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Freefall

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Jongup stood with his elbow on the windowsill, a smouldering cigarette between his index and middle fingers. This place wasn’t as lavish as his previous accommodation, it was bare of furniture, with scraped away wallpaper. The windows were without glass, and the floorboards creaked under his weight whenever he crossed the room. He wasn’t sure when the building had been abandoned, but it had been left behind to decay, forgotten and unloved, and vacant of any previous life.

The wind was picking up and he shivered, bringing his cigarette to his lips and drawing in a drag. It wouldn’t be much longer until he could no longer pretend the cold wasn’t getting to him when he woke up in the morning with numb fingers and sore eyes. He hadn’t packed a bag when he’d left, and his clothes were stained with blood, torn from bullets, and did nothing to protect him from the developing chill.

“Nice place.” The voice was sarcastic, and Jongup didn’t have to turn his head to see the distaste on Himchan’s face. He clenched his jaw, said nothing, took another drag. 

From the top of the building, he could see all around. The forest to the east, the lake to the west. His eyes traced the winding string of road into the distance, following its length for miles. It was the perfect vantage point, if anyone were ever to approach, he would be ready. 

“Now now, Jonguppie, what have I done to earn this silent treatment?” Himchan tutted. Jongup could hear his hands rubbing together, his feet getting closer.

“Fuck off.” He snapped, took another drag, then another. Smoking calmed him, there was something so nice about feeling his lungs sucking down every toxin, pulling them in to every inch of his lungs. He was killing himself slowly from the inside out and it was fascinating. If he closed his eyes, on a still night he could suck in a deep drag and feel his cells dying, one by one, slowly but surely.

“Was it worth it, then?” Himchan ignored him, he always had, “Throwing away a nice house, good company, plenty of cash and food to go around for this.” 

Jongup’s lip curled, “I did what I had to.”

“No, Jongup. You did what you wanted to do.” Himchan had stopped somewhere behind him. Jongup turned his head, just a little bit. He could see Himchan there, just the silhouette of him illuminated in what little light he had. Part of him was relieved he wasn’t covered in blood this time, or missing the side of his skull. It was just Himchan, clean and well dressed, and more beautiful than he’d remembered.

“It was only a matter of time before one of you’d’ve killed me anyway.” Jongup reasoned, with Himchan, with himself, with God. He didn't know anymore.

“I protect my own.” Himchan’s tone grew harder, the way it did when he felt defensive. 

“I was never one of yours.” Jongup bit out. He calmed his nerves with another deep intake of smoke, closing his eyes tight.

Himchan released a soft sound of amusement, “Oh but Jongup you were so much more mine than the rest of them.” The whisper of a touch grazed against Jongup’s back, a chest pressing close, then disappearing again, “You were the one who came to my room, who lay in my bed. A jealous little thing, too. Always having to make sure there was no one else, that it was just you I fucked.”

Jongup flicked the butt of his cigarette down to the gravel far below, “But I’m sure it was only a matter of time before that changed.”

“Is that why you sent Daehyun on that wild goose chase? Wanted him to kill me, so I’d regret ever straying from you?” Himchan laughed, his shoulder leaning against the wall beside Jongup, fingers curling into the windowsill, “Or did you just want me dead first? That way I’d never have known it was you who’d betrayed me, and killed all our friends.”

“They weren’t my friends.” Jongup answered, too quickly. He was already lighting another cigarette, hands raised to protect his flame from the wind.

“Yes they were.” Himchan’s fingers released the wooden window frame and dragged over Jongup’s arm to his shoulder, then brushed gently against his neck. The tips of his fingers traced the shapes of ink fused under his skin, then the bulge of his Adam’s Apple, “That’s why it hurts you so much when they come and visit you. I wonder who it is who hurts you the most. Maybe Youngjae, who you barely knew, or Yongguk who rarely spoke.”

“Yongguk was an idiot.” Jongup snarled.

“No he wasn’t, and you know that. He would have made a much better leader than I did, if he’d so much as wanted to. His love for flames was his only weakness, and the only thing that had him straying.” Himchan’s eyes were focused on his face, and the intensity of his gaze had him twitching, wanting to pull away from the gentle fingers that roamed his familiar skin, “Is it Junhong, then? He wasn’t much more than a kid. You remember when we picked him up from the streets, don’t you? He was all dirty and scared, he’d never had anyone to trust before, but he trusted us. He trusted you.”

“Shut up!” Jongup turned his head away from the hand, but it followed him, gripped his throat to hold him still.

“You don’t regret killing Daehyun, but he still comes to see you. Smiles at you, laughs with you. Were you intending to make him as insane as you are with that little game of yours? What was the purpose of killing his girl in all of this?” Himchan’s mouth was almost against his ear, Jongup could swear he felt the warmth of his breath.

It didn’t stop him from releasing a choked bark of laughter, “A little fun, before the end. Killing you was the aim, the way there was all part of the game.”

Himchan chuckled into his ear, a mirthless sound of disbelief, “God you’re insane, aren’t you?” Jongup’s throat was released and he sucked in a deep breath, “I found it so exciting at first. You were so wild, it was my job to reign you in and I had some romantic notion that I could fix you, pick up your pieces and put you back together.”

“I can’t be fixed.” Jongup brought his cigarette to his lips, his fingers were shaking. From the cold, the fear, the inevitability of his death. He wasn’t quite sure.

“Clearly.” Himchan replied.

A gust of icy wind picked up, and Jongup shivered. It was only a matter of time before the first snow fell, blanketing the world around him with white, threatening to freeze his body, failing his organs one by one until nothing would be able to save him. He couldn’t quite decide if he was excited or terrified. Death was a marvellous thing.

“If you stay here much longer you’re going to die.” Himchan said from right behind him.

“I don’t care.” Jongup replied.

“Oh no, I know you don’t.” Himchan chuckled breathily, moving in closer. That warmth was against his back again, but this time Himchan didn’t step away. With their bodies kept flush hands found his hips, then his waist, then slid up around his stomach and to his chest, “But that doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid. That’s why you did all of this. Fear, paranoia, self-hatred, doubt. You didn’t believe we’d stay, so you killed us before we could leave you behind, even if the result was the same. Logic was never your thing, was it my love?”

“Don’t call me that.” Jongup snapped, fingers found his throat again, squeezing then releasing, squeezing again.

“You love it when I call you that.” Himchan whispered into his ear, “Just like you loved it when I held you tight and fucked you like I did love you. In all your wild games of whips and ropes and knives, you still craved that the most.”

Jongup’s jaw clenched, his skin heating up with the anger, the turmoil, the guilt, the guilt, the guilt, “Shut up!” He bit again with bared teeth, like a cornered animal.

“But you killed me before I said it, if I even felt it. You thought you wouldn’t care once I was dead, but it’s driving you mad.” Himchan breathed every word, “Now you’ll never know because whatever I felt died with me.”

“I hate you.” Jongup growled the words, voice drenched with agony, “I’m glad you’re dead.”

Himchan just laughed, soft and sad, and kissed the back of his neck, “You’re in love with me, you killed me, and now you will die alone.”

Jongup’s eyes rolled back into his head when his throat was squeezed again, then released. The hand disappeared from his waist, then the warmth from his back and Himchan was gone. For a moment, Jongup wondered when he would visit him again, whether he would be covered in blood, unrecognisable, begging him to explain why. Why did you kill us all. Why did you let us die. 

Wind whistled as it slid between creaking boards, bringing with it winter’s icy chill. Jongup lifted his hand and brought his cigarette to his lips, sucking it in and down. He was killing himself from the inside out, and he couldn’t do it fast enough.