more recent ones, seemed to be about a person. A person he was in love with. “Well, the kid was certainly pining real hard after someone.”
“Really?” Ben took the book from his hand. After reading a few, he gave a low whistle. “Kid’s not bad. But yeah, he’s real fixated on whoever this is. Is there a name mentioned?”
“Not that I’ve noticed, and none of his friends outright mentioned a girl in his life.”
“Well, they might not have noticed. We should ask them again. Might bring up something they hadn’t thought of before.”
Derek looked at the kid in front of him. Kim Myungjun, Jinwoo’s best friend and partner in crime. Literally. The kid was… to put it bluntly, a mess. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days and his clothes were haphazard. A far cry from the cheery prankster he had read about. His heart softened at the sight of him.
“Hello Mr. Kim, is it alright if I call you Myungjun?” He received a small nod. “I’m detective Derek Weaver, I had a few questions if that’s alright with you.” Another nod. “I was wondering if you knew of any romantic interests in Jinwoo’s life.” He finally received a reaction, as the question startled Myungjun.
“What? No, I knew of nothing like that. Who told you that?”
“No one, we found one of his journals with lyrics, and many of them seem to be about a person. We were hoping you might be able to identify them.” Myungjun gulped.
“Let me hear one. I knew he wrote stuff but he never let me see it. We actually got into a fight about it once.” Derek raised an eyebrow, but proceeded to read one of the longer pieces.
‘And you’re laughing.
You’re laughing so brightly
You look at me
Your Heart will stop breathing
Every single expression
When you smile, when you smile
How do you feel when you get ridiculous?
I wanna make you smile, make you smile
I feel so good when you smile again
When you laugh
You know that you’re so pretty
When I say something
I will look at you
You are beautiful when you laugh
I’m home. Talk to me.
When he finished, he looked up and found Myungjun crying. “What’s wrong?” He asked, startled.
“I’m sorry. I just, I didn’t know. And his words were so beautiful. I just… thought of him saying that and realized that I-I may never hear him perform any of these. I may never hear his voice again. I-I…” And Myungjun burst into sobs. Derek was at a loss for what to do.
“Um, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. Thank you for what you’ve told me. I’ll let you know if I find anything. If you like I can have someone take you home.” Myungjun nodded. Derek called for one of the officers, and she came and gently led Myungjun away. Once left alone, Derek processed what just happened. That was a very strong reaction. He had only seen something of that level in wives and mothers.
Then a thought struck him. Maybe he had been looking at this wrong. He rifled through statements from some of Jinwoo’s other friends. He pulled out one from a kid named Yoon Sanha, followed by one from Lee Dongmin.
A girlfriend? Oh no! I didn’t notice anything like that! If anyone knew about Jinwoo having a crush, it would be Myungjun! They are always together. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them separated. They even plan their schedules to have the same classes!
No. As far as I know Jinwoo didn’t have any romantic interests. I wish good luck to any girl who tried to come between him and Myungjun. They were far too wrapped up in their own world and planning their pranks to ever let that happen.
That was it. He’d had this backward. Jinwoo wasn’t in love with some random girl. He was in love with his best friend. And it was reciprocated by the looks of it. His heart broke even further for the kid who had been sobbing his heart out. But this put him no closer to figuring out what had happened to Park Jinwoo. Myungjun clearly had nothing to do with his disappearance. He would have to keep searching.
But no clue ever appeared. And as the days turned to weeks, the police were forced to move on. And eventually the case of the missing Park Jinwoo grew cold, and was shelved.
All of Jinwoo's lyrics are literally his rap parts from Astro songs. They were surprisingly apropos. But buckle in everyone because the next chapter is about to be very angsty. Also, I hate HTML. The italics for the statements at the end refused to cooperate. I ended up having to change the wording and formatting to make it work, and I liked it less than the original. -_-
Chapter 3: Waving Through a Window
Myungjun hits rock bottom, and sees the light.
This chapter is one of the longest I've written. Also, it's a bit of a roller coaster, the middle is probably as angsty as this story gets. But as they say, it's always darkest before the dawn!
And yes, to all my fellow theater nerds out there, you know exactly where the chapter title came from.
Enjoy the chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Two months. It had been two months since Jinwoo had vanished out of thin air. Most of the town had grieved, and slowly moved on. Even Jinwoo’s friends and his mother had become resigned to the fact that they most likely lost their dear friend and son. However, no one took it as hard as Myungjun. He became a shell of who he used to be. He didn’t pull pranks, he didn’t laugh loudly and spout weird jokes, and he rarely even smiled. Sometimes he would just breakdown where he was standing, having been reminded by something of Jinwoo. His friends were growing increasingly concerned for him.
“Hey MJ, the final bell just rang.” Myungjun blinked, and slowly looked up at Bin.
“…oh. Sorry. I didn’t hear it.” He moved to grab his stuff as his friends exchanged worried glances. They walked toward the school entrance, trying to keep a conversation going. It was hard to fill the void left by Jinwoo and Myungjun’s endless chatter. Dongmin hadn’t realized just how much they controlled the mood of the group.
“Why don’t we all come to my house? We can play some videogames or something.” Dongmin offered. He was elbowed by Bin with a pointed look at Myungjun, who was staring off into the distance. Oh. Right. Myungjun broke down crying whenever he so much as stepped foot into Dongmin’s house. “Err… or we could go get ramen.”
“…Jinwoo loved ramen.” Myungjun mumbled. Sensing danger, Bin glared at Dongmin before putting his hands on Myungjun’s shoulders.
“How about we go for ice cream? I heard there’s a new parlor down on Main.” Myungjun shrugged Bin’s hands off.
“I’m okay. I think I’ll just head home.” They all shared worried glances again. Coming to a decision, Minhyuk stopped Myungjun by grabbing onto his shoulder.
“Wait, Myungjun. I think we need to talk.”
“We’ve been talking and… we think you should get help.” Myungjun stiffened.
“There’s nothing wrong with me.”
“Myungjun look at yourself! You look like a truck ran you over all the time, and you break down crying at the drop of a hat! We get it, we all miss Jinwoo just as much as you do, but he wouldn’t want you to destroy your life because of him!”
“Don’t talk like he’s dead!”
“Myungjun, he probably is! I know it’s harsh and hard to accept, but the reality is that after this long, there is a very slim chance that Jinwoo is still alive.” Myungjun looked at all their faces.
“Is that what you all believe? That he’s dead?” There was an awkward silence, and then Bin spoke up.
“It… is the most likely scenario.” This seemed to just make Myungjun even angrier.
“You’ve all given up on him! Some friends! I will never give up on Jinwoo, not until I see his body for myself!” He spun and ran down the street.
“Wait, MJ!” Bin reached out after Myungjun, and then turned on Minhyuk. “Way to handle it. Did you really have to blow up in his face?”
“I’m sorry! I just got so stressed. I can’t handle him like that.”
“Next time, clear it with us before bringing it up.” Bin shouldered his bag and marched off on his own down the street. Dongmin put a hand on Minhyuk’s shoulder and gave him a look of pity, then took off after Bin. Minhyuk and Sanha were left standing by themselves.
“What, you wanna get mad at me too?”
“No! No. I’m not angry,” Sanha quickly defended.
“…Can I come to your house?” Minhyuk asked. Sanha gave him a small smile.
Myungjun ran down the street, his feet pounding the pavement. He didn’t know where he was going, and he didn’t care. He just wanted to get away. Away from all of it. What did they know? They were already treating Jinwoo like he was dead! Minhyuk’s words floated through his mind. ‘He probably is!’ Myungjun shook his head. No, he couldn’t think like that. If he had really lost Jinwoo forever then… Myungjun slowed to a stop.
He was in a deserted street, nothing but some worn down buildings and garbage laying around. If Jinwoo was gone, then he didn’t know how to live. Jinwoo was everything to him. They had been there for each other for as long as Myungjun could remember. There was no one more important to him than Jinwoo.
He would comfort Myungjun when he was sad, or when his parents got into fights. Jinwoo would laugh with him, and support whatever he set his mind on. He was his best friend, his family, his… Myungjun let out a scream and punched a nearby wall. Then he punched it again. Soon he found himself punching and breaking everything within reach. At some point he started crying. His hands were bleeding, but he didn’t care. He punched a window as hard as he could, and felt it crack under his fist. He looked at his reflection, breathing heavily. Then all the energy drained from his body and he dropped to the ground, sobbing.
“Don’t leave me Jinwoo… I-I can’t go on without you. Please… come back. Don’t be dead. You can’t be dead. If you’re dead then…” He paused, then whispered. “Please Jinwoo… I...I love you.” He waited, almost expecting a response. When only the echoes of his own crying greeted him, Myungjun just broke down into more sobs, and cried until his tears mixed into pools with his blood.
Unbeknownst to Myungjun, he is not truly alone. A solitary figure stands pounding against glass, desperately trying to break through and get to the crying boy. Tears were streaming down his face as he did everything in his power to send a message.
“Myungjun! Myungjun, please! I’m right here! Please just see me! I’m right here!” But nothing he does attracts Myungjun’s attention, and he slowly slides to his knees against the glass, watching as Myungjun finally gets up and trudges home. “…I love you too.”
Jinwoo is far from dead. Or at least, he’s pretty sure he’s not dead. If not this is a really shitty afterlife.
After that fateful night months ago, he found himself in a small white room, with nothing but a small cushioned couch. The walls themselves were covered in what at first he thought to be screens, but they turned out to be windows. There were hundreds of them, each one showing a different person. Eventually he realized that the larger and closer to the center the window was, the more important that person was to him. His friends and mother were very close to the middle and were bigger sized. Surprisingly his principal was relatively important, whereas some of his classmates were off in a corner. But what took up the most space and was dead center was Myungjun. His was shaped like a full length mirror and was so close Jinwoo could touch it.
If he focused on a particular window, he could hear what was happening. He normally found himself focusing on Myungjun. As such, he was forced to watch as Myungjun collapsed in on himself and self-destructed. It tore him apart. He wanted to do something, anything, to help him, but he couldn’t even help himself.
He had been trapped here for two months and still had not figured out a way back, or even really how he got here. The only things he knew were the windows, and the fact that the room seemed to have a magical property that kept him from needing to eat, sleep, or even go to the bathroom. He suspected that if he stayed here long enough he would even fail to age.
He was trapped here, watching as the world moved on without him, and unable to do a thing about it. Myungjun was right. Being dead was better than this.
Myungjun collapsed in his room feeling completely empty. He had cried until he lost all feeling inside. He had come to accept it. Jinwoo really was probably dead. He was never again going to see that blonde hair, or the eyes that crinkled as he smiled that soft smile of his. He was never again going to hear that rough, gentle voice laughing and telling him that everything was going to work out. He was never going to see Jinwoo again. The hole in his chest seemed to clench even tighter and a few remaining tears slipped out. Myungjun curled up in his bed and prayed to anything that would listen to let him see Jinwoo again. To give him that miracle. He fell asleep clinging to that tiny piece of hope.
Myungjun heard a voice. He recognized it, it was Jinwoo’s voice. He speaking… no, rapping.
“Whatever I am
I’ve looked at you
And I’ve been thinking a lot
I’m trying to keep the one promise I made to you
The fact that you are not next to me
I just came over and talked to you in your dreams
I’m in your arms
Why are you so far far away
It’s so far away
I turn around”
Even if it was entirely in his head, Myungjun almost wanted to cry again just at hearing Jinwoo’s voice. But what was that from? He didn’t recall hearing that particular verse before. And he knew it wasn’t from Jinwoo’s journal. The detective had given that to him over a month ago and he had it memorized. Then Myungjun realized that his bed was very, very hard. In fact, it felt like a floor. And not one with carpet. His eyes sprang open.
This… was not his room. It was very white. And empty. And most definitely not somewhere he had ever seen before. He quickly got up and looked around, starting from the top. The walls were filled with… screens? Was this a monitor room of some sort? He froze at the sound of a sigh. Okay, not so empty after all. His eyes moved downward as they scanned the room, looking for its other occupant. When he found him, Myungjun stopped moving as his mind short-circuited.
There was no way. It was impossible. There was no way there was a God out there who actually listened to him. This had to be a dream. Just as Myungjun decided this, his dream turned around. And promptly froze as well.
They just stared at each other. Then dream Jinwoo breathed, “That’s impossible.” Well, good to know they had reached a consensus on that. Then, as if an invisible cord snapped, Myungjun was running forward and leaping over the couch that he only barely registered to tackle Jinwoo. Dream or not, he didn’t catch him very well and they both tumbled to the floor. Then they were both crying and hugging each other so tightly it was impossible to tell where one ended and another began. Eventually Jinwoo pulled back and cupped Myungjun’s face, just staring at him in awe and wiping his tears with a thumb.
“Jinwoo! Oh my God Jinwoo! Please tell me this isn’t a dream. Please tell me you’re alive. Tell me I haven’t gone crazy and this is all in my head.” Jinwoo gave a soft chuckle.
“I could ask you to do the same. I’ve been here so long I wouldn’t be surprised if I snapped.” He frowned then and looked sideways, though he didn’t move his hands. “Wait, I definitely see you sleeping there. How are you here?” Taking the hands with him, Myungjun looked over as well. What he thought were screens turned out to be more like windows. Except on the other side was himself curled in a ball on his bed.
“Wait what? Is that me? Well I mean that’s where I was last I checked but… what is this?”
“My savior and my destroyer.” Jinwoo answered bitterly.
“What do you mean?”
“These windows you see?” He gestured around, finally removing his hands. “They are literally windows into the outside world. Each one shows a different person in my life and what they are doing. So I get to watch the days go by without me and be unable to do anything about it.”
“So wait, this is where you’ve been the last two months?”
“Yup. After I left your house, the world around me sorta… shattered? And I found myself here. I haven’t been able to leave since.”
“So how come I came here without my body disappearing? Wait, am I dead?” He asked, suddenly very worried. Jinwoo frowned again, and focused really hard on the image of the sleeping Myungjun.
“No, you’re breathing. I’m pretty sure you’re still alive. As for how you got here, I have no clue. Maybe the power of love?”
“Power of-” Myungjun froze. Then felt his face starting to heat. “You… you heard that?” Jinwoo’s face took on a conflicted air. Then he reached up and cradled Myungjun’s head with one hand, burying his fingers in the brown hair.
“…Yeah,” He murmured. Myungjun recoiled in embarrassment.
“Oh my God, I can explain that was… I mean I wasn’t… It’s not what it-”
“Myungjun. Shut up.” Then Jinwoo jerked him forward and pressed their lips together. After a few seconds, he pulled back and looked at Myungjun. Then he snorted. Myungjun was looking at him with eyes wide and mouth open slightly. His entire face was red. “You look like a salmon.”
That brought Myungjun back to his senses and he smacked Jinwoo in the arm. “What was that?”
“A kiss, I should think you know what those are.”
“No, I mean, why…?”
“You are so dense sometimes, I swear.” Jinwoo leaned forward and pecked his nose. “…I love you too.” Myungjun returned to being a fish.
“Love you.” There was a moment of silence as Myungjun continued to stare at him. And just when Jinwoo was about to ask if he was okay, Myungjun pushed forward and attacked his lips, knocking them back to the floor. Jinwoo was quick to respond, and pushed back just as roughly. Their mouths slid across each other, fighting to taste as much of the other’s mouth as possible. Eventually, they had to pull apart for air, and Myungjun hugged him as they caught their breath.
“I am officially religious.”
Jinwoo just laughed, and they continued to lay there and relish in each other’s company. Then, just as Myungjun was thinking that he could stay like this forever, his feet started to tingle. Confused, he looked down, and let out a yelp. Startled, Jinwoo also looked down and let out a noise of alarm. Myungjun’s feet had vanished, and the rest of him was starting to follow.
“No!” Myungjun cried. “I don’t want to leave! How will I know this wasn’t all a dream?” Jinwoo grabbed his face yet again and made Myungjun look at him.
“Listen. I don’t know if you will be able to come back, so pay attention. Ask Dongmin about ‘Cha Eunwoo’. No one but him should know about it, so that’ll be your proof. And Myungjun, always remember that I love you. And I need you to take care of yourself. Do that for me. I can’t bear to watch you do that to yourself again.” By this point half of Myungjun’s body had vanished. He nodded, choking up.
“I love you too. And I’ll come back. I did it once, I can do it again. So wait for me.” Jinwoo smiled, and kissed him one last time before he vanished completely. Jinwoo was once more alone.
Myungjun woke up. He immediately scrambled to grab his phone and rang Dongmin. When Dongmin finally picked up with a “What’s the matter MJ? You never wake up this early”, Myungjun quickly replied,
He was rewarded with lots of sputtering and demands to know how he knew that name, and Myungjun let out a hearty laugh, silencing Dongmin. It wasn’t a dream! Jinwoo was alive, somewhere, and loved him too! Myungjun stood up with determination. He had a purpose now.
He was going to rescue Park Jinwoo.
The world Jinwoo is in will be explored in more detail in the future. But feel free to come up with your own theories! for that or anything else! I would love to hear them. ^.^
Chapter 4: Four's Company
Myungjun has done a 180, and Dongmin is confused.
Sorry this is later than normal, I've been extremely busy. And by that I mean I was moving.
To a different country.
You read that right! I am now currently living in JAPAN! Woo! I'm studying at a university here for a year. ^.^ But during the move I was stupid and forgot to pack an adapter for my laptop charger. So I only recently managed to get one and now finally have access to my computer again, as well as all the chapters I've written!
I still have some editing to do so the next part of Honesty is the Best Policy will be up tomorrow. :)
So without further delay, I present the next chapter! Enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Dongmin started out his morning with a heart attack. Myungjun had called out of nowhere and asked about Cha Eunwoo, and then laughed like he hadn’t in months. Then before Dongmin could get any answers, he hung up. Dongmin didn’t like not having the answers. What had gotten into MJ? And how had he learned about Cha Eunwoo? Not even his own family knew about that!
Cha Eunwoo was his online name that he used to release music. Even if Myungjun had somehow stumbled across it, he shouldn’t have been able to connect it to him. He had never sung in front of his friends. Oh sure, they tried to coax it out of him, but he always managed to get out of it. So how had Myungjun figured it out? Especially in the state he has been in. Well, he sounded cheerful on the phone, so maybe he was getting better. But what could have caused so drastic a shift?
Myungjun had snapped, is what Dongmin decided when he got to school. Myungjun was acting chipper and joking, just like he used to. And while he supposed it was better than depressed fragile Myungjun, at least he had understood that one. He could tell the others were freaked out as well.
“Umm, Myungjun?” Bin asked, breaking off Myungjun who was chattering about how he needed to figure out which religion he should follow.
“Are you... feeling okay?”
“Hm? Yeah! Never better! I mean my hands could be better, but…” He shrugged. Dongmin looked at his hands and realized with a start that they were heavily bandaged. How had he missed that? He had been too distracted by how MJ was acting. The others seemed to have not noticed beforehand either, and were shocked.
“What the hell happened to your hands?!” Minhyuk demanded.
“Just punched some stuff. The window really hurt. But I feel a lot better now!”
“You punched a window?” Bin asked, horrified.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t really recommend it. Cut up my hands pretty badly.”
“…Was it because of me?” Minhyuk eventually asked. Myungjun looked surprised, and then his face softened.
“It was because of a lot of things. I’m sorry I blew up at you.”
“No, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have pushed you like that.” They shared a smile, and then Sanha clapped his hands.
“Yay! We all made up!”
“Yes we did,” Myungjun chuckled.
Dongmin was still confused, but he supposed this really was better than before.
Dongmin took it back. This was not better. Myungjun’s radical 180 turn had the whole school talking, and it wasn’t pleasant. The majority of their classmates seemed to have come to the decision that Myungjun had snapped. Which wasn’t helped by the fact that occasionally Myungjun would make a comment directed seemingly at air. At least he didn’t seem to be hearing a response, but it was still worrying.
“Myungjun, who are you talking to?” Bin had asked after one such occasion during lunch. Minhyuk and Sanha had decided to eat in their own class.
“Jin-” Bin shared a look with Dongmin. “Does he answer back?”
“No, of course not. He can’t answer where he’s at. But he can hear me.” Bin seemed to come to some sort of understanding, but Dongmin wasn’t sure it was the right one. With all his talk this morning, it could be inferred that Myungjun believed Jinwoo was in heaven. But something about the way he talked struck Dongmin as odd. It wasn’t the reverent tone you would use to talk about someone who died and went to heaven, it sounded like someone who truly believed they were being listened to, like he knew exactly where Jinwoo was.
“Hey Myungjun, where is Jinwoo?” Dongmin asked, watching MJ carefully. Bin gave him a curious glance. Myungjun took a second, then responded,
“He’s in a place where he no longer needs to eat or sleep and watches over all of us.” That proved it. Myungjun was dancing around the subject and trying to throw them off what he really meant.
“Myungjun, could you come with me?”
“Because I don’t think this is something to be discussed in the classroom.” Myungjun searched his face, then nodded firmly. He got up to follow Dongmin. Bin stood up as well. Myungjun looked at Dongmin, and Dongmin debated for a second before deciding having Bin know was probably easier than dealing with a pouty Bin later. He gestured and the three of them made their way outside to an area that was rarely visited.
“Alright, Myungjun, I want you to be completely honest with me. What’s going on?” Dongmin asked, giving Myungjun a hard look.
“Promise you won’t interrupt until I’m done?” Dongmin and Bin nodded. Myungjun took a deep breath, and started his story.
“Yesterday, after… what happened, I somewhat broke down in that deserted street that they are planning on refurbishing. That’s where I did this.” He raised his hands in indication. “I… wasn’t in a good place. I probably left there more broken than when I went in.” He paused, unsure. “Seriously, don’t interrupt, okay? You’ll want to, but just listen.” Dongmin frowned in confusion, but nodded again. “Alright. Well, when I went to sleep last night, I woke up in this white room with windows showing different people. In the room was Jinwoo.”
Dongmin’s eyebrows shot up, but he managed to not open his mouth. He could see Bin was struggling too. Myungjun smirked at their reactions and kept going. “Needless to say we were both very surprised. But we had an… emotional reunion.” Dongmin got the feeling he was leaving something out, but put the thought aside for later. “After that he explained that he got sucked and trapped in this room and he was forced to just watch our lives without being able to interfere. Not long after that, I started to disappear and before I vanished Jinwoo told me how to prove it was real.” Silence followed and when it was clear Myungjun was finished, Bin opened his mouth to speak. However, Dongmin beat him to the punch.
“I believe you.”
“You do?” Myungjun looked surprised.
“You do?!” Bin was more so. Dongmin nodded.
“That’s why you called me this morning, isn’t it?”
“Yup. I looked it up. You should be more open about it by the way.”
“Wait, what did I miss?” Bin questioned, looking between them.
“Can I tell him?” Myungjun asked. Dongmin sighed, and nodded. “Dongmin here also goes by the secret name of Cha Eunwoo, music writer extraordinaire!”
“What?! You mean the Cha Eunwoo that the dance club is currently making a routine to?” Bin exclaimed.
“The dance club is using one of my songs?”
“Yeah, our vice president is super into independent artists. That’s you?!”
“Err, yeah.” Bin broke into a grin and started beating him on the back.
“Why didn’t you ever tell us? I always thought you refused to sing because you suck!”
“I didn’t want someone blabbering about it. My parents aren’t very on board with the idea of me being a musician.” Bin’s smile dimmed.
“Ah. Gotcha. Well, your secret is safe with me!”
“Anyway, what do we do now? If we take what you’re saying as true, then Jinwoo is actually alive and in some serious trouble,” Dongmin said. Myungjun seemed to wilt a little.
“That’s what I’m not sure on. I’m hoping I can manage to pray and dream myself there again, so Jinwoo and I can have a more productive meeting. First thing we need to do is figure out how exactly he got there. Then maybe we can use that to figure out the way back.”
“Well, if he is listening right now then at least he will be kept up to date. It’s a pity there is no way to communicate with him on our end,” Bin mused.
“That’s true. For now we’ll focus on managing to get there with more reliability. And in the meantime I’ll do some research,” Dongmin stated firmly.
“You think you can find something useful?”
“You’ll never know if you don’t look.”
“Oh, what should we tell Minhyuk and Sanha?” Myungjun piped up.
“For now, until we have better knowledge, maybe we should keep them out of it. Minhyuk will be a hard sell without stronger proof, and Sanha won’t believe it if Minhyuk doesn’t," Dongmin replied. Myungjun nodded.
“I feel bad keeping it from them, but for now that’s probably for the best.” The bell rung, signaling the end of lunch.
“I didn’t get to eat my sandwich,” Bin sighed. Dongmin rolled his eyes and they headed back.
Dongmin ran his hands through his hair in frustration. So far he has had little to no luck. The only information he could find that seemed even remotely relevant ended up being from a site titled ‘How the World is Out to Get You’. Hardly verifiable. Except maybe verifiably crazy. He slammed his laptop shut and got up. This was useless. He got into bed and tried to sleep. He’d try again tomorrow, after sleeping on it. If only he could talk to Jinwoo himself…
Dongmin woke up to a white ceiling. After some brief disorientation, he realized what had happened. He practically leapt up and looked around the room. He noticed two things: 1. the room was just as Myungjun described it, all white with a couch in the middle and window like screens covering the walls; and 2. his best friends were in the middle of a rather serious make-out session. He made a strangled sound of surprise and the two whipped apart, staring at him in surprise. Dongmin saw a myriad of emotions pass on their faces (he swore Myungjun looked pissed for a split second) before he was nearly bowled over with a hug from Jinwoo.
“Dongmin!” Pushing past his surprise (of many things) Dongmin felt himself choking up as he hugged back just as hard. He hadn’t really believed it until now but… he was alive. Jinwoo was actually alive. The relief that filled him nearly made his legs buckle.
But then Jinwoo pulled back and gave him a giant smile. “I’m so glad to see you! In person I mean. Sorry about your secret, but I had to give him some proof. And I kinda wanted some proof for myself.”
“It’s fine.” Dongmin rubbed the wetness in his eyes. “So, uh, you two?” Jinwoo suddenly seemed a bit nervous, but he grabbed Myungjun’s hand anyway and gave Dongmin a look that dared him to say anything.
“Yes. Is that a problem?”
“No. Quite honestly I should have seen it coming, what with you two practically needing each other to breathe.” Dongmin sighed and gave them a reassuring smile. Both Jinwoo and Myungjun smiled brightly before Myungjun leaned over and gave Jinwoo a peck on the cheek.
“Holy shit it’s real.” They all looked over at the new voice and Jinwoo let out a cry.
“Bin!” He rushed over and hugged Bin in the same manner he had greeted Dongmin.
“Jinwoo! Oh my God you’re really alive!” Bin hugged him back with fervor, lifting Jinwoo off the ground. Letting him down with a laugh, they both backed up with a smile. “So, what’d I miss?”
“Tongue wrestling.” Dongmin replied wryly.
“What?” Bin furrowed his brows. Jinwoo blushed and threaded his fingers with Myungjun’s again.
“You don’t have to refer to it like that.” Bin looked between them and at their hands.
“…Fucking finally! I thought you two would never resolve all that stupid sexual tension.” Jinwoo let out a snort and Myungjun blushed. But he looked pleased. Dongmin sighed.
“Alright, as lovely as this topic is, we have to get to work. We only have until we wake up, so we need to get started.” He turned to Jinwoo. “Let’s figure out how to get you out of here.”
Jinwoo looked close to tearing up, but he let out his biggest grin yet.
“Best idea I’ve heard in months.”
I always enjoy a ruffled Dongmin. Maybe it's because he's so perfect? IDK. Anyway, Now that I have my laptop again and I've settled for the most part, I should be able to resume a regular update schedule. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed! ^.^