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Dead Men Tell No Tales

Chapter Text

This was probably an awfully horrible idea. 

 

Yeah no, scratch that. This was an awfully horrible idea. 

 

Felix bit his lower lip, jumping from one foot to the other as he waited anxiously for the door to open. He wish at the same time that it never will, but he also hope that it does so he'll be over with whatever this situation was. He knew that he was being selfish and way overly anxious. Hell, the whole reason for him to leave the comfort of his home country's hot sunshines was for this precise reason : step out of his comfort zone, and stop being so damn anxious about every single damn thing.  

Because Felix knew that all of this was a good idea. 

Leaving Australia to widen his spectre of experiences and be a bit more mature and independent was a good idea. Arriving to this foreign country with a language he barely mastered was a good idea. Choosing to live alone rather than with roommates was a good idea. Renting this cheap appartement a bit isolated from the center of the city was a good idea. Accepting his neighbor invitation was a good idea. It was. And he was so badly trying to convince himself that he wasn't saying that to convince himself. But again, what was he even saying? So much for a writer to be intertwined in his own words and thoughts. 

He rubbed his face, sighing heavily. 

The sound of footsteps behind the closed door made his attention snap back forward and he forced his teeth to stop bitting his lips, to stop the never ending tremblements of his feet. He was just gonna get in, talk about writing, maybe have a snack, and head out, content and proud of himself for steeping out of his damned social anxiety yet again. 

"Felix! Hey I'm so sorry for making you wait. I was turning off the fire on the stove." The man's face was kind and warm, steeping aside to let the younger in, hair messy and clothes stuck between I'm comfortably chilling at home and I'm waiting for a guest. "Oh it's nothing, haven't been waiting for long"  Felix said as he steeped inside, holding a breath and forcing a smile. 

His neighbor's appartement was similar to his, obviously. Right in front of him, was a hallway that lead to a bedroom and a bathroom. The small living room to his right looked warm and cozy. Messier than his, but Felix could see an open laptop, papers and books scattered on the small table, right in front of the TV. In his left, the kitchen was small and equally as cozy. There was a long table with long chairs who Felix knew wouldn't allow his feet to touch the ground, and a delicious smell floating in the air. He smiled wider, it reminded him of his mom's cooking, and he relaxed a tiny bit. Oh how he wished he could hug her and taste her food again. 

"Don't mind me, I know we said a small snack but I eat dinner early so I thought why not?" Felix snapped his attention toward the men, offering a polite nod. His stomach twisted with worry. They did say only a small snack around a few books. He had never eaten lunch or dinner at his friend's house, let alone at a stranger's. His kind and welcoming neighbor but still.... But as the man turned to lead them unto the kitchen, Felix forced his face muscles to relax. This person was just being nice and his damn anxiety was overworking again. Let it be damned. 

"Can I help you with something Mr. Kim?" he gently put his bag on the floor beside his chair. He had brought his laptop, the writer had promised to read and review one of his works, heck the major reason why Felix had accepted his offer. The other small part was because the man had really insisted and he had been nothing but nice to him.  Felix being Felix, was too shy to shut down his offer more than three times, and he had ended up accepting. This whole thing implied steeping out of his comfort zone like he wanted too.... right? "Oh no, don't it's ready. And call me John please" 

So Felix sat down, pressing his lips unto a thin line. He never called a man of the age of his father by his first name. 'Awkwaaaaard' would his sister say. 

"So tell me" the man said when they were both sited. "When did you start writing? When did you say to yourself 'Ahhh, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life' ". Felix swallowed the soup he was given, his smile widening. "Ahhh maybe not for the rest of my life" he laughed, his eyes sparkling. Mr. Kim's eyes lingered on him, a faint smile on his parted lips. "I started writing random stories since high-school. And I always wondered if this is really what I want to do for a living or if it's really just a hobby I enjoy. So my family just recommended me to try it out and see for myself while still finishing my major." The man's eyebrows raised high "Oh? What are you majoring in?" Felix took another sip of the soup before responding. "In health science. Taking also a few literature classes." 

The older male's laugh resonated in the house and Felix found himself shivering, goosebumps erupting in his arms. There was something threatening in that simple sound. "You are a smart young man aren't you?" His hand fell on Felix's thigh. 

Felix thought none of it, but the hand stayed there as the man resumed his talking and the minutes stretched and the hand didn't move away. The more it stayed, the more it felt like a red iron burning his skin through his jeans. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but it stayed silent, instead mutely gasping. His nails dug inside his palms and he tried really hard to jump away, to step back, but he couldn't. He stayed there, fainting small smiles as he nodded here and there to pretend that he was listening. But John didn't stay there. He bent forward, as if to whisper a joke to Felix, and his hand at the same time slide up his thigh. His body instantly jolted back from the sudden movement and he jumped down from the high chair, wincing as his ankle slightly twisted. But Felix ignored the electrifying pain as he put his weigh on it. "I- I think I have to leave. I have a- a work due midnight. I need to go. Thank you for the food" He bent down to grab his bag and was about to straighten his back to head out when a firm grip grabbed his wrist. 

"Why are you so pressed? I haven't even seen your work" 

Felix slowly lifted his head toward him, his bag pressed against his chest. "I-It's okey I-" but the man shook his head, a sad disappointed expression on his face. "C'mon I promised you. Let me just give you a couple of advice from a professional writer to his apprentice and you'll leave. You live next door anyway" 

Felix bit his lips. He soon found himself sitting on the couch, his laptop open on his most recent work. Maybe he was just really anxious and it was playing tricks on his brain. Yeah, he was probably overreacting the whole thing. The hand gesture on his thigh was probably just friendly and he was the one in the wrong for seeing it as something more than it was. He forced his shoulders to relax. A couple more minutes and he'll be out of this door. 

"I really like how you write. But- there's something missing in your words" Mr. Kim's eyebrows were frowned as he looked at the illuminated screen. "You lack emotions in your writing. The art of writing about emotions isn't just describing it, but rather living it. You need to know how it feels to be in utter distress to be able to write about it. And for that, you need more experience and diverse inspirations" he looked at him, eyes sincere and kind. 

Felix nodded, he knew what he meant. "I came to Seoul because I lacked that. Back in Australia, I had never left the country. It was always the same usual monotony each passing day. I came here to learn and experience more things. Mr. Kim, where do you get your inspiration from? Your books are amazingly well written" 

The man smirked, and he approached Felix. So much that their knees were touching. He bent down toward his ear and Felix slightly recoiled back from surprise. "My works are entirely written from personal experience" he smirked and steeped back, like nothing ever happened. 

Felix was pretty sure that he wasn't breathing anymore. He dug his hands in his hoody, trying to hide their uncontrollable violent shaking. Kim John was well renowned for his thriller books. 

All of them were about the same serial killer, murdering a new young man throughout all the eight volumes.

Blinking back tears happened to be easier than trying to hide the roughness of his throat. "Thank you for your feedback. I-I really need to go now it's getting late" He closed his Mac shut, hurriedly grabbing his bag. "Alright. Thanks for coming" 

Felix simply nodded, trying his best not to run toward the door. He grabbed the handle with shaky hands, and twisted it around, ready to pull the wooden door open. 

"Ahh! Wait a second Felix! I forgot to give you a little something" hurried steps approached him. Felix opened his mouth, ready to say something, but as he turned back toward the man, all words died in his throat. 

 

His hand grasped the handle tighter, the metal cold under his touch. 

His body violently spasmed, all trace of air leaving it like no breathe had ever entered his lungs. Strangled sounds left his throat, a wet substance spilling unto his lips and coloring his chin red. Tears left his eyes, blurring his neighbor's bloody face. Felix could hear his heart painfully beat in his ears. His trembling arms slowly approached the source of the burning and  agonizing pain, head slowly looking down. 

The long knife was entirely inside his stomach, an alarming amount of blood spilling on the floor. 

"You will be the last one in my book Felix. You should be proud of the huge honor I'm giving you." He whispered in Felix's ear, but the younger barely heard him. 

It felt like a fire was burning his insides, turning everything unto ashes. His skin was torn open, and it reminded Felix of the Christmas's gifs he used to stab open, careful not to destroy what's inside the box. But digging a knife unto his skin had been easier than the time he was six, loudly sobbing in his mother's arm because he couldn't open his gift. His sister's laughs had resonated in his ears. But there was another kind of laugh now, one full of madness. And it hurt. It hurt with an intensity he would never had imagined possible. An agony he would had never been able to write about. 

When he lifted his head again, the man had steeped back, admiring his doings as a large smile stretched on his lips. Felix pressed a hand on his injury, trying not to touch the knife who was still inside him. With the other hand, he tried to grab the handle of the door again, whining sounds escaping his mouth. A second later, he was violently pulled back, and he was sent flying on the floor. A scream escaped his throat, one who was cut short when a stabbing pain erupted from both his injury and from his head who had hit the corner of the living-room's table. 

"You are not escaping from this Lee Felix. No one will hear you, this room is sound proof. You can scream as loud as you want." He whispered, kneeling down and approaching him slowly. Felix whined, trying desperately to make as much distance between them as possible. But his head hit the table again, and black spots appeared in his vision. 

He was desperately crawling backward when a hand grasped his thigh tightly, rubbing it up and down. Tears streamed down Felix's cheeks, sobs got intertwined with the blood strangling his throat, his stomach burning and sending electricity shocks throughout his body. "Just relax Felix. Everything will end soon" 

Felix cried louder, trying to push away the longing hands, the heavy body on his. He screamed and tried to push the man away from him but each movement was like a repetitive stab in his stomach. An endless throb in his head. "No-No no please please no no" he mumbled as he sobbed and cried. 

He felt dirtier than the time he had fallen head first unto the mud. Dirtier than he had ever felt. It was a different kind of dirty, one who stuck deep down unto his bones, impossible to rub and wash away. Felix weakly trashed on the red painted floor, but there was no use. The hands grabbed and touched him parts where no one else had before and parts where he never thought he would be disturbed if anyone touched him in. The foreign hand in his arm disturbed him, the one in his hair disturbed him, the one in his foot disturbed him. No. It didn't disturb him. It was something stronger, much more agonizing. Like an everlasting burn on his skin. 

His hand unconsciously hit the knife still dug inside his stomach and as he whined from pain, his eyes also widened, hope crawling like a spider in his tearful eyes. He quickly grabbed it and pulled it out without another wasted second. His scream echoed in the room as he did so, and before his attacker could even blink an eye, Felix had already turned the knife toward the man, and with all the strength and despair he had left, he dug the knife inside the man's side. 

Mr.Kim's mouth gasped in shock and Felix's adrenaline pushed his body up. He tripped on his feet but kept running toward the door. "YOU LITTLE SHIT" Felix screamed when he lost his balance and fell heads first on the floor, violently hitting his head. With the remaining adrenaline rushing in his veins, he pushed his foot on his attacker's face, forcing him to release his ankle, a satisfying crack resonated in the air. 

Felix then started crawling, his bloody hands leaving traces on the floor as he dragged his body up again, finally reaching the door and swinging it open. 

The last thing he heard was a tearing scream echoing against the walls. He ran quicker, pushing his legs, hands pressed against his stomach. The stairs seemed so endless, and there was no air left in his lungs to scream for help. He faintly heard footsteps running after him but he didn't stop. Felix can't die. He can't die in a shady appartement in a foreign country. He can't die so far away from the sunshines of Australia, so far away from home. He can't die alone, without his family beside him. He can't die only to become another character in Kim John's books. Felix can't die, so he ran despite the burning and tearing pain in his chest. He ran despite the black dots darkening his vision. He ran in the darkness of the night, until his legs betrayed him and gave up under him. 

He fell on his knees, his hands pressing harder on his stomach. But it was of no use, the blood was still dripping on the dirtied ground. The freezing cold of the night was bitting his skin, his breath coming out in multiple fogs. He looked around him, heart still pounding painfully against his chest. His ears were ringing, the silence of the night loud. He looked around, desperate for any kind of help.

 

His head then suddenly halted, his attention having caught something.

 

It was the front of a store, isolated from everything, standing alone. A purple door stood in the middle of multicolored lights.  Purple, yellow, blue and mint decorations eliminated the night, welcoming and enchanting. Everything shone and Felix found himself crawling toward the door. 

A bell rang above his head when he pushed the door open. His head fell down between his arms, looking straight at his bloody hands as he panted heavily. 

"Can I help y-" a strangled soft voice reached his ears through the fog in his brain and Felix looks up, vision blurry. He only could tell that it was a young man with green hair. 

 

"H-help- me-"

Chapter Text

Felix draws a breath in, snapping his eyes open. The ceiling facing him was wooden. That's something he could tell. He could also tell, once he found the strength to stand up without wincing in pain too much, that he was in someone's bedroom. It was small, and from the look of it, it was located in an attic. The bed was pressed against a wall, in one of the corners. Facing him, was an old looking drawer. To his left, a small window in the middle of a wall.

He approached it slowly, tip toeing as not to make any sound. The street below was lively and full of smiling people. Everything to eyesight was decorated, similar to when a carnival or something of that kind took place. Kids were running from side to side of pavements and people held colorful cotton candies in their hands. The laughters could be heard even behind the closed window, and a small smile appeared on Felix's lips.

He sighed a couple of minutes later, forcing his eyes away from the street bellow. His attention landed on the shirt he didn't remember ever wearing, and he  lifted it slowly. Bandages were wrapped around his injury, and when he didn't see any trace of red, a relief breath escaped his parted lips. He felt sour and a bit dizzy for sure, but the silence of the place and the general aura had something that calmed his nerves down.

Felix frowned his eyebrows, looking around him. Right. His neighbor had tried to murder him. He had managed to miraculously escape, however, with a huge stab injury. He had ran in the middle of the night, and had ended up in front of a beautifully decorated store. Yeah. That was it. That was what had happened. But- where was he now?

As strange as it was, there was no fear clutching his heart. Not even the anxiety he had grown so used too.

His ears caught on a melody, faintly and barely hearable. He titled his head, looking at the closed door. He approached it and was about to turn the doorknob when he violently recoiled his hand back, like if he got burnt.

 

His hand grasped the handle tighter, the metal cold under his touch.

  His body violently spasmed, all trace of air leaving it like no breathe had ever entered his lungs. Strangled sounds left his throat, a wet substance spilling unto his lips and coloring his chin red. Tears left his eyes, blurring his neighbor's bloody face. Felix could hear his heart painfully beating in his ears. His trembling arms slowly approached the source of the burning and  agonizing pain, head slowly looking down.

 

Felix took a step back, breath hallow. He looked down at his clean white shirt. He forced his heart to relax its furious beating. He was fine.He wasn't in danger anymore. He was perfectlyfine. His ears caught on the melody again and he tried to focus on its gentle notes, soothing and calming.

His eyes flew back to the handle. Pulling his sleeve down, he quickly opened the door. She cracked open, whining as it did.

Only stairs faced him, and he slowly walked down, careful not to trip. His suspicions averred to be true, he thought as he walked further down the aisles. He was still in the shop he had entered the night before, if not more time had passed without him noticing.

He stopped walking in front of a desk, the cashier's by the look of it. A small music box was on the glass. It was a tiny carousel, turning around its axe. The melody was now clear in his ears, and Felix smiled softly. A droplet of water fell on the top of one of the plastic horses and the young boy frowned. Was anything leaking?He looked up to the ceiling but the wood was dry. He looked down again at the music box and he realized that his view was blurred.

Ahhh, he scoffed a laugh, I'm crying.

He whipped at his eyes, sniffling. There was something so sad about the melody, despite the weird fact that it also sounded cheerful. An unexplainable feeling of having to let go of something that used to be precious. Felix smiled, his hand gently touching the spinning carousel.

"Levanter" The sudden foreign voice was soft and gentle, but Felix jumped from surprise nonetheless. A man was standing before him, right behind the desk, and the young Australian wondered how was it even possible that he hadn't heard him coming. He had green hair, skin as white as snow, and dimples on full display. He laughed, and warmth sparkled inside Felix. "The name of this melody, it's Levanter. It's a strong wind in the Mediterranean Sea. It's said to bring change and new beginnings". He typed on the screen of the cash register, letting a silence draws between them. "It will be 3 Diezen and 2 Shinnings for you" The man looked up, staring at Felix expectedly. The young boy frowned. Did he thinks that he wanted to buy it?"I don't- I don't have money on me-" he stuttered, but the man smiled, looking at Felix's pocket jeans. "I think you do"

Felix slide his hand inside, his fingers meeting small metallic pieces. He pulled his hand out. It was a type of money he had never seen before. How did it even end up with him? "I'm taking this, and this" the cashier said, taking what he needed and putting it in the cash register. The machin made a satisfied sound before it went silent. He nodded toward the musicbox with a smile. "Good choice by the way. It will help you find your way back when you'll be lost and in despair" Felix looked at it for a second, not finding anything fluttering with that, but he gently lifted it up and securely put it inside his jacket. He then looked back up at the man.

"Don't look at me like that" he laughed "The money is a welcoming gift to everyone coming here. For a new start kind of thing" He paused for a moment, before speaking again. "I'm sorry for scaring you earlier. I have this tendency to approach without making any sound. I should fix that"

Felix nodded, his tongue stuck inside his mouth. He had so much questions to ask but they all disappeared before he had the time to form them. "Can I lift your shirt?" The green haired man bypassed the counter and approached to stand beside him. He looked down at Felix's stomach with frowned eyebrows. "Let me see if the injury hadn't opened up again"

The only thing Felix managed to do was nod, looking down as the man slowly lifted his shirt. "Ahh, it hasn't, this is great" he smiled, breathing out a sigh of relief.

"Where even are we? A hospital or something? Who are you? Did you call the police? I need to report someone" Felix followed with his gaze the man as he went back behind the desk. He had a compassionate and patient look on his face as he simply smiled at Felix. "My name is Bang Chan. I'm 22 years old and I own this shop"

Felix nodded, biting his lips. "You came here yesterday night injured. I have a few knowledge on healing and all of that so don't worry about your injury too much. It should be just fine. How are you doing? Does it still hurt a lot?" The young boy's hand unconsciously flew to his stomach. "No not really. It still stings and I have to be extremely careful when I move but- I honestly expected it to hurt a whole lot more"

The man named Chan nodded with a content smiled. "But what about the hospital? The police? Why didn't you call any of them?"

"The only hospital is miles away. So is the police. Your life wasn't threatened anymore so I thought I might let you the time to wake up and make that decision on your own" Felix nodded slowly, looking down and letting the words sink in. He was a bit thankful actually. He hadn't finished all the paperwork yet and he didn't know if he could afford a surgery or a night at the hospital. "Where are we right now? I didn't know where I was going yesterday, I just ran blindly"

"We-"

Before he had the chance to finish, the ring bell made a gentle melody, signaling that someone was inside the shop. "BANG CHAN" someone screamed, yet to be seen behind the aisles. Chan winced, bending down to hide his body behind the desk, only his eyes and brocoli like hair appearing "Tell him I'm not here"

"WHERE IS HE? CHAN I SWEA-" Felix jumped from surprise, turning around to face the new costumer. It was a young man, with purple hair, cat like eyes and with long eyelashes. He narrowed his eyes at Felix and the said boy took a step back.

"Who are you?" Felix opened his mouth to speak, gapping soundlessly before he coughed to force his throat to work again. "My name is F-"

"Great! Because Chan hyung ditched me, you are coming to help me". He grabbed his wrist, and started dragging him out of the shop.

"B-but I-" The purple haired stranger stopped, turning around. "My name is Minho by the way. I'm 21 years old. Nice to meet you Felix" he smiled, and Felix was so taken aback that he let himself get dragged. Minho's smile really was frustratingly honest.

 

 

----

 

 

 

From all the possible things Felix thought Minho would make him do, this really hadn't even crossed his mind. He wouldn't have been surprised if he had asked him to lift heavy stuff, help him move in his new appartement, or anything really that implied him to sweat heavily and to forever regret passing the doors of that shop.

But petting cats and dogs and helping Minho feed them and give them a bath really was the very last thing he would have guessed Minho would ask of him.

"Chan hyung promised to come help me yesterday, but he didn't show up" he pouted, crouched down in front of a white cat as he gently petted him "The show is tonight and I get it that he must have a lot of things to prepare and take care of but still..." he lifted his eyes toward Felix who was awkwardly standing by the door of the coffee shop. "I should have guessed that he was gonna stand me up when he didn't promise. Hyung always fulfill his promises"

"But- what am I supposed to do?" Felix said, slowly bending down to pet a dog who had came lay down at his feet. "Just choose one and follow me, I'll show you" Minho gently lifted the white cat in his arms, soothing him. "Here, here Casper. We're gonna take a little shower. You love the bubbles don't you? I'm gonna make lots of them for you" he whispered to the pet, walking away toward a closed door behind the front desk. "Ah right" he turned around, watching Felix guiding one of the dogs with him. The younger boy lifted his eyes with a comical surprised expression and Minho giggled. "Don't approach Dori. It's the black and white cat there under the 9th table. She is really difficult when it comes to taking a bath"

 

 

And so it happened that taking a bath to dogs really was the funniest and pleasant thing Felix ever had the chance to do. The joy it brought him was almost as comparable as the one he felt when he wrote. But again, it was two complete different things. While the first one allowed him to live inside a complete new world he himself had created, playing with bubbles with dogs grounded him and made him appreciate the little pleasures of life.

He giggled, for the first time since he put a foot in Korea. There was nothing physically comfortable with the whole thing really. Minho had taken him to the the store's garden. Two small sized bathtubs already filled with water waiting for them. Their sleeves were rolled up, their shoes and socks removed as not to wet them, and the whole thing really resumed to do a squat, trying to calm the animal down enough to put some animal shampoo on them. And tying not to get wet was a lost case from the beginning.

Ore, the dog he was trying to take a bath too, excitedly whipped his tail against the water, and it splashed Felix right on the face. He stayed frozen in surprise for a second before Minho's one of a kind laugh reached his ears. "You look funny. It really is obvious that you're not used to th- YAH! CASPER!"

Felix giggled, watching as the coffee shop owner ran after the cat who had taken the chance to jump out of the tube. One more thing he learned as they went through different cats and dogs, was that he really was grateful to not have to take a bath to the cats if all the scratches Minho got on his arms that single morning were anything to go by.

By the time they were done with the last two pair, one of them being Dori, Felix's muscles ached, his injury burned him and his whole clothes dripped from the enormous quantity of water that had splashed him. But a large content smile was scotched on his lips, and his cheeks ached from how much he had laughed.

"Great, thank you for your help Felix" Minho opened the fridge and handed him a bottle of water. "Here you go" Felix nodded, thanking the older boy and let himself fall on the closest chair, panting quietly. "Get ready, Woojin hyung can't look out for the horses anymore he has a rehearsal with Jisung for tonight's performance" Felix looked up, eyebrows frowned. It was the second time Minho had mentioned a show, or performance, or whatever was happening tonight was. Was it related to the cheerful atmosphere he saw in the streets? The decorations everywhere through the city? "We need to finish giving a bath to the horses before going to the elephant and then the snak-" Felix started coughing violently, choking on the water he had been drinking. "Th-The what?" Minho lifted an eyebrow. "What? You thought only the cats and dogs have to be pretty for tonight?" Felix looked at him, trying to figure out if he was kidding or not. "N-no that's not what I meant but-"

"HYUNG!" someone called from the entrance and both Felix and Minho turned their head toward the front of the shop. "I came to take Kkami"

A boy was kneeling down in front of a small dog, one who Felix remembered giving a bath a couple of minutes ago. He had been so excited that he jumped on top of Felix's head, enthusiastically barking with his high pitched voice. The boy was softly petting his fur. "Was Minho hyung a bad boy today? He didn't annoy you did he?" he asked to the dog, gently lifting him up in his arms.

"YAH! Shouldn't you ask that to me?" The boy giggled as he approached them. His laugh was addictive and it made Felix want to hear it again. He had a long slender body, eyes shaped as croissant when he smiled.  But it suddenly halted when his eyes met his. He shared a look with Minho, one Felix couldn't understand. "Who...?"

Felix tried to smile, pushing his shyness in the back of his heart. "The guy who gave Kkami a bath today" The boy laughed loudly, his smile back on his lips as fast as it had disappeared. "So that's why he smells good and looks brighter than usual"  Minho scoffed, grabbing a bag of cat and dog food in each hand as he gently called for his pets.

"My name is name is Hyunjin by the way"

"I'm Felix" Hyunjin nodded, like if he already knew. Felix chased the impression away. There was no way, they had just met. "You are new in town Felix right? Let me give you a tour"

"Well- not exactly new- I'm only here for a day-" but Hyunjin apparently wasn't listening anymore because he turned around and called toward Minho who was kneeling down on the floor, surrounded by cats. "I'm stealing lix with me. Giving him a tour to get him used to the town. The earlier he can get around without getting lost the better. See ya hyung!"

"YAH! I NEED HIM DON'T TAKE HIM AWAY!"

But they were already out of the door, Hyunjin's hand firmly holding Felix's as he dragged him trough the streets, already telling him about all kind of stores there was around, from the ones he absolutely had to visit to the ones he had to avoid.

 

Yet again, Felix had the firm impression that Hyunjin had perfectly heard him say that he wasn't staying. Why was he pretending that he didn't?

 

 

----

 

 

 

Why Felix was now in a bookstore, he had no idea. He was supposed to already be back home- or rather at a police station or a hospital to check his injury. He had tried to tell Hyunjin to stop, that he really needed to go now, but every time he even got close to the subject, Hyunjin's rambling got worse, if that was even possible.

"Hyunjin, I really appreciate everything you did for me. From the tour, to the ice cream, to even saving me from having to take a bath to a horse and an- elephant? Is that even a thing?" His voice was clearly frustrated and tired. He glanced at Hyunjin who had his eyes on Kkami.

"Yeah. In our carnaval, Minho is the one in charge of the animals. They just listen to him so well" He looked up at him and Felix frowned his eyebrows. "A what now?" Hyunjin sighed. He slowly put his dog down, letting him wonder in the small bookstore. "Go bring Jisung and Woojin hyung, they must be somewhere in the back" he whispered to the animal. And like the dog understood him, he shook his tail, barked once and ran out of their view.

Hyunjin straightened his back. "Yes Felix. We are a troop. We go around the city, perform diverse things. Rap, dance, vocals, acrobacy, whatever you name it. Some call us a circus, some a carnaval, whatever you choose. A mix of both actually. Our animals are essential to our show and the kids absolutely love them. Chan hyung, the guy you met in the apothecary is our leader" his voice sounded exasperated, annoyed even. But as he went on the explanation, his mood visibly lifted and his eyes sparkled. Like a kid talking about his favorite toy.

"And there's still a free place if you're up to it"

Felix whipped his head to his left. Two person approached them, Kkami running around them excitedly. They must be Jisung and Woojin, he guessed.

"That's very nice of you, but I need to leave this afternoon before the sunset" Hyunjin and one of the boys shared a look. Felix tried to ignore what could that have meant. "What a shame" he said, no apparent sadness in his voice, like if he wasn't believing him. "I am Han Jisung by the way" Jisung smiled. He had blue hair, cute chubby cheeks, and a general positive energy around him that made Felix whole heartedly smile back. "And I'm Woojin, nice to meet you Felix" Woojin's hair was brown, and he had a beautiful sun kissed skin. He ruffled Felix's pink hair, and went toward the door, ruffling Hyunjin's black one as he did so. "I need to go help Minho before he shops all of our heads off. See you tonight Lix" He smirked and before Felix could reply that he in fact, he would not be there tonight, he was already out of the door. "And I also need to go help Changbin and make sure their's nothing missing with the costumes"

 

The store was now silent and Felix looked at Jisung, bitting his lips anxiously. "Guess it's just the two of us now Lixie. Come, I got something with me for you"

Felix followed Jisung to the right side of the shop, opposite the front desk located at the very back. There was a big large window, taking possession of the whole wall. In front of her, a small wooden table bathed under the sunlight. He slowly sat on a chair in front of it, his eyes captivated with the small engine nobly put in front of him. It was a dark blue typewriter, the color matching Jisung's hair. There was no apparent dust on it, beside the fact that she obviously looked old. He gently traced each key with his fingers, fascinated and in pure admiration. He had always wanted one, and here it was, right in front of him. Just staring at it felt like a crime.

"It's for you"

Felix snapped his head forward, eyes wide. "Before you say anything, please just accept it" The light who was shinning in Jisung's eyes died down a bit and he looked down. "This little baby helped me a lot when I first came here. I think I would have gone mad if I didn't have it with me. Chan hyung gave it to me. He made me pay for it but-" he breathed a laugh, still not looking at him "But everything coming from hyung is a gift. He all gave us something you know. All of us. This was mine, accompanied by two very precious books : Peter Panand Alice In Wonderland. It sounds childish I know but they really comforted me."

Felix lifted his eyes toward him "It's not. No book is. It all depends on the way you interpret the story" He didn't know what he was doing, but his hands moved without his consent as they reached across the table and held both Jisung's hands in his own. "This is really important to you, why are you giving it to me?" Jisung looked up, and Felix could see his eyes shinning from unfallen tears. "I feel like you need it more than me now." he smiled at him "Besides, I'm a book person Lix, look around you" Jisung glanced around him, at all the books, all the undiscovered worlds and unspoken stories. "I read books Felix, you write them"

"JISUNG" the sudden scream made both of them jump. A red haired boy erupted from one of the aisles, quickly followed by a black haired one. "What are you still doing here? Changbin is going feral, says we have to try the costumes, Hyunjin is complaining about how he won't have  time to get our hair and make up done and you know Minho, he won't let any animal perform if we are agitated and late" the red haired boy spoke fervently, not taking a break to breathe.

"Seungmin calm down-"

"Felix hyung right?" All attention snapped toward the black haired boy, who smiled widely at Felix. Even Seungmin stoped his rambling. His dimples shone on his sweaty face, reminding Felix of Chan's. "My name is Jeongin, but you can just call me I.N. I'm the youngest member of the troop"

Before Felix had the time to wonder why everyone seemed to know his name before he said it himself, Jeongin approached him and a second later, the young boy had his arms wrapped around Felix's waist, carefully enveloping him in a hug. Warmth erupted in Felix's whole body and a shocked silence followed. Somehow, again, like his muscles were acting on their own, he slowly lifted his shaking arms, and wrapped them around Jeongin's back. He dug his head in his neck, tears swelling up his eyes as a memory of his siblings flashed in his mind. What was suddenly wrong with him?

When they separated, Felix embarrassedly whipped his eyes as he scoffed a confused laugh. "I'm sorry, I don't know what's wrong with me. I think i just miss home" Felix missed the compassionate and understanding look all three boys threw his way. Jisung cleared his throat. "Let's go then before the boys gets too crazy mad" He smiled at Felix. "You come with us Felix of course. And bring the typewriter with you, I have a favor to ask"

 

"I-"

 

"Oh c'mon Felix, just assist our show and then you can go back wherever you need to be. You'll have front seats, I promise you won't regret it." Seungmin smiled, already turning around and guiding them out of the shop.

Felix bit his lips, rubbing his eyes. These strange people he just met today were all talking about him behind his back. He now was sure of it. How else would Seungmin know, when he literally met him minutes ago, that he had to leave and couldn't stay? And despite the fact that they had all been nothing but the sweetest to him, he couldn't help but feel creeped out. What the heck was wrong with them?

 

 

He most probably will regret staying a bit longer.

Chapter Text

Seo Changbin was indeed upset. As soon as he saw them approach, he screamed at them, face frowned "YAH! HAN JISUNG! KIM SEUNGMIN! YANG JEONGIN! HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I SAID TO COME EARLY YOU BRATS?"

Felix couldn't help the fear that shivered down his spin. Changbin was nothing less than threatening and intimidating with his black suit, a white snake wrapped around his shoulders. Felix took a step back away from the giantess circus tent they were entering. Jisung, Seungmin, and Jeongin however sprinted forward, a mischievous smirk on each of their lips.

"Sorry hyung, we were with Fel-" Jisung couldn't finish his sentence before a costume flew on his face. "Go change and stop using Felix as an excuse" his frown flipped unto a smile as he reported his attention to Seungmin and Jeongin. "Your's are waiting for you in the changing rooms"

"YAH! YOU THREW MINE IN MY FACE AND YOU'RE ALL NICE TO THEM?" Jisung screamed behind an improvised  changing room. Changbin snickered, legs crossed as he sat on the ground, typing in a laptop. "They are dongsaengs" he said back, eyes not living his screen. "AND I'M NOT?"

"HAN JISUNG. Scream one more time and I will throw a cobra at you to make sure you shut your mouth. You are stressing the animals you asshole" Minho's purple haired head picked out of a red curtain in Felix's left. When he felt his eyes on him, he smirked and winked at the younger before disappearing again.

"Felix it's so nice to finally meet you" Felix snapped his head toward Changbin, sat on the ground in the middle of the large open area. He smiled at him so honestly that Felix began to wonder if it was still the same person from minutes ago. He gave him a small smile back with a head nod before he lifted his eyes up again. Behind Changbin, were small rectangular changing rooms where he could hear Seungmin and Jisung arguing. To his left, a long red vail where he knew Minho must be with the animals. And as he turned his head to his right, only then did he notice Hyunjin, putting make up on who Felix recognized as Chan, sat on a red chair in front of a long rectangular mirror. Different sorts of paint and make up products laid on a small table against a nearby wall. "Hi lix! I'm sorry for not being able to look at you, I'm trying so hard to hide Chan hyung's eye bags. I told him so many times to sleep the night of a performance but of course he don't listen!"

Chan, who had long colons of flames painted on his neck, simply giggled. His laugh was light and wholehearted and Felix noticed how Hyunjin and Changbin instantly started smiling back. "You are gonna write something for us tonight right? Everything you notice, bad and good. We need an unbiased feedback from an external point of view"

Felix nodded, looking down at the bag hanging on his right shoulder, where he knew the typewriter was. "I'll do my best hyung"

"I don't think his review will be unbiased after meeting Changbin's snake." Everyone lifted their heads toward Woojin, who was wearing a stunning red suit. "Yah! The snake has a name" Changbin pouted, petting the head of the snake. "It's Niveus" He lifted his eyes toward Felix. "It means snow"

 

Woojin breathed out a laugh "On stage in 20 minutes"

 

 

 

 

--

 

 

 

 

So Felix did as he was told. He wrote. He wrote about the screaming crowd, about the joy brightly lightening their faces.  He wrote about how Chan owned the stage the moment he posed a foot on the ground, throwing a powerful glare around the crowd, like a king getting off his throne to observe his people. He wrote about his voice, about how it gently lifted his soul up, taking him to far away lands. But more than a king, more than a powerful leader, Bang Chan was a soft sea breeze. The one who used to play with his hair a fine morning in the beach, the laughter of his cousins and sibling echoing in his ears. He then wrote about Woojin. About how he gave off more power than the lion and bear turning around him as he beautifully sang. He wrote about the gasps of the crowd, when he reached a high note and a gigantic eagle flew above his head. He wrote above Minho's and Hyunjin's fervent passion, about the way they danced in a floor filled with snakes, their feet never once touching any of them. The way all the crowd sat on the edge of their seat, eyes wide open in eagerness at their synchronisation, like two mirror put one in front of the other. He wrote about Changbin and Jisung. About Changbin's black suit, a white snake wrapped up on is shoulders. About Jisung's white suit, a red-bellied black snake intertwined in his right arm. About how their rapping was more fierce and threatening than the venom dripping from both snake's fangs. And then, with shaking fingers, trembling with emotions, he wrote about Seungmin's and Jeongin's vocals. He wrote about how it reminded him of his home country's sunlight, the one who blinded his eyes and burned his freckles. Of the half melted ice cream leaking on his hand, the small bit of freshness it procured him worth the sticky hand.

And by the time he was done, he had filled eight full pages, his fingers black with ink. There was something about their performance. Something Felix could easily name but never explain. They performed with despair. With a burning desire to be seen, to be heard. There was pain dripping from their presence, a mix of sadness and nostalgia.

Felix never wrote that eagerly, his fingers running faster to catch up on his sprinting thoughts. He didn't feel the people leaving. Didn't see the time pass as he wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. He didn't stop when his fingers ached, nor did he when his tears blurred his view, continuing writing with muscle memory. "-ey, hey Felix. Felix?" a hand landed on his own, forcing him to stop. He lifted his gaze, view too blurry and muscles too sore to lift his hand to whip his eyes. "Hey- it's okey. It's alright. I'm here now" the hands rested on his wet cheeks, and they gently whipped his tears away. "Ch-Chan, I- I'm sorry I don't know what's wrong with me. I- I think that I really missed writing. And your performance was so breathtaking it was hard to take the smallest break." he was panting, and he stared down at his trembling hands. His injury was sore again, burning and scratching. He forced a smile. "I never thought I would be able to see something like this"

Chan, who was sitting beside him, laughed, letting the sound travel through the empty circus. "I can't wait to read them then" Felix glanced around, only now noticing the empty place. "Wh-Where are the others?" Before Chan had the chance to respond, Seungmin, Jeongin and Changbin appeared in the middle of the stage.

"HYUNG! TELL SEUNGMIN HYUNG TO LEAVE ME ALONE" The youngest screamed, and Seungmin fake gasped. "I'm only playing with you and that's what I get?" Jeongin took a step back, pinching his nose. "Hyung, you are stinking right now"

"We all are shut up" cut them off Changbin before he stared up at his leader. "Hyung, Jisung don't want to let go of illūnis."

Felix stared at Chan who rolled his eyes. "Again?"

Woojin's head suddenly appeared behind the red veil. "Chan. Please. My head hurts, come get illūnis away from Jisung before Minho lose his patient" he ran a hand in his hair. "It's running thin"

 

illūnis appeared to be Jisung's red-bellied black snake, the one he had performed with. He had learned that it apparently meant Moonless. It also appeared that getting Jisung to let go of her was harder than Felix would have expected. Nonetheless, a couple of gentle words from Chan and Jisung was letting the snake get taken by Minho, an upset pout on his lips. Changbin told him later, when they were walking in the freshness of the night, that Chan was the only one who could really get Jisung to listen. Chan was probably a magician, and that was the conclusion they had all came up with.  All nine of them laughed and fooled around, lips stretched in wide smiles, not a single care in the world.

Felix almost forgot. As they sat together in the small table in the garden of Chan's shop, the familiar lights shining above their heads, he almost forgot about everything. About his neighbor who tried to kill him. About his family back home. About his life that he needed to get back on track where he had abruptly left it. Almost. But the pain inside him weighted too much to be forgotten. "I really need to go now, thank you for everything" he sat up, a tight smile on his face.

All conversation died down, Woojin's laugh suddenly halting. "Why don't you stay for the night? It's already late. I'll accompany you tomorrow morning after breakfast" his voice fainted a tone of nonchalance but Felix heard the tightness behind it. "And staying at a stranger's house? No sorry, I already made that mistake once" a heavy tense silence fell above their heads. Felix tried to breathe properly.

"Why do you want to leave anyway? What is there to want to go back to?" Hyunjin's sharp voice cut through the air and Felix reported his attention to him with wide eyes. "Hyunjin-" Changbin reached a hand toward him but the boy pushed it away, standing up. "No hyung, I'm really curious. We have been nothing but the kindest to you. Chan hyung spent all night by your side, healing you and making sure your fever don't go up. Minho hyung let you give a bath to the dogs when he barely allow any of us approach them. Jisung gave you his most precious belonging, Chan hyung's first gift, to you. We gave you a front row seat and a full view on our preparation backstage. So tell me, what is there to go back too? Why do you want to go back to that shitty cheep apartment of yours alone in Korea? Is majoring in health science that important to you? Is beco--" Chan's threatening deep voice cut him off "Hyunjin" but the boy didn't stop. He wasn't hearing them, his eyes boring unto Felix's "-ming a writer thatimportant to you?"

Felix's heart hammered loudly in his hears, his blood running cold. "H-how did you know that?" fire suddenly burned in his eyes as he glared at Hyunjin, taking a step forward. "Wha-" Hyunjin gasped, no words properly living his trail of thoughts as he took a step back. "HOW DID YOU KNOW ANY OF THAT?" tears brimmed Felix's eyes and he whipped them away furiously. "I NEVER told any of you ANY personal information regarding me. So I'm asking again. How did you KNOW THAT?"

Hyunjin took another step back, and Minho took the chance to stand protectively in front of him. "Why don't you stop accusing us for a second? You just probably let it slip"

"Then what about you hyung?" Felix's voice was now low, barely above a whisper. "How did you know my name?" Minho opened his mouth as if to say something but no words were spoken. "I hadn't even presented myself to Chan Hyung. I barely had the time to say hi when you called me by my name, dragging me out of the shop" He turned his eyes toward Jisung who recoiled back under the sudden attention. "And you? You clearly insinuated that I was a writer. You said  'I read books Felix, you write them' " Felix scoffed, frustration scratching his insides. "And WHY did you gave me your most precious possession? To a stranger that you met minutes ago! Like you already planned it and prepared it in advance? Before we even met?" his vision got blurry and it only managed to frustrate him more. "And Woojin hyung proposing me to join the troop as soon as we met. Just-" He put his hands in his hair, pulling at them slightly as he walked around. "Just tell me! Where are we? I know that I was dizzy last night and didn't know where I was going but I was injured! I couldn't have went that far. And this town is literally in the middle of NOWHERE. I don't recognize anything here and it's clearly not anywhere near Seoul" He stared at all of them, despair in his voice. "Did you stalk me? Did you kidnap me or something? What do you want from me?" He put a hand against his chest, his lungs tightening under the growing panic. "Why are you doing this to me? Why? Please I just want to live. I just want to go back home" he gasped with a shallow voice.

Chan sat up, hands up in front of him and approaching him slowly. "Felix please- I'm gonna explain everything, please calm down." 

Felix took a deep breath in, forcing his anxiety to calm down. He looked around him and his heart pinched. Jeongin's tearful eyes didn't look like ones of kidnappers. Nor did Jisung small scared frame or Seungmin's shaking hands. But there was too much strange things to ignore. Too much.So he bored his eyes unto Chan's, enable to look at anyone else.

"That night, when you were hurt and lost, the shop showed up to you. It only appears to pure hearted people in true need" Chan gently grabbed his shoulders, grounding Felix. "And when you passed those doors, you showed up in our world. This place- it's not what you used to know. It's a place unclassified in maps. It's a- kind of parallel univers. The other side of a coin."

Felix scoffed, taking a few steps back. He bumped on his chair behind him, and he allowed his body to fall down. "I knew something was wrong with this place. I'm a writer Chan, I always look for the smallest details. Damn it, the eight of you own a damn circus and the oldest between all of you is like, what 22? Even to me, it's too unrealistic to write about. And the people here, they all have a robotic smile on their lips. It's all too- cliché. They are not real are they? Only the eight of you are. All the animals here too-"

"Yah! Kkami is very much real" Hyunjin scoffed, offended.

Felix rubbed his eyes, his face hidden in his hands. "Felix look at me" But he didn't want to look. He didn't want to meet their honest and pained expression. They were bad, they were trapping him here. They lied and betrayed him. They-

Chan gently pulled at his arms, removing them from his face. He was crouching in front of him, and Felix noticed that his red eyes mirrored his own. "You can stay with us Felix. You are already one of us. We will take care of you- no, we will all take care of each other. You will never be in pain again and you won't be missing anything. Stay with us please. Stay."  his eyes were pleading, and there was an unspoken despair and longing in them.

Felix almost said yes. Almost nodded. Almost let himself be happy and careless. Almost. But he forced his mouth open, lowly muttering

 

"And live in a lie?"

 

He pushed Chan's hand away as he stood up and took a few steps back.

"And what? Stay here forever with you guys? Is this some kind of Neverland and you are trapping me inside? Or maybe a fucked up version of Alice?" Chan looked at him with utter hurt, falling back on the grass. Jeongin, who was the closest to him, bended down beside him, firmly holding his leader's arm. Felix glared at all of them. He wanted them to be hurt. To be as much in pain as he was, if at least only half of it.

"All of this is NOT REAL! YOU are NOT REAL" he screamed, his muscles popping from anger. He just felt so hurt, so sad, so betrayed, so lied too.

"Felix-" Woojin tried, eyes bright red.

"NO! I CAN'T STAY HERE! I was STABBED hyung-" Seungmin small scared voice tried to cut him off "Felix please- please call down you're bleeding-" but Felix wasn't listening. He didn't spare a glance to the growing red circle in his white shirt. He was too far gone to care. "I WAS VIOLENTLY STABBED AND TOUCHED WHILE I WAS LOSING LITERS OF BLOOD!" he bit his lips, tears drowning his cheeks, like a filled cup of water spilling over. "Do you know how agonizing that feel?" his voice broke, his hand tightened on his chest. He hated to see Changbin crying in Woojin's arms. Hated to see Hyunjin's eyes wide with terror. Hated to see Minho's whole body violently shaking in a familiar contained agony.

"I can't let him go unpunished like this. I can't give up my whole life because I was scared and lost that night. Honestly, I still am. I'm terrorized. But running away from my pain won't solve it. I need to face it. My family and dreams are waiting for me in the real world." He looked down at Chan. The older looked back at him, his arms securely wrapped around Jeongin's shaking body, head hidden in his leader's shoulder.

He scoffed again. "I can't hide in a virtual world. It's not just the people here who aren't real. You guys aren't either."

He shook his head, spinning around and running inside the shop from the back door. And without another glance back, he crossed the shop, and went out of the front door, ready to face the darkness of the night.

 

 

But it wasn't the night who engulfed him.

 

Felix closed his eyes, suddenly blinded by-  the sun?

He blinked his eyes multiple times, looking around him. He was in the middle of a pavement, crowd of people passing by him, chatting loudly with no apparent care in the world. He stepped back, and his back hit something. He turned around.

It was an old abandoned shop falling apart. He frowned his eyebrows. He was sure that it was night time, and he just excited Chan's very much alive shop. But this place didn't look like it was habited in years.

Felix turned back around, his feet already taking him down the street, heart lighter. Whatever had happened didn't matter now, he had escaped whatever that world was.

And he was now back.

He stopped walking, lifting his head toward the sunlight. Warmness spread across his skin, and his freckles shone on his face. He smiled to himself, eyes closing. From this point on, things were going to get better. They were.

Sudden pain jolted down his spin and he winced, looking down at his stomach. Yeah. He needed to get that fixed.

 

"Thank you, have a nice day"

His head violently turned to his left, appalled by the familiar voice.

A young girl, an inch smaller than him, stood by a flower shop, bright pink flowers tightly pressed against her chest as she bowed to the old owner.

"Luna" he breathed out. Felix slowly followed his twin sister's back, a smile stretched on his lips.

There was no surprise when she entered a graveyard. Only a small sad smile appeared on his lips. They had promised that they would both come visit their grandparents when Felix was settled in Seoul.

He followed after her quietly as not to shake her. He was only staring at her from the back, but he could easily recognize the grief weighting her feet. Luna, had always been the most caring and sensitive twin. She loved deeply and pure heartedly.

But Luna turned left. Their grandparents grave was toward the right. He smiled sadly again, and kept following her. It was clear that she was lost in her thoughts and Felix didn't dare rip her out of them.

 

"You and I, " she whispered with a broken voice as she suddenly stopped in front of a grave.

He stayed silent, a small sad smile on his lips. It had been years since he visited his grandparents.

Luna didn't turn around as she kneeled on the grass. "We promised to come here together. Do you remember?"

Felix nodded although her back was facing him. "Yeah of course I do"

"But you broke your promise. Why did you do that?" her voice shook harder under the pressure of tears he couldn't see.

"No I'm sorry I'm here now" he replied, approaching her.

He laid a hand on her shoulder, but Luna still, as stubborn as she had always been, didn't turn around.

Felix steeped aside to have a full view on the stone.

It wasn't his grandparents', he realized.

 

It read :

 

Lee Felix

14th septembre 2000 - 25th march 2020

A loving son, brother and friend.

-

"And when I die, I shall have no story to tell. So don't remember me by the ones I wrote, but by the ones we lived together. When you miss me, tell them about the sea breeze that rocked the cradle of our childhood. About the everlasting smiles in the pictures we took. About the sunlight we used to complain about, the one that burned our skin with a memory of a never forgotten summer day. And that way, I will live a very long life in a heart who still love and cry for me." - Lee Felix

Chapter Text

"No. No. Nonononono please No No"

 

Felix grabbed his head and took several steps back. Panic ate and scratched his heart, tears and sobs escalating quickly. This wasn't possible. It wasn't.

No. No.

He hadn't died. He didn't. He had managed to escape, he did. He had kicked the man in the face and ran away he-

He was crawling, his bloody hands leaving traces on the floor as he dragged his body up again, finally reaching the door and swinging it open.

But he hadn't went out of it.  

Felix could remember now. His hands fell lifeless beside his body as he recalled what had really happened after that.

Mr. Kim had grabbed his ankle again, and he had pulled at it until Felix's face had slammed against the floor. And he had dragged him  back inside as Felix let escape a last scream of utter terror and agony.

The scream he had heard in the stairs was not his attacker's. It was his.

Felix scoffed a laugh of disbelief as he pulled at his hair, flash of memories electrifying his mind. He had been stupid to think that he had escaped him. He had lost too much blood. He would never had been able to beat and run away from a healthy older and stronger man. One who had pre-planned everything for his murder .

His knees buckled under the overbearing pressure. He gasped loudly for air, head titled toward the ground. Felix did the only thing he could do in that moment. He screamed. He screamed in agony for his lost life. He screamed for all the beautiful things and experience he would never get to do. He screamed for his sudden and unfair death. He screamed for his cruel murder. He cried for the arms of his mother, the ones he would never lodge in. He cried for his siblings he would never see growing. He cried for the 19 years old Lee Felix who would never see the day. For the Felix who would never reach 20 years old and all the ages after that. He cried for the sunlight he would never feel the warmth of. For the sea that would never touch his feet ever again. For the summer breeze who would never caress his hair. For the dreams he would never achieve. For the tears of his parents and siblings that will endlessly fall. For the terrible grief he had brought unto them. For the missing hole he had dug in their hearts that will never be filled again. He cried for a Lee Felix who is no longer a is but a was.

"Felix, are you scared?"

He lifted his head toward his sister's soft voice, standing up on trembling feet. He went toward her, and let himself fall on the grass beside her.

He bit his lips, but the tears still fell.

"Because I am" she let her owns spill over on the pink flowers, unbothered to whip them away. "I am terrified Lixi" she sobbed, her head hanging down beside her arms.

"I am too" he whispered back.

"I am terrified to live without you. Terrified that I will forget your face, your voice. Terrified to have to go on with my life. Terrified for you to become just a distant memory in the past. Terrified at the idea that I will never ever see you again. Never hug you again. Never hear your laugh. That you will nevercome back home." Her body shook violently and all Felix could do was watch her behind a veil of blurriness.

 

"Felix"

 

"Hmm?"

 

"Were you scared? Were you in a lot of pain? Did you cry a lot? Was It lonely?" a sob strangled her voice.

He trashed and kicked, tears and screams  scraping his throat. His stomach burned and the pain was agonizing. His blood painted him red, taking with her all his energy. He closed his eyes tightly as a hand strangled his neck. "Please no no no please"

He weakly nodded, his eyes hidden between his palms, lips pushed down in a vain attempt to stop the sobs.

"I know you were. But Lixie, I also know how strong my brother is. And it's all over now, it's over and you don't have to suffer anymore" she then allowed her body to cry, giving up on forcing the grief back. And for a moment, only her sobs and Felix's unheard cries filled the silence of the graveyard.

"Felix, are you still in pain now? Are you still scared?" Luna whipped her eyes, trying to put a small smile on her lips. "Don't be. You can leave in peace lix. I know how much it must be hard for you to leave all of what you have ever known behind. But- live peacefully now alright?"

She sniffled and Felix observed as she put on a determined face, anger flashing in her eyes. "The police said that it was thanks to you Lix that they were able to catch that son of a bitch" She bit her lips, nails digging in the grass. "Th-they said that when you- you opened the door and screamed, the neighbors heard you and immediately called for the police, although it was too late for you-" she whipped a stray tear, taking back a deep breath "You had seriously injured that monster when you stabbed him and he wasn't able to run away"

She pulled a pink flower out, and held it in her hands. "I will make sure that he will never hurt anyone anymore Lix. The inspector said that they had been looking for him for a while, he's a serial killed who killed 8 others kids before you. And with his books, they have all the alibis and proof they need to put him out of danger for good"

"Thank you Lu" he whispered, reaching to put a hand on hers. He didn't feel the warmth that should have been there. Didn't feel anything, and he knew she didn't either. He smiled through the tears, forcing his lungs to take air in.

Luna stayed silent for a while. She adjusted and decorated the pink flowers on the grave, trying to distract her mind. But Felix knew it was a lost case by the lonely tear that streamed down her swollen eyes.

"These flowers remind me of you Lixi." She swallowed back a sob. "Do you remember when you got them?" her voice broke and Felix tightened his hand on hers.

"You wanted me to look like a fairy" he whispered, head titled unto a sad smile.

"You had wanted to try pink her for a while. So I dared you to do it. I-" Her face distorted in pain and a tear escaped her eyes. She put her hands on the grass, a sob strangling her. "I- I wanted you to look like a fairy. Lixi I- I don't want you to be one anymore. Pl-" her head slowly hit the grass, sobs shaking her back. "Please c-come back to me Lixi. Come back to Mom, she barely eats anymore. I stopped playing violon because It reminds me too much of you. Dad is falling back on his work and they threatened to kick him out. All of our cousins and family are completely destroyed. Please we need you. I need you." She lifted her head and looked straight ahead, unknowingly staring right at him. "I know I'm selfish but I- I miss you so much it hurts to breathe"

"I'm sorry" he forced a smile, trying to ignore how much his throat hurt "I don't want to leave too. I wanted to live. So much Lu. I had so much things I wanted to do" he gulped, slowly forcing his legs to stand up. "But it's over now"

Felix put one foot after the other, forcing his muscles to work. He didn't look back. He didn't want too.

But right when he was about to cross the big metallic doors, his eyes caught on something. It was a bouquet of green flowers on a grave. He stopped walking because it reminded him of someone's hair.

 

So he approached slowly, bending down to read the name.

 

No.

 

A shocked disbelief strangled his brain. Blood rushed in his ears and his breathe halted as his eyes went wide.

 

No this wasn't what he thinks it is.

 

No.

 

It wasn't possible.

 

But it was.

His knees fell down in front of the stone that read :

 

Bang Chan.

 

Felix closed his eyes.

 

It hurt.

 

It hurt so much.

Realization drowned his brain and he forced his eyes open, forced his legs to move. He ran through the lines and alleys, eyes glancing at each stone.

It didn't take that long to find the others.

Seo Changbin and Han Jisung were around Chan, Blue and White flowers on their grave.

Lee Minho and Kim Woojin were a little farther down the alley. Lilac and Roses for each of them.

And Yang Jeongin, Hwang Hyunjin and Kim Seungmin were side by side, a raw before his.

 

Felix stared at the youngest stone for a long minute. Then, suddenly, like stricken by a lightening, he ran out of the graveyard. He ran without knowing where he was going. He ran for all the pain that was crushing his dead heart. He ran for the guilt that was making his insides twist. He ran because the kind boys who had welcomed him so warmly were the eight other victims. The ones in the killer's books. He ran because he wanted to see them. Because he wanted to tell them how sorry he was. Because he didn't know what else to do. Because he had no idea how to find them-

He stopped abruptly, a sudden familiar melody making his legs stop. He looked down at his jacket, and gently pulled the small music box out. He had completely forgotten that he still had it with him.

"It will help you find your way back when you'll be lost and in despair" Chan had said, a small smile on his lips.

The tiny carousel was turning on it axe, the melody soft and soothing."Levanter" Chan had said. "It's a strong wind in the Mediterranean Sea. It's said to bring change and new beginnings"

Felix lifted his head, and where it should have been nothing, there was a familiar shop before him. It looked exactly like the first time. A purple door standing in the middle of multicolored lights.  Purple, yellow, blue and mint decorations eliminating the night, welcoming and enchanting.

He slowly approached it, and a tear fell from his eyes when the familiar melody resonated above his head when he pushed the door open.

Chan was standing in front of the door, eyes red from tears who once upon a time had been there. Like he had been waiting for him, he titled his head and sadly smiled.

 

Felix's lips trembled, "Hyung" He choked out, hands tightened on his shirt. Not fighting the spilling tears anymore, he whispered :

 

 

 

 "I died"

 

 

 

 

 

 

--

 

 

 

 

Chan's  warm hand was pressed against his forehead, supporting his head as he bended down again, a wave of vomit scraped his throat before he vomited again in the sink.

"Here, here, let it out" Chan patted his back, turning on the water for him.

Felix felt disgusting. He whipped at his mouth with the cold fresh water. Straightening his back, he exasperatedly whipped at his teary eyes. "How is it even possible that I'm still suffering if I'm dead?"

Chan laughed lightly, helping him up the stairs toward the room in the attic. "It's the soul who suffers the most lix, not the body"

"What about my stomach who's still bleeding?" He slowly laid his back against the soft bed, a sigh escaping his lips. 

"The trauma and your death are still very fresh, that's why" Chan sat beside him before he met his eyes again. "Do you remember when you helped Minho with the pets? And when Hyunjin made you run through all the city? In a normal scenario, you wouldn't have even been able to move. But in those instant, as small as they were, you forgot about your pain and you were just a young man giving baths to dogs." Chan looked down at Felix's bloody shirt, sighing. "Back in the garden, you started bleeding again because you were in distress"

He smiled, and slowly lifted his own shirt. "Look, one day, it will close up and become like mine" Felix's eyes widened as he slowly sat up. A huge scar was painting his stomach in his right side. It was almost similar to his. "We all have the same. And we all went through what you are going through right now. We still are actually. I'm sorry for not telling you sooner" his eyes brimmed with tears and he started playing with his left ear.

"We just- we wanted you to see us as we are, eight friends achieving their dreams. And not poor murdered victims" He breathed out, letting the silence fall before he started again. "We wanted you to be one of us because you appreciate us for who we are, and not because we were all murdered by the same serial killer"

Chan hide his face in his hands, a shaky strangled breathe the only proof of unseen tears.

Felix's heart felt heavy. He had the impression of having a rock sinking in his stomach. "I'm sorry. I'm sosorry"

The leader lifted his head, eyebrows frowned. "There's nothing you have to apologize for"

"No I do" Felix shook his head, looking down at his laps. "You kept me here to protect me. You didn't want me to leave for my own good, and yeah maybe also your own but damn it what's wrong with that? I- I said so many horrible things to you guys. I- ohgosh" 

Chan laughed, and his dimples dug themselves a way in his cheeks. "It's okey, you didn't know. You just have to apologize to the kids. As for me, you're already forgiven"

Felix looked up at Chan with wide stunned eyes. "I even told Hyunjin that Kkami wasn't real"

The older laughed again. "Well to be fair, you were partially right. Beside us, most of the people here are illusions. They are fragments of my mind that I had created when I first came here" He smiled sadly, not meeting Felix's eyes. "I was the first one who died. 8 years ago. There was  people who helped me when I first arrived here, who all became dear friends to be, but I choose to isolate myself, and I created this whole town".

He looked at the window across the room, eyes lost. "I was completely alone, until Jisung crossed the doors of that shop. Then Changbin came and for a long time, it was only the three of us. Then, without knowing the reason behind it, the rest came one by one, all crossing the doors of my shop. And then, there was you lix" He looked fidgeted, lost and guilty.

"I knew that you were going to be the next one. And the last. I looked up after you but there was nothing I could do. I could only stand from afar and see you cross that damned door, watched as it closed behind you" He looked at Felix again, eyes shining with unspilled tears. "And I waited for you to cross my shop's doors. For the bells to rings when you entered. Like all of them did before you"

Felix nodded, capturing his lower lip inside his mouth. A small smile then stretched his lips and he looked up. "Well, the offer is still up right? To stay with you guys?"

Chan breathed out a laugh, ruffling his hair as he nodded.

"It's all good now" Felix said smiling and Chan nodded with a tight sad smile. "I'm gonna bring some bandages and some stuff to clean and change your injury. I'll be back"

Before he crossed the door, Felix called for him again. "Chan?"

He whipped his head around, sun bathing his hair. "Hmmm?"

"Can't we do anything? To make sure hegets what hedeserves and never hurt anyone again? Can't we just tell our families what happened in a dream or something?" Felix's eyes were full of brimming hope, but Chan's lips cracked unto a small sad smile

 

 

"Dead Men Tell No Tales"

 

 

 

 

The door cracked closed, leaving Felix alone in the silent room.