world enough and time; pg
bandfic (heechul-centric), 2056 w, dark
heechul swallows the higgs boson and finds himself with only three more days to live.
A/N: I hope you read this. even if you’re a little put off by the description (it is quite absurd, I know). because some people will take one look and say ‘oh, my brain’ll hurt.’ it won’t. I promise. because brains don’t have pain receptors. and because this fic is one of those mashed up ones with a little bit of everything. comments are highly appreciated, because I would love to know what you think. ♥if you liked this, you may also like this poem :)
world enough and time
Who forces time is pushed back by time;
who yields to time finds time on his side.
It was the soft, strangled mews and metallic scratches at 3 a.m. which sent Kangin ricocheting from the depths of a vague dream. It wasn’t a very pleasant one, to be fair; Kangin seemed to have aged several decades, forever stuck on the battlefields of the seventh Cold War against the Ming dynasty, and all the while feeling a strange sense of loss at something he never quite knew he had. But metallic scratching stung at his ears, and he didn’t appreciate being woken up to a shadowed room and Hyukjae’s hiccupped snores through thin walls—he wondered if someone was strangling Heechul’s cat.
The door was three metres away, although the distance looked much more elongated in darkness, and Kangin didn’t feel like side-stepping all the unwarranted debris which paved his room like a Persian landmine. But he did so anyway, for fear of confronting a dead cat in the morning, and even more at confronting an irate Heechul, who probably wouldn’t talk to him for the next year.
He twisted the doorknob gingerly, then fell back in shock.
If the rods in his retina were not deceiving him, then Heechul’s cat was indeed scratching at his door, but the perpetrator just happened to be Heechul himself.
“What the—” Kangin muttered, his sleep-deprived brain struggling to piece together coherent profanities.
Heechul was holding his cat by the navel between two fingers, the other hand clutching at his own throat.
“Hammer!” He wheezed desperately.
“I don’t have a hammer!”
Heechul released his cat, which started hissing in its psyched don’t-touch-me-again manner and ran off to chase shadows along the curved corridor. He then grabbed hold of Kangin’s wrist, his palms hot and sweaty against Kangin’s skin, making him feel slightly queasy.
“Where are we going?”
Heechul made a gesture to his throat, whether symbolic of his desecrated voice, or a warning to Kangin at his gratuitous words, he would never know. Because they came to a sudden halt outside the dorm vending machine, which only sold frozen yoghurt by the half-dozen, and now harboured a strung-up ‘OUT OF ORDER’ sign in its upper left-hand corner.
Kangin cleared his throat, out of pure habit, and because he felt his circulation would be cut off in the next minute or so, and Heechul loosened his grip.
“Need,” Heechul gasped out, “milk.”
Kangin stared. There was a slight, but unmistakeable Heechul-shaped dent in the machine, and shards of broken ceramic littered in a small heap on the floor.
“Pinch me.” Kangin whispered solemnly. “This isn’t real.”
Heechul aimed a weak kick at his right shinbone, then grabbed hold of his hand threateningly, and mimicked punching the machine.
“It’s out of order!” Kangin shouted, “Why didn’t you wake Ryeowook up? He could have made you a latte or whatever!”
Heechul didn’t respond, but Kangin’s hand still remained deep within his clutches. Sighing heavily, because this was Heechul, and Heechul was crazy, and Heechul would get what Heechul wanted to get, Kangin peeled off the layer of thick plastic over the machine with the tip of a fire extinguisher and released its inner lactose-rich contents.
“It’s probably all out of date anyway.” Kangin said, wiping shafts of sweat from his brow, and watched in unmasked disgust as Heechul grabbed hold of three cartons and dripped the viscous white liquid down his throat, emitting a rather putrid gargling noise.
“I’ve got—” Heechul managed to say as he smeared at the ring of foam around his mouth with a sleeve, “Higgs boson.”
Heechul pulled at Kangin’s hand once more and pressed it to his throat.
“What?” Kangin repeated, thoroughly unimpressed.
“Feel the bump?”
“What about it?”
“I’ve got the Higgs lodged in my throat.”
Kangin dragged his hand away slowly. “What?”
“The God particle! That legendary as-yet-undetectable elementary particle which gives matter to all things! It is the holy grail of particle physics that is promised to fulfil the Standard Model! Higgs boson!”
“What the fuck?”
Heechul slammed a hand to his forehead, and blinked furiously, as if trying to send some telepathic message a few yards over their shared air into Kangin’s brain.
Heechul stopped mid-blink. “Well, you’re stupid.”
The next morning, Eeteuk found Kangin and Heechul lying motionless next to a severely vandalized vending machine, their limbs intertwined like branches of a mountain pine.
After a few minutes of gormless gaping, all the other eight members had flocked to the scene; Donghae was telling everyone about how he had seen fluorescent green aliens travel down the pipe-hole into Heechul’s bedroom last night, and that he wouldn’t be at all surprised if Heechul had turned into an alien himself and thirsted after Kangin’s blood. Nobody could think of what to say to this.
“Are you sure you’re not mistaking aliens for vampires, hyung?” Kyuhyun muttered, while everyone else just stood there looking awkward.
“Nope.” Donghae replied cheerily. “They were definitely those blood-drinking reptilians from Alpha Draconia. I've got them all figured out.”
“Seriously.” Kyuhyun stared in disbelief, then turned towards Hyukjae. “Hyung, please stop Donghae-hyung from watching all those sci-fi movies or he’ll start thinking he’s Yoda.”
“May the force be with you!” Donghae rejoined happily.
Just then, Heechul’s eyes flickered open and he squinted upwards at his sea of watchers. They looked like a horde of poorly dressed Greek statues, Eeteuk playacting the goddess Hera, with that distinctly sombre gaze of maternity on his face. Heechul knew this look very well, having tasted it first-hand during one his many fits of general being; but he also knew it was dreadfully patronizing, and he didn’t particularly like being treated as a child, being only nine days behind Eeteuk on the birthing calendar.
“Quit gawping.” Heechul pushed Eeteuk’s face away. “I’m not sick.”
Eeteuk raised an eyebrow. “Then what’s that?”
There was an angry red rash in the centre of Heechul’s neck shaped as a perfect circle.
‘Why’ve you got the Japanese flag on your throat?”
Heechul hid the patch with his palm, and whispered brusquely, “I ate the Higgs boson.”
Eeteuk closed his eyes for a moment. “The Higgs boson.”
“I’ve been trying to, heave it up, with curdled yoghurt—it’s way past its sell by date—but I think my cardiac sphincter’s been glued together.” Heechul said desperately. “I can’t puke.”
Eeteuk pressed two fingers to his temple. “Have you listened to yourself?”
“What’s with all this technical jargon?”
“We. Don’t. Understand.” Eeteuk said slowly. “Talk. Human.”
Heechul grabbed hold of Eeteuk’s neck in one swift leap, and muttered hoarsely. “I can do weird things. But I’ve only got three days left.”
“Three days left to do what?” Eeteuk whispered.
Eeteuk called band meeting, and everybody drawled into the board room and sat around the doughnut meeting table, with Heechul in centre on his swingy chair, his burning throat a sorry sight for all to marvel.
“So.” Eeteuk curled his hands together.
Heechul swung in his direction, “So.” He repeated uselessly.
“You’re dying?” Eeteuk asked slowly, clearly doubting if there was any ounce of truth in the statement at all.
“Well, more like ceasing to exist.”
“How so?” Kangin butted in, his hair awry from falling asleep lop-sided on solid floor, and there was a dribble of frosted yoghurt running down the side of his neck. Nobody had noticed.
Heechul mimed a collision with two fists. “Antimatter. Matter. Boom. Disappear.”
“You’re going to explode?” Yehsung said excitedly. Ryeowook elbowed him in the ribs.
“More like implode. Into pure energy. Or photons, I guess.”
“Photons?” Hyukjae asked nervously.
There was silence for a while, as everyone stared at Heechul, who continued to swing in concentric circles on his chair.
“This is crazy.” Eeteuk stood up roughly and pointed a shaking finger at Heechul.“You. You are not going to die.”
“We’re all going to die.” Heechul replied lightly. “Life is a death sentence. I’m just going to go sooner than you.”
“Hyung.” A hoarse voice suddenly cut in. “Death isn’t a joke.”
Siwon was staring at Heechul, moisture gathering at the rims of his bloodshot irises.
“It is if you’re going to purgatory. Or hell. Because I doubt I’ll end up in heaven, to be honest.”
“I’ll pray for you.” Siwon whispered back.
Later that evening, everybody gathered round in Heechul’s bedroom as he packed one third of his wardrobe into a small carrier bag, along with his diary, a blanket, a large slab of dark chocolate, and a small pile of letters. He tied a metallic chain around his neck with the Chinese symbol of his name ‘希’ resting on his clavicle.
Eeteuk stepped forward to rest a hand on his shoulder, “Where will you go?”
“Through space-time.” Heechul responded nonchalantly. “I’ve got some loose ends to tie up.”
Behind him, Siwon was forcing himself to stand still, his face growing ever more maroon by the second, but couldn’t resist it any longer, and leapt around Heechul’s arms, crushing him with his unsightly upper-body strength.
“Will I—will we ever see you again?” He choked out.
Heechul patted him tenderly on his head, “But you already have. You just didn’t know it.”
He placed a gentle kiss on Siwon’s cheek, and withdrew to face the room at large.
“Men are brittle, selfish creatures.” Heechul began steadily. “If I had more time, I might have changed more. But I don’t. So, forgive me.”
He picked up his bag. “Just don’t forget me.”
And with that, Heechul faded from view.
“Yah, Hankyung!” Heechul calls from the middle of the staircase, “Race you to the top!”
They always had that competitive streak in them, something to do with the raging testosterone gushing in their blood, but that night they crumple into a heap on the top stair, breaths moulding into laughter, their shapes fazing together with the darkness beyond them.
“I’ve got longer legs and more muscle.” Hankyung gasps out.
“I travel at the speed of light.” Heechul whispers back.
He runs his fingertips along the edges of Hankyung's skin, tracing the outline of his face, trying to commit it to memory. Their breaths regulate into mutual crests and troughs, crystallising to dewy droplets in the cold air.
Heechul breaks off a bar of chocolate and slides it through Hankyung’s chapped lips, his fingers lingering for just a fraction too long, with a numbness coming years too late.
He places his hands on either side of Hankyung’s face. “Before you make your decision...” he begins sadly, “will you read this?” He presses a diary and a packet of letters into Hankyung’s hands.
Hankyung frowns. “What decision?”
Heechul shakes his head. “It won’t be long now.”
“What won’t be long now?” Hankyung is getting restless.
Heechul smiles, and clutches Hankyung’s cold hands tightly in his own, “Look up.”
They both turn their heads towards the sky. “See those stars?”
“Whatever you choose, wherever you are, I’ll be following you.” Heechul whispers.“Just look up. Promise?”
He sticks out his little finger, which Hankyung links in with his. “I promise.”
At dawn, Hankyung wakes up curled into a tight ball on the top floor, wrapped up from all sides in a thick cotton blanket and a mass of brightly coloured clothes. It smells of Heechul, Heechul’s silent pheromones evanesce into the atmosphere around him, but Heechul himself is nowhere to be seen.
He rubs his eyes roughly, and brings his makeshift blanket closer to his chest, inhaling its scent.
He looks up to see the blank reality of a pale sky with its pastel streams of colour, hailing the advent of a morning sun.
There is nothing extraordinary at all.
Because, years later, Hankyung had never truly understood.
// so I know the title is way overused. but, it’s the only one that is somewhat suited to my setting. and this crazy plot idea of mine stems from a recent obsession with particle physics, so sorry about the vagueness of it all! and I couldn’t resist putting in a pairing by the end ... even if it’s a little broken ;______;
there may even be a 2nd part to this. if I ever feel up to it. ;)
I. Higgs boson, commonly known as 'the God particle', is what they're trying to find at CERN, with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It is a particle accelerator which bashes together protons / heavy ions in attempt to create other particles and mimic what happened a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.
II. Standard Model. It is what physicists over the past century have come up with as an explanation of our universe, with 4 different forms of forces, and their respective particles: gravitational, electromagnetic, strong and weak. The Higgs boson plays an essential role in formalising this model.
III. Space-time. Mathematical model involved with Einstein's theories of relativity that space bends with planets and stars in different dimensions.
IV. Anti-matter is matter with the opposite charge and spins the other way. It collides with matter to form lots of light energy (as photons), but they both disappear in the process.
V. Ingesting the Higgs boson is purely fictional, but since this particle is probably flowing through us all the time (there are an infinite number in the universe), we're probably alright eating it whenever. :D
So, rather daftly, I've left much to be desired.
So here is a list of explanations to go alongside the plot (in case some things are indecipherable):
I, Heechul swallows the Higgs boson, 'the God particle' (see above) and suddenly is enlightened and knows a lot of stuff. he's become one of those divine individuals with all this new-found knowledge.
II. You're not meant to swallow the Higgs. It collides antimatter with matter together, both disappearing into light. Because Heechul's body is made of matter, the Higgs can't survive for long. So Heechul will eventually turn into pure light.
III. He has the Higgs, so he can travel in time. But he has limited time left, so he travels back to the time before Hankyung makes his decision about his lawsuit, to hand him his diary & letters (since Hankyung is in China at the start of the fic)
IV. When Hankyung is sleeping, Heechul implodes into pure light energy, and turns into a star. This is why he keeps telling Hankyung to look up - because he'll be following Hankyung wherever he goes.
V. But what Heechul doesn't know is that he can't change history. What has happened will always happen. So Hankyung never truly understands.
VI. It's extremely fucked up, I know. D:
If you ever feel like it, you can request a fic from me that actually makes some sense! ;)