Title: Perfect Nightmare
Genre/warnings: dark, twisted romance, character death, gore
Summary: Inspired loosely by G-Dragon’s music video for She’s Gone. It’s possibly my favorite of G-Dragon’s songs. Sungmin can’t let go.
“I think we should break up.”
Sungmin stared up at the ceiling, at the lights that blurred and the ceiling fan that blew his sweat matted hair in his eyes. The chair was old—they’d gotten it at a second-hand store, their first piece of furniture for their apartment—and he could feel a spring digging into the back of his neck.
He let out a slow sigh, and the smoke turned into designs before his eyes, fairies dancing in the light, blown away by the harsh, uneven whirs of the fan blades. He snuffed the cigarette out in the ashtray on the side table, feeling around blindly for the bottle he knew was resting there as well.
His fingers bumped against it and it tipped over, even as he reached out to catch it. Too drunk, too slow, and the glass shattered upon contact with the hardwood floor. He stared down at the amber liquid and the glass shards that reflected the flickering overhead light.
The floor was scratched, stained, warped from age and abuse. It had been like that before they’d bought the apartment. He smiled, letting out a harsh laugh, turning over in the chair to face the wall, away from the puddle of old scotch—it was the only expensive thing in the house, he’d always said that good liquor defined a man—to the wall with its torn patches of wallpaper and holes where nails had once been. The largest problem areas had been strategically covered in photos—Sungmin’s photographs, his art, his pride and joy.
Photos of him.
He’d always been his muse.
He’d dialed the number without realizing it, fingers moving deftly over the keys. He listened to the dial tone ringing in his ear, the phone pressed between the back of the chair and his cheek. He waited. There was no answer.
He dialed again. Once. Twice. He lost count at fifteen because his head felt fuzzy and he needed another cigarette, and possibly some more scotch if he hadn’t drank it all.
The line finally connected, that voice that he’d longed for, loved
coveted. “…Sungmin-ah, please stop.” His voice was soft, exasperated, chiding in that way that Sungmin had always found irritating when they argued.
But it didn’t matter if they argued, because they always made up. Just like now. They just needed to talk and everything would be fine. He would come back to him, to their apartment. He would pick the broken bottle off of the floor and mop up the scotch, lecturing Sungmin about being wasteful.
“…ome…back.” He found himself slurring into the speaker. His breath smelled vile even to himself and he wrinkled his nose in disgust.
“Have you been drinking again? Sungmin-ah, go to sleep.”
“Why?” Sungmin’s gaze never left the picture. If he focused hard enough, he could imagine that he was there, talking to him. That the picture was alive and real and tangible.
A sigh, almost imperceptible, and then his voice, but muffled, as if he were holding the phone to his chest as he spoke, “…it’s fine…I’m almost done talking…yes. Don’t worry, I’m coming to bed.” And then the voice was normal again, clear and soft and everything that embodied him. “Go to bed…and don’t call anymore. International calls are expensive.” It ended in a whisper and the dial tone.
Sungmin breathed in, once, twice, nostrils flaring as the stale smell of alcohol and smoke choked him. He coughed, but his gaze never left the picture, his eyes wide, crazed, bestial, as a smile slid across his face.
He lifted a hand, toasting the picture with an invisible glass and a crooked grin.
The next morning he woke up in the chair, the dial tone still playing in his ear, another bottle held firmly in his arms. He didn’t remember going to the cabinet and getting it. He coughed, yawning, ignoring the soft throbbing of his hangover as he placed the bottle on the side table and stood.
The jarring pain of glass digging into his feet awoke him completely from his drunken stupor. He let out a coarse yell, his throat sore and dry. He stumbled a few more steps, the glass digging in further before he finally dropped to his knees. He stared at the scotch on the floor and the remaining pieces of the bottle. The cuts stung with alcohol and he let out a hiss as he placed one foot into his lap and pulled the largest piece of glass out with a swift tug.
Blood began to seep from the inch-long cut. He ignored it, ripping out the rest of the pieces until his feet were a bleeding mess and his hands were covered in the warm red liquid, fingers trembling. The pain had become a numb constant and didn’t even register anymore. He got to his feet again and limped to the bathroom.
He sat on the edge of the tub, reaching for the shower knobs. He turned on the cold water, and as he leaned to turn on the shower he slipped, falling fully into the tub. The spray hit his face and he closed his eyes, letting the frigid downpour wash over him.
He leaned his head against the wall tiles and watched the water mix with blood, swirling down the drain in a stain of dark pink.
He stayed in the shower until his clothing was soaked through, his lips turned blue, his teeth began chattering and his sobbing had turned to laughter.
Sungmin smiled brightly at the woman behind the desk. “I’d like to book a flight to Ascoli Picento, Italy.”
The woman smiled back, momentarily dazzled by the man’s perfect, white smile. It certainly fit his innocent looking face. She glanced at her computer. “When would you like this flight by?”
“As soon as possible. Today would be preferable.” Sungmin replied, not missing the woman’s surprised glance at his response.
“Ah, I see. Well, the closest airport is Pescara. It’s about 68km away…” She began typing again. “When is the return date?”
“One way.” Sungmin replied smoothly, and for a moment, the woman felt that the cheerful smile didn’t fit. It seemed oddly chilling. “Could you also book a hotel?”
“Ah, of course. How many stars?”
Sungmin leaned against the counter, biting his lip before he smiled thoughtfully. “Four star, I think.”
The woman nodded. “Alright…here you go. The total comes to 6434520 won.” Sungmin pulled out his credit card with another smile, “Thank you.” He paused. “…do you think you could book a rental car as well?”
He hadn’t changed. He hadn’t changed one bit since he’d left for Italy six months earlier. Sungmin felt his throat tighten and go dry. It was hard to breathe and his heart beat frantically against his ribcage, so much that he feared it would shatter.
He looked exactly as Sungmin had remembered; smiling that soft, heart-stopping smile, charcoal brushing along paper, fingertips smudged black, hair falling in his eyes as he bent over his sketchpad to draw in the last few details.
From what the art gallery curator had said, he was having an exhibition next month.
Sungmin focused his camera lens. The subtle click of the shutter didn’t carry over the distance, drowned out by the soft breeze and chirping birds. This was how he liked him the most: vulnerable, unknowing, fully absorbed in his art.
It was the him he had fallen in love with. The brooding, soft-spoken artist.
Sungmin smiled to himself.
He looked up from behind his glasses, his gaze bordering between annoyed and curious, “What are you doing?”
Sungmin giggled, holding his camera up and pressed his face against the other’s. “Say cheese!” He simply blinked up at the camera as it flashed and Sungmin pulled back with another grin. “I’m just cataloging our first day in our apartment.”
A soft smile, a hint of the breathtaking grin that would have Sungmin melting in a pile of goo on the floor. “I don’t understand you sometimes, hyung.”
“It’s weird when you call me hyung.”
He blinked, brow furrowed. “But you are my hyung, hyung. What else would I call you?”
A chuckle. “…I’ll think about it.”
The next morning, Sungmin stood outside the door to his apartment and watched the emotions play across his face as he held the photograph in his hands.
He had a boyfriend. A Chinese-born Italian model named Zhou Mi. Sungmin watched them eat dinner on the balcony of Villa Cicchi, their fingers entwined under the table. Zhou Mi’s fingers were too long, too slender, just like the rest of him. He was all angles and straight lines.
He laughed well, and he made him laugh too. He smiled brightly around Zhou Mi, as he listened to the man’s butchered Italian mixed with butchered Korean—he couldn’t speak either correctly, why did he like him, why?
Click. Another picture, another memory, another jealousy-laced reminder. His fingers tightened on the lens, so tight he feared he would snap it off as Zhou Mi leaned forward and wiped some sauce off of the corner of his lips with his thumb.
Sungmin bit his lip, feeling the skin break. His mouth tasted like copper.
They were laughing again, and Zhou Mi replaced his thumb with his tongue and Sungmin felt sick. He wanted to look away. This wasn’t real. He loved Sungmin, not Zhou Mi. Not him. This wasn’t real.
Sungmin lifted the camera and drowned out the night silence with the click of the shutter.
He left the pictures on their doorstep and waited until three in the morning when they stumbled, drunken in each other’s arms, placing mouths and hands over every inch of skin they could find. Sungmin watched as he noticed the pictures placed under the flowerpot so they wouldn’t fly away.
He watched as he held them up and tore them to pieces, looking around the veranda frantically.
He allowed himself a small amount of satisfaction at the panic in his eyes. It was an emotion he’d never seen on his face.
Sungmin liked it.
Sungmin met him the next day, in the same park as before. He was painting this time, using the same easel Sungmin had seen in their apartment for years. The brushes were the same. Only the paint was new, and the canvas.
“Good morning.” He said it in Korean, because even with his back to him, Sungmin could imagine the look on his face as he recognized the voice and language immediately. He turned slowly, and Sungmin was disappointed to see that it wasn’t the shocked fear from the night before.
It was that same calm condescension Sungmin had always known as he peered at him from behind his glasses. “…what are you doing here?” he asked softly, and the timbre of his voice sent a shiver down Sungmin’s spine. He imagined that voice somewhere else, somewhere far away in Korea, in their apartment, tangled under sheets.
Sungmin merely smiled and held up his camera. “The scenery here is nice.” He glanced at the painting. “Your inspiration seems to have returned.”
He gave a small smile in return, not directed at Sungmin but at his words. “Yes.” He turned back to his painting, reaching for a brush. The white and the cardinal red mixed. He added a little yellow to turn it the proper shade of bloody amber. Sungmin glanced from the color to his face.
Sungmin reached out a hand subconsciously, but stopped at his next words.
“You look nice. Healthy.” He glanced up from the painting again, and his gaze was sincere. “I’m glad, hyung.”
Sungmin gave a small laugh. “I thought I told you not to call me hyung.”
“But you’re my hyung, hyung.” He answered back coolly. “What else am I supposed to call you?”
Sungmin swallowed his next words as Zhou Mi walked up to them, bag held in his arms, the smell of freshly baked bread following him. He smiled, his gaze curious as he spotted Sungmin. “Who…are you?”
“My hyung from back home.” He answered back quickly, going back to his painting. “He’s getting ready for a photography exhibition and I told him that the scenery was nice here…” he paused. “…but I didn’t think he’d come. His forte is human portraits.”
Sungmin grinned. “There are more than just pretty trees here.” His expression changed, “…much prettier things…”
He stiffened, and Sungmin knew that he knew who had left the pictures. He’d probably figured it out earlier, but this had been the final piece of evidence needed. The look he sent him was guarded, but warning. Sungmin ignored it and focused his gaze on Zhou Mi.
Zhou Mi held out his hand. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Zhou Mi.”
“Zhou MI.” Sungmin laughed. “That doesn’t sound Italian.”
“It’s not.” Zhou Mi smiled back, and Sungmin thought that the smile was blinding, but in a different way than his. It was like sunshine, bright and cheerful with a promise of warmth. His was like liquid steel, searing and painful, a jolt that left you breathless and panting. “I’m from China.” Zhou Mi turned toward him, placing a hand on his shoulder, “He sketched my picture and I fell in love at first sight.”
What a coincidence. Me too. Sungmin continued to smile, “I see. It’s good to know that he has someone so loving and dedicated. I hope you’ll stay with him and make him happy.”
Zhou Mi nodded, “Of course! I love him!”
But I love him more.
Zhou Mi had a photoshoot in Pescara for a fashion magazine. Sungmin went back to his room at Hotel Esplanade and checked out.
He met Zhou Mi as the taller man was heading to his taxi. “Hey! I’ll give you a lift!”
Zhou Mi turned at the Korean and smiled brightly when he recognized Sungmin. “Sungmin hyung!” He laughed. “I didn’t know you were staying in Pescara.”
Sungmin nodded. “It’s closer to the airport, and I’ve been doing a lot of shoots here. Are you heading back tonight?”
Zhou Mi smiled, “Yes. I have a few days off, so we were going to head to the beach.”
“The beach.” Sungmin repeated, more to himself than anything else, “That sounds like fun.” He waved his hand in the direction of the parking lot. “Come on, my car is over there.”
Zhou Mi nodded, “Thank you.”
Sungmin turned, and Zhou Mi didn’t catch the cold smile that twisted his lips. Thank you? Yes, I’m sure you’ll be thanking me later. The chloroform in his glove-box did the trick rather nicely.
And Zhou Mi was so skinny, it wasn’t difficult to carry him up the stairs at all.
The warehouse studio he had bought was soundproof and consisted of two rooms: the dark room, and a large storage room. He watched from the doorway of the darkroom as Zhou Mi slowly woke up. It took awhile, and the drugged uncertainty on his face made Sungmin grin.
He savored that slow realization that donned, and then the look of horror that crossed his face as he stared up at the photograph hanging on the wall in front of him.
A photograph of him.
“It’s one of my favorite works. Done completely on accident. I hadn’t thought it would turn out well at all.” Sungmin spoke from the doorway. He noticed the way Zhou Mi jerked his head to the side to stare at him, eyes wide and confused. He ignored him, continuing, “But it really captures his smile, doesn’t it? Not that one he always gives people. That secret smile. I didn’t think I’d ever catch it on camera.”
Zhou Mi was trembling now, fighting against the duct tape that held him to the high-backed chair. “W-what’s going on?”
“Do you know what I hate the most in the world, Zhou Mi-ssi?” Sungmin began browsing the storage room shelves. “Thieves. And you took something that belonged to me, Zhou Mi-ssi. Something very important. I want it back.”
“…what are you talking about?” His voice wavered as he looked around the room. “Let me go!”
“You took him from me.” Sungmin’s voice turned dark, frigid. “I don’t forgive people who take things from me.”
“…he said you weren’t stable.” Zhou Mi swallowed, “He said to be careful but I thought I’d give you the benefit of the doubt—let me go!”
Sungmin’s eyes flashed. “He talked about me?”
Zhou Mi blinked, “You think he wouldn’t tell his current lover about his ex?”
Sungmin backhanded him, and the crack echoed off of the walls, not going any further. He watched in satisfaction as blood trickled down the side of Zhou Mi’s cheek. Sungmin smiled, fiddling with the ring on his finger, “…sorry I forgot to take this off. It was a gift for my birthday. From him.”
Zhou Mi’s breathing was becoming shaky, a trembling exhale. His eyes were panicked, dilated, like a cornered animal. He’d slowly begun to realize that the situation was serious.
“…let me go.” Zhou Mi whispered softly. “Please let me go. If he finds out you did this he’ll—”
Sungmin placed a hand on Zhou Mi’s shoulder and leaned in close, his breath hot against Zhou Mi’s cheek. It smelled of wine and cigarettes. “If it weren’t for you, he wouldn’t have left me. It’s your fault.”
Zhou Mi swallowed, and Sungmin watched his Adam’s apple bob at the movement. He wondered how it would look if he cut it out. Would he be able to see the saliva running down his throat, or would there be too much blood?
“He left because of this. Because you were like this!” Zhou Mi sounded frantic now, as he tried to break free. He shook off Sungmin’s shoulder, trying to scoot his chair back. “You’re crazy!” The chair tipped, toppling to the floor. Zhou Mi was sobbing now. “Let me go, let me go, please.”
Sungmin knelt down and picked the chair up, righting it with a small huff at the weight. It was a good thing Zhou Mi was so light. Fragile, like a bird. It wouldn’t be difficult to snap his thin bones. “He left me because of you.” Sungmin reiterated. “You seduced him, you disgusting slut.”
“I didn’t even know him then!” Zhou Mi yelled out, and his Korean began to mix with Mandarin, with words that Sungmin didn’t know but understood. The desperation that laced them transcended language barriers. “You were possessive and dangerous! He said you needed help!”
“Don’t talk about me!” Sungmin snarled. “You don’t know anything. You don’t know him.”
Zhou Mi swallowed, “Let me go. Please let me go.”
“If I let you go, you’ll go back to him.” Sungmin murmured, “…and we can’t have that. I can’t have you go back to him because he’s mine. You’ll take him away from me again.”
Sungmin walked to the other side of the room, and Zhou Mi followed him with his eyes, to a small corner of the storage room. There stood a chair. Beside it was a side table, upon which rested a Victrola. Sungmin looked up to see him watching and smiled, before he wound it. Each whir of the spring, that little hitch as it finished each circle, seemed deafeningly loud. He placed the needle down.
There was the crackling of silence, before a soft violin began, and then the clear and bright Italian filtered through the air. Sungmin began humming along, waltzing a few steps. “You know this, don’t you? It’s Carmen’s Habanera.” He laughed, “Of course you know it. It’s his favorite opera. You two went to see it at La Fenice in Venice last month.”
Zhou Mi let out a choked sob. “P-please…”
Sungmin continued dancing to the music as he set up his tripod in front of Zhou Mi’s chair. Zhou Mi began shaking, tears running down his cheeks in a steady torrent.
“We have to take pictures as we go, to show him.” Sungmin smiled brightly, and the fear that glazed over Zhou Mi’s eyes excited him. “If we get a few good ones, I might even put them in my exhibition.”
The soft flick of his wrist, and the butterfly knife glittered.
Zhou Mi tried to scoot backwards, but Sungmin grabbed the chair, preventing him from doing so. “Now now, if you move too much the picture will come out blurry and I’ll have to take another.”
“Get away from me!” Zhou Mi finally screamed.
Sungmin laughed, twirled the knife between his fingers, and took a few dancing steps to the other side of Zhou Mi’s chair. He brushed the flat of the blade against Zhou Mi’s cheek and at the touch of the cold steel, Zhou Mi went still.
Sungmin tilted his head, peering at the expanse of Zhou Mi’s cheek before slashing.
Zhou Mi let out a cry of pain, jerking his face away.
“Ah, you moved. It cut more than I would have liked. The line is too long now…” Sungmin gripped Zhou Mi’s chin. “I’ll just have to even it out on the other side.”
“Sto-op!” Zhou Mi sobbed, letting out another cry as the skin broke beneath the blade and blood trickled down both cheeks. Sungmin watched as it began to soak into Zhou Mi’s white collar.
“Time for a picture!” Sungmin sang, and stood behind the tripod. “Hm…don’t look away. Yes, right at the camera. Smile, smile!” He sighed dramatically, looking up from behind the red drape of the camera. “It doesn’t look natural at all like that. Try and be more realistic. Less stiff, please. Just relax.”
“Bastard!” Zhou Mi screamed. “Let me go you bastard!”
“Like that, like that.” Sungmin murmured, clicking away. “But I don’t know if the look is quite right…” He walked back over, wiping the blood off of the blade with Zhou Mi’s jacket. He grinned, “I can’t work with a dirty brush. You have to clean it. Just think, if it rusted why, that would be dangerous!” And he chuckled.
“LET ME GO!” Zhou Mi screamed, voice hoarse. His face throbbed, and when he opened his mouth, blood poured out of his cheeks.
Sungmin grabbed one of Zhou Mi’s hands, holding out his own against it. He tsked. “Your fingers are much too long.” He lifted the blade and sliced. Zhou Mi shrieked. Sungmin held his wrist tightly. “Now, now, now, don’t move. I have to fix the rest of them. You want to match him, don’t you? Your fingers are much too long now. But don’t worry, I’ll make you more suitable.”
“Please let me go. Pleasepleasepleasepleasestop—STOAHHHH!”
“There now. Only one more finger on this hand to do and then we’ll get to the next.” Sungmin bit his lip thoughtfully. “But now that I think about it…you’re much too tall.”
“No, please god now, please…” Zhou Mi sobbed. “Make it stop.”
Sungmin sighed. “It’s a pity…I don’t think I can cut through it with his.” He looked disdainfully down at his knife, and then to the bloody stumps of Zhou Mi’s fingers. “Don’t bleed out before I get back. I left my saw in the trunk.”
Zhou Mi continued to sob.
Sungmin walked by the camera and paused, before smiling. “Another picture before I go.” He clicked away, as Zhou Mi screamed and fought against his bindings, the chair rocking back and forth. “…you blinked, I’ll have to take another one.”
Two days later, Sungmin left the photos on his doorstep and sat in the car. He watched his face pale, tears well in his eyes as he covered his mouth.
Then he leaned over the balcony and puked, the photos falling from limp fingers.
Sungmin didn’t know why he’d reacted that way. It wasn’t as if Zhou Mi’s face were recognizable by that point anyway. He opened the door and stepped out of the car, heading up the stairs. He hadn’t noticed Sungmin yet, sobbing, wiping the vomit off of his lips with his sleeve.
“If you hold the picture like that, it’s going to be ruined. You’ve already crumpled the edges.” Sungmin sighed, leaning down.
He looked up, eyes wide in disgust and fear, and he lunged. Sungmin had him pressed against the wall before he could fight back. He smiled softly, lovingly, thumb running across his cheek, brushing away a tear.
“…don’t cry Kibum-ah. I’m here now. Everything will be alright.”
Kibum woke up surrounded by warmth and the smell of roses. His brow furrowed and he blinked sleepily, turning over to huddle against the body there. “…mimi, what’s with the roses? It isn’t our anniversary…”
“But it’s ours.”
Kibum’s eyes flickered open as he paled, pushing away from Sungmin. He climbed off of the bed, but when he stood his legs gave out on him and he fell to the ground. He hit his elbow against the hardwood and winced.
“Aish, Kibummie-ah, be careful. You’ve been sick so I had to give you some medicine. Your body is weak right now.” Sungmin crooned, coming up behind him. Kibum could feel his breath on his neck as he placed a soft kiss against the juncture of his neck and shoulder.
Kibum tried to fight him off but his body felt oddly numb and heavy. Sungmin’s grip tightened around his waist. “Kibum-ah…I’m so glad you came back to me.” He whispered. “I was so lonely without you.”
“What did you do, you bastard?” Kibum whispered hoarsely, “What did you DO TO HIM!?!?!” It ended in a shout, and he fought with everything he had, head swimming with dizziness, limbs unresponsive.
Sungmin’s grip became painfully tight. “I don’t know who you’re talking about. There’s no one else but the two of us. There never has been. It’s just us. Forever.” He let go for a brief moment before he slipped one arm under Kibum’s legs, the other bracing his back as he lifted him and held him against his chest.
“…Kibummie-ah, you’re too light. I need to feed you more. This is why you can’t go anywhere without me. You need to take better care of yourself.” Sungmin laughed softly, burying his face in Kibum’s hair. “It’s a good thing I’m here now.”
“…I hate you.” Kibum hissed, “I hate you.”
Sungmin placed Kibum on the bed, laying his head gently down on a pillow. He brushed the hair out of his forehead and pressed a soft kiss to his temple. “You’ll love me again.” He murmured against the skin. “…because we’re going to be together forever.”
Kibum let out a choked sob.
“Your exhibition is beautiful, Sungmin-ssi.” The reporter held out her hand, motioning for the cameras to follow the movement in a large swoop of the gallery. “The expressions are marvelous. Everything looks so clean and professional.”
“Thank you.” Sungmin replied with a bright smile. “But really, I didn’t do much. I only took pictures of what I saw. The people in them are the true artists.”
“Sungmin-ssi, there seems to be a recurring character in most of this exhibition.” The reporter held the microphone to her lips. “I was told that the person in them is Kim Kibum, correct? I’m so sorry to hear about his disappearance.”
Sungmin nodded, his smile fading, taking on a look of grief. “Yes…I…when I heard of his boyfriend’s death and then his disappearance, I didn’t know what to do. Life no longer seemed worth it until I saw these pictures and I knew that Kibum would want me to continue living. I felt like I had to share his smile with the world.”
The reporter gave a small sniff and nodded. “Sungmin-ssi, I wish you luck on your endeavor. I heard that you moved to Italy?”
“I believe that Kibum is still out there somewhere. If I wait, he’ll come back to me.” Sungmin choked back a sob, putting his hand to his mouth.
The reporter patted him on the shoulder.
He nodded and smiled, “Thank you…thank you, I’m alright now. It’s just that when I’m there, I feel so close to him. It’s almost as if he’s there with me.”
The reporter nodded. “I see. I hope you know that all of our well wishes and prayers are with you. We hope that Kim Kibum will return safe and sound.”
Sungmin wiped a tear from his cheek and looked into the camera intently. “I have faith that he will return. All we have to do is hope.”
---(A/N: Oh...my god. What did I do? Sungmin is such a wonderfully wonderful psycho. This is part one of two stories. The second will be longer. This one was kind of like a...prologue. :D So, how many of you thought it was Kyuhyun, huh? Yeah, I bet you did until Sungmin said it was Kibum...or unless you read my tags. Poor Gentleman Mimi...I feel horrible for it, I really do. You'll get love soon enough in other stories to make up for it, I promise!)
Sequel is THIS WAY! --- > Hotel California