pairing: ontae, ot3 (ontaehyun)
rating: R - blood/themes
word count: ~7,000
I'm sure you've seen a movie or two about this 'psychological problem'. I was talking to a friend of mine and she suggested that SHINee, a group which spends so much time around each other, might be subject to something like this happening. I didn't agree, but I did think it'd be a cool idea for a fic, especially around Halloween although it's not technically horror, hehe.
Day one- morning:
Jinki’s fingers fumble with the keys in the cold and the metal scrapes against the side of his car. He swears under his breath, a sharp cloud of vapour leaving his mouth and unravelling against the window.
Some start to a trip.
Taemin is inching towards the car, grunting as he drags two large objects which look from afar to be body bags- but they’re just stuff. Bags and bags of stuff. Jinki leaves the keys hanging against the frozen car door and leans against it, watching Taemin and rubbing his hands together for warmth.
Taemin reaches the car then looks up, panting, his nose red. “You know,” he starts, shoving a hand in his jacket and adjusting a hot-pocket, “maybe this trip wasn’t such a great idea.”
“I was thinking the exact same thing, actually,” Jinki confesses, grinning. His bottom lip, dry in the winter air, splits when he smiles, and a small red stream of blood starts to trickle down his chin.
Taemin takes out a napkin from his pocket and winces, walking up to the older boy and pressing the crumpled white mass against his bottom lip. “At least we can be alone together,” he starts, shyly.
He can feel Jinki smile behind the napkin, and flowers of blood bloom against his fingers.
“I love you, Jinki.”
“I love you too.”
Day one- night:
The cabin is sketchy to say the least. The windows are grey and dusty; the blinds- which seem to have once been pure white- are covered in cobwebs. Taemin shuts the door behind him and lets out a disgusted yelp when he sees a large spider crawl from next to his shoe into a small hole by the side of the door.
“God, Jinki...we should just stay in the car.”
Jinki laughs and knocks off Taemin’s tuque. “What, and miss this wild-life experience!”
Taemin grumbles, leaning down to pick up his hat. “That would be camping, hyung. This is...” he stares at the torn brown wallpaper, then trails his eyes down to the stained hardwood floor, “This is just creepy.”
Jinki frowns from the other side of the room. “What’s creepy about it? It’s just an old cabin!”
Taemin inches towards the living room, his eyes snapping towards the TV screen which now eerily reflects his face. He shivers and hops over their bags, following Jinki down the hallway.
“Besides,” he hears Jinki’s voice from one of the rooms, “I thought you liked scary movies. You should love this place.”
“I like watching it happen to other people. Not to myself.”
Taemin stops, his heart jumping to his throat. “Wh-what?”
There’s no reply.
“Jinki?” he stammers, slowly walking towards the room with the door ajar. He slowly slips his head through the crack.
Taemin yells and jumps back against the door, slamming his arm painfully against its knob.
Jinki laughs and takes the sheet off his head, waving it in Taemin’s face. The younger boy scowls at him murderously and snatches the blanket from Jinki, throwing it into a corner.
“That’s gross, don’t put that on your head.”
“Why, because dead bodies were concealed in them?” Jinki whispers maliciously, leaning into Taemin and reaching out his hands as though he were some sort of ghoul.
Taemin grins and throws his arms around Jinki’s shoulders. “Let’s just sleep in the car, Jinki,” he says, bringing his lips forwards to press against Jinki’s cheek, then trailing them down to plant another kiss between his jawline and neck.
Jinki shakes his head and reaches over to pluck Taemin’s hands from his shoulders. “Come on, Taemin, why are you being such a party pooper.”
Taemin sighs and flaps his arms against his sides. “Fine. How many rooms are there anyway?”
“Two. We’ll only be using one though,” Jinki says, winking as he removes their blankets from a bag.
Taemin peers down the hallway as Jinki adjusts the supplies; a strange and foreign wind seems to enter his chest as he stares down the darkness.
“Did you hear that?”
Jinki doesn’t reply because he’s fast asleep, so Taemin shakes his shoulder more forcefully. “Jinki, do you hear that?”
Jinki moans and opens his eyes, the branches from outside the cabin casting shadows against his face, making Taemin uncomfortable. “What is it?” he grumbles sleepily.
Taemin sits up and looks towards the window. “What’s that sound? I hear something tapping outside the window.”
Jinki sits up drowsily and yawns towards the younger boy. “It’s just the wind.”
“No! It’s not, it’s a tapping. There! There it is again!” Taemin presses and there it is, really, the sharp rapping he had explained coming loud and clear from outside the cabin walls.
Jinki rubs his eyes and stares towards the window, then sighs, reaching for his t-shirt. “I’ll go check.”
“Well, do you want to come with me?” Jinki asks, standing up and looking at him, one hand holding a flashlight, the other shoved through his ragged hair.
Taemin rubs his right hand up and down his left arm while he stares towards the window, then looks back up at Jinki. “Yeah, I’ll come.”
The two of them travel to the door and Jinki turns the doorknob, swinging it open. It had snowed again earlier, so Jinki’s boots coupled with his boxer shorts and t-shirt seem to be a paradoxical attire for venturing out in the cold. Taemin follows suit, his hand gripping the back of Jinki’s shirt as he walks, peering over his shoulder.
They make their way through the snow and up to the window of their room. The tapping is loud and clear. Jinki points the flashlight up at the tree and they watch as the slow breeze pushes the icicled branches against the side of the cabin. Tap. Tap. Tap.
Jinki turns to face Taemin, pointing the flashlight at him. “See?”
Taemin sighs, and rubs the back of his head, embarrassed. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be. Just...” Jinki starts then huffs out instead, shrugging.
Taemin nods as though he knows what Jinki’s unspoken words mean, and follows him back into the cabin.
He falls asleep with his arm wrapped tightly around Jinki’s warm stomach, his thighs pressed between his knees.
Day two- morning:
When they wake up, it’s Jinki’s turn to look nervous. “We have a bit of a problem,” he says when he notices Taemin is awake and rubbing his eyes.
Jinki’s tone immediately erases any segment of sleep from Taemin’s senses and he snaps into a seated position. “What?”
Jinki points outside the window. It’s white.
Taemin flops back against the bed. “Are you serious?”
Jinki presses a finger against the cold window then draws back. “Yeah, we are,” he drones, then walks over to Taemin and sits down next to him. “But we have enough food to last us months,” he offers happily.
“Let’s hope it won’t get to that.”
Jinki’s smile fades and he looks at Taemin’s face more deeply, imploring. “I’m sorry.”
Taemin sits up and looks at him. “For what?”
Jinki shrugs and points at the window. “I don’t know, for everything. I thought this would be fun but I guess it’s not as amazing as I planned it to be.”
Taemin shakes his head and crawls into Jinki’s lap, his ass resting in the cave of Jinki’s crossed legs. “It’s not your fault. I wanted to come here too.”
Jinki smiles as Taemin plays with the front of his hair then leans in to kiss him once on the lips. “Don’t be sad, hyung,” he continues when Jinki makes no move to reply.
Jinki holds on to his waist and pulls him in again, pressing his mouth firmer against the younger boy’s, pulling his lithe body against his own.
Taemin pushes Jinki until he’s on his back then trails his hands down his chest and up to the band of his boxers, smiling deviously up at him. “I’ll make you feel better.”
Jinki’s glad they’re not at their apartment where he has to worry about how soundproof the walls are.
Day two- night:
The second night bears another disturbance, but this time Taemin doesn’t want to wake Jinki up.
The noise is coming from down the hallway and towards the front door.
He assumes he could go himself, but he’s shaking so hard he thinks he’ll probably crumble into a heap of bones before he gets there.
After a few minutes of the continual scratching, he sits up and shakes his head. He would go check.
Taemin slips onto the floor and makes his way down the dark hallway, the air stagnant against his throat as he breathes in. His toes are cold against the floor and he has to keep his hands out in the pitch blackness.
When he gets to the door he stands against it and listens. There’s a scratching noise, but it isn’t continuous, and sometimes it’s louder than it was before.
He waits a bit then sighs, beginning to walk back to the hallway. Then he stops, closing his eyes. Last time there was a noise, it had been a branch hitting against the side of the window. But now, they were snowed in, so what could possibly be creating this grotesque nail-versus-chalkboard effect.
Taemin’s jaw drops open and he runs back towards the door, pressing his ear against it.
He stumbles back and grabs onto the couch for support, his breathing coming out in gasps. He looks up the door and notices the peephole for the first time. Did he dare?
He waits a few moments then slowly takes two shaking steps towards the door again and places his hands against it, standing on his tip toes and peering down through the hole.
He screams and falls back. “Jinki! Jinki!”
There’s a crash from inside their room, presumably from Jinki falling off the bed in his panic.
“There’s someone outside the door! Oh God come here!” he yells standing against the opposite wall, sweat pouring down the side of his face.
Jinki emerges from the hallway holding a large knife and Taemin screams again when he sees him then smacks him hard against the arm. “What the hell are you doing with that?”
Jinki shrugs. “Well, who knows what’s out there,” Jinki pants back, walking up to the door while Taemin watches from his prior position.
Jinki looks through the peephole then stumbles back as Taemin did, looking back into younger boy’s eyes. For the first time since they got to the cabin, Jinki looks scared, and it makes Taemin even more uncomfortable now that the one thing he had believed would protect him is feeling the same way he is.
He places his hand on the doorknob then attempts to push it, but it doesn’t budge. “I don’t even know how he got here. We’re snowed in,” Jinki whispers.
Taemin walks up to him and helps push against the door. “One...two...three!” Jinki shouts as they push it open. About a foot of snow descends down upon the heads and onto the floor, filtering out and revealing what looks like a hand.
“Oh Jesus,” Taemin gasps, looking down at it.
Jinki reaches through the small crack in the door and begins to dust away snow, pushing it away from the extremity. Taemin can’t see anything, but he reckons Jinki can because he immediately looks worried. “Are you okay? Can you hear me?”
Taemin lets out a terrified noise then pushes towards Jinki, looking past his shoulders to see the source of the voice.
After a few minutes of packing snow here and there, they manage to open the door to a width sufficient enough to drag the boy into the living room. Taemin stands up and slowly closes the door again, locking it then looking down at Jinki who now kneels in a pile of snow, cradling the boy’s head in his arms.
“Is he dead?” Taemin whispers, sitting down next to him and staring towards the lifeless mass.
“No, he’s just really cold, we have to get him to the bed.”
Jinki grips below his shoulders, Taemin grabs his legs, and they lift his stiff body, shuffling down the hallway and into the second room to place him on the bed.
Taemin leans forward and begins- with much effort- to take off most his clothing until he’s in his undershirt and snow-pants, placing the cold, stiff articles against the corner of the room.
Jinki works at the fireplace, but gives up when he realizes the firewood is damp and useless.
He walks up to the boy lying on the bed. “He’s shivering all over.”
Taemin nods and flicks on the light in the living room, traveling to the kitchen to get a cloth, soaking it in hot water from the tap.
When he comes back the boy has his eyes open, looking around him, terrified. “Wh...”
Taemin stands in the doorway, holding the cloth, and looks towards Jinki who places a hand on the boy’s shoulder and smiles. “Are you okay? You must have got caught in the snow storm.”
“I had to get away,” the boy stammers, almost incoherently.
Jinki’s smile fades for the fourth time in the past two days and he looks at Taemin who shrugs and slowly walks towards the bed.
“Get away from what?”
The boy struggles to a seated position then looks at Jinki, his large eyes shining. “Oh God, are you...are you guys a-alone,” he manages through chattering teeth.
Taemin nods. “Yeah, why?”
“W-we can’t be together. I- you have to g-go, you...” Jinki shakes his head and strokes the side of the boy’s face, shushing him, reaching for Taemin to hand him the cloth.
“Just go to sleep,” Jinki says, watching as the boy’s eyes roll back as if on cue, rendering him into a deep dark sleep.
Day three- morning:
Taemin and Jinki are having breakfast when the boy walks down the hallway, sheepishly poking his head around the wall.
They smile at him when they notice him, and Jinki stands up, beckoning him to a chair.
He walks to the table, sitting down and staring down at the plates, completely still for a few moments.
Then, “Thank you. For whatever you did. I don’t really remember how I got here.”
Taemin looks towards Jink, in obvious wonderment. He doesn’t remember?
Jinki looks down at his plate. “You were outside our cabin door. I think you tunneled there from somewhere, maybe a forest.”
They looked up at him, watching his steady face and large eyes. “Not from the forest,” he says, turning his head to face Jinki, “From another cabin,” he continues, nodding as though he were just remembering.
Taemin gulps down the last of his juice loudly then clears his throat. “From another cabin?” he asks quietly.
He nods. “My name’s Jonghyun.”
“I came from another cabin because- because I was there for too long. Bad stuff started to happen.”
Jinki looks at Taemin rather than at Jonghyun because he senses wherever this story is going, Taemin won’t like it, and thus Jinki is first and foremost worried about him.
“What do you mean,” Taemin starts, softly, “’bad stuff’?”
Jonghyun shudders and looks down at the stained table, his finger picking at a patch of dried food. “Bad stuff. There was an avalanche a while ago, two months ago. It was a small one, just over the side of the mountain. Started because of some construction, probably. Anyway, it snowed near the cabin I was staying at. Me and two other people.”
Jinki is sure the silences between Jonghyun’s words are the deepest he’s ever experienced.
“We got snowed in, just like this, for two months. We were running out of food, everything was starting to go downhill. And just...I had to get away.”
Taemin looks confused, leaning in, his eyebrows furrowed. “I don’t get it though, wouldn’t staying there be safer than trying to tunnel through all this snow?” he asks, pointing towards the window, “And what about the people you were staying with, where are they?”
Jonghyun shivers and closes his eyes. “I came alone,” he begins, then looks behind him as though making sure there’s no one else around before leaning in again and flickering his gaze between the two boys, “Listen, have you guys heard about the term ‘cabin fever’?”
Taemin shakes his head but Jinki nods slowly. “The psychological term?”
Jonghyun smiles grimly. “Yeah, that one.”
“Isn’t it when you, uh, after you’re stuck somewhere with someone for a long time, you start to feel a bit tired of them,” Jinki starts slowly, glancing at Taemin’s pale face as he talks.
“A bit!” Jonghyun laughs, his hand slamming against the table and causing the other boys to jump about a foot in the air. “A bit. You start to fucking hate them.”
Jinki shakes his head. “Yeah, but that’s really rare. It’s just a popular scary-movie tactic. I mean, if it were true with a simple relationship,” he says, looking towards Taemin again who is now chewing nervously on his bottom lip, “it’s not as applicable. I mean you have to be stuck with them somewhere-“
“-Like in a cabin, in the middle of nowhere-“
“-For a long period of time,” Jinki continues, ignoring Jonghyun’s interruption, “Also, I’m sure the people who are involved end up drawing something from their psychological backgrounds and-“
“Jinki,” Jonghyun interrupts, looking at him. “Do I look like I’m crazy?”
“No, that’s what I meant,” Jinki coaxes, but Jonghyun cuts him off again.
“I’m a healthy young guy. I’m 20. I came here with two...friends. We got snowed in and the first month was fine. But these cabins are far from any people, so it wasn’t like anyone was going to come out here and save us. We started getting into arguments- simple ones. But then after that,” Jonghyun reaches for his sleeve and pulls it back, revealing a jagged cut, crusted with dried blood.
Taemin gasps and twists his lips, looking at the wound. “What happened?”
Jonghyun pulls the fabric back down and huffs. “They got a bit tired of me.”
Jinki’s still staring at where the wound was visible. “They did that to you?”
Jonghyun nods. “First they went for my throat,” he says, wringing his hands around the side of his neck and shuddering. “But I woke up, thankfully.”
Jinki shakes his head. “This only happens rarely. Plus, how do we know you’re telling the truth?”
Jonghyun smiles. “You don’t trust me,” he says slowly, “That’s the first symptom.”
The wind outside whistles as it strains against the packed snow, and Taemin’s heart starts to beat faster. He didn’t remember being such a pussy.
He stands up and puts his hand on Jonghyun’s shoulder, glaring down at Jinki. “It’s okay, don’t worry. You can stay here. We’ll find a way out.”
Jinki mumbles something under his breath then stands up. “Either way I’m pretty sure the sun’ll melt the snow in less than a month. We have enough food, and we have an extra room.”
Jonghyun stands up, edging away towards the hallway. “Thanks, guys. I’ll try not to be a bother.”
Jinki smiles and watches him slide into the room before turning to Taemin. “We can’t just accept everything he says, Taemin. He could be lying.”
“But what if he’s telling the truth?” Taemin whispers, peering down the hallway then back at Jinki’s worried face. “How long do you think we’ll be stuck here?”
Jinki shakes his head. “He’s just unstable from being out in the cold for that long. I doubt anything like that happened, seriously,” he says leaning in to kiss him on the lips, smiling.
Taemin kisses him back but can’t help being gripped by an uneasy sensation in the depths of his stomach, as though someone has shoved a handful of snow down his throat.
Day eight: afternoon -
The next few days pass normally, and Jinki is pleased to note they have enough food to last them quite a while if they eat carefully.
He walks back from the kitchen and sits on the couch, watching Taemin as he tries to get the TV to work.
“Piece of shit,” the younger boy grumbles exasperatedly, slamming his hand against the side of the television.
“Taemin, of course the TV’s not working, what are you thinking?” Jinki offers, smiling over at his futile efforts.
Taemin doesn’t smile back, though, and after trying for a few more minutes kicks the side of the television angrily, causing it to teetering dangerously to the side.
Jinki lunges, grabbing its side and putting it back into its place. ”Woah! Woah, calm down. Do you have to watch TV right now?”
“I don’t have to watch it, Jinki. I was just trying to see if I could fix it. Jesus,” Taemin snaps, flopping himself down onto the couch beside Jinki.
Jinki slowly looks up at him from where he holds the TV in place, then opens his mouth to say something but he’s at a loss for words.
Taemin’s eyes suddenly soften and he gets off the couch, walking to Jinki and putting his hands against the sides of his face. “Oh God, I’m so sorry. I’m such a prick, I’m sorry, Jinki, I’m just in a bad mood today,” he says, kissing his nose.
Jinki smiles and sits back down in his spot, pulling Taemin to sit next to him. “Don’t worry about it.”
Day nine: night –
“Hey, Taemin, can you come here for a sec?” Jinki calls from the bedroom.
Taemin excuses himself from the card-game with Jonghyun and walks to the room, chewing at a mouthful of chips. “Yeah?”
“Did you move the money I put in this jar?”
Taemin swallows the chips and shakes his head. “No, I didn’t even know you put money there.”
Jinki shakes his head. “Well I did, and now it’s gone. Are you sure?”
Taemin smiles and walks towards him. “Of course I’m sure, Jinki. Maybe it’s somewhere e-“
“No, no it’s not. I looked everywhere in this room. It’s not here,” he says loudly, standing up walking up to the window, watching the condensation.
Taemin picks at the corner of his teeth while thinking. “Well, I don’t know, Jinki. We’ll find it later, relax, come to the kitchen and play some cards.”
“Taemin, I put two-hundred dollars in there. I can’t just relax!”
“Well, I don’t know what else to s-“
Jinki mumbles something under his breath and Taemin leans in. “What?”
“I said ‘maybe I should ask Jonghyun’.”
Taemin looks back at the doorway, then walks forward, closing the door and grabbing Jinki’s hand. “Jinki. Look at me. Come on, don’t be like that.”
Jinki shakes his hand off and leans in, whispering towards Taemin’s ear. “Taemin, there’s three of us here. If we brought it, and you didn’t take it, then who else would have taken it?”
The younger boy groans and walks backwards, grabbing at his head. “Jinki we have other things to worry about, mainly getting out of here. Why don’t we worry about the money later?”
“Doesn’t it bother you, though,” Jinki starts, his voice rising, “That our stuff is starting to disappear ever since he got here?”
Taemin laughs. “Our stuff! It’s just one incident!”
Jinki grabs the jar from the table. “Yeah well it’s one big incident!”
The younger boy reaches out and snatches the jar, throwing it against the wall. The lid breaks off and falls to the ground. “Just fucking forget it for a while!”
Jinki’s eyes grow dark and he walks towards Taemin, grabbing his arm and twisting it painfully, pushing him against the opposite wall. “I’m tired of you talking to me like that.”
Taemin’s eyes go so wide Jinki thinks they might fall from their sockets, and suddenly he lets go, backing away and staring down at his own hands. His lips are quivering.
Taemin stands against the wall, breathing hard and clutching the side of his arm where Jinki grabbed it. It’s beginning to bruise.
Jinki steps towards him again. “Taemin...”
“Don’t touch me.”
“Taemin, I’m sorry, I’m really, really sorry. I’ve never done something like that, I just, Taemin I don’t trust him.”
The younger boy looks up at him. “I think he was right, Jinki.”
“About it being a symptom. I think you have it.”
Jinki groans and grabs at his own face. “You think I have ‘cabin-fever’ because I got a little angry? You nearly kicked over the TV the other day!”
There’s a rapping at the door and they both look towards it. “Are you guys okay in there?”
Jinki straightens up. “Yeah, just give us a few mi-“
“No, can you come in here please?” Taemin asks, standing against the wall and ignoring Jinki’s flabbergasted look.
The doorknob turns slowly and Jonghyun enters, holding a glass of water. “I, uh, heard something crash.”
“Jonghyun,” Taemin starts, looking at him calmly, “Jinki here seems to think that you took the money he put in that jar,” he says, pointing at the broken jar on the floor.
Jinki’s staring at Taemin with a hurt expression in his eyes and his shoulders cave in slowly in defeat. “Jonghyun, I don’t want to accuse you of anything, I just said I wanted to ask you if you knew what happened to the money I put in there, since Taemin and I have no idea.”
Jonghyun looks from Taemin to Jinki and shrugs his shoulders. “No, Jinki, I didn’t take the money from that jar. I don’t know where it is.”
Jinki smiles and nods. “Okay, thanks. That’s all.”
“Listen, if you guys are starting to get mad at each other, maybe you should separate yourselves for a while-“
“I said ‘thanks, that’s all’.” Jinki repeats with more force, and Jonghyun let’s a terrible sigh, as though he’s convinced of the darkest concept in the world. He turns on his heel and walks out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Jinki walks next to the younger boy and extends a hand, rubbing the side of his cheek. “Taeminnie.”
Taemin looks up, glaring. “You hit me.”
Jinki looks scandalized. “I didn’t hit you! I just, I used more force than I should have, I’m really sorry,” he says, peering down into his eyes, trying to communicate his sincere melancholy.
Taemin shakes his head. “The whole reason I liked you in the first place, hyung, was because you never did stuff like that. You never ‘lost your cool’. What are you doing now, then? Are you still going to try and convince me Jonghyun wasn’t right about that fever?”
Jinki stares at him and contemplates the words he’s going to pick in his head. Finally he closes his eyes and nods slowly. “You’re right. I would never, and I will never do anything like that again. And, yeah, maybe what Jonghyun said might have, I don’t know, had a strain of truth to it.”
Taemin turns his large eyes towards Jinki’s face, studying his features for a while. “We’re going crazy,” he whispers.
Jinki shakes his head. “No, we’re not, don’t worry. We’re just stressed,” he offers a smile, but his lips are chapped, so it splits where it had the first time in front of his car before they left on the trip, and a trickle of blood makes its way down his chin. This time, though, it’s not as endearing as it had been before. Taemin thinks it’s horrifying, even, so he looks away.
Day eighteen- night:
Taemin wakes up in the middle of the night, grabbing at Jinki’s shoulder. “Do you hear that?”
Jinki groans and rolls over onto his back. “Oh God, not again.”
Taemin shushes him then raises a finger, making him listen. “That.”
There’s a loud creaking coming from down the hall- from Jonghyun’s room.
Jinki sits up immediately, straining, then slips out of the bed, grabbing the flashlight from the table.
Taemin reaches into the other cupboard and pulls out the knife Jinki brought, holding it up against the glare of the flashlight, and Jinki frowns at him. “Why are you bringing that?”
“I don’t know.”
They make their way down the hallway up to Jonghyun’s door and Jinki knocks softly. “Jonghyun?”
There’s no answer.
He looks at Taemin then extends his fist out again, knocking loudly, three times.
Still there’s no answer.
Taemin reaches forwards this time and turns the doorknob slightly, pushing it forward, and the two of them walk in. The room is empty, but the light in the bathroom is on and Taemin immediately recoils against the wall. “Oh God. Oh God.”
Jinki puts a hand on his shoulder, holding him back. “Shh, it’s okay. Wait there.”
Taemin shakes his head and pushes forward, following him to the door. Jinki steps over the clothes on the ground and presses his head against the bathroom door. The water is running.
There’s no reply, only the gurgling of bathwater and the sound of Jinki and Taemin’s heavy breathing.
Jinki turns the handle and pushes the door open quickly. The first thing he registers is the color red, glaring and everywhere, all over the ground, all over the sink, all over the floor. The next thing he notices is Taemin kneeling in the blood, screaming and pulling what looks like a lifeless Jonghyun out of the bathtub and onto the floor. He’s yelling at him to help, and Jinki’s looking into Taemin’s eyes, but it’s as if he’s frozen and he can’t move. He assumes he’s in shock.
When he finally comes too, he drops the flashlight and falls to his knees, crawling towards the bloody boys, reaching behind him and taking off his shirt, pushing it against Jonghyun’s neck, where the blood seems to be pouring from.
He’s awake, his eyes are open and his mouth moves soundlessly, as though he wants to say something, but he can’t.
Taemin’s yelling at this point and rocking the boy back and forth. Jinki sees this and snaps out of his haze. “Let’s take him back to the bed, help me lift him up.”
The two of them manage to get him to the bed, placing him on it, and Taemin runs into the other room, searching for the first-aid-kit.
Jinki holds the shirt against Jonghyun’s neck, staring down into his dark eyes. “Why...why did you even do that?” he sobs, while he holds the t-shirt there.
Jonghyun lets out a breath and tries to cough, blood beginning to pour from the side of his mouth.
Taemin runs into the room and puts the kit on the bed, unclasping the lid and reaching in for the long tape of gauze, flinging it towards Jinki who holds one end with his teeth and brings the roll down to bring under the boy’s neck, wrapping it around and quickly removing the bloodied t-shirt.
“Is he dying?” Taemin asks, watching Jinki wrap the tape of gauze around Jonghyun’s neck numerous times.
Jinki shakes his head. “No, he’s breathing regularly, meaning he didn’t cut anything vital. His bleeding is slowing down too, I think.”
Jonghyun’s eyes are flickering and tears are pouring out of their sides.
Taemin is still standing at the foot of the bed, panting.
“Jonghyun, why did you do that?” Jinki questions again, his hand pushing back the boy’s bloody bangs, his voice tender.
“I’d rather...” he starts, then takes a few breaths to calm down his shaking, “I’d rather do it myself...than h-have one of you-“
“But why would you even think that we’d do something like this to you?!” Jinki yells, gripping at the sheets.
Jonghyun raises his hand and points at the foot of the bed where Taemin stands, looking puzzled and positively terrified.
“What are you saying, Jonghyun?” Jinki asks, watching Taemin.
“He came into my room last night,” he breathes, then coughs, causing more blood to pour from his wound.
Jinki grabs at more gauze and presses it against his neck. “You went into his room last night?”
Taemin shakes. “No!”
“He did,” Jonghyun struggles again, “And he came up, with his pillow, he was holding it up. He was g-going to smother me...”
Jinki’s eyes bore holes through Taemin while he stands at the bed.
Taemin shakes his head. “He’s lying, Jinki. You’re lying!”
Jinki stares at him for a few more moments then looks back down at Jonghyun. “It’s okay, you’re okay. Just breath through your nose for a bit.”
“Jinki, he’s lying.”
“Okay, Taeminnie, we’ll talk about this later.”
Taemin shouts and throws the knife against the wall. “You don’t believe me! He’s lying, Jinki!”
Jonghyun shakes his head slowly, wincing through the pain. “I’m not l-lying, why would I lie about why I tried to kill myself.”
Jinki stands back, putting out his hands while he walks towards Taemin, offering him a weak smile. “I believe you, and I believe him. I believe both of you.”
Taemin shakes his head. “How is that possible?”
Jinki sighs and looks at Jonghyun. “Cabin-fever can cause, uh, momentary lapses in perception. It can make people hysterical, and just, I don’t know, it can take them over so they don’t remember what’s going on,” he stutters nervously, trying not to make eye-contact with Taemin.
Taemin looks down at the bed where Jonghyun lies, staring at the ceiling, one hand against his chest as if trying to make sure he’s still alive. “So I...tried to kill him?”
Jinki shakes his head. “I don’t know. But I’m saying, it’s possible, if that’s what’s really happening to us.”
Jonghyun makes a noise and Jinki runs back to him. “Just breathe.”
“You should have left me in there.”
Jinki shakes his head. “We’re in this together, we’ll protect each other.”
Taemin lets out of sob from the side of the room and slides down the wall, his face in his hands. “How can we protect each other if we secretly want to kill each other?”
Jinki looks down at him. “We’ll sleep in separate rooms, all of us. Well find a way to keep our doors shut. One of can sleep in the living room. It’ll be okay.”
Taemin points at Jonghyun. “What about him? He can’t sleep alone.”
“I’ll stay with him.”
Jonghyun mumbles something and Jinki looks down. “What?”
“You’ll kill me.”
“You’re just going to have to try to trust me.”
Day twenty-five- morning:
Jonghyun’s wounds are looking better at this point, and he’s able to sit up and even walk to the washroom when he uses support.
The overall sense of dread within the cabin, however, doesn’t fade in the least. Rather, it grows exponentially as the days go on. There are claw marks on each others’ doors.
“Taemin, can you pass me the butter knife?”
Taemin looks up at Jinki. “Why?”
“Why- I want to cut my toast,” he says, staring at him levelly.
“Are you sure?”
Jinki breathes and reaches out to take the knife. “Yes, I’m sure, Taemin. Do you even need to ask me?”
Jinki’s cheerful demeanour from the beginning of the month has faded significantly, and Taemin doesn’t even dare try going close to him or kissing him. He seems like an entirely different person, and Taemin hates it. Hates it so much, in fact, that he almost feels repulsed looking at him. It’s as though he’s a stranger.
Jinki, who is experiencing similar feelings about Taemin, makes no move to fix the situation, and instead falls deeper into his hole, thinking maybe if he stays away the anger he feels towards him will fade. But it doesn’t.
Jonghyun has retreated within himself since he tried to take his own life. It’s as though the drive to live has been sucked away from him, and all that remains is a shell. He simply doesn’t care anymore, whether or not he’ll survive or whether he’ll die at the hands of the people he now shares breakfast with. He has given up.
When they finish their breakfast in silence, Taemin stands up and walks towards the windows. He stares for a few moments then suddenly yells out. “Guys! Come here!”
Jinki rolls his eyes and stands up, immediately peeved. “What is it?”
“I think the snow melted a whole bunch, here, look,” he says before stepping aside, allowing Jinki to clasp his fingers around the handle and push the window open with a squeak. There’s no snow stuck against the windows: it’s all below the sill.
“We can try getting through it.”
Jonghyun stands up. “What?”
Jinki turns away from the window and runs into his room, stuffing himself into his heavy snow clothing. He grabs Taemin’s hat and jacket and tosses it at him. “Here, put these on.”
Taemin stares at the articles of clothing in his hand then looks back at Jonghyun who’s beginning to put on his snow-pants. “Why?” he asks, looking at them.
“Why?” Jinki asks back, frustrated, “Because we’re going to get out of here, Taemin. We’re going to get through the snow. It’s low enough to see over and soft enough to dig through.”
“How do you know?”
“I don’t know!” Jinki yells, looking at him dangerously, “I’m guessing! I don’t know!”
Taemin backs away and begins to put the clothing on. After a few minutes they stand at the door and Jinki reaches into his bag to take out a long rope.
“Here, we’ll rap this around our waists, linking each other, so we don’t get lost. Taemin, you stay behind me, Jonghyun can be behind you,” Jinki says, sniffling in the cold of the open window.
Taemin looks up at him. “Jinki?”
“I love you.”
Jinki looks up while putting on his hat and stops, staring into the younger boy’s eyes. He feels warmness in the pit of his stomach, melting away at whatever disease resides there. He steps forward and places his hand against Taemin’s cheek, leaning in to kiss him on the nose, as they always did. “I love you, too.”
Jonghyun smiles from beneath his large scarf. “I don’t doubt it. You managed to survive this long somehow.”
Jinki looks back at him and shrugs. “Dozens of fights and one suicide-attempt later, here we are,” he grins for the first time in twenty days and suddenly it’s as though everything’s back to normal- and they’re not even out of the cabin yet.
The first few meters of snow aren’t difficult to sift through, slightly tiring because of their large bags, but other than that they’re able to use them accordingly: to push the snow to their sides rather than forward.
Jinki peers over the top of the snow. “I think I see our car. A meter or two left.”
They grunt and shove past the mounds of snow, pausing every now and then for Jonghyun to catch his breath. Finally, Jinki breaks through the final block of snow and walks through the lowering rolls of white, towards of grass, wading through the ice. He gets to the green and falls down as though he’s won a war. He sobs against the blades of grass and Taemin falls next to him, panting.
Jonghyun stands at the end of the tower of snow, staring up at the sun, smiling. “I can’t fucking believe I’m alive.”
Jinki looks up at him. “Thanks to us.”
Jonghyun frowns and points at them. “Need I remind you why I tried doing this to myself in the first place?”
“Thanks to me,” Taemin says shyly from next to Jinki, and even though he’s admitting his apparent guilt in a murder-attempt, Jinki thinks it’s the most adorable thing he’s heard and he grabs his sides, pulling him close against the grass, looking into his eyes, then reaching up and pulling his tuque over his eyes, kissing him on the lips.
Day twenty-five- afternoon:
The car takes a long time to start up, but they don’t care at this point. They’re willing to sit in there for hours and hours, so long as they have the expanse of air around them.
The car ride is mostly silent, save for the occasional joke or snoring. There was one incident, too, where Jinki had reached into his pocket to find his gloves and pulled out a wad of bills.
He held the money in his hand then looked over at Taemin, who peered back at Jonghyun, who slept soundly. Jinki decided not to say anything; he felt too guilty.
When they get to where Jonghyun says his house is, he thanks them dozens of times, reaching inside and trying to hug them through the windows.
Jinki laughs and pats him on the shoulder. “It was, uh, nice meeting you?”
Jonghyun laughs, holding up his hand. “Save it.”
He smiles at them as they drive off, then turns towards his house, ready for the shrieks and kisses from when his family sees him at their doorstep, months after his disappearance. He adjusts the scarf, hiding his neck, and walks up to the door.
Jinki and Taemin decide to never talk about their experience in the cabin. It’s hard, because sometimes Taemin might remember something that reminds him of the cabin and attempt to speak, but memories of the pact he made with Jinki pass through his eyes and he shrinks away in silence.
Living together is almost exactly as it had been before. Almost.
There are times when Jinki, during an argument with Taemin over anything, might feel a violence growing in the pit of his stomach. A dark sensation growing at the sides of his stomach and crawling up behind his eyes, making them sting. But it passes soon enough.
There are times when Taemin might be angry with Jinki over a specific issue and find himself staring at large objects, wondering how heavy they would be to pick up and throw. The feelings disappear though, faster than they had appeared.
But they’re still there, the feelings, waiting patiently to make themselves known, to assure them that things can never truly go back to how they were before.
Jinki and Taemin are aware of the existence of these feelings- they simply try to ignore them.