“Hold on… why do I feel wind coming through?”
He’d had this nightmare far too many times. He didn’t know what caused it; nothing even similar to it had happened. But here he was again, helpless to watch as V and him had a confrontation in the penthouse. V wanted Rion to leave. Jumin wanted Rion to stay. And yet…
“Huh? …Rion, what are you doing?”
“It’s dangerous if you open the window like that!”
They never even looked back. It was like the voices were nothing to them. Whatever was happening in the penthouse was not important. Freedom lay ahead, and they would take any means necessary to get it. They pushed themselves out the window.
He ran to the window but he knew there was nothing he could do. There wasn’t a ledge for them to hold onto. There was nothing out there. He got to the edge just before he heard the crash–and if he could take back the second he saw the body, dashed across the pavement, he would.
He stumbled back, his stomach wrenching, one hand covering his mouth. The moment wouldn’t stop playing in front of his eyes. Every word he’d ever said to them, every mistake he’d made, every plea left unheard. He hadn’t thought they were that serious. He hadn’t thought it had gotten that bad. He’d never guessed…that rather than be with him…
V tried to say something, but Jumin bolted for the bathroom, barely making it in time before being sick. Am I that abhorrent? His stomach wrenched again. Was I that wretched, that Rion would rather…than stay with me? Was that preferable? His arms were shaking, and too soon his body had nothing left to push out and he was left gagging on nothing.
He could hear V on the phone, calling the police. The coroner. Again his body fought to expel everything from inside him. Why…?
It was a long moment before V came back to the door. “Jumin?” He couldn’t answer. Couldn’t make his voice work. “Jumin, they…” V took a breath, swallowed. “The police need a statement from us.”
“How…?” His voice sounded awful.
“It’s just…it’ll be quick. They need to know what we saw–“
“What I saw?” His voice cracked as he pushed it louder, forcing himself to his feet. “They want to know what I saw? I watched as the only person I’ve truly loved, the only person I could ever imagine spending my life with, choose jumping to their certain death over spending another evening with me, Jihyun.” His voice was wavering, unable to hold up to the strain. It had been years since he’d called V by his given name. “Rion would rather die than be here, with me.” Every word kept cracking. He fell silent.
V’s face was a picture of horror and sorrow. “I’m so sorry, Jumin. I…can only begin to imagine even a fraction of what you’re feeling.”
“No you can’t.” He took a few steps back. “You don’t even begin to scratch the surface. Rika loved you. Until the end, she loved you.”
He left the penthouse, ignoring V’s words, ignoring the security, ignoring anything. He got to the bottom of the stairs and walked out into the misting rain and watched as a white sheet was draped over a body he couldn’t see, and it quickly stained to red.
He needed to leave. He didn’t know where, but he needed to leave.
The dream jumped to a funeral, where he stood silent in front of a gravestone with a name he hadn’t even known. “Rachel.” They’d never said that Rion was a nickname. Never mentioned anything about it. Then again, V and Zen did much the same…Seven clearly didn’t go by his legal name…maybe it wasn’t that unusual. But something in him felt betrayed.
Words were being spoken but he couldn’t hear them. Condolences were being given but he wasn’t listening. Every member of the RFA had that look that they wanted to say something, but couldn’t find the words. The party had gone through, but Jumin couldn’t remember a word of it. They’d worked so hard for so long…and never saw the conclusion.
They’d been one day away. Twelve, maybe eighteen hours and they could have seen the party through to the end. But no…no. Being with him that long was worse than death. I only ever wanted you to be safe. To be mine…and to be safe. But it wasn’t to be. Maybe there had been someone else. Maybe he’d simply been too overbearing. Did they think he hadn’t heard their pleas? Requests to return home? He hadn’t been ignoring them. Yes, he’d been selfish. He’d wanted them to stay…with him. Wanted them entirely in his arms, never to leave. They had been the only one…to see him for who he was. To understand the way his mind worked. To believe in him.
And he had been too much of a monster to bear surviving it.
He didn’t realize tears were running down his face until he felt a handkerchief being pressed into his hand. A glance at his side showed short brown hair and a flash of glasses–his chief assistant. Of course. He nodded to her, not trusting his voice. All she could do was set a hand on his arm…and his fist clenched around the fabric, desperately fighting to keep himself together.
Rion had taught him how to express his emotions. They hadn’t stuck around long enough to teach him what to do with them, now that they were here.
I don’t want these emotions, Rion. Was I truly that bad? Had I truly pushed you that far? V still had Elizabeth. Jumin couldn’t bear to have the cat, no matter how beloved she was, in the house. One more reminder that women whom he loved…were driven to death. Rika lost. Rion gone. A gravestone for a stranger.
He couldn’t stay here.
He left the company. He left the city. He left everything he knew behind. And still the pain followed him. And still the emptiness haunted him. And still, and still, and still. Every morning he woke with the memory of their eyes before the fall. Every night he fell asleep desperately trying to remember the way their hair felt under his hand, the way their eyes had sought his out when they’d first arrived. Tried so urgently to remember the way it had been before he’d ruined it all.
And still he woke with blood on his hands, and sickness in his heart.
He was sick. From top to bottom, completely and entirely sick.
And he didn’t deserve to get better.
He reached down, into the bag he’d brought with him, the metal of the object inside cool against his trembling hand. Just one second…one quick movement…and it would all be over. With a breath, he tightened his grip and pulled the–
Jumin jolted himself upright, cold sweat making his sheets stick to his skin, his breath coming too fast. This is real. V was gone. Rika was far away, but not dead. And Rion…
Rion was supposed to be with Luciel, back at his house. Rion had left the penthouse far before it had ever gotten to that point. Would he have kept them that long? Would he have been that blind?
His hands fumbled in the dark for his cell phone, desperately pulling up the messenger. He didn’t want to call this late at night, in case he woke them up. But Rion had said that if they were awake late at night, they’d try to be in the messenger.
Just like old times. He could almost remember the way their face had been lit up in the dark, the cool blue light from their phone casting shadows across their features.
Sure enough, they were there–the only one.
Jumin Han: Rion. You were here.Rion: Yeah, I couldn’t sleep. Why are you up so late?Jumin Han: I…woke up unexpectedly.
Are you available for me to call you? This is not a conversation I would like to have in public.
Rion: Sure, of course. Call away.
He signed out and immediately dialed their number, and after only a ring or so, they picked up. “Hey.” They sounded tired. “What’s wrong?”
Just hearing their voice made the tension seep out of his body. “I…had a nightmare. One I have had several times before, but this one… It felt more real this time. And I…wanted. No. Needed to hear your voice.”
They yawned. “Oh god, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to yawn on you. I…you know you can call anytime, Jumin. I’m always happy to talk to you.” There was a pause. “Did something happen…to me? In the dream?”
His mind flashed back on the image of the street below and he squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block it back out. “Yes. You might say that.”
He could hear them shift, then sigh softly. “Well, then here I am, safe and sound. I’m in bed, behind one of the best security systems the world has to offer, with two kittens purring around my feet. So unless that’s what happened to me, I promise you, I’m okay.”
“I never truly doubted it. But it is still reassuring to hear you.” He took a breath, chuckling as Elizabeth hopped up next to him, rubbing her head against his arm. “I am sorry to bother you this early in the morning.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’d rather you call me and go ‘hey, I had this weird lucid dream where bad things happened to you; please talk to me and convince me you’re okay’ at two in the morning, than wake up the next day to you having a panic attack because you forced yourself to stay quiet. And besides, we both have work in the morning. Better you call me now than be all tired and cranky in the office tomorrow.”
That was true; he hadn’t thought about that. They’d be in the office, as his assistant in replacement of Jaehee. Of course. “Ah. I suppose that is true.”
They chuckled. “Go to sleep, hon. You’ll see me in the morning, and I’ll give you a big hug to prove that I’m okay. Alright?”
“Very well. …Thank you, Rion.”
“Of course. Good night.”
“Good night, my angel.” The words were out before he could stop them, but he heard their soft laugh on the other end before the call went dead, proving that it hadn’t been taken poorly.
He sighed again, setting his phone aside and stroking Elizabeth’s head. “I suppose I should do as my angel told me, hm?” She meowed. “Of course you’re on Rion’s side. I shouldn’t be shocked.” Another mew. “Very well.” He shifted again so he could lie down, and Elizabeth settled next to his hip, purring softly.
A woman who will always love you. He had to smile at the memory of Rika’s words. Perhaps…perhaps.