Prompt: Urban Legends – The Greek Soldier
Summary: A body was lying in the concrete road with blood everywhere close to the head. Whoever the body belonged to must have wished for an instant death. Those lips that were smiling now set in a straight line. Cheeks devoid of blood and the once bright eyes were now closed. Forever. Someone who had exuded so much life now breathes no longer.
Warning(s): Mentions of abuse, suicide, character death
Word Count: 14,711
When he wakes, Kris was no longer there. While it was true that he didn’t expect the other too, he wouldn’t deny that it will bring him much happiness.
He still goes to the photo shop. After picking up his set of printed pictures, he immediately comes home and no harm has come his way. Little did Zitao knew that he took the danger home.
He sits on his living room and scatters the pictures around him. He picks up varieties of scenes from the park, the pedestrian, the library, the sky, and lines them up to a little story. Color and vibrancy fills his center table. Each moment captured makes him smile a little bigger.
He sees the picture of the lone man from the library who was looking at the head librarian. First was when it was a candid shot made by Zitao, and he finds the one where he specifically took a shot of their secret glance. He would have placed it in the center of the table, the spotlight of today’s story. But something else catches his attention.
The man in brown clothes. In the first picture, he was on standing close to the window which was three rows behind Zitao’s focus. And on the next, he was just a row behind the lone man. The young photographer couldn’t remember any movement that time but it must have slipped his mind.
When he placed the two photos down, his eyes widen and a shiver goes through him.
The man in brown clothes is in each and every one of them. Unknowingly, he picked the pictures where he was included, he lined them in a way that the man in brown clothes was far then slowly coming so near to the camera.
Zitao remembers the first shot. It was in central park, close to when he was about to meet Kris. The man in brown clothes was far from the camera, indistinct if you do not focus on it, but he was there behind a tree. Slowly does Zitao study each photo. The man slowly creeps, approaching the camera gradually. the photographer tries hard to focus on his face, see if he was familiar. But what Zitao finds brings him goose bumps.
After the two photos in the library, the man’s face is better revealed. Zitao couldn’t see his face on the previous ones not because the shot was blurry or unfocused. It was because this man in brown clothes had no face.
The last shot in the story line shocked Zitao even more. He remembers that day to be clear and he remembers that this shot was flawless. It was the picture of his apartment building’s rooftop. the one where he also accidentally caught the shape of Kihwae in it.
On its side was a blur of semi circled brown, lined with a smudge of lighter red until it fades to black. Zitao’s heart beats faster, as if it wants to escape from its confines. And when he realizes just what it was, he shred the picture into pieces, each tear he hopes to tear his fear away as well.
Trapped and chained, that was how Kihwae described herself in her nightmares.
This is how Zitao finds himself. When he heard the clanging of the chains, he made no further movement. He almost wished for the screaming to come again, knowing that after that will this nightmare end. But the screaming doesn’t come.
The darkness does not subside but he finally sees a figure far from him.
“Is someone there?” he couldn’t have shouted for help, this will only push away the figure due to the danger which Zitao may be bringing to him.
There was no response but at least the figure is coming closer to him. The slow creeping of the figure lets Zitao take in its appearance. Its head is wearing some sort of cap and heeled shoes resounds around them. The young male them makes out a uniform. He squints further through the darkness and recognizes it.
A military uniform.
He quickly turns and tries to run to the opposite direction. The chains that he forgot in fear restrained him and he falls to the ground, soil catches him. He tried to crawl, clawing and digging through the soil, its wet fragment seeping to his nails, but the chains limits him still. He turns around from the ground and sees the advancing man. With every centimeter that it goes closer, it gets colder, until Zitao is shaking, he didn’t know if from fear of the immense cold.
Its faceless head comes into view. There is nothing that Zitao could do. His chest constricts, making him take breaths in short gasps. The sound of boots stepping stops. The faceless man is directly in front of him. Then it moves. His trunk bending towards Zitao, closer closer closer. Until they are face to face. Zitao staring at nothing but skin.
A black line forms from where its mouth is supposed, slicing it in half then a piercing scream comes from it.
Zitao wakes up screaming.
A knock on his door distracts him from staring into nothing which is what he has been doing most of the day.
With tired eyes and his uninjured hand, he opens the door. Another surprise come in the form of a tall man with bright blonde hair. Without a question nor a greeting, he lets Kris in.
“How’s your hand?” It was the first question Kris has ever asked and it’s about the younger’s well being. But no matter the caring that comes with his question, Zitao is in a foul mood. The younger walks towards his couch, flops on it, and hugs a pillow in his chest. “Why are you here?” he asks without looking at the other.
“Have you eaten?”
“I thought you told me to stay away from you?”
“Why aren’t you answering my questions Zitao?”
“Because I have a hundred more that you need to answer!” Zitao bursts. He slams the pillow he was hugging on the space beside him and even though he knows he’ll be sorry for it later, he continues with his tirade of questions.
“Who are you? The real you! Why is this happening? What did you do? Are you a killer? Did you curse me? Kihwae? and that other girl?! And let’s not forget the first one, why are you here when you made it clear time and time again that you wanted me to stay away from you?”
Kris moves from standing to sitting lightly in Zitao’s center table, directly in front of the younger. There is sadness in the lines of his face and desperate eyes.
“If you believed that I was really a killer, you wouldn’t have let me in Zitao.”
“That doesn’t answer my question Kris.”
Kris breathes an exasperated sigh and leans closer. “I’m not a killer. I didn’t kill anybody, most especially you. It isn’t me, though I wouldn’t clean my hands entirely of it.”
“You are answering a question and bringing up a lot more with the way you’re going right now.”
Kris drags both his hands on his face and looks at Zitao, hard and deep.
Then he puts both his palms up. Zitao stares at it for a few seconds before he decided to do what he thinks Kris asks from him. He puts his palms on top of Kris', holding his hands.
"You know the answer to to most of your questions Zitao. You need to find it in you." Zitao could almost hear the missing “please”.
“But please believe in me when I say that I did not kill anybody. I wouldn’t kill innocent people Zitao.” He lets their hands go and he moves to hover his in Zitao’s face. “I’ll be back.” is what he says after kissing the younger’s forehead good bye.
Zitao pays a visit to Kihwae. He knocks on her door and he’s welcomed by Kihwae’s smile.
“Hi.” he greets with a smile of his own. The lady then surprises him with a hug and a pull inside her home.
Kihwae served him a cake that she personally baked. They talked for awhile, of things they weren’t able to talk about before, like how Kihwae enjoys cooking and baking just like how Zitao enjoys photography. How Kihwae didn’t really had a strong connection, relationship, to anyone who would even care if she’s gone missing. How Kihwae is very much thankful to Zitao.
“This leads me to question about your hand. What happened to it Tao?” She picks up their empty plates and bring them to the sink.
“Oh this? I burned it trying to cook ramen.” he says as an excuse.
Kihwae turns with a light laugh. “What? Who burns their hand trying to cook instant noodles?” Zitao raises his hands with his head bowed in a shy manner.
“If ever you’re too hungry to think, let me cook for you Tao. Okay?” She raises a finger and waggles it when Zitao looked like he was about to protest. “It’s the least I can do for a friend. And with the giant efforts you have done for me, this little act looks like an ant.”
Zitao agrees. This time it’s his turn to ask about Kihwae.
“How are you Kihwae?” he asks in a hushed tone. The genuine smile and happiness in her eyes calms Zitao.
Kihwae sits on her spot opposite the male, “I’m better now Zitao. I don’t know what you did, but I don’t have nightmares now. Even the feeling of someone looking at me has gone.” She reaches out a hand to hold Zitao’s across the table.
“May I ask a question? It involves Kris.”
The long haired lady tilts her head to the side. Her time spent with Kris felt so far ago. “Sure, I guess.”
“When you said that Kris was looking for someone else, what did you mean by that?”
And she remembers how Kris looked at her that night. “He looked lost then. Just one look and I knew that it’s not going to work. I guess he knew that too because he didn’t came back. When he looked at me that night of our last meeting, it was not disappointment in his eyes. It was pain. I don’t know where his pain came from but I can feel so much of it. There’s a gap in him that I couldn’t fill. It was not mine to fill.”
Zitao helped clean the dishes. Then he was bidding Kihwae good bye.
Zitao wakes in darkness. He doesn’t remember sleeping on his bed, the last thing he recalls was taking a bath in his tub.
He stands, feeling his body wet and cold. He must have not slept long yet if he hasn’t dried from the bath he took. Just when he was about to reach for the light switch, the clanging of metals resounds in the darkness.
He isn’t awake and he’s trapped in this dark nightmare again.
He struggles to see if anything has changed. When the restraints on his hands indicated their end, he tries the ones that were on his feet, much to his surprise, they weren’t bounded. This brought some relief but he saw no help in finding about it. He is still chained and can go no where.
Figures started to form, bringing panic in him. He was about to see the faceless man once again and he had no way of escaping.
However, the figure is not standing and it is nearer to him. When it became clearer, Zitao sees a man, chained like him, both arms extended on his back, his head hanging low with his black hair obscuring his face. He was kneeling and Zitao thinks that the man is unconscious.
Another sound resounds, one that Zitao wished he was deaf from. The combat boots rings closer as Zitao’s eyes grow wider.
The faceless man comes into view, but this time he pays no attention to Zitao, moving directly towards the unconscious man. After awhile, the faceless man waves his hand and three more soldiers in military uniforms materialize. They were holding a bucket of water which they pour to the unconscious man.
He coughs and gag and catches his breath all at the same time. Zitao winced from looking at his situation.
But the soldiers were not finished. Zitao sees a bigger barrel of water where the soldiers scoop more water. One soldier pours it over the tortured man in slow agonizing flows, following his head whenever he tries to evade the flowing water. His body thrashes, going from kneeling to standing, swinging his arms to hit the three, but he was hit hard on the back of his thighs. This causes him to fall down lying on the ground. When the water was gone, the tortured man once again coughs and chases his breath, now sounding more hoarse than before.
The faceless soldier then brings a hand up stopping the other three from their joy. He steps closer to the tortured man, grabs a handful of hair and drags him into kneeling. The his head is yanked up, hair thrown back by the force.
Zitao’s world stops. Whatever fear he felt before could compare to nothing now.
Kris is in front of him, tortured and probably close to dying.
Zitao screams, the vibration in his throat hurts but he doesn’t care. He wants them to leave Kris alone, to stop the torture, and just fucking stop. But when his world stopped, the noise stopped as well. He could hear nothing, from himself or from the gruesome scene he is witnessing.
A cloth was put over Kris’ face, covering the whole of it with just his black hair showing. Zitao cries hard as he can only imagine what was coming next.
Water comes down from the bucket once again. But this time directly on Kris’ cloth covered face. This prevents him any space for breathing. He tries to drink the pouring water to catch some air in between but it doesn’t stop, there’s too much water and just when he thinks he’s about to die, they stop.
The cloth was removed from his face. He takes three deep breaths and he was grabbed back into position.
The torture continues for three more cycles until they let Kris breathe for more that three counts. He almost has his breath even out, Zitao thinks that they were done. The younger’s face wet with his own tears, throat burning from muted shouting, and arms aching from constant pulling. His pain is great but he is sure that Kris is praying for death to come right now.
He couldn’t watch further but the scenes kept coming.
A wide bucket was placed in front of Kris. Zitao sobs and scream for it to stop but no one hears him. Kris’ head is pushed down in the bucket filled with water. Kris struggles and fights the force of two pairs of hands that is pushing him down. He suffocates with water, the fight almost leaving him. But the soldiers decide that no, it was not the time to end him yet.
They pull his hair making his head hover just slightly out of water and then Kris was suddenly thrusted in the water once again.
Zitao couldn’t breath, suffocation comes to him as well. He tried gulping and gasping for air but nothing comes in his lungs. Then everything blurs until he hears a sickening voice.
“How about we kill you now General Wu Yifan?”
Zitao is still gasping for air when he hears his name being called.
The drowning male coughs and takes a little of his environment in. He feels his tub underneath him still filled with water. The voice that called him was Kris.
“Kris!” And he is there. Outside of the tub, holding him by his shoulders with worry and fear all over his face. The younger grabs him in an embrace so tight he felt like his life depended in it. Water splashed around them but neither cared. Kris started to stroke the younger’s head, “Yes Zitao, I’m here. I’m here.”
He soothes Zitao with slow strokes but the younger wouldn’t let go. “Yifan.”
Kris’ breath catches. the sound of his voice from Zitao’s lip sounded distant and forgotten but is now remembered. He exhales in understanding, “Come on my love. Let’s get you out of the water. You’re shivering.” Kris moves to break the embrace but Zitao’s arms pull him tighter, closer, until Zitao’s head is buried in his soaked shirt.
Kris understands and he moves them together this time. They stand, and he carries Zitao out of the tub. The taller grabs the towel and wraps it to the younger. He carried Zitao until they reached the bed where he made Zitao sit. “I’m not going anywhere Zitao. I promise. Now let me dry you.” Kris thought that Zitao wouldn’t let him put a space between them but the younger sat on the bed. He holds with both hands the hem of Kris’ shirt.
The act made Zitao look like a kid, like how Yifan remembers his Zitao is.
They lie on the bed unmoving, in silence, and arms around each other. Zitao is still confused of many things but he is sure that he loved Yifan, that he loves Kris. The same person in his different lifetimes.
Kris has his own fears and not finding his Zitao tops them all. But right now, with Zitao hugging him, and hearing the younger’s heart beat for him, is what’s important. Kris leaves everything aside and pulls his Zitao closer to his right, where he promises to keep him.
They spend the next day within an arm’s reach of each other.
Kris asked of Zitao’s life. His childhood up until the very first time they met in the club. It was long but Kris was persistent to hearing everything about his love. He asks if this Jongin is his boyfriend, no, he’s my best friend for almost half of my life now. Kris felt a little jealous of this but he remembers how Zitao’s life is entangled with his, so he lets it go.
He asks if Zitao had any relationships, nothing serious, if there was someone else before he came along, no one.
Zitao got his chance later that day after shutting Kris’ mouth with a kiss. He asked of how everything that is happening now even possible. Kris didn’t know either.
“I just woke up like this. At first I thought I was still alive but then the people I knew started dying one by one. They aged while I counted the days. Then I started killing myself, but that was useless. How could you kill a dead person right?” Zitao shifts, uncomfortable with the thought of Kris hurting and killing himself. Kris was quick to calm him, rubbing both arms and resting Zitao’s back in his chest. “So I started looking for the reason why I’m still here. I thought of the last thing I was thinking before I died. And it was you, Zitao. At that moment I realized what I needed to do. I need to find you again.”
After Kris found Zitao in his tub drowning, the younger wakes up with Kris beside him. The nightmares are still there but Zitao found out that he only needed Kris to wake from them. The moment he opens his eyes to the darkness, he reaches for his lover’s hand. Sometimes it takes longer, but other times Kris will meet him halfway. Then he wakes from Kris’ touch on his face or a kiss on his lips.
Kris slowly opens his eyes from a bad premonition. He didn’t see it, rather he felt it. Instantly he looks to his right where he keeps his beloved Zitao. He exhales a small sigh of relief, Zitao is still beside him, beautifully sleeping and smiling.
He didn’t tell Zitao of their limited time, the younger didn’t ask as well. Kris believed that it was an understanding between them that Kris is no longer part of this time. Zitao didn’t know how long they had left but Kris did. Sharing this information and counting down would just bring pain to the dark haired male. He stopped counting down as well but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t feel it.
The time to cross over is here.
Waking Zitao up would be a bad idea. Kris wouldn’t let his love see him fade away to nothing. So he settles for a touch in his face, a caress as a way to tell the younger that he will protect him. He traces the lines lines of his face, it is just like how he remembered him. Decades have passed and his love is still the same. Kris wishes for Zitao to always be this peaceful, even after he left.
But it seems that this particular wish couldn’t be granted.
The dark haired male wakes from an intense gaze that is on him, he knows even with eyes closed and he doesn’t open them just yet. Zitao was curious as to what Kris is about to do. Will he wake him or will he kiss Zitao in thoughts that the other wouldn’t know it? Seconds passed and Zitao gets his answer.
Kris’ hand comes to his face, tender and warm, everything that his love is. Then the pretending sleeping male feels a finger on his forehead that trails down to the dips and edges of his face. Pleasure floods him with every touch and Kris’ face so close to him. He wanted to feel Kris’ lips with his own, even if they’re still swollen from last night.
Opening his eyes is the greatest decision he has ever made, seeing his lover’s face in the light of the morning sun is breathtaking. Zitao offers a small smile that makes his eyes smaller, a gesture that Kris has grown to love and promises to himself that he’ll look for this.
The younger moves in small movements, he lifts his head a bit, slowly reaches for Kris’ jawline, and inches towards him. His lover holds his face in both hands by then, supporting him and meets him half way.
An innocent press of lips as a greeting to a new morning together, added pressure in exchange for a confession of love, and a moment longer to make it last.
Zitao moves to catch a breath but a hand to the back of his head holds him back, preventing a centimeter more to the distance between the lovers. Then Kris moves towards Zitao again. He kisses him, once, twice, and the third longer than those that precede it. The younger responds in as much fervor as his lover has. And when Kris stopped kissing Zitao, he presses their foreheads together, noses hovering and gliding each other’s.
It was their most quiet and intimate moment. Both filled with happiness and love that is taken and given back in return.
The air is rich with the scent of affection but Zitao feels an uneasiness that lingers. He opens his eyes once again. What welcomes him is his lover's closed eyes, pressed hard as if unwanted to open again. The distress in Kris is incomprehensible for Zitao when the morning is nothing less of perfect for him. The dark haired male touches the eyelids of his distressed lover, trying to relax and straighten them.
Zitao's touch brings comfort to Kris' frenzied thoughts. This touch brings him back to the now, where he is with his love and he can still leave moments of happiness to the younger. When their eyes reconnect, the older tried to mask the negative feelings and concerns he has. But they are two halves of one, the other feeling as his half, and understands what the half cannot convey.
While Zitao's eyes are filled with conveyed love and concern, Kris' are desperate and pained. The younger could almost read a message of... Good bye.
Realization hits and panic comes right after.
Zitao instantly reaches for Kris, he hugs him close and the other presses them closer, both wanting to meld into one in order to part never again. No words were spoken, they were not needed. An understanding of what is about to happen is shared between the lovers. This causes the younger to shake in tears while the other holds them closer if possible. The lovers stay in this position, seeking comfort and solace in each other.
Zitao calms and looks at the love of his life. In the brink of separation, Zitao didn't fail to appreciate his lover's face. The one he will always love and treasure. So with tear stricken cheeks, Zitao manages to smile.
He combs his fingers through the soft blonde hair that he never thought he would touch.
"Do you believe in our entangled destiny my Zitao?" A soft whisper of question comes from Kris.
"Yes. Yes... I also believe in us and in our love. You'll find me." He nods and droplets of tear escape his eyes.
"I'll be back for you my Zitao."
Kris lays him on his back from their side lying position. Half of him hovering over Zitao and then he slowly kisses him. He starts from the younger's forehead, to his temples, gliding over the prominent cheeks, sliding on his high nose, tracing the edges of his jawline. Kris leaves his lips last.
The soft meeting awakens memories of a lifetime they had together, one so far but ever familiar. One thing hadn't changed though, Zitao loves Kris the way Kris could only love Zitao.
"I want you to do me a favor my love."
Zitao would do anything and everything for Kris but this particular request squeezes his chest, predicting it to be hard. But he says yes. Because this is Kris.
"I want you to close your eyes. Don't open them until I say so."
Panic once again comes to him. Zitao immediately opens his eyes and grabs Kris closer to him. With arms around Kris' neck, Zitao could only think and say I love you I love you Iloveyou. He initiates their kiss, this one more panicked and messy. Kris takes over and calms the younger down.
In slow languid motions they share their last kiss.
"Close your eyes baby."
Zitao does with much hesitation. He relies on his body to feel and keep Kris with him.
"Don't open them until I say so."
But Zitao felt that he won't be hearing Kris again.
"General Wu Yifan." This is their last moments and Zitao will make it their best.
"Yes my dearest Huang Zitao?"
The younger smiles. Hearing his name will never be the same from anyone else. It's as if his name was given to him to be called by his only love.
"I love you."
"I will be loving you, in the past, now, and in our next lifetime."
Zitao feels the cold replace Kris' lips. Then the warmth from his body lifts as well. The dips of the bed slowly rises. Zitao's heart beats faster calling out for the blonde man to stay and never leave. But it was not a choice they can make. A bubble of despair arises from him with the continuing silence.
Then Zitao hears the door open, and with the click that comes with its closing, Zitao opens his eyes.
"Kris!" He calls the one he loves. And then he bolts from his bed, aggressively opens his door and is welcomed by cold air.
The room looked bare and empty with Zitao only in it. He leans on the door frame, shaking, breaking. Kris has gone and Zitao had no idea if he will ever see him again I'm this lifetime.
How could he if Yifan chose to stay and look for him when he should've crossed over and lives the next lifetime with Zitao?
The thought of never seeing his love again weakens him, reducing him into a mess of tears and wrecked feelings with Kris as his only repair.
Epilogue: day 1 of forever… for now.
Zitao is lying on his stomach on Jongin’s long couch inside of his office. A bouquet of flowers rests on the side table by his head. He was flipping through his different shots and Jongin was typing furiously on his computer, as usual.
“Why don’t you just tell the Sehun kid to stop sending you flowers if you’re just going to leave them every time in here? Besides, you have your own office.” Jongin grumbles when the bouquet arrived.
“Already did. And what’s your problem with it? It brings color to your dull office!” he flips on the long couch and rest on his back with outstretched hands holding his camera.
“I can’t have Kyungsoo coming in here and thinking that I’m giving away bouquets okay? So what’s keeping your lover boy in the hopes?”
“He doesn’t believe that I am in love with someone else. He wants some proof.”
“Then show him proof!”
Zitao almost threw his prized camera at Jongin’s stupid face. “How am I supposed to show proof a dead man Kim Jongin?!”
“Show him the tombstone?”
Another tombstone was about to be made that day if Yixing didn’t open the door and announced of someone arriving.
“The whole department’s going to welcome him? How come no one welcomed me when I entered?” Zitao asks lazily.
Yixing looks at him lying on the couch, “That’s because you were practically working here before. Only with better income but lesser benefits. This guy’s new new.”
“Another guy? Aren’t they tired of hiring too many males already?”
“I don’t think Kyungsoo will be happy hearing that you were looking for female officemates.” Zitao teases his best friends and the other’s ears turn slightly red. “Yah Huang Zitao! That was not what I meant!”
Zitao and Yixing laughs at the reaction of their officemate.
“Well, whatever. I heard he’s gorgeously tall and handsome, blonde hair with a Chinese accent.” Yixing had his hand on the door knob and is about to leave the office.
The best friends looked at each other for a moment and Zitao stops Yixing.
“Wait! What’s his name?”
- END. –
A/N: I would like to thank:
+ the mods for their understanding my dilemmas (turtle tendencies) and the chance to participate here, the first ever fest I joined in
+ J, my loving and patient beta, with you my dear I wouldn’t have finished this “in time”, thank you so much for the effort and time you’ve given me, for enduring my needy requests, accept my heart
+ self-proclaimed Mrs. Kim (the wife of Kim Jongin) for being my absorber everytime I freak out and rant throughout writing this, good thing we can text TTuTT
+ to my unnie because she said she’ll read this even if she doesn’t really read fics like this ;;~;;
+ and of course you, for sticking up until this moment, Thank you so much and I’d like to hear from you! :)
PART 1 | PART 2