forums like the one in the fic really exist.
also i messed a bit with kris' and tao's hometowns and backstories :( or maybe not tao's? hmm. :>
title and lj cut text inspired by this
They met in an internet forum for people like them, lonely and with thoughts that are much too loud for themselves.
i'll give it all to you, someday
They met in an internet forum. Yifan had found a post by a ‘kungfu_xiongmao’ who, unlike majority of the other forum-goers, actually lived in the same city as him. After a private message and a few minutes of chatting, they agreed to meet up in a small coffee shop called Angel, which was half an hour away from where both of their homes supposedly were.
After placing an order for a green tea latte, Yifan curled into one of the empty tables by the window and took out his cellphone.
to: Tao / kungfu_xiongmao
Are you here already?
Five minutes later and already sipping from his drink, he received a reply.
from: Tao / kungfu_xiongmao
Ah, yes, I just
arrived. Am I late?
At that moment, the chime hung above the door tinkled, and the doorknob clicked into place. Yifan, not wanting to look eager, resisted the urge to glance at the new arrival, who had gone to the cashier and was ordering.
Purposefully, he laid his cellphone on the table. The dragon-shaped cellphone charm sat, breathing fire, and would have looked menacing if it hadn’t looked squishy and made out of red clay. He then leaned back onto his chair, tea in hand, and waited.
“Um,” a soft voice spoke. “Excuse me...”
Yifan looked up. The first thing he noticed about the man standing before him was the principally black color of the clothes he wore, then his piercings, then the little panda hanging from the cellphone he clutched. It made for an odd image, but there were other things at hand.
He eyed the cellphone charm again to make sure, then nodded. “So, you’re Tao, right? From SlowMotion Forum?”
The man in front of him, slowly seeming less like a man and more like a nervous boy, nodded with his head lowered. “Are you Kris?”
Yifan could only cock an eyebrow. “Yes.” He put his cellphone back into his pocket, Tao’s eyes following the dragon charm the whole way, then inclined his head towards the chair opposite. “You can take a seat, you know.”
Tao murmured an ‘ah, right,’ then tried to fumble his way onto the chair while holding his caramel macchiato. Yifan hummed and reached out to place the drink onto the table before any unfortunate spillage could occur.
“Thanks,” Tao said, staring down into his coffee.
Yifan nodded in reply. He took a sip from his latte then held the mug as he spoke. “So how are we doing this?”
Finally looking up, Tao stared at the space next to Yifan’s head, fingering his sleeves and saying nothing. Yifan saw a conflicting image, at that instant; a scared, young boy several years younger than him, with a determination only for one of the worst things in the world.
“What kind of impression would you want to leave?” he said, still not looking at Yifan straight in the eye.
“I’m fine with anything.”
“Oh.” Tao’s voice shrunk. “Well, I guess something quick and clean would be okay...?”
“Yeah.” Yifan took another slow sip from his mug, and suddenly the entire situation came to him, like a review; he felt a moment of guilt because this person sitting across him looked much too young, maybe just acting out of an impulse or a rush of emotion. These things were supposed to be thought out. But then again, they all had their own excuses, in that forum.
Tao, silent as well, drank from his coffee mug and stared out the window without any expression. Maybe he really had a reason.
A part of Yifan still inwardly debated, but he wasn’t in a place to judge or to stop him, whether the boy was making a proper decision or not. This was just a transaction, quick and simple. “Let’s do it now, before we lose our nerves.”
Once Tao had nodded, Yifan stood and left the cafe. He walked to his car, Tao’s footsteps trailing after him, and Yifan looked back to see him smiling blandly and looking at the pavement. The expression fit wrongly on a face his age.
Yifan was helping Tao onto the chair when he involuntarily froze. He knew he would hesitate, and had expected a moment like this, but it wasn’t about him; it was about this boy in front of him, clutching the noose and easily slipping it around his head.
“You’re good at tying knots,” Tao had even said, slipping a finger between his neck and the rope.
The anxious boy from earlier had come and gone in a flash. Yifan stared, not really sure if he wanted to say anything.
Apparently taking this as a sign to continue, Tao let his hand follow the rope up to the kitchen cabinet handle it was tied on. He looked at the identical set-up next to him, meant for Yifan, and lowered his eyes in thought. “Will this support our weight properly?”
“It will,” Yifan insisted, climbing onto the nearby chair and pulling the rope around his neck as well. He couldn’t stop, not now, just because of some over-emotional college freshman.
Tao smiled again, that mild smile from the parking lot, and silently offered his hand. Yifan quickly took it and looked to the front. He saw his bare kitchen, his bare living room, his bare everything in this home, and it served as a good reminder of his loss. Of everything he had ever given up, only to get nothing at all. Of his family. Of...
Yifan exhaled a rush of air, tugged at Tao’s hand, and started counting. They had to go. “Eight, seven, six, five...”
The grip around his hand loosened, trembling, and Tao screwed his eyes shut. Yifan closed his eyes as well.
Tao gulped in a deep, audible breath.
There was a still moment, then; Yifan felt his furiously beating heart almost calm to a halt in his chest, tranquil and quiet. Tao had relaxed as well, fingers moving into unclenched curls, then his hand had suddenly slipped away and –
Yifan kicked away his chair, and he was falling.
His hands flailed to his neck of their own accord, tightening into white fists, and suddenly there was an ominous crack above him and then snap – he was falling even lower, onto his granite kitchen counter, landing him and his back into a world of pain.
That bastard Tao was laughing into his sleeve, the corners of his eyes crinkling. He had apparently fallen as well, but had managed to land on his feet like an agile cat.
Yifan was just not as lucky. He buried his face into his hands and groaned, annoyed and miserable in so many ways. Was his tailbone broken? Maybe he was already dead, just not realizing it yet.
“It’s okay, Kris,” Tao said, voice tiny and soft again. More like his age.
“Can we,” Yifan massaged his temples with one hand and his back with another, serious atmosphere dissolving into nothing. “Can we just go and get drunk?”
“I don’t think I can, right now?” Tao had found a knife from his kitchen drawers and cut the noose away, letting it fall to the floor with other debris. He started brushing off his clothes. “I’ll have to go home, if we want to get this right.”
Yifan blinked. “Why would you have to go back home?”
Tao looked to the side, past the kitchen counters, past the sterile living room and out the balcony doors. “You know I don’t want to, and I really don’t,” he said, head tilting to the ground. “But if we’re really, really doing this, then it’d be hard if any of my family see me on the streets.”
“I, argh.” Yifan sat back on the counter behind him and crossed his arms. “Fine.” He looked around again, to the picture frames on his wall and god, he'd made another failure now, a pair of destroyed kitchen cabinets which went nicely with his wall of clear, empty frames.
Having taken his bag previously sprawled on the sofa, Tao was ready to leave. He stood out from Yifan’s glaringly white living room in his dark-colored ensemble. “Um, how should we meet again?”
“Tomorrow,” Yifan said, and repeated out of a sense of confirmation to himself, “Tomorrow. Same time, same place, but tomorrow. Alright?”
Tao replied with a nod, looking to the floor.
“If you want to enjoy it, bring some crackers.”
Smiling at his feet, Tao answered, “Alright.”
He led himself out of Yifan’s house, putting his shoes on at the doorway and closing the door with a quiet click. Yifan was all alone again, in this house which was bare of any feeling whatsoever, with an aching back and a heart which grew heavier and heavier as he thought. Maybe he should just look for someone else.
Yifan scrolled through the forum posts again, that night, and they were all from Japanese and Koreans and maybe two other Chinese who lived in entirely different provinces.
kungfu_xiongmao greeted him online, and Yifan just clicked on ‘Ignore’. He wasn’t sure why, but he did, maybe in an attempt at trying to force his brain to search for a different poster to die with.
They met in the same coffee shop the next day. Tao was wearing dark colors again, and Yifan wondered if, maybe, this was really just an over-emotional college freshman in front of him, trying to be edgy and deep.
It wasn’t really a thought he was invested in, though. They were just here to do business.
“How are we drinking?” Tao said, hands in his lap and staring at the salt and pepper shakers on the table. There were cookie-cutter quotes painted on them: ‘smile,’ ‘be happy,’ ‘live like you’re dying.’
He spoke to get rid of the thought. “You’re too young for bars, so I bought some drinks myself and figured we could just go to someone’s house.”
“Good idea, I guess,” Tao replied. He tapped his bag; it wasn’t full, but when he put it on, the strap seemed to press into his shoulder. “I brought a drink, too; a bottle of wine. And some crackers, like you said.”
Yifan's lips quirked; he wasn't serious about the crackers. But wine? “What – where would you get that?”
“The drink?” Tao tilted his head. “My dad kept a cabinet, at home. This one was the only one that smelled okay to me when I checked the bottles that were still there.”
Yifan wondered why he had ever asked. It wasn't like it mattered. “Can we just go to your house? My kitchen’s still messy.”
Tao frowned. “MRT’s pretty crowded...”
“We’ll go by car,” Yifan said, moving to stand. Tao took one last sip from his mug then stood as well. “Just tell me where to go, and I’ll try to drive us there.”
Tao nodded, smiling that bland smile again, and Yifan looked away. The look annoyed him.
“Why did you post?”
Tao turned blank again, like transparent glass. “Because I hate my home.”
At that, Yifan looked around them. They were sitting in the spacious living room, on a faux bear skin rug and next to a coffee table littered with bottles and cans and crackers. The red brick hearth nearby was unlit. “Then why don’t you move out?”
Tao looked up, not quite at him but close enough that he could feel his gaze. “Even if I did, there’d be no difference.”
Without realizing, Yifan's voice rose, louder but slight enough that it was just the beginning of a threat. “You should be happy you still have a proper home. Look at it,” he glanced around again, eyes landing on a desk flanked by bookcases; there were pictures there, of a family that wasn’t his, surrounding a young, smiling Tao who held a half-bitten slice of chocolate cake. “You have everything in this house.”
“Except a family,” Tao said, pouring some mix of beer and vodka and whatever wine into a glass.
Oh, right, Yifan had forgotten that part. He set down the glass he was holding (he was holding one?) and sighed. “Sorry, I – you know, drinks.”
He received a nod and a vague smile in reply. “Let me get something first.” Tao stood, walked to the adjoining bathroom, and opened the cabinet. Yifan could see him pile bottle after bottle of pills into his arms.
“Are those all yours?” Yifan called out. He leaned against the coffee table, a slight buzz in his fingers from what he had already drunk.
“My mom’s,” Tao replied, walking back to the living room.
Yifan looked over the bottles after Tao had dumped them all on the table. Amitriptyline, moclobemide, lofepramine, and others; medicines Yifan hadn’t heard about once in his life. “From a single doctor?”
“All antidepressants, and yeah, the doctor was desperate,” Tao said, opening one of the pill bottles and peering in. “The doctor was also my mom.”
“Ah.” Yifan bit the inside of his cheek. If it was a sensitive subject, Tao certainly didn’t show it.
Steadily and unhurriedly mixing another glass of wine-beer-vodka, Tao spoke. “Why did you post, Kris ge?”
“Ge?” Yifan's lips quirked. “Haven’t heard that in a while.”
“If you're alive to hear it again later, then we’re doing something wrong.”
Surprised by the snark – and maybe a bit tipsy – Yifan could only laugh. Tao smiled back as he dumped a bottle of pills into their glasses.
“Well, I guess I posted for the same reasons as everyone else,” Yifan replied, once his thoughts had settled down. The alcohol seemed to loosen his lips; though he was awake and aware, he felt no drive to stop himself from saying what he had always wanted to say. “I left my family to follow a dream and a girl, got scammed by the girl, and when the dream failed, came back to see them doing better without me.”
Yifan pretended not to see Tao glance up at him. “So they're still alive?”
He kept his gaze fixed on the carpet and refused to meet Tao's gaze. “I’m as good as dead to them, so I do it to them back.”
The drinks were finally done. Tao pushed one of the glasses towards him, and it fizzed and foamed with an unnatural strength. Yifan faintly remembered being told not to mix things that weren’t spirits, but there was no threat that would make a difference anyway.
Yifan raised his cup. “They adopted a new son, named him Yifan too, then pretended I never existed.”
Tao cocked his head to the side, but raised his mug as well. “Your name’s Yifan?”
Their glasses clinked, and then it took Yifan around five seconds to realize the implications of what Tao had said. Maybe his horror was starting to show on his face without him being aware because Tao quickly spoke. “It’s alright! You... pretty much knew my real name anyway. Zitao.”
Zitao. Yifan rolled the name around in his mind twice, then on his tongue once. “Your codename’s creative.”
“It was supposed to be reverse psychology, or something like that.” Zitao smiled, holding his poisonous drink with two hands and looking at it like he was a kid again, given ice cream on a hot summer day. Not unlike his picture over at his desk, Yifan recalled.
Then they fell silent, and the hesitation came to Yifan again. It was for himself this time, wondering if his last moments would be in pain. Would he puke up blood, or choke on it as he lay unconscious? Four years ago, when he had just joined an entertainment company as a trainee, he was thinking of the circumstances of his death; maybe out of starvation or dehydration, he used to think. Now his death was one of the few things he could control, and it was liberating.
“Let’s go?” Yifan shook his glass. When Tao nodded, he spoke again. “Why don’t you count this time?”
Tao did his usual, bland smile and nodded. He quickly started. “In five, four...”
Yifan forced his muscles to turn limber and relax. His stomach turned as images of his parents surfaced to his mind, loving, worrying, scolding, rejecting, unreacting, missing. He reminded himself constantly of the last part; it was painful and lonely and he was scared and betrayed. He was betrayed – he couldn’t back out now.
In unison, the both of them inhaled slowly.
Yifan knocked back his head and raised the glass to his lips, almost perpendicular to the ground. Suddenly, he felt hyper-aware, hairs on his neck standing and drink seemingly taking ages to flow from the cup. Then the first, burning drop of the cocktail and whoosh; the drink flowed and flowed and Yifan drank, throat feeling like it was tearing, but still he drank and drank until the cup was empty. It slipped from his fingers and landed on the rug.
Nothing was happening.
It was underwhelming, but Yifan wasn't surprised. He had read online that the effects would show up after an hour or two, and it seemed Zitao knew this as well; the younger was calmly sprawled against the couch, head lying on his crossed arms and tongue sticking out. “The aftertaste sucks.”
“A hangover tastes worse.” Yifan fell onto the couch seat next to him. The rush of everything, of the adrenaline, drink, and pills, made his head ring.
“How do we kill time?” Tao mumbled, shifting his elbows onto the sofa to rest his head on the heel of his palms. He stuck his tongue out again and, staring at it, Yifan had the worst idea ever.
“Hey,” he called, meeting Zitao's eyes. He could feel a headache brewing from his ears, collapsing into his skull and pressing it inwards. “How old are you?”
“Nineteen,” came the answer. Zitao sounded like he was straining his voice.
“Have you lost your virginity yet?”
There was a beat, and then, eyes narrowing blearily, Zitao shook his head. Yifan was about to rethink when suddenly Zitao was climbing onto his lap, leaning closer, and Yifan met him halfway. His fingers splayed over Zitao’s chest, over his heart, beating frenetically like a canary caged in his hands. And then they were moving.
In all honesty, Yifan did have a rather good night and morning after. He just didn’t really remember anything except for the part where he was naked in a bedroom he vaguely recognized, the part where Zitao was lying next to him and looking young and fragile, and the most important part where he felt absolutely fine, except for an odd feeling in his mouth like he was eating cotton.
Finding that he couldn’t fall back asleep, Yifan decided to wake Zitao up with a few nips to the shoulder. Zitao answered by blowing his eyes open, bolting to the window, and retching from the second floor.
Yifan covered his eyes with an arm and groaned in his throat. He then stood up, draped a blanket over the younger man, and rubbed his back as he heaved, wondering why they were so bad at this.
“I just realized,” Yifan started, while he was looking through the contents of Zitao’s refrigerator (and did he really have everything). He took out all the tomatoes, lemons, and celery stalks he could find and kept note of the vodka poorly hidden among the condiment bottles. “You told me, two days ago, that you didn’t want to have a drink because your family might see you while we were out.”
Zitao was curled on an island counter, wearing a panda hat and chewing on a celery stalk he had swiped from Yifan as he passed. “You sounded like you were thinking about going to a bar,” he mumbled, eyes slipping closed and staying that way as he continued speaking. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to drink out... We drank here in my house yesterday, so it was different.”
Yifan lightly shrugged in assent, pushing tomatoes into the juicer. “Good call. Your fridge had all the ingredients for a hangover remedy.”
Slowly, Zitao blinked. “Dad and uncle were drinkers, not really surprised.” But even with this statement, Yifan could feel Zitao’s gaze on him as he juiced the lemons and took out several bottles from the fridge: vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce. Zitao spoke. “If you need them, ice cubes are in the... the ice cube dispenser. Oops.”
Yifan cocked an eyebrow. He looked behind him to see Zitao with his face in his hands, shoulders shaking with a suppressed laugh. “Thank you. Why don’t you get a tumbler and put some ice cubes in it, and I’ll fix you up with a hangover cure?”
Zitao stood, biting his lip and smiling. “Yeah. Okay.” (And fine, admittedly, it was cute.)
After Zitao handed Yifan the glass, he retreated into the living room, still limping from the previous night. Yifan built the hangover cure cocktail on autopilot, Zitao’s shy smile stuck in the forefront of his brain and still wondering why they were oh so bad at this.
They were on the couch several minutes later, brainlessly watching television while chewing celery stalks and, in general, being lethargic and buzzed.
“What’s this called,” Zitao mumbled, shaking the empty glass in his hand.
Yifan caught it the moment it started sliding from the younger man’s fingers. “Bloody Mary,” he answered, putting their glasses down on the coffee table he had cleaned moments before.
“Creeeepy,” Zitao murmured into the throw pillow he was suffocating his face on. “Tastes like spicy tomato juice.”
“It’s supposed to.” Yifan rested his chin on the back of his hand and watched Zitao; the younger was rubbing his hair into the pillow like some kind of rolling buffalo. “It’s supposed to wake you up, too, but I guess that’s not working.”
Zitao huffed. “It is, my butt just hurts. Thanks to you.”
Yifan opened his mouth, closed it, then just laughed.
They met in the living room again several minutes later, once they had taken their showers and put on some clothes. Yifan had borrowed one of Zitao’s larger shirts since the one he wore last night no longer had any buttons.
“I was in the shower when I remembered that we were still alive,” Zitao said.
“We are,” Yifan corrected. He was slouched forward, elbows on knees, and... not feeling too bad, despite their bungled attempts now numbering at two. He was in a kind of tranquil limbo, just waiting to die. “But it’s fine. We can just try again, some other time, with some better method.”
After a moment, Zitao said, “I think my uncle’s study has some of his old hunting rifles.”
“The display kinds, or the actual ones?”
“No idea,” Zitao replied. His voice had gone soft again, and Yifan straightened to look at him. Zitao's fingers were trembling. “I just know that uncle killed my parents with it, two months ago.”
Yifan directed his gaze somewhere else and mulled over his response in the ensuing silence. It would be a lie if he said he understood, but he knew the need for a change of topic when he saw one. “We can use my car, maybe at night when no one can see us. Carbon monoxide poisoning. Do you have duct tape?”
Zitao looked back at him, eyes glistening. “Yeah.”
Staring back, Yifan raised one of his hands and buried it in Zitao’s hair. He tried to move his face into a smile, and maybe it turned into some kind of grimace, but he was just relieved that Zitao smiled a real smile back this time.
“We have a lot of time now,” Yifan said softly, once he had retracted his hand. The peace felt fragile somehow, and he had a sudden need to protect it; irrational, he knew, but it was there. It felt so real. “What do you want to do?”
Zitao’s face softened and brightened all at once. “Can we go to the mall, Yifan?”
“Okay,” Yifan answered, before he was even aware of what he was saying. He was already turning his keys into ignition when he wondered if he was being swindled, so he looked at Zitao in the front passenger seat, saw him dozing, and figured that it was a really dumb thing to consider.
“You came here to buy a Gucci bag.”
Zitao stuck his tongue out and laughed. “At least I didn’t make you pay for it!” He peered into the knapsack the bag came in, stuck a careful hand inside to fish out a pouch of plastic, and smiled some more. “I told them I was buying it for my girlfriend,” he said, waving the pouch in the air. “So they even gave me a ribbon and a card to write a message in.”
Yifan ‘tsk’ed. “Greedy.”
To that, Zitao only smiled back. He followed Yifan back into the car with a skip in his step, and once the elder had turned the ignition, he said, “Teach me how to ride a bike?”
“You’ve never ridden one?” Yifan replied, faking some alarm into his voice. He left the mall’s underground parking lot and made his way to Zitao’s home, vaguely remembering from somewhere that the younger man kept a bike or two in his backyard shed. “You’ve been missing out.”
“Which is why you’re teaching me, right?” Zitao smiled, a bit impish.
Like so many other times before, Yifan could only laugh in reply. He’s pretty sure that not a single person has ever made him more speechless than Zitao has over the span of half a week.
They were already biking around the neighborhood when Zitao had said, arms trembling with his grip on the handlebars, “Is it fine if we, uh, not use your car?” His shoulders hunched inwards slightly. “For later?”
Yifan stopped. His whole body stopped. The bike’s tires ground against the asphalt. “Are you backing out?”
The bike Zitao was on halted a few meters ahead, and the younger man flinched and straightened. “No! It’s just – ” His fists tightened. “It’s a bit slow, suffocating...”
And even though he knew he was just over-reacting to this, Yifan pressed on, because. Because Zitao was backing out. He could feel it. “What, do you want to use your uncle’s rifles?”
Zitao turned to look at him, and he was blank again, but it was different now; Yifan saw things like resignation and pity and. And.
And what? Where was he seeing all this?
“I think, I – ” Yifan glanced around the skyline, looking for his apartment building and there it was, behind Zitao’s silhouette. “It’s sunset already. I need to go.” He biked forward, and when Zitao turned to look at him as he passed, Yifan could almost feel their breaths tangling in the air. And then Zitao had breathed in deeply –
Yifan snapped out of a stupor to find himself in front of his laptop, chin on his fist. His elbow was pressing into the enter key and the computer was beeping loudly in protest.
After a brief stretch and a dinner of instant noodles, he started scrolling through the forum posts again, and they were all from Japanese and Koreans and maybe two other Chinese who lived in entirely different provinces.
kungfu_xiongmao had greeted him online, and out of an odd sense of guilt, he opened the chat box.
kungfu_xiongmao (3:44:12 AM): lol, i changed my mind about the quick and clean thing. don’t really care anymore
outerplanet (3:44:36 AM): Weren’t we going to OD tomorrow anyway? Not exactly what I’d call clean.
kungfu_xiongmao (3:45:01 AM): i mean, my dad was a policeman and he has a collection of guns in his study
kungfu_xiongmao (3:45:18 AM): i think we can use them
outerplanet (3:45:35 AM): Ohhh. I guess that’d be really gory, if we did. I don’t really mind, though. It’s faster.
Yifan paused. He read over Zitao’s last two lines again and again, fingers tense and hovering over the keyboard. Then, more out of instinct than anything, he sent another reply.
outerplanet (3:46:21 AM): Wasn’t it your uncle who owned the hunting rifles?
kungfu_xiongmao (3:48:12 AM): hunting rifles?
outerplanet (3:49:09 AM): Sorry, must’ve been dreaming. I think I need to sleep now.
kungfu_xiongmao (4:00:18 AM): lol, really creative dreams.
kungfu_xiongmao (4:00:30 AM): sleep well, unless you want to die in a car crash on your way to Angel xD
kungfu_xiongmao (4:00:42 AM): it’d be super unfair to me if you do that, so please don’t Q.Q
outerplanet (4:01:03 AM): You’re unexpectedly morbid, haha. Good night.
Yifan logged off and leaned back against his chair, a wave of fatigue washing over him. Maybe because it was already four in the morning. No big reason.
They were in Zitao’s study the next day, hovering over his desk. Next to childhood family pictures were an assortment of guns, mostly revolvers, and the wooden rifles were there as well, mounted above neighboring bookshelves. The revolvers and handguns were steel and looked functional, like any other modern gun. They didn’t look like how Yifan had expected an antique gun collection to look like, but what was he expecting? Painted porcelain?
“Wasn’t this desk in the living room?” Yifan looked closer at the pictures and yes, there was young Zitao, face smeared with chocolate icing.
Zitao had pulled a rather big, black toolbox from under the desk and, with Yifan’s assistance, was lifting it to the room’s sitting area. He answered curtly the moment they placed the box on foot of the recliner. “No.”
It was there again, Yifan saw; Zitao’s indifferent front seemed to visibly click into place.
“Dad was a fan of revolvers,” Zitao said, walking back to the desk. He took one of the revolvers and twirled it around his fingers, but his shoulders were sagging slightly. “He called this one a second edition Colt Dragoon; the most expensive one in his collection.” He straightened his arm, pretended to take aim at his head, and hummed. “Not that the guns he collected were actually valuable, I think, except for this one.” He looked at Yifan and did his usual, vacant smile. “I’ll let you use this one, if you like?”
The back of Yifan’s neck tingled, and he ran a steady gaze over the pistols on the desk as if he was choosing. He just couldn’t look at that expression; it sat on Zitao's face wrong. “You don’t have to. I’m fine with any of these, as long as it works.”
In acquiescence, Zitao tilted his head. He looked over the revolvers as well, and then swiped another one off the desk; the metal shone, and Zitao briefly introduced it as a Smith and Wesson revolver with a nickel finish. “I’ll just go clean and oil them a bit – “
“I’ll help you,” Yifan interjected. When Zitao looked at him with an inquiring tilt of his head, he spoke again. “If we both help with the setting up, maybe it’ll work this time.”
A small, sad smile bloomed on Zitao’s face. “Maybe.”
“When you’re done sliding the cartridges into the chambers, put the cylinder back, and – “ Two resounding clicks. “Done.”
Yifan was busy marveling at the gun in his hands when Zitao suddenly moved and pointed his revolver at him. “What – “
“S-sorry!” Zitao hastily drew the gun back to his chest, smiling sheepishly. “I just haven’t held a gun since my dad showed me how to clean one, almost a year ago.”
Yifan defalted with a sigh. He had apparently fallen off the recliner in his surprise, and Zitao was giggling at his expense again. “It’s fine.” He stood, winced while rubbing his abused tailbone, and adjusted the grip on the gun he had almost dropped. It weighed more than he had expected it to, when he first held it. “It’s just... when you were holding this –” Yifan held it in both of his hands and positioned as if to take aim; it was loaded with a lot of things, and he wasn’t sure if he could ever hold it properly. “– you looked like you were in an action movie I’d seen several times before.”
Several times before.
Yifan’s eyes widened.
“It’s just because you need to adjust your grip a bit,” Zitao said, smiling. He set his revolver aside on the surface of the toolbox and approached Yifan. “Your dominant hand’s okay, but you need to move your left thumb lower so that it doesn’t get blasted off – “
Yifan abruptly turned, lined up the revolver to Zitao’s head and watched.
Zitao man froze. “Kris?” His eyes were flickering everywhere now. “I didn’t mean to – to point the gun at you, earlier...”
Pressing his lips together, Yifan stayed quiet, keeping his eyes on the younger man. Zitao opened his mouth, and then his chest rose in a deep breath –
They were seated side-by-side on the recliner, toolbox open at their feet. Zitao perused the jars of rounds inside and picked out the one containing the cartridges they wanted; he pointed out to Yifan the sizes and the parts, like the bullet case which held the propellant and the primer which was what the revolver’s hammer would strike. He briefly emphasized how the words ‘bullet’ and ‘cartridge’ should never be mixed up, ever, grinning all the while.
After telling Yifan to follow while watching, Zitao pushed the revolver cylinder out, and used his left hand to hold onto it while his right hand grabbed several rounds. He waited a bit to allow the elder to mirror him, then slipped each round in, carefully rotating the chambers with his left hand. “When you’re done sliding the cartridges in, put the cylinder back, and – “ Two resounding clicks. “Done.”
Yifan lowered his head, as if to look at the loaded gun in his lap. However, he was watching Zitao out of the corner of his eye, waiting for the younger man’s next move; right then, he was seated and looking over at his own revolver, the one with the shiny nickel finish.
The next move he was waiting for never came.
“They’re ready now, ge,” Zitao reminded him gently, holding the revolver in one hand. “Do you know how to hold one?”
“Yeah.” Yifan tucked the wooden grip into the crook of his thumb and forefinger and wrapped his three other fingers around it. He then cupped those three fingers with his other hand, making sure to keep his thumb away from the revolver’s cylinder.
There was a moment of silence. “...Yup, that’s right,” Zitao said. He looked like he was spacing out, but his hands were closing around his own gun with controlled, practiced movements. “Should we go?” He pointed his gun up at Yifan’s chest, in line with his heart.
Yifan raised his own gun and pressed the muzzle against Zitao’s breastbone. He could feel a rhythm beating there, frantic but steady, and nodded. “I counted, the first time – why don’t you try?”
Zitao looked at him from under his hair, and his pulse had risen. “Okay.” He screwed his eyes shut and Yifan followed. “In eight, seven, six...”
“Keep counting,” Yifan said. Zitao jerked a bit, but continued, so Yifan spoke again. “You know what I hate the most?”
Zitao inhaled, and Yifan felt the younger man’s heart stop from under his revolver’s muzzle. There was a blur there, somewhere –
Yifan pulled the trigger, and there was a hollow click.
He threw the revolver onto the sofa and spun on his heel, making his way to the door. Zitao was already running after and it was just so, so aggravating now, all the wasted time and the failed attempts they could have all avoided and –
He swung back around and stretched his arm out; his fingers found Zitao’s neck and it was soft and warm and pulsing under his hands, moving, unfrozen, and his sleeve was getting wet with the tears streaming down the younger man’s face. Zitao was opening his mouth in another deep breath when Yifan yelled, “I hate it when people screw with me like this!”
He snapped back into reality in the study, Zitao standing in front of him with his shoulders hunched and his hands balled together, waiting for something. Yifan just took a shuddering breath and left the room.
A day passed.
Curled on his bed with his laptop, Yifan was looking through the forum when he noticed that he had received a string of messages while he was browsing.
kungfu_xiongmao (11:53:41 PM): Yifan ge, i’m really sorry
kungfu_xiongmao (11:54:11 PM): i didn’t know how to tell you
kungfu_xiongmao (11:59:32 PM): you used to never remember anything from before i skipped back time, but you remembered now, somehow, bit by bit
kungfu_xiongmao (11:59:46 PM): things were changing
kungfu_xiongmao (11:59:52 PM): i even learned your real name, which made me so happy
kungfu_xiongmao (12:04:27 AM): it was scary for me, too
kungfu_xiongmao (12:10:19 AM): please
kungfu_xiongmao (12:42:53 AM): i edited my post :)
kungfu_xiongmao is offline
last message received on 12:42:53 AM, 27 minutes ago
Yifan ignored it all. This was just another emotional college freshman, trying to get his attention, and. And make up with him. Even though he hadn’t really done anything for him. Even though they were both lonely, and...
He went back to the forums and clicked on Zitao's post.
There was something stuck in his throat, and no matter how hard Yifan swallowed, it wouldn’t go down.
[locked post: only visible to outerplanet, kungfu_xiongmao]
Tao (kungfu_xiongmao) wrote,
Yesterday, 12:41:56 AM
i knew about you from four years ago, when we were both trainees, and you probably don’t remember me anymore Q.Q but i was being depressed and alone in the practice room when you suddenly appeared and talked to me. you were the only chinese person i knew for a while, so we’d talk sometimes during lunch breaks or through text, but then i never really got your name properly beyond ‘kris’ when you suddenly quit. after that, i dunno. i just got lost xD so i went back home to qingdao, and my family was there, and they were just both happy and sad that i was back. my uncle isn’t a psychopath btw, lol.
i was just surfing one day when i saw someone’s post in this suicide forum i joined, and i was kind of scared, because you typed the exact same way, and had hometowns in the exact same place, so i figured maybe i could just meet this poster, back out at the last minute, and just try to make friends or something. it was break anyway, in the arts school i was in, so i told my parents i’d be going to guangzhou for half of my summer break and went lol. i remembered being lonely back when i was a trainee and it really sucked, so i thought maybe i could try to make someone else not-lonely too.
so i was really surprised it was you. and sad. so i decided to stick by to botch your suicide attempts.
but you were really angry, at the world, and sometimes you’d just suddenly drive your bike onto the highway, or jump off your apartment balcony. and you're also really smart, like the time i tried to stop us from suffocating in the car, but then i kept having to hold my breath and stop everything whenever you tried to turn the ignition. you noticed me taking deep breaths whenever you turned the keys lol so you drove us into the sea, and whenever something like that happened, i had to start over again. sometimes i had to start over waaay back to the beginning, even before we met at the cafe the first time, and then we’d introduce ourselves over and over haha.
the thing with the overdose, a skip ago, it was the first time we tried that one, so i just switched out our drinks with a version without the pills. i ended up puking anyway lol i had no idea that would happen, but that night was weird. nothing like that had happened in any of the loops before. i guess i was happy. the cuddling and the hangover part was fun, because you were there for me, i think.
i guess you figured it out yesterday huh? you cornered me cleverly! :) or way before that, during the hunting rifles chat, i think.
i don’t know why i’m telling you this x.x it’s tiring just writing about it. you were finally warming up now, finally noticing me back, all the silent emotions stuff we pass just with our looks and it was so nice. but you’re a different Yifan ge now. you’re the one who reacted all the ways i wanted my original ge to react, and it's just so different and so weird to me now. was i supposed to be scared? or... i dunno. nothing sat right anymore. are you the original one? what happens to everyone each time i reset? i dunno anymore. sorry.
Tao (kungfu_xiongmao) wrote,
5 days ago, 11:07:43 PM
Edited: Yesterday, 12:40:35 AM
who wants to meet me at the train station tomorrow? :D nothing big. just jump onto the tracks i guess. text me by 10 am if you’re going! if you text or come late, don’t expect me to hold my breath for you. :P
Zitao was standing on the edge of the train platform, clutching his cellphone. The announcer’s robotic voice was talking about the train arriving in a minute, and it felt like that minute had stretched into forever, and ever, and ever. An indistinct rustling of people went on behind him, and then stopped when he moved.
He had already jumped when he heard a yell, a voice so familiar and dear that it made Zitao's chest flutter painfully, almost choking. But the words were lost in the crowd of voices that were shrieking and hollering in panic.
“Zitao! I – “
He held his breath.
He could see his fingers shake so, so hard in the train’s headlights, but he held his breath and typed and typed and typed on his cellphone.
And he inhaled.
His cellphone flew several meters away.
i don’t know if it was
true until the end,
but you were once
in my heart. :)
- masterlist + requests - watch - join -
let me know what you think? (this is a form of catharsis though, so please, not too harsh, if any concrit?) c:
so i guess i'm going to end up posting a small kris version of the ending someday, to connect with the sequel
120528 edit: Someone asked if they could translate this, and I'm very honored! Thank you! However, I couldn't reply to your message because of your privacy options lol, so I hope you see this. I guess this applies for others who would like to translate my fics as well, if any?
Please give me a link of your translated version! :) And sorry if it's a bit of a hassle, but in your translation, please link back to the original, or at least credit the source and the author. It might be mistaken as plagiarism otherwise. :( But still, thanks for wanting to translate! It really makes me happy <3
120810 edit: changed Wu Fan to Yifan, Kris' actual name. he's got so many of them lol.
140914 edit: fixed some diction errors.