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Watch your step, kid

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Most of the time Changkyun enjoyed living in a small town, because of how quieter it was compared to bigger cities, but not too quiet. His town, however had something about it, something that made Changkyun's skin crawl, and maybe it was the fog that seemed to always hang over the tress and buildings, or just how paranoid he always was about things like this, which was more possible. (Still, there was something incredibly unnerving about the shadows that lurked in the darkness whenever he closed his eyes at night.

If he could, he'd stay at home forever.)

His first day back at school after coming out of the hospital could either go very well or very bad, he thought.

He knew that he shouldn't care about what the others think about him, but he was a teenager, for god's sake, of course he was going to care about it.

He just needs to pretend he doesn't care about anything, he's not some fragile item that can break easily, no matter what his parents think.

That, of course, didn't work that well, and Changkyun found himself almost bursting into tears when someone bumped into him in the hallway, making him fall to the floor. What a fucking loser, he thought bitterly, trying to blink away the tears pooling rapidly in the corners of his eyes.

"Oh, shit, I'm sorry," the person who made him fall spoke up, and Changkyun lifted his head, only to see them holding their hand out for him to take. He recognized the person as Lee Jooheon, the guy the whole school feared, simply because he looked very intimidating and hung out with people who looked equally as scary. Right now he just looked worried, eyes almost comically wide and eyebrows furrowed. Changkyun took his hand and carefully pulled himself up and dusted off his pants. "You okay?" Jooheon asked, head tilted to the side, and Changkyun nodded quickly, "Yeah, I'm good," he said, tears still in his eyes and looked towards the main doors, and froze. Heading towards them was four boys, who didn't exactly like Changkyun. It wasn't that they beat him up him or anything, but mostly just called him names. And he didn't even know who they were.

"Hey, faggot, you're back," one of them said with a grin, waving to him innocently and Changkyun winced at that, turning his head away.

"What did you say?" Jooheon's voice was loud and almost seemed to echo around the empty corridor, Changkyun looked at him, widening his eyes in shock. What the fuck, he said to himself internally, not really believing in what he's seeing right now. Who in their right mind would stand up for anyone in that situation?

The guy looked startled by that and mumbled a quick "Nothing!" before walking away, his friends trailing after him.

Jooheon turned to Changkyun now, a curious look on his face. Great, Changkyun thought, now he's going to think I'm a pussy who can't even defend himself.

"Do they do that stuff a lot?" Jooheon raised his eyebrows, head moving vaguely in the direction of where the boys' left. Changkyun nodded after a short pause, embarrassed in a way.

Jooheon stared at him for a short while, before patting his shoulder. "I gotta go, it was nice walking into you," he then jogged in the same direction the boys went in, farther down the corridor, and Changkyun walked in the opposite way, heading towards the exit.

The boys didn't come back to school until the next week.

______________

Something that Changkyun really enjoyed lately was going for walks. He was never the type of person to go outside a lot, but there was something strangely therapeutic about going somewhere, exploring things he's never seen in his town before, sitting in an open field in the tall grass and just letting himself think. The gloomy weather always present stopped bothering him a while ago, and now he could say he appreciated the fog that hung over the town, eerily almost, but comforting after getting so used to it, and how the sun never seemed to show up.

Today felt.. strange.

Maybe it was the weird, a little awkward feeling that set it after he realized that he almost cried in front of Lee mcfucking Jooheon, who also managed to make his bullies go away.

Because you're a pussy, he thought.

Sometimes he wondered if the thoughts are actually his. Is he really such an asshole?

Changkyun sat down on a slightly rusty swingset, pulling the edge of his scarf, so it covered his face a little more.

Now that he really thought about it, the past couple of weeks have been quite weird.

Maybe it's just his imagination, but he swears he sees a pair of glowing eyes in the dark sometimes, shadows curling around the fog covered trees, making him constantly feel watched , and frankly, he did not like that.

Deciding that even though it felt very nice, it was way too cold at that moment to just sit outside and not do anything, and Changkyun got up, and started to walk home, and definitely did not run when he thought he heard footsteps behind him (It probably was just the wind, the small voice in the back of his head said).

Arriving at home, Changkyun felt almost relieved when he realized his parents weren't home. Sure, he did love and appreciate them, but lately they've been treating him like he's made out of glass, and honestly, he was getting sick of it.

Humming a random tune to himself, Changkyun quickly got a bowl out of the kitchen cupboard, poured cereal and milk in it, and somehow managed to get to his room without dropping it.

With a sigh, he went over to his computer, and turned on music, nodding in approval when he heard the first notes of some old Slipknot song.

As Changkyun was finishing his cereal and changing the song that was currently playing, he heard something scrape against the window and almost jumped out of his skin, before realizing that there are trees outside his house.

______________

While he was laying in bed that night, Changkyun couldn't help but think about Jooheon, and how much of his actual personality must be hiding behind the usual intimidating look of his.

He wondered if Jooheon thought about him, too.

Chapter Text

Changkyun is running. He doesn't know what was happening, only that he has to get away.

His muscles are burning with exhaustion, chest heaving. The trees around him seem to never end, the branches hitting his face and arms.

He cries out helplessly as he trips on something and falls to his knees shortly after.

Shadows appear around him, wrapping around his limbs like and his neck like vines, and he claws at his throat, panicked. His lungs feel as if they are on fire, head spinning and shadows clouding his vision. He was slowly slipping away from consciousness, his surroundings turning black-

A sound tears through the darkness, low and menacing, almost like a growl, reverberating all around him. A pair of yellow eyes flashes in the dark, burns like flames, claws scratch against the ground.

Everything stops.

Changkyun wakes up on the floor of his room gasping for air, feeling disoriented and nauseous. He almost starts feeling glad that it was all just a dream, untill he notices his scraped, bleeding knees and a leaf stuck to his arm.

"What t-the fuck..." he chokes out, heart pounding. Looking over to the clock standing on his nightstand, he realizes it's time for him to get ready for school. He considers telling his parents that he's not feeling well at all, but he's already missed tons of school because of his hospital stay, so instead, he gets up on shaky legs and makes his way to the bathroom.

Of all fucked up things that could happen, why does it have to happen to him?

He attempts to patch up his legs the best he can at 6AM and after being chased by some fucked thing in a dark forest, he gets dressed, grabs his backpack and goes to the kitchen. His mom is there, putting on her jacket and getting ready to leave for work. She smiles when she sees him. "Did you sleep well?" she asks and Changkyun nods slowly and pours himself a glass of water, deciding to not eat breakfast, as he still felt really sick. "You don't look well. Are you sure you're okay?" his mom asks again. He raised his head from where he was staring at the glass and gives her another nod.

"If you say so." she sighed and left the house after giving him a short wave.

Changkyun blinks a few times, shaking his head and finishes his water before setting it down on the table with shaky hands.

He can't stop thinking about his.. dream?

"What even was it?" he asked himself quietly, rubbing his hands over his face.

He got up from the table, put on his old, beat up combat boots and left the house, making sure to lock the door behind him. The weather outside never changed - always the same grey sky, clouds covering every inch, and the fog, hanging over everything like a thin white veil. He tried to ask his parents a few times, if it was normal that the sun never came out there, but they always just shrugged, never actually answering the question.

Seeing the school gates made him feel sick and he almost turned away and went back home. As well as his first day went, he had a bad feeling about today. He knew that people were going to stare, he knew that he's eventually going to hear rumours about himself.

You chose to do that, and now you have to deal with the consequences, the voice in the back of his head said, almost tauntingly and Changkyun found himself agreeing with it. He rubbed his right wrist absentmindedly, walking into the building with a heavy heart. As soon at he went in, he swears he could feel the stares on him and it made his skin crawl. He wondered how long he was going to last before he would feel the need to go and hide somewhere.

Roughly three hours, it turns out.

A string of muttered curses leaves his lips as Changkyun opens the door to the one bathroom at the end of the second floor corridor that no one ever seems to use, keeping his head down, his shoulders hunched.

They don't know shit about you, he thinks to himself, trying to get his breathing under control, they're just staring, it's nothing, it's okay, you're okay, his hands are gripping the edge of the sink tightly, his eyes shut.

"Everything okay?" a low voice startles him out of his mild panic, and he turns around so fast he feels a little dizzy. There, standing in the doorway, was no other than Chae Hyungwon - one of Jooheon's friends,(Of course, it has to be his friend) a tall and sleepy looking boy, who slowly closes the door behind him, and walks closer to Changkyun, but not so close that he feels cornered.

"Yeah, I'm good, I just.." Changkyun shakes his head and steps away from the sink, avoiding eye contact at all cost. Jooheon and his friends might be really nice, but they're incredibly intimidating to him.

Hyungwon doesn't look convinced. He raises an eyebrow but offers his hand to Changkyun anyway. "I get it. You're Changkyun, right?"

Now it was Changkyun's turn to raise his eyebrows, shaking the other boy's hand. "People are.. saying things." Hyungwon further explains and Changkyun drops his hand. He probably thinks you're fucked up, he hears in the back of his head.

"What's your next class? I'll walk with you." Hyungwon says.

Are you out of your fucking mind? Changkyun wants to say. He was already the center of the rumors, he didn't want Hyungwon to be possibly targeted by the other students as well.

"Why?" he asks instead.

"As I said, people are saying stuff. Come on." Hyungwon says calmly and opens the door, motioning for Changkyun to follow him.

As they walked, people still stared, however, there was something different about it now. Changkyun decided to at least try to ignore it.
After walking him to class Hyungwon quickly walked away, probably to his class.

Suddenly feeling self-conscious now that he was alone, Changkyun pulled his sleeves over his fingers even more and walked into the classroom, taking his spot near the window.

The more he tried to listen to the teacher speak, the less he actually did.
No matter how hard he focused, he couldn't help but drift back to whatever it was that happened last night.

There can't be a reasonable explanation to that, he thought.
As far as he knew, there weren't any forests or even parks close enough to his house that he could just sleepwalk there or something.
And what was the thing he heard?

A dog?

What the fuck would a dog do in a place like this? That's dumb, the voice (he has to come up with a name for it, seriously) said.

That's another thing that needs an explanation.

He's not that much of an asshole.

The bell ringing caught him off guard, and he jumped in his seat, before getting his things and trying to get out as fast as possible.

He only has to get through a couple more hours and he can go home, hopefully without having another breakdown.

Somehow he manages to get through the rest of his classes easily, and he feels pretty good about that when he's leaving the building. It had gotten a bit colder than it was in the morning, and he felt himself shiver under his hoodie.

Passing the school gates, he stuffs his hands in his pockets and walks faster, hoping to get home before he freezes to death.

When he's almost reaching his house, he swears he hears a chain rattling, and maybe he's just paranoid, but he starts running.

Not long after he breaks out into a run, he collides with something hard, but something grabs his arm, not letting him fall this time.

Oh my God, Changkyun thinks. Please, don't let it be Jooheon, he pleads. Bumping into him once - it's okay, it happens.

The same thing happening again, not even two days after?

Well, that's just awkward.

"Changkyun?" a pair of dark eyes stares at him in confusion. Not again, Changkyun cries internally. Right now he's convinced that the universe hates him.

"Did something happen? You look scared, dude." Now Jooheon actually looks concerned, eyes scanning Changkyun's face. "Um, no.." Changkyun mumbled awkwardly. Great answer, he wants to slap himself. "I just-..I have to get home real fast." he lies, badly, but Jooheon doesn't seem to notice, and if he does, he doesn't show it.

"Be careful next time!" Jooheon laughs, walking away and Changkyun's face burns in embarrassment as he keeps on walking home.

When he arrives, he notices his parents are not there, so feeling absolutely not paranoid he locked the door, and makes sure all the windows are closed as well before he goes to his room.

Collapsing onto his bed and grabbing his phone, Changkyun thinks about what he can do in this situation. He could talk to somebody, but he doesn't really have a person to talk to. He can talk to his parents, but they might want to get him into the hospital again.

There's also Gunhee, his pretty much only friend, who unfortunately had to move a couple of months earlier.

Gunhee it is, then. He opens the messaging app and texts his friend.

_________

 

damn daniel: r u alive

flat gun: no

damn daniel: great

damn daniel:i have

damn daniel: a Problem

flat gun: do u have a bf

damn daniel: no but i have nightmares about shit chasing me that turn out to b true afterwards

flat gun: what the fuck changkyun

damn daniel: oh yeah and there's this one cute guy

flat gun: cool what's his name

damn daniel: jooheon

flat gun: bruh

damn daniel: W H A T

flat gun: L E E J O O H E O N????

damn daniel: Y ES??????

damn daniel: gun

damn daniel: gunhee

damn daniel: co ME BACK

 

__________

After 20 minutes of Gunhee not responding, Changkyun throws his phone away and flails his arms helplessly.

What is he supposed to do?

He considers going to sleep, but he's probably not going to be able to sleep for weeks after last night, so instead he decides to study and do his homework.

In the middle of him doing his homework, his parents come home and he briefly greets them before coming back to what he was doing. Maybe it wasn't the most interesting, but it served as a good distraction.

A few hours later, he's still in the same spot by his desk, this time watching a gameplay on Youtube, but he moves to his bed when his back starts hurting from sitting in one position for so long. When he's sitting there, safely wrapped in two blankets, he feels his phone vibrate in his hand (and he almost drops it) and the messaging app's icon flash on the top of his screen.

 

_____________

flat gun: we used to be friedns

damn daniel: are u SERIOUS

damn daniel: how did i Not know abt that

flat gun: there wasnt a reason to SAY IT

flat gun:anyways i gtg bye

______________

Changkyun raises his eyebrows.

That was weird.

Normally, Gunhee would stay up with him until late at night, but he probably had his reasons.

Changkyun just shrugs, and starts another video. Not sleeping wasn't going to end well for him, but he prefers being sleep deprived from incredibly vivid and disturbing nightmares (?).

 

.

In the morning, Changkyun felt like he was going to drop dead at any time. His limbs felt heavy, a headache throbbing behind his eyes. But he was okay.

He gets dressed, and since it was still quite early, he goes to the kitchen to make himself coffee. When he's sitting, holding the cup in one hand, his mind goes back to something that happened years ago, so long that he barely remembers, an almost forgotten thing.

He was maybe seven or eight, at a playground. His mother went somewhere for a couple of minutes, she was supposed to be back soon. The whole thing was very blurry in his mind, and Changkyun strains hard, to try and remember it more clearly. What happened next reminds him of that night.

There was a red flash, a sudden rush of air, and pain, coursing through his entire body.

Changkyun remembers screaming.

He winces at the memory and pours the rest of his coffee in the sink, suddenly not wanting to drink it anymore.

Chapter Text

Rumors being spread about him were something that he thought wasn't going to affect him much. Rumors, people making fun of him- he thought he was going to be immune to that

But when he sees the Snapchat story of someone from his school, his soul shatters. The picture is a bit blurry, taken at night under bad lighting, but pills and alcohol standing on a table are very obvious. The caption reads "going to become lim changkyun xx"

He shouldn't let that bother him, but he does anyway, and the next day he's sure he has a metaphorical rain cloud over his head. He really didn't want to to be at school now.

 

His movements were heavy and sluggish and he was tired and unfocused. It was officially his almost fourth day on no sleep and unhealthy amounts of coffee. He tried to nap in class when he got a chance to, but everytime he did he could see the shadows swirling behind his eyelids, and he jolted awake every time.

One time as he was walking down the hallway, he was stopped by Hyungwon, who asked him if he was alright. He either saw the Snapchat thing or you just look like complete shit, Robert (as Changkyun decided to call the voice in his head, because he was 100% sure it wasn't him) said, making Changkyun cringe when he thought about the way he must look. He told Hyungwon that he just haven't been sleeping well and that he was going to sleep as soon as he came home and walked away.

 

You know, I think the dark circles just add to your overall emo look, Changkyun hears when he's laying in his bed that night.

"I need help." He shakes his head bitterly. He should try to sleep, maybe. He was still scared out of his mind, but he can't go on like this. With that in mind, he closes his eyes and lets his exhaustion take over.

 

~

This time he's drowning.

However, he doesn't find it as scary as his last nightmare.

His clothes are heavy because of the water, weighing him down, but somehow, his head stays above the surface.

At first he tries so fight, flailing his limbs and screaming, but he doesn't seem to make any sound.

Then, he realizes that there's no point in trying. It's not going to help.

He looks up and stares at the sky for a moment. The starts and the moon are like jewels placed in the inky black void, shining bright like on a Van Gogh painting.

When he's thinking about it, he realizes that's what he wanted.

At one point, something about drowning really fascinated him. The idea of a seemingly painless (for the most part) death, sinking down to the bottom, where it would be hard to find him - it seemed perfect to him.

After all, he wanted to disappear, not only die.

And as much as he doesn't want to admit it, he still does.

Wouldn't it be great if he was dead?

He wouldn't have to deal with anything happening to him.

Feeling at peace, he allows himself to sink into the icy water.

 

Changkyun wakes up crying. He brings a hand up to his mouth and bites on his knuckles to muffle his sobs. As nice and peaceful it seemed in his dream to die, he didn't want himself to get that bad again. It's just going to hurt him and everyone around even more.

After he calms down, he gives himself another few minutes to regain composure and then he looks at the clock and immediately flies off his bed, seeing as he was late to school.

Getting ready as fast as he can, he's out of the door in 10 minutes, but doesn't run because he doesn't want to lose his lungs before he gets to school.

He's still a couple of minutes late. He bursts through the door and mumbles an apology to the teacher, ignoring the stares on him.

One of the good things about him always sitting in the back of the class is that he can do nothing without anyone noticing.

The voice of the teacher and the soft buzzing of the lamps above his head fade out into white noise after a while, as Changkyun thinks.

This time his dream wasn't as scary. It did, however, feel incredibly real. If he thinks hard enough, he can almost recall the way the moonlight reflected in the surface, and how the water felt, flooding his mouth and nose, making him unable to breathe. He rubbed his hands over him face with a sigh. You probably look like shit, Robert says. Yeah, no fucking doubt, Changkyun thinks. Obviously, it's going to be visible on his face that he cried for a long time before leaving the house.

After class ends, he finds himself going out the school backdoor, and sitting on a bench he finds there. The weather is gloomy, as always in this town. There's no wind, but it's still quite chilly outside, and it seems like it'll rain soon.

There's a group of students sitting on another bench, one that's a bit far away from Changkyun, far enough that he can't anything they're saying, but he can see the looks they're sending in his direction.

He pulled out his phone and was about to check his social media when someone sat next to him, someone from that group of students. A girl from a year below him, trying to contain a smile, her friends now talking a lot louder.

"Hey, um.. I was wondering.." she starts and Changkyun raises his eyebrows.

"How-..How many pills did you take?" She asks, bursting into laughter along with her friends. Changkyun feels like crying, but his face remains stoic.

"Was that a dare?" He says, way too calm, and gets up from the bench, making his way into the building again.

Kids these days are fucking cruel, he thinks bitterly, walking into an empty bathroom stall .

It was just a stupid dare, he shouldn't be hurt by that.

But he is. And he doesn't understand why people think that's it's okay to think of dares like this. What he did was a horrible, disgusting thing, not something to be made fun of.

He digs his fingernails into his forearms as tears make their way down his face. He hates feeling like this.

He wishes he could turn back time and change things.

Either don't do it at all, or do it so that he actually dies.

He somehow manages to calm himself down pretty quickly, and exits the bathroom stall, just to see no one else than Lee motherfucking Jooheon, washing his hands.

"Hey, 'kyun." Jooheon flashes him a smile, dimples showing and no, Changkyun's heart doesn't flutter at the sight.

He gave you a nickname already, that's kinda cute, Robert speaks up, not sounding like an ass for once.

Changkyun waves, and tries to smile, although it probably ends up looking more like a grimace, and walks past the other. However, it seems like Jooheon doesn't want their conversation to end and he exists the bathroom behind Changkyun, wiping his hands on his jeans (curse public schools and their lack of paper towels).

"So. You're friends with Gunhee?" Jooheon asks after a while of them walking together in silence. Changkyun feels strangely comfortable with him. At first, he was very awkward, as he usually is with new people, but after talking to the older boy a couple more times, something about Jooheon made him feel at ease whenever they spoke. The other always made sure Changkyun didn't feel uncomfortable in the conversation, and never said anything that would make him feel like that.

Jooheon obviously saw that Changkyun's been crying - and yet, he doesn't question that.

And Changkyun doesn't feel like talking about it, either.

"Yeah. You're friends too, right?" Changkyun says, not noticing the group of kids from before walking in their direction.

Jooheon opens his mouth to speak, but the Girl From Before suddenly appears in front of them. Changkyun freezes.

No, not in front of Jooheon.

He just wants to be left alone, for fuck's sake. Is that too much to ask for?

The girl turns to look at her friends and laughs before turning back to him.

"You didn't answer my question earlier. How many was it?" She asks, seemingly innocent.

Changkyun rolls his eyes and walks past her, putting his hands into the pockets of his hoodie to hide the fact that they're shaking.

"Not enough, apparently!" She yells after him, before cackling, and walking away with her friends.

Changkyun just lowers his head, and tries not to cry, completely forgetting about Jooheon. The older boy stands there, confused.

"What was that about?" He asks and Changkyun raises his head but doesn't look him in the face.

"They, uh.." he clears his throat. "She was asking about the pills. A dare, or something."

Now, Jooheon looks pissed. He almost walks after them, bit Changkyun grabs his wrist.

"Wait!" He really doesn't want to drag Jooheon into this. "It's not worth it." Changkyun drops his wrist and lowers his gaze again.

"What do you mean it's not?" Jooheon raises his voice, just slightly, but Changkyun still flinches.The sharp tone in the other's voice makes him break. The tears that he has been holding in start to fall and he wants to kick himself for that. For crying in front of someone, who he isn't even that close with. Sure, they might be friends, and the other night seen strangely protective over him, but he still hates being weak in front of other people.

That makes the older go quiet and he places his hand on Changkyun's back softly. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell." Jooheon whispers now, and pushes him forward gently to walk into an empty classroom, so that he doesn't cry in the middle of the hallway.

"I'm sorry.. I just-.." Changkyun sits in one of the chairs and takes a shaky breath, covering his face with his hands. He's going to get embarrassed about that later, now he's just trying to get himself to calm down.

Jooheon leans on the desk next to him and rubs Changkyun's back in small circles.

"Y'know, we should do something about them." The older boy suggests and Changkyun just shakes his head.

"Nothing will work. I tried." He chokes out, voice thick with tears. He already did everything. Told his parents, teachers, but they all told him that he was exaggerating, or that they were going to stop eventually.

Yeah, stop when he actually succeeds this time.

He even tried dealing with it himself, but that ended up with him almost breaking someone's nose.

"I'll figure something out." Jooheon says, and it feels like a promise.

"Why do you even care?" Changkyun says after minutes of silence, voice barely above a whisper.

"You don't deserve to be treated like this." He answers, and Changkyun doesn't say anything to that.

Then, he remembers.

The guys that were bothering him a few weeks ago. What happened to them?

He doesn't want to think about it.

But he does anyway, and decides to ask Jooheon about it.

"Those assholes? I just told them it's not okay." Jooheon explains, running his hand through his hair.

Changkyun gets up after that, and moves to get out of the room and go home. He had a few classes left, but today's been horrible for him, and he doesn't want to run into the girl again. Before he does that, he turns around and faces the other boy, twisting his hands nervously. "I'll be going. Sorry you had to see me like this." Changkyun apologizes quietly.

"It's okay, Kyun. Stay safe." Jooheon waves and grins and Changkyun leaves, feeling a little bit lighter.

Even with people constantly laughing at him, making him feel like shit, he secretly hopes Jooheon doesn't become one of them.

Chapter Text

After the incident, Changkyun doesn't even want to think about coming back to school.

He has spent most of his free time crying and when he finally ran out of tears, the emptiness settled in, deep into his bones. He felt, and was pretty sure also looked, cold and lifeless. It seemed silly to him, in a way. Getting depressed over a stupid thing someone said? That's just a sign of weakness. He should be more prepared for rude questions.

A feeling also came, it felt like something was itching under his skin, and at first, he tried to ignore it, but it just got worse. It made him want to tear his skin apart, just for it to stop.

 

He ended up sitting on the bathroom floor, blood drawing patterns on pale thighs, as it drips down his skin. His phone dings, signaling a message, and he wipes his hands on his shirt first (it's hard to see blood on a black T-shirt, after all) before checking it.

It's from Gunhee.

flat gun: u doing okay?????

damn daniel: ya why

He's your friend, you should at least stop lying, Robert whines. He hasn't been very rude recently, and Changkyun almost got used to him. He still feels weird about it though.

What normal person has conversations with a voice in their head that's not even theirs?

 

flat gun:i talked to jooheon:/

flat gun: abt the thign

damn daniel: its cool dude

damn daniel: i dont rly care tbh theyll prolly stop soon

 

Changkyun wants to laugh at himself. He's officially 0 days clean, he's sitting on his bathroom floor without pants on, bleeding from the cuts he made, and yet, he pretends he doesn't care.

How pathetic.

flat gun: if u say so

flat gun: text me if u ever want to talk abt it

Changkyun smiles at the message, even though he knows he's not going to text anyone about his problems, and he's sure Gunhee knows that too.

He tries his best to clean the cuts and all the blood that somehow managed to get onto the floor and pulls his pants back on, wincing when the fabric rubs against his skin.

When he looks in the mirror, he doesn't like what he sees. As usual. He doesn't look at lifeless as before but still looks like a mess. His eyes are red and puffy, his lips swollen and bloody from him always biting them. He wants to cry looking at his reflection.

Upon walking into his room, he notices the darkness outside.

He must've spent more time in the bathroom than he thought. The clock on the wall says 1:30 AM and he shudders at the thought of going to that hellhole again. Something in him made him want to go and tell his parents, but he decided against it.

Why bother them? They have enough stress because of their work.

He decides on going to sleep and hopes for the best. He lays on his bed and takes deep breaths, trying to ignore the stinging feeling over his thighs whenever he moves.

He hopes he's not going to dream at all tonight - lately, nothing has been happening in his dreams.

He doesn't have luck, though.

This time, he's in the forest again, the same one from his first dream. Where it all started. He tries to move, but he finds himself unable to. Suddenly, his vision goes white for a split second before he wakes up with a start, confused.

The clock reads 1:54 AM and he squints his eyes, suspicious. He barely went to bed, and he woke up not even 30 minutes later?

The worst thing is, he's wide awake. There's no way he's going back to sleep now. He sits up, gritting his teeth at the burn of fabric rubbing against his legs.

Once he gets up, he makes his way to the computer and sits down. Maybe he can make himself tired enough to get at least an hour of sleep.

He spends the rest of the night playing a random online game he found, Gerard Way's voice filtering through his speakers, paired with the sounds of the cars passing outside strangely soothing.

It's a bit ironic in his opinion, how the darkness surrounding him is the thing the comforts him the most when he's awake, but is also what terrifies him the most when he's dreaming.

For now, he just lets himself feel safe for once, in a dark room with his doors locked.

When the morning finally comes, he goes to take a shower, but immediately regrets his decision when he feels water on his skin. He tries to be as fast as possible but at the same time, as much as he doesn't want to admit, he enjoys the pain.

He'd rather be in pain than scared or numb.

 

He gets ready and gets out of the house in record time so he has time to stop at a store and manages to down a can of Red Bull in one go (almost) before he enters the school.

He tries to look like he doesn't care, like he's okay. Even though his eyes are burning from lack of sleep and wanting to cry during the night and his legs are in constant pain because he fucked up.

But that's okay. He's okay.

At least, that's what he thought for most of the day.

At one point he was pretty sure he was 100% over it. Not caring at all, trying to keep his face looking as pissed off as possible when he walked out of school. But obviously, life (and, like half of the school) hates him.

A boy who was a few years older than him, Changkyun was sure, suddenly started walking beside him and Changkyun rolled his eyes so hard he probably saw his brain, preparing himself for the humiliation.

"Are you okay?" The guy asks, and Changkyun raises his eyebrows,
"You just kinda look like.. you didn't have enough pills at home, or something, y'know?" He grins and walks in another direction, giving Changkyun a wave.

That makes his blood boil, but he just clenches his hands into fists, nails digging into his palms.

He's not going to deal with that, he thinks. He's not going to be self-harming, losing sleep and having breakdowns over that anymore.

He's done.

The next couple of things happens in a blur. In one second, someone bumps into him, purposely and Changkyun falls to the ground, other students laughing loudly, and in another he's pinning whoever did that (he recognized him as the friend of the girl that bothered him last time) against the wall of the school building, anger coursing through his veins. He swears his vision went red for a second.

"If one of you fuckers does that again, I swear you'll regret it." He hisses. The guy suddenly breaks free from Changkyun's hold and swings his fist at him. People standing around them cheer, probably recording everything. Changkyun dodges the attack somehow, and when he's about to raise his hand, a pair of arms grabs him from behind, pulling him back and he thrashes around at first, trying to get free before he realizes who's standing behind him.

"Whoa, whoa, Changkyun, stop, calm down," Hyungwon says, surprisingly strong for someone who looks like a string bean. The other boy takes a look at the two of them before walking away quite fast.

"Let go." Changkyun closes his eyes briefly, trying to calm down even though he was still mad.

Hyungwon let go of him, although a little reluctantly, and placed a hand on his shoulder instead, leading him towards the parking lot.

"Why?" Changkyun asks, seeing Jooheon and another person he doesn't recognize standing next to a black sports car, talking. He doesn't really want to interact with them, especially right now.

"You need to calm down before you do anything stupid." The other explains, and Changkyun doesn't speak anymore. It kind of makes sense, considering his mood changes since yesterday, and his impulsiveness. He's grateful that the other doesn't let him go home until he's cooled down a little.

Knowing him, he'd probably accidentally step in front of a car, or something. That'd be nice, he says to himself in his head, and can almost feel Robert's judging stare on him. If, of course, Robert had eyes. Or a face.

When they get closer to the pair, Jooheon walks up to him, a hand on Changkyun's other shoulder, eyes scanning his face. "Did you get hurt?" There's something in the older boy's voice that Changkyun can't name, and he steps back momentarily, still not used to anyone worrying about him. Changkyun shakes his head. "What exactly happened anyway?" Jooheon asks, eyes moving between Changkyun and Hyungwon.

"They were bothering him again and Kyun just snapped." Hyungwon shrugs and Changkyun nods slowly.

"You should at least greet your boyfriend." The other boy standing beside Jooheon speaks up, and Changkyun looks at him, a bit surprised and almost gasps in shock.

Up close, the boy was good looking.

"That was more important, you ass." Hyungwon chuckles but moves to peck the boy's cheek anyway.

The boy flashes Changkyun a wide smile, the one that seems to light up the whole world and offers his hand for him to take. "I'm Minhyuk," Changkyun takes his hand in his own trembling one and shakes it, introducing himself.

"You want a ride home?" Jooheon asks, leaning against the car but Changkyun shakes his head. That'd be way too awkward for him.

"I'll just walk home. See you tomorrow!" Changkyun waves and smiles, walking away.

He's trying to get home as fast as possible, so he decides to take a shortcut through a park.

Something feels wrong though.

The usually noisy, full of life place feels unusually vacant, and anxiety grows in the pit of his stomach. When the sky suddenly went dark, he curses and starts to run, the situation feeling all too familiar.

Then, he sees it.

Shadows are growing out of the cracks in the pavement before him like tall grass and he freezes at the sight.

That's not happening right now.

This isn't real.

He feels sick.

When the shadows touch him, he screams. It feels like flames are being pressed against his skin.

His throat burns, his heart is hammering against his ribs like a bird trying to get free, tears are running down his face and it doesn't feel real, it's-

Time seems to freeze when a growl pierces through his scream.

He sees two silhouettes appear in the corner of his vision, but they move too fast for him to even react and suddenly he's being yanked back by a pair of muscular arms. He falls to the ground in pain and confused.

 

Who the fuck? Or more importantly, what the fuck?

 

Someone kneels in front of him, but he doesn't recognize them. The boy before him is tall and muscular, hair dyed blonde on one-half, black on the other (something that shouldn't look good on anyone, but somehow it does on him).

"Fuck, are you okay?" The boy asks, voice low and weirdly familiar...

Changkyun recognizes him as the voice he's been hearing in his head for weeks.

"What the hell-" He rasps out, voice sounding wrecked, "Who the fuck are you?"

"I'm Jiwon but that's not important right now, we need to go." Jiwon (Robert?) says hurriedly, picking Changkyun up like he was nothing and walking away in the direction of a car standing nearby. Changkyun, still hurt and still terrified, stiffens but lets himself be carried. Anything to get away from here.

Jiwon places him carefully in the passenger seat and sits next to him. There's someone already behind the wheel and they drive away as soon as the car doors close.

Changkyun sits frozen, staring off into space. He's pretty sure he has burns on his hands, and his throat feels on fire whenever he swallows, his heart is still beating way too fast, he's sweating like crazy and he's pretty sure he's shaking.

And yet, it still doesn't feel real.

It feels like one of his dreams, except he can't wake up now.

"I know you're confused, but you're gonna get an explanation soon. To everything." Jiwon murmurs and Changkyun looks over to him but his movements feel slow and almost robotic.

He hears Jiwon talking on the phone with someone, but he can't seem to catch any words.

When the car finally comes to a stop, he walks out, still dazed, Jiwon closely behind him.

They're in front of a house, one in the nicer area of the city. The exterior is dark gray, and there are blinds on every window. Something about it screams safe to Changkyun, though.

Jiwon opens the door without knocking and pushes Changkyun inside.

"Oh my God, Changkyun," someone whispers and soon, Hyungwon appears in his field of vision, grabbing his shoulders, "what the hell happened?"

The familiarity of the situation somehow breaks him out of his trance and Changkyun breaks down, knees completely giving up. "I don't k-know.."

Chapter Text


It took them almost 30 minutes to calm Changkyun down enough so he could stop shaking, and he ended up sitting next to Jiwon on the couch, pressed into the other boy's side, an arm thrown protectively around his shoulders. Normally he wouldn't get that close to someone he met just moments ago, but something about Jiwon just made him feel at ease.

 

Changkyun feels drained, both physically and mentally, but he felt like he's going to seriously go crazy if he doesn't get any answers.

 

His arms got neatly wrapped in white bandages by Hyungwon and he absentmindedly runs his fingers over it.

If not for the minor burns he got, he still would believe that what just happened wasn't real.

 

"Changkyunnie," Jooheon calls out his name softly from where he's sitting in the armchair across from him and he lifts his head up. "What's going on?" Changkyun whispers, throat still hurting from his previous screaming.

 

"It's complicated, and it might be a lot to take in at once, so I need you to just listen." Jooheon explains, speaking slowly and carefully as if to not startle him.

"In case you didn't realize yet, this town isn't exactly...normal." Hyungwon starts. He's standing, leaning against the windowsill, arms crossed over his chest.

 

"Have you noticed how the sun never comes out here?"

 

Changkyun thought about it for a while. It was true, but there had to be a logical explanation to it.

 

As Hyungwon opened his mouth to keep talking, Minhyuk entered the room. The boy took a look at Changkyun and Jiwon and scrunched up his nose. "Oh? Hi, dog boy." Jiwon waves at him in response and Changkyun raises his eyebrows. What?

 

"Tell me, Changkyun," Minhyuk snaps his fingers and points a finger at him, leaning against the doorframe. "Do you believe in magic? "

 

"I...guess?" Changkyun says, hesitating a bit. He's done his research on magic when he was bored one day but didn't do anything about it. It was something he found interesting, though. It's nice, having something to believe in. "Well, that just made everything easier," Minhyuk muttered before walking closer to them and sitting next to Jooheon on the armrest of his chair.

 

"What about vampires?" Changkyun wants to laugh.

 

What kinda messed up situation has he gotten himself in?

 

"Are you serious?" He shakes his head in disbelief and tries to stand up, but decides against it when Minhyuk glares at him.

"Does it look like I'm joking?" Minhyuk sounds angry and Changkyun instantly lowers his head, guilt coursing through his body. "Just answer the damn question," the older one says, raising his voice in annoyance. Changkyun stiffens.

 

You fucked up, you fucked up, you FUCKED U-

Jiwon growls. 

It's'sthe same sound he's heard in his dreams, the same sound he heard hours ago and he jumps, startled before he realizes it's not directed at him. "Calm down first, will you?" His hold around Changkyun tightened as he spoke to Minhyuk, earning a nod from Hyungwon. Minhyuk straightens his back and clears his throat awkwardly, now looking at the floor.

 

"So, Changkyun?" This time is Jooheon who asks.

 

"What if I said no?"

 

"Then we'll just have to show you," Minhyuk smiles again. His eyes flash, now a rich, liquidy almost golden.

Changkyun's eyes widen and he gasps in surprise.

 

It isn't real. It's not, it can't be. Vampires are not real, they only exist in stupid fucking books, Changkyun .

 

I think I finally went crazy. 

When Minhyuk giggles Changkyun realizes that he said that last part out loud and his face burns in embarrassment.

"Changkyun," Hyungwon says, gaining his attention again, "You were attacked when you were younger, right?" His voice is soft, but Changkyun still feels like he got punched in the stomach.

 

No one knew about it.

 

"Yeah...but how do you even know about it?" He splutters, looking at them with a confused look on his face.

 

"Let's start at the beginning, okay? Just listen and try to not freak out."Minhyuk says, eyes glowing against the pale canvas of his face, a contrast with his black hair.

"Vampires, werewolves, all that shit. It exists. A large percent of this town's citizens they're not exactly...human. The town's very important people consist of witches, who mostly make sure the sun doesn't come out, which brings us to the next creatures. For the most part, they have normal jobs, but some of them choose to use their powers in different ways. Faeries, for example, work in parks and hospitals, considering they like helping people. A. bunch of people you go to school with? Also not human. But now, about your incident. The guy that attacked you... he wasn't necessarily thinking straight. Hungry vampires do bad things." Changkyun's head hangs low, trying to comprehend what he was just told.

He needs to get out of there. Now.

Considering what happened earlier, he should believe that.

But the previous events hasn't really set in, and he feels sick. "But, of course," Minhyuk continues, crossing his arms over his chest. "Law exists for a reason. He did get punished, but before he did, uh.." He trails off, eyes darting around the ceiling as he's trying to remember and Changkyun can feel his muscles start to shake with nerves again.

"At that time, he was dating a witch," Jooheon picks up the story and Changkyun is, yet again, surprised that so many people know what happened. "After he didn't manage to kill you, in a rush of anger, he asked her to curse you. The witch, however, wasn't stupid and didn't want to just curse a child, obviously, but she loved him to death and didn't want to see him like that too. She did put a curse on you. It was said, that after a period of time you'll get very vulnerable to certain beings trying to attack you. Most humans are traditionally blessed at birth to protect them from that, but that witch got rid of yours, in a way." Changkyun blinks dazedly a few times before humming as a signal for the other to finish.

"The vulnerability would start with you getting strange, scarily vivid nightmares. It's something that would stop you from sleeping and, in turn, make your mind more prone to attacks."

Changkyun's blood turns into ice at that.

He can't believe that, he doesn't want to believe all this, but-

Minhyuk cuts off his thoughts when he starts speaking again.

"The good thing was, she was able to get dog boy to protect you from that," 

Jiwon frowns at that a little.

"A barghest, not a dog!" He exclaims, whining almost but Minhyuk only waves a hand, not caring.

"He's able to have some insight into your head, and also communicate with you to see if you're doing okay. Makes sense, right?" 

 

It does.

It does, and Changkyun hates it.

It shouldn't make sense. It's not normal. It shouldn't be happening to him.

He needs to go.

"This is fucked," He breathes out, standing up and walking to the door, ignoring the shouts of the people in the room. Thankfully it's open and he gets outside, just to get greeted by raindrops falling onto his face.

He doesn't gear before a hand grabs his shoulder, but Changkyun recoils as if he got burned and turns around, his own, wide and confused eyes locking with Jooheon's warm, concerned ones. It doesn't help the ice crawling through his veins. 

 

 "Don't fucking touch me, I swear-" He doesn't let himself finish but instead runs, the rain making his vision unclear, but he has to get home right now.

His parents are out, thank Gods for that, and he locks the door and sprints to his room, collapsing against the door shortly after, trying to catch his breath.

His clothes and hair are wet and sticking to his body and he feels gross, so he decides to go take a shower.

When he's about to step into the water, he examines the bandages on his arms carefully before gently unwrapping them. The skin on his forearms actually looks like he got burned and he cringes at the memory of how he got them.

The water hurts and Changkyun lets out small, pained whimpers, trying to be as fast as possible.

When he's done, he applies some ointment on his arms and tries to bandage it again but working with one hand isn't easy and he only manages to do it on his right arm.

Instead of staying in his room, he grabs his phone, charger and a clean hoodie, tossing them onto the living room couch and walking to the kitchen, leaving with a cup of tea in one hand and a lighter in the other minutes later. Changkyun places the cup on the coffee table and walks over to the windows to light the candles scattered around the windowsills, and they illuminate the room with a soft, warm glow. Wrapping himself in the hoodie after sitting on the couch, he turns on the TV before letting his head fall back against the couch.

This isn't happening. Please, tell me I'm just dreaming again.

 

Don't let it be real.

He pleads but, as always, no one hears.

Changkyun never asked for that. He didn't ask to be attacked, didn't ask for the story he was told to make sense. He just wanted to have a normal life.

 

But he can't have anything he wants, can he? He feels tears trickling down his face, and this time, he lets them fall. He's scared, hurt, confused and angry, he's more than definitely allowed to cry.

 

You can't keep running away, Jiwon's voice sounds loud and clear in his mind.

 

I know, Changkyun answers bitterly, closing his eyes.

Chapter Text

When Changkyun's parents came back later that evening he thinks about asking them if he could stay home the next day, and he probably looks so miserable that they'd actually let him, but he decides not to.

But he does feel awful. Both because of his injuries, but also because he feels betrayed, almost. There have been things going on in this town his entire life- and he had no idea about any of that.

He wonders if Gunhee knew about everything.

Knowing his luck, he probably did.

Changkyun decides to go to sleep, exhausted from everything that has happened during the day, but the silence feels almost suffocating, so he opens his windows and turns on music. The first song that comes on is Vampires Will Never Hurt You by My Chemical Romance and he rolls his eyes, muttering a "not now, Gerard" before skipping it and going to bed.

Sleep doesn't come easily to him, though. He lays in the dark, arms and thighs throbbing, the pain dull and annoying enough to keep him awake, so with a sigh he rolls out of bed and looks for painkillers on his desk, taking two upon finding them and returns to bed, hoping to fall asleep.

This time, he does and for the rest of the night dreams of shadows and golden flashes.

He wakes up still tired as hell, a headache already making itself present and he groans loudly as he gets up and goes to get ready for school, anxiety settling in the pit of his stomach at the thought of having to see Jooheon and Hyungwon today but he tries to ignore it.

After getting ready and changing his bandages, he walks into the kitchen, only to see his father sitting at the table, finishing his coffee. Changkyun greets him, and heads for the fridge, with no actual intent to eat anything.

"You don't look well," his father says, standing up and walking towards the door slowly, but before he does, he turns back to look at Changkyun, "Maybe you should stay home today?" Changkyun stops for a second and acts like he's considering the option, like he hasn't spent hours thinking about it already

"No, I'm good," he replies, pulling a can of Coke from the fridge and closing it, leaning against the door and watching his father leave the house.

What are you going to do with Jooheon and Hyungwon today?

Jiwon's voice is loud in his head and Changkyun chokes on his drink, startled. Jesus, fuck, dude. Give me a warning next time.

"And, uh, I don't know what I'm gonna do. Changkyun admits helplessly, sighing.

I can get my friends to follow you around for today, so they won't bother you.

His friends? Christ, that's going to be painfully awkward. Like, literally follow me, or..?

No, stupid, Jiwon chuckles. Like, stick with you for the day. But only for today, cause you gotta talk to them someday.

Yeah, I know, Changkyun replies distractedly, walking out the door, making sure he locked it. Just... not today.

He meets them shortly after his first class and instantly becomes nervous, because they look just as scary as Jiwon, if not more.

But soon, he learns that the three are not as they look like.

Hanbin and Junhoe, the two with stone cold expressions and an intimidating aura to them are... awkward. They don't talk much, although they do give Changkyun all their social media after a while and distract him in class. (Junhoe with sending him memes on Twitter, and Hanbin sending him cute animal videos on Instagram).

The third one, Donghyuk - Changkyun is convinced he's an actual angel. With dyed blonde hair and a smile brighter than the sun, he doesn't stop talking. He tells him about all of their other friends, asks him about his likes and dislikes.

Changkyun's sure that Donghyuk knows him better than his own parents now.

Everything goes well, and Changkyun almost feels more comfortable with Jiwon's friends, but at the end of the day, right after his last class, everything changes.

Their faces are cold, the tiniest mixture of fear and worry in their eyes when they tell him that they have to go right now. and push him forward lightly towards the exit.

"What's happening?" Changkyun raises an eyebrow, confused as to what's happening.

"We don't really know, just that it's... bad," Hanbin says, unsure.

"How bad exactly?" He asks, trying to appear calm, even though he feels his heart pounding and his hands sweating. He doesn't get an answer.

They rush to a car, the same one he was in on the day he got attacked, Changkyun recognizes and the sight of Jiwon behind the wheel should make him feel a little safer, but it doesn't. The look on the older's face is enough for Changkyun to start shaking.

He looks pissed off.

Donghyuk sits next to him and Changkyun feels grateful - the other seems to radiate positive energy. He places a hand on Changkyun's knee when he notices his leg bouncing up and down.

Are you okay? In his head, Jiwon sounds a lot calmer than he looks.

Yeah, why wouldn't I be? Changkyun's voice, however, seems to shake even in his mind.

Changkyun, I can hear your heart beating from here.

Oh.

They stay quiet for the rest of the ride, and when they arrive, Changkyun grows even more nervous. He's never been in that area of the city and it feels... dark. All the houses look the same, made out of red brick and there are trees growing everywhere he sees. This, coupled with the gray, cloudy sky and the fog gives off a very creepy feeling, the one that makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

He gets out of the car and timidly follows Jiwon into one of the houses, legs shaking just a little. This whole situation makes him incredibly anxious, but he's more scared of why that's happening.

They walk into a living room, where Changkyun sits at the edge of a couch, closest to the door, away from them all. The room seems normal, way too normal for a non-human (or multiple non-humans) to live in. There are superhero posters on the walls, CD's and clothes strewn across the floor and it reminds Changkyun of his own room a lot.

Jiwon sits across from him in an armchair, far enough for him to feel alright, but when Junhoe moves to stand against the door, Changkyun tenses up. His only possible route of escape was now gone, and he starts to look around nervously.

"Changkyun, just try to not freak out," Jiwon says and Changkyun shakes his head.

"The fuck do you expect me to do?" His voice sounds a lot higher than he wants it to as he almost shrieks, throwing his hands up in confusion. "I was thrown into this-this bullshit and you expect me to stay calm after all the things I've been told? My life has been a living hell ever since this all started and I don't even know how to deal with that! I used to be glad I didn't fucking die but now..." He doesn't finish. He's panting now and shaking, his hands balled into fists.

The room goes completely silent, and all he can hear is his own, rapid heartbeat.

"Well, it's about time you snapped," Jiwon shrugs, leaning back in his chair.

"So why are we here?" Changkyun asks, quieter now, rubbing his eyes. He calmed down a little and now he just feels tired.

"That, uh... Long story short, whatever attacked you... It's back. And possibly a lot stronger than before," Jiwon says slowly, worry filling his eyes.

"Okay," Changkyun nods.

"Okay? Is that all?"

"You know, after I yelled at you I feel like I'm over it. I'll probably start freaking out in maybe two hours."

Jiwon and Hanbin share a look but Changkyun can't figure out what it means.

"That being said, you absolutely cannot go alone anywhere. Your house is alright, from what we've seen there are some pretty heavy shields on it. Anything other than that is too dangerous," Changkyun raises his eyebrows. He doesn't go outside a lot anyway, but...

"How the fuck do I explain that to my parents?" It hit him that he has to tell them something.

"You don't," Hanbin says, voice flat.

"Why?" Changkyun feels shocked.

"It's better to not drag too many people into that. Dangerous." He moves to sit on the armrest of Jiwon's chair.

Changkyun realizes another thing.

"Jesus fuck, I'm gonna fucking fail all my classes," He slaps a hand over his forehead, the sound loud in the room.

"You can, y'know, not go, or something. It's not like a few weeks are going to make a difference." Junhoe suggests, sitting cross-legged on the floor, still against the door.

Changkyun turns around so fast his head starts to ache.

"No, no, no, you don't get it, I missed months of school, I can't do that, my grades were already bad, I'm gonna fucking fail, my parents are going to murder me!" His heart rate begins to pick up again as tears fill his eyes. Failing at school means that he truly is a fuck up, it means that his parents will be disappointed and he knows that they were already under so much pressure because of him.

"It's okay, Changkyun, breathe." Donghyuk appears next to him, trying to console him, but Changkyun doesn't listen, he can't because there's millions of what if's swirling around his head, but it all just turns into loud buzzing in his head.

Suddenly, something like a loud bang echoes in his head and he winces, holding his head, looking at Jiwon. "What the fuck?" He hisses, and the other grins.

"I didn't even know I could do that!" He defends himself.

"What we're wanting to say, we'll help you if you wanna. Since you and Jiwon have this weird mental connection you became a family member, whether you like it or not," Hanbin speaks up again, hand clutching Jiwon's tightly.

"That's..." Changkyun swallows, the concept seeming so distant for him. He's never been that close with his parents, he's never had many friends, and all of sudden, being told he's seen as family? It makes him feel warm. "That's nice."

"Right?" Donghyuk smiles widely. "You just gotta meet the rest,"

"T-The rest?" Changkyun stutters. He didn't sign up for this. Obviously, it won't go wrong, but it still made him nervous.

"Yeah, maybe tomorrow or later this week?" Jiwon suggests. "For now we'll get you home maybe? So you can, like think about everything and stuff,"

Bless him.

"Sure, yeah, good idea," Changkyun nods, instantly feeling better at the thought of going home. It's not like he disliked all of them - it was just too much for him and he needed time.

"Great," Jiwon gets up from his chair and walks towards the door, Changkyun following him.

They leave the house and start walking instead of driving, which Changkyun appreciates. The weather is a bit cold, making Changkyun shiver a little under his hoodie. Jiwon throws an arm around his shoulders, and it feels natural.

The walk to his house takes them around 20 minutes. They barely talk, but the silence feels more comforting than awkward.

As they're standing in front of his house, Jiwon turns and wraps his arms around him tightly. "Just don't think about it too much, okay?" Changkyun can only nod in response.

"Seriously, though. You don't need to worry about it as long as me and the kids are here, okay?"

"You sound like a dad," Changkyun mumbles into the other's hoodie.

"Shut up," Jiwon smacks his shoulder lightly, laughing. He lets go but keeps a hand on Changkyun's shoulder. "And the whole Jooheon thing...forget about it, for now, we'll make sure you're gonna live first and then think about that,"

Changkyun wants to open his mouth to protest but decides not to.

"Okay, anyway, I'm gonna go now, but you know where to find me," He ruffles Changkyun's hair before turning and starting to walk away, "Stay safe, Kyun!" He waves and Changkyun returns the gesture with a smile before entering the house.

Chapter Text

Changkyun's doing great.

For like, a week before the nightmares start again.

At first, it was just like in the past. Scarily vivid and life-like, leaving him with grass in his hair or the taste of blood in his mouth and burn marks on his clothes.

After a while, he stops sleeping altogether, not wanting to go through that again. His mental state drops again, but this time he doesn't feel like his life is in danger. He's okay.

Jiwon and the rest of his "family" have been trying to keep him safe, even though he still hasn't met the rest of them, but lately, they've been busy with something they didn't let him know about. He doesn't ask.

But even they can't help him with something happening in his head.

He doesn't talk to Gunhee anymore.

Jooheon hasn't looked at him in weeks.

Changkyun's not sure if he wants him to.

Jiwon and Hanbin, who, Changkyun learned later, are dating have been very slowly introducing everything to him, answering all his questions, wanting him to understand but not wanting to scare him off.

The situation with Jooheon and the others is a bit different for him.

He feels lied to.

And something about Minhyuk golden, piercing eyes is incredibly unsettling.

_________________________

He somehow manages to go on for almost four days without any sleep.

 

He hates it. He's got a permanent headache, the bags under his eyes are something he gets asked about daily ("Are you getting enough sleep?") and he's always cold.

At least he's not doing as bad as he thought he would.

Towards the end of day three, he passes out.

He was locking the door after his parents left the house. It was a work thing, they said, they'll be gone for a week.

As he steps away, a wave of dizziness hits him.

 

Maybe it was the stress, or the lack of sleep, or the fact that he hasn't eaten or drunk anything in the last 24 hours.

He doesn't remember hitting the floor.

He doesn't know what happened, but he's shaking and on the verge of tears. All of sudden, he's somewhere. He doesn't know where it is, doesn't know where to go. He's sitting on a sidewalk, in another part of the city he's never been to. It's dark, there's barely any street lights and it's scarily quiet. The only thing Changkyun can hear is his heart and his quick, shallow, shaky breaths. He's sure he's not dreaming this time, it feels way too real, every part of his body seems to be shaking in fear.

There are no stars shimmering against the black sky and the lack of them makes him feel cold.

That's it, he thinks.

That's where it all ends.

Wait.

In an attempt to hide his hands from the cold, he feels something in his pocket.

It's his phone.

Maybe he can get some kind of help now.

His phone is almost dying but maybe he'll manage to call someone-

But who?

He doesn't have many phone numbers saved in his phone.

Obviously not Gunhee.

Jiwon hasn't talked to him in a while, busy with whatever he's doing and Changkyun is okay with that.

He doesn't want to bother him, but there's a feeling of dread in the bottom of his stomach and he feels like he's dead already.

He dials the number and waits.

With every second passing, every little sound of something getting moved with the wind, he gets even more nervous, hands trembling so badly he can barely hold his phone up.

"Do you know what time it is?" Hearing Hanbin's sleepy voice through the speaker made him almost tear up and he doesn't know if it's because of fear or relief.

"No, no, I'm s-sorry, but..." He bites his lip, "I don't-I don't know what happened, I'm somewhere and I don't know how I got there or where do I go, a-and-"

"Okay, okay," Hanbin sounds more alert now. "Can you and look around? Tell me what you can see, any buildings or whatever,"

Changkyun gets up on shaky legs and begins to walk forwards. There was nothing.

A dead end.

He describes that to the other and walks in the other direction as quickly as possible. There were old, abandoned looking buildings there, with peeling paint on the walls and broken windows. He tells Hanbin about everything, stuttering and trying not to hyperventilate.

A red light goes off in Changkyun's head.

He has to get out.

"Junhoe said he knows where that is, we're gonna get there in a sec, it's alright, just stay on the phone with me, okay?"

Changkyun wants to reply to that, but something makes him almost drop his phone.

There's someone in the window of one of the abandoned buildings.

And he's staring right at him.

Waving.

Changkyun runs.

He collapses onto the ground and pulls his hood over his head, clutching the phone tightly, praying to all the Gods that Hanbin and the rest would arrive fast.

"What happened?" Jiwon's speaking now, and he sounds alarmed.

"There's- I just saw somebody," Changkyun wheezes, trying to calm his breathing.

"Shit, okay, just give us a few more minutes, we're almost there,"

Minutes feel like hours as he's sitting there, frozen in fear.

From the direction of the dead end, he hears footsteps.

He gets up so fast he drops his phone and starts backing away.

How did it get here?

A shadowy figure, the one that was in the window, walking towards him, agonizingly slow.

Changkyun can't see it's face when it's looking down. He freezes when it raises its head.

Its eyes are golden.

 

Changkyun's heart's hammering against his ribs, he's frozen in fear and he can't breathe-

Heavy fog falls around them, calm and gray. It should make him feel safer, but it doesn't, it feels suffocating and he manages to move back a few steps before dropping to his knees, eyes not leaving the shadow, who is still coming towards him, getting closer and closer.

It stands in front of him now and Changkyun feels sick with fear. He can feel his entire body is shaking when the creature kneels down to his level and reaches a hand out. It's fingers barely ghost over his cheek, but it makes hot, blinding pain explode behind his eyelids for a few second and he screams.

Someone- no, something lunges forwards from the fog.

A dog.

A huge, black dog, looking as if the edges of his body were fading into the fog, constantly moving. It growls, and the familiarity of it makes Changkyun cry in relief. They came. The tears that are rapidly falling down his face come in contact with the wound on his cheek and he feels dizzy from the pain it causes.

The creature fades in the dark, reappears further away. The dog chases it, jaws snapping.

A person kneels in front of him and he flinches away at first, breathing shakily through his sobs. "Changkyun," they breathe out and Changkyun recognizes it as Hanbin, who places one hand on his uninjured cheek, the other stroking his hair, trying to get him to stop crying at least. "It hurts," Changkyun manages to say, leaning into the other's touch subconsciously.

"I know, I know but it's okay now, we're going to fix it, it's okay," Hanbin's voice is calm but his eyes are wide and scared, scanning Changkyun's face nervously.

The fog clears out after a while and another person approaches them, standing on Hanbin's side and touching Changkyun's arm gently.

"Do you think you're able to stand?" the voice attached to the hand touching his shoulder belongs to Junhoe and Changkyun gives him a shaky nod before attempting to stand up. He stumbles a little and is caught by the taller boy, who wraps an arm around his shoulders and begins to walk.

Changkyun still hasn't calmed down fully yet, but when they get inside their car he definitely feels some of the tension leave his body. Junhoe sits in the passenger seat next to the driver, who Changkyun doesn't know and Hanbin sits with him in the backseat, keeping a hand on his knee.

"You haven't met Changkyun yet, right?" Junhoe asks the person next to him, they hum in agreement and turn around.

"I'm Jinhwan- oh, that doesn't look good," The boy says, wincing at the sight of the wound. He has soft features, black hair falling over his eyes. He looks... small but there's a certain aura around him, of authority almost.

 

The comment, even though it probably shouldn't, made Changkyun's heart race again. It really hurt a whole lot, but he hasn't thought about how it looks.

How am I gonna explain THIS to my parents?

A sudden wave of emotions he can't put a name to hits him, and it feels like all the air got knocked out of him. He gasps, leaning forward and holding his hand in his hands. His brain feels like it's going to explode and there's a hand running along his spine, a voice telling him something but he doesn't understand, not loud enough to get through the buzzing in his ears.

Then it hits him.

Jiwon.

Something's wrong, something must've happened, he's-

Changkyun feels himself being led out of the car and into the house. It doesn't feel real, not with the static in his head. Jiwon's standing in the doorway to the living room and the second they make eye contact all the haze clears.

"Are you okay?" Changkyun finds himself asking.

"You're asking me? You could've fucking died!" The other's voice drops to a whisper at the end. There's a bit of anger in it and he knows it's not directed at him, and yet he still flinches away, mumbling an apology.

"No, no, it's okay. I'm just glad you're fine," He pulls Changkyun into the quick hug and then pulls him into the living room.

Donghyuk is sitting on the couch, along with another boy, with dyed blonde hair and a soft face as well. They look surprised at the sight of Changkyun, who must look like a mess.

"Can you fix this?" Hanbin asks from behind them, startling Changkyun a little.

"I mean, probably, yes," Donghyuk says, walking closer to them and laying a careful hand on Changkyun's face. "It's just going to hurt. A lot," the other boy says from his spot on the couch. Something in Changkyun's stomach shifts from the nerves.

"Are you okay with that?" Donghyuk asks him. Changkyun nods slowly. He moves to sit on the couch and waits.

It can't be that bad, he thinks.

He's wrong.

As both the boys place their hands on his face, it feels like he's being burned. It's ten times worse

Someone, he thinks it's Jiwon, has to sit behind him and hold his arms back, so that he wouldn't move.

He screams so hard his throat burns and by the time they're finished, he's sobbing and gasping for air. He can feel himself shaking, but there's someone pulling him into their chest, instructing him how to breathe and petting his hair.

Slowly, all the pain has subsided and Changkyun only feels light-headed and nauseous. "Do you feel like you're gonna pass out?" Someone asks and he just nods, not trusting himself to speak yet. He's sitting up with his head on someone's shoulder and his eyes are slowly closing with exhaustion.

"Well, uh, looking at his reaction and how much pain he was in, we probably succeeded," Donghyuk says, patting his back a few times.

"What did you even do? Looked like more than just healing him," Jinhwan asks, a hint of worry in his voice.

"We... healed him, obviously, but also made sure that he won't be having nightmares for a while and if he does, he won't end up somewhere weird again," The boy answers and Changkyun lifts his gaze up and mutters a small "thank you", his throat still feeling like sandpaper and lets his eyes drift shut again.

"You should, like, get him to bed, maybe? He's about to fall asleep right here," He hears Junhoe's voice somewhere, but it seems muffled and far away. He doesn't remember anything after that.

_______________

He gets woken up by loud voices outside of the room he's in and he looks around, disoriented. He's laying on a bed, wrapped up in a hoodie and two blankets, head throbbing slightly.

He strains, trying to hear the conversation from behind the door.

"What the fuck? You could've killed him! Listen, I don't- what? Just... stay the fuck away for now. Or make sure Hoseok does, because I'm not going to let him go again," The door opens after that and Jiwon walks in, tossing his phone on the bed next to Changkyun. His expression tells that the conversation annoyed him, but his face softens after seeing Changkyun.

"How are you feeling?" Jiwon asks, leaning against the desk across from him, hands in the pockets of his sweatshirt.

"Who's Hoseok?" Changkyun asks instead, sitting up and pulling the blankets off of him.

Jiwon looks taken aback by the question. "You heard?" He scratches the back of his head nervously. "We're... not exactly sure. Jooheon said he's going to come once everything calms down and explain everything, so we're just gonna wait for that,"

Changkyun raises his eyebrows. "Jooheon? You mean he was somehow involved in this?"

He doesn't know how to feel. Sad? Angry? Scared?

For now, he's just hurt.

 

"Wow," Changkyun shakes his head with a humorless laugh.

Don't you just love thinking you have friends, but then realizing they've been related to something that almost made you die?

Great.

"I'm sorry," Jiwon starts and Changkyun thinks he's about to say something else but the door opens and Jinhwan walks in.

"Someone's calling you," he points at Changkyun's phone laying on the desk next to Jiwon's hip.

"Who's... gun emoji?" Jiwon asks,

Chapter Text

Changkyun is exhausted.

He hasn't slept properly in weeks, too scared, he's been feeling sick every time he even looks at food and he's just so tired.

For the second time in his life, it seems like there's only one way out.

His grades seem to be dropping more every day, he can't focus on his classes anymore, his parents are starting to worry and he's just so done with everything that's happening, he just wants to sleep.

Forever.

Slowly, he begins to break.

Others notice. He's been spending a lot of his time at Jiwon's house, for safety reasons and once he became closer to the rest, he noticed that they also became rather protective over him. He had no idea why, but he didn't ask.

The first one to catch on is Hanbin.

Changkyun was sitting in a chair on their balcony, head resting against the metal railing. He's sleepy, exhaustion visible on his face, he can feel it in his bones, but he can't let himself sleep, despite Donghyuk always reassuring his that nothing is going to happen.

Tears filled his eyes as he suddenly remembered how his life was before everything. Sure, it wasn't the best but he still wanted it back.

He just wanted it to be over.

Hanbin walked in as if he was called, with a worried expression. Even though he was Changkyun's age, there was something about him that made him seem so much more mature. "What happened?" He asked softly, kneeling to be on eye level with Changkyun.

"I'm tired," Changkyun answered, wiping at his eyes angrily.
He never asked for any of that to happen. He almost regrets not dying.

Hanbin didn't move, didn't say anything, but something in his eyes told Changkyun that he understood.

Gunhee has been bombarding his phone with messages after he ignored that phone call. He doesn't want to look at any of the texts, at least for now, too scared to find out more about the situation.

After almost three weeks, one afternoon, Jooheon comes with an explanation.

Seeing him that close after all this time and everything that has happened makes Changkyun more nervous than anything, so different from the feelings he had towards Jooheon before.

They sit down on opposite ends of the couch, Changkyun's heart racing from nerves as he shakily grabs Hanbin's hand.

("Listen, are you sure it isn't like, cursed, or something? Nothing good happens on it," he asked Yunhyeong about it once. The other just laughed.)

"First of all, I'm so fucking sorry, Changkyun," Jooheon says, remorse evident in his features.

Changkyun nods, not quite sure what to say.

"You...haven't met all of us yet. There are four more people. But that's not important right now. Uh... Besides Minhyuk, there's also Hyunwoo and... Hoseok. They're the oldest and they're all pureblood vampires,"

"But what do you have to do with this?" Junhoe asks, a hint of annoyance in his voice.

"Well, I... it's not exactly me," Jooheon takes a deep breath and sighs. He turns to the rest now, speaking to all of them. "The guy that attacked Changkyun, he was Hoseok's father."

Changkyun raises his eyebrows, shifting in his seat. That doesn't tell him anything yet.

"And somehow, the... "curse" also affects him." Jooheon rubs his hands over his face. He looks tired, "Listen, there are things that are so much bigger than us, things that even we don't understand," He has an almost pleading look in his eyes now. "Whatever it is... we don't know how to control it. We've been trying to find a way to stop it but..." He shakes his head.

"So it's Hoseok that attacked him? Both of those times?" Jiwon asks, crossing his arms over his chest.

Jooheon bites his lip nervously. "I guess? That thing, it's not... It's not him, you have to believe me. We tried to stop it once, y'know? Kihyun almost got fucking killed..." His voice drops to almost a whisper. Someone gasps.

"So he can't control it? At all?"

"No, he can't, he's..." Jooheon stops for a second, closes his eyes briefly, "What I'm trying to say, we're going to fix this, we'll find a way to stop it, you just have to keep Changkyun safe," He lets out a heavy breath.

He leaves shortly after, leaving Changkyun with worry coursing throughout his entire body. He felt horrible that, whatever it was, hurt not only him.

He doesn't know how much time passes while he sits on that couch, zoning out. When Yunhyeong nudges him to see if he's okay, he notices it's still dark outside.

"Do you want to go home?" He asks and Changkyun nods, blinking a couple of times.

Him and Jinhwan leave a few minutes later, Changkyun feeling immediately better when the cool evening air hits his face. They walk in silence, as always but he doesn't mind and ignores the way he shivers from the cold.

Changkyun listens to the sounds surrounding him, feeling oddly at peace.

Until they're nearing his house. A wave of dread washes over him the second he sees his house. Something is wrong. His breathing quickens as he walks faster and stops when he's standing in front of the door.

It's open.

The lights are off, but the door is slightly ajar and his parents never leave it like that-

"I'll go first," Jinhwan says, pushing the door with his foot and walking in. He sucks in a breath sharply as soon as he sees the living room.

Changkyun rushes in, alarmed and is immediately overwhelmed with the smell of blood. He starts to feel sick, but decides to look into this living room anyway.

Oh, God.

There's blood everywhere. On the TV, the walls, a big puddle on the floor where a corpse lays.

He sees what it's wearing and doesn't have to look closer too know that it's his father. He does anyways, touching his shoulder once and then instantly recoiling at the feeling of wetness all over the fabric.

It feels like a punch in the stomach, it knocks all the air out of him and leaves him gasping for air. Turning his head, he notices another body laying against the couch, blood soaking through the grey carpet. He walks closer and drops to his knees. He looks into his mother's lifeless eyes and sobs.

"I'm sorry, mom," He chokes out, reaching out to her, grabbing her hands, wincing at how wrong, how cold her skin feels. "I'm so sorry," He presses his forehead against her hands that are still in his hold.

In hours, everything he loved became everything he lost.

Jinhwan suddenly pulls him up and drags him outside, not wanting to spend anymore time there.

Changkyun's still crying, but then he sees his hands and it hits him.

They're covered in blood. It's his parents' blood, they were murdered, they were fucking dead and now he's all alone and-

He throws up. He feels dizzy and his throat burns but he starts crying even harder.

He feels himself being led away from the house and onto the sidewalk, being pulled down and brought into an embrace. Jinhwan is holding him with one hand, his phone in the other. He's saying something, but Changkyun doesn't hear it over his cries as he grips at his hair with bloodied fingers.

When the rest arrive, Jinhwan runs up to them, shock visible on his face. He doesn't tell them anything, he doesn't have to, the look of Changkyun sitting on the pavement, rocking back and forth, covered in blood and crying is enough for them.

Jiwon goes up to the boy first, Hanbin following suit while the others go inside the house.

He grabs Changkyun's hands that are still curled into fists in his hair and slowly begins to uncurl his fingers and loosen their hold. "What happened?" He asks quietly. Changkyun doesn't answer, instead curling in on himself, trying to make himself look smaller, disappear.

Hanbin pulls him closer then, rubbing his hands over Changkyun's back soothingly. There's something in his expression, something in his eyes that Jiwon hasn't seen in years and it worries him a little, but he decides to ignore it for now.

They manage to get Changkyun to the point where he's still crying, but his breathing is almost normal and they get into the car with him. Yunhyeong is already sitting behind the steering wheel with a straight face, although his eyes are filled with worry. They leave without waiting for others.

Jiwon pulls Changkyun into a hug, looking at the passing houses with an empty gaze.

He's furious.

He was supposed to protect that kid, for God's sake and he fucked up.

Again.

But then, another thought comes to him.

Changkyun's parents weren't affected by the curse.

Who did it, then? And why?

Once they arrive, he makes Changkyun go to bed and sits with him until he's sure the boy's asleep, and goes to the living room, collapsing on the couch with a sigh. Everyone else is here and he's pretty sure Jinhwan is already halfway through a pack of cigarettes. "I feel so bad for that kid," the oldest mutters from his spot on the windowsill, blowing out a puff of smoke into the night air.

A black cat walks in through the front door and everyone in the room greets him. It walks into Yunhyeong's room and a few minutes later, a boy walks out.

"Chanwoo, you're back. Nice timing," Hanbin speaks out, moving to make the boy some space on the couch.

"Where were you this time?" Donghyuk asks, leaning forward.

"I visited Yoon and Jinwoo, hung out around Moonbin's place, the usual," Chanwoo shrugs, pulling the cuffs of the sleeves of his hoodie over his fingers.

He usually leaves the house for a month or two, visits his friends and comes back. Chanwoo's a shapeshifter and he feels bad staying at home for too long, leaving every few months to breathe.

He turns to Jiwon. "How are you though? How's the dude you take care of?" He's genuinely curious now, he's been gone for long enough to have no idea what's happening.

Jiwon shares a look with Jinhwan and begins to tell the whole story.

"Well, that really fucking sucks, doesn't it?" Chanwoo says when he's finished, eyes darting across the floor.

 

"It does," Jiwon sighs, running a hand through his hair. "We really have to help him, he's... He's really messed up," He lets out a humorless laugh, shaking his head. "I don't know if he's going to want help, though," Hanbin speaks up, his face grim.

No one says anything.

Chapter Text

Sometimes things happen.

And sometimes, they're so horrible it feels like all the colour has been sucked out of your world. You don't leave the room for weeks, refusing to eat or shower. Whatever happened plagues your dreams, the moments replaying in your head every time you close your eyes. You can't even sleep anymore. You spend days laying on the bed, crying for hours and when it seems like you're unable to cry, you stay in one position, wide awake, feeling like an empty vessel. No heart, no soul, not even sure if you're still alive.

That's what Changkyun's reality looks like.

Ever since he found his parents, he's basically moved into the guest room in Jiwon's house. The others had brought him his things from his house, as he doesn't even want to think about stepping over the threshold of that place.

Donghyuk and Hanbin would bring him food every day, coaxing him to eat, but he never did. He would try, but everything felt way too heavy in his stomach.

He knows he's probably just being a burden and he's bothering them, but if just feels like he can't do anything but lay here and slowly r o t.

 

"Hey," Jiwon suddenly appears in the doorway. Changkyun moves his gaze from the window and freezes for a split second before slowly pulling himself into a sitting position, wincing at the ache in his muscles. In the other's arms sits a dog, a fucking full grown Rottweiler , looking at Changkyun with wide eyes.

"He likes to be carried," He explains and sits next to Changkyun on the bed, dropping the dog next to them, making it growl.

"Be quiet, Chanwoo." Jiwon sighs. He runs his hand through Changkyun's hair, slowly detangling the strands. "We... did some stuff, found out some things, and..." Changkyun stills, hand raised in the air, almost touching Chanwoo's head. "We know who did it."

Something blooms in Changkyun's chest. Sadness, anger maybe. The dog lifts its head up to meet his hand and he pets him carefully.

"Look, has Gunhee ever told you about his cousin?"

Changkyun shakes his head. It was never something Gunhee liked to talk about. He always changed the topic.

"We used to be so close, y'know? Me and Minho. I've known him since I was a kid. We were always together. Then.. Hanbin joined us. It was great for a while, but after some time it became... unsafe? Long story short, we were attacked. I had to choose..." Jiwon's voice shakes slightly but he clears his throat and keeps speaking. "I couldn't save Minho. A few months after his death, we met Gunhee,"

Nervousness floods Changkyun's veins.

"He blamed me and Hanbin for everything that happened. He swore that he would hurt us or anyone we truly cared about. Somehow he found out about me and you a few years ago, longer than I knew about it and I just didn't think... I fucked this up, I know, I should've protected you or them, I'm sorry,"

Changkyun's lip trembles.

It's not your fault, he wants to say. You've done more than enough to keep me safe.

But then, it all seems to make sense.

Gunhee became his friend for a reason.

He wanted to get his revenge on Jiwon.

And Changkyun, stupidly thought that he had an actual friend.

Tears well up in his eyes and his chest heaves with sobs.

"Why-... Why d-do things like that keep happening to me?" He cries, hiding his face in his hands.

What did he ever do to deserve all of this?

Jiwon runs his hands along his spine, calming him down, pulling him closer, mumbling quiet apologies into his hair. Chanwoo the dog somehow manages to stick his head in between their bodies, letting out a sad whine.

 

The talk left him feeling even worse.

He didn't know that was possible.

He just wants everything to be normal, even if only for a week.

A few weeks after he found out, he made the mistake of looking at his phone.

Gunhee has been texting him everyday since that.

That breaks something in Changkyun as he block his number and social media with shaky hands.

He can't do this anymore.

That's why he ends up on a bridge a couple hours later.

He's not planning to jump. Not yet.

For now, he just needs to think.

He sits on the railing, looking out into the dark water.

A few months ago, he felt almost exactly as he did now. He stole his mother's sleeping pills, took a handful and then with the last bits of strength he had left, grabbed one of his blade and slid it down his wrist.

It wasn't enough.

He wishes it was.

Maybe it all wouldn't happen if he died then.

Or, if he killed himself when everything started to happen, when the bullying got worse.

"Changkyun!" Someone yells out and he realizes he's dangerously close to falling into the water, having stepped over the railing now, only his hands stopping him.

He doesn't listen, gritting his teeth. Of course, of course they wouldn't just let him die.

"Go." Is all he says, not even looking behind him. Anger overshadows the sadness he's feeling, he can feel his heart hammering madly in his chest.

Someone's fingers lock around his wrist tightly, keeping him in place.

"Let me go."

Just this once, he wants everything go to the way he wants it to.

Step away from the railing, kid, don't do it, don't even fucking try, I swear to God- Jiwon's voice is panicked and loud in his head and it's accompanied by a sudden rush of emotions through Changkyun's body, making him wince. Something in him makes him walk away from the ledge and apologize quietly to Jinhwan, who's standing before him.

It doesn't stop him from trying again.

Going through his phone, he sees a picture he took with his parents on that one time they went on a trip together. It breaks something in him and he bursts into tears, crying for at least an hour before rummaging through the things the rest brought from his room, finding his box of blades. They're old, stained with blood, a little rusty but they'll do.

The first cut goes across his right wrist, almost touching the scar left behind after his previous attempt. The contrast between the dark crimson against his pale skin almost makes him smile.

The second one, started with a shaky hand began near the elbow and he barely got halfway through his forearm when someone knocked on the door. Panic rose in Changkyun's chest as he quickly threw his blade somewhere

"Kyun?" Hanbin sounded almost nervous. "Can you open the door for me?"

Thank God it's locked.

Changkyun shakes his head before realizing that Hanbin can't hear him. He was beginning to feel light-headed. For a second he swore he heard the blood drops hitting the floor.

"For fuck's sake, kid, I can smell the goddamn blood from here," He's angry now, his voice with a sharp edge to it.

"Leave me alone, Hanbin." Just let me die.

Something slams into the door, once, twice. Changkyun gets up hurriedly and holds his wrists up to his chest, vision swimming. He falls over, landing on his knees with a loud thud.

Why is nothing going right for him?

With the third hit the door bursts open, Yunhyeong running in. He takes a hold of Changkyun's hands but the other weakly attempts to get free, shaking his head. "Let me go," Changkyun whispers. The other doesn't say anything, placing his hands over the wounds. Changkyun cries out in pain when the cuts close up lowering his head in shame when he sees what happened. There's blood everywhere, smeared over his skin, on his jeans and on Yunhyeong's hands.

With one look into the other's eyes, Changkyun regrets everything he's done.

"Listen to me," Hanbin says later that evening, holding Changkyun's face in his hands. "You're going through a lot, I know and nothing we can do will turn back time, but we'll try to fix everything as much as we can, we'll help you, you just need to trust us and you need to hold on."

It's a slow process, but Changkyun begins to get better.

Not a lot, but it's still an improvement. He gets out of bed every morning, showers regularly and eats (or, at least, he tries his hardest to do all that).

He's incredibly grateful for everything Jiwon and his family have done for him and he makes sure to tell at least one of them that everyday. He doesn't care if they don't want to hear it.

Changkyun's still anxious about the Hoseok thing. Nothing happened lately, but he's not sure someone knows exactly how to fix it.

And he's furious everytime he thinks about Gunhee. He wants to find him.

No, he has to.

He has to get revenge.

He can't erase the image of his parents' bodies from his memory, but he can erase the person who did it.

Even if he dies trying.

Chapter Text

The cold, night air touches his face gently as he watches the sun die down beyond the horizon. He's sitting on the balcony, headphones on, chest aching in a way he can't describe. The past few days have been... calm. He started getting into a routine of sorts. Get out of bed, shower, eat, sit alone, spend time with someone, go back to being alone, go to bed. It helps him cope with everything, almost makes him feel normal.

Then again, was he ever normal? Always the outcast, the "emo kid", the one who people tried to stay away from.

It wasn't perfect, but it was a whole lot better than his life now. Now, after everything has died down a little, he just feels numb. It always feels like there's a storm raging inside his mind, but everything besides that stands still, frozen.

But there's still a piece of him, hidden so deeply he sometimes forgets about it, that's just scared. It comes out sometimes, as he's laying in bed, unable to sleep and leaves him unable to breathe and shaking in fear.

For now, Changkyun just hopes everything stays calm for a little longer, because he still needs time.

And it does. It stays perfectly calm for another month or two. It gives Changkyun time to heal and to think. And although the image of his blood soaked living room is permanently engraved in his mind, he's learned to live with it.

And he's learning to find comfort in the smallest things. Not only in the ways the others care for him, but also in Donghyuk's smiles, Yunhyeong's puns, the way Chanwoo's always excited to tell him everything after he comes back from another adventure. Even in the way Jiwon and Hanbin look at each other with such adoration band are always clinging to each other, even though it totally didn't make him feel lonely. The usual gloominess of the town, despite him being used to it, the gray skies and bare trees made him feel oddly at peace.

The peace ends with the arrival of Jooheon one morning.

When the doorbell rings, Jiwon gets up suddenly, waking up Changkyun who has been napping, leaning against the other, making him run his eyes and groan, shaking his head to awaken himself a bit.

"Hey," Jooheon's voice still manages to startle him and he looks up at the older, waving sluggishly.

"Hi, uh, sorry for looking like a mess, I was taking a nap," Changkyun explains, the other shooting him a puzzled expression.

"It's like, twelve in the morning, Changkyun," Jooheon sounds confused as he sits on the couch next to him.

"Yeah,"

"Anyways. We kinda need your help,"

Changkyun sits up straighter at that, ignoring the way his heart beats a little faster with anxiety.

"What happened?" Jiwon asks, leaned against the doorway.

"It's Hoseok." Jooheon says after a moment of silence, brows pulled together in worry. "That thing... we still haven't figure out how to stop it and it's getting stronger. We don't know what to do anymore and we know it's taking a huge toll on him," He looks incredibly tired like that, looking at the floors unmoving. Something in Changkyun's heart clenches.

"What if we put them in the same room? Would something happen?" Hanbin suddenly appears and clings to Jiwon, Junhoe entering the room after him and dropping on the couch next to Changkyun.

"What if Changkyun gets hurt?" There's a hint of something in Jooheon's voice and Changkyun doesn't want to admit it sounds like fear.

"I mean, if we put them in the same room and we stay in the next room?" Junhoe suggests.

Changkyun thinks about it. If he possibly meets Hoseok, that might trigger something and he might get hurt. But they also might be able to figure something out.

And if he does gets hurt...

He finds himself not really caring. "Okay, let's do this." He says, ignoring the confused looks from his friends.

They go to Jooheon's house the next day. Changkyun's not really sure what to expect, he doesn't know what kinda person Hoseok is, doesn't know how they'll both react. And even if the rest stays close, things might happen too fast for them to react.

His worries get stronger the second they enter the house and Jiwon seems to sense it, placing a hand on his back gently. In the living room, there are Jooheon, Hyungwon and someone, who Changkyun assumes is Hoseok. He's a bit taller than him, a lot more muscular and he looks awful. His eyes are bloodshot, partly covered by his greasy black hair, dark circles under them really visible even from the distance. Changkyun flinches at that, hating himself even more at this point. The guy looks ruined because of that. And it's all his fault, he should be able to stop this- no, he shouldn't even be here, then it wouldn't happen.

"Should we do it?" Donghyuk asks, breaking the silence, almost as it he senses Changkyun's discomfort.

"Yeah, if you're both one hundred percent sure." Hyungwon says, looking at Hoseok and then at Changkyun with a concerned expression. They both nod and walk over to Jooheon, who's now standing next to an open door at the end of a hallway.

"It's gonna look like this. You both walk in, we're standing behind the door. Something may happen, and if it does you need to get out and if you can't, just scream. Or cry. Or do whatever, just give a sign somehow. Okay?" He asks and Changkyun nods, running a hand through his hair, fingers trembling. Hoseok is already in the room, pacing around it nervously and Changkyun walks in with a heavy heart. Someone closes the door behind him and he'd be lying if he said it didn't scare him more.

"Hi." Hoseok says, a slight smile on his lips. "Listen, I don't wanna touch you in case anything happens, but just pretend I'm shaking your hand." He says, sounding more confident than he probably is and Changkyun nods, attempting to smile back but finding himself unable to.

"First of all, I'm sorry," The other says, a truly apologetic expression on his face, "I really didn't mean to do any of that, I hope you understand that. And whatever may happen, I hope you don't blame me, I really wish I could control it," Oh no, Changkyun thinks, he's gonna cry.

"No, no, no," He waves his hands in panic at seeing tears in Hoseok's eyes, "I mean, it's kinda my fault too, right? And I don't blame you for anything, okay? I just want everything to end, both for you and for me." He says, heart racing with nerves, although he's not entirely sure why. Perhaps it's the- wait, have Hoseok's eyes always been that color?

He moves towards the door, ready to run out but something stops him.

"Everything would be easier if..." Hoseok stops for a moment, rubbing his eyes. "If you would just stop resisting." His voice sounds different now, stronger. Changkyun can feel a presence in the room, cold and forceful and it makes him freeze in fear.

Nonononono-

He moves closer, golden eyes glinting dangerously in the light. His hands touches Changkyun's forearm, and this time, it doesn't burn. Instead images start flashing in his head.

He sees himself ripping his skin apart, blood leaking out onto his fingers, onto the ground, pale hands stained with crimson, sees himself stabbing his body with various weapons, sees himself dying in ways so horrible he wants to scream, sees his corpse laying on the pavement, mangled and rotting.

"You see, that's not something I made," Hoseok(?) says, eyes darting around Changkyun's shocked face. "This is everything you have imagined."

Changkyun doesn't argue with that.

But somehow, that thing, makes it seem so much more real, he swears he can feel a knife sinking into his skin. Then, he sees something different. He sees Jooheon and Hyungwon, Jiwon and Hanbin, everyone he has grown so close to doing the same things, he sees so much blood, he's sure he can smell it and all of sudden his lungs feel empty and he claws at his thirst in attempt to be able to breathe.

The door opens suddenly, finally and Hoseok is being grabbed by a few people and Changkyun is forcefully dragged out of the room, sobbing and gasping for air. He feels himself being pushed down gently to sit somewhere and he only starts calming down when he feels hands on his face. "What happened there?" He's pretty sure it's Jooheon and he holds the hands on his cheeks tightly, with relief. "I saw things." Changkyun manages to choke out, not letting go of the other's hands. Jooheon doesn't ask anymore questions, instead instructing Changkyun to breathe so he could at least get it under control.

Chapter Text

Just as Changkyun begins to calm down, Hoseok screams. It's loud and raw and it sounds almost non-human. Changkyun gets up so fast that his vision gets black for a second and he would've fallen if not for Jooheon's hands on his arms.

"No, don't do that, don't go there," The other says, sounding a little panicked. "It might be dangerous."

Changkyun tries to break free but the other's hold is too tight. "Didn't you hear that? Something happen, something bad, we have to-" He stops himself, looking at Jooheon with teary eyes, heart hammering in his throat. Jooheon's eyes soften and as he opens his mouth to speak up again, Hoseok lets out another scream. This time, the whole house shakes with an unexplainable force and Changkyun's blood runs cold. Something in his head screams danger. There's a bang against the wall and Jooheon winces.

Jooheon grabs his face in his hands, bringing their faces closer. "This is what I need you to do," He whispers, eyes stern. "You need to go down the street, take a left turn and go to the last house, it's hard to miss, you knock and tell them who you are and that I sent you because it's an emergency, okay? We'll come to get you once it's one hundred percent safe. Do you understand?" Changkyun nods quickly.

A sound comes from behind the closed door, sounding like a growl but Changkyun knows there's something sinister hiding behind it and his heart beats even faster. Jooheon presses his lips to the top of his head gently and walks in the direction of the room. Changkyun basically runs outside and in the direction, he was supposed to, tears filling his eyes as his hands begin to shake. The bare trees look more threatening than comforting and he turns his head away, focusing on the road before him.

He arrives at the door a few minutes later and knocks on the black wood, wiping his tears with his sleeves furiously. The house looks a little intimidating, with its dark exterior and somehow, flowers in the garden, blooming bright even in the weather.

"Who the hell are you?" Changkyun almost flinches at the sharp edge to the voice of the man who has just opened the door. He's taller than him and has a mildly annoyed expression on his face. "I-uh, I'm Changkyun?" He stumbles over his words, still breathing hard, "Jooheon sent me, it's... something happened, he says it's dangerous and told me to come here." He mumbles and the other's expression changes.

The man raises his eyebrows, "Oh? Okay, well, come inside then. I'm Jiho, by the way." He says and walks into the house, Changkyun following him and closing the door. Jiho signals for him to take a seat at the kitchen table and he does, biting his lip, eyes darting around the room uncertainly.

"Who even are you?" Changkyun asks, cracks his knuckles as he watches the other. Jiho thinks for a second, sets a cup of tea in front of Changkyun and sits across from him.

"Let's just say that this is probably the safest place here. I'm not really a person people want to mess with." He finally answers, smiling.

Changkyun nods, heart rate slowing down a little. Jiho doesn't really look threatening anymore, but he's still being careful, just in case.

"What about you? How did you get dragged into this mess?" Jiho asks, getting up and grabbing a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from the countertop. "It's a long story," Changkyun rubs his face, suddenly tired. So much has happened during those past months, he doesn't know how long telling the story would take. "From what I know, we've got a lot of time, so go on," Jiho says, shrugging and offering Changkyun a cigarette, "It's not like we've got anything better to do."

Changkyun places it between his lips and lights it, thinking about where he should start. "I was never really liked at school, y'know? You could say I was bullied, I don't even know why, but whatever," He blows out a puff of smoke, furrowing his brows. "Obviously, after a while it just got.. too much. I became pretty depressed and a few months ago I tried to kill myself. It didn't work, of course, and sometimes I wish it did because it was, like, the start of everything." He takes a look at Jiho, who's leaning back in the chair, arms crossed around his chest, listening intently. "After a while I started getting nightmares. Not like usual ones, like, really fucked up ones..." He keeps talking about everything that's happened. It feels oddly therapeutic, but he sort of feels bad just burdening someone else with his problems.

By the time he's finished it's already dark outside and his tea stands untouched, cold by now.

"That's fucking rough, dude." Jiho sighs, shaking his head in disbelief. "How are you dealing with this? That's a lot to go through in a few months."

Changkyun shakes his head. "No idea, honestly. Everyone thinks I'm not dealing with it, and maybe I am, but they keep treating me like I'm made out of fucking glass or something." He rolls his eyes in annoyance, "I'm not that fragile, you know? And its really annoying sometimes."

"Why won't you tell them? I mean if it really bothers you..." Jiho lights another cigarette. "Communication is important. Not talking about your feeling only causes more problems,"

Changkyun shrugs and thinks about the answer when someone knocks on the door and his whole body tenses up. The whole conversation helped take his mind off of everything, and now everything came back.

"Wait." Jiho says as he gets up and walks to the door, touching his shoulder as he passes.

Changkyun sits there, unmoving, trying to pick up any voices. When he hears Jooheon he lets out a breath he didn't realize he was holding. The two walk back into the kitchen and Changkyun stands up, almost knocking over the chair. "Are you okay?" Him and Jooheon ask at the same time and Changkyun lowers his eyes, not making eye contact.

"Everything's under control, for now. Hoseok's fine, but I think he's going to be unconscious for the next two days or so," Changkyun jaw drops open at that. Two days?

"But that thing is out of him, we think, now we just have to keep checking if you'll be fine." He says, patting Changkyun's shoulder.

"So it's all cool now?" Jiho asks, leaning against the wall. Jooheon nods. "For now," He chuckled, grabbing Changkyun's wrist. "Thanks, dude." He claps Jiho on the back with his free hand and turns to leave.

"Anytime," Jiho grins and turns to Changkyun, "Take care, Kyun. And think about what I told you," He pats his back. Changkyun smiles and lets himself be pulled outside by Jooheon.

"What happened there?" Jooheon asks, fingers curled tightly around Changkyun's arm as they walk somewhere. "I should be asking you that," Changkyun answers, worry filling his mind as his face heated up.

"Donghyuk and Yunhyeong, they managed to get that thing out of him somehow..."

"Is he hurt?" Changkyun interrupts him, voice quiet and small. Jooheon smiles. "No, no, he's alright. Just.. very tired," His smile fades and he stops walking, turning around. Changkyun freezes. "He... before he passed out he told us to apologise for the things you saw. And, uh, he saw them too,"

Changkyun's heart stops for a second as he lowers his head and shakes it. He can feel Jooheon's eyes on him for a few seconds before they start walking again.

His mind flashes back to the images he saw and a shiver runs down his spine. "Where are we going?" He asks, voice shaking just a bit.

"I'm taking you home." Jooheon answers, voice surprisingly cold and it makes Changkyun almost wince, regretting asking the question immediately.

As they're walking, they see a group of teenagers in the distance and Changkyun recognizes them kids he knows go to his school and he tenses up, heart rate picking up. He knows, he knows that they're going to do something and his throat closes up with anxiety. When the group is only a few meters away from them, someone yells in excitement and Changkyun clenches his teeth, wanting to disappear.

"Did the fag finally get a boyfriend?" One of them asks as they all stop and look at them. Jooheon tightens his hold on his hand and keeps walking, but they don't stop talking. Changkyun wishes they would.

"You weren't at school for so long I was kinda hoping you're dead, but..." He doesn't finish because Jooheon lets go of Changkyun's hand and punches him in the jaw. The kid stumbles away, holding his face and muttering curses. "Do any of you have something else to say?" Jooheon almost growls, hands balled into fists. Changkyun backs away a little, heart thumping madly at the thought of a fight escalating. The kids just shake their heads and walk away, mumbling out insults.

I was kinda hoping you're dead echoes in his head and he lets out a shaky breath, trying to calm down. He hasn't experienced people being so awful to him for so long, he almost forgot what it felt like.

Jooheon walks up to him and takes his hand again, interlacing their fingers, eyes soft. "I'm sorry," He mutters, starting to walk slowly. "It's okay," Changkyun sighs. "You hit him. That's more than I could ever do." He lets out a humorless chuckle, digging the nails of his free hand into the inside of his palm in annoyance.

Why do other people always have to be the ones doing things for him? Why is he always so scared?

Before he knows it, they are in front of the house and Jooheon pulls away. "Stay safe, Kyun." He smiles, dimples showing and Changkyun's heart flutters. He waves to the other and enters the house, only to be almost knocked over by Jiwon, who hugs him tightly before pulling away, holding his face in his hands. "Are you okay?" He asks, worried.

Changkyun raises his eyebrows in confusion. "Yeah, why?"

Jiwon shakes his head slightly. "I don't know, I just-I felt something and it didn't feel right." He confesses, dropping his hands. Changkyun grimaces. He knows what it's about.

"We, uh, we ran into some people from school but it's cool, it's whatever," He says, passing Jiwon and heading to his room. The other grabs his shoulder, but doesn't stop him, instead walks after him. "What do you mean it's whatever? Come on, talk to me," Jiwon's voice sounds almost pleading by the end of the sentence, Changkyun's body tensing at the others tone.

"It's not important." He says, sitting on his bed, tired. Jiwon kneels before him. He looks exhausted like that. "Please," He sighs, placing a hand on Changkyun's knee. "You know that whatever strong emotion you feel, it affects me as well. Just tell me what happened."

"Sorry," Changkyun winces, guilt painting his features. "We just ran into some assholes from school and they said things. It's nothing," He pats the top of Jiwon's hand. The other still looks unconvinced. "What did they say?" He raises his eyebrows.

Changkyun stays silent, locking his gaze on the floor. He doesn't want to repeat it, he doesn't even want to remember it, if he acts like it bothers him he's going to look weak and he's not weak-

"Stop," Jiwon gets up and lays down on the bed next to Changkyun. "I can hear you thinking."

"Sorry." He whispers, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his hoodie, biting his lip.

"You know, I figured I should apologize." Jiwon speaks finally, after a few minutes of silence. Changkyun looks at him, confused. Why would he?

"When.. all of this started happening. I was a dick to you."

Changkyun nods. "Yeah, I guess you were." He shifts awkwardly in his seat. He tried not to think about the comments the other has made previously, as he's been doing nothing but amazing things for him.

Jiwon rolls over to lay on his side and pokes Changkyun's thigh. "Hey," He starts, pouting slightly. "I really... Listen, when it all started, I was so confused. I didn't really know what was happening at first, so my first thought was to just be an asshole and maybe it'll pass." His voice is soft and Changkyun nods in understanding. "But you know, I realized that your life is probably a lot more shitty than mine." Changkyun raises his eyebrows with a small smile. "So yeah, I'm really fucking sorry. Feel free to, like, slap me or something." Jiwon grins and sits up again.

Changkyun snorts. Sure, the apology wasn't the best but it counts. And in Jiwon's case, his actions speak a lot louder than his words.

But maybe hitting someone would make him feel better.

"Are you sure?" Changkyun asks, a hint of disbelief in his voice.

Jiwon smiles so brightly his eyes vanish for a moment. "I kinda deserve it."

Changkyun thinks for one more second, before striking the other across the face with an audible smack, Jiwon's head turning violently to the side. Changkyun instantly grabs his face afterwards in panic. "Oh my god, are you okay?" He asks, nervous and Jiwon just laughs. "You're not as strong as you think you are, Kyun. I'm good."

Changkyun places a hand over his heart in mock offense. "I can't believe-

He gets interrupted when Hanbin bursts through the door, wearing nothing but underwear, looking panicked. "What the fuck just happened?"

"It's okay, Bin, I just let him hit me as a part of my apology." Jiwon pats Changkyun's back, smiling widely.

"Why are you naked?" Changkyun asks afterwards, face growing red.

"I was about to shower," Hanbin explains, exiting the room slowly, tips of his ears red.

Jiwon chuckles and lays back down, pulling Changkyun down with him.

"You're great at acting like nothing's wrong," Jiwon says, turning his head to look at Changkyun. The other shrugs, although he'd be lying if he said they question didn't make him even a bit nervous. "What do you mean?" He answers, looking at the ceiling, eyes drooping. A lot happened today.

"You've literally been through hell. Even what happened today..." He sighs and Changkyun winces at the worry practically rolling off of him in waves. He doesn't want to admit he feels weak talking about things like that.

"I just..." He takes a deep breath, calming himself down a little. "You've already done so much for me, y'know? I just don't want to burden you anymore." He basically whispers, wanting to crawl into a hole in shame.

Jiwon chuckles. "You're not going to burden me. Or any of us, really." He sighs. "We're just worried and we think it would be helpful if you talked to someone."

Changkyun whines. He doesn't want to and frankly, he doesn't think he needs to. He can deal with this alone.
"I talked to Jiho earlier."He mumbles, laying his head on Jiwon's shoulder. "Yeah?" The other says, wrapping his arms around Changkyun. "How was it?"

"It felt okay? It was the first time I've talked about any of the things that happened. I told him only the beginning, though. The rest is messy and he has other problems." Changkyun whispers. He suddenly remembers what Jiho said to him, and almost opens his mouth to speak but stops himself in time. They stay in silence for a while, Changkyun almost falling asleep, feeling safe for once.

Jiwon finally breaks the comfortable silence that had enveloped them. "Do you want to eat something?", He asks, squeezing Changkyun on last time and sitting up. Changkyun nods and gets up slowly, rubbing his eyes tiredly. They walk to the kitchen and Changkyun takes a seat at the table, folding his arms and resting his head on them, listening to whatever the older was doing. His mind drifts for a while, going back to before he met Jiwon. He remembers the cold, empty feeling in his chest that always followed him. Now, even though it's become ten times harder to deal with everything, he's glad there's someone he can truly call a friend.

"I'm glad I met you," He mumbles to the other, eyes opening just a bit. Jiwon hums in response and places a plate in front of him, ruffling his hair. "Me too, kid."

Changkyun looks at the slice of pizza on the plate and snorts. "I actually thought that you were gonna cook for a second,"

"I don't wanna burn the whole place down," Jiwon laughs.

Changkyun thinks for a second. "How old are you, even? Older than me, for sure, but..." He trails off, biting into the pizza, watching Jiwon think. "I'm not that old," He mutters with his mouth full. "A bit over two hundred years I think?" Changkyun chokes. "What the fuck?" The other just shrugs and they sit in silence for a while.

"You should get a boyfriend." Changkyun chokes again. "Why?" He chokes out, face heating up.He does not want to have this conversation now.

Jiwon runs a hand through his hair with a smug smile. He cut and dyed it recently, now shorter and light brown. "I mean, don't you get lonely? It'd be nice for you to have someone." He says. Changkyun almost slaps him again. "Didn't you have a crush on anyone at school?"

He screams internally. "I... didn't really have time for crushes," He shifts in his seat awkwardly, looking around the room. "You know, if I wasn't in a relationship..." Hanbin says walking into the kitchen, wiggling his brows at Changkyun who hides his face in his hands in embarrassment.

Chapter Text

For a while, everything becomes normal. Changkyun feels better, slowly but surely. There's a small glimmer of hope growing in his chest, that maybe, just maybe, it's going to be fine. Fate, however, seems to have different plans for him. One day, as he's walking with Jooheon (they surprisingly started talking again after the Hoseok incident), he sees a familiar face across the street and his heart skips a beat.

Gunhee.

He lowers his head instantly and starts walking faster, but, despite his silent prayers, Gunhee calls out his and Jooheon's names and they stop.

Then, it hits him.

Jooheon has no idea what happened.

"I haven't seen you in forever!" Gunhee exclaims, pulling Changkyun in for a hug. He pulls away with a grin. Changkyun feels sick but he wills himself to smile. Gunhee and Jooheon start talking, about things Gunhee's missed out, etc. Changkyun's just standing there, hands shaking, body growing colder as the images of his parents flash in his head. Suddenly, his phone rings and he walks away a bit, mentally thanking all the gods he can think of. A sigh of relief leaves his lips when he sees it's Yunhyeong. "Yeah?" He says, voice shaking a bit as he grips the phone tighter. "I was about to ask if you're coming home soon but are you okay?" Changkyun ignores the question, only wanting to get out of that situation as soon as possible. His breathing was getting quicker as he thought of a response. "I'll be home soon," He mumbles before hanging up and walking back to them. "It's.. an emergency. I gotta go," He lies through his teeth, mustering an apologetic smile. "Oh? Text me later, okay?" If Jooheon doesn't believe him, he doesn't say it. Gunhee waves. "See you, Changkyun,"

Changkyun ignores that and leaves, walking as fast as he possibly can, stuffing his hands in his pockets to hide how badly they're shaking.

Why's he here? Does he want anything? Is he going to do something again? No, that can't be it, he can't...

There are tears gathering in his eyes already, as he's nearing the house and almost tripping in front of the door. He's terrified. All the anger he felt towards Gunhee turned into fear all of sudden. The places on his body where the other has touched him are almost tingling and he feels dirty. He walks into the house and leans against the door, breathing heavily. His heart is beating erratically and tears are burning the backs of his eyes as he scratches his forearms, digs his nails into the skin in order to distract himself from the fear. Someone calls out his name, softly and he gives himself another minute before looking up at Donghyuk standing before him. "Are you okay? Did something happen?" The angel asks, concern lacing his words. Changkyun shakes his head. "Where's Jiwon?" He chokes out. He can't feel the other at all and it's just adding to his nervousness. "Sleeping, but I can wake him up if it's important," Donghyuk smiles and moved in the direction of the room. Changkyun nods weakly and walks after the other, watches as he enters the room and shakes Jiwon awake.

"What's up?" He mumbles sleepily, rubbing his face.

"We ran into Gunhee." Changkyun whispers, grimacing as the name of his once best friend leaves his lips.

"You what?!" Jiwon looks much more awake by now, getting up and walking to them. "Are you okay?" Changkyun hesitates for a second and shakes his head. His chest feels tight as he remembers what happened. "I don't know what else he's capable of," He
breathes out, blinking away the tears that have gathered in his eyes. If something like that happens again, he's not going to be able to get through it.

Jiwon sighs quietly and wraps his arms around Changkyun, Donghyuk patting his back. "We won't let anything happen. To you, or any of us." " He mutters and Changkyun nods. He's always thankful for the other for making him feel safe, for being a strong, steady presence in his life, something that definitely helps him heal.

"We should tell Jooheon and the rest." Jiwon mumbles into his hair and Changkyun tenses up. "Why?"

"It's safer that way." Donghyuk chimes in. "You don't even have to say the whole story, just... explain that he did something awful."

Changkyun takes a step back. "Okay. I'll do that... I don't know, tomorrow maybe." He says, running a hand through his hair, gives them a weak smile and leaves to go to his room. He needs time to think, for now. As he enters the room, he instantly collapses onto his bed, sighing. It wasn't supposed to go this way. Gunhee wasn't supposed to show up again.

Why does the universe hate him?

He rubs his eyes, pulling out his phone and grabbing his earbuds from the bedside table. There's a few unread messages from Jooheon, but Changkyun ignores them, turning on music, instantly relaxing when he hears the first notes of whatever song is playing. Tapping his fingers to the beat, his eyes flicker mindlessly across the ceiling.

He feels... suffocated.

There is no other way to describe it. It's like he's drowning, except he's not going to die, just suffer forever without being able to breathe.

For him, it used to feel like Jooheon was a breath of fresh air in his life, he thinks with a bitter smile.

Jooheon.

He frowns again. He has absolutely no idea how the tell the other about... everything. What if Jooheon doesn't believe him?

With a sigh, he picks up his phone again and takes a look at the messages, not knowing what to expect.

joohoney: hey u were a lil weird earlier u ok

joohoney: did smth happen

joohoney: ok nvm u don't have to answer that

Changkyun holds back a smile and thinks about a reply, nervousness creeping back in.

ck: uh

ck: actually theres a thing i wanna talk abt

The reply is almost instantaneous.

joohoney: o

joohoney: is it about gunhee?

Changkyun sits up, playing with the cord of his earbuds.

ck: yeah

ck: but its. not something i can just text u abt its really fucking important i need u to come over soon if u can

joohoney: oh shit

joohoney: i can come over tomorrow if thats okay w u?

Changkyun lets out a sigh of relief.

ck: yeah thatd be great

ck: thanks

He thinks about putting his phone away, but decides to inform the others first, so he opens the groupchat and quickly types a message.

ck: uuuhhhhh hes comin over tomorrow

momhwan: are u going to do it alone

chanu: hes a brave boy he can do it

ck:?? thanks and yeah i guess

He puts it away after that, going back to staring at the ceiling, now even more worried, if that's even possible. He rehearses the conversation in his head, all the possible directions it can go in and it doesn't help at all. It just tires him out and he falls asleep after a while.

His dreams are not as calm as they used to be.

He can smell smoke before he can even see anything, he feels the heat on his skin before his brain registers that he's standing in front of a burning building. The flames are a cold blue color, flickering around the house, in andout of the windows, consuming everything, almost reaching the trees outside-

It's Jooheon's house, he mutters in panic, almost running into the building, but something holds him back and he can only watch as it burns. At least they're not inside, he attempts to comfort himself as his heart races; it seems to stop completely when he hears a scream that's strikingly similar to Hyungwon's.

A hand appears on his shoulder and a voice whispers dangerously close to his ear.

"It's all your fault."

He wakes up soaked in sweat, chest heaving as he leans forward, gasping for air. His fingers are trembling as he tugs on his hair and slowly gets up. It's dark outside, the middle of the night, he realizes with a heavy heart.

Changkyun heads to the kitchen quietly, although still breathing quite heavily so he tries to calm himself down a bit more. But the image of the flames consuming the building and the screams are still fresh in his mind as he sits down and hides his face in his hands. It feels like there's a weight crushing his chest and he sits like that for a few minutes, in the dark, face hidden, trying to remember how to breathe properly.

The silence gets broken by someone sitting across from him. Changkyun doesn't have to look up to know it's Yunhyeong, the calming presence of the other felt very clearly. "It's the nightmares again." He answers the question before the other even asks it, lowering his head onto the tabletop. There's a small headache he can feel growing behind his eyes and he can feel the tiredness in his bones. If the nightmare turns out to not be a one time thing, he can already feel the exhaustion that's going to plague him.

"Can I help?" Yunhyeong asks, placing a careful hand on Changkyun's arm, who shakes his head. "I can deal with it. I just...needed a moment." He sighs and they sit in silence after that, but it's not long until Changkyun falls asleep again, this time without any nightmares.

He wakes up back in his bed, feeling a lot better than he had earlier, although the headache is still present. Taking a look at the alarm clock, he gets up and goes to take a shower, not knowing when Jooheon will arrive.

The thought of Jooheon makes nervousness creep into his veins, both because of his dream and because of the conversation that's going to happen. He goes through all possible ways it could go as he's showering and then heads to Jiwon's room after getting dressed. The other is laying on his bed with Hanbin, both scrolling through their phones.

Changkyun takes a deep breath.

"What the fuck do I tell him?" He barely whispers, starting to pace around the room in panic.

"Just tell him whatever you're comfortable with. It doesn't have to involve any details." Hanbin shoots him a worried look.

Changkyun grabs a fistful of his hair and tugs. "And if he doesn't believe me?"

"He will." Jiwon looks like he wants to add something else, but gets interrupted by the doorbell ringing. Changkyun almost jumps out of his skin but he goes over to answer it anyway, hands shaking in his pockets.

Turns out, he's too late, as Donghyuk is already at the door, chatting with Jooheon. Changkyun gives him a weak wave, motioning for the other to follow him to his room.

Jooheon sits on the bed, looking a bit nervous almost. "What's up?" He asks.

Changkyun stands in front of him, wringing his hands anxiously. "Did you notice I moved here?" He asks, not exactly knowing where to start. He assumes just straight up saying "Gunhee murdered my parents" wouldn't sound good.

Jooheon nods. "Yeah. I was actually about to ask you about it. Was there a reason, or?" Now it's Changkyun's turn to nod. "There was. My parents... they're, uh..." He doesn't finish, a lump in his throat as he lowers his gaze.

Maybe he'll just tell Jooheon the whole thing.

"Oh, shit." Jooheon stands up and goes up to him. "Are you serious?" Changkyun just nods again.

There are tears forming in his eyes at the memory. It's the first time he's talked about it since it happened and it's hard. "It was Gunhee." He chokes out, not looking at the other, hands balled into fists, nails digging painfully into the skin. "He knew about me and Jiwon, for longer than both of us a-and he basically used me to get revenge." He holds his breath, awaiting the response anxiously.

Jooheon curses loudly, making Changkyun wince. "I'm gonna fucking kill him."

Chapter Text

Changkyun is sick of being scared and depressed, sick of crying, sick of being an easy target, he wants- no, needs to change that.

He needs to be more than shaking hands, wet cheeks and panic attacks in public places. He has to become more.

 

He replaces sadness with anger. Or, at least, tries to. He wants people to be afraid of hurting him.

That... doesn't really work. So he doesn't care instead.

 

Deep down, he's still terrified. But he doesn't show it anymore. People take advantage of him that way. That's exactly what Gunhee did. He became friends with Changkyun, because "he looked really sad". He said that "having a friend makes everything better."

It did.

For a while.

But then, Gunhee left and everything became even worse.

Sometimes being alone wasn't that bad, but he would often find himself looking for a person to talk to. He's found multiple online friends, but it didn't feel the same.

Now, even though he has a lot of people to talk to, after bottling up his feelings for so long, he finds it hard to talk about anything.

Everyone needs help sometimes, though.

He chooses to turn to Chanwoo. Despite being the youngest, the shapeshifter seemed to understand and know a lot about the world.

"I need help." He says, walking into Chanwoo's room. The other pauses the video game he's playing and turns to Changkyun. "What's up?"

"I have to, like, obtain powers somehow, or learn how to fight." Changkyun explains, fiddling with the hem of his shirt awkwardly. Chanwoo raises his eyebrows, a little confused.
Changkyun sighs, running a hand through his hair. "I have to kick Gunhee's ass."

Chanwoo snorts. "Listen, dude, I like you a lot, but that's one of the worst ideas I've ever heard. And I've lived with Jiwon for almost three years." Changkyun lets out a distressed noise and collapses onto the bed dramatically. He lays there for a while, gaze focused on the ceiling.

He frowns, suddenly serious. "I just... I need to stop being weak for once."

Chanwoo stays silent for a while, and when Changkyun looks at him there's a look in his eyes he doesn't recognize.

"You're not weak." Chanwoo says, voice just a bit unstable. "After everything that happened, it's okay to feel that way. And it's more than okay to need help." There's something in his voice that tells Changkyun he knows what he's talking about, but he doesn't ask. "I'm not the best when it comes to fighting, or any kind of magic, but Jinhwan might know something?" Chanwoo smiles and Changkyun sits up, sighing. "Thanks, though. I'll go talk to him." Changkyun gets up and leaves, Chanwoo going back to his game.

Jinhwan it is, then.

As Changkyun walks into the room, the oldest is sitting on a chair, scrolling through his phone. "Did something happen?" He asks, eyes not leaving the device in his hands. "I need to learn how to use magic." Changkyun mumbles, feeling a bit awkward.

Jinhwan looks at him now, eyebrows raised. "Who do you want to fight?"

Changkyun gives him a Look.

"Yeah, right." Jinhwan sits up straight and looks around the room, brows slightly furrowed. "There's actually a slight chance you're not fully human, and that'd make everything easier." He points at Changkyun. "In case there's absolutely no magic in you, we can work with that too. But not today." Changkyun almost whines, disappointed. "That's because none of us have done that in year and we don't want to accidentally fuck you up."

Changkyun nods and leaves, frowning. He's has many good traits, but patience isn't one of them. He goes into his room and flops on the bed, hitting it with a loud thud. He's bored. He needs everything to be done, but it has to wait and it's killing him.

He needs to go back to his old house. When he unofficially moved in with Jiwon and the rest, he didn't take all of his things with him, just because he didn't want to stay there for too long.

But he needs some more things. And... His parents' library might have some useful stuff.

He doesn't want to go alone, though, and he doesn't feel like bothering Jiwon. Pulling his phone out, he texts the first person that comes to his mind.

ck: hey :^)

hyungwon: oh no

ck: are u busy right now

hyungwon: ..yes?

ck: okay come over then

ck: i need help carrying stuff i need ur noodle arms

hyungwon: sigh ill be there in like 15 minutes

 

Changkyun puts his phone away and gets up, going to put on a jacket and his shoes. He doesn't actually need help carrying things, but he didn't want to admit that he's scared to go there alone. He grabs the house keys, and they feel heavy in his hand. Curling his hand into a fist, he feels the cold metal dig into his palm and he stares for a moment.

Hanbin walks up in front of him. "Are you going somewhere?" He asks, a bit confused. Changkyun rarely leaves the house.

Changkyun nods, putting the keys in his pocket. "Yeah, I'm gonna go with Hyungwon to get the rest of my things." He mumbles, unfocused, walking past Hanbin when he hears somebody knock on the door.

"Hey," He gives Hyungwon a small smile when he sees him. The other looks like he just woke up, his sweatshirt on backwards, hair messed up. "Let's go." He grins and they leave, Changkyun's nervousness growing every second. He's not really sure what to expect.

Hyungwon nudges his arm. "How long do you think it'll take us?"

Changkyun shakes his head. "Dunno? Not long, that's for sure." He can feel Hyungwon's stare on him for a few more seconds before he turns away. As they're getting closer to the house, he pulls out the keys and plays with them anxiously.

He does have a problem unlocking the door, with his hands shaking, but he manages to and they get inside. Changkyun goes straight to his room, looking at the floor, not even turning his head in the direction of the living room. Once he's in, he grabs his laptop and shoves it in a bag along with his speakers and the charger. Looking around, he thinks of anything else that he could take, but after not noticing anything he heads to the library.

The house feels... empty. But not because no one's living there. It's a different kind of emptiness, it feels heavy, it's almost obvious that something happened there. And Changkyun doesn't want to stay there any longer. He just grabs six books that look like they might be important and leaves, walking out of the house and almost walking into Hyungwon, who grabs his shoulders to steady him. "You good?" Changkyun nods and locks the door of his old home again, hoping to lock all his negative thoughts there as well.

Hyungwon takes the books from him and they begin walking, although now they're silent.

"You didn't actually need help carrying those." Hyungwon points out, Changkyun nods silently. He might not be the strongest, but he's obviously able to carry six books and a laptop in a bag.

When they're in front of the house, Hyungwon gives the books back but doesn't leave just yet, he stares at Changkyun for a few moments, eyes searching his face for something.

"You know you can talk to me, right?" Hyungwon sighs, ruffling his hair and leaving when Changkyun doesn't answer.

Changkyun walks into the house and heads straight to Jinhwan's room. "How was it?" The older asks and Changkyun shrugs, placing the pile of books in front of the faerie. The other looks over the pile, before gasping and pulling out a thin, dark red leather bound book. "Where did you get that?" He almost yells.

Changkyun takes a step back, startled. "It was just laying there and I thought it m-might be important?" He stutters.

Jinhwan shows him the cover.

Grimoire of Phantoms , reads the title in silver lettering, a strange symbol underneath it.

"I... don't get it." Changkyun shakes his head, confused.

"Dude," Jinhwan practically shoves the book in his face. "This is so rare. There's only a couple available copies, all of them protected with a sigil." He taps the symbol with his finger and it glows faintly.

"If we manage to get this working...There's so much power. It contains things most people see as almost impossible."

"Like what?"

"Shadow magic. Bringing people to the spirit realm. Phantom transportation." Jinhwan counts on his fingers, serious. Changkyun nods again, still quite confused. Jinhwan's eyes widen suddenly, and he grabs Changkyun's shoulder. "It's what Gunhee uses."

It feels like a punch in the stomach. It makes sense now.

"Changkyun," Jinhwan looks him in the eyes. "If you, somehow, manage to get abilities that this contains," He stops, and Changkyun's heart beats a bit faster from the nerves. "You'll be able to beat Gunhee. And possibly get your parents back."

Changkyun's eyes widen and fill with tears at the thought. "What?"

"It's possible. But it takes time. It's dangerous. You have to know all the possible dangers before we can start."

Jinhwan takes the book and begins walking out of the room. "I need to g see some friends to see what we can do. You go to Jooheon's house, ask for Kihyun and tell him about that, okay?"

Chapter Text

Changkyun hums a song to himself as he stands in front of Jooheon's door, waiting for someone to open it. It's quite cold outside, and he shivers inside his jacket. He's pretty sure his fingers are going to fall off if he stands there for long.

He's... not really sure how to feel. He's happy, of course. Something's finally going right for him. But there's still that bit of uncertainty that makes him nervous. (Then again, when isn't he nervous?)

"Hey." Hoseok opens the door, wearing that soft smile of his, looking like he just woke up. "Did something happen?"

Changkyun holds back a smile and walks into the house, rubbing his freezing hands together. "You could say that."

"Jinhwan told me..." He trails off when he sees Hoseok grinning at him and raises his eyebrows.

"Your nose is red. It's cute."

Changkyun turns his head away, feeling his ears burn with embarrassment. "Anyways. He asked me to go talk to, uh, Kihyun?" He asks, twisting his fingers awkwardly

"Kihyun? What for?"

"I found a book? Jinhwan said it's really important and told me to talk to him." He mumbles. Hoseok raises an eyebrow and drags him into a room, only to two greeted by a guy Hoseok's age, although a lot smaller than him. His hair is dyed light pink and... he's incredibly pretty. Changkyun almost takes a step back looking at him.

Holy shit, he screams internally.

The guy (Kihyun?) smiles brightly upon seeing them. "You're Changkyun, right? Great." He motions for Changkyun to on the bed and he does, waiting with anticipation. The other whispers something go Hoseok and moves to sit in a chair in front of Changkyun. "So. Did Jinhwan already tell you about the dangers of possibly learning shadow magic?" Changkyun shakes his head.

"You see, there's so much that goes into it. You rest have to sacrifice a part of yourself, and..." Kihyun stops for a second, drums his fingers against his thighs nervously. "It might get too far and consume your entire soul. That's worse than Gunhee," He ignores the way Changkyun winces at the name. "There's been cases of people getting stuck during shadow transportation, and there's no getting out of there."

Okay, now he's a bit hesitant.

Kihyun continues to speak. "Among those things, it will probably take a toll on your mental health. That's quite risky, considering your situation. Shadow magic is also known for being able to turn against you in the matter of seconds."

Changkyun rubs his face with his hands, groaning. "I think I might have to think about this some more." He opens his mouth to say something, but he's interrupted by Jooheon poking his face through the door. "Hey, Changkyun, can you come here for a second?" He takes a look at Kihyun and when the other nods, he gets up and goes into, what he thinks is, Jooheon's room.

He looks at the older questioningly, sitting down on his bed. "I, uh..I heard that you came and I was bored." Jooheon grins and lays down next to Changkyun, who smiles and lays down as well, keeping his eyes on the ceiling. "You know we haven't talked properly in, like, weeks? Months, maybe." Jooheon points out, turning on his side and propping his head up on his arm. Changkyun nods, turning his head to look at his friend. Even though they texted each other and actually hung out, there wasn't much talking, or it was about unimportant things, like their opinion on the newest movie or an album. "Things have been really messed up recently." Changkyun reminds him, pouting. They don't say anything for a while, but then Jooheon sighs, placing his hands on top of Changkyun's.

"You're doing okay, right?" He asks, worry present in his voice. "Yeah," Changkyun sighs, closing his eyes briefly. "Just tired." No matter how long he sleeps for, there's always that feeling deep in his bones, heavy, that just makes him so tired.

Jooheon chuckles softly and the sound makes something warm erupt in Changkyun's chest. "I think we all are." He replies, voice low and strangely soothing to Changkyun's ears. His hair is getting longer now, almost falling into his eyes and Changkyun resists the urge to sweep it away from his face. They talk for a while longer, getting to know each other a little better, and slowly fall into a comfortable silence, one that feels warm and safe, one that makes Changkyun almost fall asleep.

"You wanna go for a walk?" Jooheon asks after a while, squeezing Changkyun's hand lightly. "It's cold." Changkyun whines sleepily, rubbing his eyes with his free hand. "And it's getting dark outside."

Jooheon nudges him gently. "Come on, don't be a baby." He laughs. "Besides, I should probably take you home."

"But I like being a baby," Changkyun grumbled, sitting up. He stands up after a while, but has to hold onto Jooheon as his head spins and black spots appear on his vision. It takes them about 15 more minutes to leave the room, get dressed and leave the house.

As soon as he steps outside and the cold air hits his face, he sighs and attempts to bury himself deeper into his jacket. Jooheon laughs again and grabs his hand. "Aren't vampires supposed to be cold?" Changkyun asks, brows furrowed. Has Twilight lied to him?

"You could say that. But as of now, I'm pretty sure your hands are colder than mine."

"No shit, I'm freezing." Changkyun sighs, his breath visible in the cold air. The walk to his house feels a lot slower than it actually is and when he's standing in front of the door, he's pretty sure his entire face is red and freezing. Jooheon lets go of his hand then and looks at him for a few seconds, almost like he wants to say something, but he doesn't. He ruffles Changkyun's hair instead and smiles brightly, dimples seeming even deeper in the dim light. Changkyun's glad his face is already red. "Sleep well, you baby." He says, walking away and Changkyun laughs. "Shut up." He grins and walks into the house. The warmth hits him instantly and he makes a content noise.

Shrugging of his shoes and jacket, he goes straight to his room with the intent of going to sleep. The second he steps in, he's greeted by the sight of Jinhwan on his bed and he raises his eyebrows at him.

"How did it go? What do you think?" Jinhwan is the first to ask, sitting up. Changkyun shrugs. "I'll think about it a bit more." He sighs and throws himself down onto his bed as the oldest leaves.

But as he's about to fall asleep, someone enters his room quote loudly and he groans loudly. "Get up!" Exclaims Donghyuk excitedly, shaking him lightly. "We're going for a drive!"

Changkyun mumbles an almost inaudible "Who?", sitting up and sighing heavily. Why can't they just let him sleep?

"Me, you, Hanbin and Yunhyeong!" The boy smiles, grabbing Changkyun's hand and dragging him out yet again, ignoring his noises of protest.

Changkyun falls asleep the second he gets into the car. He doesn't dream at all - something he's incredibly glad about.

The car stopping wakes him up, his head banging against the window. They're back already, it seems. A look at his phone tells him he's been out for about an hour.

"Has anyone ever told you that you talk in your sleep?" Hanbin asks, a dumb smile on his face. Changkyun feels his face growing red. "What did I say?" He mumbles, voice thick with sleep.

"Gay things." Yunhyeong answers for him and Changkyun gets out of the car immediately, not wanting to hear anything else. He walks into the house, shaking his head in disbelief. He sees Jiwon and Junhoe talking in the kitchen, and he walks up to them.

"I'm getting bullied." He crosses his arms over his chest, sighing. Junhoe raises his eyebrows, looking equally concerned and amused. "What did they say to you?"

Changkyun takes a deep breath, looking towards the rest, who have just entered the house and are now walking into the kitchen. "They called me gay. Can you believe that?" He complains and Jiwon gasps in shock. "You? Gay? Impossible."

"Exactly."

Jiwon leans against the kitchen counter, shaking his head. "You're the straightest person here," He starts, and Changkyun nods with approval. "And you totally didn't panic the second you saw Kihyun, cause he looked good." Changkyun's jaw drops as Jiwon grins. Exposed, someone whispers.

Changkyun makes a totally believable crying noise. "I hate this fucking family." He whines and leaves the kitchen, walking into the living room and sitting on the couch with a pout on his face. He's still exhausted, his muscles are aching and he's almost falling asleep sitting up, but he feels okay. Better than he had in a while, and he's glad. He feels lighter, in a way. It does seem like things are finally working out for him.

But recovery isn't an easy thing.

And even though things have been getting better, he wakes up the next morning feeling like there's a stone crushing his chest. It takes him a while to get out of bed and get dressed.

He's still tired.

His limbs feel heavy and his head feels like there's a bunch of cotton in it; a wholly different feeling from yesterday. Any other day, he would've went and talked to someone, but today was just needs to breathe. Get out for a while and clear his head.

Changkyun leaves the house as soon as he can, and walks. He doesn't know where, yet. Somewhere he can just sit for a little while and think. He chooses a playground, one that's not very popular, and is empty at the moment. He sits on a swing, holding one of the chains, pulling his hand away and grimacing at the rust that has come off the chain and onto his fingers. He rubs his hand on his jeans, a bit grossed out.

Taking our a lighter out of his pocket, he light it and looks at the flame, flickering in the slight wind. It's strangely calming.

Changkyun's still not sure if he should do the magic thing. Sure, if it works out it's going to be amazing. He could get his revenge, but..

Is that really what he wants?

His feelings towards Gunhee are the only reason why he wants to do it. If he doesn't manage to win against him? If the whole thing doesn't work out?

He has too many doubts to be completed sure. He doesn't know if he's willing to risk so much. And the thing about bringing back his parents? He would do anything to have them back. But if it doesn't work out, it'll just bring him more pain.

God, he's a mess.

He sits there for a few more moments and then gets up. He plans to just walk a little more and then go back home. Hopefully he doesn't run into anyone this time.

He doesn't. He passes by a few people he knows from school but nothing happens. When he starts feeling small raindrops hit his face, he rushes home, not wanting to get wet. He manages to get there before the rain gets worse. Taking off his shoes and jacket, he sighs and moves to the living room, laying down on the couch, placing his head in Yunhyeong's lap. "Hi." He mumbles, eyes heavy with tiredness. "Where were you?" The older asks, fingers running though Changkyun's hair lazily. "Out. I had to be alone for a while."

Yunhyeong hums in response. "Did something happen?" His soft voice and gentle actions were just making Changkyun more tired. Still, he makes himself stay awake.

"Nothing big, I just had to think." He sighs, closing his eyes for a second. There's a headache that he feels slowly creeping on and it makes him wince. "I'm so tired." He whispers, rubbing his eyes with one hand. He woke up not even 5 hours ago and all he wants to do is go back to sleep.

"I know, kid." Yunhyeong sighs.

Changkyun sits up and hides his face in his hands for a few seconds before he gets up. "I think I'm gonna go to bed." He goes to his room and lays in the bed, falling asleep then second his head hits the pillow.

By now, he should be used to getting nightmares.

But he doesn't. It never gets easier.

This time, however, it doesn't "shock" him as much. Because he's already seen it, more times than he'd like to admit.

He dreams of the same things Hoseok showed him.

Seeing himself dying in horrible, gruesome ways, it doesn't affect him that much. Seeing Jiwon, Hanbin, Jooheon, Hoseok, all the others - that's what makes him terrified, and he wakes up, unable to breathe.

If he dies, it's not that big of a deal. They'll be okay without him. But he? He'd be dead without them.

On shaky legs, he gets up and wants to walk to Jiwon's room. It's not that late yet, and Changkyun hopes he's not sleeping. But Jiwon is faster, and he walks into his room first. "You good?" The older asks, leaning against the doorway. Changkyun nods. "Yeah, I just..." He doesn't finish, but that's enough for Jiwon.

Changkyun looks as Jiwon sits on a chair and turns to face him. "I get them too." Jiwon says, running a hand through his hair, messing it up. "Talking about it really does help a lot."

Changkyun wraps a blanket around his shoulders, sitting back down on the bed. Gaze focused on his hands, he waits for a moment before speaking. "I keep having dreams about you all dying."

Jiwon moves to sit next to him, wrapping his arms around Changkyun. "You do know that most of us are technically dead?"

Oh.

He blinks a few times, taking in what Jiwon said. "I mean, yeah, but... Not all of you."

"Listen," Jiwon chuckles quietly, patting his head. "Me, Hanbin, Junhoe, Jinhwan - we're pretty much immortal. Yun and Donghyuk were never really alive, right? Chanwoo is not really immortal, but we'll protect this kid with our lives. And your other friends? They're already kinda dead."

Changkyun nods. "Alright, whatever." He sighs, getting up and stretching. "Doesn't change the fact that I can't sleep."

Truth is, it feels like he's going insane. That nothing is real anymore.

 

Maybe he should do the magic thing.
Maybe it'll change things and maybe, it'll work.

Yeah. He's doing it.

Walking to Jinhwan's room, he feels nervous, but in a good way. The oldest is sitting at the desk, doing something to the book. There's a slight flow coming off of it, illuminating his face. Next to him is Yunhyeong, staring at it, focused.

"I'm doing it." He says, startling Jinhwan, who twitches and then turns to face him, a sparkle in his eyes. "Yeah?" He then turns to Yunhyeong, who gets up. "Let's start, then."

Changkyun feels his eyes widen. "Start what?" Yunhyeong grins. "You'll see."

Turns out their house has a basement. It looks like a typical "man cave" and it's "the safest place he can be in." Still makes his skin crawl. He's standing there, Jinhwan in front of him, everyone else standing in different places.

"There's a small chance you have some magic in you. I can't feel it now, but it's possible that it's hidden, deep down." He explains, moving his arms around, seeming excited. "I'm going to see if I can maybe get it out, okay? Close your eyes." As Changkyun does that, he feels Jinhwan laying his hands over his eyes.

At first, nothing happens. Then, pressure starts building up inside of his head, growing more painful and uncomfortable. It starts getting worse with every second and Changkyun winces in pain. When it feels like his head is going to burst open, it stops.

"Oh, no," Jinhwan whispers. "That's not good."

Chapter Text

Jinhwan pulls away, and Changkyun can see his hands trembling. He's never seen him nervous.

Something about the situation feels wrong. Changkyun feels his fingers twitch.

"There's... something." Jinhwan says, voice just a bit shaky. Changkyun can feel himself getting anxious. "It's protected by a very strong barrier." He turns to the others now. "It's incredibly powerful and after being contained for so long..."

 

Changkyun takes a step back, putting his hands up. "Hold on. What?"

Jinhwan speaks up again, voice uncharacteristically quiet. "Most humans are born with some magic in them, and they can learn to control it. Yours... It's bad. It's dark, it's powerful, it wants to get out and I'm scared you won't be able to control yourself."

His heart skips a beat and he runs a hand through his hair, hands shaking. "How does that even happen?"

"Usually a traumatic experience that has been repressed. Those kinds of things make dark magic stronger. And if it happened a while ago..." Yunhyeong says. Everyone in the room has a grim look on their face.

Jinhwan touches his shoulder gently. "Do you want to keep going? Do you want to get this out?" Changkyun takes a shaky breath, rubbing his chest nervously and nods.

Worst case scenario, he'll die.

Jiwon turns to Chanwoo. "Go upstairs and call Hyunwoo and Hoseok... and the rest." The shapeshifter leaves fast, and Changkyun frowns.

"We need someone to hold you down, just in case."

 

Changkyun chokes on air. "What?" He's panicking now, and it's not good. Hanbin walks up to him and puts his hands on Changkyun's shoulders. "As we said, it's powerful. We don't want anything to happen if you can't control it for some reason. It's okay." Changkyun nods. It didn't make him less nervous, but he appreciates Hanbin trying. They wait for about fifteen minutes, Changkyun trying to calm down a bit. He keeps thinking about what can possibly happen, and it's not helping. At all.

They all arrive and he gets introduced to Hyunwoo, the oldest vampire in the 'family'. He's tall and muscular, very intimidating (until Jiwon says something and they both laugh, Hyunwoo's face becoming much softer then).

They stand like that again, Jinhwan in front of Changkyun, Hoseok behind him and Hyunwoo to his left. He flexes his fingers at his sides, letting out a breath. He's more nervous now, but he thinks that if he doesn't do it now, he'll never be able to.

Jinhwan places his hands over Changkyun's eyes again. This time, the pressure builds faster, spreading through his whole body, threatening to burst at any second. It's painful, every inch of his body burning with the force it uses to keep it contained inside of him.

After a few seconds pass, he lets go. It feels like his entire body is burning and tingling, he's pretty sure he can feel sparks flying between his fingers. Jinhwan takes his hands away and Changkyun's eyes snap open, scanning the room. He breathes for a while getting used to the sensation, before he realizes.

He's not in control of his body anymore.

He lunges forward, hands flying around Jinhwan's neck, but as he touches him, strong arms pull him back and force him on the ground so he's laying on his stomach, arms twisted uncomfortably behind him. He feels his body thrash around, and he knows he's doing the same inside. It's such a bizarre feeling, seeing and feeling your body doing things, but not controlling any of it. Inside he's panicking, scared that he'll never get the control back. He can feel Hoseok whispering to him from above, trying to calm him down a little.

Jinhwan and Donghyuk kneel before him, touching his forehead at the same time and a flash of white light explodes behind his eyelids, making him let out a noise of pain and flinch. Hoseok loosens his hold.

It all comes back.

Outside of some kid's home at night, during a party he didn't even want to go to but Gunhee dragged him too.

It's dark outside and there's loud music playing, loud enough he can barely hear himself think, the smell of sweat, alcohol and cigarettes filling the air, suffocating him, hands all over his body, and he wants to scream, he's crying and he feels sick, but he knows no one's going to hear him there-

It's like a dam has been broken and the kid in front of him is suddenly pushed back, hitting the fence and Changkyun runs away. If he looks closely, there's thin shadowy threads forming around his hands.

It cuts off there and the memory replays again. It feels way to real, he remembers it so well. The exact part of the song that was playing, what clothes he was wearing, which hand he held a cigarette in, where he was walking, how it felt being slammed against the wall.

He can't speak or breathe, he's pretty sure he's crying but it's not stopping and he wants it to stop.

Someone calls out his name faintly, but he doesn't react. They keep saying his name, slowly, until it breaks him out of the haze he's in.

He's on his knees, whole body shaking and he's gasping for air, chest and lungs burning. Around him, circling his body wildly are the same shadows he's seen before, but this time they seem to be coming from him. Jooheon is standing before him, in front of the magic, brows pulled together in worry.

"Come on, Kyun, you have to calm down." He speaks softly, and Changkyun shakes his head, eyes widening. How is he supposed to calm down? He looks around himself, panicked. The heavier his breathing gets, the faster his heart beats, the darker the shadows become and the more scared he becomes. What if he can't control it?

The shadows become like a hurricane around him and he sobs, feeling helpless. He slams his hand on the floor in frustration but quickly recoils as the whole room shakes with the force.

"You have to calm down for it to stop!" Jooheon yells through the noise the magic makes and Changkyun looks at him, absolutely terrified. "I can't!" He yells back, voice cracking. But he has to calm down, he can't let this get any worse.

Lowering his head and gripping his hair tightly, Changkyun focuses on his breathing, slowly. The pain he feels in his scalp is strangely grounding and as seconds pass, his panic is reduced to him just crying. But the shadows are gone and he's so tired, his head is pounding and he's positive he's got a nosebleed. Messily rubbing his face, he confirms that, being able to taste the blood.

But it's gone.

Jooheon, he thinks, kneels in front of him, smoothing both hands over his hair, grabbing both his arms gently. "It's okay, you did great, baby." He sounds a bit panicked and doesn't seem to notice the pet name slipping out, but Changkyun does. "Can you get up?" He shrugs and Jooheon helps him get up, one hand on his elbow, the other on his back. Changkyun stumbles a little, knees buckling under him and he falls into the other's chest. "Okay, okay, come on, we're getting out." Jooheon mutters, helping him get out of the basement. The others follow them, talking about something, but he doesn't hear what.

Jooheon leads him to his room, makes him sit on the bed and kneels in front of him. "Are you alright?" He asks. Changkyun hesitates a bit and shakes his head.

Of course he's not.

He's not sure if he can deal with everything that happened today.

"What triggered that? I've never... seen anything like this." The older whispers, shaking his head.

Changkyun takes a deep breath. He has to tell someone or it will kill him. No more bottling up his feelings. He grabs Jooheon's hand and closes his eyes. "There was a party, like two years ago," He starts, voice weak. "I didn't want to go, but Gunhee dragged me there." He feels Jooheon squeeze his hand lightly. "I wish I didn't go."

"I was just sitting there, not wanting to leave right away, and..." He opens his eyes, blinking away the tears. "There was this guy, he was... maybe three years older than me? I d-don't remember." He stammers, voice cracking. "We were just talking and then went outside to smoke, he..." Changkyun lets go of Jooheon's hand and hides his face, taking a shaky breath. "God, I swear, I can still feel his fucking hands on me." He mutters. Jooheon moves to sit next to him.

"I- I was so terrified. And it sorta happened? It was like he just got pushed away by something and I just ran home."

Jooheon wraps both arms around him, placing his chin on top of Changkyun's head. "Did you tell anyone?"

Changkyun mumbles a small "no", curling his hands into the front of the other's shirt. "My parents already had a lot of things to worry about, so I didn't want to stress them out. Besides Gunhee, I didn't really have any friends, and he found out eventually." He sighs, remembering how the people at school reacted.

Jooheon runs a hand up and down his spine soothingly. "Is that where it started? The bullying?" Changkyun nods. "Yeah."

"Did you know about the magic before?" He asks and Changkyun thinks for a while. He can't recall any even where it might've shown before the party.

He shakes his head again. "It was the first time." Back then, fueled by fear, he didn't think much of it. Today frightened him, not being able to control anything. Too much power, he can still feel it running through his body.

Jooheon looks him in the eye then, completely serious. "Listen, whatever it is, we'll help you, okay? You're not going to deal with this alone."

Changkyun nods, the thought insanely comforting. Someone yells Jooheon's name from outside the room and the older grimaces slightly. "Looks like I gotta go," He sighs. "Stay safe, okay?" Jooheon asks, smiling lightly and pressing his lips to Changkyun's forehead before leaving.

Changkyun ignores the blush creeping up his face and grabs his phone.

ck: that was
ck: not fun

momhwan: are you okay?

ck: uh :/

momhwan: right

hanbean: do u want to be alone now

ck: yeah for now
ck: ill come bother you if i need anything
ck: but wtf happened earlier

yun: well, what we suspect of that the magic that's in you is fueled by your fear
yun: so we have to see what exact things trigger it and then work on you controlling it if you want to

momhwan: it's going to be a lot harder keeping it in now though

jiwoff: yes so u gotta b chill for now

bighead: i dont think he knows what chill means

ck: choke
ck: anyways how do we figure that out and when

momhwan: we have people for that + as soon as you're ready

ck: ok cool
ck: thanks for helping me

chanu: ur welc
chanu ur family now that means we're always gon help u

ck: <3 <3
ck: okay goodnight im Tired.

Chapter Text

And it begins.

This time, dealing with everything that's happened is a bit easier, since Changkyun decided to actually talk to someone if it got too much. And he did. He went to someone every time he got woken up by a nightmare, he spoke about his feelings and his fears. It helped.

Most of all, it made him less nervous than usual, as his magic only made itself present a couple times during the first month. Another month passes and it's calm, it's quiet, and after two months, he's finally ready to get help regarding the magic.

"How are we going to do this?" He asks Yunhyeong one day.

Yunhyeong smiles at him. "Well, there's one person that can do this."

 

"Christ, kid, what happened to you this time?"

Changkyun feels his face flush. "Hi, Jiho."

They're in Jiho's house this time, Changkyun, Jinhwan, Hoseok and Jiwon, knowing that the less people the less stressful it might be.

While Jinhwan and Jiwon explain everything, Changkyun sits next to Hoseok on the couch. "It sucks that we always meet in situations like that." The vampire mumbles and Changkyun chuckles. "We're just unlucky, I guess."

Hoseok pats his shoulder. "Not that I'm hitting on you, but wanna go somewhere later if all goes well?" He asks, to which Changkyun agrees.

"Okay, let's do this!" Jiho claps his hands excitedly, turning to Changkyun.

"Wait." Changkyun gets up hesitantly. "What exactly are we doing?" He asks, walking up to them slowly.

Jiho wraps an arm around his shoulders, leading him to a room at the end of a really long hallway. "Same thing Jinhwan did. Just...a lot slower."

Doesn't really make me feel better, he think to himself bitterly. Jiwon laughs quietly behind him.

The room they're in feels... strange. Almost as if the walls were vibrating with some kind of force, just lightly enough for Changkyun to notice. Hoseok stands behind him, and the worry radiating off his body is almost visible.

"What I'm gonna do, is try and trigger it. Make it come out all at once." Jiho explains, completely calm and collected. There's a barely visible white mist forming around his body and Changkyun can feel his hands start to sweat from the nerves. Losing control over his body will never not be scary to him. "Once that happens, Hoseok will make sure you don't move, and Jiwon will try to get into your head more, so that he can tell you exactly how to control it. Okay?"

That sounds not that scary. Changkyun nods, clenching and unclenching his fists. He's still nervous, of course. But he trusts that the time will be better.

After a signal from Jiho, Hoseok grabs Changkyun's arms from behind, muttering a quiet apology as he does so. Then, it starts. Images appear in his head, gory and violent, absolutely horrifying, but they don't do anything. Jiho makes a surprised noise. "Okay... You good so far?" He asks, Changkyun nodding.

The next thing he sees is that night. As soon as the memory starts, he stiffens. The pressure starts building in his skull again and he v lets it. It explodes, and he feels the power coursing through his body, crackling like electricity. Hoseok holds him tighter, arms uncomfortably twisted on his back. His body tries to get away. "Let go." A voice that's not his hisses, and inside, Changkyun panics. It's never spoken before. Jiho says something and everything goes black.

He's... floating. In a dark void, cold and quiet.

"Focus. What can you feel?" Jiwon's voice is loud and clear in the nothingness.

"Uh... I can feel the.. magic? Like in my entire body." Changkyun replies, shaking just a bit.

"Focus on it, okay? Try to move it to one place in your body."

"And what if I can't do that?"

"That's okay. We'll do it again, until you're able to control it and summon your magic without having flashbacks."

He's...more than okay with that. He's glad they're willing to try and help him for however long he needs.

He focuses on the power flowing through his veins. Imagines it getting to one part of his body, his left arm, and letting it stay there. Except it doesn't work. The magic moves down his arms, to his fingertips... and moves back to the rest of his body. He tries again, once, twice, and sighs helplessly. "It's not working." He mutters.

"Do you want to stop?" Jiwon asks softly. Changkyun closes his eyes. He just now feels how it tired him out. "Yeah."

He can faintly hear Jiho's voice through the haze. "I'm bringing you back, okay?" He tries to nod, but isn't sure if his body actually complies.

"It might hurt, though." Jiwon says, to which Jiho replies. "He won't feel a thing."

Lie.

It hurt. A lot. Like his brain caught on fire.

His legs give up under him, and if it wasn't for Hoseok he would've fallen. His head is pounding and his palms are sweaty, knees shaking. "Are you okay?" Jiho asks, a bit concerned. Changkyun manages to nod. "Yeah, just give me a moment." He whispers, taking deep breaths. Hoseok helps him stand upright, pats his back and checks his face for any signs of injuries or pain.

When they're completely sure he's able to walk, they go back to the living room. "So. It looks like you don't have issues apart from keeping it in one place?" He asks Jiho asks and Changkyun nods. "That's... great news, actually. All you need now is practice."

That makes him happy. Things are going right again, and hopefully it stays that way.

Jiho tells him a couple more things, says they can come again tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow if he's not feeling it yet, makes sure Changkyun is completely okay and they leave, Changkyun walking away with Hoseok. Be safe, Jiwon says after he leaves to go home.

"Where are we going?" He asks Hoseok, who slings an arm around he's shoulders. "You'll see."

A cafe, it turns out.

It's in a corner of a not very busy street, a bit hidden, but incredibly warm and inviting. Changkyun just now realizes how cold he is, and je rubs his hands together. He goes to sit in a booth, while Hoseok orders their drinks. The walls of the cafe are dark, there's soft lights everywhere and the tables are dark wood.

Changkyun sits down and leans back, letting out a deep breath. He really is exhausted. There's a deep ache in his muscles, his head is still slightly throbbing and he's really cold. Despite the warmth of the cafe he has chills. But still... he's happy. The fact that everything is working out makes his feel better and although he still needs practice, he believes that he can do it.

"You good?" Hoseok comes back, sitting across from him and setting their drinks on the table. Changkyun nods, muttering a small "thanks", regretting the facts that he's wearing shorts sleeves for once. He plays with the bracelets he's wearing awkwardly, eyes focused on his hands, not knowing what to say.

Hoseok seems to sense that and he speaks up. "What are you thinking about?"

Changkyun raises his eyes to look at the other. "Everything that's been going on lately." Someone walks into the cafe, and the cold breeze hits him, making him shiver. He takes a sip of the drink, and his eyes widen. It's.. the best coffee he's ever had. Hoseok smiles softly at him, but frowns a few seconds later. "I though everything was going alright?"

He sighs, lowering his gaze and drumming his fingers on the table nervously. "It is, but..." Changkyun rests his face in his hand. "The whole magic thing? It's... triggered by a very specific memory, right? And..." He doesn't finish, he doesn't want to.

While the situation does make him happy, seeing the memory every time doesn't help him. He is dealing with it, he's trying, but it always brings him back to that night. He wishes it was triggered by anything else.

With his eyes focused in one spot, he doesn't notice how sad Hoseok's eyes begin to look. "I wish we could help you more." The older sighs. Changkyun looks up at him with a sad smile. "You're already doing more than enough."

They sit in silence after that, both finishing their drinks and getting ready to leave. Changkyun does feel better, although he's still cold and still has a slight headache. After they leave, Hoseok takes of his jacket and drapes it over Changkyun's shoulders, who raises his eyebrows. "I don't get cold, remember? I'm just wearing it 'cause it looks cool." He grins. Changkyun thanks him, sliding his arms in the sleeves and zipping it up, instantly warming up. "You need a change in your life." Hoseok tells him, a glint in his eyes that can't possibly mean anything good. "Yeah, I guess."

"I know what we're gonna do." Hoseok whispers excitedly, grabbing Changkyun's hand and dragging him somewhere. Oh, no.

They walk into a drugstore, Hoseok picks out two boxes of hair dye. Changkyun lets himself be dragged anywhere, a bit stunned. Hoseok pays and walks back to his house, grinning the whole time. "I like my hair color." Changkyun whines a bit. The brown is a bit boring, but he's scared to experiment with hair color in case it looks bad.

Hoseok shakes his head. "Come on!" He replies, slamming the door behind them as they walk in. Changkyun barely has time to take off his jacket before he's dragged to the bathroom. Hoseok stands in front of him, runs a hand through his hair. "We gotta cut your hair first." He mumbles, to which Changkyun takes a step back. "I'm not letting any of you get close to my face with scissors." He puts his hands up defensively. Hoseok ruffles his hair. "Don't worry, kid. Kihyun was a hairdresser some years ago, he knows what he's doing." He smiles, and leaves the room briefly to call out to Kihyun, who comes in a few seconds later. "What are you doing to him?" Hoseok doesn't reply, instead he takes out a box filled with various tools from a cabinet. Changkyun can see a few combs and scissors, and it's stressing him out. He sits on the edge of the bathtub, clasping his hands together

Kihyun smiles, shaking his head. "Are you okay with that?" He asks Changkyun, who hesitantly nods. The pink haired vampire cracks his knuckles and grabs a pair of hair scissors. He just trims the ends of Changkyun's hair, makes sure it looks nice (it definitely feels nice, since it doesn't get into his eyes anymore) and gets the dye.

"If my hair falls out I'm gonna beat you up." He threatens, and apparently it doesn't sound very intimidating, because both vampires start laughing. Kihyun mixes the dye and begins to put it on Changkyun's hair. Hoseok opens the window, complaining about the smell. "What if it looks bad?" Changkyun asks, stressed. Kihyun hums in response, still working on his hair. "You'll look cute either way. And besides, it's not that different from your actual hair color. "

Did he just call me cute?

Kihyun puts away everything and pats his shoulder. "Okay. Leave this on for..." He moves away for a second to read the box. "About 30 minutes?"

Changkyun sighs as Kihyun leaves and Hoseok wraps a towel around his shoulders. "Why did I agree to this?" He asks himself quietly. "Because I'm a great friend and I know that it'll be great?" Hoseok suggests with a wide smile.

Hoseok also insists that they don't leave the bathroom for 30 minutes, saying that "the rest will be shocked when they see how good it looks". Changkyun pulls out his phone, planning to complain to his friends.

ck: end my suffering

bighead: what did they do again

ck: sigh you'll see when i get home

chanu: oh no

He puts his phone away after scrolling through social media, seeing as there's only a few minutes left before he has to wash the dye off. "I'm so tired." He sighs and Hoseok look at him, crossing his arms. "Makes sense. Using so much magic at once does tire people out."

"Great." Changkyun mumbles, rubbing his face. He misses not being always exhausted. Hoseok sends him a look, one that Changkyun's not ready sure what it means and stands up. "Alright, I think it's already been thirty minutes." He rubs his hands together excitedly. Changkyun rolls his eyes, smiling and moves to wash it off while Hoseok goes to get a hairdryer. Once he comes back, he insists on drying Changkyun's hair. "I'm not a baby, I can do it." Changkyun whines. "But you are a baby. I'm, like, 200 times older than you." Hoseok says like it's the most obvious thing.

When he's done, he runs his hands through Changkyun's hair a few times and smiles. "You look great." He says, making Changkyun look in the mirror.

His hair is a bit shorter now, and it's dark blonde. It feels nice, and looks a lot better than he thought it would. "Thanks." He turns to Hoseok now, grinning. The older grabs his hand and drags him out, again. "We have to show the others!"

Their reactions were all different.

Hyunwoo looked up from his book briefly, showed them a thumbs up and went back to reading.

Minhyuk almost shrieked, but told them it looks great.

Kihyun looked at them with a smug smile. "I told you you'll look good."

Hyungwon's and Jooheon's reactions were pretty much the same. They both said it looks good, touched it and said, again, that it looks good.

Changkyun stays there a while longer, chatting with Hoseok and Minhyuk for a while, and leaves after realizing how late it was. Hoseok offered to go with him, but he refused, wanting to just go alone. It wasn't that far either, it's not like something has to happen whenever he leaves the house.

Nothing happens and Changkyun comes back home in one piece. As soon as he walks in, he sees Jinhwan, who, seeing his hair, opens his mouth to say something, but Changkyun interrupts him. "It was Hoseok's idea."
To which the fae responds, "I was just going to say that it suits you."

He goes to his room afterwards, sitting on his bed and pulling out his phone, looking at social media mindlessly. That's when something happens.

He sees a selfie that someone posted and instantly feels sick, seeing Gunhee there. The person is with him, and another guy, who Changkyun recognizes as Him. The guy from that night. He blocks the person immediately and goes to open the window, leaning his head against the windowsill, taking deep breaths. He couldn't remember the guys face clearly before but now he does and it's stuck in his head-

What's happening? He hears Jiwon's voice. Sometimes he genuinely forgets that the barghest can sense strong emotions, but at the same time he's glad.

Can you come here? Changkyun asks. The last thing he wants to do now is sit there alone.

Jiwon arrives a few minutes later, sitting next to Changkyun who moved to sit on his bed and puts a careful hand on his back. "Someone posted..." He begins to speak, rubbing his eyes, as if to erase the image from behind his eyelids. "His face. I remember it now and I can't get it out of my fucking head." He mumbles bitterly, suddenly angry. At himself, for being stupid, for allowing this to happen, at the guy for even doing that because he did not have the right to fucking touch him, most of all he's angry at Gunhee. For everything he's done for fucking his life up, almost killing him, murdering his parents, making him want to die-

"Changkyun." Jiwon's voice is suddenly stern, hand on his back moving and grabbing his shoulder firmly. There's shadows beginning to form around his hands and he drops his head, sighing. "I'm sorry." He wills himself to calm down, the other bringing him closer and patting his back. "It's okay." Jiwon repeats a few times, voice softening. "He'll never touch you again. I can beat him up if it'll make you feel better."

"Please do." Changkyun mumbles into the other's chest, smiling slightly. "But I want to be there to see it."

Jiwon thinks for a second. "Actually... Wanna do that now?" Changkyun chokes on his own spit. "What?"

The older gets up and grabs his hand with a wide smile. "There might be a party going on right now and he might be there. We go there, we find him, and then make him regret ever talking to you. Sounds good?"

Changkyun crosses his arms, unconvinced. "And how are we going to do that?"

The plan is simple. They take Hanbin Junhoe, the two strongest ones and go to the party. They get in without much trouble (because let's be honest, no one actually checks who comes in), and Changkyun finds the guy. He asks him to get outside with him - and then Jiwon comes in.

It all goes well, until Changkyun finds the guy. He taps him on the shoulder, heart pounding from fear. He turns around, and his eyes light up. "Changkyun! Haven't seen you in a while." He laughs and Changkyun forces a smile, feeling sick. The guy touches his hair next, smiling and Changkyun resists the urge to flinch. "Did you change your hair color? Looks good."

"Yeah, actually..." He starts, voice shaking a bit and he clears his throat. "I want to talk to you. You mind going outside with me?"

The guy looks at him for a while and Changkyun freezes. What if he doesn't fall for it? It's a bit weird, he has to admit. A guy sexually assaults you, and you walk up to him at a party a year later wanting to talk.

"Okay, Kyun." He says instead, grabbing his hand and walking outside. Changkyun clenches his jaw at the nickname, hearing it from his mouth feels wrong. He locks eyes with Junhoe on the way out, telling him to follow them. They walk to the back of the house and stand there for a few minutes. The situation feels all too familiar, but he knows that they're here somewhere and he's not alone.

Changkyun puts his hands in his pockets, seemingly careless, where in reality he's trying to hide the fact that they're shaking. "About that party last summer. I thought about that a bit..." He starts, looking anywhere but at the guy. "Oh, that one. I wanted to talk to you as well. You just ran away, you know, people started saying things..." He gets closer to Changkyun, who holds his breath, staying still. "I just had to tell them you wanted it. It would ruin my reputation, right? Those lies, that I forced you, or something? They had to know the truth, that you pretty much asked for it." His voice is fake sweet, like he was speaking to a child and his hand comes up to touch Changkyun's arm. There's footsteps approaching them, and soon Jiwon walks out of the shadows, Junhoe and Hanbin trailing behind him.

Jiwon grabs the guy by his collar and punches him in the face. "You fucking asshole." He growls, and Changkyun takes a few steps back. Even though he knows the other's anger isn't directed at him, it still freaks him out. Hanbin goes up to Changkyun and wraps his arms around him, a worried look in his eyes. "Are you okay?" He asks and Changkyun relaxes in his arms. "I am now. I hated feeling his hands on me." He whispers, shaking his head. Turning his head back to see Jiwon, he winces. He has the guy up against the wall, hand around his neck, not choking yet, just threatening.

"I could fucking kill you right now." He hisses through his teeth. "I'm not going to. I just hope that teaches you a lesson." Jiwon points at Changkyun. "If you ever touch him again- No, if you ever try to do what you've done to him to anyone else - I won't be that nice. Do you understand?" The guy nods hurriedly and Jiwon drops him on the ground, walking back to Changkyun, face instantly softening. "Are you okay?" He repeats Hanbin's earlier questions. Changkyun just nods, smiling slightly. "Thanks."

While meeting him was everything but pleasant, there's a certain sense of pride washing over him at the thought of conquering his fear, in a sense. And he's glad the guy got what he deserved.

They walk back home in a comfortable silence, Changkyun feeling a bit lighter.

But, as he's lying in bed that night, he finds himself unable to sleep. One thing in particular is keeping him awake, and he pulls out his phone.

ck: hey

jiwoff: im literally like a room away

ck: yeah i don't really feel like talking

jiwoff: whats up?

ck: i was thinking

ck: you ever get tired of doing shit for me?

jiwoff: dude, no

jiwoff: don't even think like that

jiwoff: you're family now. me and the guys see you as a brother

jiwoff: we all love u and we just want you to be safe nd happy okay

jiwoff: so don't worry abt that ur important and well do anything to make sure youre ok

ck: dude im tearing up tf

ck: thank u so much

jiwoff: you're welcome now go to sleep

Chapter Text

As days pass, learning to control his magic becomes easier. He can now focus his magic in one place, keep it there- but still, he can't control his body. It freaks him out every time, but it also does other things. One time, he managed to gain control, but only for a split second and it... really messed him up. After that happened, he realizes he's unable to sleep again. He gets nightmares again, and they're worse than ever.

Being constantly exhausted from magic use and being unable to sleep at the same time- he feels like he's dead. He becomes irritable and sensitive, he keeps snapping at his friends and frankly, he feels horrible about it. Earlier this day, he had yelled at Jinhwan for asking how he was feeling, and he regrets it so much.

"You fucking suck." He whispers to himself, rubbing his face furiously. He can't help but be irritated, he just wants the nightmares to stop.

He's about to leave with Jiwon to go meet Jiho again, but he's honestly not feeling like it. He's running on 2 cans of Red Bull, a bar of chocolate and he's not feeling good. He wants to sleep, goddamnit. But at the same time he doesn't want to stop practicing.

Jiwon walks into the room, hands in his pockets, brows furrowed. "What's up with you?" He asks and Changkyun raises his eyebrows. "What's up with me?"

The older walks up to him and puts a hand on Changkyun's shoulder. "You've been weird the past few days. Everything good?" He asks. Changkyun rolls his eyes. Of course he's good.

Except for the fact that he hasn't been able to sleep for more than 2 hours a night for the past few weeks and he's had enough. "Yeah, I'm good. Let's just go." He mumbles, shaking his hand off and leaving the room. He just wants to get out of the house.

Jiwon gives him weird looks the whole walk there but Changkyun doesn't say anything. He only mumbles short answers to Jiho and Hoseok when they ask him questions. He just wants to get it over with.

But it doesn't really go that well.

They get in the usual position, Hoseok holding him back, Jiho in front of him, Jiwon next to them. The magic erupts, and he manages to keep it in both his hands, smoke flying between his fingers, crackling like electricity. It goes okay, but then he gets told to focus on it more, try to get more control over his body and it stops. He feels all the power leave him, and if Hoseok wasn't holding him, he'd collapse. He feels ten times more tired than he did before, muscles burning in exhaustion. Someone sets him down on the chair and pats his cheek gently. "Changkyunnie, hey." Hoseok's voice is quiet and laced with worry. Changkyun opens his eyes slowly, vision still a bit blurry, and almost instantly closes them. He's pretty much falling asleep sitting up, the use of magic tiring him out even more. "What happened?" Changkyun shakes his head in response. He doesn't want to tell Hoseok everything now, when he's barely awake and vulnerable.

Jiwon tells Jiho that Changkyun needs a break and that they'll be going home now. He's going to make him talk for sure.

He does. They go back home, go into Changkyun's room and Jiwon gets him to talk. "What's happening with you?" He asks, voice sounding almost angry and Changkyun winces. "It's nothing." He sighs, leaning against the desk.

"Come on, Changkyun. You've been angry at the whole world for so long, and now this?" Jiwon sounds like he's disappointed and that completely breaks Changkyun's heart. He lowers his head, blinking away the tears that are gathering in his eyes. He did not plan to cry during the conversation, but at this point, he's so tired, and the nightmares have been extra bad lately so he's jumpy and anxious and he just wants to sleep. "I've been having nightmares again." He replies, eyes focused on the floor in front of him.

"How bad?" Jiwon asks then and Changkyun hears him step a little closer. "Very." Is all he can say and the other sighs. Changkyun lifts his head up and sees the other looking at him with a sad expression. "Come here." Jiwon sighs, opening his arms. Changkyun immediately clings to his friend, relaxing a bit. "I was about to scold you for being rude to Jinhwan." Jiwon chuckles, resting his chin on the top of Changkyun's head. "Why didn't you tell anyone?"

Changkyun lets out a shaky breath. "I thought I could deal with it myself." He muttered. Jiwon hums. "We all know how that ends." He pulls Changkyun away a bit and looks him in the face. "You should at least try to sleep. You can barely stand up on your own."

He shakes his head. The past few nights the nightmares have been so bad he can barely think about them, let alone sleep and get similar ones again.

Jiwon pats his shoulder. "Come on, kid, I'll stay with you." He smiles and Changkyun looks at him, a bit hesitant, but lays down anyways. His eyes are drooping already, but he keeps them open. Waits, as Jiwon sits next to his head and cards his fingers through Changkyun's hair.

Changkyun slowly drifts off, and finally sleeps without any nightmares.

But he wakes up, and he feels like a nightmare. He blinks a few times, and groans. His muscles are sore and his head is pounding, making his eyes water. With every sound he makes, his throat hurts and he's freezing.

Checking his phone, he squints at how the brightness irritates his eyes, he sees a text from Chanwoo.

hey i thought u should know that smth happened (nothing big dw) and we had to leave!! we'll be gone for abt a week? please don't burn the house down okay thanks stay safe love u

Dropping the phone back on his bed, he sighs. He might have felt a bit under the weather lately, but he blamed everything on the exhaustion. Attempting to sit up, he's suddenly wracked with a wave of nausea and he rushes to the bathroom, collapses in front of the toilet and throws up. If there's anything he hates more than being sick, it's that. He stays there for what seems like hours, throws up one more time and leans against the wall, exhausted. His mind is fuzzy and everything hurts.

Then, his phone rings and the sound makes his head pound even more. He flushes the toilet and rests his head against the wall, running a hand through his sweaty bangs. The bathroom tiles are cold, and he can feel himself shivering, although his body temperature is still high. His muscles are still sore, hurting whenever he moves and the vomiting caused his throat to hurt even more. He curls up on the cold floor and presses the heels of his hands into his eyes until he colors burst behind his eyelids. The phone rings a few more times, but Changkyun doesn't move. He doesn't know how much time passes before he finally gets up on shaky legs, rinses his mouth and slowly walks to his room, picking up the still ringing phone. The call is from an unknown number, but he ignores it.

"Yeah?" He mumbles, voice sounding awful. "Changkyunnie?" The voice sounds worried, and he recognizes it as Hoseok. "Are you okay?"

Changkyun sighs. A part of him wants to admit that he's, in fact, sick, but at the same time, bothering anyone doesn't sound good to him. "I'm good. Just woke up, actually." He says, sitting on his bed, suddenly dizzy. "Are you sure?" The other asks, sounding unconvinced.

"I'm okay, Hoseok. R-really." His voice cracks, and he mentally curses himself for that, wincing at the ache in his throat. His heads pounding, he's dizzy and shivering, the last thing he wants to do is make Hoseok worry. "Yunhyeong told me you weren't really feeling good lately and told me to come over in case you're dying, okay?"

Curse Yunhyeong and his motherly angel powers.

Changkyun rolls his eyes, getting up again. He just wants to take some painkillers and go to sleep again. "I'm not a child. I don't need anyone to come look after me." He protests weakly, legs almost giving up under him.

There's a short pause before Hoseok speaks again. "No one thinks you're a child." He says, voice much softer. "But you shouldn't be alone if you're sick."

After he doesn't manage to find painkillers, Changkyun wants to go back to his bed, but suddenly feels lightheaded and has to sit down on the living room couch.

"I can take care of myself." Changkyun mumbles in response, feeling weak. He suspects it's because of the fever, and also because he hasn't eaten in like, a day. With every second, it's becoming harder to hold the phone up.

"Kyun, it's okay to need help. Listen, I want to help you. You're not bothering me."

Changkyun stays quiet for a while, thinking. "Just... don't tell anyone."

Hoseok arrives not too long after that, and immediately walks over to Changkyun, who's sitting on the couch, looking blearily at the TV, which is playing some kind of show. The younger lifts his head up and mutters a quiet "hi". Hoseok's heart clenches and he quickly walks to find some pills and a thermometer, but also walking to Changkyun's room to get a blanket (or two) and a suspicious looking giant plush seal. After going back to the living room, he wraps the boy in the blankets and takes his temperature.

Changkyun looks up at Hoseok through watery eyes and winces when the thermometer beeps, the sound loud in his head.

"It's not that high? I don't think we're gonna take you to the hospital." Hoseok says and Changkyun whines at the mention of the hospital. The older hands him more pills and a glass of water, which Changkyun almost drops on himself and makes him lay down.

"Go to sleep for now, and we'll see how you feel later, okay?" Hoseok says, pushing the seal plushie into his arms and sitting on the couch. Changkyun slowly falls asleep, burying his face into the seal.

His nightmares and fever dreams don't go well together, and what starts out as a quite weird dream including dogs and a blender, ends as a sad and confusing one about time travel and Jooheon dying in a car crash.

He wakes up with a start, sitting up and hiding his face in his hands, breathing heavily. It was so real. The scene of the car crash keeps replaying in his head. "Changkyun?" Hoseok comes up to him, crouching in front of the couch. Changkyun slowly moves his hands away and takes a shaky breath. Hoseok sits next to him and pulls him close. "It's okay, kid."

"How are you feeling?" Hoseok asks softly, patting his back. "A bit better?" Changkyun mumbles in response. He still feels weak, his head still hurts a little, but he doesn't feel like his fever is still high.

He hears footsteps in the kitchen and instantly tenses in Hoseok's arms, looking at the other. "What did I tell you about not telling anyone?"

Hoseok chuckles nervously. "He wouldn't stop bothering me about it." A few moments later, Minhyuk walks out of the kitchen with a cup of tea in his hand and a bright smile on his face. "Hey, baby."

Changkyun raises his eyebrows. Minhyuk places the tea on the table in front of him and takes Hoseok's spot, clinging to Changkyun, the other going o the kitchen. And while the younger does find it a little weird, he appreciates that, as being sick makes him more clingy. Also, he's lonely as shit, so he just rests his head on Minhyuk's shoulder. "Baby?" He questions, a bit confused. "Well, yeah," Minhyuk says, running his hands up and down his arms. "You're a baby. And you look a bit like a kicked puppy." The other responds like it's the most obvious thing. "I'm not." Changkyun whines, shaking his head. His headache is progressively getting worse, and he winces. Maybe he should eat something.

Someone's phone rings and the shrill noise makes his head pound even more and he buries his head in Minhyuk's sweater, groaning. The other runs his fingers through Changkyun's hair, humming softly. Hoseok picks up the phone and walks away to talk. "When was the last time you ate?" Minhyuk asks him, fingers tapping idly on his back. Changkyun thinks. "Like... yesterday? Two days ago?" He responds, not quite sure.

Minhyuk smacks him gently. "You can't do that! I'm gonna go get you food." He says, and moves to get up. Changkyun whines. He doesn't really feel like eating, but he knows he has to. Grabbing the tea from the table, he slowly drinks it, looking for his phone. The tea is slightly cold and way too sweet for him, but he doesn't complain. Scrolling through social media absentmindedly, he sees a few post he wishes he wouldn't, but that's just the usual.

Changkyun never quite understood what he did to make the people at school dislike him. Even when he was friends with Gunhee, he knew that people liked him, and a lot of them thought he was friends with Changkyun out of pity. It wasn't that bad, back then, but then the party incident happened, Gunhee moved a few weeks after that and Changkyun was left alone. It became worse. No one ever did anything physical to him, but he knows what they said about him, he saw the stares in the hallways, he saw the social media posts. And he never understood it.

That was what broke him the most. He remembers times when he was just crying in his room because everyone hated him and he had no idea why.

He hated it. He hated being weak, and he still does. He hates that he can't help, but be weak.

"Kyun?" Minhyuk comes back from the kitchen, placing a box of saltine crackers and a bottle of water in front of him. "You've been staring at the table for a few minutes now." He says, pressing the back of his hand to Changkyun's forehead.

Changkyun puts his phone away and rubs his face. "Yeah, sorry. I was just spacing out."

He absolutely loathes being sick. He doesn't really get sick often, but when he does - it's fucking awful. He gets cold, tired, sad, and craves human contact, more than usual anyway.

"Are you okay?" Minhyuk asks, nudging Changkyun's shoulder gently. Changkyun shrugs in response, shoving a handful of crackers into his mouth. He has a fever, he's a little sad and he has a tendency to overshare in those situations, he doesn't want that.

He eats half the box and drinks the water on order to avoid more questions and leans back, just wanting to sleep again. He wraps the blanket tighter around himself and leans back against Minhyuk, who just shoots him a worried look but wraps an arm around his shoulders.

Thankfully, he doesn't have any dreams this time. What wakes him up instead, is a hushed conversation happening next to him.

"Kihyunnie, honey, we didn't want to bother you." Hoseok says, a smile evident in his voice.

Changkyun doesn't open his eyes just yet and listens.

Kihyun starts saying something, but he gets cut off by Minhyuk. "Ki, you would've mothered the boy to death." He laughs quietly, absentmindedly petting Changkyun's hair with one hand.

"Isn't that what you're doing right now?" Changkyun recognizes the voice as Hyungwon and has to keep himself from laughing.

Minhyuk gasps in mock offence. "I'm just keeping him company since he's sick and lonely!"

Changkyun opens his eyes at that, but immediately covers his face upon seeing everyone gathered in the living room. "Why are you all here?" He whines, the tips of his ears burning in embarrassment at so many people seeing him like that.

Hoseok giggles from where he's currently draped over Kihyun. "Someone got worried." He says, looking pointedly at his boyfriend. Changkyun smiles at that, jumping a little when Minhyuk

"How're you feeling, baby?" The other asks.

Changkyun rolls his eyes.

Hyungwon snickers.

But he does feel better, his throat is only a bit sore, and he doesn't have a headache anymore. He feels gross, though, he needs a shower.

"I need a fucking shower." He mutters getting up, and starting to walk away from the room, stumbling only a little. "Please don't burn the house down." He pleads weakly, making Hoseok cackle.

Changkyun sighs deeply, going to his room for some clean clothes and then walks to take a shower and finally wash his hair. He takes his time, but then remembers seven vampires sitting in his living room and rushes to get back to them, a little panicked. He walks back to the rest, socks slipping on the floor, resulting in him almost falling on his face.

"Welcome back." Jooheon says from his spot on the couch, eyes glued to his phone. Changkyun sits down next to him, grabbing his phone from the table.

He can faintly hear Kihyun whispering something to someone. "Do you not know how to talk to each other anymore? You're always on your phones." He says, hands on his hips, shaking his head. "Since when are you my mom?" Changkyun answers, eyes focusing on the screen.

Kihyun makes an exasperated noise. "Since I'm clearly the only one here that cares about your well-being"?

Changkyun shrugs. "I guess."

Hyungwon clears how throat, asking everyone look at him. He's sitting on Minhyuk's lap, a confused look on his face. "Are we not questioning how Minhyuk just called him 'baby'?" He asks, and everyone else shrugs. Minhyuk grins widely. "Look at him! He's cute, he's like ten thousand times younger than us and he's tiny!" He exclaims happily and Changkyun raises his eyebrows. Ten thousand times younger than them? Sure. But cute and tiny? Not really.

"He's not wrong." Jooheon points out, ruffling Changkyun's hair. Changkyun sighs. "I will kick your ass if you call me cute again." He says, going back to his phone, but he knows his face is already red. He's not admitting he likes being called cute, obviously. They wouldn't let him live after that.

Hyungwon laughs again. "I'd like to see you try to fight any of us."

"Wonnie, sweetheart, you're an actual noodle. Anyone would be able to fight you." Minhyuk whispers to him, loud enough so that everyone can hear.