Seungcheol raised his head when he noticed none of his friends were doing the assignment that was in front of them. They’d been sitting in the library for a while now and up until that moment they were all concentrated because they had so many assignments due, that’s why it was weird for him when he saw all of them drop their work and look ahead.
“What’s wrong?” he asked confused.
“Nothing, Jihoon just walked in.” Seungcheol frowned, still confused, but Jeonghan answered as if it was the most logical answer.
“Who’s Jihoon?” all of his friends turned to look at him at the same time.
“You don’t know who Jihoon is?” Mingyu asked, surprised.
“Why should I?”
“Just look at him.” Soonyoung pointed at the direction of the reception in the library.
“There’s like ten people there.”
“Seungcheol seriously, how can you be so blind? That one.” Jeonghan grabbed his face and made him look in his direction while he pointed at him.
Seungcheol looked at the guy, he was handsome, he had to admit that. He was fairly short and had black hair, his serene expression made him look ethereal, but Seungcheol rolled his eyes and looked down at the paper in front of him. He looked up again when he noticed his friends hadn’t stopped looking at the guy, he looked around and saw how half of the library was paying more attention to him than what they had in their hands.
“Guys, are you going to look at him until he leaves?”
“No, no, we’re working,” Soonyoung said immediately and looked down at his book but Seungheol saw him steal glances at Jihoon’s direction.
He looked at Mingyu, who was still blatantly watching Jihoon with a smile, and Jeonghan, who shook his head and tried to look somewhere else. Seungcheol moved his gaze towards Jihoon and frowned confused when he saw that one guy came up to him to give him a book, Jihoon smiled at him and walked up to the receptionist to check out, ignoring the line of people, no one complained.
“Wow, when girls say men are dumb, I didn’t expect this.” Seungcheol muttered under his breath.
He looked down at his laptop again and noticed how his friends went back to work as soon as Jihoon left the library, he decided not to comment on that.
Even when he tried to forget about Jihoon, his friends wouldn’t let him forget about him. They kept talking about him, even if it was dumb stuff about how they saw him in the hallway. Seungcheol couldn’t understand why they were so mesmerized with him. Especially after his encounter with him.
Seungcheol turned a corner and bumped into someone.
“Hey, watch where you’re going.” the guy said as soon as they bumped, Seungcheol was going to apologize, but seeing how rude the guy was, he wasn’t going to now. He frowned when he saw it was Jihoon, the guy everyone was drooling over.
“Maybe don’t walk looking at your phone and apologize like a decent human being.” Seungcheol bit back, Jihoon looked at him, almost surprised at his response.
“Move.” he told him so that Seungcheol would move out of his way.
“What?” Seungcheol couldn’t believe how rude he was.
“I said move, come on, I don’t have all day.” he complained.
“What the hell is wrong with you, dude? Can’t you be a little bit nicer?”
“Why would I need to be nicer to you?” Jihoon said as if Seungcheol was on a lower level than him.
Seungcheol opened his mouth to answer but he felt someone push him to the side.
“He said move.” a guy told him suddenly, he looked angry, even if the situation didn’t involve him. Seungcheol was too surprised about that to answer.
“Thank you.” Jihoon said with a smile before he started walking again.
Seungcheol scowled at him.
“Why do people even like him?” he muttered under his breath, Jihoon moved his head to the side, he probably heard him, but Seungcheol just rolled his eyes and continued walking in the other direction.
He was still thinking about it after an hour.
“Seriously, he’s so rude, what do you see in him?” Seungcheol complained while he was eating lunch with Mingyu and Jeonghan, he told them about the encounter with Jihoon.
“What? Are you kidding? He’s perfect.” Mingyu told him.
“Have you at least talked with him?”
“No, but… You just know.” he shrugged and Seungcheol looked at him confused.
“Maybe it was just a misunderstanding, Seungcheol, I don’t think Jihoon would be so rude.” Jeonghan tried to reason slowly.
“Did you hear anything I said? He’s an asshole!”
“Okay, I know maybe he’s not your type but you don’t have to be so rude.”
“Yeah, don’t say that about him.” Seungcheol looked at his friends, he couldn’t believe what they were saying. He decided he wouldn’t complain about Jihoon in front of them again.
He didn’t think about it for the whole day, just a bad encounter, he would try not to cross his path ever again, he didn’t want to be associated with people like Jihoon. But it wasn’t his fault when he was sitting in class, waiting for it to start, and someone sat down next to him. When he turned to see who it was, he was surprised to find Jihoon sitting there next to him. He frowned but didn’t say anything, even though Jihoon flashed him a smile. If he was trying to be nice, he didn’t believe it.
Suddenly every seat around him was taken, Seungcheol usually sat in the front rows because they were mostly empty, but that day they were full. Did they like Jihoon that much?
“I’m sorry about yesterday.” Jihoon suddenly mumbled, Seungcheol wondered what was taking so long and why wasn’t the teacher there already.
“Sure whatever.” he shrugged and looked at his phone to distract himself, he noticed how a lot of people were paying attention to that conversation, they were trying to be subtle about it, but not succeeding.
“Are you still mad?” Seungcheol turned to look at him.
“What do you want?”
“I just wanted to apologize about yesterday, I was rude, sorry.” Seungcheol couldn’t believe what a bad liar Jihoon was, he could clearly see Jihoon didn’t feel sorry in the slightest bit.
“Yeah…” he mumbled, and thankfully, the teacher came in at that moment.
He tried not to interact with Jihoon for the remainder of the class, but he noticed how Jihoon wasn’t taking any notes, just listening to the class. Not everyone took notes in class, so he didn’t think it was that weird. What he thought was weird was when the class finished and a guy approached Jihoon with a smile, offering his notes. Jihoon smiled up at him and took the papers without even saying thank you, the guy left with a smile so bright anyone would think he got Jihoon’s number or something.
He rolled his eyes and got up to leave.
“Excuse me.” he asked so that Jihoon would get up and Seungcheol could leave, since they were in one of those classes where the rows were connected and you couldn’t leave if the entire row didn’t get up.
Jihoon looked up at him, almost as if waiting for Seungcheol to drop the idea of him ever getting up. But he sighed and got up.
“Thank you.” Seungcheol mumbled and walked away.
He definitely didn’t want to interact with Jihoon ever again. But unfortunately, Jihoon had other plans, because he started sitting next to him in every class they shared, which apparently were a lot. Seungcheol hadn’t noticed they shared so many classes, and he would change some if it wasn’t the middle of the semester. With Jihoon sitting next to him, the seats were filled quickly and Seungcheol hated being surrounded by people in class, he preferred to have a little bit of space. The back rows were empty but if he went there, Jihoon would follow, and the entire class would too. Even if Seungcheol found a seat next to someone else, or next to the wall, or if Jihoon was late to class. He would walk up to the seat next to Seungcheol and he didn’t even have to say anything, with just one look whoever was sitting next to him would pick up his things and leave the seat free for Jihoon. But Jihoon didn’t talk to him, thankfully, he scowled at him and spoke rudely every time Seungcheol said something. He didn’t understand why Jihoon wanted to sit next to him if he seemed to hate him so much, but he didn’t comment on it. He preferred not to talk to him.
After one class Seungcheol started to pick up his things, he tried to take longer since there were so many people around him, so leaving early wasn’t an option.
“Jihoon, do you want to do the project with me?” he heard one guy ask Jihoon.
“Sorry, I’m doing it with Seungcheol.” Jihoon answered with a smile, Seungcheol looked at him confused. “Right?” he opened his mouth to deny it but immediately saw everyone around him look at him, waiting for him to answer, he felt pressured.
“Sure.” he mumbled.
Jihoon followed him outside the classroom when he walked out, a lot of guys were looking at him angrily, and it made him uncomfortable.
“When do you want to start the project?” Jihoon asked in a cheery voice, Seungcheol knew it was all an act.
“How about we work on this separately?” Seungcheol answered, he turned around to look at Jihoon.
“Why are you so mean to me?” Jihoon asked, pouting.
“Why-?” Seungcheol repeated, appalled by the question. “Jihoon, you have been nothing but rude to me. Actually, you’re rude to everyone, I don’t know how people still talk to you.”
“They like me.” Jihoon shrugged.
“Look, I don’t understand this little act that you have, but I want no part in it. If you like men that much that you want everyone to look at you, cool. But I will not fall for that.” Seungcheol didn’t wait for an answer and just turned around so he could leave.
“You’re wrong, you know?” Jihoon suddenly said, Seungcheol sighed and turned around.
“I don’t like men. Men like me.” he answered with no expression in his face before he turned around and walked away. Seungcheol frowned, confused by that, but just shrugged and walked to his next class.
It was when he was sitting in the cafeteria, eating lunch with his friends, that Jihoon walked up to his table and sat down next to him.
“Hi.” he said, looking at them with a smile, Mingyu dropped his chopsticks on the plate and apparently wasn’t able to close his mouth, Soonyoung tried not to choke on his food and Jeonghan finally looked up from his phone.
“What are you doing here?” Seungcheol asked.
“Dude! Don’t be so rude!” Mingyu told him.
“It’s fine,” he dismissed him. “I just wanted to talk to you about the project.”
“I told you we should do it separately.”
“Yeah, but that’s an inconvenience, I don’t like that.”
“I don’t care.” Seungcheol dragged the words so that he would understand, Jihoon didn’t wipe the smile away but his expression seemed more forced, he didn’t like that answer.
“We should at least agree on what part of the project we should do.”
“Sure. But not now, I’m eating.”
“Yeah, that’s all right. Do you want to meet later at the library?”
“Okay.” Seungcheol shrugged, he looked at him, almost waiting for him to leave since the conversation was over.
“What? Do you not want me to eat with your friends?” he asked, that pout again on his face.
“No, no, you can stay, don’t mind him.” Mingyu jumped at the opportunity to talk.
“Yes, don’t mind him, he’s rude.” Soonyoung continued, Seungcheol frowned at that.
“No, I’m not.”
“Well, you’re being now, so…” Jeonghan raised an eyebrow and Seungcheol couldn’t believe his friends, he sighed and looked back at his food.
His friends kept talking to Jihoon, asking him a bunch of things, Jihoon answered with lies mostly. Seungcheol didn’t think he was the type of person to notice when someone was lying, but Jihoon was such a bad liar, he didn’t understand how his friends weren’t noticing. They just believed whatever Jihoon told them.
“Let’s go.” Seungcheol mumbled when he finished his food, he wasn’t going to stay there watching Jihoon manipulate his friends.
Jihoon got up too and his friends followed.
“No, you stay here, I have to work with him. And you need to…” Not be around him , Seungcheol thought. “Digest.” he followed, he raised his eyebrows surprised when he saw they all sat back down, he looked over at Jihoon, who was smiling at his friends. “Right, let’s go.”
“Bye!” Jihoon waved at them with a smile before he followed Seungcheol out of the canteen. Seungcheol tried to ignore the fact that a lot of people were looking at them, Jihoon didn’t seem to mind.
“You seriously need to stop lying to everyone you meet.” Seungcheol told him once they were outside.
“Why should I?” Jihoon shrugged as he put on his jacket.
“Because… That’s not nice.” Seungcheol looked at him and saw Jihoon’s expression, he wasn’t smiling anymore. “They weren’t even hard questions, like where were you born, or what school did you go to. Nothing personal. Why did you lie to them?”
“Because I wanted to.”
“Wow, great. Thanks for lying to my friends. And thanks for making them hate me.”
“They don’t hate you.” Seungcheol rolled his eyes at that.
“At least learn how to lie.”
“Why? They believe me.” Jihoon shrugged.
“I’m working on that one.” Jihoon finally showed one of those smiles, Seungcheol looked at him with a bored expression.
Seungcheol opened the door to the library but didn’t hold it for Jihoon and he almost laughed out loud when he saw him bump into the door.
“Wow, very funny.” Jihoon mumbled, clearly mad.
“Yeah, it was.” Seungcheol smiled at him and walked to an empty table, trying to ignore the fact that a lot of guys turned around to look at Jihoon when he came in, they didn’t seem too happy about Seungcheol’s little joke.
He chose a table that was far back in the library, he didn’t want to be distracted by any drooling boys that were in love with Jihoon. Jihoon set his backpack on the table and sighed as he sat down.
“What part do you wanna do?” Seungcheol asked after he opened his laptop and checked the project guidelines.
“I want to do this.” Jihoon pointed at this screen, Seungcheol frowned.
“What? No way, you’ll leave everything to me then.”
“Yes, that is the goal.” Seungcheol turned to look at him, he couldn’t believe how shameless he was being.
“Oh, now you’re being honest.”
“I don’t need to lie to you.”
“Well, Jihoon, as much as you want to. You are not getting away with this project.” Seungcheol proceeded to tell him which parts he was going to do. “If you wanted to sit around and do nothing maybe you should’ve paired up with one of your minions.”
“It’s not as fun.” Jihoon mumbled as he played around with one of Seungcheol’s pencils, Seungcheol chuckled at that but decided not to say anything.
They sat down in silence for a while, Seungcheol started doing some research for the project while Jihoon just sat down, trying to get distracted with anything, his phone, Seungcheol’s pencil case, the window. Seungcheol didn’t understand why he didn’t leave if he wasn’t going to do anything, but he didn’t ask either. He tried to concentrate on the work at hand, but got distracted after he felt something in his arm, he looked down and saw Jihoon caressing his skin with a finger absentmindedly.
“Stop.” Seungcheol mumbled, but Jihoon didn’t stop. “Seriously Jihoon that tickles.” Jihoon didn’t stop, he was resting his cheek on his hand while he looked at his other hand caressing Seungcheol’s forearm.
“You really are straight, huh?” Jihoon suddenly whispered, almost to himself, but Seungcheol heard him.
“Straight? No, I’m not.” Seungcheol answered with a smile without moving his eyes from the screen, he almost laughed when he saw Jihoon stop dead in his tracks and raise his head to look at him.
“No, I like men.” Seungcheol answered, he moved his eyes and looked at him, Jihoon’s surprise was almost comical. “Why? You thought I don’t like you because I like women?”
“Only reasonable explanation as to why you don’t like me.” Jihoon shrugged. “But barely an explanation, because not even straight men can resist.”
“Wow, you are so narcissistic.”
“Am I wrong?” Jihoon moved his hand, Seungcheol knew he meant that the few people in the library were looking at them.
Seungcheol frowned and looked at him, there was a moment of silence where Jihoon looked at him, wondering if he would say something. But Seungcheol raised his hand and caught his chin delicately, he leaned in and Jihoon looked at him with wide eyes.
“What? Finally realising how pretty I am?” Jihoon asked with a smile, seeing how Seungcheol was almost inspecting his face.
“No, trying to understand why everyone likes you so much.” Jihoon scowled at that.
“You don’t think I’m pretty?”
“You are, but… I still don’t understand.”
“That’s not a very pleasant thing to say to someone, you know?”
“Look who talked.” Seungcheol withdrew his hand and looked back at the screen in his laptop.
“Well, I think you’re very handsome.” Jihoon told him with a smile, which made Seungcheol chuckle.
“I mean it.”
“Why would I believe you? You’ve done nothing but lie.”
“Seungcheol…” Jihoon said as he touched his arm again. “Look at me.” Seungcheol raised his gaze, Jihoon caressed his arm until he reached for his hand, resting on the keyboard of his laptop. “I think you’re very handsome.” he repeated, this time looking at him in the eyes, Seungcheol could tell he wasn’t lying, but just because Jihoon had been such an awful liar up until that moment.
“You could have any guy. Why do you even bother with me?” Seungcheol asked, Jihoon smiled and looked down at his hand as he took it between his fingers, he brought Seungcheol’s hand up and rested his lips against his fingers before he looked up again and answered.
“Because I like you.”
Seungcheol looked him in the eyes without saying anything, Jihoon smiled and pressed a kiss against his knuckles, but Seungcheol moved his hand away abruptly.
“Sorry, I have to go.” he blurted out as he closed his laptop and got up to leave, not even bothering to place his laptop in his backpack, just grabbing his stuff and getting out of there.
Jihoon looked up at him surprised but Seungcheol left so fast he couldn’t even say anything. Seungcheol noticed he got a few looks as he left, but he couldn’t bring himself to look back at Jihoon, so he just walked straight home to sleep a little bit.
Even if he tried to stop thinking about him, no one would let him. Everybody was so obsessed with Jihoon and he didn’t understand why, it was almost sick.
“How was everything with Jihoon the other day?” Soonyoung asked him a couple days later.
“Awful, I hate him.”
“What- Why ?”
“What do you mean why ? He is a compulsive liar, a manipulator, he’s rude to everybody and he doesn’t care about anyone but himself.”
“You’re so harsh on him Seungcheol, just give him a chance, not everyone’s perfect.” Seungcheol laughed at that, he knew he would react like that.
“Right,” he mumbled and rolled his eyes. “Why should I even give him a chance…?”
“He likes you.”
“No, he doesn’t, he’s lyin-... Wait, why do you think he likes me?”
“It’s obvious isn’t it?” Soonyoung shrugged.
“No… It’s not? He’s rude to me and we’re just doing an assignment together, he never said he liked me in front of you.”
“Seungcheol, come on, everybody knows, everybody is jealous of you.” he did sound jealous when he said that.
“I don’t want to date him.”
“You need to get over it and give Jihoon a chance, there’s no one better than Jihoon.” Seungcheol opened his mouth surprised when he heard that.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I said, you need to get over it.” Seungcheol felt a pressure in his chest and he knit his eyebrows together, he couldn’t understand why Soonyoung would say something so hurtful.
“I’m gonna go.” he mumbled slowly, a knot in his throat as he said that, he got up from the table they were seating and left the library.
He walked over to the cafeteria and was relieved to see Jeonghan sitting at a table by himself, he walked over and sat down.
“Hi,” Jeonghan said, looking at him with a smile, he looked back at his phone.
Most of the time Jeonghan was immersed in his phone, ever since Joshua left and went on that exchange year to America. They had to have a long-distance relationship and they were doing well so far, he was supposed to come back by the end of that semester.
“I thought you were going to study with Soonyoung.”
“I was, but he said something I didn’t like, so I left.” Seungcheol said slowly as he took out his laptop.
“What? Was he talking about Jihoon? Seriously Seungcheol, he’s not that bad.” Jeonghan teased him with a smile on his face.
“I know he’s not that bad, I just don’t want to have anything to do with him. I want to finish this year smoothly.”
“Then why did you leave if you don’t care about Jihoon?” he asked absentmindedly as he smiled at his phone, probably a text from Joshua.
“Because Soonyoung said I should just get over it and date Jihoon.” Seungcheol said, it took a moment for Jeonghan to register what Seungcheol said, his smile wiped off his face slowly and he looked up at him.
“Oh Seungcheol, I’m sorry he said that.”
“I’ll try not to talk about Jihoon around you.”
“It’s fine rea-...” before Seungcheol could finish that sentence a deafening scream was heard throughout the cafeteria.
They both looked in the direction of the scream, it was Jihoon. Seungcheol got up surprised when he saw a guy had stabbed him in the hand with a knife.
“Holy shit.” he whispered, not believing his eyes.
Seungcheol felt a full body shiver when he heard Jihoon’s second scream after the guy took out the knife that was still stabbed in his hand. Seungcheol reacted faster than anyone in the cafeteria, because everyone around Jihoon just seemed to be too shocked to do anything about it apparently. In the blink of an eye, Seungcheol was next to Jihoon, and he tried to see if his hand was okay, it clearly wasn’t. Some guys had gotten up and were trying to take the knife away from the guy.
“Are you okay?” Seungcheol asked him, concerned, as he tried to stop the bleeding with whatever he could get his hands on, there weren’t enough napkins on that table.
“Fine,” Jihoon mumbled, clearly mad, he was looking at his hand, it clearly hurt him, but he was trying to hide it.
“Jihoon! What? Am I useless now?” the guy started screaming at him while he waved the knife around and three guys held him back so he wouldn’t stab Jihoon again.
“You are, how can you stab me? You crazy fuck, die already.” Jihoon answered, Seungcheol looked up at him, he honestly didn’t blame him, he would be mad too if some crazy guy stabbed him in the hand.
What he didn’t expect was the screaming that erupted in the cafeteria, Seungcheol stopped looking at Jihoon and turned his head around slowly to look at the guy. He’d stabbed himself in the neck with the knife, probably touching an artery because his blood was spurting out and was soaking the guys that were previously holding him back. Even some of it got in Seungcheol’s face as he watched horrified how the guy was choking in his own blood.
He fell to the floor and convulsed as he tried to take one last breath but choked on the blood gushing out from his neck wound. Seungcheol looked at him, he knew he was still alive, he could see him trying to breathe but failing, there was blood everywhere. But he couldn’t do anything, the guy was going to die from blood loss.
The screams got louder and everyone was freaking out, Seungcheol kept calm through his shock and the only thing that went through his mind was to get Jihoon out of there, fast.
“Let’s go.” Jihoon got up and let himself be dragged by Seungcheol while he clutched his hand tightly.
Everybody was running out of the cafeteria at the same time so Seungcheol took one of the emergency exits that led him to an empty hallway, away from all the mess. The doors opened a few seconds after they closed it and Jeonghan came out running with his stuff.
“Are you okay?” he asked Jihoon, concerned.
“It hurts.” Jihoon mumbled, still clutching his hands with the hundred napkins Seungcheol tried to use.
“The nurse's office is not far from here, maybe we can bandage him until paramedics show up, I’ve seen some students call emergencies.” Jeonghan explained, he hadn’t been that close to the accident so he wasn’t stained with blood all over him like Seungcheol and Jihoon were.
They walked slowly to the nurse’s office. When they got there the office was empty and the nurse was nowhere to be found.
“Where is she?” Seungcheol asked, confused.
“She probably got called into the cafeteria, where there’s a bleeding man on the floor.” Jeonghan said as if it was obvious.
“What is she going to do about it? He’s dead.” Jihoon said, as if it was obvious.
Seungcheol looked around and figured they really couldn’t wait for her to be back. He opened a few cabinets until he found a first aid kit.
“Sit down,” he instructed Jihoon, he did as told, Seungcheol grabbed a chair and sat down in front of him.
Jihoon watched him intently as he cleaned the wound.
“This is bad Jihoon, it might’ve hit a nerve.” Seungcheol mumbled once he could see the wound more clearly. “I can stitch it but… I don’t know if it’ll help. Can you move your fingers?”
Jihoon moved his fingers, it was slow, but it was a good sign that he could still move them. Seungcheol looked through the kit while he thought what to do, he couldn’t close it now with stitches because a doctor had to see him.
“You need to go to the emergency room.”
“No.” Jihoon answered without hesitation.
“What?” Jeonghan asked, surprised.
“A guy just killed himself because I told him to die, I don’t want any more attention to myself than I need to.”
‘Seriously, you don’t want attention?’ Seungcheol thought to himself, but he didn’t say anything. They all just saw a guy stab himself to death, that was already pretty traumatic, he didn’t blame Jihoon for not acting like himself. That trauma’s gonna last him through a lifetime.
“All right, I’ll close it.”
“Seungcheol! He needs to see a doctor.” Jeonghan complained.
“He can still move his hand fine and his palm is intact, it was a shitty canteen knife.” Seungcheol told him.
“Exactly, what if he gets infected or something? Won’t he need a shot?”
“I’ve cleaned it already, we won’t find out after a few days.” Seungcheol looked up at Jihoon. “If this gets worse, you go to the hospital, okay?”
“Okay.” Jihoon answered.
He then looked at Seungcheol as he took care of the wound slowly, Jihoon seemed impressed by how much Seungcheol knew about first aid.
“He was in the military.” Jeonghan told him, almost reading Jihoon’s mind.
“I wanted to do my service early.” Seungcheol answered absentmindedly.
After that there was silence in the room as he finished bandaging Jihoon’s wound. Right when he was about to be done the door to the room opened and the nurse walked in, the shock was clear in her face and she was covered in blood, clearly she tried to do something to help the guy that was already dead. She looked at them, her eyes completely empty, probably from the trauma.
“I was looking for you.” she mumbled when she saw Jihoon’s bandaged hand.
“I already took care of it, it’s fine.”
“The police are looking for you.”
“Okay, we’ll take him there.” Jeonghan answered slowly and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Why don’t you get dressed and go home?”
“Yes, I should do that.” she said slowly before she walked over to her desk to get her stuff.
They walked Jihoon to the entrance of uni until he was sitting in a cop car giving his statement, Seungcheol stood there long enough to see all the policemen just brush off the matter as soon as Jihoon told them he was innocent. He was, Seungcheol knew that because he was there, but he thought maybe the cops would want to investigate into the relationship of those two before drawing any conclusions.
“Let’s go.” he told Jeonghan.
“You’re gonna leave him there?”
“We already did everything we could, he’s fine now, let’s go.”
“Okay,” he mumbled and then followed Seungcheol back home, because they couldn’t stay at uni for long.
Classes were canceled for a few days after that, which was understandable, when they got back everybody was talking about the incident, but they stopped talking as soon as Jihoon walked in. That’s when they started murmuring, it wasn’t different from their previous behavior, but it was clear the reason why now to Seungcheol.
Jihoon sat down next to him as always, he didn’t even look at him before the class started. Seungcheol looked over at him as he saw him write on his notebook.
“Your hand looks better,” he whispered, Jihoon could move all of his fingers perfectly but the bandage was still on so he couldn’t see the state of the wound.
“I heal pretty fast.” Jihoon answered before he dropped the pen on the notebook and looked up at the teacher.
Seungcheol nodded and went back to listening to the teacher, Jihoon didn’t seem like he wanted to talk to him that day. But when he got out of class Jihon followed him.
“Should we work on our project together?” Jihoon asked him.
“The teacher changed the deadline to give us more time, we don’t have to finish it right now.”
“I know, I just want to get it over with.” Jihoon answered and shrugged.
Seungcheol felt bad about what happened to Jihoon, but it didn’t change the fact that he still didn’t like him. He was still rude, even after Seungcheol helped him, he didn’t even thank him. Although Seungcheol didn’t want him to.
They both sat down at the table and for once Jihoon actually did some work. They were sitting at the table they sat at last time, it had been a while since then but Seungcheol hoped Jihoon wouldn’t flirt with him again, he didn’t like it. They stood in silence as they worked, Seungcheol was almost relieved Jihoon wasn’t talking to him.
After a while Seungcheol stood up and Jihoon looked up at him as soon as he did so.
“Where are you going?”
“Bathroom?” Seungcheol answered as if it was obvious.
“Okay.” Jihoon didn’t look like he wanted him to leave but he didn’t say anything, Seungcheol frowned and went to the bathroom.
After he finished he went to wash his hands and noticed that there wasn’t any paper to dry his hands and the air machine wasn’t working so he went into one of the stalls to get toilet paper to dry his hands. That’s when a couple of guys walked in as they talked.
“Yeah, he’s in the library now, I saw him with that guy again.”
“Again? What the fuck does he see in him?”
“I don’t know man, Jihoon just looks for trouble.”
“I thought you liked him.”
“I do, I just… I kinda get the guy at the cafeteria the other day.” Seungcheol opened his eyes wide when he heard that, he tried not to make a noise. “I feel sorry for him.”
“Yeah, it was bad. I heard Jihoon told him to kill himself.”
“And he moves his hand just fine now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if those screams were all an act to get more attention.”
“Yeah, but damn, he’s really pretty.”
“I know, such a waste.”
“I’ve heard he’s an asshole, I haven’t talked to him, some girls are saying that.”
“He’s just stubborn, I talked to him once.”
“What do you think?” There was a moment of silence, Seungcheol waited for the guy’s answer.
“I want to fuck him.”
“Get in line, literally everybody wants to have sex with him.”
“Has anybody done it?”
“Not that I’ve heard.”
“Maybe I can be the first.”
“And how are you gonna do that?” the other guy asked laughing.
“He’s small, it’ll be fine.” Seungcheol covered his mouth when he heard that.
“What? He’s practically asking for it, he’s trying to seduce half of the uni and then he doesn’t get with anyone. Such a tease, the little shit.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
“That guy, he wasn’t wrong. He just didn’t finish the job.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m just saying, he should’ve picked a better place to stab, and maybe get a good fuck before he did that. I would’ve done a better job at putting him in his place.”
“Dude, that’s sick.”
“Don’t lie, you want to do it too.” there wasn’t an answer, just a laugh.
Seungcheol placed a hand on the bathroom stall to level himself, his other hand was still covering his mouth and he felt sick to his stomach after he heard that.
He walked out of the bathroom quickly and went back to the library. Jihoon was sitting on the same table, looking at his phone distractedly. He looked around, the problem was, he hadn’t seen the guys’ faces, but he thought he could maybe recognize their voices. He looked around trying to find anyone that seemed suspicious and that’s when he realized, everyone was. Almost everyone at that library was looking at Jihoon as if they wanted to fucking kill him, or worst. Even the girls, who hadn’t been swayed by Jihoon until that moment, were looking at Jihoon with hatred in their eyes.
He walked up to the table before one guy approached to talk to Jihoon, almost slamming his hand on the table. Jihoon looked up, startled by the sound.
“Took you long enough.”
“Get up, let’s go.”
“Anywhere but here, come on.” he told him as he picked his things up, Jihoon was confused but he followed him outside nonetheless.
Jihoon was trying to keep up Seungcheol’s pace, they finally stopped walking once they were outside the campus and in the park in front of it, it was almost empty.
“What’s wrong?” Jihoon asked confused.
“I just heard two guys in the bathroom talking about you.” Jihoon frowned and moved his head.
“Jihoon… The things they said… It was so bad. And everyone seems so mad at you for nothing, it’s not safe for you in there.”
“Oh.” Jihoon nodded and sighed, he looked weirdly okay with it?
“Oh? That’s it? Jihoon they were literally plotting your murder, you should call the police.”
“So the police can join in on the fun too? No thanks, I’m good.” Seungcheol opened his mouth surprised, he tried to say something, but he just stuttered trying to find his words, he couldn’t believe Jihoon. “That’s it?” Jihoon asked as he walked slowly to sit on a bench.
“Wha-What do you mean ‘that’s it’? Isn’t that enough?”
“Honestly no, I’ve seen worse. But thanks for letting me know.” Seungcheol sighed and sat down next to him.
“So you’re not going to do anything about it? What if they try to hurt you?”
“One thing is thinking about it another thing is actually doing it.”
“Someone already hurt you Jihoon, you should be careful.”
“No, you’re not, you’re-... Wait… Is that why you wanted to come to the library with me? Because you know they won’t do anything if I’m there?” Jihoon didn’t answer, he wasn’t even looking at him, but Seungcheol didn’t need an answer. “That’s why you didn’t even want me to go to the bathroom.” he guessed.
“It’s not that big of a deal Seungcheol, a guy killed himself in front of me, I just wanted company.” Jihoon said, trying to take weight off the matter.
“Jihoon,” Seungcheol said softly, Jihoon frowned and turned his head to look at him. “It’s fine if you’re scared, you don’t have to lie to me, just ask me to be with you, I’ll do it.” Jihoon looked at him as if Seungcheol was talking in a different language.
“You hate me.”
“Hate is a strong word. At least I’m not plotting your murder.”
“You still don’t like me.”
“Yes, I know, a new concept for you, shocking. But I am concerned.” Seungcheol told him. “And maybe I’ll start liking you a bit more if you were a little bit more warm with me. I’m trying to help you here.”
“Why are you trying to help me?” Jihoon asked sincerely.
“Because I’m human.” Seungcheol answered as if it was obvious. “And I’m concerned.”
“But you don’t like me.”
“Jihoon, not everyone has to love you to want to help you.”
“Why don’t you like me?” Seungcheol was so taken aback by every single one of Jihoon’s questions, he looked like he couldn’t compute the thought of anyone being nice to him if they weren’t in love with him.
“I-... Well, you’re very rude, for starters. I already told you that, obviously. You’re a compulsive liar, and a very manipulative one at that.”
“Do you blame me?” Jihoon mumbled, looking ahead.
“I told you. I don’t like them, they like me, I can’t help it if they do everything I say, or if they believe everything I say. I’m rude because that’s me and I can’t help it. It doesn’t seem to matter, so why bother changing it?”
“It matters to me .” Jihoon looked at him confused when he heard that. “I understand if you don’t want to be nice to everyone else, I wouldn’t want to be nice to those guys either, considering just how they look at you, let’s not talk about what they say.” Seungcheol shook his head trying to forget the conversation he heard. “But I’m not those guys Jihoon. If you feel safe with me, that’s fine, we can spend more time together, but you have to learn to be nicer to me.”
He sighed, it looked like a burden to him. But he looked like he wanted to stay with Seungcheol.
“And maybe you should talk to the uni so that you can do your courses online, I don’t think it’s safe for you to be here.”
“And what? Hide in my room forever? No.”
“Jihoon, it’s not safe for you.”
“So stay with me then.”
“I will, but please, promise me you won’t lie to me and you’ll try to be nicer, okay?”
“I promise.” Jihoon said as he rolled his eyes. “Are you sure you don’t like me? At all?” Jihoon asked again, Seungcheol smiled at him.
“We just met Jihoon, give it some time.”
“So what? You’ll love me tomorrow?” Seungcheol laughed at that.
“How about a normal pace? We aren’t even friends yet.”
“Yeah, you see, you have classmates. We’re classmates, we sit together, we do assignments together. Then you have friends, people you like and you hangout with. See? We’re hanging out outside of uni now, if you’re really nice to me, maybe I can call you my friend.”
“And then?” Jihoon asked with a smile on his face, inching closer to him, which made Seungcheol nervous.
“We’ll see when we get there.” Seungcheol answered fast, Jihoon looked disappointed by his answer, it was almost comical.
But Seungcheol still couldn’t understand why Jihoon was so interested in him, it certainly made him feel good, but he knew he couldn’t reciprocate his feelings. If Jihoon actually felt anything.
He tried to spend as much time with Jihoon as possible while they were at campus, which was fine. Mingyu had been sick so he was home all the time, and he hadn’t spoken to Soonyoung after the little accident they had, he didn’t feel like talking to him yet and Soonyoung wasn’t apologizing either. So he spent most of his time with either Jeonghan or Jihoon. But Jeonghan missed Joshua so much he wouldn’t move his eyes away from his phone, so Jihoon was good company.
It made him anxious to see everyone looking at Jihoon with those eyes, but he really couldn’t do anything besides be by his side. Jihoon was really trying to be nice to him and only his efforts were enough for Seungcheol.
“I’m tired, carry my backpack.” Jihoon told him suddenly, Seungcheol laughed at that.
“I’ll carry your jacket.” he said as he grabbed Jihoon’s jacket from his hands, Jihoon sighed but complied, at least he had one thing less to carry. “And you’re supposed to say, please and thank you.” the pout on Jihoon’s face made Seungcheol burst out laughing, which earned them a few looks, but he didn’t really care.
They tried to not spend a lot of time in the cafeteria, Jihoon didn’t like it and it also made Seungcheol uncomfortable. They would usually go to the park next to the campus and do their homework under a tree. It was nice, weirdly, Seungcheol liked Jihoon’s company a lot.
“It’s cold today, maybe we should just go to the library.” Jihoon mumbled once they walked outside.
“I don’t really like the library, let’s just go to my apartment instead.” Jihoon looked up at him before answering.
“No, let’s go to my apartment, I like it better.” he said as he started walking.
“You-... You haven’t even been to my apartment.” Seungcheol said, confused as he tried to catch up to Jihoon.
“I know I like my apartment better.”
Seungcheol understood why Jihoon said that once he opened the door.
“Wow.” Seungcheol whistled in amazement as he looked around the place, it was huge, it seemed straight out of a TV show with rich people living in the city. “You live here by yourself?”
“Yeah.” Jihoon answered after he took off his shoes and his jacket, Seungcheol followed.
He didn’t ask how he got that apartment because he was too busy looking around, the living room was huge and the windows covered almost all of the walls, giving them a great view of the city. The kitchen, also big and connected to the living room.
“Couch or table?” Jihoon asked, looking at him.
“Couch.” Seungcheol answered, probably because the couch looked like one of the most comfortable ones he’d ever seen.
They spent the afternoon working on their assignment, Seungcheol was starting to get tired of looking at his screen and just when he thought to tell Jihoon to take a break, Jihoon spoke.
“I’m hungry, make me food.” Jihoon mumbled suddenly, Seungcheol raised his head and smiled at him.
“Get up and make it yourself.” Jihoon looked at him and frowned, clearly he didn’t expect that answer. “You’re not bossing me around, Jihoon.” Seungcheol said with a smile.
“You’re no fun.” Seungcheol laughed and patted his head before he looked back at his laptop. “Careful, I might get bored of you.”
“Bored of me? You’ll never get bored of me, you have the entire uni after you.” Jihoon rolled his eyes and huffed. “Now that you say it, I’m hungry too.”
“Well then go make some food!” Jihoon exclaimed as if it was obvious, but Seungcheol just looked at him with a smile, almost waiting for Jihoon to realize something. “I’m not making you food, I don’t know how to cook.”
“I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” Seungcheol looked back at his screen.
“I am not cooking.”
“Fine, then starve.”
“Seungcheol!” he laughed at Jihoon’s frustration.
“Okay, look, what part do you still have to do?” Seungcheol asked, Jihoon moved his laptop and pointed out what he had left of the project. “All right, how about I do this for you and you go boil some water so we can eat Ramen, it’s easy to make. Is that all right?”
Jihoon looked at him scowling and stood silent for a moment, thinking about the proposition.
“And why would I do that?”
“Well, that’s how normal human beings work. I do something for you, you do something for me.” Seungcheol explained with a smile on his face, resting his head on the couch. “We can also do things just because someone asks us to, those are called favours, you’ll get there eventually.”
“I don’t like it.”
“If you don’t like it you can always find a guy that’ll do it for you.” Jihoon looked at him angrily before he sighed loudly and walked over to the kitchen.
Seungcheol had a few minutes of silence before he heard Jihoon’s voice coming from the kitchen.
“What do I do with this?” Seungcheol rolled his eyes and got up.
“You… Put it in the water.” he said when he saw Jihoon holding up the uncooked ramen. “You’ve really never done this before?”
“No, I don’t eat this kind of crap.”
“Crap? Who doesn’t eat ramen?”
“Seungcheol, have you seen my house? I bathe in money, I eat expensive food, this is for poor people.” He looked at him with his mouth agape but then he couldn’t help bust out laughing. “What’s so funny?”
“You’re unbelievable.” Seungcheol said with a smile as he stepped forward and helped him. “I’m gonna teach you, but next time, you do it yourself.”
“Okay.” Jihoon said with a smile.
He leaned on the counter as he watched Seungcheol put the noodles in the water. It seemed easy, although Jihoon really didn’t think he was ever going to eat that again.
“Okay, try it.”
Seungcheol raised the chopsticks after he grabbed some of the noodles once they were done. Jihoon hesitated but leaned in and opened his mouth, Seungcheol looked at him with a smile, waiting for Jihoon to react, even though Jihoon was scowling as he chewed. His frown smoothed over and he looked up at Seungcheol.
“Oh, it’s not that bad.” he said with his mouth full, surprised of himself, Seungcheol laughed.
“I told you it was good. Do you think poor people like me just eat food that tastes bad?” he teased, Jihoon giggled and gave him a friendly slap on the shoulder.
Before Seungcheol could say anything else Jihoon grabbed his hand and guided it to the pot so he would grab more. They could serve the food and eat it sitting down, but somehow, Seungcheol was enjoying feeding Jihoon, and Jihoon seemed content. Eventually, they sat down and ate properly, but Jihoon’s happy expression as he ate lingered on Seungcheol’s mind after they finished eating. It was easier to be around him, and he actually wasn’t that bad, he was enjoying Jihoon’s company more than he ever thought he would.
The weather wasn’t so bad after that, so they didn’t go back to Jihoon’s apartment and just decided to stay under the tree like always.
One afternoon Jihoon had fallen asleep on the grass while he listened to music, Seungcheol was leaning on the tree as he read a book. He perked up when he heard footsteps approaching, he moved his eyes and looked up slightly, not really looking up from his book.
“He just lets him sleep?” he heard them say, Seungcheol frowned and then realized he had his earphones in so they probably thought he didn’t hear them, but the music wasn’t that loud. Although he didn’t understand the question.
“He wouldn’t be sleeping if it was me.”
“I know, if he already has him I don’t get why he walks around with him at uni, I would lock him up in my room. I wouldn’t want anyone else looking at him.”
“Yeah, all for yourself, that sounds nice.” the other said, Seungcheol couldn’t hear them because they kept walking and they weren’t in hearing distance anymore.
He frowned and looked over at Jihoon, who was still sleeping peacefully, with his mouth slightly open. He moved his hand and touched his black hair, it was a little bit messy, which was weird for Jihoon because he always looked so perfect. He moved one strand of hair out of his eyes and smoothed one of his eyebrows with the pad of his finger, gently. He looked so peaceful while he slept, why wouldn’t he let him sleep? Why was everyone reacting like that to Jihoon? If they loved him so much wouldn’t they want him to be happy?
“Are you falling in love yet?” Jihoon whispered with a smile on his face, Seungcheol smiled and Jihoon opened his eyes to look up at him.
“Sorry, I woke you up.”
“It’s fine.” Jihoon raised his hand and grabbed Seungcheol’s hand before he could retrieve it, he held it against his cheek and closed his eyes again with a pleased smile on his lips.
“Are you enjoying yourself?”
“Very.” Jihoon answered slowly. “I haven’t been sleeping well.”
Jihoon sighed and didn’t answer.
“How can you still not love me?” Jihoon said, looking up at him with a smile, god, Jihoon knew just how gorgeous he was and he knew what he was doing to Seungcheol.
“How can you be so shameless?” Seungcheol asked with a smile, trying to ignore the fact that he was probably blushing. “You know, sometimes, there’s a little bit of back and forth, hesitation, dates.”
“This is a date.”
“Wow, I wasn’t aware of that.”
“Well, my dates are usually more luxurious, yes, you’re right. Sometimes a very expensive restaurant, or shopping, but laying under a tree is nice too I guess, if that’s what you like.” Seungcheol smiled widely when he heard that.
“I’m glad you don’t mind if I like it.” he said and booped his nose, he didn’t know why he did that. “But if it was a date we wouldn’t be here.” Jihoon smiled and got up, he placed his palm on the grass and looked at Seungcheol, expecting.
“Where would we be?”
“Mmh,” Seungcheol thought about what dates he liked and suddenly felt a pressure in his chest. “Whatever you like…” he mumbled softly.
“That’s no fun, you said you would take me somewhere.” Jihoon said with a smile, getting closer to him.
“Wherever you like.” Seungcheol mumbled again.
“Mmh, what about the beach? I haven’t been in a while and I really like it.”
“It’s cold now for the beach, don’t you think?” Seungcheol told him.
“It’s fine, it’s not like we’re going to get in the water, I just want to see it. We can sit in the sand. You know, to take a break from the grass.” Jihoon continued to talk, Seuncheol nodded. “Like in the movies, the beach seems so romantic.” he whispered as he got closer to Seungcheol. “If that was a date, would you kiss me then?” Jihoon got closer, Seungcheol knew they were about to kiss.
“Sorry.” he said as he backed away. “I can’t do this, sorry.” he mumbled and moved away from Jihoon, who looked at him confused.
“What’s wrong?” Jihoon frowned, for a second he seemed mad, but the expression on his face smoothed over and he looked at Seungcheol genuinely confused. “Do you hate me that much?”
“No, no, Jihoon, it’s not that.” he tried to explain.
“Then why don’t you kiss me? You know I like you, why can’t you love me back?” Jihoon sounded so frustrated.
“I can’t, I’m sorry.”
“Is it me? I can be nicer if you want me to.”
“No, no, you’re great Jihoon, I…” Jihoon frowned at him when he heard that. “I’m sorry Jihoon, I just…” Seungcheol tried to explain himself but couldn’t find the words. “I got out of a relationship and I’m not really over it, so this is really hard for me.”
“Oh,” Jihoon mumbled. “And where’s your ex-boyfriend now?” he asked absentmindedly.
“A lot of people ask themselves that, ‘where do we go after we die?’” Seungcheol murmured, Jihoon opened his eyes surprised.
“He died?” Jihoon whispered, Seungcheol nodded slowly. Jihoon kept silent because he didn’t know what to say.
“I know you don’t know much about social etiquette. This is where you say: ‘Oh, I’m so sorry that happened to you’.”
“It didn’t happen to you.” Jihoon responded.
“I guess you’re right. I don’t know what it feels like to die, but I know what it feels like to lose someone.”
“What happened to him?” Jihoon asked, Seungcheol felt a weird fresh feeling, he wasn’t used to people talking to him like that when he brought the subject up, they would never say anything that Jihoon might say.
“He killed himself.”
“Because you broke up?” Jihoon asked surprised.
“No, no, we never broke up.” Seungcheol corrected him. “He was… He was just a very depressed person. I thought I could help him, but… I obviously couldn’t.”
“Did it happen recently?”
“A couple of years ago.” Seungcheol answered slowly. “After that I decided to do my military service early and last semester I rejoined university.” Jihoon nodded slowly when he heard that, he didn’t say anything else, Seungcheol almost waited for him to say something, but he didn’t, so he continued to talk. “I know, it was two years ago, I should be over it and find myself a new boyfriend, maybe that way I can forget about him. But… I just can’t.”
“I didn’t say that.” Jihoon mumbled.
“But you were thinking about it.”
“I wasn’t.” Jihoon answered truthfully. “Things happen pretty fast, one day the people you care about are gone, it’s fine to take your time sometimes.”
“Have you ever lost someone?” Seungcheol asked carefully.
“I’ve lost so many people I’ve started not to care.” he answered as if it was the easiest thing to say, Seungcheol didn’t know what to answer. “Sometimes I wish I could grieve a little bit, even myself.”
“What do you mean?” Seungcheol asked, confused, Jihoon didn’t answer.
“I’m sorry if I came off too strong, it’s fine if you’re still grieving.” Jihoon apologized, and for once, it sounded sincere.
“Wait, do you actually like me?” Seungcheol asked, surprised.
“I know, I was surprised too.” Jihoon answered with a smile, which made Seungcheol chuckle.
“Thank you for understanding.” Jihoon looked at his phone to check the time before he said anything.
“It’s late, I have to go.”
“Sure, let’s talk later.”
“Bye.” Jihoon said before he grabbed his things and left.
Seungcheol felt like Jihoon left too abruptly, but he didn’t comment on it, maybe he had something else to do. He started to suspect something was wrong when Jihoon didn’t sit in class next to him, that was weird, he always sat next to him. He waited for him after class but Jihoon came out talking with a few guys, he didn’t even acknowledge Seungcheol. When he walked in the cafeteria there he was, sitting at a table talking with some guys like nothing ever happened. Seungcheol didn’t understand. It had been a while since the incident at the cafeteria and now that Jihoon was talking with everybody again, no one seemed to be mad at him, Seungcheol was still concerned about him.
That went on for several days, no matter how much Seungcheol wanted to talk to him, Jihoon was always surrounded by other people and since he apparently didn’t want to talk to Seungcheol, it was more difficult now.
Seungcheol was sitting in his bedroom one night when he thought maybe he should text him, but since he didn’t have his phone number, maybe social media would do. He just had his name, but how many ‘Lee Jihoon’s could there be? Besides, Jihoon was so popular he probably had a million followers on instagram or something. He typed the name in the search bar.
“Lee Jihoon” the screen read and a few articles came up, Seungcheol frowned confused when he saw the headlines.
Student found murdered
He clicked out of curiosity but he didn’t think it was related to the Jihoon he knew.
This Thursday a student of the local high school, Lee Jihoon, was found murdered, part of his body was found near the river and other parts have been located near the high school. The police still haven’t found the entirety of his body and the investigation is ongoing.
“Damn,” Seungcheol muttered to himself and went back to the search, he raised his eyebrows when he read the title of the next result, he clicked on it fast.
Lee Jihoon, a walking miracle
The student presumably murdered last week has attended class this morning. The chief of police explained that mistakes can happen when identifying a body, especially an almost unrecognizable one. There is no way to know who the murdered person was since the, now unidentified body, was cremated.
Fellow classmates are shocked by this miracle, but not everyone is coping in the same way. The students’ headteacher has been hospitalized after having a mental breakdown when seeing his allegedly deceased student.
Seungcheol frowned and scrolled down, he opened his eyes widely, surprised at the picture that was staring back at him on the screen. That was Jihoon, the Jihoon he knew. He scrolled right back up to look at the date of the article, 1987.
“It can’t be.” Seungcheol muttered to himself.
But it was him, he’d seen Jihoon on campus so many times, the smiling boy in the picture was Jihoon, allegedly killed all those years ago.
He went on a rabbit hole after that, trying to find answers and someone that told him, ‘No, it’s not the Jihoon you’re thinking about’. But everything pointed out that it was. He didn’t find many more articles, a few articles of people being hospitalized because they had a psychotic break, claiming a certain ‘Jihoon’ had ruined their lives. And a very weird forum where someone asked if anyone else had met ‘Jihoon’ and lived to tell it, but everyone sharing their experiences just seemed to be very mentally ill, Seungcheol didn’t think any of what they said actually happened to them.
But no pictures, there were no pictures of this ‘Jihoon’ everyone was talking about, just one, the one from the article where it said he wasn’t dead. But that article was dated in 1987, that Lee Jihoon surely was dead and it wasn’t the Jihoon he knew.
He didn’t understand anything and he needed answers, so the next day he walked up to Jihoon, not caring who he was talking to at that moment.
“We need to talk.” he told him, Jihoon looked up at him, he was sitting at a table full of people.
“Not now, later.” he answered with a smile.
“Jihoon, now.” Seungcheol insisted, Jihoon sighed and rolled his eyes.
“Sorry guys.” he got up and walked away with Seungcheol.
Seungcheol took him by the arm and dragged him to an empty hallway where no one could see them.
“Hey, let go.” Jihoon told him when he noticed Seungcheol was grabbing him.
“You’ve been avoiding me.” Seungcheol said as he turned around to look at him.
“You said you didn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
“No, I said I didn’t want a relationship, I didn’t mean I wanted you out of my life.” Jihoon looked at him surprised for a moment and then sighed, as if that was something he was expecting to happen.
“So now you’re obsessed with me and you need me back in your life, right?” he guessed in a tired tone.
“No, I need you to explain why I saw an article that said that someone that looks just like you and has your name died in 1987.” Jihoon opened his eyes surprised when he heard that.
“Is that your relative or something?”
“You did research on me?”
“That’s what bothers you? I’m not obsessed with you Jihoon, just confused.”
“Really? You’re not obsessed? Then you would be fine if I just walk away and not tell you anything? Would you leave me alone or would you follow me, trying to find answers? Why are you so mad at me Seungcheol?” Seungcheol leaned on the wall and sighed.
“I guess you could do that. I’m honestly just curious, I want answers. But if you’re not willing to give them, then I’m not going to force you.” he said tiredly.
“Really?” Jihoon asked surprised. “You would let me go? Just like that?” Seungcheol looked at him confused.
“What else should I do? I can’t force answers out of you.” Seungcheol said as if it was obvious.
“You wouldn’t hurt me?” he opened his eyes surprised when he heard Jihoon say that.
“No. Why-? Why would I do that Jihoon-...?”
Before he finished that sentence Jihoon took a step forward and pressed their lips together. Seungcheol was surprised by the gesture, but he couldn’t help close his eyes and kiss him back. Jihoon slid his hands against his chest and stopped grabbing his shirt so that he could rest them on Seungcheol’s shoulders. Seungcheol moved his hands and placed them on Jihoon’s waist, bringing him closer.
Jihoon was the one to break away from the kiss, he looked up at Seungcheol, who was just very confused, and finally spoke.
“I’ll give you answers.”
After Jihoon went back to pick up his things from the table he was previously sitting at and advised Seungcheol to just wait for him outside the canteen, they walked over to the park that was inside the campus. Even after they both sat down under a tree, Seungcheol didn’t know how to bring the subject up, he was still in a daze about that kiss.
“Who is that boy from the article I read?” he began, because it seemed like the most obvious question.
“That’s me.” Jihoon answered slowly, Seungcheol frowned.
“It can’t be, it’s from 1987.”
“I know, but that’s me, it happened to me.”
“I saw two articles, one where it said you died, and one that said it wasn’t your body to begin with.”
“Both articles were talking about me.”
“You… You died?” Seungcheol guessed, still not even believing what he was saying. Jihoon nodded slowly, there was a moment of silence before Jihoon finally explained.
“I was young,” Jihoon started to explain slowly. “I thought I was more mature than I actually was, and I got bored of the guy that I used to be with. So I slept with my teacher, it was dumb, but, you know…” Jihoon shrugged as if Seungcheol knew what he meant. “One day after class we all went to play, and our teacher came with us, I was talking with him, flirting… A boy from my class heard the conversation, a boy I used to sleep with too. I don’t know, there was a fight, and I fell over a cliff.”
“Jesus.” Seungcheol muttered.
“I don’t really know what the thought process was, but everyone agreed to not tell the police.” Jihoon continued. “Maybe it was because everyone hated me in class, as you can see, I’m not very pleasant to be around.” Jihoon smiled before he kept talking. “So, they decided to hide my body. The thing is… The fall didn’t kill me.” Seungcheol looked at him surprised when he heard that.
“I guess the pain of them cutting up my body was what made me conscious again.” Seungcheol opened his eyes wide after he heard him say that, he didn’t know how to respond. There was a moment of silence before Jihoon continued. “After that, I came back, and I can’t seem to die. And every guy that falls in love with me, ends up killing me. Which is every guy I meet, so it happens often.”
“They kill you? But they’re in love with you. Everybody is in love with you.” Seungcheol tried to understand.
“They go mad.” Jihoon told him. “They get obsessed with me and kill me when they realize they can’t actually have me. Or… Just in general, any reason is good to kill me.”
“Do you… Do you remember all of it?” Seungcheol mumbled.
“Sometimes I don’t… I remember most of it, but sometimes it feels like I’m not myself. But I don’t think I’ve been myself in a long time.”
“Does it… hurt?” Jihoon smiled at him.
“Yes, of course it hurts when someone cuts you into pieces.” Jihoon answered as if it was the most obvious thing ever, which now that Seungcheol thought about it, it was. “And when you’re burned alive, freezed to death, gutted, beaten to death, experimented on…”
“Okay, okay, I get it.” Seungcheol stopped him when he saw he was enumerating all of his deaths.
“But cut into pieces seems to be the most common.” Jihoon told him with a casual tone of voice.
“Jihoon, there has to be a way to stop this.”
“There isn’t. I tried, the experimentation wasn’t a fun time Seungcheol, I’m not doing it again.”
“Jihoon… I have so many questions.” Seungcheol muttered under his breath, what was Jihoon?
“Answers don’t really matter, it is what it is, I’ve learned to live with it. Or I guess, die with it.” Jihoon shrugged.
“How long do you last?”
“Not long. Men are getting crazier by the day.” Jihoon sighed. “I just plan to live as best as I can, get as many things as I can and pray that this time it isn’t too painful.”
“That’s why you manipulate men?”
“Well, I don’t really have a choice, they do whatever I want even if I don’t want them to.”
“I don’t.” Jihoon smiled at him.
“I know, why do you think I’m sitting down here with you?” Jihoon looked at the grass and picked it with his hands to distract himself. “Sorry I’ve been avoiding you. After you told me about your ex-boyfriend I knew I couldn’t seduce you, I decided to stop, before you could fall in love with me.”
“But why did you start in the first place?”
“I like a challenge.” Jihoon answered with a smile. “After so many years there’s few things that interest me.”
“Why are you even in college?”
“It’s the easiest source of men.” Jihoon shrugged and Seungcheol couldn’t help but laugh. “High school is dumb, they’re so hormonal I don’t last a week. College is safer.”
Jihoon kept picking at the grass on the ground nervously, Seungcheol didn’t understand why he was so nervous.
“Do you miss him?” Seungcheol was taken by surprise by that question.
“Yes, of course.”
“So you still love him?”
“In a way, yes.”
“Do you like me?” Seungcheol looked at him in the eyes before he answered.
“Yes, I do.”
“Even after everything I’ve told you?” Seungcheol took a moment and raised his hand to place it on Jihoon’s cheek.
“Yes Jihoon, these are just answers. I was confused about you, but now it all makes sense.”
“So, you’re not… Scared of me? Or want to kill me?”
“But you don’t want to date me either.” Jihoon said, he looked sad about it.
“Listen, I need time. This is really hard for me, okay? The other day… He just came to my mind and then… Then you tried to kiss me and it was too much.” Seungcheol tried to explain himself. “But I like you, and I want to try this, you just have to be very patient with me, okay?” Jihoon smiled at him brightly.
“Okay.” he answered before he moved forward to kiss him, he stopped halfway through when he remembered what he just agreed on, Seungcheol smiled at him when he saw the hesitation in Jihoon’s eyes and then he was the one leaning in and kissing Jihoon.
“Besides,” Seungcheol mumbled against his lips. “I really thought you were joking with the whole dating thing, you don’t date.”
“Of course I date.” Jihoon answered as if it was obvious.
“You haven’t dated anyone at uni.”
“They’re all broke.” Seungcheol laughed at that.
“Yeah, I’m really sorry to break it to you, but I am too.”
“It’s okay, I’m not with you for money so it’s fine.” Jihoon sighed and laid down, resting his head on Seungcheol’s lap.
“I am very flattered, thanks.” Jihoon smiled up at him after he said that, which only made Seungcheol chuckle.
There was a moment of silence before Seungcheol spoke.
“We shouldn’t tell anyone, right?”
“Oh, no, no, no one can know. They might kill you, or me, or both. And I don’t like either, so…”
“Right, that makes sense.” Seungcheol said and he didn’t even know if it was sarcasm or not. “So we can’t really spend that much time together anymore.”
“We can, but we probably shouldn’t get to the stage that we were before, I can’t have the entire uni hating me or else I won’t last a day.”
“Cool, I’ll just mop around the halls while I’m not with you.” Seungcheol said with a smile, Jihoon rolled his eyes and then closed them to rest for a bit, Seungcheol moved his hand and caressed his hair carefully.
“Why don’t you hangout with your friends anymore?” Jihoon asked suddenly.
“Different reasons.” Seungcheol mumbled, still threading his fingers through his hair. “Soonyoung still hasn’t apologized for something he said. Mingyu’s sick and Jeonghan went to see his family, so you’re stuck with me now.” Seungcheol said with a smile.
“What did Soonyoung say?” Jihoon asked, frowning at him, he knew it wasn’t easy for Seungcheol to get mad.
“He said…” Seungcheol sighed before he continued. “That I should just get over my ex and date you instead.” Jihoon frowned and sat up to look at him.
“Seungcheol,” he said in a soft tone. “It’s not his fault.”
“What do you mean? He knows it’s a sensitive topic and he just said it…” Seungcheol stopped and rolled his eyes, sighing.
“No, Seungcheol, it’s not his fault.” Seungcheol looked at him confused. “You know guys do pretty crazy stuff around me.”
“You weren’t there.”
“I don’t need to be.” Jihoon explained slowly. “I talked to him, which is more than enough. I’m surprised he didn’t try to kill you out of jealousy, he must really love you. It’s really not his fault.” Jihoon said as he placed his hand on top of Seungcheol’s.
“Maybe I should talk to him then.”
“Yes, you should. But maybe don’t tell him we’re dating, I don’t think he’ll take it very well.”
“All right.” Seungcheol said with a smile as he leaned down and kissed him.
It wasn’t easy for Seungcheol to deal with his past, he was just trying to get over it and it hadn’t been easy. Sure, he liked Jihoon, and he was getting there, slowly. But to be reminded of what he lost in such a harsh way wasn’t good for him, it caught him off guard when Soonyoung said that, he wasn’t expecting something like that from him. He approached Soonyoung when he saw him sitting by himself in the cafeteria.
“Hey,” he mumbled as he sat down next to him.
“Hi.” Soonyoung said, a little hesitant.
“I wanted to talk to you…” he began to say, even though he didn’t know exactly what to say, it was Soonyoung who had to apologize, even though it wasn’t his fault. “I know it’s been a while, but what you said… Really hurt me. I thought you would understand.” Soonyoung frowned, confused. “You know… What you said, about my ex.”
“What did I say?”
“That I should get over him.”
“Oh god, I said that?” Soonyoung asked, surprised.
“Yeah… Remember? It was the same day the guy… The accident happened.” Seungcheol said, pointing vaguely at the place where the guy had stabbed himself. “Because I wouldn’t date Jihoon.”
“Oh, right. Yeah I’m trying to keep my distance with him.”
“Because I had a fight with a guy because of him.”
“Yeah, it was pretty crazy, he said that it was Jihoon’s fault that the guy killed himself, but I knew it wasn’t because Jeonghan told me what happened. And so I got really mad, like really mad, and we had this huge fight. Got suspended for a couple of days, I thought you knew.”
“No, I didn’t.” Seungcheol mumbled.
“Yeah, while I was gone I just realized that Jihoon made me really angry, I was too violent in that fight and I’m not usually like that. And I know he would never date me so I just need to keep away from him and I’ll be fine I guess.”
“Yeah, I think that’s a good call.”
“You were right Seungcheol, he’s just trouble. I thought a lot about what you said about him.” Seungcheol nodded slowly. “And I’m sorry I said that to you, I really don’t know why I was acting like that. I thought you didn’t want to talk to me anymore because of the fight, that’s why I didn’t approach you, I would’ve apologized if I’d known.”
“It’s fine, let’s forget about it.” Seungcheol said with a smile.
“Do you still have that project with Jihoon?”
“No, we already turned it in.”
“Yeah, I haven’t seen you with Jihoon that much, but you hung out a lot, right?”
“Just for the project, turns out, he doesn’t actually like me.”
“Really? Everyone thought he did.”
“I think he just wanted me to do all the work.”
“Sounds like something he would do.” Soonyoung shrugged. “Oh, how’s Mingyu? I haven’t seen him in a while.”
“He’s sick. He had to turn in everything online, but I don’t think he’ll be back for classes until the next semester since the winter break is so close, he already turned everything in.”
“Is it that bad?”
“He wasn’t eating or sleeping for a few days, so I just told him to stay at home. He’s better now, don’t worry, just lazy.” Soonyoung laughed at that.
“Why doesn’t it surprise me?”
“What are you going to do for the holiday?”
“I’m going back home, to see my parents, what about you?”
“I think I’ll just stay here, Mingyu’s going to see his parents but he told me I could stay in the apartment, I don’t really want to go back to mine.”
“Yeah, I get it.” Soonyoung mumbled.
“Jeonghan already left too, he already did everything.”
“You’ll be fine by yourself, right?”
“Yeah, I’m fine, don’t worry about it.”
He was fine, he had Jihoon after all. He moved his head and looked at the table Jihoon was sitting at, it made him anxious to see him sitting at a table full of people because that’s when that guy stabbed him. But everyone seemed to love Jihoon again, so there wasn’t really a problem. Jihoon moved his eyes towards him and smiled at him when their eyes met for a second, which made Seungcheol smile back.
It was fine. If someone would’ve told him that he would be dating Jihoon by now, he wouldn’t have believed them. Even though they agreed to not let anyone know that they were dating, they were having a hard time keeping it a secret, given that Seungcheol everytime he approached him he tried to greet him with a kiss, Jihoon always stopped him. They still met up to go to class and sat down together, it was going to be fine, they only had a week left of classes before the winter break, and then they wouldn’t see any of those student’s for a few weeks. Everyone still loved Jihoon, too much for Seungcheol’s liking.
“A guy confessed to me today.” Jihoon mumbled as they walked in the hallway.
“Really? What did you tell him?”
“To fuck off, obviously, I have a boyfriend.”
“Did you tell him that?”
“Not the boyfriend part, but yeah, pretty much.”
“How did he react?”
“He started crying.” Seungcheol raised his eyebrows surprised.
“That’s a new one.”
“I know, they’re acting weird lately.” Jihoon mumbled right before someone stopped him.
“Jihoon, can I talk to you for a second?” a guy said, grabbing his arm, Jihoon looked at him confused.
“Can’t you see I’m busy? I have to go to class, and I already told you no.”
“Please, please Jihoon, I love you to death.” Jihoon tried to move his hand away but he was grabbing him too hard.
“Let me go, you’re hurting me.” he told him as he moved his arm to try to free himself, everyone in the hallway was now looking at them.
Seungcheol moved and grabbed the guy’s hand and forced him to let him go.
“He told you to let go.” he said in an imperative tone.
“This doesn’t concern you! Don’t touch me!” the guys screamed at Seungcheol with rage.
“Seriously, you don’t need to make a scene, just…” before Seungcheol could finish that sentence the guy grabbed his shirt and pushed him against the wall, Seungcheol knocked his back on the fire extinguisher that was in the hallway and the glass protecting it broke into pieces.
Getting hit and breaking a glass made Seungcheol a little dizzy which gave time for the guy to approach Jihoon again and try to talk to him, Jihoon backed away and said something Seungcheol couldn’t hear. But he was so mad now, he couldn’t reason with that guy.
“Hey,” he grabbed the guy’s attention by placing a hand on his shoulder and forcing him to look at him. “How about you never go near him again?” he told him without any hesitation, looking down at him with rage in his eyes.
The guy seemed to get the message because he backed away from Seungcheol quickly. Seungcheol placed a hand on Jihoon’s arm and guided him so they could just leave the place already, since people were staring.
They walked a few steps and then heard someone gasp and a scream, Seungcheol saw the blood on the floor before he saw the body once he turned around. The guy had sliced his throat with a shard of glass from the ground. Jihoon gasped and clutched Seungcheol’s arm once he saw what the guy had done.
It was a similar scene, seeing Jihoon sitting down in a cop car, trying to explain why it wasn’t his fault and all the officers believing him and giving him words of encouragement so he wouldn’t be too sad about the accident. Two girls approached Seungcheol while he was standing next to the car.
“We heard what happened.” one of them said in a worried tone.
“After what happened to the guy at the cafeteria, it must be really tough for you.”
“Me?” Seungcheol asked, confused.
“Yes, are you okay?”
“I’m… fine, I guess.” Seungcheol mumbled, confused by their worry.
“Kid, your turn.” the officer told him.
“Sorry, I have to leave.”
The two of them waved before Seungcheol turned around and walked over to the officer that had called him. It didn’t take long before they could finally go home, Seungcheol was the first one to speak and break the silence.
“You were surprised.”
“What?” Jihoon asked, he moved his gaze from the window to Seungcheol, they were driving home.
“You were surprised when you saw him, I thought you’re used to them acting crazy.”
“Crazy I mean killing me, killing each other. They don’t usually kill themselves.” Jihoon mumbled as he turned to look at the window again. “It’s fine, one less problem.”
Seungcheol nodded slowly and didn’t move his eyes from the road.
People didn’t react the same this time around. There weren’t any rumours going around about Jihoon, and everyone thought the guy was just crazy. Which was true, Jihoon didn’t do anything. But even those were tiring Seungcheol, classes weren’t canceled after that because there wasn’t much left of the term, but Seungcheol was too tired already.
“There’s just a week left? Do you have anything left to do?”
“I have an assignment left, but I can just send it to him via email.” Jihoon explained slowly. “Do you not want to go back?”
“I think we shouldn’t, I already did everything I had to, it’s fine if I miss some classes, everyone’s going home already.”
“Are you gonna go home?”
“Home… You mean home, my parents? No, no way. I haven’t spoken to them since I came out.”
“They didn’t react well?”
“My dad told me to die already.”
“Yeah, I’ll just stay at my apartment.”
“You can stay with me… If you want to.” Jihoon mumbled softly, Seungcheol looked at him for a moment before he looked back at the road.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, so we don’t have to spend the holidays alone. We can be together in my apartment, it’s probably better than yours.” Seungcheol laughed at that.
“How do you know that?”
“It’s probably tiny and dirty.”
“Okay, it’s not that tiny… Yeah, well, maybe it’s not as big as yours, but it’s not that dirty.” Seungcheol tried to defend himself.
“Yeah, we’re staying at my apartment.” Jihoon said with a smile. “Besides, it’ll be good for us… To be away from the crowd.”
“Yes, I’m tired of seeing how everybody looks at you.” Jihoon moved his head and smiled at him.
“Great then, do you want to go to your house to pick up your stuff or should we meet tomorrow?”
“Yeah, I’ll stop by for a moment to pick up some things.”
They took longer than expected since Seungcheol’s apartment was in the other direction, but finally, they headed to Jihoon’s apartment and hopefully they wouldn’t have to get out of there until the end of the winter break.
“Maybe we can stop to buy some food.” Jihoon mumbled suddenly.
“Sure, what do you want?”
“Those… noodles we ate the other time.” Seungcheol looked at him with a smile.
“Oh you don’t want expensive food? Are you sure?” Jihoon rolled his eyes when he heard his teasing tone.
“Okay, yeah, you were right, they’re pretty good.” They both started laughing after Jihoon admitted to it.
They finally got there after one last stop in a convenience store. Seungcheol was still amazed by Jihoon’s apartment, even the elevator was fancy.
“How did you even get this apartment?” Seungcheol asked, still confused. “It’s so big, and in the middle of the city, it must cost a fortune.”
“I dated a rich CEO for like two days and he got it for me.” Jihoon answered as if it was the most easy thing to do.
“What?” Seungcheol asked, surprised. “And he just pays it for you?”
“Like a sugar baby.”
“Sugar babies do shit, I don’t. I just get what I want when I want.”
“Wow. And he doesn’t question it?”
“He was bothering me for a while so I told him that if he ever spoke to me again I would tell his wife everything.”
“Jesus, you’re mean.”
“I know.” Jihoon answered with a smile, which made Seungcheol laugh.
They both got out of the elevator and walked up to the door. Jihoon gave Seungcheol the bag so he could punch in the code and open the door. He frowned when he noticed that the lights were on. Seungcheol was in the midst of taking his shoes off when Jihoon placed a hand on his chest to stop him, when he got his attention Jihoon made a gesture so that he wouldn’t make any noise. They both walked in and Seungcheol felt his stomach drop when he saw what greeted them in the living room. There, on the floor, in the middle of the living room was a man, half naked, covered in blood as he cut up a body on the floor. The carpet was completely covered in blood and Seungcheol thought he was about to throw up when he saw the limbs of the body scattered across the floor. But as he moved his shocked eyes through the scene he couldn’t help but actually throw up when he saw that the cut up body on the floor was Jihoon’s.
At the sound of Seungcheol gagging the man raised his head, his crazy grin completely disappearing from his face when he saw Jihoon standing in front of him. Jihoon smiled at him.
“You thought this was going to fix everything?” Jihoon asked him in a soft tone. “You can never get rid of me.”
“No, no, no…. I killed you, you’re dead.” the man said, grabbing the head of the body that was laying next to him, identical to Jihoon’s.
“Are you insane? You ruined a perfectly good carpet, and now everyone will know you’re a murderer.”
“But you’re not dead!”
“Then who’s that?” Jihoon pointed at the body on the floor.
“But…” the man moved his eyes from the body and looked up at him. “You’re a ghost.” Jihoon chuckled at that.
“No…” Jihoon began to talk.
“And who’s that?” he pointed at Seungcheol, who was looking at the scene in horror. “Are you two here to haunt me?”
“Yes.” Jihoon answered with a smile. “I told you, you can never get rid of me.” Jihoon said, still grinning, the man was crying now as he reached for the knife that was still stabbed in one of the limbs and without any hesitation, he sliced his throat and fell to the floor, bleeding even more on the carpet.
“Christ, why did you do that? You know that’s one of the slowest deaths right? You’re gonna have to wait to bleed to death now.” Jihoon said as he watched the guy try to breath for air but choking in his own blood.
Jihoon walked and grabbed the knife, he leaned down and stabbed him so he could die faster. He threw the knife to the side and turned around to look at Seungcheol, who was now on the floor, still looking at the scene horrified.
“Are you okay? You puked your entire lunch.” Jihoon asked, concerned.
“He… And you…” Seungcheol tried to form words as he pointed at the two bodies on the floor. “Jihoon, what the fuck?!”
“Oh, him? That’s not me, don’t worry. Come on, get up.” Jihoon leaned down and helped him up.
“I-it’s you, it has your face.” Seungcheol whispered, still shocked.
“It has my face, but I’m Jihoon.” Jihoon grabbed his hands and made him touch his cheeks. “See? I’m the real Jihoon.”
“No, no, this is not right.”
“Okay, Seungcheol calm down. It’s going to be fine.”
“How is it going to be fine?! There’s two dead bodies on the floor!”
“I’ve been through this before, and I’m fine, do you trust me?” Seungcheol sighed and tried to compose himself.
“Okay, let me explain…” Jihoon said calmly. “You know I can come back from the dead. How do you think I do it?”
“Fucking reincarnate? I don’t know!”
“That would take too long, I would have to go through childhood, puberty, no, no, I regenerate.” Jihoon said, he raised his hand and showed him his hand, completely healed from the stab wound he had. “Meaning, if they cut up my body, every piece…” Jihoon lingered on the sentence and made a gesture towards the dead body on the floor.
“You-... Jesus christ.” Seungcheol finally realised what he meant.
“Good, now that you get it. We have to burn this, I don’t want any more fakes of me walking around.”
“How do I know they’re the fake ones?”
“Because I’m the real Jihoon.” Jihoon answered as if it was obvious. “You can tell. That asshole didn’t, so he killed the wrong one. Or I guess the right one if you see it from my perspective.” Jihoon said with a smile.
“Jihoon… This is so fucked up.”
Jihoon turned his head and sideyed him. Seungcheol was looking at the floor with shock in his face.
“You said you weren’t scared of me.” Jihoon said in a calm tone.
“I’m not, but this… This is too much.” Jihoon frowned at that. “You can’t expect me to see you lying on the floor dead and not have any reaction.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s…” Seungcheol took a deep breath and looked away from the body to look in Jihoon’s eyes. “It’s scary.” he finally said. “Not you, but the thought of you dying.” Jihoon looked up at him and took a step closer.
“I’m not going to die, this is one less problem. He wanted to kill me and failed. Same with the guy at the cafeteria, they’re all useless, and I’ve learned how to protect myself. And now with you? I’m even more safe.” Jihoon told him as he placed his hands on his shoulders.
Seungcheol moved his hands and wrapped his waist to bring him closer so that he could hug him tightly.
“What do we do now?” Seungcheol mumbled after he took a step back, he tried to compose himself even though he was sure it was the shock speaking.
“We burn it.”
“And that’ll do the job?”
“And what about him?”
“They never kill themselves, they always try to kill me. But I guess this is just one less problem. They’ll probably blame him once they find this mess.”
“Are you sure this isn’t going to trace back to us?”
“Yes, I’m sure. I’ve done this before. Nothing in this apartment will lead to me, I’m dead.” Jihoon said, pointing at the body.
“And what about me? Everyone at uni knows we’re always together, if the police start asking questions.”
“They won’t go to campus because they don’t know I’m studying there. Seungcheol, I’m basically a John Doe, they have nothing on me. Don’t worry about it.”
“Okay.” Seungcheol whispered.
Seungcheol was glad his stomach was empty because it was not a pleasant smell once they started to burn the body.
“That’s it?” Jihoon asked, looking at the pieces of the dead body and making sure they were all burnt.
“Yeah, that’s it.”
“Great, thank you Seungcheol.” Jihoon said with a smile and turned to look at him.
“This is seriously fucked up Jihoon.” There was a moment of silence before Jihoon spoke.
“If this is too much for you, walk away now, because it’s going to happen again.” Jihoon mumbled slowly. “You’re probably the only guy that actually can.”
“Jihoon, what? I’m not walking away from you.” Seungcheol said, sure of himself.
“But you should.”
Seungcheol frowned and looked down before he could say anything.
“Let’s go, let’s talk somewhere else, this place creeps me out.” Seungcheol grabbed his things so they could finally leave. “Do you have anything you want to take?”
“No, I’m fine.”
Seungcheol sighed deeply once they were in the car. He needed some sleep, they managed to get to the car without anyone seeing them, but they weren’t that dirty after all, they tried to be careful. He was exhausted and the only thing he could think of was getting home and getting in bed.
“Well, there goes our holidays in your nice apartment. Looks like we gotta go to mine now.”
“We?” Jihoon asked, he turned to look at him.
“Yes, we. Why? Do you not want to come?”
“Did you not hear me Seungcheol? If that was too much, this is your chance now, you need to leave.”
“Absolutely not. If that’s what’s going to happen to you if I leave you then no, I’m not leaving you. I’d rather have you, cursed or not.”
Jihoon looked ahead and didn’t say anything, because he didn’t know what to say. He never thought any guy that wasn’t under his influence would stay with him even after finding out the truth. But he didn’t come across a lot of guys that weren’t under his influence, and if he did, they didn’t last as long as Seungcheol did. He was safe with him, and he felt safe with him. Even though he thought it was the best option, he didn’t want to leave him either.
“So, I hope you like my tiny and dirty apartment.” Seungcheol said as he tapped his hands on the steering wheel and started the car.
“It will have to do.” Jihoon said with a smile.
Jihoon laughed once they were inside the apartment.
“Okay, it’s not that bad.” Seungcheol said, chuckling at Jihoon’s reaction.
“Yeah it’s not that bad, you have a roof.” Seungcheol rolled his eyes and pinched his side so he would stop laughing at his apartment, Jihoon whined but kept laughing almost immediately.
“Okay, you can take a break from roasting my apartment and have a shower, we’re disgusting.”
“Where’s the bathroom?”
“That way, the last door.”
“You look disgusting too.”
“I’ll have a shower later, don’t worry.”
“Why wait?” Jihoon said in a whisper as he closed the distance and kissed him.
Seungcheol smiled against his lips and placed his hands around his waist to guide him to the door without knocking into anything. Jihoon closed the door with his foot without even parting his lips from Seungcheol’s. He only opened his eyes once Seungcheol started to leave kisses down his neck.
“A shower? You have a shower?” Jihoon asked in disbelief, Seungcheol moved away from him and looked at his shower completely confused.
“Yes… I have a shower, what else did you expect?”
“A bathtub?” Jihoon said as if it was obvious.
“Oh my god, I’m sorry I don’t have a damn jacuzzi, your majesty. I’ll let you know, most houses don’t.”
“All the ones that I’ve been do.” Seungcheol laughed at that.
“This will have to do then.” he said as he leaned down to kiss him again, but Jihoon moved his face away.
“No, I am completely turned off now, leave.” Seungcheol looked at him in disbelief, his smile not fading away.
“Well, you still look disgusting, so you’re having that shower.” Seungcheol dragged Jihoon into the shower which made Jihoon burst out laughing.
Even though Jihoon said he cared about him not having a bathtub, it didn’t look like he cared while they were showering. After some bickering about the temperature of the water, they finally settled with something they liked, even though it took too long for them to get out. Probably because it was more laughs and kisses than actual cleaning. Almost an hour later they were both in the living room drying their hair and finally they had clean clothes, Seungcheol had to admit, Jihoon looked extra cute with his clothes on.
“I’ll make something to eat, I’m hungry.”
“Make loads, I’m starving.” Jihoon said as he plopped down on the couch.
After a while of scrolling through his phone Jihoon got tired and got up to look at what Seungcheol was making in the kitchen. Seungcheol smiled at him when he noticed Jihoon in the kitchen, he didn’t say anything and just leaned on the counter as he looked at Seungcheol cook. Jihoon looked at the food scowling and Seungcheol smiled when he noticed.
“What? You don’t like the food?”
“It’s cheap, I’m not used to cheap food.” Jihoon complained.
“Well, I’m broke, so, this is what you get.” Seungcheol told him with a smile, Jihoon looked at him pouting.
“I don’t like it.”
“Well, you’re here so…” Seungcheol placed a hand on his hair and kissed his forehead before he burst out laughing when Jihoon scowled even more, if that was even possible.
He watched Seungcheol cook intently before he finally spoke.
“I want caviar, can you go buy it for me?” he asked him suddenly, Seungcheol stopped dead in his tracks and looked up at him before he smiled.
“Okay.” Jihoon went back to look at the food but now Seungcheol was confused.
“Why did you ask me that?”
“I wanted to make sure you wouldn’t kill me tonight.” Jihoon mumbled as if it was the normal thing to say.
“What? Jihoon I would never hurt you.”
“That’s what everyone says.” Jihoon shrugged and Seungcheol didn’t know what to say. “Do you hate me, Seungcheol?”
“No, I don’t.”
“But you don’t like me.”
“I do, I like you a lot Jihoon.” Seungcheol stopped cooking to pay attention to Jihoon.
“But you don’t behave like the others, so that must mean you don’t like me.” Seungcheol leaned on the counter and sighed after he ran his hand through his hair.
“Look, Jihoon, this is new to me too. Especially since I thought I would never date anyone again. I do like you, a lot. Maybe not as much as the other guys in our class, but… Do you really want me to like you like them? Don’t you want to take this slow?”
“I guess… That sounds nice.” Jihoon mumbled.
“It does.” Seungcheol smiled at him and leaned in to kiss him, Jihoon raised his hands to his shoulders and kissed him back. Jihoon didn’t want to stop kissing him, but they were interrupted when the front door opened, Jihoon frowned confused at the sound.
“Seungcheol?” Mingyu asked from the door.
“In the kitchen.” Jihoon raised his head surprised when he heard that.
“Why is he here?”
“We… Live together. Didn’t I tell you?”
“No, you didn’t say.”
“Is it a problem?” Seungcheol asked, confused.
“It’s fine.” Jihoon mumbled slowly just as Mingyu entered the kitchen.
“Jihoon… What are you doing here?” Mingyu asked, surprised to see him there.
“He’s staying over for the holidays, there was a problem with his apartment.” Seungcheol answered for him. “It’s fine, right?”
“Yeah, it’s fine. But where will he sleep? I’m not leaving until this weekend.”
“My room.” Seungcheol answered, Jihoon looked intently at Mingyu’s reaction.
“All right.” he mumbled as he took off his jacket. “What are you making, it smells delicious.”
Jihoon kept quiet as he listened to Seungcheol and Mingyu talk, he hadn’t seen Mingyu in a while since he was sick, so he didn’t look too obsessed with Jihoon, which was a good sign. He let go a little bit and talked with them since Seungcheol was trying to include him in the conversation.
“Should we eat?” Jihoon asked with a smile after they’d been talking in the kitchen for a while, Mingyu agreed with a smile.
“It’s too hot right now,” Seungcheol told them, Jihoon frowned.
“But I’m hungry now.” Jihoon complained, Seungcheol rolled his eyes with a smile but opened them widely when he saw Mingyu grab the tray with his bare hands.
“Let’s eat then.” he whispered as he grabbed the tray, Seungcheol moved forward fast and made him drop it before he burned himself seriously.
“Mingyu no!” Seungcheol looked at his hands, now red from the burn and immediately put them under cold water. “Jihoon, what the hell?!” Seungcheol looked over at him angrily as he tried to wash Mingyu’s hands, who was complaining about the pain.
“I- I didn’t… I’m sorry.” he mumbled, he clearly didn’t think Mingyu would do that, Seungcheol frowned but didn’t say anything, it wasn’t his fault.
“He’s hungry.” Mingyu muttered under his breath.
“I’m fine, I’m fine, I can wait.” Jihoon corrected him.
Seungcheol sighed and looked at Mingyu’s hands, luckily it wasn’t that bad.
“Don’t do that again, okay?”
“Okay.” Mingyu nodded while he looked at Seungcheol, Jihoon frowned.
After Mingyu’s hands stopped hurting they all sat down to eat. Jihoon tried to keep quiet as Seungcheol and Mingyu spoke, even if Seungcheol tried to include him in the conversation Jihoon answered with short words and nods. Seungcheol could understand why and he tried to stop bothering him. It was only once they were in Seungcheol’s room, with the door closed, that Jihoon felt more comfortable.
“I’m sorry I screamed at you, I know it wasn’t your fault.”
“It’s fine.” Jihoon mumbled and sat down on the bed, Seungcheol sat down next to him and wrapped his arms around him.
“He’ll be gone in a few days and we’ll be by ourselves, so it’ll be fine, don’t worry.”
“It’s okay.” Jihoon told him with a smile. “Let’s just go to sleep, I’m really tired.”
“Yeah, me too, it’s been a long day.” Seungcheol sighed and they both got under the covers, finally feeling the warmth that they were craving since it was already winter.
“Are you sure this bed is up to your standards?” Seungcheol asked with a smile.
“I’m fine as long as it’s with you.” Jihoon told him, wrapping his arms around Seungcheol’s waist.
“You’re getting softer.”
“No, I think you’re just oblivious, you should’ve known I’m fine with whatever you want the moment I agreed to actually do some work for that project.” Jihoon mumbled, Seungcheol chuckled and nuzzled his head against Jihoon’s.
“I guess you’re right.” he whispered before he closed his eyes. It didn’t take long before both of them were snoring soundly.
Seungcheol woke up slowly in the middle of the night, he looked at the clock and saw that it was almost 3 a.m. He was thirsty so he slid out of the bed, trying not to wake Jihoon up, and walked out of his room to the kitchen. He was surprised to see Mingyu standing there with the lights turned off, but what surprised him even more was seeing him holding a kitchen knife in his hand.
“Hey… What are you doing?” Seungcheol whispered, looking at his friend, who was looking at the knife as if it was going to give him any answers.
“I couldn’t sleep.” Mingyu mumbled, not raising his eyes from the knife in his hands.
“Maybe… Count some sheep?” Seungcheol said hesitantly, his palm started to sweat and his heart was beating fast.
“Why is Jihoon here?” Mingyu said, finally looking up at Seungcheol, he didn’t like the look in his eyes when he asked that, and he didn’t know what to say. “Are you two together?”
“I- I guess you could say that… Yes.” Seungcheol hesitated, ready to defend himself if Mingyu launched forward with that knife.
“Why?” he asked, he looked angry. “You hate him. You treat him like nothing but garbage.”
“You know that’s not true.”
“Yes, you do. You’re nothing but rude to him, so why did he choose you?” Mingyu took a step forward, Seungcheol’s breath caught in his throat.
“Mingyu.” Seungcheol said in an authoritative tone. “What are you going to do with that knife?”
Mingyu took a moment and then frowned, he looked down at his hand and looked at the knife as if he didn’t even know how that got there.
“I don’t know.” he mumbled, Seungcheol took that opportunity to step forward and grab the knife from his hand.
“You should go to sleep, get some rest.” he said as he patted him on the shoulder. Mingyu nodded, he had eye bags under his eyes and he looked like a mess, almost like he did when he started to get sick.
Seungcheol placed the knife where it was supposed to be and forgot completely about the glass of water that he was going to get in the first place. He went back into his room and locked the door behind him, he sighed as he leaned against the door and looked over at Jihoon, who was still sleeping. He walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed on Jihoon’s side and then placed a hand on his hip to shake him a little bit so that he would wake up.
“Jihoon, are you awake?”
“I am now.” he mumbled without opening his eyes.
“I just found Mingyu in the kitchen with a knife in his hand.” Jihoon opened his eyes immediately when he heard that.
“What?” he asked as he sat up on the bed.
“I woke up to get a glass of water and he was just standing there with a knife. He started to ask me questions about you and why are we together.”
“Shit.” Jihoon whispered under his breath.
“I don’t think you should come back to my apartment.”
“Seungcheol, you know it’s not his fault.” Jihoon tried to reason with him.
“I know, but we were lucky I woke up. What if he tried anything while we were asleep?” Seungcheol asked, clearly shaken. “If anything happens to you while I’m asleep, I-...” he stopped abruptly and sighed, Jihoon looked him in the eyes, he could see his expression clearly even though it was dark in the room.
“Did he do it while you were asleep?” Jihoon whispered carefully, Seungcheol looked at him before averting his gaze. There was a moment of silence before any of them said anything, Jihoon was waiting, it was Seungcheol the first one to speak.
“Let’s not talk about that.” he mumbled, Jihoon saw his eyes getting teary in the dark. “Let’s go back to sleep, but we should wake up early and leave before Mingyu wakes up.”
Jihoon nodded slowly and they both laid down again, Seungcheol wrapped his arms around Jihoon protectively before they both fell asleep soundly. Seungcheol was relieved to wake up and still have Jihoon between his arms, he was still asleep but it didn’t take long before he woke up too.
“We have to leave Jihoon.” Seungcheol told him, but Jihoon whined because he was still too sleepy. “We still have time, Mingyu sleeps a lot, but we should leave.”
“Where would we go?” Jihoon mumbled against his chest.
“There’s a place we can stay, I’m sorry I can’t really pay for a hotel right now.”
“You have another place?” Jihoon moved his head to look up at him.
“Yeah, it’s almost outside the city, is that okay?”
“Yes, that’s fine.” he mumbled before he got out of bed, even though he didn’t want to.
Seungcheol didn’t take too long to grab his stuff because he’d already planned to stay at Jihoon’s. He still grabbed more stuff for Jihoon this time, and they left the apartment without making a noise.
“You can sleep, it’s a long ride.” Seungcheol said once they were in the car.
Jihoon nodded and placed his knees against his chest, covering himself with the blanket he’d grabbed from Seungcheol’s room. He slept all the way through the ride, only waking up once Seungcheol stopped the car in the parking lot.
“We’re here?” Jihoon asked, looking around.
“Yeah, you slept like a log.”
“I told you I haven’t been sleeping well.” Jihoon mumbled as he got out of the car.
“You told me that weeks ago, are you still not sleeping well?” Seungcheol asked, surprised.
“Well, I had a good sleep yesterday.” Jihoon answered with a smile, which made Seungcheol chuckle.
“I’m glad.” he said before he left a kiss on his forehead. They both picked up their stuff and went inside the building.
“Why do you share an apartment with Mingyu if you already have a place?” Jihoon asked while they were in the elevator.
“It’s really far from uni and Mingyu had a spare room.” Seungcheol shrugged.
“But you still pay for this?”
“I haven’t been able to sell it or get a tenant.”
“Oh, so it’s under your name?” Jihoon asked, surprised.
“Unfortunately.” Seungcheol mumbled as he opened the door and walked inside.
Jihoon took off his shoes and looked around the place, it was really tidy and it didn’t look like anyone lived there.
“Do you come here often?” he asked him when he saw Seungcheol place their stuff next to the couch, it was a tiny studio apartment, the kitchen and the living room were next to each other and there weren’t any walls separating the place.
“Sometimes, every couple of months.” Seungcheol answered and walked over to the kitchen to see if there was anything there to eat.
Jihoon turned around and looked at the big windows, it was nice, there was a balcony outside, the king sized bed was placed next to the windows, probably for sunlight in the morning. He got closer as he looked around and lowered his gaze to the bedside table, there weren’t any decorations around the house, but his eyes got fixated on a frame. It was laying on the bedside table, turned around so he couldn’t see the picture, he knew he probably shouldn’t do that, but he still picked it up to look at the picture. There it was, a very smiley Seungcheol with an arm wrapped around another guy, who was also smiling brightly at the camera.
“Is this him?” he asked while he looked at the picture, Seungcheol turned around and saw Jihoon looking down at the frame he’d left on the bedside table.
“Yeah, that’s him.” Seungcheol answered, he sounded calmer than what he usually sounded like everytime they mentioned his ex-boyfriend.
“What was his name?”
“Moonsung.” Seungcheol answered as he walked over.
“Was.” Seungcheol corrected him and left the picture again on the bedside table, facing down so he wouldn’t have to look at it.
“Sorry, was I not supposed to ask about him?” Jihoon asked, looking at him as he walked back to the kitchen.
“It’s fine Jihoon, you can be curious.” Seungcheol dismissed it. “I just don’t want to talk about it.”
“I thought talking about it made it better.” he said and then sat down on the couch.
“Yeah, therapy didn’t help, and it’s been two years, so let’s just talk about something else, yeah?” Jihoon frowned but complied, Seungcheol was starting to get mad.
Seungcheol usually never got mad at him, even when he did something wrong. Even before he knew the truth he was always very understanding of Jihoon’s straightforward personality, so he didn’t understand why he was getting so mad all of the sudden. He got up and walked around the apartment, he didn’t want to touch anything else, Seungcheol was starting to prepare some ramen in the kitchen, and he was quiet. Jihoon walked over to the window and looked out the view, they were pretty high up and the view was pretty, he moved his hand and unlocked the door to go outside in the balcony so he could get some fresh air.
“Close the door.” Seungcheol said in a very angry tone of voice that even surprised Jihoon, he hadn’t even opened the door all the way, Seungcheol was fast to react. “Seriously Jihoon, close the damn door, don’t go outside.” he told him in an imperative tone, Jihoon did as told and locked the door again, which made Seungcheol look back at the food and ignore him again.
Jihoon looked outside and took a couple of steps back, the back of his knees hit the bed and he sat down, still looking at the window. They were pretty high up, you could see everything from the bed. Jihoon stood silent for a few moments, watching over the view, the railing was made of stone and the balcony was completely empty.
“Jesus christ,” he whispered suddenly, finally putting the pieces together.
“What?” Seungcheol raised his head and looked at Jihoon, he turned around to look at him and Seungcheol was surprised to see him teary eyed. “What’s wrong?” Seungcheol left the food immediately and walked over to the bed.
“How could he do that to you?” Jihoon asked, breathless, gesturing towards the balcony, Seungcheol looked at him surprised when he did that.
“No, Jihoon, it wasn’t his fault.” he tried to make him understand.
“You were sleeping.” Jihoon placed his palm on the bed and Seungcheol sat down next to him.
“He wasn’t well, it’s not his fault. I’m the one who has to try to get over it.”
“But he… It’s right there.” Jihoon pointed at the balcony, trying not to cry.
“I know, believe me I know,” Seungcheol said calmly and placed his hand on Jihoon’s hair. “It’s fine, I’m okay now. I know it doesn’t look like it, but I am. That’s what he wanted, he wasn’t happy.”
“I don’t know why it makes me so upset.” Jihoon said as he cried, he looked so confused to be crying, Seungcheol never thought he would ever see Jihoon cry.
“It’s fine,” Seungcheol mumbled and hugged him.
“He could be with you and he chose to die.” Jihoon said as if he couldn’t believe him. “I don’t have a choice, I’m going to die, and then I’ll do it again, and again. And he did it right in front of you, while you were asleep.”
“Okay, okay, Jihoon, calm down.” Seungcheol placed his hands on his shoulders. “It’s fine, you’re not going to die because I’m here with you, remember? And yes, he chose to end it, but I can’t blame him for that, I can’t blame myself either, even though I did for so long for not seeing any signs.”
“Wasn’t he sad?”
“He wasn’t. He took medicine, went to therapy, you know. He was depressed, amongst other things, but we were having a good few months, he was happy, that’s why I didn’t suspect anything. Turns out, he was trying to have the best few last months of his life.” Jihoon opened his mouth surprised when he heard that.
“That’s so selfish! Why would he ever do that to you?!”
“Jihoon, you just said you were going to die. Why are you with me if you know that?” Seungcheol said in a calm tone of voice, Jihoon frowned and looked at him.
“I don’t have a choice, he did.” he answered, breathless.
“It was his choice, and I can’t do anything about it now. If I could go back, I would, but I can’t. So I have to live with it, and just be happy that I ever made him happy.” Seungcheol answered, he was now crying too.
“Do I make you happy?” Jihoon asked, almost hesitant.
“Yes,” Seungcheol answered without any hesitation. “Yes, you do, Jihoon, very much.” he answered as he leaned in to kiss him, Jihoon moved his hands and placed them on Seungcheol’s shoulders to bring him closer.
“It’s fine, it’s fine.” Seungcheol whispered against his lips. “You’re right, I shouldn’t just close up about it.” he moved his head and left a kiss on his forehead. “I’ve been trying to not think about it, especially now that I’m with you. I just wasn’t expecting to come here.”
“Thank you for bringing me here.” Jihoon mumbled.
“It’s all right.” Seungcheol answered with a smile. “I know something that’ll make you happy.”
“Yeah? What is it?” Jihoon asked, placing his hands on his chest.
“There’s actually a bathtub in this apartment.” Jihoon burst out laughing and tried to dry his tears.
“Yeah, that actually makes me happy. You know what will make me more happy?”
“If you prepare a nice, warm, bubble bath.” Jihoon said, leaning in.
“Only if you make some food.” Jihoon scowled at him. “Hey, remember? I make something for you, you make something for me. Besides, I’ve never had noodles in the bath.”
“Probably delicious, we should try.” Jihoon sighed and rolled his eyes, but Seungcheol could see the smile on his face as he got up to walk to the kitchen.
It was actually delicious, and it was funny to see Jihoon eat so fast as they both sat down in the bathtub full of water.
“Melted into sake.” Jihoon answered, his mouth full.
“Holy shit, what? How do you even do that?” Seungcheol asked surprised, raising his head to look at Jihoon.
“He killed me, I think he then cut me up into tiny pieces, I’m not sure, I was dead, you know. But yeah, then they poured me in a sake factory. I think, I don’t remember much while I’m in that state.”
“Jesus christ, that’s so fucked up.”
“Yeah, I know, but he bought me a nice watch, shame I lost it.” Jihoon rolled his eyes.
“Is that all you care about?”
“About what?” Jihoon asked as he slurped the noodles.
“Well, what else is there? I’m gonna die either way and I don’t like sex with men, so… Money it is.” Jihoon shrugged.
“You don’t have sex with them?”
“What? No, never. They’re lucky if I even let them touch me. I’ll kiss some of them if they’re really difficult, but that’s about it. I hate men.”
“Damn, thanks.” Jihoon chuckled at his reaction.
“You’re fine if you don’t plan on killing me.”
“Promise, I won’t kill you.” Seungcheol said with a smile, Jihoon sighed and stretched his arm to leave the empty bowl of noodles on the floor.
Jihoon moved his legs and submerged himself in the water, he came out with his dark hair wet, he opened his eyes and looked at Seungcheol after he pushed it back.
“Don’t look at me like that.” Seungcheol said in a whisper.
“Like what?” Jihoon asked with a smile on his face, clearly teasing.
“You know exactly what you’re doing.”
“I don’t know what you're talking about.” Jihoon said, moving his head to the side, fake innocence in his voice. “Pick up your jaw and leave those noodles, I will kill you if you drop them in the water.” Jihoon told him as he leaned in.
“Yes sir,” Seungcheol nodded with a smile and did as told before he brought one of his hands up, placed it on Jihoon’s cheek and kissed him.
It took even longer for them to get out of the tub than the day before. Seungcheol didn’t think he could ever feel good again while he was at that apartment, but Jihoon proved him wrong. Jihoon wasn’t as closed as before and it was incredible to spend time with him. They both fell asleep soundly once the night came in and Jihoon made sure to draw the curtains before going to bed. Seungcheol didn’t say anything, but he was grateful for that.
That night Jihoon woke up when Seungcheol woke up. Seungcheol gasped and raised his head abruptly, which in turn made Jihoon wake up too because it was so sudden. Jihoon was still sleepy, but he moved his hand and placed it on Seungcheol’s shoulder.
“Hey, I’m still here.” he mumbled, figuring Seungcheol woke up in fear of not finding him next to him in bed.
Jihoon was so sleepy he hadn’t opened his eyes fully yet, but he heard Seungcheol sigh in relief.
“Let’s go back to sleep.” Jihoon whispered as he grabbed Seungcheol’s arm and made him hug him.
Seungcheol nuzzled his head against Jihoon’s neck and fell asleep soon after with his arms wrapped around Jihoon. There was light peeking out of the curtains but neither of them wanted to actually get out of bed.
Jihoon was a very sleepy person apparently, Seungcheol liked waking up before him, and it made him laugh when Jihoon whined after he opened the curtains, acting as if the sunlight would kill him.
“Come on, get up, it’s late.”
“We have literally nothing to do, come back to bed.”
“Yeah, we do, we still have assignments to turn in, just because we left early doesn’t mean classes are over.”
Jihoon groaned and got up.
“I fucking hate college.”
“You chose to go, you could’ve just dated a rich guy, as you say.”
“It seemed like a good idea, okay?” Jihoon mumbled as he walked into the bathroom after Seungcheol to wash his face. “You know? Surrounded by boys 24/7, teachers sometimes are rich, who knows. It seemed fun when I thought about it, don’t blame me.” Seungcheol chuckled and gave him a toothbrush that he’d bought in a convenience store on their ride. “Thanks.”
“We need to do some grocery shopping, there’s nothing in here.” Jihoon’s only response was groaning.
Seungcheol walked out of the bathroom and opened his backpack so he could sit down and start working.
“Shit.” he mumbled under his breath.
“What’s wrong?” Jihoon asked, leaning against the doorframe.
“I left my laptop at Mingyu’s. It was the only thing I took out of my backpack while we were there and I forgot to put it back.”
“Just use mine.”
“I can’t. I already started it and the assignment is on my laptop.”
“Are you going back to get it?”
“I have to, sorry. I’ll be back before lunch, don’t worry.”
“No, I’m going with you.”
“What? No, Jihoon, seriously, just stay here.”
“No, Seungcheol. Mingyu just saw me yesterday, it could be bad for you too, I have to go with you.”
“All right, if we get this done we can have all the free time in the world.” Jihoon smiled at him and Seungcheol laughed when he saw his mouth full of toothpaste.
It was a longer drive than the day before, because Jihoon was actually awake this time around and he kept asking Seungcheol to stop at places. Not only to buy food but if he saw a pretty place he would ask him to stop to look at the view.
“Do you want me to take a picture of you?”
“No, no, no pictures.”
“Okay superstar.” Seungcheol said, rolling his eyes.
“You don’t want to see a picture of me.” Jihoon warned him.
“It’s bad, it’s really bad. You know how in movies, you can see everything through pictures? Well, same goes for me. My beauty doesn’t translate well in a photograph.”
“Now I’m curious.”
“Just trust me on this, you don’t want to see it.” Seungcheol didn’t ask any further because Jihoon didn’t seem that comfortable talking about it.
They finally arrived at the apartment once it was nighttime, they took way too long for a two hour drive. But Jihoon seemed to be enjoying himself, Seungcheol took a mental note to take him on a roadtrip in the future.
“Okay, don’t make any noise, if we’re lucky he won’t even notice we’re here.” Jihoon nodded and watched Seungcheol open the door.
They walked in and Seungcheol frowned when he heard Mingyu’s voice in the living room, he placed a hand on Jihoon’s chest to stop him.
“There’s someone with him.” Jihoon whispered, they both listened intently to the conversation happening in the living room, Seungcheol gasped when he noticed the other voice.
“It’s your voice Jihoon.”
“Shit, he met one of the fake ones.” Jihoon covered his mouth.
“What do we do?”
“We have to kill it. Like the other one, it’s the only way.”
“Yeah, well, how do we do that, Mingyu’s there.”
“We don’t have to do anything, Mingyu’ll do it.”
“Jesus Jihoon, no, I can’t let him do that.”
“Okay then, do it yourself.”
“Why can’t you do it?”
“Because as soon as he sees me, that Jihoon will try to kill me too. And I’m kind of shit at defending myself, so I don’t want to risk it.”
“Okay, okay, what do I do?” Seungcheol whispered, trying to calm himself down.
“Just go in there, talk to Minyu.”
“But he’s under his influence.”
“Not completely, you’ll be there. I’ve seen it, he listens to you, I don’t know why, but he does.”
“All right, okay, get back in the car, I’ll deal with this. Don’t move from there.”
“Okay.” Jihoon whispered before he leaned in and kissed him. “Please don’t die.”
“I won't, I promise.”
Seungcheol flinched after Jihoon closed the door behind him.
“Seungcheol, is that you?” Mingyu asked from the living room.
“Yeah.” Seungcheol walked and wasn’t surprised to see Jihoon sitting down on the couch next to Mingyu, too close to him actually, but he knew that wasn’t the real Jihoon.
“Hey, you left so early yesterday and you didn’t come back. Where did you go?”
“Just to get something at my apartment.”
“I told Jihoon he can stay even if you’re not here, I didn’t know if you were coming today.”
“Yeah, it’s fine.” Seungcheol mumbled, he walked up to them but didn’t sit down on the couch, just leaned in on the headrest.
“Maybe we can go eat out tonight.” Jihoon said with a charming smile, but he didn’t fool Seungcheol, although he had to act like he did.
“That sounds nice.” he answered softly. “But Mingyu, I don’t think Jihoon will stay tonight.” Seungcheol walked to the kitchen slowly.
“What?” Mingyu asked, confused.
“Well, we’re both broke, we can’t pay for an expensive restaurant.”
“It’ll be fine, we don’t have to go to a really expensive one.” Mingyu said looking at Jihoon, who frowned at that, he didn’t look very happy about that.
“No, I don’t think it’s fine. Jihoon only cares about expensive things, right?”
“Yes, of course. Won’t you buy me expensive food, Mingyu? For me?” he said with puppy eyes.
“I-I don’t know… I think I can manage…”
“With what? Mingyu, you’re going home in a few days, you have nothing, you spent it all on christmas gifts and your tickets.” Seungcheol said with a smile, he looked at the knife in the kitchen.
“I-... He’s right Jihoon, sorry.”
“How about you?” Jihoon got up from the couch and walked over to the kitchen with a smile on his face, clearly trying to seduce Seungcheol. “You can take me out to dinner.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Seungcheol said with a smile, getting near him, the kitchen knife was almost next to him.
“Well then let’s just go, the two of us.” Jihoon smiled up at him and placed his hands on his chest, clearly flirting.
Seungcheol moved his hand to reach for the knife now that Jihoon was distracted, but before he could do anything Mingyu grabbed the knife and stabbed Jihoon in the back. Seungcheol opened his eyes surprised and took a step back. Jihoon fell to the floor, bleeding, Mingyu didn’t let go of the knife and knelt down next to Jihoon just to stab him again, now in his heart. But it didn’t seem to be enough, because he kept stabbing him, even though Jihoon died after the second stab. Seungcheol watched breathless Jihoon’s dead body as he was stabbed, his vision cloudy. He placed his hand on the counter, trying to level himself, his eyes were teary, he couldn’t bear to see Jihoon in that situation.
But that wasn’t Jihoon. Jihoon was waiting for him in his car. He finally snapped out of it and looked at Mingyu, who was still stabbing him.
“Mingyu! Mingyu stop!” Seungcheol screamed at him, but Mingyu continued to stab Jihoon’s dead body. “Mingyu!” he screamed loudly as he stopped Mingyu’s hand.
Mingyu stood silent for a second, looking at Jihoon’s dead body staring back at him. There was a pool of blood and whatever was left of Jihoon. Mingyu gasped, as if he just realized what he had done.
“I killed him…” he whispered slowly. “Why-Why did I do that?” Seungcheol frowned and tried to calm him down. “Why did I do that?! Seungcheol, why did I kill him?!” he kept asking, now looking at Seungcheol desperately. “I was just tired that he paid too much attention to you, but… Oh my god, what did I do?”
“It’s fine, it’s fine.” Seungcheol tried to calm him down as he took the knife slowly from his hand.
“How can it be fine?! I killed him! I’m a murderer.” Mingyu started to cry hopelessly.
“He was already dead Mingyu, it’s fine.”
“How can you be so calm about this?”
Seungcheol sighed and didn’t answer, he wasn’t, he still had a knot in his throat and he couldn’t bring himself to look at Jihoon, even if that wasn’t his Jihoon.
“I’m going to jail, aren’t I? I should turn myself in, I don’t think I can live after this.”
“No, no, Mingyu, look at me.” Seungcheol grabbed his face and made him look him in the eye. “This isn’t your fault, okay? It’s going to be okay.”
“I need to turn myself to the police.” Mingyu mumbled.
“No, no, you’ll just need a fuck ton of therapy.” Seungcheol murmured as he hugged him tightly.
They hugged for a few moments until Seungcheol felt like Mingyu was calm enough to stand on his own.
“What-... What do we do now?” Mingyu mumbled, looking at the dead body next to them.
“I’ll take care of this, okay?” Seungcheol answered. “You just… Just go home early, grab your stuff and leave, it’ll all be over once you get back.” he reassured him.
Mingyu got up on shaky legs and hugged Seungcheol again.
“You’re… You’re a good friend.” he whispered.
“It’s going to be fine, don’t worry.”
Seungcheol looked for a blanket to cover Jihoon’s body while Mingyu got his stuff ready, thankfully he’d already packed to leave for the weekend so he was gone after he thanked him one last time with teary eyes. Seungcheol almost ran to the parking lot after Mingyu left, he was relieved to see Jihoon sitting in his car, he was biting his nails out of nervousness.
“Did you do it?”
“Yeah, yes, he’s dead.” Seungcheol said, out of breath. “Mingyu did it. But he freaked out after it. Do they stop being obsessed with you once you’re dead?”
“I’m not sure, I’m dead so I’m not actually there to find out. But… From what I can tell, yes, they do. They cut up my body and leave me.”
“Jesus,” Seungcheol mumbled under his breath.
“We have to burn it, fast, before it starts regenerating.”
“Yeah, but where do we do that? This isn’t like before, this will fire back at Mingyu if we get caught.”
Jihoon thought about it for a moment, trying to come up with an idea, it was a minute after he finally gasped.
“The uni. The art workshop, they have those ovens to heat up the sculptures, at the right temperature it will burn.”
“You’re a genius.” Seungcheol said before he kissed him.
The hardest thing was to get the body in the car, Jihoon tried to roll it in a carpet while Seungcheol scrubbed the blood off the floor. Thankfully it was in the kitchen so the carpet wasn’t ruined, but now that they’d used the carpet to hide the body, Mingyu wouldn’t be seeing that carpet any time soon.
They both sighed once they were back in the car with the body in the trunk, no one had seen them, thankfully.
“Jesus, all of this because you left your laptop.”
“Shit I forgot to grab it.”
“Seungcheol, I will kill you.”
“What?! You expect me to think about my laptop when there’s a dead body in our trunk?!” Jihoon sighed and rolled his eyes.
“Okay, let’s calm down. Drive, we’ll just go back for it later.” Seungcheol nodded and started the car.
Since Mingyu’s apartment was close to the uni, it didn’t take long before they got there, and thankfully it was dark enough that there wasn’t anyone on campus. It was hard to move the body, but finally they got to the art class workshop where Jihoon had seen the ovens months prior. Jihoon sighed relieved after he saw the body burn slowly once it was inside the oven.
“Thank god, if we leave it for the night, it’ll be dust by tomorrow.” Jihoon whispered.
Seungcheol sighed and hugged Jihoon tightly.
“I know it’s not you, but I hate to see you die.”
“It’s fine, I’m here.” Jihoon said as he hugged him back. “Now let’s leave before anyone sees us.”
Seungcheol could still feel his heart pounding against his chest, he was breathless and adrenaline was running through his veins. It had been such a tough week, but nothing was worse than seeing Jihoon die, even though he knew it wasn’t him. He gripped his hand as they walked back to the car, but they were stopped when they heard a noise.
“Jihoon?” Jihoon turned around and opened his eyes surprised when he saw a guy standing in the hallway. “I knew it was you. I have a late shift in the library, you know, arranging books. I thought I saw you walk in through the window.” Jihoon gulped, Seungcheol got nervous too, the guy’s cheeks were sucked in, he had dark eye bags under his eyes, and they were wide open.
“I-... Yes, we forgot something, so we came to get it.”
“You’re always with him right? I hate that you’re always with him. What do you see in him? You haven’t talked to me since that asshole killed himself in the cafeteria. You know? It isn’t my fault that he was my friend, he was an asshole either way.”
“Sorry, we… we have to go.” Jihoon mumbled and took a step back.
“No, no, you don’t have to be nice to me, I know you don’t want to be with me, it’s fine.” Seungcheol gripped Jihoon’s arm hard once he saw the knife he had in his hand. “You like it? I took it out of the art class after you came out of it. I didn’t know you had art class, but they have all these kinds of things for the sculptures, it came in handy.”
“What are you going to do with that?” Seungcheol finally spoke.
“What do you think? I’ll kill him, and then you, for getting in my way. I know I can’t have you, but if I can’t then…”
“Nobody can? You need to stop watching movies, buddy.” Seungcheol interrupted him.
“Why do you care about him so much? He doesn’t love you, it’s all a lie. My best friend killed himself because of you, you don’t deserve to have anyone, so I’ll kill you both.” he told them, taking a few steps forward. “He can never be mine, so he will never be yours either.”
“Don’t you understand you’re not supposed to own people?” Seungcheol told him, taking a step forward, Jihoon grabbed his arm and tried to stop him.
“I don’t care!”
“And what are you going to do?” Seungcheol asked, ignoring Jihoon who was trying to stop him so that they could run. “Kill him? And then me? Then what? Cut him in pieces? You’re going to be a murderer.”
“I told you I don’t care! I just want him dead!” the guy screamed, taking another step forward, Seungcheol didn’t back away this time.
“You seriously don’t understand? What about later? What is your life going to be like after Jihoon dies?” the guys stopped for a moment and looked at Seungcheol’s eyes, he looked like he was trying to figure out the answer to that question.
He didn’t seem to like the answer because before Seungcheol or Jihoon could do anything about it, the guy stabbed himself in the neck, falling to his knees and then forward. The fall stabbed the knife even deeper into his neck and he convulsed one last time before he died, just like his friend.
“Holy shit,” Seungcheol whispered, “I didn’t think he would do that, I thought he would react like Mingyu and come to his senses.”
“Seungcheol, it’s fine, we have to leave, come on.” Jihoon grabbed his arm and urged him to walk in the opposite direction.
“We’re just going to leave him there?”
“It’ll be worse if we touch him, let’s go.”
Seungcheol tried to calm himself as they walked back to the car, Jihoon stopped dead in his tracks and placed his hand on Seungcheol’s chest to stop him too. He was about to ask what was wrong, but Jihoon placed his finger against his lips to gesture him to keep quiet.
“Where is he?” they heard a voice in the hallways.
“Do you think he lied?”
“No, he’s been rambling about Jihoon for weeks, he really must be here if Jung’s text was right.” Jihoon covered his mouth when he heard that.
“Are we really going to do this?”
“Yes! Two people died already because of that asshole and he hasn’t shown his face in uni since, I want him gone for good.”
“Jesus christ,” Seungcheol whispered. “How many are there.”
“I don’t know, they sound like many.” Jihoon answered.
“Let’s get out of here.” Seungcheol grabbed his hand and they started to run to get out of the campus as fast as they could.
They circled around the body on the floor and tried to head to the exit as quickly as they could.
“I hear something, they’re over here!” they heard behind them.
“Seungcheol, the exit is not that way.” Jihoon tried to tell him.
“I know, I know, just… Trust me, okay?” Seungcheol tried to reassure him, but in truth, he also didn’t know what to do or where to go.
He opened a door and went in, closing it behind him and placing a table in front of it.
“What do we do?” Jihoo whispered, he was clearly as scared as Seungcheol.
“Let’s calm down and think about it,” Seungcheol said, but really, he was trying to calm himself down. “The exit is that way, but there must be an emergency exit on the other way, right?”
“Yeah, and if we open it, the cops will be here in five minutes.”
“Let’s go and… Talk to them.” Jihoon mumbled softly, Seungcheol raised his head and looked at him surprised.
“What? We don’t even know how many there are out there, they’re going to kill us.”
“Or… themselves.” Jihoon suggested hesitantly.
“Are you kidding? We were lucky with that one, but all of them? It won’t work, they’ll murder us.”
“Seungcheol, what’s our other option?”
“I can’t… Jihoon, I can’t see more people kill themselves, I’m tired.” Seungcheol told him with tears in his eyes, Jihoon approached him and placed his hands in his shoulders.
“Seungcheol, it’s fine, I’m here.”
“It was my fault, you know? I know I told you it wasn’t, but that’s why therapy didn’t work, it was actually my fault.”
“No, no it wasn’t, what are you talking about?”
“Shit! They killed him!” they both heard them in the hallways.
“They must be here somewhere, come on!”
“There were signs, okay?” Seungcheol suddenly blurted out, Jihoon frowned confused, Seungcheol had tears in his eyes. “The night before, he practically told me.”
“What are you talking about?” Jihoon asked carefully.
“When we were in bed, we were talking and he said…” Seungcheol choked on his own words and took a deep breath. “He said he wanted to fly. I thought it was a joke, because, who doesn’t, you know? I didn’t think he would jump out of our balcony the next morning.”
“Seungcheol, you couldn’t have known.” Jihoon tried to calm him down, placing his hands on his cheeks.
“Oh, but I had time.” Seungcheol continued, tears running down his face. “He wasn’t a morning person, but he woke up so early that morning and I was so sleepy. He kept kissing me and saying he loved me and I just brushed it off and said ‘I love you too’.” Jihoon looked at him, expecting. “I was half asleep. I thought he just wanted to see the view, he liked the view, that’s why we got that apartment. But he fell before I could even reach the balcony, I didn’t have time. If I had been a second earlier, maybe he would still be alive.”
“Seungcheol, it’s not your fault.” Jihoon reassured him.
“But I could have done something, I could’ve helped him.” Jihoon opened his mouth but Seungcheol spoke first. “And I want to help you, I want you to live, I want to be with you. But I feel so helpless, I shouldn’t be this used to death.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I don’t wanna lose you.”
Jihoon looked into his eyes, trying to understand what was going on through Seungcheol’s mind.
“You are not going to make the same mistake as he did.” he said with no hesitation. “Every guy I meet is doomed. From the second they say hi to me, I know they’re either going to kill me or die. I know they’ll go mad, and I’m used to that. But not you. I have still a long time to live, but I don’t want to ever live long enough to see you fall in love with me so much that you end up killing me, or yourself.” Seungcheol looked at him confused. “You are walking out of this, unharmed. You hear me?”
“And what about you?” Seungcheol mumbled, he flinched when he heard a thump in the door.
“Hey, something is blocking the door, I think they’re here!”
“I never die.” Jihoon whispered.
Seungcheol took a step back and looked in his eyes, he’d seen those eyes before, and he was never going to forget that expression.
“Then why do I feel like that’s what you want right now?”
“I can’t die, Seungcheol. I wish I could. But I can’t.” Jihoon said in a calm tone. “My body won’t let me.”
“What are you planning on doing?”
“We can’t be together anymore.”
“You told me you were safe with me.”
“I can’t be with you Seungcheol. I wouldn’t be any different from him, it’s too selfish.” Jihoon took a step forward and grabbed his hands. “This is the best I can give you.”
“I don’t want it.”
“Do it for me.” Jihoon whispered, taking another step closer. “Let me start over.” he said as he squeezed his hands. “You gave me this, and I am eternally grateful for that.”
“Please don’t leave, I couldn’t bear to lose you.”
“You’ve done it before, you’ll be fine Seungcheol.”
“What if I see you again?”
“You walk away.” Jihoon whispered, placing a hand on Seungcheol’s cheek. “You’re probably the only man on this earth that can.” he leaned in and kissed him.
Seungcheol closed his eyes and frowned, he wrapped his arms around Jihoon and opened his mouth to the kiss, leaning down and not wanting to let go. He heard a loud crash but he could only bring Jihoon closer and kiss him deeply.
Seungcheol felt Jihoon gasp against his lips and he had to hold him up when he felt his body go limp. He held him up by the waist and raised his hand to look at the blood, he’d been stabbed. He looked up and saw the door broken, now all of the guys in the room, one of them had stabbed Jihoon in the back. He looked at Jihoon, who had his eyes closed, now dead in his arms. He must’ve stabbed the spine to kill him so quickly.
He fell to his knees, still holding Jihoon in his arms.
“That was easier than I thought.” the guy said with a wicked smile on his face, holding the bloody knife in his hand, all of the guys were smiling and it made Seungcheol so angry.
“So now we cut him up, right? I want the police to find him in pieces.” one of the guys said, taking a step forward, they all had weapons.
Seungcheol clutched Jihoon in his arms and looked at Jihoon for a moment before looking up at them, he had to burn his body.
“You killed him.” he mumbled suddenly.
“Yes, you should’ve done it too.”
“And now you’re going to cut him in pieces? As if you’re even worth touching him? Don’t come near him.” one of the guys laughed at that.
“What are you talking about? He didn’t love you. You’re a fool if you think he did, maybe we’ll kill you along with him.”
“He never loved you either, and you still thought you deserved any of his time. And now you’ve killed him, you don’t get to choose that, and if you think you do, you should just die.” Seungcheol said with rage in his eyes.
There was a second of complete silence, Seungcheol didn’t move an inch even after the blood started dripping. There was silence even after, a dead silence filled the place. He looked around the room, now bloody, the tears in his face were red from all the blood that was dripping from him.
He looked down at Jihoon again, he looked like he was just sleeping. He loosened his grasp and laid him on the floor carefully.
Seungcheol sat down next to Jihoon’s dead body and sighed, he was covered in blood and exhausted. He had to burn the body, ‘start over’, were Jihoon’s words. He buried his face in his hands and waited. It was probably hours, maybe a day, but finally, he heard a breath. He looked up and was relieved to see Jihoon’s chest moving slowly up and down. A few minutes later, he opened his eyes.
“Jihoon?” Seungcheol asked, his voice hoarse because he hadn’t spoken in so long.
Jihoon moved his eyes slowly towards Seungcheol.
“What are you doing here?” Jihoon said in a soft tone.
“I can’t leave.” Seungcheol answered. “I couldn’t.”
“You are so weak.” Jihoon mumbled. “They’ll kill you, they’ll kill any other man that gets too close to me.”
“They won’t.” Seungcheol whispered, Jihoon sat up and looked at him.
“Then why didn’t they?” Seungcheol mumbled and pointed behind Jihoon. He moved his head to where Seungcheol was pointing and gasped when he saw the bodies of every guy that was after him.
“Did you kill all of them?” Jihoon asked in disbelief, all of them had their throats cut and were laying on the floor in a pool of blood.
“They killed themselves.”
Jihoon moved his head slowly towards Seungcheol, he looked exhausted, his clothes were black from all the blood, but there wasn’t a scratch on him. He remembered Seungcheol’s hands grasping his while he watched that guy stab himself in the cafeteria, how Seungcheol looked into that guy’s eyes before he told him to never get near Jihoon again. He remembered his surprise when he saw every single one of the guys that were in love with him kill themselves, because they never did that, they never killed themselves, not with him. He looked back at Seungcheol after watching all the bodies on the floor.
“How long have you been waiting?”
“Hours, I don’t know, I’m not sure.” Seungcheol whispered, clear shock in his eyes. “You lose control over them after you die, right?”
“Yes.” Jihoon muttered under his breath.
“Then why did they kill themselves?”
“Because you told them to.”