Genre: Romance, Drama, Angst, slight!Sci-Fi
Carefully, he wiped the soft film of dust from the cold glass with one finger, patterning the light bulb with a single strip. Then, he took a piece of cloth he brought from the kitchen and dusted the fragile piece of glass gingerly, before he checked all the wires and connectors linking to his computer.
It should work. He did everything the same way he always did. He browsed the source code, searching for a mistake or a misspelling, especially rechecking the new code he added a couple of hours ago. But he couldn't find a single error. The moment he felt his eyes hurting, dazzled from the bright light of the screen, which was studded with colourless numbers and letters, he leant back in his chair and rubbed his sleepy eyes until flashing stars strayed in his mind’s eye.
While silently moaning in annoyance, he tapped on the tabletop with his fingertips nervously and bit his bottom lip to the rhythm of the knocking. In the end, he stood up from the chair and walked over to the wooden cupboard at the other side of the room, while always watching out not to tread and trip on the cables lying on the ground. As he opened it, he rummaged around the several boxes stored way in it in search for a new light bulb. The moment he found a yet unopened package he went back to his desk, unscrewed the old and inserted the new into the self-made apparatus. There wasn't anything else he could have changed, so he took a deep breath before pressing the enter button again, silently begging the sleepy device to finally work.
Come on. Please, work!
He literally felt the electric current sparking inside of the cables, arousing the spread wires and reviving them with pure energy. The boy clenched his eyes as his face got illuminated by a sudden flashing light. One last time, he examined the quality of the bulb by focusing the vibrant filament until he saw a constant blue spot everywhere he was looking at. That was why he had trouble setting the time at his old-fashioned wrist watch to eventually set the countdown to exactly two hours.
In the moment he did it, he overheard the sudden sound of rattling pots coming from somewhere beyond the door. Like usually at this time of day, he came out of his fuggy working room he spent the whole day at, just to sneak curiously into the kitchen where he found his boyfriend fiddling around with the kitchenware. His hands were covered in remaining vegetable cuttings and his kitchen apron colourfully besmeared with different sorts of food debris.
Although he looked a bit confused with his unintentionally opened mouth and his adorable brown eyes aimlessly wandering around the kitchen counter in search for something, the silent watcher knew he was highly concentrated.
“I’m sorry, Luhan, I didn’t manage to help you” he sighed, ruffling through his already unkempt brownish hair, as he approached the warmly smiling chef.
“Ah, don't worry about it, Minseok. It's okay, you were busy with your work.” The slightly taller gave his sheepish opponent an assuring side-glance, with a precious smile resting on his lips, while he stirred the tomato sauce inside of the pot on the stove.
“Let me try the sauce.”
“No!” The chef nudged the other with his waist repeatedly to keep him away from the hot pot, while Minseok constantly kept on trying to push past him. “Just wait for it, dear. It’s almost done.” Minseok ceased from pushing and suddenly wrapped his arms around the other’s slender waist from behind, resting his chin on his bony shoulder.
He loved to bury his face in Luhan’s crook of the neck and press his nose against the light blue textile to inhale the pleasant odour clinging to his favourite sweater. Beneath all the smell of cooking tomatoes and various spices, he was always able to catch an endearing breeze of the fragrant scent of Luhan. The clean and slightly tangy fragrance reminded him of fresh fir branches with a touch of a cinnamon. Even though it was quite a common mixture of fragrances - especially around Christmas season - it was Minseok's favourite. The Luhan fragrance.
“What are you doing? Are you smelling at me?”
“No” the man behind him obviously lied. Luhan felt him clutching his slender body even tighter.
“What’s gotten into you? You’re so clingy today.”
“I just missed you.”
“You what? But I've never left this room…?” The taller giggled while he tried to ease the other’s fond clutch. “Minseok, please, do me a favour and let me go. I have to finish cooking, before the pasta gets too al dente. Can you prepare some dishes instead?" The addressed nodded unseen, Luhan just felt the other's little nose rubbing softly against his nape as he bobbed his head in affirmation. As he finally let go of his beloved, he fetched some plates and cutlery from the kitchen unit.
Even while transferring the spaghetti from the pot to the two plates, Minseok kept a cautious eye on Luhan next to him, who took out a small pillbox from the drawer and swallowed some pills dryly, before he proceeded to cut some basil. His slender fingers handled the sharp kitchen knife skilfully, but Minseok suddenly caught sight of a plaster sticking to the tip of Luhan’s left hand’s forefinger.
“Oh, this? I was just slicing the mozzarella and the knife skidded. No big deal.” Minseok focused on the slightly blood-soaked plaster a while, imagining how he notched his own finger with the dangerously big knife. Even though Minseok was glad that it was just a simple cut, the notion of Luhan severely hurting him stuck in his head. What if he cut off the whole finger one day? He knew he shouldn't think about it. Luhan knew what he was doing. And he had never chopped off one of his fingers so far.
The sweet reassuring smile Luhan gave Minseok aroused a tickling feeling in his stomach area. He couldn't cease from focusing on Luhan's rosy lips. He had to kiss them right away, even though Luhan might have protested.
Soon after both took a seat on the cosily little couch in the living room, armed with their plates full of warm spaghettis, they began to eat delightfully. They scratched the porcelain ground with their forks inadvertently until only a tiny pond of tomato sauce was left over. The hastily emptied dishes rested on the small table while the boys watched the television's colourful life on screen, smiling and laughing at some of the jokes, with their fingers being constantly intertwined.
“Do you think I can go outside soon?” Minseok felt his heart beating painfully against the inside of his cheats as he listened to the meaningful words of his boyfriend, who had looked away from the screen and gazed out of the window in abstraction for a while. Dreamily, he watched the snow falling smoothly and silently, that made itself comfortable on the window board where it formed a pure white layer of fluffy snow.
“I want to feel the cold winter air in my face until it gets this crazy shade of red and starts to feel numb. I want to touch the snow and feel how it melts in my hand. I just want to go for a walk with you, Minseok. In a snowy forest or such, where we can build a snowman and make a snow angel. Just you and me. That’s all I’m asking for this Christmas.” The listener caressed the back of Luhan’s tenuous hand with his thumb fondly, thinking about how to tell him that there was no way for him to do so.
“I feel much better. I don’t feel sick anymore.” He looked indeed not that pale like he was used to be. But still. His condition was still unstable.
The unpleasant lump ached in his throat as Minseok tried to swallow it down. The moment their eyes met, Minseok noticed a sorrowful spark of desperation glimmering in his usually joyful eyes.
“You need rest. We should be thankful that you can stay home instead of being hospitalized.” Luhan nodded silently, a sheen of acceptance reflected in his facial expression as he pondered over Minseok’s worried words, which he heard so often over the last few months.
How much Minseok wished to give Luhan everything he asked for. He meant the world to him. There was almost nothing he wouldn't do for him. But his simple wish to go for a walk with the one he loved he had to refuse. The consequences of letting him walk out in the cold world beyond their flat’s door would have been just too dire; too sad to even think about. He always felt like an unkind person every time he had to refuse; every time he recognise the cloudy glimmer of sadness in Luhan’s eyes. He lived for his smile. The precious Luhan smile, which he loved so much. And as long as he was able to be with him, he would have given everything to make his boyfriend feel happy and beloved.
He buried his shaking finger in the upper's blonde hair, holding his head close and tight. Their sweaty faces were so close, Minseok could feel the other's warm unsteady breath touching his wetted lips. He shivered with excitement between Luhan’s tensed thighs, who couldn't cease from devouring Minseok’s craving lips and sinking deep into him. With every thrust, Luhan urged both to the climax, and after they emitted a last obscenely loud moan, the upper blond sank down onto Minseok’s nude sweaty body exhaustedly, trying hard to control his fitful breathing. Minseok put his arm around the other's narrow shoulders, cradling his heated body and dipping his nose in his sweaty hair. While fondling the wispy hair at Luhan's neck, Minseok felt his boyfriend's easing breath nicely warming up his collarbones.
As Luhan turned on his back sleepily shortly after, Minseok traced Luhan's lips with his forefinger absentmindedly. He gazed at the young man next to him like he was the most precious thing in the world. And for him, he truly was. While licking his lips, he could still feel the sweet taste of Luhan's lips remaining on his.
"Stay with me, Luhan."
"I will." The moment Luhan nestled up to him and whispered in his ear with his cutely mumbled and sleepy voice, Minseok realised how glad he was to be with him and how much he needed him.
As both had fallen asleep, Minseok’s wrist watch lying on the floor counted down to zero. Both didn’t notice the already weak light of the flickering bulb in the room next door. A last attempting flash later, the light went black, allowing the dark of the night spreading out inside the wired room next door.
The next morning, Minseok was woken by the sun, that sneaked past the curtains into the little bedroom. He grumbled into his way too comfortable cushion as he felt the warm sunlight tickling his nose and hid himself away in the warm blanket. For a short moment he thought about to sleep the boring day away and didn't feel like ever getting up from the bed anymore, but as he opened his sleepy eyes just a bit, he caught sight of the empty spot next to him.
The fact, that the other side of the bed was neatly made didn't restrain him from sinking his head in the other's pillow, trying to catch at least some of Luhan's remaining scent. But however, only a dusty and stale smell tickled in his nostrils.
The oppressive silence inside of the bedroom was nearly unbearable for Minseok, and even as he finally got up from the lonely bed and walked lazily into the bathroom to brush his teeth, he felt like he got chased by a steady dark cloud being made of monotony and dullness. He felt so numb without Luhan. Everything seemed to be so senseless without him.
Almost soundlessly, he roamed around the kitchen and opened the squeaking window to set the stuffy air free and ventilate the dormant flat with fresh spring air. He took a deep breath of the warm and pleasant air until he suddenly froze in his action with thrill as he noticed a sudden motion in the corner of his eyes.
"Luhan?" As he turned around in an excited state of trance, he only caught sight of a white cat entering the kitchen, taking a peek at the confused human and mewing at him adorably. In this moment, Minseok felt how the sweetly rushing feeling of excitement died away. Of course it wasn't Luhan.
"Don't confuse me like this, Cashmere", the boy said playfully while lifting the curious cat up and petting its smooth longish fur. While feeding his pe friend, he noticed that every pot and every plate they were using the night before were stowed away back in their places in the kitchen unit. Everything looked like it wasn't touched for days. The moment he poured the last pieces of cat food inside of the shiny feeding dish, he realised he had to do some grocery shopping.
"You eat a lot, my friend. You even eat more than me. Don't know if it's a bad sign for you or for me."
He could not remember since when his life became a daily routine and he a boring robot, buying every day nothing more than enough goods to keep him alive one day longer.
Even later in the supermarket, the walking along the goods shelf meant nothing but monotony for him. He checked the fruits and vegetables, later the meat and the bread but in the end he only picked some of the ready-made meals and something to drink, while constantly having this picture of his boyfriend preparing dinner etched in his mind. He missed watching him cutting the tomatoes and basil in his very own Luhan way. Especially, he missed Luhan's alluring smile he gave him last night the moment Minseok confessed to him that he preferred his pretty bum working hard in the bedroom, not in the kitchen.
"Minseok?" He abruptly got interrupted in his train of thoughts as he noticed someone in the same aisle slowly approaching. "Minseok! It's been like forever. How you're doing?" He had changed his hair colour back to black but in the end he recognised his friend by his precious dimple smile.
"Lay! Hey, I'm fine. And you?" Although he was glad to see a familiar face which was not his own mirror's depressing reflection, it has been a while since he talked with his friends. They didn't know about the circumstances of his currently weird life. He felt his body tensing inconveniently and his palms getting sweaty. After such a long time of living alone, he felt like he had forgotten how to interact with people.
"I'm fine, thanks. It's nice to see you, Minseok. It's been a while. I didn't see you since..." He felt his guts convulsing inside of his small body as he watched his friend pausing his sentence in hesitation and dropping his gaze. He nearly panicked a little, knowing what his friend was about to say. The words he hoped he had hidden away in box alongside other past stuff in the deepest corner of the cupboard in the working room, hoping to never see it again.
"... since then." The black-haired tried to catch an emotion in his opponent's face. But Minseok looked just pale and blank, not knowing that he would have been on the verge of crying, if Lay had opened that box again. "Are you getting along all right?"
"Yes, I'm fine. Don't worry about me." Lay was slightly surprised. It has been a couple of years, but except for his sleepy looking eyes, Minseok looked still the same. Things had changed. So Lay expected Minseok to change as well, at least visually. But he smiled the way he always did. Little did he know, that Minseok faked a reassuring smile, just to pacify his worried friend.
"If you want to talk or hang out together, you can call me anytime" Lay offered with a warm smile, being relieved that his friend was apparently doing well.
"Thanks. Will do." He touched Minseok's shoulder in a caring and supporting way, before he wished him a good day and disappeared in the next aisle.
Minseok was used to persuade himself that he was alright. At least he was about to see Luhan this night again. So he was more than just alright. He was happy.
Back home, soft little paws followed him everywhere he went, hoping to get something to eat. But the person the cat was looking at just put away the goods in the kitchen, while always petting the closely observing cat every time he had a free hand.
Equipped with a pack of juice boxes, he found himself a little later entrenched in the smallish and not well aerated room, where he continued to work on his latest project as usual. He didn't become aware of how many hours he spent starring at the screen, typing on the keyboard hastily, writing and sketching formulae and mathematical calculation on several pieces of paper without taking a break. However, at the end of the day, he couldn't help but accept the fact that he didn't attain any progress today.
He rubbed his hurting eyes and stretched his tensed body, before gazing at the sleepy cat next to him, that put his cottony feet up next to the screen.
"Still only two hours. What shall I do? Come on, give me a hint!" He waited for an answer, but as his furry friend yawned boredly he realised that he was talking to a cat.
"Okay, forget it. I just start it. Two hours are better than none." Minseok started the self-built device anew, which was connected to his computer, by energizing the wires and reluming the light bulb. At last, he set the countdown on his wrist watch and listened to the soft purring of the ball of fur on his desk until he felt the edges of his mouth twitching and forming a big smile as he heard the familiar rattling from the kitchen attuning. It was this kind of a smile he couldn't suppress nor even fake.
As he left his room, he already sensed the pleasant smell of freshly made tomato sauce coming from the small kitchen. Also he heard the sound of boiling water and a person humming along with a Christmas song.
"Do you need some help?" Minseok asked as he focused on the young man in the daubed kitchen apron, who was surrounded by busily cooking pots and sliced vegetables.
“No, don't worry. It's fine, dear" Luhan responded with a sweet smile.
“I want to help though. What can I do?”
"Well, you can check if the noodles are done and prepare some dishes maybe." Minseok approached the blond, putting an arm around his waist and kissing the side of his neck tenderly.
"Hey, I'm not a noodle."
"No, but I don't mind having you for dinner." Luhan could not help laugh aloud.
"Minseok! What's gotten into you?"
"I just missed you."
"You what? But I've never left the room." I know, Minseok thought while placing a bunch of brief kisses on Luhan's slender neck. Aroused by his tickling kisses, Luhan turned around to Minseok, grabbing his chin softly and kissing him ardently while gingerly sucking on his bottom lip.
Minseok was fond of comparing this nearly indescribable feeling to a condition of levitation through an infinite night sky. Each of Luhan's kisses were like bright stars, illuminating the blurry darkness Minseok was constantly surrounded by, and his touches like soft clouds brushing his cold skin. In moment like this, he clearly felt how he lost ground in Luhan's arms, being in a condition beyond time and space.
"We should finish dinner first." Luhan smiled at him cutely, focusing on his opponent's wetted lips and caressing his chin with his thumb fondly. Minseok agreed, even though eating was the last activity both were thinking about.
Like always, Minseok kept a steady eye on Luhan as he fetch a sharp knife and started to slice the mozzarella. But before Minseok was conscious of the current situation and before he could warn him to be careful while cutting, the knife happened to skid from the slippery cheese and notched the tip of Luhan’s forefinger.
Luhan for himself was more staggered by the blood that dripped onto the cutting board than by the sharp pain in his left finger. Before he was able to emit a simple sound of surprise, Minseok already approached him hastily, equipped with some pieces of kitchen paper, that he immediately wrapped around Luhan's hand to contain the blood dropping from his knuckle.
"Shit. How did that happen?"
"Because you didn't focus!" While Minseok treated his boyfriend's hand skilfully, he felt Luhan's gaze resting on him. "You're lucky, the wound is not so deep this time. But please, be more careful next time."
"What do you mean by this time"?" Minseok stopped in motion, frantically thinking about words to explain what he meant, just to realise he couldn't actually explain it.
"Just… get yourself a plaster from the drawer, okay? I finish cutting" he simply stated, and threw away the blood soaked papers, hoping Luhan wouldn't asked furthermore. To his favour, he didn't, but went over to the kitchen unit and fetched out a plaster, which he applied on the fresh cut, before taking some pills from the pillbox and swallowing them dryly.
The delicious scent of Luhan's cooked meal radiated within the whole flat. Minseok loved this moment. Sitting on the couch on a full stomach, holding hands with the one he loved and listening to his lovely laugh at the jokes Minseok was already able to recite blindfolded. And for nothing in the world he would give up this moment.
"Hey, Minseok? Do you think I can go outside soon?" The addressed closed his eyes and took a deep breath, being already able to see the picture of Luhan dreamily sighting the snow falling from the night sky beyond the window in his mind's eye.
"Luhan, we both know that your condition isn't stable enough to walk outside in the winter's cold."
"But I don't feel sick anymore. I just want to-"
"Luhan, please!" He flinched a bit due to his boyfriend interrupting raised voice, whose breathing was seemingly fitful and his hands were shaking unseen. Luhan didn't understand Minseok's reaction and why he was that upset all of a sudden. He wondered if he had said something wrong.
"I know, it's too dangerous. I'm sorry, I don't want to make you worry." Minseok could hear the sorrow resounding in Luhan's words, which broke his heart in the same way as he would see the disappointment in his face. Every night he heard the same words. Every night he had to hurt Luhan with his own, over and over again. His guts felt tired from convulsing and his head heavy from all the unsaid words inside of it.
"No, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to shout at you. I'm just... I guess I'm just stressed."
"It's okay. I know you're working hard. I wish I could help you in any way, but I don't understand anything about science and neither what you're doing exactly."
"It's actually quite hard to explain. I'll tell you about it another time." Despite his words, Minseok didn't plan to tell him; he didn't actually want him to know what he was doing and desperately trying to achieve with his self-made machine he was working on for almost three years in a row now. And after all this time, he still couldn't find a way of perfecting it.
Minseok got nervous every time Luhan ask about his work. He was afraid of the day when Luhan wanted him to explain in detail about the strange machine and why it needed all of these wires, that run beyond the wall of the small room. It was his secret; a secret Luhan was never allowed to know.
A little later, Luhan suggested to take a bath together to relieve the stress bothering Minseok. Still lost in his own mind, Minseok watched the other slowly undressing, watching his shirt and underwear falling to the tiled ground of the bathroom. He focused on his slender body. He looked sickly skinny; too skinny for his own good. His skin was pale and covered his rib-cage like a thin layer of silk. Luhan ruffled through his blond hair while dipping one feet into the hot water, before making himself comfortable in the bathtub subsequently.
As Minseok joined him few minutes later, he pulled the wispy hair from Luhan’s underarm playfully as he was hold by him from behind. The warm water of the bathtub muffled their bodies and fogged the small bathroom. He felt Luhan’s chest next to his bladebone lifting and lowering peacefully and his calm breathing next to his ear, almost synchronizing with his own.
Weeks passed until he suddenly hit on an idea to achieve progress with his experimental project. He stroke on it as he was holding two different sorts of apples in both hands at the supermarket. Unfortunately, he liked the physical appearance of the one, but preferred the taste of the other apple. While comparing and pondering about a way to combine both, he unexpectedly got hit by a brilliant brainwave.
The formulae was suddenly written in his mind like a long forgotten memory. While rushing back home, he constantly recited the calculation to make sure he wouldn't forget it the moment he reached the flat.
The bright sunlight blinded him on his way. Once he was used to enjoy the spring sun and the warm pleasant weather back in the days with Luhan, but in this currently situation and especially because of his inability to see the pavement he was walking on clearly, he couldn't stand the annoying sunlight.
His legs were shaking for excitement as he quickened his pace to get home as soon as possible, brushing past the pedestrians coming his way deftly. While racing up the stairs, he already rummaged around his jeans' pocket in search for the keys. He hastened to open the front door, and the moment he entered the flat, he didn't noticed that he failed to close the door entirely.
Hidden in his private room, he missed the sunset and the nightfall, forgetting about time and space, being all lost in his thoughts and calculations.
An oddly black shadow strode in the darkness on soft paws, being all incurious of the strip of light the door of Minseok's small working room was casting on the dark floor the cat was sneaking across. It felt the cold of the hob under its little feet as it looked around the unenlightened kitchen for something to eat, but couldn't find anything but an partly moulding orange on top of the clear kitchen counter. Disappointed by the fact that there was no eatable stuff lying around, it jumped off the counter and sat down near the kitchen's door frame. Listening to the calm sounds and a sudden forceful moan coming from beyond the door, the cat waited for the human to appear to give it something delicious to eat.
The patient white creature flinched as the kitchen light mysteriously turned on and casted its light on the cat's tiny back. As it turned around curiously, it looked around the suddenly aroused kitchen with the busy man inside, who had mysteriously appeared out of nowhere.
The hob was occupied by a pair of cooking pots, boiling water and being filled with a red delicious smelling sauce while the kitchen counter was covered in different sorts of vegetables, seasonings, mozzarella and a bunch of cooking utensils. The furry sweet tooth gazed at the human closely, watching him dance and hum around the small room while preparing dinner.
"You're waiting for your own dinner, don't you?" Luhan asked the cuddly cat, that started to cling to the boy's legs and purring appreciatively.
As Luhan walked over to the closet where they hid the cat's food in, he felt the heat caused during the process of cooking overwhelming him, so he opened the window a little to let in some fresh wintry air. He didn't notice the cold draught causing the entrance door to move opened a little, wide enough to catch the cat's attention, which pricked up its ears before walking over to it.
The moment Luhan started to rub his upper arms because of the cold, he closed the window to the point of allowing the fresh air to intrude only through a small gap before he continued to pour the cat food inside of the feeding dish.
"Cashmere?" While rattling with the filled feeding dish in his hands, trying to attract the cat's attention back, Luhan walked over to the hallway in search for his usually hungry animal friend.
"Where did you go?" He then noticed the the front door standing ajar, leaving at least enough space for a slinky cat to slip through it without hesitation. In search for the cat, Luhan walked out onto the corridor beyond the flat's entrance door.
The nervous flickering of the light above his head lighted the glum hallway he was walking along while keeping on calling the cat's name, even though he was unsure if it could hear him.
The light was blindingly bright and dazzled his eyes to the point he was almost not able to see the cat sitting on the stairhead. The noise the running light bulbs caused was way too distracting and almost painful in Luhan's ears, drowning out the sound of his footsteps and his own voice. He could not remember the hallway being so dizzying and debilitating.
"Come here." His voice resounded in his mind blankly, like he was the only one who was able to hear it. He suddenly felt dizzy and feverish, his heart beat frowningly fast and the sound of breathing didn't synchronise with his actual breath. For a moment, he felt like the endless-seeming hallway was about to swallow him up, captivating him in its oppressive narrowness and blinding brightness.
The moment the cat was about to jump up another step, Luhan watched the whole staircase becoming blurred. And in a blink of an eye, the white cat shattered into a thousand pieces, like it was made of glass. The dreadful sight of the breaking cat caused Luhan's eyeballs to hurt and pulse in a quite painful way. A sudden convulsion of his muscles brought him to his knees and numbed his feet to the point Luhan lost all of the balance and collapsed right on the ground.
The paralysation took over his whole body and disabled him to move. His lungs pressed against his ribcage in an agonizing pain, making him unable to breathe or cry for help. He tried to shout for Minseok in vain but the unbearable droning in his head shut down his own mind. As he sensed how he was crumbling and slowly fading away, he was certain that the breath he had taken had been his last.
Just in time, Minseok found his motionless boyfriend out in the hallways and picked him up from the ground to carry him back to the flat. Back and safe in the four walls of the living room, Minseok laid Luhan down on the couch, placing a pillow under his head and stroking his hair out of his face carefully. He could literally feel how Luhan recovered little by little. But the weakness he still suffered from forced him to fall asleep.
Minseok ruffled his already tousled hair and sighed, as he took at seat on the small table next to the cosy, eyeing the peacefully sleeping Luhan with concern.
His mind was befogged by disturbing scenarios of what could have happened if he didn't find Luhan. In all of them Luhan ended up vanishing. Everytime he imagined Luhan disappearing in front of his eyes, it almost urged him to the verge of madness.
"Minseok...?" The feeble voice of a slowly awakening Luhan jolted him out of his trance of sorrow. Luhan's small eyes were slightly reddened, and his voice and movements still trembled a little. "The staircase ate the cat." Not until now, Minseok realised why Luhan had left the flat, even though he knew he wasn't allowed to. Thinking about the cat, he couldn't see it anywhere around. "I was looking for Cashmere. And…"
"It's okay, Luhan." Minseok caressed the back of Luhan's slightly shaking hand, but didn't dare to look at him.
"I- I couldn't help it. It, you know, it just disappeared. Like poof." Minseok tried hard to swallow the lump in his throat. He knew what Luhan meant. But he couldn't explain to him what had happened. And that Luhan unknowingly ran the risk of disappearing the same way the cat did. "I don't know exactly what happened to me. I never felt like this before. I-I couldn't move and I couldn't breathe. I felt like vanishing." Luhan looked at his opponent with a worried expression. "I don't know how to explain it. You must think I'm crazy."
"No, I don't." Luhan stopped talking as Minseok answered low-voiced. He had still averted his gaze and focused on the knuckles of the other's hand. "You're not crazy."
"Do you know what happened to me?" Minseok wasn't able to look at Luhan, who had regained enough strength to sit upright. He tried to look at Minseok's face to read any expression from it or at least catch a glimpse of a reaction.
"Minseok?" The addressed kept silent. His head was stuffed with physical equations and scientific explanations; words that would try to help Luhan to understand what happened to him, but he wasn't allow to know any of it at the same time; words that were piled in a barrel called Minseok to which Luhan was about to ignite the blasting fuse. "Does it have to do with your science stuff? Was it an experiment? Am I an experiment?"
"Minseok! I want you to answer me right now! What are you doing in this room?" Luhan raised his voice to a level Minseok had never experienced before. Luhan let go of his hand and eyed Minseok with a stern and forceful facial expression. "What did you do to me?"
"Nothing. I didn't do anything to you. I would never do anything to you." The moment their eyes met, the spark of sincere honesty in Minseok's eyes caused a moment of silence, causing Luhan to rack his brain of the happenings and slowly putting the pieces of Minseok's secret together.
"Then it's about this room." He looked across Minseok's shoulder to the door of Minseok's working room "There was never a doctor who said I'm not allowed to leave this flat, right? You just don't want me to go outside. Why am I held captive in here? Minseok, please." Luhan looked at him in a way he never wanted his boyfriend to look at him. Worry and fear rested in his tired eyes.
"You really want to know? Ok, I'll show you."
Minseok turned on the light switch and with that illuminated the small but stuffy room, that contained Minseok's well-protected secret. Luhan found himself surrounded by nearly uncountable wires and colourful cables lying scattered around the floor and climbing up the walls just to disappear in self-drilled holes above both heads. They all were connected to a strange device with a glowing light bulb resting on the desk, at which Luhan didn't expect anything but a laptop and a couple of documents.
"What is all this?"
"It's a time chamber. The device is able to create sort of a time bubble in which the laws of time and space are suspended." Luhan focused the light bulb apparatus in disbelief.
"It allows us to be together. I built it for you. It took me two years, but I still need some time to perfect it. It only works for a limited time. I got it up to two hours so far, but I know it can go longer."
Luhan struggled for words. He wasn't prepared for something like this. He totally couldn't follow Minseok's abstruse train of thoughts. But he didn't seem to be conscious of the completely surreal story about an apparatus manipulating time and space he was trying to explain to an utterly confused Luhan.
"Minseok, I don't understand."
"It creates an interface of two time periods in a certain area. In other words, it connects the present and the past within a limited area. And this area is currently our flat. That's why you can't leave this place. You did exit the bubble earlier and… you know… you can't exist without it."
"I can't exist without it?"
"You can't just walk from the past into the future. That would wreck the laws of physics. You just witnessed what would happen if you do." The memory of the strange pain he felt earlier came back to Luhan's mind and made his flesh creep alarmingly.
While listening to the elusive explanations of Minseok, the truth started to tumble down on him, like someone had ignited the cocoon of fake reality he was used to live in. And the reality burned inside his bloodstream and made him feel sick.
"Minseok, what year is it?"
"No. I mean, what year is out there?"
Luhan tried hard to calm his fitful breathing. He felt like throwing up and clutched the edge of the desk with his sweaty and shaking hands to not let the truth bring him to his knees.
He eyed the powerful apparatus next to him. He was frightened and impressed at the same time. This simple device with the plain light bulb on top was able to do all this? Overcoming the limitation of time and space, was that possible? And all this was accomplished by his boyfriend Minseok?
"Why did you do this? Did something happen to me?" Luhan's words and trembling voice scratched Minseok's already fractured heart. He thought he had thrown the afflicting box of misery in the deepest abyss of his mind. But the look at Luhan's face brought back all the memories of sadness and pain; everything Minseok had been through.
"I lost you." Luhan noticed Minseok tearing up. "When you got sick ... everything happened so fast. I thought we'd have more time." He averted his gaze in shame of the tears welling up in his eyes. "I-I didn't have the chance to make up for everything you did to me. And everything you were for me. I didn't… have the chance to be all that for you."
As Luhan approached him, Minseok felt how his arms wrapped around his waist, pulling him closer and placing a kiss on his forehead. Being in Luhan arms gave him shelter. And the tender warmth of Luhan's body, that muffled him like a comforting blanket made of devotion, always repelled the sorrow every time they hugged each other.
"Stupid you. Sweet but stupid little Minseok. What gave you the idea that you have to make up for anything? Your love is all I ever needed. And you give me so much love, more than I can put into words. I love all the things you do for me and I love you for all the things you are. And nothing will ever change it. Neither space nor time." As his pleasant breath brushed Minseok's forehead, he sunk his face into Luhan's crook of neck, feeling a tear running down his cheek.
"But frankly, there is one thing I want you to do for me." Minseok lifted his head from the other's shoulder, trying to catch a reaction in his pensive face.
"We don't have much time. The last time I intensified the energy to create a larger time bubble, it lasted only ten minutes and caused a short circuit and a total blackout in the whole neighbourhood."
"It's enough time."
The wintry air pricked on both faces as Minseok opened the creaking door to the rooftop and watched his beloved venturing a step in the outside's cold. Luhan felt the winter's breath sneaking under his sweater and the scarf Minseok had wrapped him in.
Silently, he watched the snowflakes falling slowly to the earth, smoothly whirling and dancing around the cloud-covered night sky and delicately melting on Luhan's warmed-up skin, as well in the palms of his hands he had spread out to catch some snowflakes. He shivered due the cold, but also with excitement.
Careful step by step, he walked across the thin layer of snow, that had blanketed the frozen floor, until he reached an odd border where the white icy layer suddenly ended along a clean delimiting cut. He looked to the other half of the rooftop beyond the invisible wall he was not allowed to cross.
He noticed a neatly arranged roof garden someone had planted lovingly, where little colourful buds had just began to bloom and now slept peacefully in their tiny flower pots.
Minseok kept an steady eye on Luhan, who had thrown his head back, gazing at the two entirely different skies above him in abstraction. One part was clouded and soft snow fell on Luhan's blond head, the other was clear and painted with a splendid starry sky.
"This is ..."
"Beautiful." As Luhan turned around to his concerned boyfriend, Minseok could swear he saw the stars reflecting in his dreamy eyes.
"This. Just this. Look at what you've created, Minseok. With your knowledge about science, you can achieve so much more. Your skills shouldn't be hidden in a lonely room."
"I'm not lonely. I'm living with you." The moment Minseok took Luhan's hand and intertwined his fingers with his own, he noticed Luhan averting his gaze, staring back at the dark cloud accumulated with snow above his head.
"This is not living. Living is what's out there, beyond this rooftop. Out in the world where you're supposed to be."
"But I want to be with you."
"I don't belong here. This is not my time. My time has passed. Now it's about you to live."
Although the truth was painful, in this moment both realised that Luhan was nothing more than a shadow roaming their house like an old memory, which Minseok played back over and over again and tried too hard to keep it running like an endless movie.
"I don't want to lose you again." The fear of letting Luhan go forever grasped his already strained heart firmly, boring it's sharp claws into his flesh. He couldn't stand the notion of losing him again.
"You will never lose me. I will always be with you."
Luhan took Minseok's face in both of his hands to kiss his soft lips tenderly, which aroused lovely little goose bumps on Minseok's skin in the same way it happened back then when Luhan had kissed him for the first time. Memories flashed through Minseok's mind's eyes, retelling the story of how they met and how they fell in love, while he was hold closely by Luhan, with his cold cheeks caressed by the other's thumb fondly.
The noisy humming and blending glare of the apparatus' powerful working in the small room somewhere underneath their feet, intensified unnoticedly to the point the device started to shake dangerously. The first screws started to undo themselves and the first cracks overspread the intensely hot light bulb.
Crack by crack the fragile piece of glass became a pulsing and torrid time bomb, uncontrollably draining power of the whole building and shining in a light of countless lux.
As Luhan ceased from kissing his lips, Minseok looked in the other's face in total shock. His softly smiling face was completely covered in cracks, splitting his lips and cracking his eyeballs. A bright light was shining through all the cracks, making it look like Luhan was made of pure light inside. And now his fragile front was about to shatter any minute.
"Don't! I can't be without you!" Minseok protested the moment Luhan took a step back and left Minseok's side of the rooftop.
"I want you to live, Minseok. Live and love your life just as much as I love you. This is my last Christmas wish."
"Luhan..." His eyes welled up with bitter tears and blurred the sight of his beloved, who was smiling at him cutely.
The moment the light from Luhan's inside shone so intense that Minseok had to narrow his eyes to slits, the light bulb down below gave up the fight and exploded loudly with a last blinding flash of lightning, shattering the cracked pieces of glass and scattering them around the whole room while inflaming the electronic device and all its components and eventually setting fire to the furniture.
"I love you, Minseok."
"I love you, too. And I will always do."
With a loud cracking sound, Luhan's warmly smiling face crumbled at once and with a bright flash, he shattered into a thousand sparkling pieces.
As Minseok opened his eyes again, he found himself in a sea of glowing stardust that rained down on him and died out the moment it touched the ground. A tear ran down his cold cheek, which he brushed away with the sleeve of his sweater as it reached the edge of his mouth.
The warm spring air swirled around his unkempt hair playfully and tried to comfort the lonely boy on the rooftop by showing him the dreamful daybreak rising at the horizon. Luhan's words resounded in his head like a melodious echo. But he knew that this echo was going to fade away some day.
And as he walked down the hallways and went back to his flat, he unintentionally forgot the sound of Luhan's voice already.
He entered his working room, because somehow he got reminded of something very important he had to do in this room. But the moment he crossed the door's frame he totally forgot about that intention and simply stood in the middle of the room, staring at the tidy desk with nothing more than a few documents, a laptop and a picture frame on it.
The first sunrays sneaked through the window into the clean room and illuminated Minseok's face, who took the picture in both hands. With a cute grin on his lips, he stroke the portrayal of a smiling Luhan with a finger lovingly while reading the caring signature:
Love always, Luhan.
( inspired by the episode "And Those We've Left Behind" of FRINGE. )