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Watch your step, kid.

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Most of the time Changkyun enjoyed living in a small town, because of how quieter it was compared to bigger cities, but not too quiet. His town, however had something about it, something that made Changkyun's skin crawl, and maybe it was the fog that seemed to always hang over the tress and buildings, or just how paranoid he always was about things like this, which was more possible. (Still, there was something incredibly unnerving about the shadows that lurked in the darkness whenever he closed his eyes at night.

If he could, he'd stay at home forever.)

His first day back at school after coming out of the hospital could either go very well or very bad, he thought.

He knew that he shouldn't care about what the others think about him, but he was a teenager, for god's sake, of course he was going to care about it.

He just needs to pretend he doesn't care about anything, he's not some fragile item that can break easily, no matter what his parents think.

That, of course, didn't work that well, and Changkyun found himself almost bursting into tears when someone bumped into him in the hallway, making him fall to the floor. What a fucking loser, he thought bitterly, trying to blink away the tears pooling rapidly in the corners of his eyes.

"Oh, shit, I'm sorry," the person who made him fall spoke up, and Changkyun lifted his head, only to see them holding their hand out for him to take. He recognized the person as Lee Jooheon, the guy the whole school feared, simply because he looked very intimidating and hung out with people who looked equally as scary. Right now he just looked worried, eyes almost comically wide and eyebrows furrowed. Changkyun took his hand and carefully pulled himself up and dusted off his pants. "You okay?" Jooheon asked, head tilted to the side, and Changkyun nodded quickly, "Yeah, I'm good," he said, tears still in his eyes and looked towards the main doors, and froze. Heading towards them was four boys, who didn't exactly like Changkyun. It wasn't that they beat him up him or anything, but mostly just called him names. And he didn't even know who they were.

"Hey, faggot, you're back," one of them said with a grin, waving to him innocently and Changkyun winced at that, turning his head away.

"What did you say?" Jooheon's voice was loud and almost seemed to echo around the empty corridor, Changkyun looked at him, widening his eyes in shock. What the fuck, he said to himself internally, not really believing in what he's seeing right now. Who in their right mind would stand up for anyone in that situation?

The guy looked startled by that and mumbled a quick "Nothing!" before walking away, his friends trailing after him.

Jooheon turned to Changkyun now, a curious look on his face. Great, Changkyun thought, now he's going to think I'm a pussy who can't even defend himself.

"Do they do that stuff a lot?" Jooheon raised his eyebrows, head moving vaguely in the direction of where the boys' left. Changkyun nodded after a short pause, embarrassed in a way.

Jooheon stared at him for a short while, before patting his shoulder. "I gotta go, it was nice walking into you," he then jogged in the same direction the boys went in, farther down the corridor, and Changkyun walked in the opposite way, heading towards the exit.

The boys didn't come back to school until the next week.

______________

Something that Changkyun really enjoyed lately was going for walks. He was never the type of person to go outside a lot, but there was something strangely therapeutic about going somewhere, exploring things he's never seen in his town before, sitting in an open field in the tall grass and just letting himself think. The gloomy weather always present stopped bothering him a while ago, and now he could say he appreciated the fog that hung over the town, eerily almost, but comforting after getting so used to it, and how the sun never seemed to show up.

Today felt.. strange.

Maybe it was the weird, a little awkward feeling that set it after he realized that he almost cried in front of Lee mcfucking Jooheon, who also managed to make his bullies go away.

Because you're a pussy, he thought.

Sometimes he wondered if the thoughts are actually his. Is he really such an asshole?

Changkyun sat down on a slightly rusty swingset, pulling the edge of his scarf, so it covered his face a little more.

Now that he really thought about it, the past couple of weeks have been quite weird.

Maybe it's just his imagination, but he swears he sees a pair of glowing eyes in the dark sometimes, shadows curling around the fog covered trees, making him constantly feel watched , and frankly, he did not like that.

Deciding that even though it felt very nice, it was way too cold at that moment to just sit outside and not do anything, and Changkyun got up, and started to walk home, and definitely did not run when he thought he heard footsteps behind him (It probably was just the wind, the small voice in the back of his head said).

Arriving at home, Changkyun felt almost relieved when he realized his parents weren't home. Sure, he did love and appreciate them, but lately they've been treating him like he's made out of glass, and honestly, he was getting sick of it.

Humming a random tune to himself, Changkyun quickly got a bowl out of the kitchen cupboard, poured cereal and milk in it, and somehow managed to get to his room without dropping it.

With a sigh, he went over to his computer, and turned on music, nodding in approval when he heard the first notes of some old Slipknot song.

As Changkyun was finishing his cereal and changing the song that was currently playing, he heard something scrape against the window and almost jumped out of his skin, before realizing that there are trees outside his house.

______________

While he was laying in bed that night, Changkyun couldn't help but think about Jooheon, and how much of his actual personality must be hiding behind the usual intimidating look of his.

He wondered if Jooheon thought about him, too.

Changkyun is running. He doesn't know what was happening, only that he has to get away.

His muscles are burning with exhaustion, chest heaving. The trees around him seem to never end, the branches hitting his face and arms.

He cries out helplessly as he trips on something and falls to his knees shortly after.

Shadows appear around him, wrapping around his limbs like and his neck like vines, and he claws at his throat, panicked. His lungs feel as if they are on fire, head spinning and shadows clouding his vision. He was slowly slipping away from consciousness, his surroundings turning black-

A sound tears through the darkness, low and menacing, almost like a growl, reverberating all around him. A pair of yellow eyes flashes in the dark, burns like flames, claws scratch against the ground.

Everything stops.

Changkyun wakes up on the floor of his room gasping for air, feeling disoriented and nauseous. He almost starts feeling glad that it was all just a dream, untill he notices his scraped, bleeding knees and a leaf stuck to his arm.

"What t-the fuck..." he chokes out, heart pounding. Looking over to the clock standing on his nightstand, he realizes it's time for him to get ready for school. He considers telling his parents that he's not feeling well at all, but he's already missed tons of school because of his hospital stay, so instead, he gets up on shaky legs and makes his way to the bathroom.

Of all fucked up things that could happen, why does it have to happen to him?

He attempts to patch up his legs the best he can at 6AM and after being chased by some fucked thing in a dark forest, he gets dressed, grabs his backpack and goes to the kitchen. His mom is there, putting on her jacket and getting ready to leave for work. She smiles when she sees him. "Did you sleep well?" she asks and Changkyun nods slowly and pours himself a glass of water, deciding to not eat breakfast, as he still felt really sick. "You don't look well. Are you sure you're okay?" his mom asks again. He raised his head from where he was staring at the glass and gives her another nod.

"If you say so." she sighed and left the house after giving him a short wave.

Changkyun blinks a few times, shaking his head and finishes his water before setting it down on the table with shaky hands.

He can't stop thinking about his.. dream?

"What even was it?" he asked himself quietly, rubbing his hands over his face.

He got up from the table, put on his old, beat up combat boots and left the house, making sure to lock the door behind him. The weather outside never changed - always the same grey sky, clouds covering every inch, and the fog, hanging over everything like a thin white veil. He tried to ask his parents a few times, if it was normal that the sun never came out there, but they always just shrugged, never actually answering the question.

Seeing the school gates made him feel sick and he almost turned away and went back home. As well as his first day went, he had a bad feeling about today. He knew that people were going to stare, he knew that he's eventually going to hear rumours about himself.

You chose to do that, and now you have to deal with the consequences, the voice in the back of his head said, almost tauntingly and Changkyun found himself agreeing with it. He rubbed his right wrist absentmindedly, walking into the building with a heavy heart. As soon at he went in, he swears he could feel the stares on him and it made his skin crawl. He wondered how long he was going to last before he would feel the need to go and hide somewhere.

Roughly three hours, it turns out.

A string of muttered curses leaves his lips as Changkyun opens the door to the one bathroom at the end of the second floor corridor that no one ever seems to use, keeping his head down, his shoulders hunched.

They don't know shit about you, he thinks to himself, trying to get his breathing under control, they're just staring, it's nothing, it's okay, you're okay, his hands are gripping the edge of the sink tightly, his eyes shut.

"Everything okay?" a low voice startles him out of his mild panic, and he turns around so fast he feels a little dizzy. There, standing in the doorway, was no other than Chae Hyungwon - one of Jooheon's friends,(Of course, it has to be his friend) a tall and sleepy looking boy, who slowly closes the door behind him, and walks closer to Changkyun, but not so close that he feels cornered.

"Yeah, I'm good, I just.." Changkyun shakes his head and steps away from the sink, avoiding eye contact at all cost. Jooheon and his friends might be really nice, but they're incredibly intimidating to him.

Hyungwon doesn't look convinced. He raises an eyebrow but offers his hand to Changkyun anyway. "I get it. You're Changkyun, right?"

Now it was Changkyun's turn to raise his eyebrows, shaking the other boy's hand. "People are.. saying things." Hyungwon further explains and Changkyun drops his hand. He probably thinks you're fucked up, he hears in the back of his head.

"What's your next class? I'll walk with you." Hyungwon says.

Are you out of your fucking mind? Changkyun wants to say. He was already the center of the rumors, he didn't want Hyungwon to be possibly targeted by the other students as well.

"Why?" he asks instead.

"As I said, people are saying stuff. Come on." Hyungwon says calmly and opens the door, motioning for Changkyun to follow him.

As they walked, people still stared, however, there was something different about it now. Changkyun decided to at least try to ignore it.
After walking him to class Hyungwon quickly walked away, probably to his class.

Suddenly feeling self-conscious now that he was alone, Changkyun pulled his sleeves over his fingers even more and walked into the classroom, taking his spot near the window.

The more he tried to listen to the teacher speak, the less he actually did.
No matter how hard he focused, he couldn't help but drift back to whatever it was that happened last night.

There can't be a reasonable explanation to that, he thought.
As far as he knew, there weren't any forests or even parks close enough to his house that he could just sleepwalk there or something.
And what was the thing he heard?

A dog?

What the fuck would a dog do in a place like this? That's dumb, the voice (he has to come up with a name for it, seriously) said.

That's another thing that needs an explanation.

He's not that much of an asshole.

The bell ringing caught him off guard, and he jumped in his seat, before getting his things and trying to get out as fast as possible.

He only has to get through a couple more hours and he can go home, hopefully without having another breakdown.

Somehow he manages to get through the rest of his classes easily, and he feels pretty good about that when he's leaving the building. It had gotten a bit colder than it was in the morning, and he felt himself shiver under his hoodie.

Passing the school gates, he stuffs his hands in his pockets and walks faster, hoping to get home before he freezes to death.

When he's almost reaching his house, he swears he hears a chain rattling, and maybe he's just paranoid, but he starts running.

Not long after he breaks out into a run, he collides with something hard, but something grabs his arm, not letting him fall this time.

Oh my God, Changkyun thinks. Please, don't let it be Jooheon, he pleads. Bumping into him once - it's okay, it happens.

The same thing happening again, not even two days after?

Well, that's just awkward.

"Changkyun?" a pair of dark eyes stares at him in confusion. Not again, Changkyun cries internally. Right now he's convinced that the universe hates him.

"Did something happen? You look scared, dude." Now Jooheon actually looks concerned, eyes scanning Changkyun's face. "Um, no.." Changkyun mumbled awkwardly. Great answer, he wants to slap himself. "I just-..I have to get home real fast." he lies, badly, but Jooheon doesn't seem to notice, and if he does, he doesn't show it.

"Be careful next time!" Jooheon laughs, walking away and Changkyun's face burns in embarrassment as he keeps on walking home.

When he arrives, he notices his parents are not there, so feeling absolutely not paranoid he locked the door, and makes sure all the windows are closed as well before he goes to his room.

Collapsing onto his bed and grabbing his phone, Changkyun thinks about what he can do in this situation. He could talk to somebody, but he doesn't really have a person to talk to. He can talk to his parents, but they might want to get him into the hospital again.

There's also Gunhee, his pretty much only friend, who unfortunately had to move a couple of months earlier.

Gunhee it is, then. He opens the messaging app and texts his friend.

_________

 

damn daniel: r u alive

flat gun: no

damn daniel: great

damn daniel:i have

damn daniel: a Problem

flat gun: do u have a bf

damn daniel: no but i have nightmares about shit chasing me that turn out to b true afterwards

flat gun: what the fuck changkyun

damn daniel: oh yeah and there's this one cute guy

flat gun: cool what's his name

damn daniel: jooheon

flat gun: bruh

damn daniel: W H A T

flat gun: L E E J O O H E O N????

damn daniel: Y ES??????

damn daniel: gun

damn daniel: gunhee

damn daniel: co ME BACK

 

__________

After 20 minutes of Gunhee not responding, Changkyun throws his phone away and flails his arms helplessly.

What is he supposed to do?

He considers going to sleep, but he's probably not going to be able to sleep for weeks after last night, so instead he decides to study and do his homework.

In the middle of him doing his homework, his parents come home and he briefly greets them before coming back to what he was doing. Maybe it wasn't the most interesting, but it served as a good distraction.

A few hours later, he's still in the same spot by his desk, this time watching a gameplay on Youtube, but he moves to his bed when his back starts hurting from sitting in one position for so long. When he's sitting there, safely wrapped in two blankets, he feels his phone vibrate in his hand (and he almost drops it) and the messaging app's icon flash on the top of his screen.

 

_____________

flat gun: we used to be friedns

damn daniel: are u SERIOUS

damn daniel: how did i Not know abt that

flat gun: there wasnt a reason to SAY IT

flat gun:anyways i gtg bye

______________

Changkyun raises his eyebrows.

That was weird.

Normally, Gunhee would stay up with him until late at night, but he probably had his reasons.

Changkyun just shrugs, and starts another video. Not sleeping wasn't going to end well for him, but he prefers being sleep deprived from incredibly vivid and disturbing nightmares (?).

 

.

In the morning, Changkyun felt like he was going to drop dead at any time. His limbs felt heavy, a headache throbbing behind his eyes. But he was okay.

He gets dressed, and since it was still quite early, he goes to the kitchen to make himself coffee. When he's sitting, holding the cup in one hand, his mind goes back to something that happened years ago, so long that he barely remembers, an almost forgotten thing.

He was maybe seven or eight, at a playground. His mother went somewhere for a couple of minutes, she was supposed to be back soon. The whole thing was very blurry in his mind, and Changkyun strains hard, to try and remember it more clearly. What happened next reminds him of that night.

There was a red flash, a sudden rush of air, and pain, coursing through his entire body.

Changkyun remembers screaming.

He winces at the memory and pours the rest of his coffee in the sink, suddenly not wanting to drink it anymore.