It threatened to consume him. It started off in his feet, the skin rubbed raw as he pounded down the length of the Han River. It travelled up to his calves, burning up his thighs and stabbed him through his ribs. Every breath began to constrict his chest and his lungs wheezed at the effort of keeping up with his tireless, never-ending run.
Sweat trickled down, plastering hair to his forehead and blurring his vision, mixing up with his salty tears. His fists clenched as he continued to run, squeezed together so tightly that his nails made little crescent imprints on the skin of his inner palm. All he could hear was the distant roar of his heartbeat, screaming out for him to stop, stop, stop! The pain was starting to blend together into an entire sheet of red haze, burning through his muscles and bones and blood, and Jaejoong scrubbed at his eyes, breathing hoarsely.
He lost his momentum and the pain released itself in a thundering blast, bursting from his entire body to tumble blindly forward onto the uneven pavement. He scrapped his skin raw and tore open his knees as he fell heavily to the ground, but it felt good to him. It felt like a jolt to his senses.
It felt as though someone had shoved him to fall on his side but he could see no one near him as he rolled over onto his back. The night had a tingling chill in the air and the stars unfurled across the heavens as he started to gasp and beat at his chest. Jaejoong curled his hand into a fist and continued to thump, thump, thump at his heart, hammering away at the slowly spreading weight pushing the breath from his lungs.
In the distance, he could hear the sound of someone sighing and coughing out in wheezing whispers, and then Jaejoong stopped trying to fight it. He simply laid there, next to the Han River, spread out on the pavement with a hand clutching at his chest as he continued to gasp in air to fill his constricted lungs, whilst the horrendous, crushing weight continued to press down upon his skin, his muscles, his ribs, his entire body…
A cool breeze washed over his still body, evaporating sweat from his skin, leaving the smell of the Han river in his nose.
Jaejoong blinked once, looking up at the stars with blown pupils. And then he started to cry.