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Taemin blamed himself. His gut had told him since morning that this was not a good idea, and yet he had still come.
Leaving a cloud of dust behind, their bus merged into the swishing highway. Taemin stood staring at the bus, when Jongin came back and snatched Taemin’s hand.
They continued running. The cars speeded at a 100km/hour a few feet away from them, but the boys ran down the highway as much as their breath could take them. They held to a slight hope that maybe, maybe Soojung would wake up to find empty seats beside her and screech ‘I’m missing three morons, you retard of a bus driver!!!’ and stop the bus.
But the bus disappeared out of their sight, leaving Taemin, Jongin, and Chanyeol tattered and gasping for breath. Taemin plopped down to the ground, Jongin covered his mouth as if he was about to throw up again, and Chanyeol stood, pulling at his hair and cussing at the entire world.
“My life is over, oh my god, we’re stranded in the middle of nowhere and we’re going to die.” Taemin said hysterically. “All of our stuff is on the bus, and I don’t even have my wallet or my phone, OH MY GOD, I’M GONNA DIE!!!”
Jongin started to shuffle through his pocket at this, getting torn for the secondth time to find nothing useful. He plopped down beside Taemin, and a few seconds later, Jongin and Taemin whipped their heads up towards Chanyeol.
“I seriously doubt this… and I don’t think you’ll ever be of any help in my life but…” Taemin drawled, “do you have your phone?”
Chanyeol hesitated to answer, and Taemin leaped up to dive into Chanyeol’s pocket. Taemin pulled out something blocky, a phone, and to his excitement he quickly unlocked the screen and dialed Soojung.
It didn’t go through.
“What the .”
Taemin said, and Chanyeol gave an apologetic smile.
“I was bored and played candy crush all the way.” Chanyeol said, taking back his battery-dead phone.
“Oh my god are you kidding me, then you should’ve used the time to charge your phone at the rest area, not munch down on some corndog like a five-year old kid!!”
“It’s not like I knew this was going to happen!! You two are the ones who spent all the time throwing up in the washroom and missed the bus!!!!”
Jongin, who had been watching Taemin and Chanyeol bark at each other, hefted to his feet at this.
“What the hell?! What does throwing up have anything to do with this!?!!” He cried indignantly.
The three boys’ loud voices drowned amidst the roaring of the vehicles swooshing down the highway.
[Jungdongjin 50km ahead]
“Yeah… unless that zero is drawn… wait… …nope…”
“Maybe it’s written wrong…?”
Taemin, Jongin, and Chanyeol looked at the green sign that indicated the way to Jungdongjin. 50km.
…How far away was fifty kilometers? The distance was impossible to grasp their head around.
Whether how ridiculous it may sound, Taemin, Jongin and Chanyeol were walking. Emptying their mind and thoughts, the three had walked the highway… for about two hours now. With Jongin ahead and Chanyeol behind him, Taemin continued to move his feet without a word.
Of course, they hadn’t just walked all this time. Chanyeol suggested hitchhiking, ignorantly saying how hitchhiking had always been a dream of his road trip fantasy. They had waved their arms off, and even danced crazily by the side of the road. Honestly, Taemin thought that some lady would have a heart to stop, especially at his pretty face. (And maybe at Jongin and Chanyeol’s good-looking features, but Taemin still considered himself to be the visual out of the three)
But the world was a cruel, cold place. Without even giving them a glance, the cars swished past them, leaving cold wind to whip ‘rejected’ into their faces. Provoked by this, Taemin and Chanyeol lifted their shirts and sweaters, revealing skin (and abs in Chanyeol’s case) to attract some kind of attention to themselves. But again, the world was a cruel, cold place. Maybe it would’ve worked if it was summer. But a topless teenager by the road in the middle of freezing winter scared the cars even further away, and Taemin and Jongin had to stop an ego-crushed Chanyeol from jumping into the traffic.
Taemin stopped walking and plopped down on the ground. He hadn’t ate, hadn’t had his regular consumption of sugar, and walking wasn’t possible for him anymore. Chanyeol's legs bumped into Taemin.
“…Get up.” Chanyeol said bleakly.
Jongin turned around at the sound, and walked back when he saw Taemin on the ground.
“Are you okay...?”
Jongin said as he crouched in front of Taemin.
Taemin wanted to say that he was okay. He wanted to say that he still had the power to walk fifty kilometers or however long the road stretched before them. But he couldn’t. Mentally nor physically, Taemin couldn’t keep up anymore. He had no idea how much time they had left before the sun set, and his stomach hurt from the hunger.
“…… I’m not okay. What is this, What the hell is this?!!” Taemin cried.
“We’re so screwed.” Jongin said, plopping down next to Taemin.
“Just pretend that you’re air. The wind. And walk.” Chanyeol said, his voice weak and hollow. “Then you forget that you’re hungry.”
Taemin pulled at Chanyeol’s arm, and Chanyeol too fell on the ground without resisting.
“…I’m hungry.” Chanyeol said, as the three fought off the icy wind with their bodies.
“Shut up, you’re making me think of being hungry again.” Said Taemin.
“Are crazypop and iron big-toe hibernating or something...?!” Chanyeol cried in frustration.
“Do you think they know that we’ve been stranded…?” Said Taemin.
“If they’re human,” said Jongin. “…yes.”
With that, the three fell into thought if Soojung and Sulli could possibly be categorized as normal homo sapiens. Taemin swayed to the side and fell on Jongin’s lap. Jongin's eyes were out of focus into the distance, limp and hungry from having thrown up everything he had in his stomach.
“I still can’t believe this. We’re stranded. ing stranded.” Chanyeol started snickering. “At least we’ll remember this for the rest of our lives.”
Taemin heard Jongin smirk too from above him, and he tried to ignore their laughter by imagining warm meals and chocolates. He, at least, was going to stay sane.
“…Are you okay?” Jongin asked again, eyeing Taemin’s pallid face.
Taemin nodded, his head still resting on Jongin’s lap.
Though Taemin wasn’t sure. All those times in the past, Taemin had joked about getting a hypoglycemia shock from low blood pressure whenever he wanted his chocolate. He never had the so-called shock before. But right now, it didn't seem so funny anymore. And Taemin was scared.
“Let’s go, we can’t stay like this forever.” Chanyeol stood up, pulling on Taemin’s arm in an attempt to get him up.
Taemin continued to lie there with his arms hanging by Chanyeol’s grip.
“…Don’t pull him like that.”
Jongin said, pushing Chanyeol’s arm away. Jongin lifted his friend back up to a sitting position, and crouched down with his back before Taemin.
Taemin wordlessly nodded. The usual Taemin would’ve rather preferred to be left behind than to borrow Jongin’s back, but this low blood pressure and low sugar level business actually felt life-threatening. Taemin reluctantly moved his body, and Jongin lifted Taemin up on his back. Like that they started walking again.
Taemin buried his face into Jongin’s back and Jongin walked and walked, shifting Taemin up every few minutes. For a country the size of an ant on the world map, the highway seemed endless. Taemin was completely lost on how long they’ve been walking for. Maybe about five hours. Taemin couldn’t stand being on Jongin’s back for so long, so he had repeated walking and being on Jongin’s back for those hours. Right now, Taemin was on Jongin’s back again.
It was only minutes later that Taemin realized that his lips were touching Jongin’s neck. It was a total distraction but Taemin remained in that position, unable to move from the lack of energy. As if it was bothering Jongin as well, Jongin bumped Taemin further up and moved his neck around.
Taemin muffled into Jongin’s collar.
Jongin answered, turning his head slightly.
“……I’m sorry. I know I’m really heavy.”
“….Good thing you know.”
Taemin drawled again.
“Go to sleep.”
“How am I supposed to sleep on top of you…”
“…Just sleep.” Jongin said. “It’s okay.”
Taemin called again.
“…I just realized that I haven’t been on your back since middle school…”
“Why are you doing that…?”
“……I like it…”
“…Stop calling me like that….”
Jongin muttered, as he shrugged his shoulders as a signal for Taemin to stop. Without noticing that Jongin’s ears had turned bright red, Taemin’s head bopped limply on Jongin’s shoulder. Taemin was about to tell Jongin to let him off when Chanyeol caught up to them from behind.
“…What is wrong with him?” Chanyeol frowned, “Here, give him to me.”
Jongin ignored Chanyeol, and Chanyeol took off his jacket.
“I mean let’s take turns.” Chanyeol said as he dumped his jacket on top of Taemin’s head. “I don't plan on carrying both of you any time soon. Don’t be ridiculous and hand him over.”
Jongin looked hesitant, and Chanyeol lifted his jacket to study Taemin’s face underneath.
“What the hell… is he dying?” Chanyeol inquired incredulously.
“Yeah.” Jongin responded.
“From low blood pressure.”
“…You gotta be ing kidding me.”
Chanyeol huffed, and forced Taemin down from Jongin’s back. Skilfully delivering Taemin to his own back, Chanyeol tossed the jacket over to Jongin.
Without having a say, Taemin shut his mouth and buried his face into Chanyeol’s back. Taemin wished he could jump off from Chanyeol’s back and throw a lively retort like he always did. Ego was his middle name, after all. But Taemin’s mouth was dry and he was sweating on every pore. Ego wasn’t going to save his life at the moment and Taemin stayed silent. His face flushing red in embarrassment, Taemin didn’t dare to lift his head for the rest of the ride.
The rest of the ride at least, before Chanyeol reached his limit in the cold and hungry environment. After thirty minutes with Taemin on his back, Chanyeol stopped walking.
Chanyeol yelled, and untangled his hands under Taemin’s legs. With a loud thud, Taemin fell on the icy road.
“Ah!! You could’ve just told me to get off!!” Taemin cried, the sharp pain rising up from his buttocks to his spine.
“Let’s leave him.” Chanyeol said irritably to Jongin as he wiped sweat off his forehead.
Snapping wide awake at Chanyeol’s suggestion, Taemin looked over to Jongin. To Taemin’s horror, Jongin actually looked like he was contemplating the option. Scared that they might actually leave him to shed to his end, Taemin was just about to remind Jongin that they’ve been friends for ten years when Jongin gave an aggravated sigh and walked over.
“Get on.” Jongin said, crouching before Taemin.
“…Forget it.” Taemin said.
“…I don’t even have the energy to talk, so just get on.”
Taemin slowly lifted himself up, and he pushed Jongin as soon as he found balance on his feet. Caught off guard, Jongin swayed to the side but caught himself before he fell to the ground.
“What was that for?” Jongin's brows creased to a dumbfounded frown.
“Don’t even, I saw that look, you were just about to abandon me here, alone-” Taemin started, until Jongin interrupted.
“Are you stupid, we can’t abandon you here even if we wanted to…”
“I can walk on my own feet if we have at least a morsel of food.” Taemin said, and looked around the grassy plain beside the road. “Let’s catch something. Or maybe we can pick mushrooms or something…”
“…What do you mean catch something?!!” Jongin looked at Taemin with an absurd expression. “And what the hell, you’re going to kill yourself by eating random mushrooms!”
Before Taemin could respond, Chanyeol’s hand dived in between Taemin and Jongin and separated them from each other.
“Look…” Chanyeol said lowly.
Taemin and Jongin followed Chanyeol’s gaze, and they found a large white dog in the middle of the plains. It wagged its tail and looked back at them.
“What… is that…?” Taemin asked as he rubbed his eyes.
“Are you dumb, it’s a dog-nim.” Chanyeol answered, his voice hushed incase they scared the dog away.
“Oh my god, I’ve never been so happy to see a dog in my life.” Taemin whimpered.
Watching Taemin and Chanyeol whispering to each other without averting their eyes from the dog, Jongin opened his mouth.
“…You guys aren’t…” Jongin drawled slowly, “thinking of eating that dog...”
“What the ?! No!” Taemin turned to Jongin, giving him a look that made Jongin feel like he suggested the barbaric idea.
“You see that dog’s collar right?” Taemin turned back to Chanyeol before Jongin could say something in his defense. “That means that dog belongs to somebody, and that there are civilization near us!!” Taemin whispered furiously, hoping that he wasn’t just seeing things.
“Duh, the dog couldn’t have missed its express bus like we have…” Chanyeol replied in a hush.
Taemin almost saw the clouds divide to let a stream of holy light shine upon the dog. The three boys exchanged meaningful glances, and slowly started to approach the dog through the plains. To their relief, the dog-nim(?) didn’t think to run away, and it continued to wag its tail innocently. Just by looking at the tag on the collar, it was bound to have an owner. And if the owner was human, they possibly couldn’t not pity them. Their tattered state looked horrible at the moment, and human emotion would be on their side.
According to Chanyeol’s instructions, Taemin, Jongin, and Chanyeol cornered the dog from all sides with extreme caution. But as soon as they were near the dog, the dog easily escaped between Jongin and Chanyeol and dashed towards the more foresty looking part of the plains.
“What are you guys doing?!” Taemin was the first to snap, and he yelled as he ran after the dog. “Hurry and catch the damn thing!”
The three boys ran across the plain, the long and sharp tip of the grass grazing against their knees. And when twenty minutes of fruitless hide-and-seek passed without success, the three realized that the dog was undoubtedly playing around with them. Either that dog had a human brain transplanted in its head by some secret organization, or they were just dumber than a dog. Taemin picked up a large stick from the ground and ruffled it through the tall grass.
“Here, doggy doggy. Here, stupid doggy… I mean, here, o ye dog-nim, we’re not going to eat you…”
Taemin turned around, and realized in dismay that it was going to be even harder to go back now. Their only hope was to find the dog and its owner, and Taemin desperately called for the dog to appear again. Peering over bushes of dead leaves, Jongin stopped behind Taemin.
“…Don’t you think this is a waste of our time?” He said, “Let’s try to get ourselves back on the road…”
“I’m not going anywhere. This is ing war.” Taemin gritted. “Let’s see who wins, me or that . I see flashes of its stupid tail, I bet it has a nest here somewhere…”
“…A nest? We’re talking about a dog here, right?”
“It’s a figure of speech! We’ve been deceived by a dog!!! I’m not going to lose to a dog, that’s just-”
“Ridiculous? Because standing here and waving a branch around is totally un-ridiculous.”
Jongin cut Taemin off, and Taemin stared down at the stick in his hand. He looked around, and to overexaggerate just a bit, they were standing in a middle of a mini-jungle. Nobody had told him that Korea had a jungle in the middle of a highway road, and it was impossible for them to find their way back now. Taemin threw the stick down in irritation. Chanyeol, who also had a branch in his hand, too threw his stick among the bushes.
To their surprise, the bush whimpered. The whimper soon turned into a threatening growl, and the three boys turned their attention to the bush to find a very angry hit-in-the-head-by-a-stick dog reveal itself to them.
They had finally found the dog. Except it was now ing angry. The way it was growling with all of its sharp teeth showing was so blood-curdling that Taemin, Jongin and Chanyeol froze in their spots. Taemin was pretty sure that it was the same dog as the one they saw before, the large white one that wagged its tail in a friendly manner. But right now, the dog had its tail shooting up viciously. The beast looked freaking nuts.
“…Should we run?”
Taemin whispered, his face draining colour by each second. The dog growled louder, as if telling Taemin to shut up. Before Jongin could answer, Chanyeol shuffled soundlessly in his spot until he suddenly lunged himself to the other side and started running for his life. At the same time, the dog leaped forwards and chased after Chanyeol. Chanyeol quickly climbed up a tree nearby, and the crazed dog barked menacingly from below.
Jongin said quietly. He slowly stretched his right arm towards Taemin, the rest of his body completely still and soundless. Trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, Jongin didn’t avert his eyes from the dog that was still barking up at Chanyeol. Maybe the dog had rabies. Whatever the case, the dog was ing crazy and it looked like it could rip a person into pieces. Taemin nervously bit his lower lip.
Suddenly, Jongin snatched Taemin’s hand. He grabbed it tightly, and the fact that Jongin held his hand was already a relief to Taemin.
“I’m going to count to three.” Jongin said lowly, his eyes still fixed on the large dog. “When I reach three, start running.”
“, I’m going to die of a heart attack before that thing gets me.” Taemin muttered under his breath.
“Whatever you do, don’t let go of my hand and just run.” Jongin continued, ignoring Taemin’s comment. “Ready?”
“NO.” Taemin whispered furiously.
“One, two…” Jongin started counting. “three!”
Jongin started running with Taemin in hand, and the sudden movement caught the dog’s attention.
What Taemin registered next was that he was running and running and running, the large foregin leaves slapping into his face but he never let go of Jongin’s hand. They soon escaped the woods to come across a hill of enormous boulders, and the two boys climbed it just in time before the dog caught them. Unable to climb up, the dog barked helplessly in fury.
Their pulse still throbbing, Taemin and Jongin managed to sit down at the corner of the boulder. Looking at the scenery outstretched before their eyes, Taemin soon realized that the woods they were in was the untouched land near the highway, while right now they were invading someone else’s territory. The plains was a field of crops, now dry and dead in the harsh winter environment.
Jongin was still holding Taemin’s hand, and Taemin numbly stared at their entertwined fingers. Catching what Taemin was staring at, Jongin quickly let go as if Taemin’s sleeve was on fire. Completely ignorant of Jongin and Taemin’s awkward yet dramatic atmosphere, the dog continued barking loudly beneath them.
“Thanks for saving my life.” Taemin mustered, when his thumping heart calmed down. “For the hundredth time. I think. I don’t keep count.” Jongin laughed.
“Are you okay?” He asked, and Taemin nodded.
“How long do you think Chanyeol can endure it up there?” Jongin smirked.
“Who cares?” Taemin replied jokingly, and Jongin snickered again.
The loud barks of the dog echoed through the plain, and Taemin watched the dog trying to jump on the rock again and again but failing each time.
“Jongin-ah…” Taemin broke the insecure silence. “You and I… us, I mean…”
“It would be better if we stayed friends, right?”
Jongin turned and met Taemin’ eyes. It was really sudden and out of the blue, Taemin knew. But for some reason, now that they were in the middle of nowhere and sitting on top of a rock with an angry dog underneath, Taemin wanted to be rash.
“…What makes you think that?” Jongin finally responded.
“...We’re friends right now,” Taemin said. “and it seems to be working better than-”
“Remember what I said last time?” Jongin suddenly interrupted. “That I felt a fuse go off in my brain when I saw you and Soojung kiss.”
“You have no idea how much thinking I did for the past few days.” Jongin continued. “…I still don’t get it completely.”
“I hated it since the beginning. Of your complicated relationships with so many girls. You were always clumsy like that, and I just thought that it was my responsibility to clean things up after you. That’s what I thought for ten years, until one day, it really bothered the out of me. …That’s when I started telling you to stop playing games.”
“…That time at the playground?”
Jongin answered, and stopped to face the plains stretched before them.
“I couldn’t tell why I agreed to your stupid acts, why I had the sudden impulse to hurt you, and why I went nuts everytime Chanyeol was around you. ...Until now.”
Taemin watched Jongin’s face, illuminated light orange from the now setting sun.
“And there’s only one explanation.”
Jongin concluded with some effort.
“……What is it…?”
Taemin asked, almost whispering. He wanted to hear Jongin’s answer, but at the same time he didn't.
Incase it hurt.
Jongin bit his lip, and turned to face Taemin again. He looked at Taemin for awhile and opened his mouth.
Taemin heard what Jongin voiced through the cool caressing wind, but he couldn’t believe that it had come out from Jongin’s lips. He merely stared back, feeling his brain go numb. Jongin repeated himself again, unsure if Taemin had heard him.
“I was jealous. Really, really jealous.” Jongin said.
Taemin tried to say something, but nothing came out of his parted lips. At that moment, an aggravated scream of ‘, how the hell do I get down from here!?’ echoed through the field, and Taemin hastily averted his gaze from Jongin to where Chanyeol would still be dangling from.
As if that startled the dog, the continuous barking suddenly stopped. But Jongin and Taemin soon realized that the dog didn’t stop because of Chanyeol, but becauase a voice was calling the dog’s name from afar. And when the owner showed up, Fluffy –yes, Fluffy was the dog’s name– switched back to its friendly persona(dog-sona), and happily itself towards its owner.
For a split of a second, Taemin shamelessly wondered if Fluffy would be like what Soojung would be if she were a dog.
Probably. Taemin didn’t ponder.
Thank you for reading!!!
Please subscribe and comment☆★
this is the longest chapter in the entire fic i swear lol.
and watdafuq rite, i kno i kno.
pls dun ask im embarassed too
there was so much taekai at the mma so i just had to update :)
SHINeeWorldForeva ♡ omg lol pls never run on a highway, its dangerous! thank you for ur support, i hope you enjoyed this chapter!
dancingMonkeys ♡ i hope you love this unnecessarily long chapter too ;~; aww thank you so much these three idiots still have much more to go lol ;)
nicorobin ♡ i do try to make jongin as most 'guyish' as possible, i hope he's guyish enough :) i'm so glad you like my jongin, it just makes me wiggle in my seat in happiness<3
Rawr27 ♡ lol as in this↑? lol i hope you enjoyed! thank you so much for reading and commenting :)
mintsmvp ♡ hehe i just had to give jongin a flaw that chanyeol could laugh in his face about - carsickness (i have one too and it's a pain in the ) pls don't be sorry, i really love and appreciate long comments<3 and i so agree with you, chanstal is CUTE ;) btw what exactly is this '' that you don't like? :( i hope you liked this chapter :S
itstia ♡ ofc i have a suffering-chantaekai , it shud be like a subtitle to ctiyc lmao. jks. haha everyone found chanyeol handing the five-dollar medicine cool 8D soojung love-hates sulli, she just doesn't know it yet lol ;) thank you for reading and commenting!
Icy_Heart ♡ lol ikr, they're so cool. (not). thank you so much for commenting on every chapter, i rly appreciate it :)
taimaken ♡ there will be a special cameo in the next chapter but i'm sorry in advance, its not yixing :'( BUT THANK YOU SO MUCH I MEAN, FAVORITE TAEKAI? I CANT- UR SO NICE OMG THANK YOU
N_Precious ♡ tee hee i'm glad you found that chapter funny XD thank you so much for reading and commenting!!
fairydust ♡ if you laughed then i have succeeded >ㅂ< thanx a bunch for reading and commenting :)
Pequinessa ♡ i hope this chapter was interesting enough! let me looove you too, i love you comments<3
ShiJae ♡ LOL nuuuuuu come back to life XD
stern270 ♡ and i so appreciate it /sobs/ and i'll say this over and over again, thank you so much!
starkey ♡ wow how you said u like all the characters, thank you ;~; i'm trying my best to wrap it up as nicely as possible, please stay anticipated! :)
GalaRxn ♡ your comment on every chapter flatter me to no end /leaps to the sky and smashes face into cloud/ thank you so much for reading and for your wonderful comments<3
xhigoodbye ♡ aww thank you so much for ur supporting words :') pls continue to stick with me for these crazy characters and their future dumb shenanigans XD
MachiShupp ♡ if it was unclear, taemin is the reason for the tension between jongin and chanyeol ;) good luck on your exams and i hope to see you on the next chapters! thank you~
p.s: if anyone would like to make a poster for CTIYC, i would be extremely happy and use it well :)
(i don't use poster request shops because of personal reasons)