There were many ways the world could have ended. It could have been a Holy intervention, to reward the good and punish the bad. It could have been war, bombing and destroying everything and everyone in sight, gunning down children and wives and husbands. It could have even been a zombie apocalypse, the dead rising to determine the survival of the fittest, natural selection.
But it wasn’t that swift and clean. It didn’t leave the option open of being a good soul, a god fearer, a survivalist. It was indiscriminate and slow.
It started off as a virus that developed in the ovaries, hospitalizing girls and women across the globe. When it took them, it took the doctors, and then it escaped. Some lucky few barricaded themselves inside before the spread, and some lived out of the reach of civilization. Some were immune, and watched as those around them dropped like flies, bodies seizing, mouths frothed. But in the end, the virus had touched everyone, in one way or another.
And so, the world had ended.
Kim Namjoon was immune.
The world ended while he was at work, standing behind a grill in a filthy apron and a hairnet, grease shining on his forehead. It was surreal; nothing could have warned him. There was a distant cough, from the front of the fried chicken shop, and suddenly, the air tasted like panic. A fight broke out between customers, one screaming, the other crying, shouting “I didn’t know I had it, I didn’t know!”
There was a stampede for the exit, customers shrieking and shoving, employees wide eyed and not sure what to do. Then they started to fall. They dropped on the dirty floor, limbs shaking wildly, eyes blood shot and mouths white with foam. Some had managed to get out through the door, but Namjoon knew they’d all be dead anyways. The virus didn’t sit in the body for longer than two days, it was all over the news, common knowledge. A horrible smell filled the shitty takeaway joint.
The guy who worked the deep fryer had fallen in, skin burning, the stench unbearable. Namjoon threw up down his filthy apron, and cried.
Three days had passed since then, since he had curled himself into a ball in the back of the kitchen, waiting for the virus to take him. He figured staying inside, away from others was the only good thing he could do before he died, to prevent the spread, even though all he wanted was to go home and call his ex, tell her he missed her, that he was sorry. He knew she was probably dead, but he still wanted to try.
When he finally left the building, stepping over the bodies, trying not to breathe them in too heavily, he made the walk home. On the bus, it took half an hour, but on foot, it felt like a life time. More bodies in the street, cars slammed into each other on the roads, it felt like he was walking through a fever dream. Namjoon considered the possibility of being dead. Perhaps this was his punishment. But the smell of his apron, the grime on his face, it was too real. He knew this was the end of humanity, like all the news outlets had been refusing to admit for weeks. He knew.
He lived alone, so there was no breath to hold in when he unlocked his door. No bodies to surprise him. Just a mattress without a cover, a dirty table with remnants of breakfast from before his shift started days ago, and a phone in the receiver on the kitchen counter. When he picked it up, it was static. When he dialed, it was static. Namjoon let the phone drop from his hands and hang from its rubber coil, gently bumping against the cupboards. He sighed, peeled himself out of his work uniform, and crawled under his sheets, into a fast and easy sleep. The next time he opened his eyes, moonlight streamed in through the window of the flat, drowning his face in white. He remembered that the world had ended.
He ate stale cereal from the box with his bare hands, and had a cold shower. He dressed in jeans, a faded green shirt, and a military bomber jacket that had oil stains down the right side, before packing a bag. Granola bars, a water bottle half full, a knife, some rope and tape, a gun. He didn’t know where to go, but he felt compelled to leave. He didn’t even close the door after him as he strolled out into the night. There were no sounds, no cars or music or babies screaming from their cribs. Namjoon tucked his hands into his pockets, and walked. It took him no more than fifteen minutes to find an abandoned car, its owner dead in the seat, skin starting to rot. It was easy to pull him from the vehicle, and the car started without issue. A full tank of gas.
A CD started up and played Christmas carols. Namjoon kept it on as he drove away from the place he called home, wanting to hum along but not knowing if that was fucked up. He decided that he could hum to Christmas carols all he wanted, because no one was left to tell him it was fucked up to hum to Christmas carols after peeling a dead man from his car.
Namjoon sang as loud as he could as he passed the freeway, and felt a stray tear run down his cheek.
Jeon Jeongguk had been in love with Kim Taehyung from the moment he saw him.
He knew it was the corniest thing in the world, but it was the absolute truth. Taehyung introduced himself to the class, hair soft and bright, smile square and welcoming, and Jeongguk felt his heart drop out of his body. His lungs could barely take in air when Taehyung sat at the desk in front of him. It never got easier, even when months rolled by. It was when Taehyung turned around in his chair, sunlight streaming through the windows, highlighting golden skin adorned with light freckles, eyes glittering hazel under honey hair, that Jeongguk knew he was lost, lost, lost.
Taehyung needed a pen, and Jeongguk handed one to him with surprisingly sturdy hands. Taehyung had laughed. It was an Iron Man pen, his helmet the button that pushed out the nib. Before Jeongguk could die of shame, Taehyung grinned.
“I love Iron Man,”
They were fast friends, almost inseparable, spending lunch together, which grew into hanging out after school, which then turned into entire weekend chill sessions. When Taehyung went on dates with girls from school, Jeongguk went on dates with girls from school. When Taehyung lost his virginity to a senior girl, Jeongguk followed suite. He’d always known he was gay, but it made Taehyung happy to regale each other with their sexual adventures, and all Jeongguk wanted was Tae’s happiness.
They graduated together, got jobs together in the same supermarket, Jeongguk stacking shelves, Taehyung on the tills, shooting each other silly faces when they could, to make the hours race by. It set Jeongguk’s heart ablaze, like his face could barely contain his smile when they were together, when Tae was looking at him with that stupid fucking box grin.
It was only when Jeongguk was alone that the fire within roared, threatening to consume him whole. He would cry into his pillow, holding it close, soaking it with tears as he muttered “Tae, Tae, Tae.” It was only then that he was reminded that he would never hold Taehyung, never kiss him, never fuck him and marry him and be with him. But then he would see him again, and Tae would grin, throw an arm around Jeongguk’s shoulders, say something, say anything in that deep voice, and Jeongguk would slip back into that place, where only Tae existed, as bright as the sun.
They’d booked the time off work months in advance, for the first weekend of summer. Taehyung and Jeongguk had talked about going camping for as long as they could remember, and when Tae had splurged on a tent and sleeping bags, they couldn’t put it off any longer. They had trekked into the woods with bags almost bigger than themselves, supplies on hand for their two-week adventure. It was Jeongguk who figured out how the tent worked, and Taehyung set up the fire. They toasted marshmallows and talked shit, before retiring to sleep. It took everything within Jeongguk to not pull Taehyung into his arms, night after night. He cried silently as his best friend slept, forcing his face into his pillow. His insides were burning, and it hurt so much.
When their camping adventure was over, they only made it half way back to town before realizing something was wrong. Cars started to congest, engines dead for days, people inside the cars dead for longer. Taehyung was throwing up by the side of the road, and Jeongguk felt his heart thud beneath his ribcage, like someone was trying to hammer their way out. Their phones only sounded of static, and the radio was intermitted beeping. Taehyung was crying now. His face was red, weeping and afraid, sweat plastering that bronze hair to his flushed skin. Fuck, he was so beautiful. Dark roots were starting to show through the hair dye Tae loved so much, and Jeongguk held him as he wept.
The virus died with the people who carried it, they knew that, so they weren’t scared to sleep out in their car, surrounded by the dead. But they were scared.
“Do… do you think… do you think everyone is…?”
“I don’t know Tae,”
Tae fell asleep curled into Jeongguk, and it felt so right. When Taehyung buried into his chest, arms heavy over his waist, Jeongguk wept silently.
If Tae was here with him, it didn’t matter that the world had ended. Jeongguk slept with wet eyes pressed into dark honey hair.
Park Jimin was depressed.
It started as a small, dark rock in his gut, barely there, but uncomfortable all the same. He cried often and loudly when he felt it, and tried to dig it out through his wrists with scissors. When the rock turned into a boulder, black and heavy, Jimin noticed he couldn’t move anymore. Leaving bed was painful, and the piles of clothes and dishes building up around him served to remind him how pathetic he was, letting this fucking boulder control his life. But he couldn’t move. There was a dead roach on the floor, and everything reeked of mold and blood and something Jimin couldn’t recognize. It hurt to be alive.
When he remembered school, it hurt. When he thought of his parents, it hurt. Knowing he lived in a flat they bought for him, that they paid for, that he couldn’t even look after and clean when he didn’t have to pay a cent, it hurt. Knowing that they were going to visit in a day’s time hurt. Their disappointment, their fury. Jimin knew they didn’t see the way the boulder weighed him down, dragged him into a darkness he couldn’t pull himself free from. He remembered the way they had laughed, when he told them about going on medication, something to chip away at the pain, to cover it up a little. Oh god, it had fucking hurt.
“Jiminie, what could you possibly be depressed about? Come on, eat up, that’ll make you feel better,”
Park Jimin decided it was probably time to just get on with it.
He took a shower, the first one in days, and sat under the hot stream, watching as his pale skin went pink to red. Scars littered his wrists, his thighs, his stomach, hips, anywhere he could mark. They were like a morbid tally, but instead of counting wins, they counted failures. He felt disgusted looking at them, knowing he was ugly, ruined, but the disappointment was stronger than repulsion. It didn’t matter how many times he opened himself up, he couldn’t pull out the sadness. He knew it was eating him alive, slowly, like quicksand, so he decided to let it swallow him entirely.
He hated and loved Vodka. The taste vile, but the sting in his throat was good. He sat in the shower, naked and carved into, wrists emptying blood down the drain, and took another huge swig. Tastes like shit, tastes so fucking bad. But his head was spinning and still at the same time, and allowed him to zero in on the pain. Shaking hands reached for the bottle of pills hidden between empty shampoo bottled, and he sucked them down, feeling each one drop into the abyss of his stomach. More vodka, more vodka. The water didn’t feel like anything anymore, and when he slumped against the floor, watching red race away from him, he closed his eyes.
He was in agony when he woke up. Everything was white and sterile and the only thing that hurt more than his stomach and throat was the look in his Mothers eyes as she held his hand. He couldn’t make out anything else except the fear in those orbs burning into him. She wept, and Jimin closed his eyes again.
His parents had reached him in time to save his life, to have his stomach pumped, wrists sewn back together. They had hugged him close to them when he was fully conscious after drifting between life and death for a week, both crying.
“Why didn’t you say something Jimin? Why?”
I fucking did.
And now he looked down at them in their beds, holding each other, dead against Egyptian cotton sheets, the chandelier on the ceiling coloring them with rainbows. Eyes red and bulging and mouths open, skin cold. Jimin wept on the floor, scratching at his legs, finger nails ripping through the skin on his knees. It took him five days to figure out that he was one of the “lucky” ones. Immune to the virus. So lucky. Jimin drifted from room to room like a ghost, not sure what to do, not sure. He took his medication every day at the same time, and ate the food in the cupboard that wasn’t perished.
When the strangers had broken into his parent’s mansion, scavenging for something, anything, they hadn’t expected Park Jimin. They hadn’t expected anyone, least of all this beautiful boy, with plush lips and round cheeks. They told Jimin to come with them, that there were others, that they had a haven for everyone who survived the End of the World. Jimin didn’t know if they were lying or not, but he knew he had to leave. He packed his things, medications tucked secretly into the hidden pockets of his huge jacket, and helped them raid the mansion before they left.
Jimin stopped in his parent’s room to say farewell. They smelt like something unholy, but Jimin didn’t even wrinkle his nose.
“I’m leaving, Mom, Dad. I’ll see you soon,”
Jimin locked the door to their room behind him, and departed with the strangers, scratching at the scars on his wrists as he looked back.
Min Yoongi knew it was his fate to fall for Jung Hoseok.
It took him a while to warm to the jumping, bouncing ball of literal sunshine, but it still fucking happened. Hoseok was a dancer, and Yoongi was hired to play piano at the performances. There were loads of dancers, and Yoongi played for them all, but Hoseok left them in the dust when he was on stage. It took Yoongi’s breath away each time Hoseok danced, left his chest tight and his eyes prickling with tears. When the last night came, the last night Yoongi would play for Hoseok, he grabbed his bag, and tried to leave, before the waterworks started. But Jung Hoseok, bright and perfect, stopped Min Yoongi.
“Min Yoongi, right? Come get a drink with me,”
Yoongi was uncomfortable. He knew what that meant. So many one-night stands, underneath someone, inside someone, all started with that line. People who didn’t care for him, who didn’t want him. Yoongi couldn’t be that for Hoseok.
Yoongi was as romantic as they came. He loved courtship, flowers and letters and confessions. He loved powerful words, blushing cheeks and whispers of affection. But his face was cold and his voice was blunt. He was “chill”, as they all said. “This is just a casual thing right? We’re just chilling out, fucking around right?” Sure, Yoongi had replied, feeling his heart shatter like glass through his ribs. We’re just fucking around.
Hoseok grinned at Yoongi with his stupidly cute heart shaped mouth. Yoongi couldn’t resist.
The bar Hoseok walked Yoongi into was quiet, but inviting and warm. A fire blazed off to the side, and the bartender greeted them with a friendly smile, before asking if Hoseok wanted the usual. Ahh, he must come here often, Yoongi pondered, taking a seat next to the gorgeous dancer at the bar. Hoseok patted Yoongi on the leg, something that rocked Yoongi to the core.
“Have whatever you want, it’s on me! I’m just gonna make a quick loo trip, make sure no one roofies me,” Hoseok grinned with a wink, before taking off. Yoongi had half a mind to leave, before the bartender cleared his throat.
“What can I get for you, Min Yoongi?”
“Oh uh… wait, you know my name?”
“Of course, Hobi talks about you a lot. I was wondering when he’d bring you around, to be honest,”
The bartender laughed, and waved his hands about nervously.
“That sounds scary, I’m so sorry! I’m actually Hobi’s cousin, you can call me Min Jun. He always comes to say hi after a performance, so I get to hear all about it. He loves dancing to your music,”
This struck something weird inside Yoongi. It almost felt painful. He blurted without thinking.
Min Jun laughed, and then his face went still, brows arched up in confusion.
“You can’t tell? Yoongi, he talks about you like you hung the stars in the sky,”
When Hoseok returned and sipped at his drink, Yoongi saw it. That twinkle in his brown eyes, the smile, faint pinks glittering across the dancer’s cheeks. Oh. No wonder I hadn’t noticed, Yoongi thought, his chest still tight. No one has ever looked at me like that before. I didn’t know what it looked like.
Four drinks in, and Hoseok was laughing at nearly everything Yoongi said, and Yoongi couldn’t help but grin back, something he usually tried his best to repress. But Hoseok’s jaw dropped slightly at the sight, and Yoongi felt heat rush through him rapidly.
“God, Yoongi, you have the most beautiful smile,”
Oh fuck, no, no, no.
Hoseok shook his head lightly, his smile as bright as a summer day.
“You do. And you play the piano so well. I have such a crush on you,”
Yoongi covered his face with his hands, feeling his cheeks flame beneath his fingertips, before Hoseok gently pulled them down, so they could meet each other’s eyes. Yoongi knew tears were threatening to spill, and he was so humiliated.
“Don’t cry Yoongi! Is it because I’m ugly? You can tell me,” Hoseok was laughing, and Yoongi laughed with him, wiping away the tears as they finally broke free.
“No, I’m just… I’m really surprised?”
Hoseok wore a look of utter shock.
“But, you’re Min Yoongi. You’re talented and gorgeous and-“
Don’t say chill, please don’t call me chill.
“-and you’re so passionate. Your music makes me become more passionate when I dance. Don’t you know how amazing you are?”
“Stop it, fuck, Hoseok, I’m gonna bawl my eyes out,”
When it hit 1am, they took at taxi to Yoongi’s house. Yoongi opened the door to a sleepy Holly, curled up in his basket, and Hoseok cooed at him gently, before Yoongi led him to the bedroom. They kissed, once, twice, and Hoseok held Yoongi in his arms, while Yoongi cried, hard shudders and full on sobs. After he settled down, Hoseok kissed his wet eyelids and questioned.
“What’s wrong, Yoongi?”
“I’ve waited for someone like you forever,”
Yoongi didn’t mean to spew that corny shit, but Hoseok embraced him tighter and kissed his minty hair, his ears, his cheeks.
“Sorry, that was… that was lame,”
“Nah,” Hoseok grinned back. “Let me show you lame,”
Hoseok rustled around in his pockets, Yoongi confused out of his mind when he was presented a piece of splintering wood.
“It’s the floor from the theatre! I took some of it,”
“Wait, why? How?” Yoongi spluttered.
“Because it’s where I danced when I met you. It’s what you sat on and played piano, where you made me feel passionate, and it’s where I fell in love with you. Oh, and I took it out with an axe. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. For our love, Yoongi!”
The wood was put in a frame, and Hoseok had written “For Our Love” on the back, to remind them always. At some point they bought a house near a dance studio, Hoseok teaching dance, and Yoongi playing piano. Every day filled Yoongi with so much joy that he was scared he was going to burst, but he never did. It was too perfect, too scary for Yoongi, but Hobi eased him into it, gave Yoongi everything he ever needed. Flowers showed up at the front door weekly, love letters were left scattered around the house in secret nooks, and Hobi never shied away from showering Min Yoongi with absolute adoration. Holly even loved Hobi more than he loved Yoongi now, but Yoongi didn’t mind.
When the first round of the virus hit, they stocked up, and stuck sheets into every door crack, every window, anywhere air could get in. They ate as little as possible from their supplies, and taught Holly how to use the toilet so he didn’t destroy the carpets. The TV’s went down first, then the radios and phones, then the screams from outside, and soon, it was just silence. It had been over two weeks in their house, and Hobi held Yoongi and Holly in their bed, burrowed under the blankets. Hobi read poetry to Yoongi, and kissed his fingers, knowing that if they were gonna die, they wanted to be together, in their home, in their bed, with loving words and that piece of broken wood framed on the wall.
But death never came. It took a few trips into the outside world for them to realize that they were alone. The sheets must have done the job, because it was silent as a graveyard, with just as many bodies. Yoongi couldn’t bear it, and Hoseok took him back to the house, Holly in tow. It had shaken him too, but he was relieved.
As long as Yoongi is safe, nothing else matters, Hoseok had thought, kissing the black emerging through the mint in Yoongi’s hair.
Yoongi is all that matters.