Title: Running Man, Episode XX
Fandom: Running Man, Super Junior
Pairing: Qmi, and a few others
Warnings: Show-centric/inside jokes
Summary: "Aren't there, like, dead people down here?" Joongki asks, suddenly.
Notes: For starlitbright's so, so belated birthday fic, it might as well be this year's birthday fic. Love you, man, you are the sweetest kid -- never change! ♥ Hope this isn't too lame and/or stupid. All photos are from National Geographic.
It was a larger chasing space than usual -- that is, if you could fairly compare, say, the Seoul Arts Center with the catacombs of Paris.
You really couldn't.
"Seriously?" Jihyo asks unhappily.
"Seriously," Jongkook says, eyebrows twitching.
"Seriously," says Jaesuk, looking pleadingly at the PD. "We don't even get a hint?"
"No hints," the PD says firmly.
"Bastards," mutters Sukjin.
"Aren't there, like, dead people down here?" Joongki asks, suddenly.
"Dead people?" Gwangsu repeats. "What do you mean, dead people--"
"Well," says Joongki, "I think it was in 1774 that Louis XVI started--"
"Skeletons," says Joongki, "there are skeletons. Piles of them."
"And you guys can start your own pile of eight if you don't pay attention right now," says the PD. "You're going to find the guests, who will be somewhere in these tunnels highlighted here--" He holds up a map. "They have a mission, and this time, no one's getting out, because that would be pretty pointless--"
"Thank god," Gwangsu says with relief. "Five thousand dollars for a trip to Paris only to eat, like, a bag of chips in the company of a stalagmite -- or is it a stalactite?"
"Which one, the one that grows up from the ground, or the one--" Joongki begins.
"There aren't any stal-whatevers, you're not in a cave," says the PD.
"No, just a labyrinth of potential cave-ins, asphyxiation, and other normal ways of dying," retorts Joongki.
"You'll split into two groups," the PD continues doggedly, "which you'll decide right now--"
There's a pause, then a mad scramble.
"Ouch," says Jongkook. "Ouch, whoever's grabbing my ear, stop--"
"Okay, okay," says Donghoon. "Everyone back off, and we can decide on this fairly--"
"What are you doing?" asks Gary.
"You're right, tradition trumps fairness," Donghoon says, looping his arm through one of Jongkook's, while Gary does the same on his other side.
"Then we get Jihyo," Jaesuk says flatly.
"...oh," says Gary, loosening his grip.
"Then we get Joongki," says Jongkook, then turns to Gary. "Come on, man, he's basically Jihyo in boy form. You don't happen to have a wig or something?" he asks the PD.
"No," says the PD. "But I do have these oxygen tanks you have to carry just in case you get lost in an air-deficient tunnel."
"Nice to know you look out for us after all," says Joongki.
"Wait, this isn't right," says Jaesuk. "It can't be split into all brain," he gestures towards Sukjin, Jihyo, Gwangsu and himself, "and all brawn," he looks pointedly at Jongkook's group. "It should be more even, skills-wise."
"Why?" says Donghoon. "This isn't Scooby Doo."
"But if it was, you'd totally be Scooby," says Gary, and Donghoon laughs.
"And you'd be Shaggy."
"And I'm the ghost who kills the two of you until you both shut up," growls Jongkook. "Fine, then you can take Haha--"
"What?" says Donghoon and Gary.
"What?" says Sukjin and Jaesuk.
"Hey," says Donghoon.
"I'll take Gary and stalagmite, stalactite over here," says Jongkook.
"Then it's settled," says the PD, closing his binder. "You guys have two hours."
"Come on, Jihyo," Donghoon says grumpily, reaching for her hand, "let's go find a place to make out."
"Want to do the same?" Sukjin asks Jaesuk.
"I don't know, do you think this is really fair?" asks Zhou Mi.
"Of course it's not fair, that's the whole point," answers Kyuhyun, crumpling the wax paper in his hands and throwing it into a nearby trashcan.
"Did you just eat that whole thing?" Zhou Mi says. "There was a lot packed into that crepe." He pauses. "I wanted to try some."
"I'm nervous," Kyuhyun mutters. "You think -- you have any wet wipes?" Zhou Mi hands him a thin plastic packet. "You think being above ground while the Running Man cast wanders Dante's first circle of hell wouldn't be too much to handle, but--"
"That's what I'm saying," says Zhou Mi. "Going down there only for the last half hour while they look for absolutely no one is like, partaking in some special torture."
"Bwahahahah," says Kyuhyun. Zhou Mi angles him a look.
"Huh. Never pegged you for a sadist."
"You're kidding, right?" says Kyuhyun.
"Good point," Zhou Mi says, slinging an arm around his shoulders, presses a quick kiss to his temple.
"But I don't even think we need the skeleton costumes," says Kyuhyun. "I think we can scare them well enough just by, you know. Showing up."
"Fifty bucks if I can get Gwangsu to wet himself," says Zhou Mi.
"I'm starving," says Donghoon, after an hour. "You think they deliver pizzas down here?"
"How are you always hungry," asks Jihyo. "I could put a hat on a, a garbage disposal and lug it around and it'd be just the same."
"How could you do that?" Donghoon asks curiously. "I mean, what about the whole, sink system, thing?"
"Oh my god," says Jihyo.
"You know," Sukjin comments aside to Jaesuk, "if I wanted to listen to people argue, I'd have just stayed above ground with my wife."
"It's sweet you brought her though," says Jaesuk, sympathetically.
"Sweet is a curious choice of words," says Sukjin, then frowns at the wall looming in front of them. "Another dead end. And are there even other people down here? I mean, I haven't heard anyone since we left the meeting--"
Jaesuk shrugs, adjusting the lamp on his hardhat. "I'm just following the map. Jongkook's group is checking the south side, and we'll thread through these ones along the aqueduct, then meet in the middle--"
"The middle of where?"
"You know," Jaesuk says, squinting at the map. "I'm not entirely sure--"
"Pizzas in Paris isn't romantic anyway," Jihyo hisses in the meantime.
"I didn't know you had any expectations," Donghoon shoots back.
"Not from you," Jihyo mutters.
"Not that I want to know the gory details," says Gary, grimacing slightly at the second wall of skulls they've encountered, "but when did Donghoon become your favorite?"
"When you and Jihyo became Monday couple," says Jongkook, peering down another tunnel. "It's only natural, right?"
"I guess," says Gary, trying not to look hurt.
"I'm kidding, Gary-ah," says Jongkook, squeezing his shoulder. "But even if Donghoon's my favorite, you're definitely still his."
"How touching," Gwangsu mutters, behind them.
"Jesus." Jongkook closes his eyes in exasperation. "Don't worry, Gwangsu, you have a special place in my heart too."
"Really?" Gwangsu says, taken aback.
"Hey, I saw him first," says Joongki, frowning at a skull with an unusually enlarged nasal opening located at eye level, while Gwangsu gapes at the back of his head.
"Joongki," he says, eyes wide. "I didn't know you felt that way--"
"Stop talking," Joongki tells him, turning back around. "Also, I think we should go down here," he jerks his head at a tunnel on their right. "Otherwise, we're no longer heading south."
"We have to check the side tunnels too," Jongkook answers, "before heading towards the -- what is that," he holds up the map, "the river? Wait, no, I think the PD said it was an aqueduct--"
"So which way," Gary says impatiently.
"How about you let Gwangsu, your newfound favorite, decide?" Joongki says, arching an eyebrow.
Jongkook pauses, then shrugs. "Why not. But Gwangsu, you know we have to be thorough, just in case the guests are hiding somewhere not marked on the map--"
"But we would have heard something if there was anyone in this area," Joongki argues. "We should just keep heading down this way," he says, tracing a finger down the paper.
Gwangsu looks desperately from Jongkook to Joongki, then as a last resort, at Gary. "Um," he says tentatively, "anyone have a coin or something?"
"All you have to do is take these buckets of paint along with your gear," the PD tells them after they meet him at the bridge above their entry point. "The IGC will escort you down the exit. You'll win a Running Ball if you can get the paint to the Hokusai beach room before you get caught."
Zhou Mi fastens Kyuhyun's mask, then turns around and slouches slightly so Kyuhyun can tie on his. "You sure this just won't make things worse? The getup, I mean."
"It's mostly so you guys have a chance. We cleared the tunnels of both tourists and cataphiles, and it's pretty much a one-way path. You should try to stay quiet, but if you don't--" the PD gives them a onceover, shrugging. "You do have the best disguise."
"Sexiest skeleton ever," Kyuhyun agrees. "Or are you the skinniest?"
"Let's aim for the scariest," Zhou Mi says.
"That's it, your turn," Donghoon says to Jaesuk, after stumbling over another rock. "Jihyo, seriously, get off, my arms are going numb--"
"Fine, fine," Jihyo says, letting go of his shoulders and sliding gingerly to the ground. "I'll walk."
Jaesuk coughs. "If I had known you'd be scared of anything that, you know, moves--"
"Like insects, and rats!" Jihyo protests, voice going high. "Joongki said there would only be dead things, not things that were still living--"
Sukjin, who had been walking ahead of them, sudden halts as he turns the corner.
"Y-you were saying?" he stutters.
"Okay, high roll gets to choose where we go," says Joongki, crouching close to the ground. "Gary, can you give me the -- hang on. What was that?"
"I specifically remember the PD saying that once you hit a big pile of human bones, turn around," Sukjin shouts over his shoulder, as they run back in the direction they came from.
"Actually, I don't think he did, but I'm not going to argue with you--" Jaesuk shouts ahead. "There has to be a reason why they didn't send any VJs with us, just these cameras stuck to the headgear -- Jihyo, you keeping up okay?"
"Yeah, but where's--" Jihyo suddenly skids to a halt, looks around wildly. "Where's Donghoon-oppa?"
"Shit," says Donghoon, forty feet behind them, then heads down the wrong tunnel.
"Shit, I think they saw me," hisses Kyuhyun, and Zhou Mi blinks at him, setting down one of the paint cans.
"You mean they saw you, or they just thought they saw you? Because, I mean, you kind of blend in."
"Both?" Kyuhyun looks nervously in the direction of the tunnel entrance, where the Red Team's voices could be heard getting closer. "I don't know -- man, this is harder than I thought."
"Well, I took a look at the map," Zhou Mi whispers. "The Hokusai is just on the other side of the wall over there--" he points a finger towards the opposite side of the room, "give or take a few short tunnels, so we just need to cross this crypt--"
"Too late," says Kyuhyun, as Jongkook's group enters the room.
"Donghoon!" Jaesuk calls.
"Donghoon-ah! Where are you!" shouts Sukjin.
"Oppa," Jihyo yells, "if you don't show your big, stupid face within the next five seconds, I swear I'm going to--"
"Wait," says Sukjin. "You swear?"
"Donghoon, what the hell, you almost gave me a heart attack," Jongkook is yelling, while the rest of the members remain collapsed on the ground.
"I'm sorry, I got lost!" Donghoon protests, then pouts for sympathy points. "Or rather, they lost me--"
"Just, help us find the guests so we can leave, jesus christ," Gary says. "For a few seconds, I seriously thought you were a ghost--"
"Or an axe murderer," Gwangsu shudders. "I mean, it's a good thing I brought extra underwear, because--"
"Let's go for it," whispers Kyuhyun, and Zhou Mi nods.
They both stand up from behind their hiding place clutching the paint cans, and at the same time, bolt across the room.
"What's that sound?" Jaesuk cocks his head at the empty tunnel in front of them a few minutes later. "Is that...screaming?"
But when they reach the crypt, all they see is the Red Team and Haha, clutching each other and looking like they were trying to burrow themselves into a corner.
"Donghoon!" Jihyo shouts, then dashes over and begins hitting him anywhere she can reach. "Where were you, how did you even -- we were so worried--"
"Wait, wait, If I feel pain, it means I'm still alive, right?" he replies hoarsely, and Jihyo stops.
"Why, what happened?"
"Skeletons do not move," Joongki is saying, but the terrified look on his face cancels out any conviction in his voice.
"You ok, Gwangsu?" Gary asks, then coughs. "Oh."
"Just leave me here to die," Gwangsu moans, frozen in place.
"Of humiliation?" Jongkook snaps, visibly shaken, but still able to push himself off the floor. "But those had to have been the guests! If we go now, we can still catch them in time--"
All of them simultaneously turn towards the gaping hole in the wall that the two figures had disappeared into.
"I don't know, hyung, I kind of want to live past sixty," says Donghoon, finally. "But you go ahead, if you want. Fighting!"
"Jaesuk, Joongki," says Jongkook, "what do you say?"
"Um," says Jaesuk, looking at Joongki, who was still muttering to himself, then grins sheepishly. "You feel like single-handedly saving the day again?"
"I..." Jongkook trails off, staring into the darkness once more, then slowly shakes his head. "Not worth it."
"Hey," says Kyuhyun, pulling off his hood and looking around. "This is actually pretty nice."
"Romantic, even," Zhou Mi adds. "You know, with the candles."
Then they both crack up.
"Six stories beneath Paris," Kyuhyun gasps. "Above us, people are eating dinner a la carte, while we -- we're down here--"
"Yeah, I mean, there might be a chocolate bar in that emergency pack," Zhou Mi wheezes, slumping against a rock, then reaches for the strap-on bag the crew had given them before they had left. "You like pecans?"
"I hate pecans," Kyuhyun tells him, then sinks to the floor next to him, tilts his head back onto Zhou Mi's shoulder. Then he reaches behind him, grabbing at air until his fingers skim Zhou Mi's hair, takes a handful and tugs, gently.
Zhou Mi yelps. "What was that for?"
"You totally know how I hate pecans, man."
"Well, it's pecan-flavored."
"Then you eat it," Kyuhyun says, shrugging.
"How about you eat up until you reach a pecan," Zhou Mi compromises. "Then I'll take a bite."
"What a team," Kyuhyun comments, so close to smiling, and Zhou Mi smiles back.
"CHASING TEAM, OUT."
"Out?" repeats Joongki. "Already?"
"Out as in, we can finally get out of here?" Jaesuk asks.
"Seriously," Joongki says again, "we're out?"
"Why, you want to stay?" Jongkook looks at him in disbelief.
"Are you insane?" Gary demands.
"Help me with Sukjin," Jihyo tells Donghoon, "I think he's fainted."
"I'm not giving any more piggyback rides," Donghoon says firmly.
"Wait, but who are the guests?" asks Gwangsu.
"Mission, success," Kyuhyun grins finally, face flushed, after hearing the confirmation over the radio. "Which means you're buying me dinner." He looks so happy that Zhou Mi chooses not to bring up the fifty bucks.
"D'accord," he says instead. "Absolutely."