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Strange Birds

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Moonjo catches him showering in the washroom and wonders how the taste of Jong Woo’s bare skin would taste like, if the rivulets trickling down his body would sweeten the tip of his parched tongue.

He reminds him of a sparrow, small-boned and bright-eyed.

Jongwoo senses his presence behind him and turns, peering at him through his damp fringe. His expression is curious, but holds none of the scepticism he had towards him the other night, and Moonjo prides himself on reaping his trust.

“ Good morning, hyung,” He greets, smiling a little. He smells like fresh soap.

Moonjo returns the gesture, striking light conversation and holding his gaze so that Jongwoo’s attention doesn’t stray to his own nakedness and sees the burning hunger to push him against the tiles and break his tender skin with his teeth, to devour his shudders and breathy gasps as he forcefully rams inside of him-

But Moonjo waits. He has always been good at waiting.

Yet he can’t hide his face from falling when Jongwoo speaks of his girlfriend in that disgusting tone of affection, the casualness of his open adoration churning his insides with the force of a riptide and kindling Moonjo’s urge to crack his skull against the water basin.

His eyes trail after Jongwoo as he leaves, wishing that he had given into his desires instead.

***

It didn’t take long for Moonjo to decide that he hates the newcomer, a young college student who talks too much for his own good.

Jongwoo grows on him quickly, though- they stand too closely on the balcony, exchanging friendly laughs and glasses of soju. It is clear that Jongwoo enjoys his company, the pent-up rage inside him replaced by a calm, unguarded warmth whenever he is near the boy.

Moonjo thinks the boy is nothing more than a hindrance and a waste of space. He is too simple, too naïve.

He falls into Moonjo’s trap in a matter of clever words and old mind tricks, and Moonjo dully observes that he snivels like a spoiled child, pleading and begging with no qualms to his own dignity. He listens from the darkness of his room when the boy wails at Jongwoo to stay, his lies tumbling clumsily from his lips. The terror in his quivering voice as Jongwoo regards him with the same distaste as the other tenants, turning his back on the boy he had grown fond of.

(“You’re just like them”, he spits.)

Moonjo doesn’t feel sorry when he disposes of him, or when he bleeds out in his chair. The boy does have some function to him, he supposed, admiring the new set of teeth to his collection while he patiently awaits Jongwoo’s return.

***

Jongwoo nearly kills Jaeho when he humiliates him in the restaurant, and while Moonjo lives off his unpredictable temper, he moves in to grab his hand, holding the skinny wrist tightly in his palm.

He can’t afford to have such exquisite potential rot away behind bars.

Moonjo kills Jaeho later that night, a man who was all bark no bite, all preening masculinity stripped bare as he gapes up at him, paralysed from the sedatives jabbed into his neck.

“ I’m not usually this impulsive, but Jongwoo is… very special to me.” Moonjo sighs, picking a statuette on a nearby shelf. “ He is very special to me. Earlier, why did you have to-”

He brings down the statuette onto his skull, bashing his head in until he hears a familiar crack and detects the metallic scent of blood. He catches his reflection in the window above the counter, all pale skin and gleaming, black eyes. He would find blood droplets on his face and sweater later on, but it is a small sacrifice to give for a much bigger cause.

He looks down at Jaeho’s misshapen head, his blood staining the marble floor of his own office.

Oh, Jongwoo, Moonjo thought, how I wished you were here with me right now.

***

“ Deny it all you want, but we are birds of a feather, you and I.” Moonjo grips his chin, inhaling the scent of blood and sweat. “ We are each other’s shadow.”

“ You are a fucking monster.” Jongwoo spits, his beautiful face contorted in pure hatred. “ A fucking murderer.”

“ I am simply different,” Moonjo replies coolly; uncontained wrath gives Jongwoo’s eyes an intoxicating quality, jagged splinters of hazel and chestnut that could love and hate in equal measure. “ An artist that enjoys a unique beauty. You out of all people should understand.”

Jongwoo falls silent, seething with barely controlled rage. His girlfriend – Jiyoon? Jiwoo?- lays unconscious a few rooms away, and Moonjo wonders why it is always the simpletons that Jongwoo associates and grows attached to.

Moonjo eventually comes up with an ultimatum. “ Kill them all.”

Jongwoo’s shoulders tensed, his breathing coming off uneven.

“ Kill all the tenants,” Moonjo says, “ and I’ll set your girlfriend free.”

Moonjo lets go of him; he tumbles into a table, gasping heavily and scrambling around for support. Once he regained his footing, he fixed Moonjo with a stare so chilling it excited a hidden part of him that he thought was long dead.

“ When you’re done, you know where to find me.”

He doesn’t need a reply to know Jongwoo’s decision.

***

The clatter of the knife falls to the ground and echoes against the wall. It has gotten dark, and all that remained after the piercing noise has settled is the blood dripping from his hands and the unwavering gaze of Seo Moonjo.

“ You enjoyed it, didn’t you?” He asks, though it comes off as a statement. “ Aren’t you happy?”

Jongwoo thinks of Bok Soon’s corpse dangling over the counter like a bloated ragdoll, the heavy rain falling into Byun Deuk Soo’s unblinking stare, his infuriating giggles ripped completely from his throat.

For a moment, they just look at each other- observing, scrutinizing.

A muscle in Moonjo’s face shifts. It takes a second for Jongwoo to realize that he’s smiling.

***

A shrill cry rings out into the dead silence of the night.

“ You will do well to keep silent, sweetheart.” The man’s clasp over her mouth is suffocating, but the breath of his voice rivals a gentle caress. He had fooled her into letting him into her apartment, fogging her rationale with his pale, pretty face and heavy doses of alcohol. His eyes- sweet and thoughtful when she had met him at the pub, now gleamed with a fervent mania. “ We’ll make it fast, I promise.”

When she finally obeys, Moonjo calls out to the darkness, his tone brimming with sickening adoration. “ She’s all yours, my little sparrow.”

A petite figure moves into view, clothes hanging loosely of their frame. The voice, when it speaks, is calm and masculine.

A light smile graces his shadowed features. “Hello there, jagi.