he thinks it’s great that this earth still has a skyline.
the seoul where he’s from doesn’t. the thousand-storey buildings reach well beyond the horizon, poking at the murky atmosphere made dark by the withering sun. johnny hails from a place where it’s almost always an eternal nighttime, the sky a perpetual midnight blue, the horizon dotted with bright city lights.
he likes it, kind of, likes the variety of colors that have become a substitute for the stars. but on the days where he’s sent to this version of earth for his mission, though, he finds that he does, in fact, miss the sun.
a blaring alarm reminds him that he’s not here to sunbathe.
he’s spiderman, of a friendly neighborhood from an earth that isn’t this one. a nanotech suit shields his body like a second skin, the deep royal blue etched with embossed white webbing. the signature spider logo peeks through a grey hoodie, the wide hood helping him stay incognito despite the full-face mask and automated goggles.
the goggles give him a wider view of the foreign city, little numbers popping up in his periphery to tell him where to go. his heart rate is fully visible to him as well, a requirement for dimensional travelers, but his vitals are pushed to the back of his mind as he searches for where the danger lurks.
he takes a sharp right into an alley, runs up a brick wall to somersault into another, before he finds himself smack dab in the middle of a skirmish between some lizard monster and—
—huh. someone’s in a red and black version of his costume in this iteration of seoul. interesting.
“look out!” red yells at his direction, but the petite fighter’s already being thrown at him before he could even act. johnny moves quick, catches the dude (dudette? he’s not really sure) in his arms, the nanotech suit taking the brunt of the force. thank heavens for little scientists and their knack for modification.
“you okay, little guy?” johnny asks, and he’s met with an angry squint, not-johnny-spiderman clearly not happy with being called little before he goes back to kicking the monster’s ass. “okay. good talk.”
still, he’s not one to be upstaged, so johnny runs up the nearby wall to land a double-heeled kick at the monster’s chest. his goggles beep to alert him of an open wormhole, the main reason for his being on this earth in the first place, and johnny makes it so that his attacks would lead the lizard being back into the warp space. red seems to catch his drift, his lithe legs swift as he uses johnny’s back as a spring board, giving him enough momentum to push the monster in with a full-force vaulting kick.
the monster stumbles, not giving up as easily as he would have hoped, but johnny throws a circular disc at his scaly torso, and the light at its center glows a bright red as the wormhole shrinks, taking the beast along with it. there’s a remnant of reptilian tail plopping on the cement as a leftover from the skirmish. johnny tries his hardest not to gag at the morbidly unsightly scene.
“what was that thing,” he asks to no one in particular, and he’s answered by heavy panting on his side. there he remembers the presence of the other spiderperson in the room, and his good heart leads him to put a steadying hand on the guy’s shoulder. “you okay, little gu—OOF!”
he’s met with a swift punch to the gut, and johnny doubles over from the impact. even ten’s nanotech masterpiece couldn’t protect him from that.
“one, that’s a genetic anomaly from x-labs. fought it before,” red narrates, matter of factly, barely even waiting for johnny to stop rubbing his stomach in pain. “two, it’s spiderman, not little guy.”
“great,” johnny replies, his goggles upturned into an eye smile equivalent. red’s own set of peepers are squinted in what johnny assumes is exasperation. “we have the same name. less things to remember.”
“huh? what do you—”
johnny would have totally loved to stay back and answer more questions, but his interdimensional watch has begun a most obnoxious litany of beeps, and he takes it as his cue to leave the scene.
“i’ll answer your questions next time, other spiderman!” he motions, grinning despite his mouth being hidden by the mask. he shoots a sticky string to the sky and allows himself to be pulled up, a cheeky, two-fingered salute serving as his characteristic goodbye. “gotta blast!”
“wait—” red follows his trail, but johnny has already warped out when he lands on the platform.
“and he punched me in the gut!” johnny swings his legs from atop the counter, his features an animated cocktail of many different emotions. mostly, there’s excitement, but there’s also a tiny smidge of annoyance blended into the mix, a good quarter coming from the physical harm he’s been dealt.
a not-so-tall male runs a scanning gun along his entire height, and johnny does his best to comply with the motions (arm raised, arm down). ten c.l., reads the nametag on his white lab coat.
“you called him little guy,” ten scolds, firing up a holographic notepad from the band on his wrist. johnny looks like a petulant brat, pouting like he is. “he probably wasn’t even that small. you’re just…large.”
johnny squints at the young scientist. “well, he was taller than you, if i remember correctly.”
the assertion earns him a glare. johnny feels momentarily victorious, and ten moves to the bigger deck to work on recalibrating his suit, as well as recording a couple of other findings.
“what was the mission again?” johnny asks when the silence becomes too unbearable. there was something about the quiet that makes him antsy, and ten’s sterile lab wasn’t the best with radio static.
“some kid named zeus,” ten answers, deadpan. his fingers go a mile a minute over the holographic keyboard, typing in a confusing mix of code, numbers, and words. “he’s messing with black holes for some reason we don’t know, and we really can’t afford to wait around and hear him out.”
in his earth, there’s been news of time-space anomalies, and it’s been traced back to a man-made black hole coming in from another version of seoul. it’s a tricky mission, involving a constant back and forth between his dimension and another, but johnny thinks it’s cool. enjoyable, even. would’ve probably enjoyed it more if the stability of the universe didn’t rest on his, albeit broad, shoulders.
“why am i the one being sent?” he pushes, though he already knows the answer by heart. this has been his twentieth time to ask, after all. “i mean, i’m not the only person enrolled in this program and all.”
“because you’re the perfect match,” ten closes the deck, and that is it for that conversation.
it’s ridiculous how many wormholes there are that needs to be shut down. he’s at his sixth one for the month, and the month has barely even started. johnny’s glad the entire dimension warping thing has yet to give him a headache, but if it’s not the constant reassembly of his atoms that’d give him some injury, he’s sure it’s going to be one of these ugly monsters that keep popping up from these damned vortices.
“in you go!” he exclaims, successfully kicking yet another beast into yet another wormhole. he throws in the metal disc after, winces at the loud growling he hears as the vortex shuts down for good.
“is that everything?”
johnny stiffens, surprised by the sudden question. it’s there that he remembers that this earth has a spiderman of its own, and it’s this petite guy with a knack for black and red supersuits. johnny still has yet to find out his name, or what he’s working at, but he kind of has a time limit, and—
“hello?” red asks again, obviously unhappy at being ignored. “are those all the wormholes today?”
johnny’s goggles do the blinking for him. he checks any further alerts from the attached sensors, offers an affirmative nod when he finds none. “looks like it, little gu—i mean, spiderman.”
not-so-little guy gives him a glare through his disguise. “great. we need to talk.”
johnny quirks a brow, tilts his head to the side in confusion. “sure? i mean we’re talking n—”
“no, you idiot,” red hisses, obviously unamused. “somewhere more private.”
“oh.” johnny nods again, a little lamely. “oka—woah!”
red gives him no space to protest. petite spidey suddenly has a vice grip on his wrist, web shooters aimed at the ledge above. it takes three seconds for their pair to land on the rooftop, and johnny lets himself awe at the beginnings of the sunset. he takes a snapshot, stores it for later perusal.
“what is this?” red is quick with the questions, and johnny tears his eyes from the celestial phenomenon to pay attention to his inquiries. “do you know what’s happening around here?”
johnny nods as a prelude to his explanation.
“yeah. some kid in your earth wants to open a black hole, and i’m here to put a stop to it.”
“so i’m right—you’re not from here,” red sounds satisfied at his own discovery, and johnny almost claps at how quick-witted he is. “that watch on your wrist—is that what allows you to hop dimensions?”
“mhm,” johnny affirms, raising his wrist to put his watch in full view. “you’re sharp.”
johnny thinks red would be rolling his eyes if his mask were off.
“isn’t that a requirement for spiderpeople?” red asserts, arms crossed over his own spider logo.
“i guess.” johnny motions with a shrug, lips jutted out from beneath his disguise. “anyway, black holes, right? the anomaly here is causing a lot of weird spikes back in my earth, and we think it would be catastrophic if we let it happen for long. like, cosmic level. that bad.”
“that bad?” red echoes.
“that bad.” johnny fetches a disk from one of his hidden compartments. the silver contraption, no bigger than a coaster, glints underneath the afternoon sun. “this thing right here is our technology, and we use it to close the worm holes for good. you’ve seen it in action.”
red nods, understanding obvious. johnny’s glad he doesn’t have to delve in any further.
“take off your mask,” red orders after a beat of silence.
johnny looks at him like he grew another head.
“i’m sorry, what?”
“i said, take off your mask.” red repeats, growing impatient. “i mean, we’re probably going to run into each other more often, and it’s getting kind of confusing to refer to you as blue in my head.”
“that’s funny,” johnny starts. “i call you red in my head.”
“good to know,” red’s tone suggests that it isn’t. “so? the mask?”
“just me?” johnny tries his luck, leans his weight on one leg. “you should take yours off too. you know—for the sake of camaraderie and all? i can’t be the only one revealing my identity.”
a shrug punctuates his motion. there’s a contemplative pause in their banter, before red visibly nods.
“fine. that’s fair.” red states, fingers pulling at the hem of his own mask. “on three?”
“on three,” johnny agrees, hand poised on a button on his neck. “one—”
“two—” red follows, after a beat.
“three.” comes as a duet.
the warm hues of the seoul sunset proves a bit much for his bare eyes to look at. johnny wills the dark spots away with a couple of blinks, his hand pushing back some loose strands of hair that have fallen onto his face. he adjusts his line of sight to see who this spiderman is (curse his superior height), quirks a brow at the mop of styled blood red that herald his supposed partner’s real identity.
his gaze goes further down, and he’s met with a face he can only see in his dreams. not after—
“tae—taeyong?” johnny knows his features mirror the shock in the other’s own.
“j-johnny?” red—taeyong—choruses, his own visage a painful mix of three hundred emotions. “h—”
a series of obnoxious beeps interrupts his question. talk about great timing.
“i’ll…see you?” johnny offers taeyong a look of apology, unsure of his own words. the nanotech mask shields his hesitation as he leaps off the building and into his designated worm hole.
he doesn’t tell ten, not yet, because he’s not quite sure what to tell him. it’s a bit weird to see taeyong in this earth, as spiderman, no less, when back in his own dimension, taeyong’s already—
“look out!” taeyong yells as a beast charges towards him, but his spider reflexes are quick enough to deflect any sort of attack. he does trip a little though, and he sees taeyong shake his head, his peepers glaring in obvious exasperation. whoops.
“sorry about that,” johnny sheepishly offers as he throws the disc, and the monster groans as his atoms disappear along with the raging vortex. “i was just lost in th—"
“get your head out of the clouds, big guy” taeyong whacks him upside the head. johnny squeaks, whimpers, but it earns him no sympathy. “but whatever. we’re done, right?”
johnny surveys the surrounding vicinity, nodding when he finds no other anomaly. “looks like it.”
“great,” taeyong grabs his wrist, and johnny quirks a brow, attempts to judge his intentions. “your watch—thing, whatever—it beeps at exactly seven in the evening, right?”
“yeah,” it’s there he notices that he’s three hours ahead of schedule. huh. “what about it?”
“let’s talk.” taeyong motions, and johnny knows he has no space to disagree.
it’s a quick detour, the change of clothes happening in between swings from one alleyway to another. taeyong apparently keeps his backpack hidden in a nearby alley, and there’s a ready-to-wear, all-black ensemble that’s safely tucked inside. johnny, on the other hand, simply needs a touch of a button, his nanotech suit creating a perfect copy of an outfit he’s seen on the street. contrary to taeyong, he dons a simple outfit. after all, no one can go wrong with a loose hoodie and ripped jeans.
“why are they looking at me?” johnny finds himself in the middle of a sit-down café, a glass of his favorite iced americano sweating on a coaster before him. taeyong takes the chair across, oversized sunglasses perched on his perfect nose, looking quite comfortable in his own skin.
“i assure you—” the redhead begins, half-sighing. “it’s probably me they’re looking at.”
johnny shrugs. he can’t really blame them. this taeyong is beautiful, like his taeyong was.
“anyway,” taeyong speaks after a sip of his latte, leaning forth so he can speak in hushed tones. “why do you look like johnny?”
“i don’t look like johnny,” johnny’s lips are a thin line as he matches taeyong’s posture. his elbows rest against his thighs, his fingers forming a bed for his chin. “i am johnny. johnny seo. seo youngho.”
taeyong peers—stares—at him through his sunglasses, brows furrowed. johnny assumes he’s searching for the answers he wants in every nook and cranny of his face.
“but—you’re—in here—” taeyong stutters, unsure of which words to use.
“did you know me?” johnny assists. “like—”
“you died in front of me.” taeyong provides, blunt. johnny catches a hint of sorrow in his tone. “i think that accounts for more than knowing.”
“huh,” johnny leans back, feeling out of breath. he’d be lying if he said he hasn’t included the possibility in his calculations, probabilities and all. “well, for the record, you died in front of me too.”
taeyong quirks a brow.
“okay, not really in front of me.” johnny corrects. “maybe like, twenty blocks away.”
silence fills the gaps in their conversation. johnny picks at the seams of his ripped jeans, taps his foot against the wooden floor. the atmosphere is heavy, and there’s a beat before they both try to speak.
“i—” they chorus, halting in sync, before offering the space to speak at the same time.
“you go fi—”
johnny feels like he’s been hit with a dose of déjà vu.
“okay, look—” he takes the initiative, finally, waves off the awkwardness as he leans forth. he really doesn’t fancy another round of radio static. “the taeyong in my world was very special to me.”
“and so was the johnny in this dimension,” taeyong banters, slides his sunglasses off. “to me.”
there’s another pause, but johnny takes it as his cue to continue his thought.
“i couldn’t save the taeyong in my world,” he confesses, a small ache tugging at his chest despite the years that have passed since the accident happened. “is it okay if i—?”
“of course,” taeyong is quick to catch his drift. “as long as you let me look out for you too.”
the atmosphere lightens, and johnny feels himself smiling for the first time that afternoon.
“sounds like a plan, spiderman.”
johnny’s footsteps are heavy, and they echo against the closed hallways of the research institute.
“is that it?” his tone drips with anger, but he himself doesn’t even understand why he is on edge. maybe it’s a supergenius thing; a sense of frustrated annoyance when met with something that’s beyond immediate understanding. probably. “is that why i’ve been sent to seven-oh-one? because i’m dead?”
the last word rings loud along the sterile chambers.
“yes—and no,” ten explains as they walk towards the examination rooms, barely sparing him a glance as they do so, his eyes trained on his hologram screen. “you’re the most advanced spy///der here in the institute, and basically the only one who can handle the repeated stress of interdimensional travel.”
ten keys in the passcode for his personal lab, and johnny lets himself inside when the door slides open.
“it’s just more convenient that you’re dead back in seven-oh-one because it means zero glitching,” johnny does not like how casually his other-dimension’s passing has been glossed over. call him a sentimentalist, but he believes he deserves a smidge of respect. “no interference. all that jazz.”
johnny groans, rolling his eyes to oblivion.
“why are you getting angry anyway?” ten turns on his scanning gun, fires a beam at johnny’s six-foot-two person. johnny doesn’t even bother sitting on the counter this time, adrenaline lending him an excess of energy. arm up, arm down. “you know the protocol. you didn’t even protest when—”
ten furrows his brows, but they relax when he comes to an understanding. “oh.”
“i don’t—” johnny stutters his narrative, and he leans back against the counter, feeling a bit wobbly on his feet. ten understands. the soothing hand that’s suddenly on his upper arm says that much. “i don’t know—he’s—here, he’s—i don’t know what i—”
“god, hyung.” exasperation masks the worry that hangs in ten’s tone, but there’s a thing called spider-sense, and it works in many beautiful ways. “just do like the greeks do. or something.”
“what?” johnny squints, features scrunched in confusion.
“all is fair in love and war,” ten explains. or tensplains, as he likes to say. “or whatever.”
johnny shuts his mouth with the look ten gives him.
“look, i don’t care who’s there in that universe,” ten’s voice suggests that he does, in fact, care. johnny has known him for far too long. “dr. moon and the rest of the institute just want you to finish the mission and save us all from some sort of quantum destruction. then you can figure out what to do.”
there’s a beat of silence. johnny would like to think it’s contemplative.
“okay,” he gives an easy nod, teeth worrying his bottom tier. “might as well make it quick, then.”
“good,” ten offers a cat-like grin. “dr. moon would be happy to see you so motivated.”
“how did i die?”
the skyline is ripe with an autumnal palette. the two spidermen sit on the ledge of a high-rise building, masks taken off in favor of basking in the unfiltered beauty of the ongoing sunset.
taeyong’s death is a memory johnny has kept buried for years. it’s the reason why he went through the spy///der experiments in the first place, burying his grief in the pain of physical training and constant genetic modification. it earned him good results at least, made him the top spiderperson in the institute.
johnny thinks of it as a penance, a punishment for not being able to do anything when it happened.
“kidnapping gone wrong,” he finally supplies, eyes trained towards the orange skyline. “he’s always been feisty, and it ticked off the kidnappers. he was already dead when the authorities arrived.”
johnny inhales, the scene running fresh in his mind. he remembers the sirens, the drops of rain drenching his entire form as he held taeyong’s body close. he could barely speak the next day. the doctors said it was from shock, but johnny knew it was from all the useless yelling he did.
“i decided to be spiderman a week after,” johnny concludes, lips pursed in an attempt for a smile. taeyong simply places a hand on his thigh, squeezes. comfort. “what about me? how did i die?”
it’s taeyong’s turn to look into the horizon. “he took a bullet for me.”
johnny tries hard not to think of his other self’s death as anticlimactic. “oh?”
“it was so stupid too,” taeyong continues, exasperation dripping from his tone. “like, god, he already knew i was spiderman, and he still went in and played hero. like, what the fuck.”
johnny bites down on his lip to keep himself from laughing. taeyong groans at the surge of memories.
“since then, i decided not to involve any more outsiders in this friendly neighborhood spiderman thing,” taeyong picks at his fingers, peeling the dry skin off with his nails. johnny winces for him. “i mean, it doesn’t really amount to anything if i couldn’t even protect someone as important as him.”
johnny hums, wraps his arm around taeyong’s shoulder. steady.
“for the record, that’s totally not on you.” he offers, attempts for comfort. “that’s something i’d do.”
taeyong looks at him, mouth agape, looking like a wounded puppy.
his voice is small, almost inaudible. “hm?”
“just don’t.” taeyong shuts his eyes, plops his head on johnny’s shoulder. “i lost johnny once. i don’t think i can handle losing another, you know?”
“okay,” johnny nods after a contemplative pause, rests his head above taeyong’s own. he squeezes his upper arm for good measure. assurance. “okay. i promise.”
hectic is an understatement for tonight’s events. he’s punched at least four monsters in the face, and they just keep going. johnny’s scared that they’ll run out of the discs, what with the amount of enemies resurfacing from the rift right in front of them, but that’s when taeyong gets a lightbulb moment.
“there has to be a source,” he motions, and johnny thinks it’s not too bad to have two spidermen in a mission.
in fact, he thinks it’s absolutely wonderful.
“yeah, you’re right,” johnny nods, twice for good measure, and puts his goggles to good use. he looks in all directions, brows quirking when he senses a different pattern from the ground below.
a monster flies above him just after he crouches down to the ground. taeyong makes quick work of dispatching the moth-like abomination, goes overboard with the sticky web traps.
“something’s beneath us,” johnny aims at a nearby manhole cover and pulls, and there’s a surge of energy from the opening. bingo. “can you handle the rest—”
johnny pauses when he gets a good look of what’s around him, which is mostly a bunch of groaning monsters trapped by indestructible webbing. huh. maybe having a partner is a good idea.
“i’m coming with you,” taeyong declares, and runs straight for the opening.
the sewers are damp and moldy but seeing in the dark has proven to be no problem for either of them. something about spider senses, thought he thinks it’s mostly the goggles, in johnny’s case. he’s following a heat signature that’s getting stronger by the minute, but it’s still eerily quiet. the only sounds that could be heard are their muted breaths, along with their frantic, waiting heartbeats.
“there it is,” johnny points at a gigantic cylinder, sparks coming from its groaning joints. their pair approach the contraption, wary of any sudden ambush, but no monster emerges from the darkness.
“whoa,” taeyong exclaims when he looks up, making johnny do the same, and a gasp tumbles out of his system at what he sees. there’s a large wormhole above them, and the surrounding wall rumbles at the immensity of the anomaly. johnny thinks he can hear a low growling from beyond the vortex.
a loud clang echoes inside the hollow chamber. taeyong almost jumpstarts a quick pursuit, but johnny is quick to have a hand on his arm, shaking his head no.
“we should focus on powering this down,” he suggests, and taeyong nods in agreement.
“what do we do?” taeyong asks, cracking his knuckles in preparation. “do we just punch it?”
“’course not,” johnny doesn’t even bother to hide his amusement. “this is where i’ll come in handy.”
taeyong quirks a brow at his grandiose declaration but takes two steps back to let johnny do his thing.
see, the spy///der experiments mean he’s a different brand of spiderperson, compared to those who were just bitten by a radioactive arachnid. it’s more of a willing transformation, made under a heavily controlled environment, and their lot were given a selection of additional powers to amp up their already powerful set of spider abilities. some chose fire, or ice, even an added invisibility quirk.
johnny, though, chose electrical manipulation.
he thinks the little sparks of blue lightning tickle when it runs from his nerves down to the tips of his fingers. for a small second, the entire room lights up with a dazzling blue, and taeyong watches in amazement from the sidelines. johnny’s glowing, and it takes but a simple touch for the control panel to short-circuit, effectively depowering the entire contraption with a single move.
“whoa—” taeyong almost claps in amazement, but he’s interrupted by a sudden tremor. it seems as if the wormhole has destabilized the foundations of the underground, and it’s starting to cave in the moment the vortex disappeared into the void. “i’d congratulate you, but i think we need to run.”
“great minds really do think alike,” johnny quips, and they’re quick to zip their way out of the scene.
it doesn’t take long until they’re on the surface, panting from the adrenaline. the monsters are all gone from the alley, dematerializing along with the worm hole. there’s a small crash of rocks and cement in the underground sewage system, but johnny thinks it’s a problem that construction can solve. what’s important is they’ve disabled one of the bigger mechanisms, and it’ll be a while before anything can start wreaking havoc up in this dimension, and in turn, his own turf at two-oh-nine.
“we did it!”
johnny’s barely finished standing when taeyong has jumped into his arms, obviously excited at their success. maybe too excited, because he feels masked lips brush against his own masked tiers, and johnny’s goggles widen in surprise. there’s a beat, and taeyong’s mask mirrors his in shock.
“oh god—” taeyong tries to scramble off of him, but despite his daze, johnny keeps an arm tight around his waist. does he really think—”i’m so sorry—gosh, johnny—i don’t know what i—”
“take off your mask,” johnny commands before he changes his mind, and taeyong blinks in confusion.
“what?” he asks, but peels it off anyway, revealing flushed cheeks and furrowed brows. adorable. johnny removes his own mask with his free hand, his one arm still keeping taeyong close, and leans forth, his lips stopping just a breath above taeyong’s own.
“this is okay, right?” his question rings barely above a whisper. taeyong, dazed, nods out his affirmation.
the kiss begins as soft, almost as if johnny’s initial inquiry wasn’t enough, and he’s letting his lips ask the follow-up question. taeyong understands, presses harder in answer, and it is there that the hesitation disappears to another dimension. all that’s left is affection, warmth, and the tiniest ounce of relief. gratitude, even. johnny pulls taeyong flush against his form, practically lifting him off of the pavement, and taeyong throws his arms around johnny’s neck, pushing their bodies as close as humanly possible.
but before they can go any further, johnny’s watch begins beeping, and taeyong groans when he feels the boy begin to pull away. there’s a pout on his lips at being interrupted. johnny kisses it, of course.
“i have to go,” johnny’s voice is thick from the liplock, and he clears his throat as punctuation.
“nooooo,” taeyong whines, scrambling to trap johnny in his embrace. “don’t.”
johnny chuckles, gives him one last peck when they finally separate. “i’ll see you soonest, taeyong.”
they were always running.
from villains, to villains, from cops who didn’t know any better. just one big marathon, where the track branches off and sometimes, there isn’t even any ground to run on. it gets tiring, really, as it should. they are still human at the very core, even if they shoot webs and spark lightning off their fingers.
but it’s fine. at least when they run, it’s beside each other.
what they hate the most, though, is running out of time.
“you go even when there’s no black holes,” taeyong’s legs swing in a gentle rhythm, his butt safely sitting on a fire exit railing. his mask is off; there’s no bad guys to run after for a good while.
“so?” johnny hangs upside down from a balcony, looking as much as a spiderperson as he could evem with his face in full view. show-off. “you could use a hand, friendly neighborhood spiderman.”
taeyong shakes his head, chuckling in half-endearment, half-exasperation. he thinks johnny’s pose is ridiculous, like it’s straight out of a seventy’s comic book. it’s almost like—
“don’t move,” he commands, leaping down so he’s standing a few inches below the other. “i wanna try something.”
johnny’s brows furrow, but he does as he is told. he sees a flush on taeyong’s cheeks as he walks closer, and it gives him a tiny clue about what the guy is planning to do. it’s confirmed when hands cup his cheeks, pull him down to a height that’s more comfortable, and he braces tight against the railing.
it’s a quick one, barely a peck, but it’s enough to send taeyong giggling.
“i’ve always wanted to do that,” he confesses, looking every bit like a smitten schoolboy, and johnny immediately wants to kiss him again. and he would’ve, he’s already leaning forth, but his watch begins beeping, and the alley is suddenly filled with a chorus of their groans.
“i swear, ten’s watching me through this!” johnny does a little somersault, and he’s standing upright in seconds. taeyong’s arms weave around his waist, and johnny pulls him ever closer, rests his chin on top of his pretty little head. taeyong uses nice shampoo. johnny kind of wants to drown in it forever.
“i’ll see you soon?” taeyong asks him with wide-eyes, and johnny almost loses his heart to tease. almost.
“are you wishing for villain activity?” he banters, and taeyong’s nose scrunches in annoyance.
“no, asshole.” he parries, and johnny snorts at the lack of bite. “i’m wishing for you.”
that’s a shot straight to the heart. taeyong swears there’s an embarrassing flush on johnny’s cheeks, but johnny is quick to pull his mask back on, keen to hide any sort of bashful remnant. he walks two steps back, but he changes his mind and lifts a little bit of his mask, eager to leave a kiss on taeyong’s lips.
now they’re both blushing messes. ugh. spidermen.
“look out for shooting stars, babe.” johnny croons, all in an attempt to sound smooth, but it’s all to waste when he trips back into his own wormhole. taeyong shakes his head before putting his mask back on, concludes that he wouldn’t have him any other way.
the deck is alive with the sound of beeping. more than twenty scientists have gathered in the hall, the white-cloaked individuals buzzing with talk of spikes in the quantum realm and over-activity in the interdimensional ruptures. johnny tunes them out with music, as his nerves are already putting him on edge, and he doesn’t need any additional stimulus before his (possible) final fight for this mission.
he’s in the room with the dimensional portal, the institute deciding that it’s better to travel with a more stable tunnel instead of risking anomalies with a less stable watch. ten helps him get into his nanotech suit, does some final calibrations, his little hologram notepad keeping track of anything in need of fixing.
“nothing i can say to change your mind?” ten asks out of the blue, and johnny tries to remember if he’s let the scientist in on his plans. he comes up with nothing, but it’s ten, and ten knows everything.
“about what?” johnny tries, schools his expression to feigned innocence. it doesn’t work.
“you have that look,” ten points out, sharp eyes trained against his features in a way that makes johnny feel incredibly self-conscious. “like, you know, you’ve already decided on something.”
“huh,” johnny hums, offers a non-committal shrug. “do i?”
ten shakes his head, chuckling instead of giving out a proper answer.
they move to the front of the portal, the device swimming with a billion colors once it’s turned on. it rumbles like a beast, low and steady, and johnny does a little sign of the cross once he’s done with his breathing exercises. it’s been a while, but there’s no harm in being religious, from time to time.
“i’ll miss you, big guy.” ten avoids his eyes. johnny takes it as an opportunity to flick at his forehead.
“no, you won’t,” he banters, his smirk easy, playful. ten parries with a pout.
“yeah, you’re right,” ten rubs his forehead with his palm, his nose scrunching as he speaks. “i won’t.”
it is ten things happening all at once. there are monsters at every corner of the abandoned building, shooting up from a steady stream of open wormholes. this is the cinematic climax, johnny thinks, the part where everything culminates in some boss battle where they get to be pummeled to the ground before they save the day. exciting, really, but these aren’t even bosses. they’re recycled monsters, for heaven’s sake. johnny still remembers that dumb moth man from the fight from last week.
“do they just keep coming?” johnny yells, patience wearing thin. he does a back handspring to kick a lizard being on its jaw, before sucker-punching it back into the worm hole. disc in, wormhole out. next.
“i don’t know!” taeyong screams back, jumps on some horse-looking monster to choke it with his thighs. the monster stumbles back, and taeyong gives it a final kick before leaping off for another attack. he throws a disc of his own, and the wormhole closes. “maybe we need to—”
it happens too fast. a vortex opens across where taeyong stood, and a rabid wolf-beast comes charging out from the groaning crevice. taeyong crosses his arms to brace for the impact of a large fist, eyes shut tight in a vain attempt to keep the force at bay. but the punch never comes. instead, a crack.
he opens his eyes to johnny’s back, wrist raised to shield him from the punch. taeyong almost collapses from the déjà vu, but he finds his bearings, reminds himself that it’s a fist, not a bullet to the heart.
“you okay?” johnny asks, kneeing the beast right at its gut. the monster groans and prepares for another bout, but he’s quick to stick a disc against its chest, the light glowing red as it takes the abomination.
“yeah—” taeyong sounds winded, his eyes immediately going to the broken device barely hanging on johnny’s wrist. the watch sputters, crackles with electricity. “your watch—”
“it’s fine,” johnny’s goggles turn up into an eyesmile, placing a steadying hand on taeyong’s shoulder. he looks around, then down, then up. “i think we need to turn whatever this thing is off.”
taeyong follows his gaze, nods in understanding. “on it.”
taeyong swings off towards the upper deck, kicks off a flying beast that johnny finishes off with a disc on its forehead. johnny takes out three more monsters in one go, shoots a web of string against one of the pillars so he can follow taeyong’s trail. he tells himself it’s for back-up, not worry.
the building rumbles, but johnny’s landing remains steady. there’s a figure huddled in the dark corner of the deck, the ears of their snoopy mask wobbling with each rocking motion. huh.
“are you zeus?” johnny walks forward, cautious, but he can see that the person has no plans to attack. it’s like they know they fucked up, and they’re just waiting the storm to fetter off. “did you do all this?”
zeus nods, hugs their knees close to their chest. “are you going to kill me?’
johnny thinks their—his—voice is too gentle to be causing this much. “no. i don’t do that.”
“hey, spiderman!” taeyong reminds him of his presence, and johnny is quick to run where he stood. they team up to enter lines of code in rapid succession, the multiple screens blinking green before they shut-off, one after the other. the vertices from below all begin to close. johnny inhales, lets electricity run through his veins, short circuits the entire panel for good measure.
silence envelopes the abandoned structure. johnny coughs from the smoke. zeus remains huddled in his corner. it’s taeyong who makes him surrender, taeyong who binds his wrist with a zip tie. johnny makes a mental note to ask him where he keeps all of his knick-knacks.
“mission accomplished?” he asserts, rests his hand on taeyong’s shoulder. squeezes.
taeyong, in turn, intertwines their fingers. “mission accomplished.”
the police arrive in a couple of minutes, ready to arrest zeus, who, unmasked, is revealed as kim jungwoo. johnny remembers seeing him on the news a couple of times—a young genius with money to spend, money to waste. he wonders what could be his motivation, what could be worth risking the entire stability of the universe for.
“i just miss him,” jungwoo interrupts, and johnny realizes he’s been thinking aloud. “so much.”
johnny blinks, confused, but the boy simply gives him a vague, pained smile, before he’s pushed off into a police car. johnny thinks he looks all too willing to be incarcerated.
seoul has a skyline, but it still has no stars. johnny squints at the lights that color the horizon, thinks about how it’s quite similar to the ones that color the murky clouds in his home. or former home, really, seeing as his only way of transporting back has been smashed into smithereens.
he cradles the broken thing in his hand, and taeyong looks at it in worry.
“what now?” taeyong asks, sighing. their legs dangle off of a high-rise rooftop, the nighttime wind kissing their bare faces. “how are you—”
“i was planning to stay here anyway,” johnny reveals, keeping the broken watch in one of his hidden compartments. taeyong blinks, confused.
“i mean, it looks more fun here.” johnny continues, eyes set towards the horizon. “i’ve always wondered how it’d be like to go to an actual university, or, like, watch the sunrise from my window.”
“huh?” taeyong breathes, head cocked to the side, processing the revelation. “how about your world? your friends?”
“ten already knows.” and i didn’t even need to tell him.
“never had one.”
“you were the only one i had.”
there’s a pause in their conversation. johnny’s eyes never leave taeyong’s face, and he’d laugh at the transitions his features are making if he didn’t know any better. but he does, so he keeps silent; lets him think, contemplate about a decision he’s already made, though it did come with a tiny, tiny revision.
“you’re crazy,” taeyong’s syllables drip with exasperation. “you’re—”
“crazy for you?” johnny supplies, and taeyong’s jaw drops at the sudden cheese. still, johnny pulls him ever closer, places a light kiss on his forehead. then his nose. then his lips. taeyong melts at every succeeding osculation, his protests dying on johnny’s tongue. “crazy for you.”
johnny still thinks that it’s great how this earth remains to have a skyline.
what he finds even greater are the sunsets and the sunrises, basically every cosmic event that required a sun to follow through. he thinks he did great with his decision to move; there were a couple of technicalities to fix, but there’s a lot of things that start working well once cash is involved.
and he does have a bit of it. or a lot. the exchange rate in this earth is way, way nicer.
but enough with the logistics. he learns that the taeyong of this earth is an idol, and a famous one at that. explains a bit of the shock of blood-red that painted his locks just a couple of months ago. it has faded into a corally pink since then, and johnny likes it a lot, thinks it reminds him of a sunset. he has to stop himself from running his fingers through the strands in public, though; it’s not really that much of a usual to have personal assistants be that chummy with their assigned celebrities.
“dispatch is onto us,” taeyong mutters after a sip of his latte.
“what’s a dispatch?” johnny almost chokes on whatever he’s chewing. taeyong makes a face, tips his mouth closed. “is it food? god, this is so good—they don’t make it like this where i come from.”
taeyong shakes his head, but his lips curl up in endearment. “i’ll make more for you once—”
a loud crash interrupts their quiet moment. in the horizon, johnny sees a gigantic robot weaving through the narrow gaps between the buildings, looking like it’s being run by an idiot and a half. he only needs to press a button on his watch to suit up, but taeyong’s already armed and ready the moment he’s done.
impressive. he makes a mental note to ask how that happens.
“just when i thought we could get a break.” taeyong sighs as punctuation, leaving a couple of bills on the table as an apology for their sudden leave. “we’re never going to stop running, are we?”
“nah,” johnny shakes his head, takes taeyong’s hand to place a kiss on his knuckle. johnny knows his cheeks are tinted pink underneath that mask. they aim their shooters at a nearby building, take three steps back to prepare for the leap. “but at least i’m running with you.”
he hears the low rumble of taeyong’s laugh as they swing off to where the enemy is.