Oh Sehun was born a fuck-up. In fact, he was probably a fuck-up before he was born because his mother’s pregnancy and his mere existence in her womb had been a fuck-up. He was taught this since day one. His childhood (if he even had one, as he was hardly a child as mentioned before) had consisted of him breaking the cheap toys that his mother brought back from the walls of the inner city, purchased from the small carts that all scrabbled around The Gate, hoping to make a lucky sale to one of the inner city dwellers. Of course, the people of the inner city never ventured outside the walls, and the poor vendors never made their sales; they were all chased off by the time that The Gate opened.
Sehun had seen The Gate open for the first time when he was young, barely five.
He was already used to existing on his own—his mother not being the most put together of characters despite her constant nagging about his faults. It was night, but the dark was familiar to Sehun, and had never scared him. Things born of the darkness tend not to fear it, you see. He had been sitting on a roof, crouching and pressed tightly against a chimney lest he be seen by one of the gatekeepers, who were known to be rather brutal. From his perch he had watched as The Gate parted like liquid to allow a few items from the inner city to be brought through, gifts and food for charity and the like. His attention was scarcely on the objects though; for the first time Sehun was looking at the inner city itself. It was… bright. He had never seen lights like that. They were white, clearer than the moon and brighter than the sun. And how they sparkled, like the reflection of a thousand stars in water. Sehun had called them the pure lights. This was, unfortunately, something that would bring him humiliation later as he spoke to a boy his age on the streets. The pure lights were (apparently) more commonly called electric lights, and electricity was power that was harnessed from burning things and then using the steam to move other things around. Sehun liked this idea very much.
As a fuck-up, burning things was something he quite enjoyed, and the idea of acquiring power from this burning was appealing. Sehun wanted power more than anything else in the world, and he was determined to get it. Perhaps this comes as a surprise as so far it appears that our Sehun is, despite all facts stated, not a fuck-up. Of course, no human is born one, but the problem with fuck-ups is that the mere existence of the idea that that they are one is enough to manifest that self-same identity upon them. So, in all regards, Sehun truly was every bitter word spit from his mother’s mouth, because words shape as soon as they are heard.
From the time that he was a very small child, Sehun craved power. His absolute lack of it made sure that power was something that was in high demand (as it was clearly something in very low supply to the people outside The Gate), and that made it all the more valuable. Now, there wasn’t a great deal of creativity in the outer city, and that made power very hard to build up, but Sehun was determined. There was also a definite lack of resources and yet, as stated before, Sehun refused to quit. What was the point of living life without dreaming of anything? He had seen many people who lived like that; they were everywhere, walking listlessly around the streets, starving to death. His mother was nearly one of them but, despite all odds, she still seemed to find some joy in degrading her son daily, and so she didn’t truly count in all regards. But Sehun was never one of these people, and so he set about acquiring power.
Now despite the fact that there was not a great deal of resources in the world that he lived in, there was a great deal of rats, and Sehun decided that these rats would be the vehicle for achieving his desires. They were disgusting, smelly creatures which lived in the sewers and ate the garbage, but Sehun was nearly one of them, or so he felt. He caught one and, despite the clear nonsensicality of the name, decided to call it purity. Purity was Sehun’s power, and because of that she reminded him of the things inside the wall, the sparkling lights and warmth and men who he had caught glimpses that who wore large hats and dark, elegant-looking suits. And she was a good object of power. In the beginning Sehun had used large thick gloves, sewn out of old miner’s clothing that he found in the trash to hold Purity, as she bit rather ferociously. However, as time went on and Sehun rewarded her with warm places to sleep and food (no matter how disgusting) given to her in pure kindness, the biting became much less frequent, and the pair of street rats began to get along wonderfully. Sehun trained her, fed her and spoke to her, and she was his first friend. Rats are extremely clever creatures, and also very adept at climbing walls, even giant walls that seem to stretch up to the sky itself.
Because of this, Sehun had a plan. He would train Purity to climb the wall, and then from the inside she would open the gate for him, or miraculously bring him something that would explain that wonder of electricity. The plans were not highly developed by any means, but they were hope, and planning gave Sehun great joy for months on end.
Unfortunately, this was the farthest extent that his plans with Purity ever reached. It was a rainy day, and Sehun had headed out early in the morning to scout along the wall for a suitable place for Purity to climb up. The surface was incredibly smooth, stone sanded to nearly perfection, but here and there were small cracks that travelled upward and out of sight, perfectly sized for Purity’s small claws. The streets were nearly empty, most people having sought shelter from the rain, and Sehun found a perfect crack with great ease, having only to walk a hundred yards before discovering it. Elated, he returned home, running as fast as his legs could carry him. The idea of telling Purity about his discovery, and the new step forward in his plan was enough to put the brightest smile ever seen upon his face, something that was furthered nicely by the fact that his mother was cooking something that smelled delicious and hot. Upon closer examination, however, the smile quickly disappeared. Sehun’s mother was, in fact, cooking Purity, having found her lolling about in the dirty nest of blankets that Sehun termed his bed, and had decided that she would be of much more use in someone’s stomach. It was this, more than anything else, which turned Sehun into the fuck-up. It was also this event, however, which led us to our current Sehun, who was now setting foot on the other side wall, in the inner city for the first time in his life. Sehun’s goal was simple: he was going to burn the city down.
Rats, Sehun had discovered, frequented places that were dark and damp, and tended to smell of death. He couldn’t replace Purity, that much he knew, but it was nice to be surrounded by the beady eyes and scratchy noises that had come to be safe and familiar. Rats were better than humans, Sehun decided, even if they did smell marginally worse. He spent his time venturing around the city after dark, spending nights curled up in dirty alleys and nested in trash. During the day the rats would disappear, and if Sehun dozed off at any time he would awaken inevitably alone. But, if he was careful, he could follow them back, to the place where all rats when during the day. The sewers.
The sewers were a twisting nightmare of small tunnels which Sehun crawled through, barely able to see his own hands in front of him. The rats guided him though, and he was never scared of being lost inside them. Plus, there were occasional grates that sunlight shone through, and large junctions in the tunnels where he could rest and stretch out his aching legs. On occasion he would spend days underground, basking in small patches of sunlight when he could, and simply follow the rats back to the city when they left. Except one day the rats led him somewhere different.
It was dusk when Sehun stumbled upon his exit to the sewer. He had been following the rats, traipsing along on his hands and knees, and getting increasingly impatient for an exit. The tunnel was dim, but there was a small breeze in the air, and as he rounded a bend Sehun discovered he could see a faint light ahead. The rats seemed to be gathered particularly thickly here, swarming over the grate so heavily it was nearly impossible to look out onto the street, and making the dim beams of light shiver and dance in the tunnel. Sehun tucked his legs underneath him, sitting back in confusion. The rats seemed nearly frantic, squeaking and clawing as thought they were in mortal danger, but none of them passed through the bars. Why didn’t they just leave? The answer was afforded to him when he reached forward himself to lift the grate; the bars were so close together he could barely work his fingers between them. Wincing at the tight press of metal against his skin, Sehun pushed. And pushed. The grate didn’t budge. It was very strange. All the other grates that Sehun had come to had nearly fallen off when he had pushed at them; they were rusting and rather broken down around the edges. This was the first time he had come to one in working condition, but Sehun was by no means weak. Bracing himself, he slammed his shoulder against the metal. Once, twice, and finally, with a horrible screeching of metal against metal, Sehun was free.
The inner city was, for lack of a better description, boring. The air smelled strangely sweet and heady, and Sehun stood still for a good minute to gulp in lungfuls of it, before finally looking around. Not a single person was in sight. Perfect houses stood in neat lines, each with a petite garden in the front. They also had a small square patch of grass in the front (yards, Sehun believed they were called). The sight made the hair on the back of Sehun’s neck stand up. It was all so sickeningly perfect and, without a thought, he was running through the gardens, kicking up flowers and yanking up chunks of grass in vicious anger until there was sweat dripping down his brow. The rows of houses seemed to reach forever and ever, and eventually Sehun stopped. This task was much too wearisome for one night, and he had yet to glimpse a single person. Perhaps he should look in a new direction.
There was a road that ran perpendicular to the one Sehun was on, and it was this road that he decided to take, for it looked far less monotonous and nightmarish. The road wound around a bit, curving through the city, and the houses didn’t match each other anymore. It seemed that with each new curve the road took, the houses alongside it became more and more stunning and grand. There were balconies and porches adorning all levels, with sprawling yards and fountains. At one house there was a small group of swans swimming leisurely in the pond in the yard and Sehun threw rocks at them, laughing as they squawked indignantly and took flight. Farther and farther his legs carried him, until he reached what he was sure must be the innermost house of the entire city. It was made of white stone and the moonlight reflected off of it, giving the surrounding area an almost ghostly feel. A small path wound directly up the center of the yard to large double doors, which stood concealed from the yard by a set of pillars taller than anything Sehun had seen in his life, save for the wall of the city itself. This had to be where the president lived. Smirking, Sehun headed up the path to the entranceway. If there was even a house to burn down, this was it.
The first thing Sehun noticed when he was inside the house was a smell which burned his nose as he shut the door behind him. A lingering scent of chemicals hung in the air, nearly outweighing the sweetness from outside, but it diminished as he walked further into the building, the squelch of his muddy shoes against the floor echoing in the large room. Everything was so quiet. In the outer city there was always noise: vendors haggling over cheap goods, fighting, children screaming for their mothers, but Sehun had yet to see a single person here.
Perhaps the inner city was empty, and he could spend the rest of his life here—or maybe not. Sehun’s thoughts were interrupted from a crash above him. He tensed, hand grappling backwards for the doorknob, but there was nothing but the faint tinkling of distant laughter and Sehun felt his muscles relax after a moment. It didn’t sound particularly dangerous, and as the seconds passed Sehun felt curiosity pulling at him. Surely it couldn’t hurt to go take a look, so long as he wasn’t seen. But how did the laughing person get to the roof? Perhaps Sehun should look for a ladder. He crossed the room, fumbling around giant, silk chairs and small tables, and approached the other end, only to be confronted with another door. How large was this house?
The door led to another even larger room, which seemed to be something of a courtyard. The chemical smell was much less here, and Sehun could tell that there was no ceiling despite not being able to see the stars, as a faint breeze was blowing. There was a large fountain in the middle, bubbling away cheerily in the dark, but he could see a staircase on the far side, made of the same shimmering white stone as the rest of the house and he walked towards it. Once upstairs it was easy to find the origin of the laugher; in the long line of doors light shone from the bottom of only one, and Sehun could hear soft giggles and talking.
The source of the laughter was a small boy who sat on the ground, next to what appeared to be a large pile of pillows draped with a small pink blanket, rather like a tablecloth. A large pink canopy hung from the ceiling, giving the boy the appearance of sitting inside some kind of lavish tent like a small king. The sight was strange enough, but at a second glance it was even stranger. The boy was surrounded with heaps of toys, dolls and animals of all varieties and sizes, all of who had small plates with little sandwiches in front of them. As Sehun watched in amazement, the boy raised a small teacup to the mouth of a rather disgruntled looking crocodile plushie and tipped the liquid onto its face, clucking his tongue in disappointment when it poured down and onto the floor.
“Now Horatio,” the boy chided, “we’ve talked about this. You need to open your mouth to get the tea, and if you don’t you’ll just make a big mess for the cleaners.” The boy paused in his speech, giving what Sehun assumed a rather displeased shake of his head to show his disapproval, before continuing. “Now you’ll have to take a bath with me Horatio, and we both know that that’s not what you want.” The boy paused again, looking very pleased with himself. Sehun stared; was he expecting an answer?
Apparently he was, for after a few seconds remorse struck and the boy bowed forward to give the crocodile a kiss on its small damp snout. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you get lots of bubbles!”
The action was so ludicrous that before Sehun knew was he was doing he laughed, the sound tumbling from his mouth like a hoarse, barking noise. It had been a few days since he had spoken. The boy froze, eyes flickering up to meet Sehun’s across the room. There was a short gap of time, most aptly described as one of those seconds which seems to last an eternity, before the boy opened his mouth.
“Are you here to hurt me?” his voice was soft, and Sehun’s mind teemed with possibilities. Of course, it would be easy to kill the boy. He was small and, judging from what Sehun had seen so far, rather clumsy and stupid. On the other hand he wasn’t a threat of any sort, and perhaps he could answer the questions Sehun had. And he was very pretty; that had to count for something. It seemed irrational to kill something so nice-looking off so soon; surely there was some good use for him.
“I won’t hurt you,” Sehun started but, before he could say anything else, the boy beamed at him. “You’re invited to the party, then! Would you like some tea, Mister?”
Sehun stared, completely taken aback. The boy, who seemed to take his lack of response as an indication that he was afraid of the toys surrounding him, smiled brightly again, “Don’t worry, they don’t bite! But the tea is kinda cold now; I’m very sorry. The sandwiches are still good though!”
“Alright…” Sehun trailed off, not quite sure what to do with himself. The boy was staring at him expectantly, and he sank to the floor without thinking, sitting directly on top of one of the stuffed animals. Luckily the boy was busy collecting the small sandwiches from all the plates and seemed not to notice.
“The animals don’t eat much, but they’re very nice for company, which is good because there’s not many people to talk to around here. Daddy used to send Kris here to teach me things, but he stopped coming for lessons after a while, so now it’s just me. Daddy isn’t here because he travels and gets to see lots of exciting places outside the wall. He still brings me presents sometimes.” Sehun nodded, thoughts racing too fast to be bothered with answering. The boy was here alone, that much was certain, but his father or this “Kris” could show up at any moment, and it seemed quite possible that they would be less accepting. Entrance into the inner city by one of the outers was punished by execution and nothing less, and Sehun had seen numerous people shot down at The Gate, driven by starvation and the pure madness from proximity to death to try and escape the outer ring.
“What’s your name?” he blurted out, words slipping past his lips before he had considered them. “And why are there no people outside?” Sehun had never been one for great consideration. Luckily, the boy seemed not to notice. He also seemed to not breathe nearly enough for the amount of talking that he did.
“Luhan,” he answered, “and that’s because of the curfew, silly! No one is allowed outside after the sun goes down. But what’s your name, Mister? Oh I’ve been very bad, haven’t I; I forgot to introduce you to all my friends! You should go first I think, Daddy says it’s polite to let guests go first.”
“Sehun,” the name sounded funny on his tongue, and he paused for a moment. It was the first time he had introduced himself to another human. The thought made his stomach flip for a second, but he pushed it down. There was still a good chance he would kill this boy.
“Sehun,” Luhan murmured, savoring the name on his tongue, “that’s a funny name. Where did you come from, Mr. Sehun? And has anybody ever told you, you smell bad?”
Fuck but this kid was nosy. Maybe it would be better to just strangle him. And yet, there was still something stopping him. Sehun took a deep breath, closing his eyes before speaking.
“I fell from the sky.” The answer was incredibly stupid, so bad it nearly left a bitter taste on Sehun’s tongue, but it didn’t matter. Luhan was worse.
“All the way from the sky?” Luhan stared at him in amazement, jaw dropping slightly in surprise. “Is that how you got so dirty? Kris told me once that all of the smoke we make from burning things goes up in the sky and causes lots of problems up there, so humans needs to burn less things. I guess he was right.” Luhan looked dejected, head falling forward to rest in his hands. “The sky must be an awfully dirty place for you to look like that.”
Sehun nodded, doing his best to appear gravely serious. “It’s very dirty.”
“Are there other people like you, Mister Sehun? Other people who fall from the dirty sky?”
Sehun paused. He could see them in his mind, all the people like him. Children with brittle stick legs, starving in the streets, people who lived their lives walking between the terrors of life and the fear that death could only be worse.
“Yes,” he answered, “there are more like me. We’re all fallen.”
The days passed, each one longer and more tedious than the next. Sehun had grown up accustomed to having nothing, and to thinking that he deserved what he had. He was a rat, and rats were born with nothing and died with nothing. They stole and hoarded, wallowed in garbage and lived off it, and so had Sehun until Luhan came along. Luhan. The name left a bitter taste in his mouth. Luhan had everything, was surrounded with things, nearly drowning in his own possessions. Spoiled rotten, sickeningly stupid and helpless. The thoughts made Sehun’s hands curl into fists and his nights were filled with flashes of violence. Of course, there was only one solution for this. The inner city still needed to be destroyed, but Sehun was going to need help.
He decided first on the thief. Minseok lived in the heart of the city, roaming the streets and climbing buildings like a spider when he sensed danger. He made money by picking people’s pockets, but the rumors told darker stories of murder and mutilation, and Sehun was rather inclined to believe such things, as they served his purpose nicely. The rumors, it turned out, were true anyway.
The alley was dark and smelled of wet paper and mildew. It was stacked high on each side with cardboard boxes, making it narrower and more shadowy than most alleys, and finding someone in the strange maze of boxes would be difficult, but Sehun strolled down it calmly. Minseok would approach him first. Minseok always approached first.
He felt it before he heard it; a knife pressed into the soft skin of his neck before he had time to move. Fortunately, it progressed no further, and Sehun smiled.
“Give me one good reason I shouldn’t kill you.” The voice was raspy, more a hoarse whisper than actual noise. It was a sound that Sehun was familiar with, the sound of a voice so unused it started to forget that it was made for talking to other people.
“I’ll get you to the inner city,” Sehun replied and, perhaps it was due to the brazen lack of fear in his voice, but the knife vanished. A boy stepped out of the shadows, a boy smaller than even Luhan, but a boy who nearly made Sehun’s spine tingle unpleasantly. Lanky muscle clung to his bones, flexing starkly under skin as though his body had never heard of fat (and perhaps it hadn’t; that was the life of the people in the outer city). Thick eyebrows protruded over ghastly cheekbones, and dirt stained blackened fingers gripped a small jagged-looking knife. There was nothing remotely similar to Luhan about this boy. He was a lion, filled with grace and starved for blood. He offered Sehun his hand.
“We’ll slit all their throats,” the boy said. Sehun took his hand. He nodded.
The next recruit on the list was Jongin. If Minseok was a lion, Jongin was a coyote, rabid, skittish and mangy. Sehun found him in an alley, sucking off a man three times his age with his own hand stuffed down his pants. He stood there quietly, waiting for Jongin to finish, or for either of them to notice him, whatever happened first. The man seemed far-gone though, and Sehun had little hope. He settled down behind a dumpster to wait. When the man was finally gone, Sehun stood up, stretching lazily before clearing his throat.
On the list of things that were certainly unexpected, a high-pitched shriek and desperate sprint for escape were probably near the top, but that was what he got. The boy barely made it ten feet before Sehun had hooked an arm around his waist and flung him backwards, and they both heard a painful-sounding thump as Jongin’s limp body was hurled against the stone.
“Please don’t hurt me, oh God, please don’t hurt me. I’ll do anything you like, anything you can think of. Food, money, sex, I’ll do it! Do you want me to suck you off right now because I could—“
“Fucking hell won’t you shut your goddamn mouth long enough to listen,” Sehun hissed, feeling his patience growing thin. The boy seemed useless, cowardly and manipulative, but he had survived on his own to this age, and he was rumored to have the most money out of any of the other wandering outcast boys. Sehun wasn’t sure how he earned said money, but then again he didn’t care. All he needed was resources.
“I’m going to kill everyone in the inner city, and I need some of your weapons. And help on how to operate them.”
Jongin stood there, blinking stupidly for a second, before looking Sehun up and down. He crossed his arms.
“I don’t see why I should help you at all, seeing as you could kill me at any second.” His tone was demeaning, and Sehun felt his temper rising.
“Your prissy attitude isn’t making me want to slit your throat any less, so hurry up, princess. Don’t think that your ass will always be as tight as it is now; one day soon you’re gonna be used up like an old rag and no man in the city will want to fuck you.”
“I’ll think about it,” Jongin muttered, but Sehun knew it was a yes. As if Jongin had anything else to do but die.
The rest of the group was easy. Tao was the youngest and was eager to join in, wanting more than anything else the kind of safety that was only found in numbers. Sehun found him foraging the outer fields, braving the lightning storms and jackals to harvest small prickly chestnuts off of the trees that stood on the bank of the swamp. He looked close to starving. Chen and Yixing were next, and equally as easy. They were rather well known in town as the children of an inner city dweller, but they lived in exile. The only evidence of their heritage could be found in the brown bottles of alcohol that were delivered to them, which stank heavily and usually ended up smashed on the street, dark liquid seeping into the crack of the stone as Chen screamed slurred words at passersby and Yixing sat still, blinking at the cracked pavement. They had connections though, and that was important enough to warrant contact.
The last member of the group was Kyungsoo, and he was perhaps the easiest and the hardest. Kyungsoo wanted to help people, and was determined to unearth the secrets of medicine. He spent his time grinding up small leaves he collected between smoothened stones, and rubbings the pastes into various cuts and aliments on his skin, discovering what made aches stop and the fastest way to heal swollen, green-tinged spider bites. Sehun spun him a tale of nobility, of helping the people of the outer city and creating equality for all. He spoke of happiness, and the freedom to go to sleep without worrying of starving to death the next day, and Kyungsoo believed him. The words flowed like silk across his tongue, sliding across his lips as if they were composed of nothing but sincerity, and they sounded so beautiful, so awe-inspiring and tempting that Sehun almost believed himself. It wasn’t until later, (when he and Minseok were smashing into someone’s house and stealing their scarce bits of food at knifepoint) that he realized how wrong he had been. They spent the rest of the night laughing, sitting on a roof and snacking on old crackers as Minseok cleaned the blood from his blade and Sehun lay sprawled over, cackling in his mirth.
Planning the destruction of a city, was, Sehun discovered, much more talk than action. There was talk of everything, the weapons, the infiltration, and most importantly the enemies who needed to be killed.
“We need to kill the president,” Chen observed, “If we kill the president then the city will fall into chaos, and we’ll be able to strike while people are at their weakest.”
Chen, it turned out, was quite clever when he wasn’t drunk to the point of not being able to speak. He spoke quickly and had hard, sharp eyes that constantly darted around, glaring at each of them in turn like a hawk. His nails were chewed to the quick and bloody, and if it weren’t for Yixing, Sehun was sure he would have been driven to insanity by this point. Yixing was the near opposite of his brother; not a single word left his mouth, and he spent most of his time picking up small pieces of litter off the ground and showing them to Chen as though they were of value. Right now he was playing in the sand at the edge of all the marshlands, digging a small hole that constantly filled in due to the nature of the loose earth it was dug in.
Sehun had assigned the group to meet in the very outskirts of the city where the putrid smell of salt and sulfur hung heavy in the air from the marshes. It was a cold day, but the sun felt warm on the back of his coat, and Sehun felt mildly content. There was a hill of ants next to him, the little black kind that couldn’t cause any harm no matter how many times they stung, and Sehun watched in interest as they swarmed and panicked around the rocks he was dropping on them. One large rock and down went the center of the pile, two more and it was barely recognizable. Three, four, five, six, and all of the ants were running around desperately, all their pristinely placed grains of sand reduced to nothing. “This is what it’ll be like; this is the way they’ll fall,” he thought, and he spit in the pile. It was funny. The ants caught in his saliva struggled for a minute, tiny little legs waving back and forth desperately, but they gave in eventually.
Sehun wasn’t quite sure if they were dead, or had merely accepted death as inevitable, but he smiled. Maybe the other ants would eat them after his spit dried up, chew off their little legs and bodies until nothing remained, just like nothing remained of their stupid little anthill. Maybe the inner city dwellers would eat each other too. Luhan would be the first to go. There was something about him that just seemed so… edible. He was pretty, Sehun decided, that was it. He was just so pretty that it made sense for him to get devoured. Maybe he would eat Luhan himself when the time came, or take him as a prisoner and tie him to the wall so he could just stare at him. That seemed fair enough; it was a shame to waste all that beauty so quickly. Why not keep it around forever?
The thought left a funny, aching feeling in Sehun’s chest, and he resisted the urge to clear his throat. So what if he thought Luhan was pretty? He shouldn’t be thinking about Luhan right now anyway; if they didn’t plan this fucking takeover Luhan would never end up tied to his wall.
“If someone has to go through the tunnels for reconnaissance it should be Tao. He’s the smallest and can probably move the fastest.” Kyungsoo’s voice drew Sehun’s attention. Everyone was staring at him, eyes focused as they waited for a reply, and Sehun smiled. Tao was the absolutely worst candidate for the sewers. The rats could smell fear on people, and Tao was a coward all the way to the malnourished marrow of his bones. They would eat him alive. The little fuck had been incredibly annoying lately though; clinging to Sehun’s sleeve like it would somehow give him the balls he was obviously born without.
“Yes,” said Sehun, “that’s a good idea.”
Kyungsoo was the first to act when Tao came tumbling out of the sewer, screaming with dirty tears and blood running down his face and arms. Sehun watched in mild interest as he desperately applied a bitter smelling salve to the bites, whispering softly under his breath as Tao whimpered. Jongin stood idly by, feigning sympathy worthy of an angel, but his eyes followed Kyungsoo’s fingers a little too closely and Sehun smirked. Fucking slut was probably thinking about getting himself chewed up by rats just so he could have someone touch him like that. Minseok was picking at the dirt under his nails with the blade of his knife but Sehun would see his shoulder’s shaking in silent laughter, and Yixing was staring vaguely at a puddle in front of him. Chen was the only person to look even mildly concerned, and Sehun felt a vicious wave of satisfaction as he looked around the group. Hurting people was fun, but hurting people as a group was oh, so much better. What a liberating feeling.
“I suppose I should be the one to go next time,” he said, and the remorse in his voice sounded real enough to nearly fool himself, raw and scratchy against his throat. It tingled.
The second time Sehun met Luhan was remarkably similar to the first. Luhan was sitting under his pink canopy again, this time reading a book with his stuffed animals gathered neatly around them. He smiled and leapt up when Sehun cleared his throat, wrapping his small arms around Sehun’s broader torso and breathing deeply.
“You still smell really bad,” he observed, wrinkling his nose in distaste, “but I guess it’s not your fault because the sky is dirty. I’m sorry I didn’t make it clean for you.”
“It’s fine,” Sehun murmured, “I’m sure you did the best you could.” He reached up to stroke Luhan’s hair. It was the color of sunshine and, just like everything else about Luhan, it seemed delicate somehow, as though Sehun’s fingers might taint it black and dirty if they lingered in it too long.
“Do you want to hear this story with us?” Luhan asked, gesturing to the book that he had abandoned next to a large, goofy-looking dinosaur. The cover was a myriad of soft colors and displayed a picture of a squirrel, but for some reason Sehun felt himself nodding as Luhan gazed up at him hopefully.
“I’ll go get you some food!” Luhan beamed, and with that he was running out of the room, little socked feet slipping on the hard wooden floor.
Sehun shook his head. There was something so unsettling about Luhan, something about seeing his face that made him feel… ill. And yet Sehun had felt undeniable excitement on his trip through the tunnels, following each mark he had made with a smile on his face.
He glanced around the room. The stuffed animals looked messier now; thanks to Luhan’s sudden exit, but apart from that everything was in perfect condition. Small porcelain figures stood on the shelves lining the walls, and there were also a great deal of small hair bows and books. His thoughts were interrupted when Luhan appeared again, carrying a plate stacked high with small sandwiches. They were cut in the shape of hearts.
After that Sehun visited Luhan often, telling the group that he was gathering information. Lies had never fazed him even remotely as a child, and he had lied religiously for the sheer entertainment of fooling the people he spoke to. And yet this felt different. Minseok’s eyes lingered on his face when he spoke and he felt himself buckle under them occasionally, clearing his throat in the middle of his sentences and sticking his hands into his pockets. It was all rather confusing. Sometimes Sehun would lie in the tunnels for hours at a time, staring at a distant shaft of sunlight, completely lost in his thoughts. The rats would scurry around him curiously, sniffing at his clothes, but for the first time in his life Sehun found their presence irksome. Everything was fucked up. Sehun was born a fuck-up, and he had ruined this too. His hands were diseased, and he turned everything he touched into something broken. Except Luhan. Perhaps that was the problem; Sehun hadn’t broken Luhan, and he was unsure whether he had the will to. Luhan. Sehun thought of stabbing him, watching the blood slowly soak through his little white shirt as he opened and closed his mouth like a guppy out of water. He thought of strangling Luhan until his eyes didn’t sparkle anymore, of taking one of his stupid pink pillows and shoving it in his face until his delicate fingers stopped twitching and scratching against the floor. These thoughts were common and Sehun cherished them savagely, curling in on himself and leering at the blank wall opposite him for hours.
Sometimes the fantasies changed; Sehun’s hand would uncurl itself from around Luhan’s throat and move instead to his thighs. He thought of burying himself inside Luhan, of fucking him raw until he cried, and the thoughts made his dick ache in his pants. He would think of Luhan splayed out on the floor and whining, think of Luhan bent over the back of one of his strange leather chairs, think of Luhan pressed into the wall and whimpering as Sehun thrust deep inside him. He would come to thoughts of Luhan looking up at him in adoration, Luhan crying out his name over and over, and afterwards would tuck himself back into his pants, trying resolutely to ignore the sense of disgust he felt. Luhan shouldn’t matter. Luhan didn’t matter.
Unfortunately sometimes, on much rarer occasions, unbidden thoughts came to mind, thoughts of Luhan’s smile and hair and shimmering eyes. He thought of Luhan’s laughter, of his soft voice, and of the way his eyelashes rested against his cheeks when he slept. It was at these times the he felt the strange feeling of sickness that being around Luhan seemed to give him, and eventually Sehun realized what it was. He felt guilt.
It was a sunny day, and Sehun was clambering out of the grate and onto the streets. He had long since lost his fear of being noticed; on the occasions that he had seen them the people of the inner city walked the streets like sheep, following each other mindlessly and never looking anywhere but forward. It was a shame to waste such a pretty place on people so ignorant, apathetic and complacent Sehun had decided, and he stood by it even now. These people were such a waste. They would be killed easily, Sehun thought, and the idea spurred him to walk faster through the city. The weather was warm, nearly hot inside the gates, but it always seemed nicer inside them somehow. Everything was nicer. The flowers in Luhan’s yard had finished blooming and their wilted petals were scattered across the grass. The sight was strangely jarring; the inner city was usually in such order that it seemed even the laws of nature were second place. Sehun narrowed his eyes and walked faster.
Luhan wasn’t in his usual place, but it didn’t take long to find him. He was curled up on the cool tiles of the bathroom floor, azure ceramic in stark contrast with his golden hair. Sehun knocked softly. He was expecting Luhan to jump up and hug him as usual, but he was met with nothing but a short glance before Luhan turned away again, eyes focused intently in the bath rug he was tangling his fingers in.
“Luhan?” Sehun asked softly, but Luhan ignored him, and Sehun decided not to ask again. The boy wasn’t capable of staying quiet long anyway. Sure enough, it was barely a minute before Luhan spoke.
“Do you think I’m a bad person?” he asked, voice cracking dangerously on the last syllable.
“Yes,” said Sehun, the word jumping to his tongue nearly automatically. The notion of being a bad person struck him as rather funny. Of course Luhan was a bad person, he sat around and did nothing while others starved and died mere miles from his home. All the people in the inner city were bad people, but it wasn’t of great significance. “Of course you’re a bad person; you’ve never done anything good to help the world. Neither have I, and I probably never will. The human race is composed of nothing but disgusting terrible creatures.” Sehun finished speaking, only to find Luhan had burst into tears.
“I made a plant!” he hiccupped, tears dribbling down his cheeks messily as he cried, “and my plant is helping the world. Plants help the world! Daddy said they’re good and so that makes me good too!” He was waving one his arms around wildly and Sehun noticed there was a small flowerpot in it, housing a terribly overgrown and rather flaccid looking herb of some sort.
“Do you know how many plants you kill everyday?” Sehun asked, bemused.
“You eat them and use them to build your house and all your furniture. Plants aren’t worth shit.”
“But I planted it,” Luhan’s bottom lip trembled dangerously, “in this pot myself. I made the pot too! I picked it out and then painted it and took it to get baked so that it would be all shiny like this, and then I planted it! Daddy said I’m giving back to the world; Daddy said I’m the biggest blessing—”
“Alright, alright,” Sehun murmured, reaching out automatically to stroke Luhan’s hair. “Of course your little plant is helping the world! I just didn’t realize that you did all of that yourself.”
“Yeah, I know,” Luhan huffed, turning away, but Sehun could see him beaming at his little plant proudly. He stooped down and picked up Luhan, grasping him against his chest as he carried him back to his playroom. Luhan glared at him for a moment, before pressing his face against Sehun’s shirt. Sehun could feel him surreptitiously using it to dry his eyes.
They settled down into the nest of pillows that Luhan so frequently inhabited, and Luhan wriggled himself into an upright position on Sehun’s lap. The sun illuminated his hair, turning it into a glowing golden halo, and something about the sight made Sehun’s breath catch in his throat. Luhan was horribly beautiful sometimes, and right now he was looking at Sehun with eyes shining with happiness, brimming with it until it overflowed onto his cheeks. Sehun reached up, fingers shaking as his hand made its way to Luhan’s face. It brushed against his cheek, and Sehun didn’t know if it was there to wrap around Luhan’s throat or to wipe his tears away, but apparently Luhan did. He lunged forward.
The kiss was surprisingly chaste. Sehun sat still in shock while Luhan seemed inclined to not move, perching his lips against Sehun’s rather like a butterfly perched on a flower. There was a strange rushing sound in Sehun’s ears, and his stomach was soaring uncomfortably, a feeling he hadn’t experienced in years. Luhan drew back, beaming, once again, before snuggling into Sehun’s chest.
“You know why I asked if you thought I was a good person?” Luhan’s voice sounded soft and dreamy, as though he was falling asleep, and Sehun shook his head.
“No. Why did you ask?”
“They always leave, and I thought it must be because I’m bad. First Daddy left and then Kris, and I was alone for a really long time. But then you showed up. You won’t leave, will you?”
“Never in a thousand years,” Sehun replied, and it was the only true thing he had said in weeks. Sehun would never leave. He just hadn’t decided if Luhan would be leaving yet.
The days after the kiss passed sickeningly, each second seeming to drag on for years. As the weather became warmer the outer city reeked of smells that had been muted in the colder weather, and going out during the day was nearly unmanageable. Sehun paced his small room, fingers twisting and tangling together agitatedly as he popped his knuckles. He couldn’t kill Luhan; he couldn’t do it. And yet there was no reason to spare Luhan; he was no better than the rest. Perhaps he should let Minseok kill him instead? No. The thought brought bile into his throat. Luhan couldn’t die. It didn’t make sense.
The days passed, five ten, twenty, and Sehun still hadn’t come to a decision. Protect Luhan and abandon the revolution? And yet that felt like an abandonment of himself. Sehun was born to destroy, born a fuck-up. He craved chaos and took great joy in marring the beautiful and the innocent. Or he had, at one time, but it was too late to back out now.
In the end it was Luhan’s face, more than anything, that pushed him to act. Sehun needed to see him again. Feeling sick to his stomach, he called the group together to talk. They would split up, he decided, once they reached the city, and destroy whatever they could. In this way he would be able to make sure that no one would attack Luhan, and hopefully kill a few others.
“Jongin, have you gotten the guns we need?” he asked, and Jongin nodded, looking overly proud of himself as he tapped the crate he was sitting on.
“Best in all the land,” he drawled, “you should hear what I had to do to get them.”
“I think I’d prefer not to,” Sehun hissed, and Jongin had the audacity to look hurt, and he pouted through his entire explanation and demonstration of how the guns worked. Finally, they were distributed.
“I refuse to kill anyone,” Kyungsoo had declared adamantly, and so Sehun had told him to tag along with the person of his choosing so he could help them if they were injured. Kyungsoo’s eyes had scanned the group, lingering on Jongin for a moment, before finally moving to Tao. Tao was the most likely to be killed, despite the fact that the people of the inner city were weak and unaware, and they all knew it. He stood a better chance with Kyungsoo. Sehun nodded. Jongin, on the other hand, looked even more sulky and disappointed, but Sehun was glad that things had worked out this way. Had he been the one to go with Kyungsoo they probably would have ended up in an alleyway fucking somewhere, a task that hardly contributed to the fall of the inner city.
The trip through the tunnels into the city was made in silence, with the exception of Tao whimpering every once in a while when his hand was met with something wet. Twice they had to stop to wait for Yixing to catch up, and he had stopped moving and lay down to sleep, but Chen whispered things softly in his ear until they could move again. Minseok hissed in annoyance each time and Sehun could almost sense it on him, the hunger for blood and impatience to get there. Kyungsoo was apprehensive, and Jongin seemed apathetic for the most part, caring more about swaying his hips when he crawled than anything else. Time moved like sludge. It was swelteringly hot in the tunnels in the summer and Sehun could feel the sticky beads of sweat dripping down his face and pooling in the arch of his lower back and along his spine. The air was heavy and humid, and it clung to his clothing like a blanket, trapping the heat in and making him dizzy and nauseous. The air smelt rank, of death and decay, and occasionally they would pass a small branch where the smell was so strong it made his eyes water. A rat or some other animal had no doubt crawled off to die on its own, Sehun assumed.
It was dusk by the time they reached the streets, and everyone tumbled out onto the pavement gratefully, inhaling lungfuls of the clear evening air as though they had been swimming through the tunnel instead of merely crawling. The air smelled especially sweet, as though God himself had blown the scents of a thousand flowers on them, but Sehun was accustomed to this, and knew it would wear off. The air, like so many of the things Sehun had found in his life, wasn’t actually sweet, and only appeared so because they were accustomed to smelling things so disgusting and putrid. It wouldn’t last long.
“Split up,” he said, but Minseok was already gone. Tao had a determined look on his face, but his left eye was twitching slightly, and his jaw was clenched tightly. Kyungsoo laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“We’ll meet back here in the morning,” Sehun muttered, “I’m going this way.” And then he was off. The last he saw of his group was Jongin standing quietly fidgeting with his fingers and staring after Kyungsoo’s retreating back. He looked scared, but Sehun knew he was too skittish to stay in one place for long, and he’d end up contributing soon enough. Chen had nodded at him curtly before taking Yixing’s hand and leading him away.
The streets under Sehun’s feet were familiar, and he walked them with an odd sense of trepidation. There was not a face to be seen, and deep in his heart Sehun hoped he wouldn’t see anyone, hoped he wouldn’t kill anyone. The desire to run to Luhan’s house was almost overwhelming and he stopped several times, frozen still in his tracks as he debated which way he should go. It was almost sickening, to work so hard for something only to lose interest in it. Who had he become since the beginning of this; who had Luhan turned him into? The gun Jongin had given him weighed heavily in his hand and he slouched down against an alley, defeated, against the stone wall of a large building. It was overwhelming, this wave of apathy that seemed to cling to every fiber of his being, subduing him and making his chest ache. The night ticked on, silence broken only occasionally by a distant shout, Probably Minseok, or maybe even Chen, people who still had some sort of drive inside them. Sehun was hopeless. He stood up. The walk to Luhan’s house was easy, and with every step his heart felt a little lighter, a little better. What did it matter that he was a traitor, so long as he could see Luhan’s face again? The door swung open silently and he was created with the familiar smell of chemicals, mixed with the sweet scent that was Luhan. Except Luhan wasn’t there; there was a man standing in front of him, a man in a black suit holding a glass of amber liquid in one hand, with salt and pepper hair and heavy wrinkles across his forehead. The man was staring at him in surprise, and Sehun knew immediately who it was.
“Hello,” he murmured, smiling jovially. He received no smile in return.
“Who are you?” asked Luhan’s father, and his voice was sharp and cold, “What are you doing in my house?”
Sehun laughed. He laughed as Luhan’s father stood there in shock, laughed so hard he choked and a little bit of spit dribbled out of his mouth. He was still laughing as he raised the gun to Luhan’s father’s forehead, and his hand shook in his mirth but it still aimed true.
The body hit the ground with a heavy thump, and Sehun felt the rushing of blood in his veins, pulsing and humming until it was all he could hear, his heartbeat echoing like cannon fire in the small room. Thump, thump, thump. He did it. The president of the city was dead, cooling body slowly soaking his carpet with crimson, and it was all Sehun’s doing. Thump, thump, thump. Luhan’s father was dead; Sehun had shot him in his own home in cold blood. Thump, thump, thump. Every hair on Sehun’s body was standing on end, but it was good, so good Sehun could barely draw air into his ever expanding chest where his heart was beating. There was no room for it. Sehun crossed the room slowly, gait unsteady as his legs trembled slightly. He wanted to savor each second, cherish the buzzing in his fingertips and the heat he felt beneath his skin and the overwhelming sense of joy, so strong he felt as though he might throw up.
Luhan’s father’s skin was still warm, and his face wore the same haughty and distant look that had adorned it during life. Sehun’s hands tingled pleasantly as he pressed them against the damp shirt, and the pads of his fingers came away red and sticky. He felt alive, as though every cell in his body was humming in joy and vibrating. The urge to take the body out on the street and suspend it above the tallest building and watch the people scream and panic was nearly overwhelming, but the image of Luhan’s face flashed before his eyes and he felt a pang of sadness. He couldn’t give Luhan up, not so soon. Not ever, the little voice in his head reminded him quietly, and so he did what seemed most feasible in the moment: rolling the body up in the rug it had fallen upon and stuffing it into a small closet. The door was barely latched before he heard the sound of light footsteps behind him, and he turned around to find Luhan, dressed in his pajamas and holding two plates of strawberries.
“Sehun,” Luhan stared, blinking slowly, “but you’re not Daddy… Daddy was here, I know he was!”
“Of course he was,” Sehun said, “I met him just now! He’s sorry, Luhan, but he said he had to go somewhere and might not be back for a long time.”
Luhan’s eyes began to water, and Sehun was tempted to cross the room and hug him, but the dead body on the other side of the door was awfully heavy and he was afraid that it might outweigh the little latch keeping it away from Luhan’s eyes.
“B-but he promised,” Luhan hiccupped, dropping a few strawberries onto the floor as the plates in his hands tipped dangerously. “He promised that he would stay for r-really long this time!”
The temptation to tell Luhan that his father was a terrible person; a lazy and uncaring liar, was bubbling in Sehun’s chest and the words hung on the tip of his tongue, barely restrained from leaping free. But this, just like the small potted plant, and even like Sehun himself, was something that Luhan would never believe. Luhan was stupid. It wasn’t that he saw the good in people, it was that he imagined it there instead, simply because he was delusional and a poor little shut-in who hadn’t had human company since he was five years old.
“He said he loved you, baby. He said that he’d be back as soon as he could.”
Luhan smiled at that, dark lashed curving up into little half-moons on his face, and he dropped the plates messily onto the couch and ran to Sehun, throwing his arms around him.
“Did Daddy say he liked you? Oh, I’m sure he did! Daddy’s always talked about how we were making the sky too dirty; I’m sure he wants to help you make it clean!”
“Did he now?” asked Sehun, and he gathered Luhan in his arms. Luhan nodded enthusiastically, moving his head so much Sehun was surprised he didn’t get dizzy. Luhan looked so beautiful like this. A few tears were still clinging to his lashes, and his thighs felt so soft and warm against the tips of Sehun’s bloodstained fingers.
“I missed you,” Luhan said softly, breath fanning across Sehun’s lips, “I thought about you every day while you were gone.”
“I’m sorry I was gone so long, then,” Sehun whispered, and they were kissing, lips wet and warm. Luhan clung to him, arms wrapped tightly around Sehun’s neck as he moved his lips gently, and his nails moved to dig into Sehun’s back as the kiss became heated. Luhan whined, squirming in Sehun’s hold, and it made Sehun groan, eyes rolling back into his head as Luhan wriggled against his clothed dick.
“It hurts,” Luhan whined, “please help me. Sometimes it hurts so bad and I don’t know how to make it go away. I touch myself but then it comes back the next day.”
The thought of Luhan crying and writhing around flitted through Sehun’s mind and he took a deep, shuddering breath.
“Luhan, do you have anything that you rub on your skin, something that makes it soft?” he asked. Sehun’s mother had been a hoarder of lotion back in the outer city, and kept bottles of it lined around her bed. The men she fucked seemed to need more and more of it over the years, and the knowledge had disgusted Sehun at first but now he found it useful.
“Like lotion?” Luhan asked, and Sehun nodded.
“Go get it.”
Luhan was soft and pliant in his arms, and he stretched around Sehun’s fingers beautifully. The high-pitched sounds that left his lips as Sehun prodded around made his dick ache and throb, and the idea of sinking himself inside Luhan’s warm heat left him nearly salivating, scissoring with his fingers rapidly as Luhan cried softly and pulled his hair like a three-year-old.
“Please, please,” Luhan whined, soft voice cracking as Sehun’s finger pressed particularly hard inside of him, “please, Sehun, it feels so good.” His voice shattered in a broken octave jump as Sehun finally pressed inside of him, but Sehun barely heard it. Luhan was hot and tighter than he’d ever imagined, and his dick was throbbing painfully. He slid in all the way to the hilt, swollen balls coming to press against Luhan’s ass, and it was all he could do to not come on the spot, biting down into Luhan’s shoulder and making him shriek. Eventually the urge subsided, and Sehun looked up to see Luhan staring at him open-mouthed, as though he had forgotten how to breathe.
“How does it feel to have my dick inside you?” he asked, but Luhan only whined softly and squirmed, pressing himself down further and drooling a little bit. Sehun took that to mean very good.
The pace he set was brutal; with Luhan’s back rubbing roughly against the door of the closet and Luhan gasping his name over and over as though it was the only word he remembered. Luhan’s ass felt hot and tight that Sehun couldn’t stop, and he was sure that even if the door fell open or was smashed he’d keep going, keep fucking Luhan right on top of the body of his dead father. His dick felt like it was surrounded by a vice.
“Sehun,” Luhan wailed, clenching around Sehun fruitlessly as he was thrust into, “Sehun p-please--” and Sehun wasn’t sure what Luhan wanted but he fucked him harder, until the only words left were a string of garbled sounds that Luhan gasped out as Sehun’s dick slid in and out of him.
Luhan came first, and he screamed as he did, tensing his whole body as little spurts of white coated his stomach. He whined as Sehun continued to thrust, slapping his balls wetly against the skin of Luhan’s thighs, and cried and shook from the oversensitivity. It wasn’t until Sehun finally released himself deep inside Luhan that he stopped, and Sehun realized that Luhan had scratched his back so hard it bled. Exhausted, he turned around and set Luhan down, still leaning against the door.
“Go up to bed. I’ll be there soon,” and apparently Luhan was too sleepy to demand Sehun come along too because he shuffled out, limping slightly. Sehun waited five minutes to check if Luhan was coming back before getting the body and taking it to the backyard. There was a small marble structure that resembled a gazebo, but it had a large pit in the middle and Sehun assumed it was for bathing in the summer. He dropped the body in and headed inside without looking back. There would surely be men looking for the president in the morning, but right now they could wait. Luhan was inside.
Sehun was waiting for the men by the time that they arrived. They were soft and weak, all of them, and he shot all of them through their heads right in the middle of the entranceway. Except for the two who he shot in the chests, and the particularly large one who he shot through the gut, but Sehun decided that was nearly the same. Some men thought with their hearts, and some, it was clear, even thought with their stomachs. He stuffed the bodies into the small porcelain bathhouse in the backyard, piled them on top of Luhan’s father like a stack of firewood, and it smelled something terrible but Sehun didn’t mind the stench. He knew Luhan would kiss him when he smelled it, thinking that Sehun had been back to the sky to look for a star to bring him.
“Oh, Sehunnie, you’re so smart and brave!” he’d say, “You’re so magical and brave and good!” And Sehun would fuck him, take him from behind in his pile of fluffy stuffed animals, and Luhan would cry and moan for more, begging obscenely while his father decomposed in the backyard. It was beautiful really, in a kind of macabre way, Sehun thought, and definitely funny.
The rest of his group from the outer city was still there, and he met up with Minseok on occasion. He had seen Jongin once, walking shyly next to an official looking man in a dark suit, whom Sehun assumed he was busy deep-throating so he could stay here without being sent back. For every dick Jongin was probably sucking Minseok was killing someone, and Sehun would join him on occasion, just to watch the light fade from their eyes. There was something so cleansing about destruction. Even Tao had discovered it, and they spread through the city like a disease, borne in the blood that they spilled and growing stronger everyday. The city was falling before their eyes, and its inhabitants lived in terror, not knowing that the monster of their nightmares was fucking their very own poor, young orphaned prince. But really, what could he say? Oh Sehun was born a fuck-up.