The warehouse was... empty.
The adrenaline after his escape from the zombies (and it still felt weird thinking that was his reality now) was swiftly replaced by dread.
'Where are the kids?' Daeyeol wondered, carefully moving around. From the way things have been thrown all over the place and the broken windows, he guessed his younger friends barely had the time to pack their stuff and run away before being chased.
'What am I gonna do now?' Daeyeol asked himself, feeling despair clench his heart. 'I can't do this alone... I can't‒'. His thoughts were interrupted when he heard noise coming from outside.
Daeyeol quickly turned around, ready to fight his way out if necessary when the door was suddenly yanked open and there stood his other half.
"Jangjun..." he whispered, unsure if he was just imagining it. Leaving his lover behind had been the worst decision he ever had to take. Well, actually it was Jangjun who did it for him.
«"Hyung, go!" Jangjun screamed, throwing his bag filled with meds towards the older and using his arms to block the zombies.
"Jangjun!!" Daeyeol yelled, moving towards his partner, but the other stopped him.
"Go! I'll hold them back!" Jangjun said, kicking a zombie in the face while trying to release one of his arms from the grip of another of the mindless beings. "Our son needs the meds. GO!"
Daeyeol was still conflicted and even pushed a few of the zombies out of the way: the idea of leaving his partner behind was unbearable.
"Dae, go!" Jangjun yelled. "I'll find you later, but our kids need you. NOW!"
They shared one last glance, trying to convey all of their feelings towards each other, before Daeyeol turned around and sprinted out of the place.»
"Hyung..." Jangjun whispered, eyes wide in shock and slowly filling with unshed tears.
It took only a few steps before Dayeol was in front of the other, yanking him inside, closing the door behind them and finally ('finally!') hugging the younger as tightly as he could.
"Hyung" Jangjun said again, before he broke down and started sobbing against Daeyeol's shoulder.
"Shh, it's okay, you are here. You are here" the older said, gently caressing his head while tightening his hold of the other.
"I was so scared... I was..." Jangjun couldn't keep talking and hid his face on his lover's chest, starting to finally feel safe again.
Daeyeol could do nothing but whisper soft, encouraging words, trying to make the other calm down.
They stood like that for a while, simply enjoying being alive and with each other again before Jangjun pulled sightly away. Despite his red eyes, the tear marks and the light scratches on his face, Daeyeol still thought he was the most beautiful being he's ever seen in his life.
After the experience they've just gone through and the possibility that would have been the last time he'd seen the love of his life, he couldn't help himself: he bent down slightly and kissed his lover. Jangjun was surprised, but quickly responded, trying to pull Daeyeol even closer and deepening the kiss. When they had to separate because of the lack of oxygen, the small smile Jangjun showed him was enough to give him strenght again.
Daeyeol hated that what he was about to say was going to make the other sad and panic again, but they had no more time.
"Jangjun..." the uncertain tone of his voice immediately made Jangjun frown.
"Hyung...? What‒" before he could say or ask anything else, Jangjun finally lifted his gaze over his lover's shoulder. Daeyeol saw the moment his eyes took in the mess and, most importantly, the absence of the younger ones. "Hyung...?" he asked, his voice barely audible, panic obviously seeping through.
"I got here only a couple of minutes before you did and it was already like this" Daeyeol answered, turning around but keeping one of his arms around the other's waist. Looking at the place that had been their safe heaven for over a month having been turned almost upside down was making his stomach clench painfully. He could feel Jangjun tremble slightly next to him so he turned towards his partner and saw clear shock and fear on his face.
"I think they managed to get away. There's no... no blood anywhere. I think they made it out."
Jangjun seemed unable to tear his gaze away from the mess he could see all around.
"Jangjun... Jangjun!" He said, finally making his partner turn to look at him. "We need to go and find them. I don't think this happened too long ago, we can catch up to them."
"Right... Right..." the younger said, shaking his head so he could focus on the task ahead.
Before anything else could be said, a screeching sound suddenly made them jump in fright. It took Daeyeol a few seconds to realize it was coming from one of the portable radios Seungmin had given them. He looked at his partner who seemed just as surprised, before he quickly opened his bag to locate the radio.
"Seungmin...? Seungmin??!?" he asked once he was finally able to use it.
There were a few seconds of tense silence.
No answer was coming through and Daeyeol was starting to feel dread again. What if the kids had dropped the radio on the way out and it was turned on accidentally? Or by some zombie kicking it? Or someone‒
"Hyung? Hyung can you hear me?" When Seungmin's voice came through both Daeyeol and Jangjun sagged in relief.
"I can hear you" Daeyeol replied, trying to keep his voice as stable as possible.
"Hyung where are you?"
"At the warehouse. Where are you? This place is a mess. What happened?"
"There was an attack, I don't know how they found us" Seungmin replied. "We had time to grab our bags and fill them with our stuff before the zombies started to break down the windows."
This was exactly what Daeyeol had imagined. At least they got away.
"We had to leave a few things behind, like the blankets" Seungmin continued. "Jibeom had to half carry Donghyun, we had no time."
"It's okay, baby, you did well" Jangjun replied, relief evident in his face and voice. "Are you guys safe now?"
"I think so" Seungmin replied. "But we could see too many zombies on the streets nearby and I think we should move and find another place soon."
"Where are you?" Daeyeol asked. "We are going to come and pick you up. We'll talk strategy once we are all together."
"The market two blocks South of the warehouse, at the cafeteria where they used to sell the coffee you liked."
"Okay, we'll be there soon. How's Dongyun?"
They heard Seungmin move around a bit and sigh before he spoke with them again.
"Still has a fever, but at least it didn't get worse. Did you get his medicine?"
"Yeah, right the one he needs. Hold on for a little longer. We are coming."
"Thanks hyungs... It was... Thanks... Hurry up, please."
"Don't worry, we'll be there soon."
Daeyeol turned off the radio and looked at his partner.
"They made it" Jangjun said, relief clear in his voice. "They made it."
"Our kids are good" he replied, allowing himself a small smile. "We need to go. Once there, we'll figure out what to do. I think..." he hesitated for a few seconds before continuing. "I think it's time to find a van, get as many things we need as possible and leave the city."
"Leave?" Jangjun asked, surprised by the idea. "Where should we go?"
"Even the outskirts are preferable. Less chance of zombies in the area" Daeyeol replied. "The countryside would be better. We could find a place, maybe use a recently abandoned house, and make it our permanent base, coming back here if we need to look for specific things."
Jangjun was silent for a few seconds, probably evaluating pros and cons of his idea.
"You have been thinking about this for a while" the younger said, a thoughtful expression on his face.
"No one is going to help" Daeyeol replied, pulling his lover towards the things the others left behind. Jangjun immediately knew what he was going to do and started helping him collect everything they needed. "The government is gone. The army is almost completely inexistent. All around the world the situation is no better. In the last couple of months we barely saw a handful of 'normal' people and they were like us: desperate and knew they could only rely on themselves."
Jangjun nodded, opening a big bag to use for the blankets, while Daeyeol grabbed as many tools as possible.
"We can't keep moving around" he continued. "The aren't many places left to hide. We need a space where we can rest, maybe grow our own food. Donghyun needs to take time for the cure to work properly. Besides things we might occasionally need, there's nothing left here for us. Even our families..." he trailed off, thinking about the call he had with his brother four months ago. That had been the last time they talked: their parents had been turned barey a month since the epidemic started. His brother had managed to surive simply because he had escaped with his friends, but he got bitten during their latest trip looking for food. His brother had called him to say goodbye, knowing there was nothing they could do. It had been devastating, but Daeyeol wasn't the only one who suddenly found himself an orphan. The last relatives to go from their little group had been Seungmin's mother and brother, just last month. Seungmin had almost been cathatonic for a full week.
He was pulled back to the present by a hand gently caressing his face.
Jangjun looked at him, lips turned in a sad smile that Daeyeol found himself returning: his lover clearly had known what he had been thinking about.
"We still have each other" Jangjun softly said. "The two of us and our three kids. We'll make it."
Daeyeol grabbed the hand still on his face and gently laid a kiss upon it.
"Yeah, we will" he said, looking at the other. He knew he was lucky to still have his lover and their closest friends, who had been nicknamed their "kids" since they met them in Junior High and took them under their wings. He honestly believed that if he lost them as well, he wouldn't have made it. They were the most important people in his life. What would have been the point to keep living if they weren't there anymore?
"Come on" Jangjun said, pulling him towards the back exit, taking a final look around to check if they missed anything. "Let's go get our kids back. Then we'll discuss about your idea. I agree with you. I think it would be the best for us."
Daeyeol felt a real, happy smile replace his previous sad one.
The future was uncertain, but the silver lining of hope was still there, making his resolve grow stronger.
As long as they had each other, Daeyeol found himself believing they would make it.
He gently squeezed Jangjun's hand, took a deep breath and took his first step towards a better tomorrow.