Authors: sypherus_xiii and gambino
Rating: R. Some violence.
Summary: Escape the past to run to the future. 8,700+ words.
Disclaimer: This fiction was created for our own personal perverse desires in which we decided to share it with the rest of the world. It can also be more appropriately dubbed Murder Boyfriends. You've been warned.
part i. || part ii. || part iii. || part iv. || part v. || part vi. || part vii. || part viii.
a/n: Thank you for all of the love and support! Everyone seemed interested in a bonus chapter of Hakyeon's past, so I'll have to put that together. But for now, enjoy this. ^^
This is the heaviest thing they've done yet. He has to have Hakyeon drive over there, mumbling out directions every so often because he knows that he can't possibly safely drive them there. Throughout a large portion of the trip, his hand is gripped tightly around one of Hakyeon's, just needing to constantly feel his presence--to know that he's there with him.
It almost feels spiritual, to think that he's going to kill this ghost and get rid of this presence that's loomed over him his entire life and been at the back of every thought, every action, he's ever done. He knows everything won't change for him. He's not deluded into thinking that just because his father dies that it'll undo everything that's happened, but he knows it'll help. It has to. With Hakyeon now in his life, he can't continue to live in fear of anything. He needs to be fearless to protect him.
The car slows to a stop and Taekwoon is faced with a building he hasn't seen in years. The house is a larger one, clearly showing off the size his family had been and the wealth his father had attained in his life. Just looking at the building brings memories flooding back to him--childhood all the way up until the day he'd left in the middle of the night, looking back only once with an apologetic heart towards his sisters for everything he couldn't do while they'd been trapped there in it with him.
He lets go of Hakyeon's hand and looks down at his lap. He'd insisted on a gun. If Taekwoon had to do anything more intimate like stab him, he's not sure he could go through with it. Even though his father is older by now, there's still a fear that he'd overpower him, that he wouldn't be able to do what he needs to do. He lets his gloved fingers run over the metal barrel of the gun and then looks back to Hakyeon, silently telling him that he's ready for this.
Seeing how high strung Taekwoon had been all today reinforces the idea that this is the right thing to do. His father has such a tight hold on him still that Hakyeon wants to see it released also. And although they plan to make it quick and simple with the gun, Hakyeon knows there's still risks involved. They chose a time in the night that Taekwoon claims in the past, his father would stay up watching the television, maybe fall asleep on the couch, while his mother was upstairs in the bedroom.
To procure as much discreetness as needed, Hakyeon had fastened a silencer on the gun and gave Taekwoon a mini lesson on how to breathe properly when he fires it. Most people make the mistake of holding their breath and gripping too tight that the aim is off. Not to mention he had to use his underground connections to retrieve a gun for this one time use. Hakyeon learned to never use the same gun, for that can leave trails for the police to follow.
Seeing as Taekwoon's ready, he nods and unstraps himself from the driver's seat and exits the car. Hakyeon has to bring a small bag that hangs from his shoulder for precautions in case Plan A doesn't work. It's certainly a nice area where all of the houses have fences and yards. Heading up to the house, they have to climb the fence but it's not very difficult to do so. They don't want the sound of the gate opening to draw attention.
It's through the backdoor they enter, though. It's not locked which isn't a surprise in the nicer neighborhoods. People here believe burglars are worlds apart from them to even venture into the area.
It feels so strange to him to be sneaking into a place that was once supposed to be his home. Taekwoon thinks about kids who sneak into their homes after a night of staying out past curfew, about how the only fear they have is that they'll be yelled at and grounded, maybe a light smack to the back of the head. Taekwoon wonders what normal childhood fear felt like. He wonders how well a person can live only having known things like that.
Stopping in the kitchen, Hakyeon peers at Taekwoon and he notices right away he is too stiff. Silently stepping in front of him, Hakyeon brings both of his gloved hands to Taekwoon’s head, the soft vinyl brushing over his temples and raking back through his air. He’s coaxing Taekwoon to gaze him right in the eye. He does this until Taekwoon gives him a sign that he's ready again.
When they're inside the home, it seizes him with a deep fear: the smell of the cleaners his mother uses, of the air fresheners she keeps, of the food she cooks all hit him at once and it sends him reeling back into memories. The dichotomy of growing up with a mother who cared as much as any mother would, but turned a blind eye to everything his father did to them and the unrelenting viciousness with which his father raised him, culminate into a mix of confusing feelings that he can't work out fast enough.
But then there's Hakyeon. Stepping in front of him and doing so well to calm him down with only this look. It reminds him that this place is his past and this man is his future and in his future, no one is going to hurt him. Hakyeon would never hurt him.
With a slow nod of his head, they continue on. Taekwoon takes the initiative to lead Hakyeon through the house that he still knows like he'd never left it. They finally come upon the living room, the room illuminated by the blue light the television gives off. He can see the back of his father's head from behind the couch. His heart is racing. He raises an arm to stop Hakyeon from progressing further. He wants to do this on his own, as much as he possibly can.
Hakyeon understands this is Taekwoon's moment to liberate himself. He's here for moral support and backup, so he slides his bag off his shoulder and kneels down. As he's watching from the hallway right by the staircase, crept down in the shadows to watch the scene unfold before him, it's in this moment that Hakyeon can see the true dire need in Taekwoons gaze.
The glow plays along Taekwoon's features, and Hakyeon doesn't even look at his father for he's too captivated by the one holding the gun. Is this a perverse attraction in him? To be confounded and awed by the sudden resolution he sees? Or is it just him about to witness a beautiful blessing, to see a person he truly cares about taking their steps towards making a better life for themselves by eliminating the source of their problem.
Taekwoon’s steps into the living room are careful and when he's finally close enough that they can be heard, his father turns around. It's in that instant that Taekwoon raises his hands, gun held securely in them both, raised straight at the man's head.
Shock is the expression on his father's face and it does little to move Taekwoon. The man's voice is stern, deep, when he finally speaks. "Taekwoon." He greets his son first and just hearing him say his name after all these years has him tensing more, has him gripping the gun in the exact way Hakyeon had told him not to.
When his father opens his mouth to say something more, Taekwoon quickly shuts that down. "Don't." His tone is more confident than it's ever been, though it shakes with emotion.
"I didn't come here to talk,” he tells his father, making a small motion with the gun to draw attention back down to it again. "I'm only here to do what I should have done years ago." It's a lot of talking for him, but once he starts, he finds it impossible to stop himself, speaking before his father can every time. "You took away everything from me. I didn't have friends. I didn't do things I enjoyed. You drove my sisters away--do you even care that you haven't seen them in years? Or were they like me, father? Too disappointing to even look at."
He feels like he has to tell him all of these things, that just killing him without letting him know that he tore apart any chance of him having led a normal life would have been utterly meaningless. He intends to tell him more but when his father is actually--finally--moving, fear strikes him hard.
His father starts to speak and this time, Taekwoon can't interrupt him. He's a small boy again, quaking under the presence of his larger-than-life father. He tells him that it's his fault for being such a useless piece of shit. That all he'd ever done is try to provide the best life for him and his equally thankless sisters. That everything he did was to make Taekwoon a stronger man--a better man. He tells him that there's no way he could shoot him, that he's never been man enough to do something so bold. He's almost on him and when he's only feet away from him, the fear gives way to preservation instincts and he fires the gun.
The first shot goes in to his belly. The second and third ones too. After that he stops focusing on where the shots land. It's hard to see through the tears that have started to freely pour from his eyes. His own screaming sounds distant to him and he feels like he isn't inhabiting his body anymore. He's lost all sense of the world around him as he fires shot after shot after shot. He's emptied almost half the magazine into his father's body and the floor where it now lands. He hears the soft voice of a woman coming from the opposite side of the living room.
His head whips up, eyes locking on the face of his mother and they go wide. Without even thinking about it, he points the gun at her. He's never thought he hated her before but seeing her stand there, tears in her eyes over the man he'd just murdered and he thinks in that moment that she's just as terrible for letting all of this go on for years--that he could really kill her too.
Hakyeon stands immediately when he hears the bullets continually slicing through the barrel, the silencer, the air, and then into flesh, about to take a step forward but he's suddenly lowering back down when there's movement to his side. He sees the woman creeping down the stairs, can see her house shoes nearly falter on the steps. She doesn't notice him practically right below her and he doesn't blame her for staring only at the scene at hand.
With his attention shifting quickly back to Taekwoon who's now pointing the gun at her, Hakyeon knows what he needs to do and he reaches into his bag to grab something, slipping it into his pocket for a moment as he circles outwards and approaches Taekwoon from the side.
"Taekwoon," he does it slowly, sparing only one glance at the lifeless frame on the floor. This man looks nothing like Taekwoon, and it's only when Hakyeon's hand extends upwards, clamping firmly onto Taekwoon’s shoulder, that he stares ahead to the staircase to the woman standing there. Ah...he looks like his mother.
"Taekwoon," he repeats, fingers squeezing harder and he leans in, pressing himself against Taekwoon’s side to whisper, "We're not here to kill her. She's also a victim. You might've not heard it all, but think of how terrible your father was to you, how his words made you believe things you shouldn't have. He could've fed the exact same toxin to her until she came to believe it as well. Let her live, so she can start to move on from his treachery."
All the while, his hand is inching from Taekwoon's shoulder, down his upper arm, making his way to his wrist. He doesn't forcefully lower his hands, he just adds weight to them, his thumb stroking along his wrist to let Taekwoon make the decision.
When he feels Hakyeon's presence at his side, it snaps him out of the intense rage he'd been worked in to. His hand tightens around the gun momentarily, knuckles going white from the pressure but when he feels Hakyeon’s hand trying to weigh his own down, the gentle thumb brushing over his wrist, it makes it easier to believe the words that he says. His mother is quiet save for the whimper of a cry that she's obviously trying to hold in and Taekwoon can no longer look at her. Thinking about how she may have been just as damaged by his father as he and his sisters were is something he'd never let himself do before. His father had always treated her with a kindness none of them had ever seen. Maybe that was just in front of them.
He loosens his hold on the gun and presses it into Hakyeon's hand. He can't look at the body of his father or Hakyeon either. There's something strange that's flooding through him then. He thought he'd feel relief from killing him but in this moment, he doesn't feel very free.
"I'm going to the car." His voice is quiet, flat, the same neutral tone he'd used so often when speaking to a coworker. All he can do is turn away, stomach flipping when he has to step over the body to make it to the front door and leave the house.
He doesn't run to the car. He doesn't even walk very fast. The whole world feels like it's in slow motion. He feels like his head is full of fog. It hurts. His hands hurt from the grip he'd had on the gun. He notices spatters of blood on his clothes when he steps under a streetlamp.
Those words, they somehow sting. And all Hakyeon can do is stand there and watch Taekwoon's back as there's this foreign wrenching in his heart. He hears the sobs from Taekwoon's mother but he ignores her until he no longer can see Taekwoon. How he did this years ago when discovering Hakyeon covered in blood in a dark kitchen--he has no idea for he's far from calm and collected when all he can think about is Taekwoon's current state. Then the obvious conclusion pops up--Inguk never saw Hakyeon as a real human that was deeply implanted in his life already.
So he must do this for Taekwoon. Hakyeon lowers the gun after setting the safety back on, his other hand showing its palm to her to display he's not going to hurt her. He knows she's too in shock to move anyway. As he's close enough, it's all too easy to sweep in with one motion, his free hand taking out the bag from earlier and it's with an easy open zip that he's pressing a cloth inside against her nose and mouth. The chloroform makes her unconscious moments later and he has to buy them time.
The situation is sinking in and with an eye witness, he knows their travel date two days from now is being pushed to--well as soon as possible. Carrying Taekwoon's mother up the stairs back to her bedroom, he places her on the bed and as he's injecting a small needle into her neck, to buy them just a few more hours, he's whispering words to her.
Maybe he's silly for telling her how much Taekwoon's grown and how if she ever came to believe the lies his father spread, that they're not true. Taekwoon's smart, he's capable, he's kind, he's strong, he's loyal, he's worthy, he's everything Hakyeon needs in a partner that he's never thought existed until he met him.
As he's standing up from the edge of the bed, it takes all of Hakyeon's efforts to not pull the gun free from the back of his pants and to set it in her hand. It'd be so easy to frame the murder on her, a frustrated wife with a verbally abusive husband--but he doesn't do it for Taekwoon's sake. There's a difference in selfish gains, and selfless sacrifices. If Hakyeon's going to be different from him, he needs to resist the temptation.
Soon after, he's pulling the car door open and slipping in, dropping his bag into the backseat. "We have maybe...three or four hours?" Starting the engine, he hopes Taekwoon knows what he means but in case he doesn't, "To board a plane."
Bringing his gaze to Taekwoon, it hurts too much to stare for long so he looks away, gearing the car into motion.
After Taekwoon sat in the car, he didn't notice the passing of time. He was in another world at that point, somewhere so far away from where he is now that it didn't matter what was happening around him. The sound of the car door opening and closing sounds like it's a hundred miles away and when Hakyeon speaks, all he can do is make the vaguest sort of noise to show that he's at least heard him.
This doesn't feel anything like the numb he'd felt after killing Wonshik. While both killings were something he saw as necessary, it's an entirely different feeling to know he'd just killed his father--someone who was blood related to him. His own mind works against him, trying to find justifiable reasons now for why he'd treated him the way he had and how it shouldn't have ever come to this.
It strikes him suddenly that he needs to talk to someone in particular. He fumbles into the pockets of his jeans, tearing a glove off to be able to use the touch screen phone. He finds the contact instantly and when he taps it, he brings it to his ear.
"Taekwoon?" His eldest sister's voice floods his ear when she answers the phone. He can hear a baby crying in the background and a man's voice speaking in English he doesn't fully understand. His sister responds to the question and he understands the 'My Brother' part of it at least. Before she can ask how he is or anything like that, he just suddenly blurts it all out.
"I did it." He tells her quietly and of course, there's moments of silence before she asks what 'it' is. He hesitates on how to put it but the words come out before he can stop them. "I'm sorry it took me so long, but he's gone. You don't have to worry about him anymore." He can hear her breathing on the other end of the phone and then after that, the line goes dead. He doesn't know what reaction he was expecting but it still hits him hard.
His phone doesn't matter anymore and so he just lets it drop from his hand to the floor of the car. Taekwoon looks to Hakyeon and it all crashes into him at once that this is his family now. Hakyeon is the only person in this world that he'll have.
Hakyeon knows who Taekwoon so suddenly calls the moment he speaks. When the phone is abandoned on the floor carelessly, he begins to think maybe Taekwoon now doesn't have any cares in the world. It sends this insecure fear into him, thinking that now that Taekwoon's done this, maybe something in him snapped to the point where he won't even see a need in Hakyeon anymore.
When the car comes at a stop in his building's parking garage, Taekwoon doesn't even wait for Hakyeon to shut off the car before he's reaching over, hands at his shoulders to tug him in.
"Thank you," he whispers before he's sealing his lips over his, just needing to feel something so badly in this moment.
Needing this as well, Hakyeon parts his lips evenly against Taekwoon's and lets their mouths relish in the firm but pliant union. He doesn't pull back first because he wants Taekwoon to decide, to fill himself with the intimate contact to ease the ache.
When Hakyeon's lips part, it's the first time Taekwoon thinks that he really feels something since he's left his house. It keeps his mind here in the present, on Hakyeon where it should be. He can't change now what he's done but he can keep living in this world for Hakyeon's sake. For a long time, the only people who mattered to him in this world were his sisters, but now he has someone to fill that gap--to fill his heart.
When he pulls back from the kiss, he stays close for just a moment to really look at Hakyeon and appreciate that his presence is there and real. There's words in his heart but he isn't healed enough to say them yet and so he pulls himself away completely, getting out of the car.
Normally not one for any sort of public affection, Taekwoon finds that he doesn't care now. As they walk into his building, he's gripping tightly to Hakyeon's hand, holding it as they walk. There's such a sense that the world at large doesn't matter to him anymore. They're their own world.
But it's not until they've stepped inside his apartment and taken their shoes off that he's wrapping his arms around Hakyeon and pressing his face against the side of his neck. He breathes in deep and it makes his heart clench because this is what home actually smells like.
As his neck tingles with the press of Taekwoon's face, Hakyeon sighs out audibly, slowly bringing his arms around his slumping frame. "Taekwoon..." he speaks, because he's sure there'll never be another chance to say this, hands curving up to form against Taekwoon's shoulder bones, "don't ever forget the words he said to you. Instead...remember them and use them to prove him wrong. Show how great you've become and how much greater you will be. Not for him...but for yourself. And...for me." Turning his head, the tip of his nose runs along soft hairs and the shell of Taekwoon's ear.
Hakyeon doesn't care if time is ticking down, for this is more important. He refuses to lose any part of Taekwoon after tonight and instead wants to gain more of him. The part that was always tied down by his father--Hakyeon wants to take that part too and transform it into something better.
Having no idea what to say in the face of words like that all Taekwoon can do is nod. He's never felt necessarily good about himself or anything he's done, but there's a definite feeling now as he stands there letting Hakyeon's words crash over him, that he's done something good--that they've done something good, that they'll keep doing good things.
He pulls back and nods again at Hakyeon before he's asking him, "Will you help me pack?"
He knows he has to travel lightly and that isn't a problem for him. There aren't many things that have sentimental value for him and then it strikes him. "Hazelnut..." He looks to Hakyeon with obvious worry on his face. The thought of leaving behind his cat, of letting some stranger take her in, it terrifies him. She was his only true friend before he met Hakyeon. "I can't leave her here..."
With his arms loosely around Taekwoon, Hakyeon doesn't want to let go but his arms eventually drop to his sides after a last cling to Taekwoon’s shirt. A laugh pours from him, and Hakyeon confidently says, "I have that taken care of." Hakyeon's already prepared things for Taekwoon as well, items he'll show him when they go to his apartment. "For now, just pack at least for a week. It'll take a bit of time to settle in." Starting to usher Taekwoon towards his room now, Hakyeon sees the cat greet them and follow them into the bedroom.
From there, Taekwoon takes out a small suitcase and Hakyeon hurries to his bathroom. Looking in the cabinets, he wonders how often Taekwoon travels in general or if he's ever left the country. Finding a bag he can use to put his toiletries in, Hakyeon's grabbing whatever Taekwoon will need, leaving the common essentials out. It's the cologne he pauses to inhale, smiling to himself and glad Taekwoon can't see him right now indulging in his scent. Once he heads out of the bathroom again, he sees Taekwoon has packed half the bag already and Hakyeon neatly stuffs the toiletry bag within as well.
"I'll go get a few things for Hazelnut. Her food's...in the lower cabinet by the fridge right?" He remembers Taekwoon searching in there when he needed to feed her.
Getting the nod of affirmation, Hakyeon's out in the kitchen, filling up a ziploc bag with as much dry food as he thinks will last the length of the flight and a day. And he also grabs a couple cans of food, and--"Oh!" he hurries to where Hazelnut's sleeping bed is and he takes one of the toys. Back in the bedroom, Hakyeon's watching Taekwoon as he makes sure the items he puts in the suitcase are neatly packed inside (it's a habit from moving so often).
It's all overwhelming but in the best way possible. Hakyeon going through this effort, especially with getting things prepared for his cat, is all proof of how much Hakyeon truly cares about him and wants him there beside him. Any small doubt that had been in his mind has now been torn apart. This is certainly the place where he belongs, right beside Hakyeon.
He lets him rush around and help him pack in whatever way he can. At some point he's taken it upon himself to change out of the dirty clothes he'd been in and into a fresh lavender button up and a pair of black jeans. He feels overcome by emotion and at the same time, very at peace.
Hakyeon’s eyes trail over and he spots the photo frame on the nightstand. Stepping over to pick it up, his thumb runs over the face of the boy in the center and he remembers the phone call from earlier. Has Taekwoon always had a need to protect someone? Was this final act of his father him protecting his sisters?
"Here." He finally turns and steps over to the end of the bed where the open suitcase is, his hand extending with the frame in it. "Don't forget this. And...your things at the office...I didn't tell you but everything's already been removed. With a letter of resignation, too. I thought you'd prefer to resign from your job than to be considered fired or have been truant."
When Hakyeon hands him the frame, Taekwoon's eyes widen just slightly as he looks down at it. He stares at the image of his sisters smiling and then turns it over, opening the back of it and pulling out the picture. He unfolds it, revealing that it's his father and mother who had been standing behind them that were hidden and he very carefully starts to tear along that edge. There's no reason to keep an image of them anymore. He no longer feels like he has to.
With the picture stuck back in the frame, he sets it carefully into his suitcase. Hakyeon tells him about work and he smiles a little because that is so the kind of thing he'd consider, something that Taekwoon hadn't even thought about doing. He was just under the assumption they were quickly getting out of there and abandoning everything.
After zipping his bag up, he moves the suitcase to the floor and goes to his closet, retrieving the car carrier he keeps in there. "Let's go," he says quietly, but with a definite sureness.
Seeing the picture had another two hidden participants, knowing that Taekwoon's able to rip them out now, Hakyeon feels confident that he won't be waking tomorrow on the airplane with regret. As Hazelnut slips into the car carrier, Hakyeon leads the way to the door. At the entryway, he pauses and tells Taekwoon, "Say a last goodbye."
His own eyes sweep over the area, random memories popping up like the night he spilled the wine when Taekwoon cooked him dinner--or even the more casual times of after work where he'd force Taekwoon to watch travel and home improvement shows as he'd nod off until near midnight, stumbling out with sleep-drunken goodbyes.
After his own goodbye, the last bittersweet moments coming to a close of this place, Hakyeon with his shoes back on holds the door open.
It's strange only when Taekwoon thinks about leaving his routine--about how it wasn't even four months ago that he woke up every day in this apartment and ate his typical breakfast of toast and coffee, fed his cat, cleaned out the litter box and then went to work. He'd come home and sit on his couch, watching movies or dramas with his cat curled up beside him and then he'd go to sleep and repeat the whole process again.
Thinking about that life now, he doesn't know how he lived so monotonously. He thinks that maybe, he was always waiting for someone like Hakyeon to come and rescue him.
Saying goodbye to the apartment and the things left inside is easy enough. He has memories inside these walls but the apartment itself isn't the memories. The memories live between him and Hakyeon. It's a place where his life changed but the one who changed it is still beside him.
There were certain things Hakyeon hadn't informed Taekwoon of; Hakyeon wanted to use the last two days of their time in Seoul to throw him off their trail, to make it seem like they were either going to just another city in the country or even changing their daily jobs and setting up new identities. However, he's hoping this sudden middle of the night excursion to leave will be enough to escape cleanly.
When they come to his apartment, he goes to his spare bedroom where everything is. The next day is trash day so he slips the gun into a trash bag as well as another plethora of items. Hakyeon's not taking any of his supplies with him, but he's also not going to leave any trace of it behind. He stops halfway through and turns to Taekwoon.
"Can you finish this? These go into the normal trash," he points to empty syringes and anything of the like, "And these, drain them in the kitchen sink and put the bottles into the recycling." He notions to the few bottles with mysterious liquids. "Don't inhale too much," he warns with the bottles.
Hakyeon of course has his set bag packed but he's putting together the paperwork of their new identities: Passports, IDs, International Driver Licenses, Visas. Anything else he needs he'll acquire on the go like Proof of Graduation from a top university. Next it's the money--cash. Another thing Hakyeon shamelessly did was gradually pull money from Taekwon's account as well (he'd seen the passcode one time they went to a convenient store and Hakyeon faked having no cash, just for the sole purpose of stealing this number).
Surprisingly Taekwoon hadn't made any comments about the dwindling money in his account, Hakyeon ready to explain if the conversation ever did come up. But he figures Taekwoon deserves to keep his earnings after working the past couple of years as a slave for that terrible newspaper.
So as he has a booklet of traveler's checks, and a bundle of immediate ready to use cash, he slips everything into a new travel carry-on of his. Then as he moves to his bedroom, he changes his clothes as well. He takes on a more European look complete with a pair of non-prescribed glasses that cover half his face. About to leave the room, he remembers last second and goes to his closet where he grabs the airline carrier for the cat, a deluxe bag so the lady told him at the store. It’s perfect really for travel anywhere, lined with soft padding and creating a cozy, portable home.
Returning to the other room to see if Taekwoon finished disposing of his materials, Hakyeon stands there to make sure he has everything. There are some things he couldn't obtain due to the short notice, like the cell phones he wanted. Speaking of... "Your phone. You'll have to leave it in the car. We can't take them with us. So...if there's any numbers you want to save write them down." Hakyeon takes his own out and...he stares at the blank screen.
Briefly his mind takes him back to where the unknown number flashed on his screen. There's a great chance that Inguk will know he's leaving. It may take him a few days to track them down through the system, but he hopes Inguk won't follow and will let Hakyeon live as long as he's out of his territory. After all, he lived for three years in Japan without Inguk tracking him down.
When Hakyeon comes back into the room, completely changed, Taekwoon's eyebrows raise just a little. It's undeniable how handsome he looks dressed that way. When he approaches Hakyeon, he lets his hands run down the sides of Hakyeon's arms lightly, as if he were hesitant to touch him and find out every single moment of this was a dream and that he was entirely unreal.
"I don't mind," Taekwoon answers suddenly. "Without work, yours is the only number I'd need." Considering that his sisters were now entirely off limits to him.
It's Taekwoon's hands lightly on him that bring him out of his thoughts. Smiling softly at the admission, Hakyeon quickly responds with a chuckle. Taekwoon probably doesn't realize that sometimes his words border on completely and utterly romantic like one of those finger-curling movies.
Taekwoon takes Hakyeon's bags for him and slings them carefully over his shoulder to lead the way back to his car. As he's loading up what Hakyeon's taking, he thinks to ask him, "Are we just going straight to the airport?" He feels more collected now than he had earlier and so he takes the initiative to be the one who drives this time.
As Hakyeon takes the trash bags with him and slips them into the bins right outside, he only has a larger carry-on size bag with a duffel and he lets Taekwoon load them. The carrier he puts into the back seat beside the current carrier with Hazelnut inside and he whispers to the cat that she's going to have a new home he hopes she'll like.
Stepping back to the trunk just as it closes, he nods to Taekwoon, his hand running along the back of the car. "The longer we wait, the more time we give him."
Hakyeon's gaze flits out to the street, empty cars lining along the curbs. How many times in these past two weeks did he stare out onto the road, feeling like someone was watching him. His eyes linger as they scan for any sign of movement or shadows within cars and when he sees none, he gives the green light and curves to the passenger side to get inside.
"I'm ready to go now," Taekwoon answers as he slips into the driver's side door. Taekwoon sees no point in postponing the inevitable. He's been ready to go since the night they decided to in his bedroom. It's not just the right choice with what happened tonight, but overall. He needs to get Hakyeon out of this country before his fear eats him alive. That's the last thing he'd ever want to see happen.
The drive to the airport is filled with silence for the most part. He tells Hakyeon to play something on the radio and sing to him at one point. It's something that calms him down. It reminds him of the drive to the beach on New Year's, of how wonderful their lives had seemed in that moment, almost carefree--as carefree as they possibly could be, at least.
The parking space he chooses doesn't matter, knowing they're never coming back to this car. He sits there a moment and picks up his phone. He goes through the photos for a moment, scrolling through the camera roll until they stop on a picture his sister had sent him months back. Her and her new baby--his niece--that he's never going to meet. He turns the phone and shows it to Hakyeon.
The picture of a baby girl with a pink bow in the soft crown of hair strikes Hakyeon too dearly. He slowly hands an unfolded pin to Taekwoon, having used it to reset his own phone into factory mode.
"That's my niece," he says plainly before taking the pin from Hakyeon and erasing his phone, letting it fall in to his cup holder once it’s been wiped clean. He'd just have to keep the memory of the photo with him as dearly as he holds all memories of his sisters.
Getting out of the car, he removes the few bags first before he's reaching back into the backseat and transferring his cat in to the new carrier, along with her toy and food.
"Thank you. For this." He tells Hakyeon as he pulls out the carrier--much nicer than the one he had for her. It's just one of those sweet things that Hakyeon absolutely did not have to do but did just to show him that he cares. It’s one of those things that reaffirms all of this.
"I just wanted to make this as easy for you as I could." And it's at this point Hakyeon fumbles into the carry-on bag strapped around his shoulder that he's pulling out the new identifications. "Here's what you'll be using," he hands over the passport and ID, looking as authentic as the real ones just with a different name. "You don't look like a Jung Ilhoon, but it's just to get us out of the country."
"Jung Ilhoon," he repeats the name as he looks over the passport. There's a thousand questions linked to it. How did Hakyeon even manage to get things so authentic looking? But he doesn't bother with asking him about it now. Not when they're in public and mostly because it just doesn't matter.
Incheon's the main hub of international flights, but at this time in the middle of the night there's barely anyone there. So it's easy to act calm and natural when the atmosphere is quieter. Inside the doors with the large wall flashing flights that leave within the next hour, Hakyeon focuses on the ones departing to Europe.
"Wow, should we start off in Italy? Or France?" Hakyeon asks with a trickling sense of awe, the situation beginning to weigh on his shoulders now that they're actually there in the airport, choosing their destination. His heart is pounding now and the slow crawl of a smile over his lips is hard to hide. As he adjusts the strap of his bag more properly onto his shoulder, his hand drops at his side and he momentarily draws it out to where his fingertips brush Taekwoon's.
He's careful with his bags--especially the cat carrier--as they make it into the airport. His eyes skim over the departures and he doesn't even know he has an option until Hakyeon's asking him--it was just another part of this all that he assumed Hakyeon has worked out ahead of time.
"Italy." The choice comes to him easily. It makes him shy, but he can see himself sitting with Hakyeon at a cafe, enjoying the coffee Italy has to offer. He can see himself just enjoying life there.
Hearing the decision fall from his lips, Hakyeon complies and he sees the next flight out to Milan is in a little over an hour. "Perfect."
Buying the tickets is thankfully easy so no one's taking a red-eye flight like this. He uses cash to pay for two business class seats, and he pays the extra fee for Hazelnut to be in-cabin. When the attendant issues their tickets after checking their passports (Hakyeon smiles at Taekwoon sheepishly when she addresses him as Im Hyunsik--it's a noble name, he mouths at the other), and they're on their way.
Heading to security with just his shoulder bag now, Hakyeon feels lighter with each step as they're getting closer and closer to their flight to freedom. As he comments that he's never been on a flight for more than just the hour and a half to Japan, he asks Taekwoon if he's ever flown out of the country. Peering back at Taekwoon who's just a step behind him, showing a curious smile that matches his eyes, it's this second of not looking that he of course bumps into someone.
"Oh, sorry," he immediately turns to them and apologizes with a bow, the person sporting dark shades and chestnut hair. They just give him a simple wave and continue on their way.
Taekwoon keeps his eyes set on the back of Hakyeon's head as they walk. He'd been nervous about the tickets but there wasn't even a moments hesitation from the woman issuing them--it was a great and relieving feeling. When Hakyeon bumps in to the person, his brow furrows and he turns to look at him a moment before he's looking back to Hakyeon.
Turning back to Taekwoon to hear his reply, something suddenly triggers in his mind and he's halting. Swiveling around to look for the stranger, he sees no sign of him. Standing there as he keeps surveying the nearly empty area, Hakyeon's hand raises to his chest where he notices now how fast his heart accelerated within those seconds.
"Where'd that guy--nevermind," he fades off, almost missing a step as he faces forward again, eyes looking pensive behind the lens of his glasses.
"Just forget it." Taekwoon tells him simply, assuming Hakyeon is annoyed that he was bumped without an apology.
As they head to security and wait for the very small line to get through, he's telling Hakyeon about the time his soccer team went on a trip to Japan for some kind of friendship game with a local team there to promote goodwill after they'd won a championship back at home. It hadn't been exceptional, but it had been the only time he'd been out of the country in his life.
Relief washes over him entirely when they've made it to their gate and they can set their luggage down in front of a couple of seats.
"Do you want something to drink?" Taekwoon thinks to ask, looking around for any sign of a vending machine.
A portion of him rises up inside and doesn't want Taekwoon to leave him, not even for a second. But not wanting to worry Taewkoon, he nods and asks for a club soda. It's to settle the nerves in his stomach from that run-in, and as he's staring absently at his passport, he keeps replaying the person's face in his mind.
There were sunglasses, he reasons he can't make any judgement call. He's running high on emotion and little sleep, so of course his body is going to react more sensitively. A prickle on his neck sends him to whip his head up and look behind him...slowly his gaze moves from one person to the next but there's nothing.
Now he begins to wonder where Taekwoon is...maybe he went to use the bathroom as well.
"Are you nervous?" he leans over to peer into the bag carrier, seeing the cat looking relaxed as ever as it's lounging against the soft lining. "Of course you aren't, why should you be? You're in the most capable of hands ever."
"That sounds rather full of yourself," Taekwoon says as he comes up behind Hakyeon just in time to hear him speaking to his cat--their cat? He thinks about that for a moment.
It's not that he went to the bathroom, but rather that Hakyeon asked for club soda. He had to go to four different machines before he found one with club soda and then he rummaged around in his pocket, knowing he had some cash in these jeans from a few days ago. He was finally able to buy a club soda for Hakyeon and a cola for himself.
The abrupt tension in Hakyeon’s shoulders is visible and he's automatically spinning in the chair to view Taekwoon with a narrowed look and downturn line to his lips. He's trying to appear displeased behind the wide frames, his tone coming out a pitch higher, "Yah, I was talking about you."
His hand is automatically stretching out for the soda, still disapproving of how his heart already on edge is recovering from the mild shock of Taekwoon's appearance.
Just as he's about to wrap his fingers about the bottle, he thinks he sees dark shades, chestnut hair and a leather jacket--he misses the bottle completely and it bounces on the floor and starts to roll back and forth. "Ah--that's how much you startled me!" He blames Taekwoon and after reaching down to pick it up, he straightens up to casually peer at the charging center for phones. Nothing. Again. He must be imagining things. He glances at his soda that’s fizzing inside the plastic. Settling into the seat properly Hakyeon holds the soda in his lap, focusing ahead at the empty seats across from them. "Now I have to wait."
Hakyeon's surprise and the sharp sound of the bottle hitting the floor have Taekwoon's eyebrows raising. "Ah--sorry." He thinks to reach up and squeeze Hakyeon's shoulder once to comfort him before he's walking around to the front of the seats and taking his place beside Hakyeon.
"I've always wanted to visit a vineyard in Italy, drinking wine all day." The confession comes at a distinct contrast to his previous complaints. It's more muted and thoughtful.
"That sounds really nice," Taekwoon says to Hakyeon's small confession. He thinks he could enjoy that part of Italy too, that he could enjoy any part of anywhere as long as Hakyeon is with him. Again, out of the norm for him, he's reaching over and letting his fingers slip up along the soft skin of one of Hakyeon's palms before he's locking their fingers together, holding his hand tightly.
"I want to do everything with you," he says, smiling down at the bottle in his lap instead of looking at Hakyeon directly.
"Everything?" He repeats, tilting his head down in an attempt to get Taekwoon to glance at him. The hand facing up into his brings stability. Hakyeon thinks that even though they may not be able to stay in one place forever, he'll feel more grounded than he's ever been in his life. It's then that the announcement spreads that their flight is boarding. Giving a squeeze to Taekwoon's hand, a hand that not too long ago had been sewing bullets eternally into a man who lived to instill mental wounds into his children, Hakyeon releases and stands up to gather their things.
Taekwoon doesn't reply when Hakyeon questions his choice of words. Hakyeon knows by now that he's careful with everything he says and only speaks when he absolutely means it, so he knows Hakyeon is just being playful in his inquiry.
For a moment when their flight is called, Taekwoon doesn't move from his seat. It's not some regret or hesitation to leave that keeps him grounded, it's this desire to just watch and appreciate Hakyeon--the careful way he moves and how his skin stretches over his bones when he picks up his bags. He thinks about the man Hakyeon told him about, the one they're running away from. It makes his eyes sting with the threat of tears to imagine someone mistreating such a good person like Hakyeon.
Walking in the line to board, Hakyeon thinks of how it’s reminiscent of the time he fled to Japan but far less terrifying. Then he was alone and truly fearing for his life. He remembers entering the plane after having ran through the airport, breathless and exhausted, finding his lone seat at the aisle. Every time someone boarded his heart lurched in terror that it'd be the face of the man he was escaping.
The first time he tried to run it was on a bus to Busan and when he saw Inguk stepping onto the vehicle his heart sank and he wanted to vomit. The five hour ride was filled with him wondering if Inguk was going to kill him the second they stepped off the bus.
This time is so much different and although they're essentially fleeing, it feels more like they're starting their own life together. The business section has wider seats and more leg room. The selection of drinks is diverse and Hakyeon comments how he might get started on drinking that Italian wine.
When they're all settled in their seats, even Hazelnut kept away in her carrier, Hakyeon stares out at the dark night sky. The airport looks brilliant in its silver structure. Swallowing a little, he asks Taekwoon, "Do you ever want to come back?"
When they're settled in to their seats on the plane, Taekwoon reaches a hand down to let the cat brush up against the mesh door of the carrier and effectively, his hand.
"Ah--" The question is one he lets himself think about for a moment. "It's strange," he says, glancing past Hakyeon and out the window (of course he'd given Hakyeon the window seat). "I love Korea. It will always be special to me but if going with you and choosing to live this life means I can't come back...I'm fine with that." He leans over, uncaring about if anyone on the plane wants to shoot them a dirty look and presses a gentle kiss to Hakyeon's temple. "Don't worry about how I feel about this. Wherever you are, I'm happily there."
While he watches Taekwoon's lips move as the quiet stream of words flow out, he thinks about how he doesn't want to let him down. He's entrusting his life, his happiness, with him. It's a lot of weight to carry but Hakyeon knows the experiences in his life have all been for a purpose. Now he's beginning to discover what Inguk's twisted role meant to him for the future: to steer him away from becoming like Inguk, and being emotionally present and selfless and bestowing the best life he can for the one beside him.
The kiss causes the beat in his chest to pound harder for a second and he wonders when Taekwoon started being more affectionate than him. However, it's not until the plane starts to drive down the runway and soar into the sky that he feels these binding strings about his chest start to snap and fall from him, left behind in Seoul. The sprinkling of lights down below expand far into the horizon and he refuses to think about who's down there now. He focuses on what's ahead.
During the flight, Hakyeon has his glass of wine, he slips out a book to read, he chats to Taekwoon about what they'll do there (including watching a live soccer game), and eventually at some point weariness catches up. He's lifting the armrest between them, pulling a blanket to cover both their legs and he passes out using Taekwoon's shoulder as a pillow. It's the normality of his actions that lead him to sleep soundly, peacefully at Taekwoon's side, for when the plane lands, they'll be across the globe and out of harm’s way--safe for the time being.
a/n: This is the last official chapter of the main part of the story. From here, it'll be snapshots into their life from hereon, with some of the main plot twisting in here and there. ^^b