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temptation & fate

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It’s the restless, insomniac itch that has Baekhyun pulling his legs over the side of the bed and rubbing his eyes; for someone who claims to love sleep as much as he does, Baekhyun sure does fucking suck at it.

A groan and a blind fwump in the dark as he attempts to search for his phone on the nightstand leads to a depressing revelation of facts; negative two degrees celsius, three-thirty a.m, and it’s raining.

Again.

It’s not that Baekhyun should be so unused to it, but moving from the very literal sunshine coast USA to Gloomy McGloomsville a country up shouldn’t taste as bad in his mouth as it does. His mom had dropped him off at LAX with a kiss on his cheek and told him to have fun like he isn’t a (semi) fully-functioning adult while the sun shone brightly behind her. Having already spent a whopping twelve hours back in Dagger, Baekhyun isn’t sure if he’ll ever see the sun again, with the way its always hidden behind thick grey clouds here.

Better not to hazily dream of it then, he figures, as he chucks on a pair of jeans and six layers on top of that, tugging his beanie over his ears with both hands while scouring his open case in the darkness for his gloves. Eventually deciding fuck it, Baekhyun tip-toes outside his room, trying to avoid the creaky floorboards. His grandmother most likely sleeps like a rock, but one can never be too safe.

Slipping on his boots by the door, double lacing them firmly, Baekhyun checks his pocket for the spare key before slipping out, restless. It’s still raining, as per usual, so Baekhyun tugs his hood over his head with a pout.

Dagger is, by all means, completely foreign to Baekhyun, widespread and empty. To walk down a road and see nothing but tall, foreboding pine trees is completely unfamiliar, even if his feet still know the way after all this time. Eighteen-year-old Baekhyun had jumped at the chance to move to L.A with his parents, attend a better university and start a better life; twenty-six year old Baekhyun just feels tired and worn out, like a faded painting that’s so scratched up it’s hard to tell what it had once looked like, or an ancient Greek statue where all the colour has worn away and the marble has crumbled, leaving dry and cracked remains.

He yawns once, grunting at it (if his brain feels this tired then why won’t it just let him fucking sleep?) fisting his hands into pockets to keep them warm and continuing down the streets of his childhood hometown. The roads of Dagger are empty save for the crunch of a twig every now and again and the wind between the trees; the emptiness of it makes Baekhyun feel hollow himself.

Which is exactly why the grunting freaks Baekhyun out so much.

It’s soft at first, almost enough to be like… a really fucked up bird call, but even birds aren’t awake at this time --Baekhyun, master of all nightly hours, (not through choice) knows this better than anyone. The further he walks down the road his grandmother’s house is on, the louder the grunting becomes, accompanied by a metal twang and the solid thump of something hitting dirt.

Self-preservation has never been Baekhyun’s strength, which is exactly what has him walking towards the noise, rather than away from it, curiosity winning above all. At least he has the decency to tiptoe, and is definitely ready to run if he must by the time he makes out the figure in the darkness, digging a hole.

Baekhyun should not walk towards the man digging a hole in the middle of the woods at three a.m, Baekhyun should definitely be doing literally anything else. Yet here he is, sleep-deprivation cancelling out any like, actual logic, as he walks towards the probable murderer digging in his victims.

Baekhyun steps on a twig, and immediately the figure turns with an eerie amount of speed, watching Baekhyun closely in the darkness.

“Um,” Baekhyun says.

The figure straightens until he’s standing rather than bent over the hole he’d been filling, which is when Baekhyun realises he’s probably going to get shoveled to death.

Yet, instead he gets, “... Baekhyun?”

Baekhyun knows that voice, but it’s hard to make out the face in the darkness, having no idea how the gravedigger had managed to see his. Scrambling for his phone, he holds up the lock screen, and watches as Mr. Shovel flinches back from the bright light.

“... Jongdae?!”

“Hey man!” Jongdae grins, skin painted grey by Baekhyun’s lock screen of Venice Beach as he casually throws an arm over his shovel and leans against it, still squinting at the light. “Long time no see!!! What’re you doing back here?”

“Um, vacation…” Baekhyun says slowly, squinting. “You look…” well, dirty, first and foremost, smudged with soil and… mud, maybe? But his skin is smoother than Baekhyun remembers, his face a little less cutesy than what it had been in high school, more… handsome, with piercings running up and down each ear and one in his tongue --that's definitely new. Baekhyun should probably say good or great or fantastic but instead he says, “... Suspicious.”

“Suspicious?” Jongdae asks, almost looking a little hurt until he glances at the hole behind him and the shovel in his hands. “Oh.”

“Yeah,” Baekhyun offers unceremoniously. “Did you like… become a murderer after high school or something?” He laughs nervously. “Pretty sure you were voted ‘most likely to be sainted’ so, really. Congrats on the plot twist.”

“Actually I was voted 'most likely to go to heaven' which isn’t that much of an achievement--” Jongdae runs his fingers through his hair, pushing it back. “--also, I’m not a murderer.”

“Priorities,” Baekhyun wryly says, then tries to glance behind Jongdae, who abruptly blocks his line of sight with his body, smiling innocently. Baekhyun frowns. “What’s with the gravedigger concept, then? Hunting for treasure?”

“Uhhhh sure, yep.” Jongdae laughs nervously; Baekhyun raises an eyebrow. “But hey enough about me, why are you walking around the woods in the middle of the night?”

“I can’t sleep,” Baekhyun answers honestly, wondering if Jongdae really thinks he’s going to let him off that easily as he moves forward faux-casually. “Walking around stops me from sitting in bed and hating myself --clears my head and stuff, tires me out.” As Jongdae nods attentively, watching Baekhyun cooly walk closer, Baekhyun quickly dashes past him as Jongdae says don’t-- and shouts, “A-ha!!”

It’s a deer, or at least, was one, lying on its side in the hole Jongdae has dug, half buried. Its eyes stare lifelessly into nothing, and Baekhyun wouldn’t say that this is particularly as satisfying as a treasure chest might have been.

“... Oh.” Baekhyun says lamely. It’s not fully grown --merely a fawn-- the sight of its corpse rolls acid through his stomach. “I think I would have preferred it if you were a murderer.”

“Sorry I-- I didn’t want you to see,” Jongdae says quietly, morbidly. “There’s a lot of roadkill around here because of the highway, and… I don’t know. I feel bad about just leaving it out.” His eyebrows furrow together, and Baekhyun’s heart aches a little, as Jongdae stares down at the deer with a complicated look on his face. It’s nice to know that even after eight years he’s still as much as a bleeding heart as he had been in high school --Baekhyun wouldn’t be surprised if Jongdae is still vegetarian and everything. Jongdae laughs nervously. “I guess that’s kind of gross, huh? Maybe I should just leave it for the wolves but-- I can’t stand seeing it, knowing that it was... hit by a car.”

“No, Jongdae it’s… sweet?” Baekhyun offers, placing a hand on his arm. He doesn’t quite have the words for what he wants to say. “It’s… a little creepy--” Jongdae frowns. “--but it’s respectful that you’re doing this, you know?” Baekhyun lets his hand fall, and regretfully turns back to the deer. “It was so young.” He adds quietly.

“Its ankle was broken,” Jongdae says softly, steeling his expression. “It had been abandoned by its family, it would have died anyway. The car was just the finishing blow I guess.”

The apathy with which he suddenly speaks surprises Baekhyun, but there’s still a sadness to Jongdae’s eyes in the darkness, the coldness merely a defense mechanism for the mourning of the deer.

“C’mon,” Baekhyun says, picking up the shovel. “Take a break, I’ll fill the hole for a while.”

Jongdae tries to argue, but Baekhyun is adamant, allowing Jongdae to sit by the trunk of a nearby pine while Baekhyun fills the hole in silence. Jongdae looks oddly sad and guilty, so Baekhyun thinks it’s better not to speak, especially better not to mention how the deer doesn’t look like it was hit by a car in the slightest --but what would Baekhyun know.



 

“I feel like our reunion should have been more… cheery than that?” Jongdae chucks the shovel behind a tree as his mouth twists. “I dunno.”

Baekhyun shrugs. “Don’t worry about it, it wasn’t exactly planned.” If anything, he hadn’t known Jongdae was still in this deadbeat town, having figured everyone would have moved on, just like Baekhyun had.

(Back in high school, Baekhyun and Jongdae had been joint at the hip, two of a kind. Once Baekhyun had moved to L.A, that distance had been stretched and stretched and stretched until it was so thin it had snapped. The fade out had been gradual enough that by the time Baekhyun had realised the next song of their lives was playing, it was too late to hit rewind and talk to Jongdae one last time.

Now, though, there’s an odd amount of awkwardness between them that hangs in the air, as well as eight years of silence to fix, but it’s not terrible. There’s still a sort of comfort from being childhood friends that can’t be lost no matter how much time passes.)

“Still, I feel bad…” Jongdae rubs the back of his neck. “How about I make it up to you?”

Which is how Baekhyun ends up walking back on the main road towards a nearby 24 hour diner while Jongdae talks about how most of the land along this strip still belongs to his family after all this time. It’s one of the reasons they’d become friends, after all, the only two same-aged boys on the entire block, exploring the dense forest together and catching the same bus to school. The way Baekhyun and Jongdae had fallen together had been inevitable --maybe that fateful pull hasn’t changed after all this time.

“Do you still live with your parents?” Baekhyun asks curiously, and Jongdae pulls a face in response.

“No,” He answers firmly. “Something happened a few months ago and we kind of… have too many arguments about it. I live closer to town for work with a friend.”

“Then why are you out here?” Baekhyun continues, raising an eyebrow. His grandmother’s house and the Kim property is about a half-hour’s drive out from the town centre, and he doubts Jongdae got over his driver’s anxiety even after all this time.

“Uhhh visiting for the weekend,” Jongdae gives a flimsy smile, but Baekhyun decides not to push --whatever happened between Jongdae and his family is evidently quite personal, once upon a time, maybe, he’d have been able to ask, but now... “Usually come down for Sunday mass and stuff. What about you? Lil ol’ Dagger doesn’t strike me as a top rated spot for vacation.”

“Ah,” Baekhyun answers awkwardly. “Well, um, the vacation wasn’t exactly my choice, so to speak… but it doesn’t matter. It’s good to be back, not much has changed.”

If Jongdae notices the flimsy non sequitur --which he inevitably has-- he doesn’t mention it, just scoffs as they walk towards the neon lit American-style diner at the edge of the highway.

“A lot of things have changed,” Jongdae shrugs, fingers tugging at the hems of his sleeves, dirt encrusted. “You’ll see eventually.”

Unsure of how to respond, Baekhyun just opens the front door instead, bell jingling as he enters.

“Table for two?” The waitress asks, as Baekhyun nods, shrugging off his coat and faltering when he sees Jongdae behind him, frozen still.

The hesitation comes in two parts --the first, because of the clear lighting, it’s easier to see the odd gold highlights in Jongdae’s black eyes, the grey pallor to his skin and the dirt smears across his body and… maybe dried blood? Probably from the deer.

The second part comes in the fact that Jongdae is wide-eyed and stock-still, staring at Baekhyun like --ironically-- a deer in headlights, thumb and index finger pinching his nose.

“Jongdae?” Baekhyun asks, and he fucking sees Jongdae’s pupils shrink as he blinks back into focus. “Are you okay?”

“‘M fine!!” Jongdae quickly squeaks, shoving his hands down and smiling. “Just uh, sit down, yeah? I wanna wash my hands.”

“Oooookay,” Baekhyun says slowly, watching Jongdae retreat to the bathroom skeptically as he glances around the empty floor to find a seat. There are bright red vinyl booths by the back corner away from the harsh lighting that Baekhyun finds perfect, pointing them out to the waitress, and he easily slips himself into one with his back to the door, drumming his fingers on the smooth, plastic table top. The words on the menu are starting to blur together, but that’s what happens when your body is running on negative hours of sleep. Baekhyun isn’t hungry anyway.

“Sorry about that,” Jongdae says, and Baekhyun can tell he’s been in America for too long because he can hear the aboot in Jongdae’s voice. At least his arms are clean now, although his voice is all nasally, like he’s still holding his breath. “I just. Carcasses, y’know?”

“Can’t say I do,” Baekhyun replies, squinting at Jongdae, who is surreptitiously looking at anything except Baekhyun. “Are you high?”

“What?” Jongdae’s attention snaps to Baekhyun as his pupils reduce to the size of pinholes and holy fuck. “Why would you say something like that?”

“I don’t know, you’re super energetic at three a.m, you’re acting weird, and your eyes are kind of… dilated…” on cue Jongdae inhales offendedly, only for his eyes to stretch into blackness again. Jesus. His fingers are white-knuckled on the top of the table, and there’s a distinct crack as the plastic atop it splinters from the pressure. Holy shit.

“You know what?” Baekhyun squeaks, not panicking, or anything, but sleeplessness can make the body quickly jump to conclusions, as adrenaline pumps through his bloodstream; then again, his brain is just as quick too, because maybe Jongdae isn’t a murderer burying his evidence for the night, but he could be some weird sort of deer… sacrifice-r… or something. Good christian boy turned satanist, maybe. “I’m gonna wash my hands too. Be right back.”

The bathroom isn’t hard to spot with its obnoxious neon sign guiding the way, but the checkered tiles reflecting off of the mirror above the sink only makes Baekhyun’s sleep-deprived eyes hurt. Scrubbing away the dirt from under his fingernails, Baekhyun pulls out his phone from his back pocket and quickly Googles dilated eyes and super strength??? Over the diner’s free wi-fi.

The results say Jongdae is either on steroids, is Superman, or has cancer and is dying. Baekhyun doesn’t think it’s any of the above but hey, it’s been eight years, who knows how much has changed.

Dissatisfied with Google Doctor, Baekhyun figures there’s only so long he can remain in a bathroom before Jongdae gets a little worried, heading back out with a concerned frown before something clutters to the ground and Baekhyun jumps at the shock.

Because some staff member had been carrying a bucket of water, and that’s what had fallen, leaving a puddle to quickly head towards Baekhyun, who dashes to avoid it. The employee in question only stares at him helplessly, eyes wide and vacant, face red as the soapy water seeps through his shoes, so Baekhyun manages a tiny, “Um?”

The guy blinks once, slowly, and then, as if his soul is finally returning to earth, looks down at his shoes and says, “Shit.”

“Um,” Baekhyun repeats. “Do you need… a hand?”

The guy looks from the puddle on the floor to Baekhyun, dark eyes wide. “No no! Don’t worry about it I just-- need a mop, mostly,” he gives a little nervous laugh before dashing away, shoes squeaking, which only leaves Baekhyun to tip toe over the mess, back to his table at the other end of the diner.

“Okay, seriously, is there like, a drug problem in this town or something?” He half-jokes as he slides onto the vinyl booth seat, hoping Jongdae will quickly laugh it off or something. He doesn’t. Just stares at Baekhyun from behind unblinking eyes.

“Why would you say that?” He asks, tilting his head.

“Well, first you with your freaky eyes and super strength,” Baekhyun gestures to the splintered table top. “And just now in the bathroom, one of the staff like, dropped all this water and wouldn’t stop staring --”

Jongdae just laughs.

“Dude, the table was already broken when we sat down,” he pokes the plastic to prove a point; it makes a cracking noise as it bends. Baekhyun frowns. “And I know my eyes are dark and wonderful, but there’s no need to get so lost in them.” Jongdae’s smirking now, and it’s so different and opposite to the Jongdae from before, who had lost all composure and seemed on edge completely, that Baekhyun’s beginning to wonder if he’d imagined that too. “You probably just scared the poor guy. It’s three a.m, who would expect someone to come out of the bathrooms?”

Jongdae holds points on all sides, but it just leaves Baekhyun bepuzzled. He knows his brain is prone to overreacting at all times of the day, but he’s never... hallucinated. Not that he knows of. (Outside of sleep paralysis, anyway.)

“Fuck, I really need to sleep, huh,” Baekhyun runs a hand through his hair with a laugh, but Jongdae just smiles at him reassuringly.

“We’ve all been there,” he consoles, even though no, they really haven’t. Baekhyun appreciates the effort; Jongdae is still the nicest human alive even after all these years --it’s a small sort of comfort. “But I am curious… you used to sleep like, all the time.”

Oh, right. “Insomnia,” Baekhyun quickly explains, waving his hands. The waitress puts down two mugs of coffee which they both accept with smiles and thanks. “Bit of a bitch.”

Jongdae huffs drily. “No kidding,” he says. “What spurred that on, then?”

Crushing stress, crippling anxieties, and debilitating high-functioning depression, mostly, not helped by subsequent mental breakdowns under the pressure of soul-destroying job in a soul-destroying city. Baekhyun has come a long way from skipping full meals for weeks and a little too much reliance on xanax after a whole year of intense remission, but he knows his mother was a little sick of putting up with him and thought L.A was just a reminder of everything he’d had, couldn’t handle, and consequently lost.

Which is why he’s back in Dagger, apparently, because according to her, Dagger is something he’d always have, even if Jongdae sits in front of him and all Baekhyun can do is mentally calculate the lost seconds that lie spread between them like shards of broken glass, a pointed reminder that Baekhyun never has been any good at keeping things together, in all senses of the term.

“Nothing much,” Baekhyun gives a weak smile, taking a nice, long sip of his coffee. “Just life, I guess.” Insomnia is one of the longer lingering symptoms he’s still trying to deal with, but it’s all about digging out the root of the condition first. “What about you? Just a night owl, these days?”

Jongdae laughs, but it’s mechanic and kind of forced.

“I’m basically nocturnal,” he jokes, giving more of that strained laugh.

“Do you work nights, or something?” Baekhyun tilts his head, hands wrapped around his mug to keep them warm.

“Nah, I do admin stuff at the animal hospital,” he takes a sip and grimaces. Funny, for diner coffee, Baekhyun doesn’t think it’s actually all that bad. Jongdae clears his throat, placing the mug far away from him. “I just don’t need a lot of sleep, I guess.” He gives a cracked smile, dry and devoid of any sincerity.

“The things I’d give to be like that…” Baekhyun remarks, with a shake of his head. Jongdae’s expression turns grim.

“It’s not worth it,” he says sternly, and the change in atmosphere causes Baekhyun’s pulse rate to rise, which is when Jongdae blinks in realisation and smiles tightly instead. Baekhyun swears he's seen Jongdae’s pupils dilate all over again.

“But um, the animal hospital,” Baekhyun quickly adds, biting his lip. “That’s what you always wanted to do, right?”

It had certainly been Jongdae’s dream in high school, at least; four years of graduate school post four years of undergrad. Baekhyun and the prospect of being in school for that long disagreed so much Baekhyun often had an upset stomach just thinking about it, but Jongdae had always been determined, like that, one of the rare high schoolers who had actually known what they'd wanted in life. This Jongdae just looks a little pale, a tired line to his shoulders and a haphazard fuzziness to his visage, drooping at the mention.

“Ah I’m… just working there, actually. I’m not qualified…. Yet!” Jongdae hastily adds. “I had to study part time because I had to work too and getting into grad school has been… difficult.” He swallows. “I’m just kind of, trying to pull my life together before committing to that.”

“Fair enough,” Baekhyun hums, stirring his coffee absentmindedly. Baekhyun’s years at uni had been filled with stress and missed deadlines, the beginning of the end and also a sordid caffeine addiction. Baekhyun had already been having sleeping issues through his last years of high school, but university had been the straw that broke his back. “I could barely last through undergrad, so the fact that you want to continue is really admirable.”

He hadn’t meant for it to sound so… cheesy, but Baekhyun’s brain-to-mouth filter barely works when he has slept. (Which, to be fair, hasn’t happened since like, the jurassic period.) He turns red and fumbles a little bit, but Jongdae’s only smiling, which helps.

“Thanks, Baekhyunnie,” Jongdae says earnestly. The old nickname makes Baekhyun’s insides feel like a toasted marshmallow, but he’d never pay any mind to that --let alone admit it aloud.




Baekhyun makes it home by four-thirty with caffeine keeping him awake and a spring to his step. While he never saw the mysterious bucket guy again, Jongdae had seemed a little less on edge the further the night (er, morning?) went on, loosening up as they began to catch up on the eight years that had been left between them. They’d parted per Jongdae’s suggestion since he probably should have at least tried to sleep a little, with a semi-awkward hug per Baekhyun’s initiation and each other’s numbers in their phone. (Facebook, Baekhyun had argued, was completely insincere. Also the shitty, cheap SIM he’d got coming back over to Canada didn’t have much data allowance and his grandmother had crappy wifi, so.)

Baekhyun spends the rest of the hours until sunrise drifting in and out of a sleepless sort of daze, filled with muddled thoughts and hazy nothingness. By the time the sun is breaking through the cheap curtains of his room Baekhyun is sitting up and far more irritable than he had been four hours prior, but his grandmother insists on having breakfast together, so he won’t keep her waiting.

It’s only on the nicer occasions that Baekhyun’s grandmother tends to go all out on the breakfast, and today isn’t one of them. There are a few slices of bread and some homemade jars of jam from the Kim’s sitting on the table --Baekhyun recognises the pale blue ribbon wrapped around the lid, and softens at the thought. Half of him is almost convinced seeing Jongdae last night had been a sleepy hallucination, but the brand new number inputted in his phone doesn’t lie.

“Good morning Baekhyunnie,” his grandmother greets, as Baekhyun eagerly reaches for the toast. She places down a plate of sunny-side-up eggs. “How did you sleep?”

Ha, Baekhyun thinks.

“Just fine,” Baekhyun lies through his teeth, the Korean feeling oddly unfamiliar on his tongue. While he’d grown up speaking it with his mom and his grandma around, moving to L.A had left his mother severely lacking in most traditions, with Baekhyun happy to follow suit. The only times Baekhyun has used it over the past seven years has been family gatherings around chuseok and lunar new years and the occasional times he’d watch the Korean League of Legends championship series.

“Any plans for your first day back?” She continues, sitting across from him. Baekhyun waits for her to begin eating before digging in himself --it seems old manners die hard. His grandmother had picked him up from Vancouver airport yesterday afternoon, letting Baekhyun settle in a little before she’d gotten on his case about doing things. Now that he’s been back for a near whopping twenty hours, he’s definitely settled in and ready to be nagged to death --according to her, at least.

“I dunno,” Baekhyun answers noncommittally. “Isn’t this meant to be a vacation for me? Can’t I just relax?”

“Of course you can,” his grandmother consoles. “Outside. Working, making friends, doing things.” Baekhyun frowns. “If you sit around the house all day you’ll only feel worse.”

She probably has a point, somewhere underneath all that nagging. Baekhyun would feel a little more miserable if he lived in his cave/bedroom and did nothing but play League of Legends and maybe Overwatch. On the other hand, though, Baekhyun hasn’t done exactly that in years, and he’d kind of been looking forward to it.

“Fine,” Baekhyun relents. “Maybe I’ll… go for a walk today. See what’s changed.” Again. “Happy?”

His grandmother preens. “Extremely.” Baekhyun sighs.

The outskirts of Dagger don’t look any different in daylight, but only because it can barely be classified as such. Even if it’s not raining it’s still overcast, with foreboding grey clouds. For the umpteenth time since landing at the airport; Baekhyun sighs all over again.

Like his hometown, Baekhyun’s grandmother hasn’t changed at all, so he knows he only needs an hour or two outside  before she thinks he’s done ‘enough’ --enough of what, he doesn’t know, only remembers his grandmother’s paranoia that he’ll get vitamin D deficiency throughout high school. Looking back on it now, he’d have gotten vitamin D deficiency even if he did go outside, because Dagger, being a basin between mountains, where clouds sink heavy with moisture and linger, has always been grey and gloomy. Baekhyun the teenager hadn’t liked it all that much, but at least he’d been used to it. The Baekhyun of now just feels depressed even thinking about it, let alone looking at it.

He ends up walking through the forest, tracing out the paths he and Jongdae had mapped with careful symbols engraved beneath the second branch of every tall pine when they were kids. The little triangles are worn and faded, slightly smoothed over and healing, but still quite visible. Baekhyun traces over the outline of one with his thumb, mouth tasting bittersweet with sepia-covered memories of a better time. Things back then had been so much simpler, so much more straightforward, the path so clearly cut; Baekhyun frowns at the symbol, and continues through the trail.

He loops around and back with thirty minutes to spare before his grandmother will consider letting him back inside the house; cold and a bit miserable, Baekhyun settles on going back to the twenty-four hour diner from earlier, consoling himself with the promise of coffee and wifi if nothing else. It looks even dodgier in broad (grey-tinted) daylight, the neon signs dim and the dust on the windows very much visible, but it at least has a few more people inside it. Baekhyun picks the same booth in the corner, running his fingers along the cracked edge on the tabletop.

“What can I get for you?” A waitress asks; she’s short and pretty and Baekhyun is pretty sure they went to middle school together, although he can’t remember her name.

“Just coffee,” he replies, with a weak smile. “Please.” He tacks on.

He sits idly for a while, flooding his bloodstream with caffeine to resist the urge to fall asleep right there on the cracked table. Insomnia is this irritable thing where Baekhyun only ever wants to sleep and yet it’s the one thing he can’t seem to get quite right; he would’ve taken the rabid panic-attacks as a persisting symptom over this.

Either way, his head is foggy and it affects the world around him as a consequence, causing time to pass slower than it realistically should. Baekhyun fiddles around on random apps, browses nothing, reads stupid articles and takes in none of the words, but the more it goes on the more he wishes he’d just stayed in his room and curled up and done that thing where he closes his eyes and pretends he’s actually capable of sleeping for more than two hours at a time.

Baekhyun reaches for the coffee mug, only to find it empty, staring at the bottom of cup. The leftover dregs reflect how he feels, right about now.

“Here,” someone says, placating, and Baekhyun blinks at the miraculous black stream pouring in front of him before realising it’s a person with a coffee pot and not the waitress from before --she’s handling a separate table at the back-- yet he recognises the waiter all the same.

Baekhyun stares for too long, and then realises.

“Oh,” he says. “Bucket boy.”

The waiter freezes with the coffee pot in mid-air, until the liquid in the mug overfills and Baekhyun pulls his fingers back with a curse, causing the waiter to mumble out a string of unintelligible apologies and something about getting a towel. He comes back with red cheeks as he pats down Baekhyun’s table and the edges of his mug, lifting it gingerly, as Baekhyun reaches for the napkins at the end of the table to wipe his fingers.

“Sorry--” Bucket boy --er, well, Minseok, according to his nametag-- mutters, avoiding Baekhyun’s eyes. “I didn’t--”

“It’s okay,” Baekhyun consoles, waving a hand. “I’m sorry for calling you Bucket Boy it’s just-- well. Last night you dropped the bucket, so...”

Minseok laughs sheepishly and rubs at the back of his neck. There’s a single silver earring in the shape of a feather dangling from his left ear, and it catches the light as it swivels.

“Graveyard shifts are hard,” Minseok admits, embarrassed smile showing off his gums. He’s very cute, Baekhyun’s brain helpfully supplies, when he isn't dropping buckets of water and running away, which is probably what causes him to rest his chin in his palms and ask the next question.

“Isn’t working another shift straight after illegal?” Baekhyun raises his eyebrows, but Minseok just shrugs.

“I need the money,” he answers. “And I slept between them.” There’s a moment of silence, before, “Isn’t spending twelve hours at a diner illegal?”

“I haven’t been here all morning,” Baekhyun replies offendedly, scoffing and turning up his nose. He cracks an eye open. “Me wearing the same clothes and sitting at the same table is a coincidence, okay?”

Minseok gives a delighted little gummy smile that says he’s enjoyed getting under Baekhyun’s skin, and then dashes off when the pretty waitress from before tells him table thirty needs a refill. Baekhyun watches him go with his chin in his palm, and decides he’s oddly intrigued by the seemingly abashed waiter who’d just thoroughly roasted Baekhyun’s ass thirty seconds prior --he’s also hot as hell, which helps to make Baekhyun even a little more invested.

In a split-second of sleep-deprived decision, Baekhyun chugs every last drop of coffee in his mug.

“Refill~” he croons out obnoxiously as Minseok walks back to the kitchens, grinning and holding his mug out, waving it in the air. His heart is thumping and his tongue feels like it’s going to trip over itself at any moment but Baekhyun has had years to adjust to such anxious feelings, smothering them and reminding himself that he’s a natural at this sort of stuff, even if his brain’s fucked up chemistry refuses to believe it.

Minseok returns to the table with an eyebrow raised, refilling the mug.

“Hi again,” Baekhyun says, and his elbow slips off the edge of his table so he ends up stumbling forward a little, barely managing to save his nose from landing right along the cracked plastic.

“Hi,” Minseok returns, suppressing a laugh at Baekhyun’s mishap, as he rubs at his elbow with a pout. Minseok peers down into Baekhyun’s mug. “You drank that quite fast.”

“Did I?” Baekhyun asks fake-innocently, blinking up at Minseok, who only rolls his eyes before reaching over to fill it back up. There’s this pleased little smile to his face that makes Baekhyun happy to see, and lets him know that Minseok is enjoying the attention, if only a little. It’s pretty uncommon for a Korean person to live in Dagger and for Baekhyun to not know of them considering it’s a tight-knit community out here, which only helps to add to the intrigue and mystery surrounding this Minseok. “You’re from out of town, right?”

Minseok pauses at that, tilting his head. It causes the earring to dangle over his shoulder. “You aren’t?”

Baekhyun twists his lips, unsure of how to answer that. “Both yes and no.” He decides, giving a teasing grin to match and tapping his fingers on the top of the table.

Minseok bites his cheek for a second before glancing over at empty dishes on another table and excusing himself quietly; Baekhyun gives him twenty seconds, max. His job at an advertising firm and lifestyle in general had sort of ensured Baekhyun know people above all, and all the old habits are hard to erase.

Three. Two. One.

Minseok approaches the table; Baekhyun gives him a flirtatious grin.

“Okay I’ll bite,” he says, jutting his chin forward. “How is it a yes and a no?”

Baekhyun’s smile widens on cue. Hook line and sinker.

“Well, I grew up here, but then I moved to L.A, and now I’m back,” he answers easily, which Minseok blinks at.

“And why’s that?” He asks, cocking his head. “Dagger must pale a little compared to the sunshine coast.”

Baekhyun laughs with more bitterness to it then he’d have liked. “I’m sorry, you need to unlock a higher friendship level with me for that tragic backstory.”

Minseok snorts with reluctance laced through it, and Baekhyun just grins harder, happy to have made him smile. He’s always liked talking to people and making new friends, it’s a shame how hard that’s become over the past few years, but something about Minseok ignites a spark inside him that makes him want to try --a feeling Baekhyun hasn’t felt in a damn long time.

“Fair enough,” Minseok consoles, giving a small smile. “Because I don’t even know your name.”

Baekhyun freezes. Oh.

“Baekhyun,” he offers, outstretching a hand and all. “Nice to meet you.”

“Minseok,” Minseok returns; his palm is smooth and warm.

“I know,” Baekhyun blurts, because he has foot-in-mouth syndrome when he hasn’t slept (okay so he has it when he has slept too --sue him). “I mean uh-- your. Name tag,” he manages weakly, gesturing to his shirt.

Minseok just laughs. “I figured,” he says, eyes twinkling, and excuses himself to get back to his job.

Most of the morning passes with Minseok stopping by every now and then to refill Baekhyun’s cup and chat before seeking out more work to avoid getting yelled at by his boss --who, Baekhyun discovers, has eyes like a hawk from the kitchen and Minseok doesn’t want to be reprimanded any day soon. Baekhyun finds out that Minseok travels a lot from job to job while working on his art in the meantime --something he sheepishly admits as he loops the leather bracelets around his wrists anxiously-- having been all over Canada and to other countries over the past few years, although he’d like to travel elsewhere, too.

Minseok is cute and charming in a roundabout way as Baekhyun flirts like there’s no tomorrow and Minseok reciprocates at least fifty percent of it, which is technically a pass, so Baekhyun’s in the all-clear. His suspicions are only confirmed when he realises how much time he’s killed here and that he should head back, and the bill for a single cup of coffee is accompanied by a napkin with a number sprawled on it. Minseok is nowhere in sight as Baekhyun picks up the paper with a grin and folds it into his back pocket, but maybe that had been on purpose.

Baekhyun saves the number as soon as he’s outside as Minseokkie ♡. If Baekhyun is stuck in Dagger for an unforeseeable amount of time, well; he might as well make the most of it.



 

Minseok is hard to text since he works so much, but Baekhyun makes sure to barrage him with little things here and there anyway, starting the conversation over and over again to keep the ball rolling. He keeps expecting Minseok to be put off by Baekhyun’s forthcomingness, but if anything he only seems to appreciate it, instantly replying to half his texts and always asking Baekhyun questions in return. It’s a spot of light in a town covered by grey clouds, but Minseok doesn’t have much free time to actually hang out, which leaves Baekhyun a little bored and a little lacking in social contact (outside of his grandmother) a few days in.

Baekhyun rolls around in bed, the sheets curled around his calves as he lies on his stomach and hugs his arms around his pillow, phone between his hands. There’s always Jongdae, of course, although Baekhyun feels kind of weird about… all of that. Neither of them had texted one another, and there was all this… tension in the air. Tension about their falling out, tension about Jongdae’s weird… everything… tension that just… seemed to exist, like it had always been there but Baekhyun had never noticed, a tension he couldn’t put a name to.

It exists even now as he stares at the empty text box, wondering what to say. He wants to see Jongdae, wants to spend time with him and rekindle their friendship, but there are all these stupid, unknown social cues getting in the way, and Baekhyun fears rejection more than anything else in the world. Shaking away his worries, Baekhyun quells his anxiety with the knowledge that a) Jongdae is way too nice to say no, and b) nothing will happen unless one of them makes the first move; Baekhyun never has been very patient.

 

byunbaek

R u free today?

 

“Too desperate,” Baekhyun mumbles to no one.

 

byunbaek

I’m boooooorrreeddd

 

Like that he places his phone down, and reaches across the bed for his laptop, clicking through random Youtube recommendations and pretending like he isn’t watching his phone screen for the second it lights up. (Jongdae replies after three minutes, and Baekhyun reaches for his phone at an inhuman speed.)

 

Jongdae ☆❂♡☀

Bored? In Dagger? Home of Dagger Mountain, the world-famous tourist attraction! Gasp!

 

byunbaek

-_______-

 

Jongdae ☆❂♡☀

Glad to know I’m just free entertainment for you.

 

Baekhyun rolls his eyes, shaking his head at his phone screen --there’s still a smile on his face all the same, though.

 

byunbaek

just tell me what ur up to i s2g jongdae

Jongdae ☆❂♡☀

:3

I’m shopping in town by myself for a gift for a coworker’s thing

Very prestigious event I know but I’m sure I can get you an invite if you really want.

 

Baekhyun doesn’t even try to suppress his grin, this time around.

 

byunbaek

just gimme the coordinates

Jongdae ☆❂♡☀

49.2827° N, 123.1207° W,

byunbaek

i swear to fucking christ.




Baekhyun worms a time and place to meet out of Jongdae after promising that he won’t kill him for being a piece of shit and he will actually show up, thank you very much, Jongdae. The bus that goes into the centre of town only comes every half hour so Baekhyun has to run to catch it by the time he’s ready --having spent maybe a little too long trying on outfits-- borrowing his grandmother’s bus pass with a kiss on the cheek as he dashes out. It’s the first time he’s been into town since coming back but it’s nice to see all the short, stout, weathered down buildings and know that some things never do change.

Jongdae is waiting by the fountain square with his phone out, breath fogging in the air while he scrolls through it aimlessly. As soon as Baekhyun enters the plaza Jongdae looks up with an uncanny amount of sense like he knew exactly where Baekhyun would be, but Baekhyun ignores that freak coincidence and waves obnoxiously instead, jogging over.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” he says, flushed. “Buses.” He makes a vague hand gesture.

“It’s okay, I don’t live far from here and figured you’d be late, so I wasn’t waiting too long.” Jongdae’s smug little smirk earns him a pointed elbow to the ribs, which he rubs at tenderly, pouting childishly.

“Anyway,” Baekhyun says indifferently, which causes Jongdae to let out a small whine in mock-hurt. “What gift are we looking for exactly?”

Jongdae hums, fisting his hands into his pockets. His eyes are wide and dark again, but Baekhyun pays it no mind, waving it off as the trick of the light. “It’s for a puppy shower, so…”

Baekhyun raises an eyebrow. “As in... “

Jongdae just laughs. “I work with a bunch of vets, Hyunnie. They treat all their new pets like actual humans.”

Baekhyun doesn’t even have a comeback for that.

The pet store is an obvious first (and only) choice, so they make their way towards it, winding through the narrow streets. The bell chimes as they enter and immediately every dog within the vicinity turns and barks at them, the cats hissing too. Baekhyun feels like even the fish in the tanks along the walls start to hide behind the little plastic decorations in their tank.

The store attendant seems startled by this, as Baekhyun turns to Jongdae with wide, confused eyes.

“Must’ve been the bell,” Jongdae says lamely, pointing at the chime above their heads.

“Um,” Baekhyun manages, at a lack of what to say. “Sure?”

The attendant is busying herself trying to console all the animals in the various glass displays, and Baekhyun gives her an apologetic smile as he beelines it towards the dog toys at the back, expecting Jongdae to follow. He glances behind him only to see Jongdae still loitering around the displays at the front, walking past each display slowly. The animals shut up as soon as he passes them, and Baekhyun opens his mouth to ask what the fuck is going on but Jongdae’s grin as he heads over has him faltering as he quickly changes the topic.

“So,” Jongdae interjects, before Baekhyun can even form a syllable. “What do you think I should go for?”

Baekhyun puffs out a cheek in defeat; he knows Jongdae isn’t going to answer any of his questions even if he asked them.

“I don’t know,” he answers noncommittally, running his hands over one of the collars hanging in front of him --it’s too obvious of a choice, though. “What kind of dog is it?”

“... I have no idea,” Jongdae says, and then fumbles through his pockets. “Here, I have-- a video--” he pulls out his phone and thumbs through it for a while before pulling up a video in Messenger that his coworker must have sent, of a tiny curly haired poodle mixed breed looking thing bounding around in oversized paws. It’s the cutest fucking thing Baekhyun has ever seen.

“Oh my god,” he lets out with a wistful sigh as he picks the phone out of Jongdae’s fingers to see the video more clearly --they’re ice cold. “Jesus Christ Jongdae,” Baekhyun remarks quickly. “Wear gloves.”

Jongdae blinks at him, before retracting his hands.

“Ah,” he says lamely. “Ahaha… ha. Yeah.”

After ignoring that weirdness and watching the video another fifteen times and continuing to coo, Baekhyun says, “Well, I have no idea. Wanna play with the puppies here instead?”

Jongdae narrows his eyes. “Is that your main motivation for being here?”

Baekhyun isn’t even trying to hide it. “Absolutely yes.”

Jongdae sighs in a way that’s familiar because Baekhyun knows it’s begrudging acceptance, and he happily walks up to the store attendant with a smile on his face as she just laughs wordlessly like she knows exactly what they want, giving them hand sanitiser and letting them both into the pen at the centre of the store as she starts unloading puppies into the cage, explaining how to handle them properly.

“No worries ma’am,” Baekhyun says charmingly. “I’ve done this a hundred times before.” (It’s not a lie.)

The puppies bound over to Baekhyun immediately as he sits cross-legged and lets them walk all over him, licking and teething at his bare skin, but they stay weirdly clear of Jongdae at the other side of the pen, one of the darker puppies even seeming to hide behind Baekhyun altogether.

“For a wannabe-vet, animals really hate you, huh?” Baekhyun asks amusedly, as Jongdae just sits down with a frown on his face, looking genuinely hurt.

“I don’t know why…” Jongdae trails off, watching the puppies crawl over Baekhyun with envy, so Baekhyun rolls his eyes and picks up one of the gold-brown ones, thrusting it at Jongdae. He takes it with shock, but the puppy whines and squeals, wriggling. The attendant glances over at them with worry, frowning when she sees nothing is wrong, the puppy still struggling in Jongdae’s grip.

“Hey lil guy,” Baekhyun says gently, gently scratching the puppy’s head to help it calm down. “It’s okay, you’re okay.”

The puppy relaxes minutely, then Jongdae closes his eyes like he’s concentrating and it goes limp altogether, licking at Jongdae’s palm and gnawing at it playfully. Jongdae’s smile curves his eyes --they’re completely gold now.

“Must be your cold hands,” Baekhyun jokes, reaching over to hold Jongdae’s icey hand to prove a point; Jongdae jerks away.

“Maybe,” Jongdae mumbles noncommittally, avoiding Baekhyun’s gaze. Baekhyun frowns, but moves past it, returning to what's important here --puppies. Now that they’re less afraid of Jongdae, they run back and forth between him and Baekhyun, and they both make a game of it, wiggling their fingers so that the puppies start to snap at them and chase them in circles, rubbing their bellies indulgently every time one of them submits.

At one stage Baekhyun falls backwards and the puppies easily clamber onto him, licking at his face and leaping over his stomach. It’s the most healing thing Baekhyun has ever experienced, which is why he reaches into his pocket and holds out his phone, saying, “Take a picture right now Jongdae, holy shit.”

Jongdae obliges with a cackle, and Baekhyun grins at the masterpiece result --him lying down, covered in puppies-- as they continue playing with them until the puppies are tired and Baekhyun’s stomach is growling. Jongdae laughs gently at that and suggests they actually do what they came here to accomplish, as they help the attendant pile the puppies back into their glass display.

Jongdae buys a rubber bone and a squeaky stuffed toy shaped like a corgi. “It looks just like you,” he teases as he pushes it towards Baekhyun’s face.

“I’m cuter than that,” Baekhyun says offendedly, and slaps the toy out of Jongdae’s hand. It causes it to fall to the ground, but Jongdae crouches to snatch it up before it can hit the puddles along the sidewalks, hovering just above the surface of the water. Only thing is, Baekhyun feels like he hadn’t even seen Jongdae move, more like he just… had, somehow, blinked from one position to the next at lightning speeds.

Jongdae smiles close-lipped, and Baekhyun thinks of the Jongdae from high school, with his horrible hair and sun-kissed skin and the fact that he’d died in P.E every time they’d done literally anything --so he passes it off as just a fluke. Jongdae isn’t exactly a ninja in training --not even eight years will change that.

“Where’s a good place for lunch?” Baekhyun blurts as a non sequitur, as Jongdae looks at him with dark eyes before they change back to gold. He pokes Baekhyun’s ribs teasingly.

“Oh c’mon, surely you’re not that much of a tourist.” His hands are still cold as Baekhyun shoves them away. Jongdae grins with all teeth, and it’s kind of a little scary, a little too hungry. “Forgotten all your favourite spots already?”

“Maybe they all ran out of business, how would I know?” Baekhyun counters indignantly, and Jongdae laughs as he circles his frozen fingers around Baekhyun’s wrist and tugs him forward through the vaguely familiar streets, towards the cheap Japanese place they’d loved as broke high school students. The prices have gone up, but Baekhyun is significantly richer as he orders ramen with his mouth watering, kicking Jongdae’s feet under the table when he just asks for water.

“Aren’t you hungry?” He questions, and Jongdae shrugs noncommittally.

“Not really,” he says, avoiding Baekhyun’s eyes and giving away to the fact that he’s lying. His eyes are pitch black.

Even if Baekhyun wants to push he recognises that he shouldn’t, and Jongdae watches him eat with a lazy smile on his face as he teases Baekhyun about how much he stuffs his face. Baekhyun retaliates by kicking him under the table again and it turns into a game of footsie as they chat about Jongdae’s animal-loving coworkers and Baekhyun’s old job in turn. Jongdae is such a good listener as Baekhyun (accidentally) rambles on about his old life at the firm, and it’s so refreshing to have someone just listen to it all without offering sympathy or solutions or something even worse that Baekhyun doesn’t even realise just how much he’s missed Jongdae until this very moment. Maybe, for a while, after they’d first fallen out, it had just been what Jongdae had represented, as Baekhyun’s best friend, but now Baekhyun realises it has always been everything Jongdae is and ecompasses --an irreplacable factor of Baekhyun’s life that he’s happy to have back.

Not to say that things between them aren’t different, though, because even if Baekhyun realises just how much Jongdae still means to him after all this time there’s still so many elephants in the room, although Baekhyun is beginning to realise what part of the tension just might be as Jongdae kicks at his feet and gives Baekhyun this smug little smile that looks so stupidly attractive it should be criminal. They’re both far more comfortable in who they are and what they’re looking for and distance and time has reshaped what’s between them into something less delicate… at least that’s how Baekhyun justifies his next move as instead of kicking Jongdae back he simply nudges his foot up his calf, slow and flirtatious. Jongdae’s entire body tenses as Baekhyun just bites his lip and smiles, and Jongdae stares at him with impossibly dark eyes, gaze drifting down towards Baekhyun’s mouth where his teeth are chewing on his bottom lip--

Jongdae jerks back from the table with so much force it shoves the table against Baekhyun’s chest, pinning him in.

“Wha--” Baekhyun begins to say, snapping out of the moment.

“This was a mistake,” Jongdae declares suddenly, shaking his head frantically. “This. Us. You and me. We-- we can’t, Baekhyun.”

“Can’t what?” Baekhyun asks, confused, glancing around surreptitiously as Jongdae’s sudden outburst has caused a scene. He attempts to retain a placating tone. “If I made you uncomfortable then I’m sorry and I can stop, but you’re being a little extreme here, Dae.” Baekhyun gives out a nervous laugh, hoping Jongdae will just, sit back down, please.

Jongdae shakes his head all over again. “It’s not you it’s-- We just can’t, okay? We should stay away from each other.”

What --” Baekhyun tries to say, but Jongdae is hurrying out of the restaurant and he has to push the table forward again to move. It’s so heavy he can’t even manage it, eventually sliding under it instead to get out of his seat. By the time he makes it outside of the restaurant, Jongdae is nowhere to be seen, the entire street empty.

“You’re still paying, right?” A waiter asks from the doorway. Baekhyun ignores him.

“Fuck.” Baekhyun says.




Baekhyun pays while grumbling underneath his breath and scaring all the wait staff and then leaves the restaurant still grumbling underneath his breath, scaring all the people walking past him on the sidewalk. What the fuck just happened? Did Jongdae just stand him up or what? Does it count as getting stood up if the event technically happened but he left halfway through? No, Baekhyun got fucking ditched, and as far as he can tell, it’s for no fucking reason other than… well, nothing. It’s not like Jongdae is dealing with internalised homophobia or something, and judging by some of his smiles and subtle touches over the day Baekhyun didn’t think such overt flirting would push him off the edge, so it has to be something else.

Something else, Baekhyun knows, because even if he’s loved every second that he’s spent with Jongdae he can’t deny that it’s been equally as bizarre, like something is just… off. Only problem is, Baekhyun doesn’t know what.

He’s still seething as he opens his phone and considers calling Jongdae to give him a piece of his mind, only for it to go straight to voicemail because his phone is off. Hey this is Jongdae, you know what to do.

“Absolutely go fuck yourself Jongdae Kim.” Baekhyun spits out, and then firmly hits the hang up button, as a nearby mother stares at him with wide eyes, affrontedly holding her hands over the ears of the child in her arms. Ha, that’ll show him.

Baekhyun is positively fuming now, although it’s beginning to die down as he the anger of random rejection is replaced by his gnawing anxieties, because maybe he really had done something wrong, or he’d been misreading the signs, or Jongdae has hated him this whole time and Baekhyun is imagining everything--

His phone buzzes in his palm, and Baekhyun fumbles to pick it up, stopping on the sidewalk as his shoulders fall and he realises it’s not an essay apology from Jongdae, but a message from Minseok instead. Baekhyun had sent him the puppy picture on a whim while Jongdae had bought the toys and he leans against the wall of a nearby building to answer it properly.

 

Minseokkie ♡

so cute wow!!!!!

you look so happy… you like dogs then, huh?

byunbaek

i am a total dog person my dude

Minseokkie ♡

that’s good to hear

 

Baekhyun gives a confused smile at his phone, but he’s sort of used to it by now, because Minseok often says cryptic things that don’t always seem to make sense --at least it’s as endearing as the rest of him.

If Jongdae’s keen on being a dick for no particular reason, well --Baekhyun grins at his phone as he types a response-- Baekhyun’s glad he has other, better friends instead.



 

 

Baekhyun tries to keep his mind off of Jongdae over the next few days (keyword: tries) but it’s hard when he’s filled with so much confusion and pettiness about the whole matter, only added to by the fact that Baekhyun doesn’t have a whole lot to do other than play video games in his room and flirt with Minseok at the diner when his grandmother insists he go outside to stay healthy, or something. He texts can u at least give me a reason for why you’re ignoring me? But Jongdae’s response never comes, and, in all honesty, it only hurts more, like Baekhyun has rub salt into his own wound.

He just wants some fucking answers, but they never come, until there’s a knock at the door on Sunday and Jongdae is standing outside it.

Baekhyun scowls as soon as he sees him. “Here to grovel?” He says petulantly, arms crossed as he leans against the doorframe.

“No,” Jongdae mumbles, avoiding eye contact. “My mom heard you were back and made some of your old favourites…”

Now that has Baekhyun’s attention, as Jongdae holds out a plastic bag like it’s somewhere between a peace offering and a ticking time bomb while Baekhyun peers into it only to see a neat stack of tupperware containers. He takes the bag while avoiding Jongdae’s hands, and rifles through it momentarily. It’s all the good homemade stuff that’s hard to find, a predictable tub of kimchi and some jangjorim, maybe some sort of thick looking stew that’s probably beef and some stir-fried tofu --and that’s only at first glance. Baekhyun’s mouth waters just looking at it all since he hasn’t had Mrs. Kim’s cooking since high school, and it almost makes him forget that Jongdae is standing in front of him and Baekhyun is still mad at him for being a dick.

At least Jongdae looks painfully aware of the fact, avoiding eye contact and jaw clenched like he doesn’t know whether he needs Baekhyun’s permission to leave or not. It shouldn’t be as satisfying is.

“You could at least tell me why you hate me suddenly, you know,” Baekhyun says, slicing through the thick silence with a sharp enough tongue that Jongdae physically winces.

“No,” he answers. “I really can’t.” He looks at Baekhyun then, and his eyes are completely dark. “It’s just better for both of us if we stay away from each other, okay?”

He looks so genuine and hurt, like this is as hard for Jongdae as it is for Baekhyun, and it reminds Baekhyun of just how bad he is at staying mad at Jongdae. One kicked puppy look is all it takes and now he remembers that Jongdae only ever does things for the benefit of others; he wouldn’t just be a douchebag out of the blue, there has to be a reason.

Something to do with his freaky drug addiction, or whatever, undoubtedly --not that Baekhyun will ever get an answer out of him about it.

“Thanks for the food Jongdae,” Baekhyun says shortly. Jongdae gives a small little nod, before fisting his hands into his pockets and heading back to the Kim property down the road. The door clicks as it closes, and Baekhyun rests his forehead against it, briefly.

“Who was that?” His grandmother asks in Korean, ever the eavesdropper, as Baekhyun scrambles to stand up straight, plastic bag still in hand.

“Uh,” he looks down at the food containers. “Just Jongdae. His mom heard I was back and wanted to bring some food.”

His grandmother hums and then takes the bag from his fingers, peering down at the containers with faint interest.

“I didn’t realise you two had reunited again,” she says, with a small curve to her lips that reeks of trouble. “Any reason as to why you’re acting like ex-lovers rather than friends?”

Grandmaaaa,” Baekhyun whines, as his grandmother happily cackles, gesturing for him to follow her to the kitchen and help her put away Mrs. Kim’s stuff. Baekhyun pulls a face as he slides a tub onto one of the fridge shelves; he’ll have to wash and return these containers, later. “--I don’t know, it’s just awkward after eight years,” he lies smoothly. He hadn’t really had a chance to mention bumping into Jongdae and rekindling that friendship for the entirety of a whole week since he didn’t want his grandma to know about his three a.m escapades and… Jongdae’s weird… everything.

“Between you two?” She asks with disbelief, as Baekhyun rolls his eyes.

“Eight years is a long time!!” He argues childishly, puffing out a cheek.

“But when has my Baekhyunnie ever cared about awkwardness?” She teases, pinching one of his cheeks so that it deflates and Baekhyun yelps ow, rubbing at the spot. “Things wouldn’t be awkward between you without a reason, maybe you should just ask Jongdae what that reason is.”

Baekhyun, still rubbing at his face, mumbles, “I’ve tried that.” Of course he and his grandmother are talking about two different contexts but, semantics.

“Then try harder,” she easily reprimands, pinching Baekhyun’s shoulder. How can such old hands be so strong? His grandmother pauses, like she’s debating whether her next words are worth it or not. “I’ve always thought Jongdae was worth keeping around. He’s good for you.”

Baekhyun freezes, then, because his grandmother has a point. Jongdae is acting like an obtuse idiot with his secrets and his obscurity and Baekhyun has passed it all off as a symptom of eight years stretching between them but at the end of the day, he doesn’t care about that, not in the slightest. He doesn’t care about all the missing gaps, or spaces, or making up for lost time --all he cares about is picking up from where they left off, and making sure that he doesn’t lose Jongdae again while he's here. That’s why it hurts so much to hear Jongdae say he wants nothing to do with Baekhyun, because they’ve already been living like that, and Baekhyun doesn’t want to go back to it.

“I’ll be back in a sec,” Baekhyun declares suddenly, and races to the front door to lace up his boots, hearing his grandmother’s laughter even as he rushes out and tugs on his coat. The Kim property is as well-groomed as always to Mr Kim’s particular eye as their chickens cluck out front. Baekhyun raps on the front door in three pairs of twos.

“Hi auntie,” Baekhyun greets, as Mrs. Kim blinks at him, startled. “Is Jongdae home?”

“Baekhyunnie?” She asks, as Baekhyun nods and grins charmingly. “Wow look at you all grown up--” she smiles up at him with soft, brown eyes that remind him of Jongdae, reaching out as if to touch his cheek before remembering better and pulling her hand back, letting it fall. “He’s not home right now, no.”

He expects an invitation to come in and wait, or something else, but instead Mrs. Kim bites her lip in a way that has Baekhyun thinking Jongdae isn’t the only one keeping secrets.

“Do you know where I can find him, then?” Baekhyun asks, as Mrs. Kim looks oddly conflicted so he butters her up with a soft, “Please?”

Her face falls, but then Jongdae’s dad comes up from behind with a hand on her shoulder and says, “He said he was going for a walk on the usual trail.” Mrs. Kim looks up at him scoldingly, but he ignores it for the most part. “It’s good to see you again, Baekhyun.”

“You too uncle! And thank you!!” Baekhyun calls as he heads down the driveway. “I’ll make sure we catch up some other time!!!”

Jongdae’s parents laugh despite themselves as Baekhyun yells out an extra apology for affecting their special Sunday church dinner or whatever it is religious families do, idly wondering why Jongdae is allowed to skip out on it as he thrusts his hands into his pocket and heads out to the route he knows Jongdae must have taken, huddling into his collar. He’s not really wearing enough layers to be out this late, especially with the sun setting so low, but Baekhyun is determined to back Jongdae into a corner right fucking now and demand some answers.

Except when he gets halfway through the triangle-marked trail, he realises how fucking fruitless it is to search for Jongdae in a giant forest, and probably would have had a better chance waiting on the Kim property. He’s bound to come across Jongdae eventually if he ups his pace, though, which is why Baekhyun groans before beginning to run, searching for Jongdae in the twilight.

He’s huffing and panting by the time he reaches the end of the trail, ready to fall to the floor and give up before heading back, questioning his sleep-deprived brain as to how this was meant to be a good idea-- before he notices footprints veering off the path, towards a clearing in the forest he and Jongdae had played in as kids, where a nearby creek streams through. It’s all dried up and practically nonexistent by now though, as Baekhyun follows along the old irrigation channels where it had fallen, the ground cracked and wounded after years of getting used to water.

Baekhyun is no tracker, and easily lost sight of the footprints minutes ago, but he knows he’s not too far from the clearing, and it’s worth a shot; which is all proven correct when he finds Jongdae sitting in the middle of it all, staring down a deer.

Baekhyun grins in victory, about to yell Jongdae’s name, but something stops him as the wind blows and pushes him back, almost in warning, making Baekhyun stand behind a nearby tree just to watch instead. He doesn’t really understand what’s going on, but the deer looks terrified, a wide-eyed stag that’s barely past the age of a fawn by the looks of things, its nervous ears flicking as it regards Jongdae carefully. Its body is cut up and wounded and one of its antlers is chipped from a territory fight gone wrong, but it’s the broken leg that makes it so noticeable, as Jongdae only sits there, cross-legged, regarding it cooly.

It’s both fascinating and freaky to watch Jongdae outstretch a palm in a peace offering as the stag limps towards him, hypnotised. Baekhyun can’t hear what Jongdae is saying but he can imagine the soft reassuring words that fall from his lips, as Jongdae’s gold eyes curve and he strokes the deer gently, placating, the stag’s eyes falling shut. Baekhyun is about to step out and ask what the hell is going on and what Mr. Animal-Lover here plans to do with an injured stag, but then Jongdae takes the deer’s head in two hands and snaps its neck, and Baekhyun’s entire body freezes.

Eyes wide, Baekhyun can only watch in horror as Jongdae looks at the limp deer at his feet, and then does something unexpected altogether.

As if the fully-grown stag is no heavier than a piece of paper, Jongdae picks the corpse up, and bites its fucking neck.

Baekhyun runs.



 

 

There are a lot of personal side effects of sleep-deprivation that Baekhyun is still learning about every day. It fucks with his appetite, it fucks with his memory, it fucks with his mood and his body’s physical capabilities. It fucks with most basic human functions and sometimes makes something as natural as thinking a little too hard.

It has not, in Baekhyun’s eight plus years of experience, ever caused hallucinations.

But god, some things in this town are so fucked up, Baekhyun kind of wishes it did.

Well, not some things, just Jongdae mostly, Baekhyun decides, as he stirs a spoon through his coffee and watches the ripples, deep in thought. Unsurprisingly, that night, Baekhyun couldn’t sleep, and it had forced him to get out of bed and wander in lieu of staring at his ceiling and replaying the same vivid scene over and over again in his mind, each time attached with some bullshit justification he’d tried to reason with as to why Jongdae, the vegetarian vet-in-training, would be murdering deer in the middle of the forest and sucking its blood.

Safe to say, it had been a pretty unproductive night thus far.

“Is something wrong?” Minseok asks, and Baekhyun looks up from his coffee, smiling with seconds delay.

“No,” Baekhyun answers quickly, because he’s not really sure if I just saw my best friend murder a deer and suck its blood counts as fine or not. Jongdae definitely wasn’t doing shit like this in high school, god damn it. “Everything’s fine.”

“Really?” Minseok asks, taking the seat across from Baekhyun. “Because it’s three a.m and you look like your cat just died.”

Baekhyun swallows. “I don’t have a cat.” Is all he manages, weakly. Minseok’s eyes are positively piercing.

“Baek, c’mon,” Minseok nudges his calf under the table --always more willing to slack off in the middle of the night when no one is around, as Baekhyun had learnt just now, apparently. “You can tell me what’s bothering you.”

Except, no, he really can’t, because he doesn’t know how to put into words what exactly about all of this is bothering him. He doesn’t want Jongdae to go to jail for being an animal murderer or a freaky satanist or something, and on top of that Jongdae doesn’t do anything without a reason, so there has to be some logical, forgivable explanation as to why he’s murdering animals in the middle of nowhere… right?

But Minseok is Minseok, the cute waiter Baekhyun’s been flirting with every time he orders coffee for the past few weeks, the guy he sends cute puppy pictures now that he definitely doesn’t go out of his way to look for and start a conversation. Baekhyun doesn’t want to burden him, Baekhyun wants to appear fun and flirty and confident and not like an insomniac mess drinking shitty diner coffee at three a.m because he doesn’t like to think too much.

So Baekhyun sighs and lets his shoulders drop and says, “I don’t know… I don’t think you can help.”

“How would you know?” Minseok counters, eyebrows raised.

“Welllllll,” Baekhyun taps a finger to his chin playfully, pretending to mull it over, smothering his anxiety. “Do you believe in vampires?”

It’s meant to be a joke, really, but as soon as the words fall from his mouth something in Baekhyun’s brain just thinks, oh absolutely fucking not.

But he covers up his falter with a smile as Minseok stares at him for a little too long, face impassive, before it all washes away and he snorts.

“Of course not,” Minseok replies.

“Then I guess you can’t help me,” Baekhyun shrugs and leans back in the vinyl booth, tapping his fingers along the cracked tabletop. “This is a believers-only problem.”

“Baekhyun,” Minseok chastises, nudging him again. It reminds Baekhyun of the day in the ramen restaurant, but that only hurts to think about. “Be serious.”

“I am being serious,” Baekhyun retorts petulantly, crossing his arms. “You can’t help, okay? I’m sorry it’s just. A personal problem.”

A personal problem involving Jongdae, the pale, super cold, weirdly fast and overly strong (Baekhyun still couldn’t tell if the table crack had been a hallucination or not) person, hypnotising and hunting deer in the middle of the forest and biting their necks to suck their blood.

Jesus Christ, Baekhyun wishes this didn’t sound so legitimate in his head.

“Fine,” Minseok returns, sighing, and stands to get back to work, Baekhyun wincing at how obtuse he’s been. Minseok just wants to help and Baekhyun is shutting him down so badly, it makes him feel like a shitty human being, more or less, but there’s nothing Baekhyun can do.

Seems like Baekhyun has been good at alienating everyone, these days --and Jongdae’s not the only one in this town who keeps secrets from his friends anymore.




 

While Baekhyun wants to confront Jongdae about the crime he’s a witness to, he can’t.

Jongdae will only brush it off, or call it a sleepless hallucination, or find some way to convince Baekhyun into some other conclusion, because Jongdae is good at deflecting things like that, taking the attention off of him and pushing it elsewhere, or better yet, convincing Baekhyun into doing things he doesn’t want to do. In high school they’d been an infamous duo where everyone had always assumed Baekhyun had Jongdae whipped for him, always goofing off together, when in reality it was Baekhyun that begged Jongdae for forgiveness after every petty squabble, Baekhyun who got scolded into studying by Jongdae, and Baekhyun who’d pack an extra lunch because Jongdae was a growing boy who ate too much but refused to ask his mom to put in any more work than she already did.

So Baekhyun has to be sure, he has to commit to his ridiculous hypothesis, and that means research.

It keeps him up at night, really, thumbing through wikipedia and wikias and the lore of shows like Angel, and The Vampire Diaries, even reading through a summary for Dracula . When Baekhyun types out i think my best friend is a vampire? It’s the exact moment he’s sure that he’s lost his mind, but it’s too late by this stage --he’s committed to his research, and he’s going to see it through.

Which is how he ends up at the Dagger Community Library, walking up to the front desk and asking for books on vampires.

The librarian on duty --a young Asian kid Baekhyun doesn’t recognise who’s tall and pale and kind of twink-y-- gives him a weird look, before saying, “Try the three hundreds for myths and eight hundreds for literature.”

“Thank you.” Baekhyun returns honestly, and heads towards the aisles in question, thumbing his fingers over the books available to him. There’s only so much material on the internet before Baekhyun gets a little overwhelmed and wonders if going onto the second page of google search results shows his desperation, so he’d been hoping the library might have something a little more definitive or concise, finding one of the books he’d seen listed online as a good resource for all legend-lovers! And thumbing open to the contents to find the chapter on vampires.

Baekhyun ends up with a whole stack of myth and fairy tale books in his arms as he finds a table towards the back and begins scanning through them, a little obsessively. It’s such an overload of information it makes his head hurt, as he reads about everything from Dracula to the Greek vrykolakas to the Chinese jiangshi --but Jongdae isn’t fresh and gorged with blood and doesn’t have green, mouldy skin, so a lot of the classic myths and portrayals of vampires over the years kind of get ruled out fairly quickly. Other than that it’s actually super interesting to realise just how common the phenomena of vampires and vampire-like creatures are across cultures and time, and maybe, Baekhyun thinks, it’s because they’ve always been real to begin with. (Which is a horrific realisation.)

 

Minseokkie ♡

Look at this dog… [ Minseokkie ♡ sent a link ]

 

Baekhyun smiles down at his phone as it lights up on the table, and recognises Minseok’s peace treaty for what it is, watching the video of a bumbling puppy trying to work out how stairs work as he coos softly beneath his breath. (The library is quiet and deserted, but he still feels weirdly self-conscious under the gaze from the twink at the front desk.)

 

byunbaek

Waahh so cute ( ´ ∀ `)

Minseokkie ♡

I know right!!!

What’re you up to today?

 

Baekhyun takes the opportunity to snap a selfie of himself, giving a wonky peace sign and making sure to capture the rows of bookshelves in the background, attaching a little wbu?? Beneath it.

 

Minseokkie ♡

Killing time before work and trying not to die… [(--)]..zzZ

Is that a library??

byunbaek

despite popular opinion i can actually read

shocking i kno

Minseokkie ♡

I was more shocked about… being in a library… for any reason at all, actually

But that too

 

Baekhyun sticks out his tongue.

 

byunbaek

i’m researching vampires

 

It’s a whole truth disguised as a joke which is… kind of depressing, in hindsight, because Baekhyun is actually researching vampires. Legitimately. Because he thinks they’re real and his (ex. Baekhyun keeps forgetting the ex.) best friend is one of them.

 

Minseokkie ♡

Um. okay?

You don’t actually think they’re real, do you?

 

Something about the easily misinterpreted tone of the text or maybe the words at face-value cause Baekhyun to frown at his screen then, eyebrows knitted together.

 

byunbaek

maybe i do

so what?

 

It’s defensive, but Baekhyun is defensive by nature. He’s had a lifetime of judgement over the past few years to last him a lifetime, he’s not looking for any more now.

 

Minseokkie ♡

Well, you’re an adult, I guess…

 

Maybe Minseok’s text is only meant to be teasing, but it comes off as patronising instead, causing Baekhyun’s face to twist into a slight sneer. Recognising his own frustration he plants his phone face-down instead of saying something he’ll regret, and ignores it pointedly as it keeps buzzing, continuing to read about the impundulu, a blood-sucking bird with thunder and lightning beneath its wings. Baekhyun doesn’t think Jongdae is the familiar of a witch or a bird or a god of lightning, but he keeps reading anyway at this stage, purely because it’s interesting.



 

 

Baekhyun waits until Sunday, when he knows Jongdae will be home with his parents, to do anything.

It’s been a tiring few days of thorough research, obsessive wikipedia jumping, and way too many lost League games, which all in all leave Baekhyun with a well-researched, definite case, that’s sure to squeeze the truth about Jongdae’s vampiric activities out of him. Baekhyun marches down the road determinedly as his phone buzzes with texts from Minseok, who Baekhyun is still wary of but way too soft on, and he pointedly switches it to silent because he refuses to be distracted from his main task.

Baekhyun knocks on the front door, only for Mrs. Kim to open it with a smile that falls as soon as she sees Baekhyun. Ouch.

“Hi,” Baekhyun says, and holds out the plastic bag of borrowed tupperware containers, thoroughly washed and dried. Mrs. Kim accepts it warily.

“Jongdae isn’t here right now,” she says, oddly cold coming from the woman who had practically been like a second mother to Baekhyun for a majority of his life. Baekhyun smiles at her regardless.

“I can see his shoes,” he points out, faltering for a split second because he forgot the Korean word for shoes --he always gets it confused with the ones for socks, even though they’re not similar at all, it’s just one of those things. Mrs. Kim is unwavering though, even as she shuffles nervously, so Baekhyun says, “Please?”

Her jaw clenches, and then she turns behind her to yell, “Jongdae!”

“Coming!” Is Jongdae’s vague ever-filial response as Baekhyun hears thumping from above, as Mrs. Kim flashes him a tired smile and Baekhyun wonders if she knows what Jongdae is. She must, right? Because it’s the only reason he can conjure up as to why she’s so adamant at keeping Baekhyun away from Jongdae while still kind of doting on him --either that, or his parents are vampires too. Baekhyun isn’t sure if it’s genetic or what, but he’s pretty sure Jongdae got turned at some stage between now and high school, at least, because he sure as hell wasn’t this shady back then.

Jongdae doesn’t look surprised as he walks walks down the stairs, just reluctant and a little tired, skin kind of dried and washed out with an odd pallour to it. Of course, Baekhyun thinks, Jongdae would have heard or smelt him coming from a mile away, so it’s no wonder he’d known Baekhyun was at the door --only his mother’s nagging would get Jongdae to actually confront him, though, ever the momma’s boy.

“Can we talk?” Baekhyun says, as Jongdae shifts from foot-to-foot, avoiding his gaze. “Please?” Baekhyun adds.

It gets to the Kims every damn time.

Jongdae shuts the door behind him, but still stands stiffly in front of it, like he’ll open it back up and run inside any minute now. He’s wearing an old tattered hoodie with holes in it and pyjama pants that aren’t even slightly warm enough to be standing outside and not shivering but, then again, Jongdae doesn’t exactly feel temperature anymore, does he?

“Baekhyun, come on, I told you--” Jongdae starts, frowning.

“I know what you are,” Baekhyun blurts immediately, just to stop Jongdae’s excuses. So much for the long speech and Harvard-style referenced facts he’d had all planned out in his head, it looks like he’s down to improv again now.

Jongdae’s body tenses minutely, but then he stares at Baekhyun flatly with a look that doesn’t suit his face in the slightest. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He deadpans.

“You’re fast,” Baekhyun says, thinking back to Jongdae’s reflexes. “Strong… your skin is pasty and you’re always cold…” Jongdae just watches him, face impassive. “You don’t eat or drink, your eyes change colour, and--” Baekhyun sharply inhales, because it feels like Jongdae is standing closer than he had been before he blinked, but he hadn’t seen him move. “--And I kind of saw you snap a deer’s neck and then drink from it.”

Jongdae blinks at that, caught off-guard, thrown off balance as he grips the railing beside him to steady himself. “Baekhyun,” he warns, hand outstretched placatingly. “Don’t say it--”

“You’re a vampire.”

The porch rail snaps beneath Jongdae’s hands, and Jongdae winces on cue. Too much silence stretches on before he says, “What are you talking about? Hahaha… ha…”

Baekhyun looks at him.

“Alright fine, whatever, I give up,” Jongdae collapses onto the porch swing with a dejected thump. “I’m a shitty liar anyway and you’ve got that I-know-I’m-right face on.”

“Wow, that was easier than I expected,” Baekhyun says, happily taking the seat next to Jongdae. “I can’t believe you’re actually a fucking vampire.”

Jongdae just looks at Baekhyun, and softly asks, “You’re not afraid?”

“No,” Baekhyun answers easily, even though logically, he knows, maybe he should be, because Jongdae is a murderous blood sucking demon, but… eh, it’s kind of hot. “You may be a vampire, but you’re still Jongdae.”

He is still Jongdae, the animal-loving nerd who likes making people smile and couldn’t kill spiders when they crawled into his room, even though they’re the one thing he hates most of all. Jongdae, who buries the deers he hunts because he feels bad about it, who drinks from animals instead of humans, who told Baekhyun to stay away from him because he’s a fucking vampire. Jongdae, who has always been like a second home to Baekhyun, more than Dagger is and certainly more than L.A ever had been, a source of comfort and familiarity and a place to put his trust unwaveringly. Jongdae may be an evil undead demon (or something), but he is, first and foremost, Jongdae.

“You should be, you know,” Jongdae mutters darkly, eyes impossibly black in the light filtering through the front windows. “If you know what I am then you should know what I want most of all.”

“Blood,” Baekhyun answers easily, and can hear a sarcastic voice in his head go ding ding ding, A-plus! Jongdae’s staring at him darkly now, mouth slackish and slightly agape, showcasing his elongated fangs as a hand rises to run along Baekhyun’s jawline tantalisingly. Baekhyun shivers as Jongdae’s fingers make their way impossibly slowly downwards to press against the pulse point in his neck, cold and electrifying all at once.

Baekhyun snatches his wrist in mid-air.

“Stop it,” Baekhyun chastises, breaking the heavy atmosphere. “You’re just trying to scare me and it’s not working, F-Y-I.”

Jongdae pouts cutely, but his fingers press down on Baekhyun’s accelerated pulse to prove a point. “It’s working a little,” he whines.

It’s more a case of Jongdae being a gorgeous human being who is gently touching Baekhyun’s sensitive spots more than like, fear, but Baekhyun definitely isn’t going to say that out loud. Vampires can’t read minds, right?

Baekhyun frowns. “How did this happen to you?” He asks, poking at Jongdae’s mouth to see his fangs again until Jongdae makes an affronted noise and slaps his hands away. Baekhyun grins. “You weren’t a vampire in high school, last time I checked.”

“People change,” Jongdae offers, nonchalant and fake-deep, so Baekhyun pinches him, and Jongdae still flinches even if he’s undead, has super strength, and probably didn’t even feel that.

“They don’t change that much,” Baekhyun snorts, then adds, “I managed to stay alive.”

Jongdae gives him a flat look at that, which only causes Baekhyun to snicker, before Jongdae rubs the back of his neck and says, “It’s really not that interesting of a story.”

Baekhyun shrugs. “I got time.”

“Oh no, it’s not a long story, it’s just a boring one,” Jongdae sighs and leans back, arm hanging over the back of the swing. “I went out to drinks with friends one night, got attacked on the street, woke up in the forest as an undead creature of the night with a raging thirst for blood.” Jongdae says it the same factual way someone might say and the weather today is cloudy. “My boyfriend dumped me, my parents freaked out, and worse than that--” Jongdae’s face twists up. “--I had to give up being vegetarian after ten plus years of going strong…”

“Wow,” Baekhyun says. “Being a vampire really does… suck, huh?”

Jongdae looks at him.

“How long have you been waiting to use that?”

“A week or so, give or take.”

Jongdae sighs as he scrubs at his face. “Look, it is shitty okay?” His forehead wrinkles as he frowns. “I’ll probably look like a twenty-five year old for the rest of my life, I’ll watch everyone I love die, and I’m fighting the urge to murder everyone all the time.” He huffs out a dejected breath of air, fogging in front of him. “It’s not as glamorous as it looks.”

“Aw c’mon Dae,” Baekhyun elbows him in the ribs. “You’ll be hot forever, you might’ve watched ‘em die anyway, and what’s a few murderous instincts between bros?”

“You don’t get it,” Jongdae says, leaning over his knees as he stares outwards. “I want to murder you every time I look at you." His eyebrows furrow together, turning back to Baekhyun. "Why aren’t you scared of that?”

“Because you’re you,” Baekhyun answers simply, placing a hand on Jongdae’s back and feeling the way the muscles stiffen before smoothing out beneath his palm, like Jongdae truly is torn somewhere between killing Baekhyun and accepting his comfort. “You haven’t killed anyone else, right?” After a moment, Jongdae shakes his head vigorously. “Then why would you start now?”

“Because it’s different with you,” Jongdae replies plainly, sitting back so that Baekhyun is forced to awkwardly retract his hand, placing it in his lap. “You’re… you.” Baekhyun blinks, and then Jongdae licks his lips and corrects it to, “I mean you’re you and you’re… you smell… different, to me.”

Discretely, Baekhyun leans down to sniff at his armpits, and Jongdae snorts.

“Not like that,” he reluctantly laughs, pushing Baekhyun with enough force that the swing begins to rock back and forth. “But your… blood, I guess.”

“Elaborate,” Baekhyun semi-orders, purely because he can tell from Jongdae’s face that he doesn’t want to.

“It’s called… a singer,” Jongdae explains. “It’s like. I dunno, some weird vampire one-in-a-million chance where a certain person’s blood just smells… really uh…”

“Tasty?” Baekhyun offers. “Delicious? Tantalisingly mouthwatering?”

“All of the above,” Jongdae chooses, then lets out a dry huff. “Imagine the look on my face when I realised that for me, that person is you.”

“I mean, I don’t need to, I was there,” Baekhyun says without thinking, and when Jongdae raises his eyebrows, clarifies further. “The diner, right? That was the second Freaky Jongdae Moment.”

Eye pitched-blank and pinching his nose like he couldn’t handle the smell of Baekhyun, no longer smothered by the scents of the forest and deer corpses --it’s a hard moment to erase.

“Ah,” Jongdae says, embarrassed. “Right…”

“How did you learn all of this anyway?” Baekhyun asks, because he sure as hell hadn’t read anything about a… blood singer, or whatever, in all his thorough research, and Jongdae had to have started off just as clueless.

“I have… a vampire mentor,” Jongdae replies.

Baekhyun’s voice drops as he conspiratorially whispers, “Your sire?”

Jongdae bursts into laughter.

“Okay well, no one ever uses that word, ever, but no. I have no idea who turned me, although Sehun assured me it was some asshole passing by and I was probably an accident, which is always fun to hear.” Baekhyun is pretty sure he was an accident too, but his mother never confirmed nor denied the fact. “But yeah Sehun is just, some random vamp that happened to find me. I’m lucky, I guess, that period where I was first awake… that was the hardest part.” His expression turns grim. “Facing all of this, so alone and confused...”

Baekhyun is unsure of what to say then, so for once in his life, he doesn’t, just stretches an arm around Jongdae’s back and rests his head on his shoulder, feeling the way Jongdae’s body moulds against his instinctively. It’s not much, but Baekhyun hopes it’s enough to convey that he’ll always be here for Jongdae from now on, even if Jongdae wants to kill him and thinks they should stay away from each other because of it; he isn’t alone anymore.

Jongdae’s mom steps out onto the patio, and Baekhyun lifts his head, although his arm remains, thumbs tracing circles on Jongdae’s bicep.

“Oh, um, Jongdae you should come inside for dinner--” she fumbles, obviously not sure what to make of the situation.

“It’s okay mom,” Jongdae relents. “He knows.”

There’s a moment of silence, and then Mrs. Kim breaks into a grin.

“Well then,” she says, visibly relaxed. “Care to join us, Baekhyunnie?”

And how can Baekhyun say no to free food?

Baekhyun voices as such, and Jongdae’s mom laughs delightedly, the atmosphere in the house immediately lighter now that Baekhyun is in on the family secret.

“Dude,” Baekhyun elbows Jongdae’s ribs. “I can’t believe you made your mom hate me.”

Jongdae makes a noise in the back of his throat. “I was trying to get you to stay away from me!!!”

“Yeah well, you tried,” Baekhyun whispers smugly. “Because I’m not going anywhere, now.”

Jongdae’s gaze lingers for too long, but then Mrs. Kim is enthusiastically pushing Baekhyun into a seat and the moment breaks, while Baekhyun seats himself down and Jongdae’s dad expresses that he’s glad he could join them again.

Most of the night consists of catching up between Baekhyun and Jongdae’s parents, while Jongdae sits at the opposite head of the table to his father with no food or water in front of him, watching the conversation unfold in front of him with a small smile on his face. Baekhyun is quick to praise Jongdae’s mom on her cooking as he mentions that the food she'd sent didn’t even last a day and both his parents laugh, which in turn makes Jongdae’s smile just that little bit brighter. They talk about his old job and his time at uni and Baekhyun covers up all the little bits that didn’t work out because of a horrendous mental breakdown with white lies, but all in all it goes smoothly, as Baekhyun asks how Mr. Kim’s office job is going, how Jongdeok’s work overseas is panning out, and even asks Jongdae’s mom about her jam recipe improvements over the years he’s missed them.

It’s familiar and comfortable and Baekhyun’s cheeks hurt from smiling so much, as Mr. Kim says, “Wow Jongdae, you’ve barely touched your food.” In a lapse of silence and Jongdae gives him an unamused look, which Baekhyun bursts into laughter at, because he’s glad he’s not the only one trying to make light of the situation.

“I’m hungry,” Jongdae declares as he stands from the table while Baekhyun gets up to help Mrs. Kim clear all the empty plates. “I’ll be back later.”

“I’ll come with,” Baekhyun offers quickly, as Jongdae winces. “What? I’ve already seen you hunt before. At least let me walk with you for a little while.”

Jongdae’s mom arches an eyebrow. “Baekhyunnie caught you hunting?” She says, obviously disappointed that Jongdae had been careless enough to get caught.

“Alright Baekhyun let’s go!” Jongdae shouts false-cheerily as he wraps a hand around Baekhyun’s wrist and tugs him to the door. “Way to out me in front of my parents,” he hisses.

“Oops.” Baekhyun offers apologetically.

Jongdae rolls his eyes as he helps Baekhyun into his coat, and as soon as his shoes are laced up they’re out the door and Baekhyun asks, “So how does your weird hypnotism thing work, anyway?”

Jongdae grimaces at that, then noncommittally answers, “I dunno, vampires have like, 'special magic powers', and that's mine.”

Huh. Kind of cool. “Does it work on humans?” Baekhyun questions, double stepping to keep up with Jongdae’s pace.

“... I’ve never tried.” He admits quietly, and that’s the end of that, Baekhyun can tell, as Jongdae ruthlessly continues up the hillside, not giving Baekhyun a moment to catch his breath. Undeterred, Baekhyun continues to badger him with questions anyway, about whether deer blood tastes good --not really-- about whether he cuts his tongue on his new freaky fangs --occasionally-- about whether he can turn into a bat.

Jongdae snorts at that one.

“You realise half of the vampire myths aren’t true, right?” He gives Baekhyun an amused glance that he can barely make out in the darkness. “I can go outside in the day and enter houses uninvited and I see my own stunning reflection--”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes so Jongdae just cackles, but it teeters off into a comfortable silence as they continue walking through the forest.

“You’re like, listening for deer or something, right?” Baekhyun asks, unconvinced that their hunt thus far has been anything fruitless.

“Well, smell, generally, but with you here it’s kind of--” Jongdae trails off, and Baekhyun thinks, ah.

“How about I just stay here then,” Baekhyun offers. “And then you can kill a deer and come back.”

Jongdae looks unsure about leaving Baekhyun in the middle of the forest at night time, which is silly, really, because Baekhyun is pretty sure the only thing out here that wants to eat him is Jongdae.

“Okay,” Jongdae relents. “I’ll be back soon.”

And then he disappears as if he’d never stood in front of Baekhyun to begin with, who can only blink at the now-empty space in front of him. Soon turns into minutes, turns into nearing an hour, as Baekhyun sits on the damp ground and tugs his knees towards his chest to keep warm, trying not to flinch at every strange bird call or twig snapping. At one stage he swears he hears a wolf cry, and that’s the moment he’s about to bolt for good before Jongdae is in front of him again, smiling.

“Sorry,” he says quietly. “I had to go back for the shovel.”

Right, the… burials of his victims.

“It’s okay,” Baekhyun pushes himself on to his feet, and thinks to tease Jongdae about how long he’d taken, but it’s obvious Jongdae isn’t in the mood judging by the solemness of his expression. He wonders how much it pains Jongdae to hunt like this, even if it is for his own survival… how long did it take for Jongdae to come to terms with all of this --or better yet, has he even come to terms with it now?

“Let’s go back,” Baekhyun suggests, and tugs on Jongdae’s sleeve, trying not to give away to the fact that he’s freezing, his ass is wet, and his eyelids won’t stop drooping. Jongdae gives a weak little smile as he stumbles over his feet, and that makes all of it worth it.

Baekhyun is pretty unsubtly trying to communicate that this vampire thing or whatever, won’t change anything between them --hell, his damp ass can attest to that-- he just sincerely hopes Jongdae gets the message.

As if reading his mind, Jongdae’s hand curls around Baekhyun’s wrist --Baekhyun takes it as a yes.




Despite everything, Baekhyun doesn’t go home that night, staying with Jongdae instead, following him down the hall to his childhood bedroom and teasing him for the Gudetama poster Baekhyun had given him in their final year of high school that he still has on his wall. Even his bedsheets are the same, a testament to how little truly changes in this town, as Baekhyun throws himself on top of them and demands they watch something to will some of the night away.

“You should be sleeping,” Jongdae chastises, clicking his tongue.

“I’m an insomniac,” Baekhyun says matter-of-factly. “Sleeping is for the weak.”

Of course, being an insomniac, despite misconceptions, does mean he sleeps, he just doesn’t do it very well. Lo and behold an hour into the cheesy romcom Baekhyun had picked out of Jongdae’s netflix list --and subsequently teased him for-- Baekhyun finds his head drooping onto Jongdae’s shoulder as they sit thigh-to-thigh on his bed, eyelids slipping shut.

“Sleep is for the weak huh?” Jongdae says gently, so close his breath fans across Baekhyun’s face. Baekhyun can only make a noncommittal hum as Jongdae snaps his laptop shut and lowers Baekhyun down onto the pillows, tucking him in. “I really think you should be more afraid of me,” Jongdae mumbles, an accidentally voiced thought. From this close Baekhyun can hear the way Jongdae nervously taps his tongue piercing against his front teeth.

“Even if you don’t believe you won’t hurt me,” Baekhyun yawns, exhaling tiredly. “I do.”

Baekhyun manages to keep his eyelids open long enough to see Jongdae’s face hovering above him as he repositions the pillows with the frown, and to notice that it’s begun to rain outside. He thinks he spots a large  four-legged shadow moving between the trees as a wolf howls in the distance, but he’s far too tired to think anything of it.




 

Baekhyun wakes up with a fuzzy taste to his mouth in sheets that smell like lemon detergent and Jongdae. Groaning as he sits up, he squints at the light at the other end of the room, coming from Jongdae watching videos on Youtube on his laptop.

He pops out an earbud as soon as Baekhyun rises, saying, “Morning, sunshine.”

Baekhyun rubs his face as he asks, “How long was I out?”

Jongdae swivels on his desk chair back around to his desk top, spinning his earbud on its chord idly. “Three hours-ish.”

“New personal best,” Baekhyun mutters groggily, and pulls the blankets tighter around his body, knowing anymore sleep won’t be coming for a long time. “Did you just sit there and watch me sleep?”

Jongdae rolls his eyes. “Oh you know me, I just love watching you sleep,” he replies sardonically; Baekhyun snickers. “It’s still my room, asshole.”

Baekhyun just scooches aside and pats the spot next to him, saying “Whatcha watching?” Cutely as Jongdae brings his laptop to the bed and they take up their positions from earlier, shoulder-to-shoulder and thigh-to-thigh. It’s hard to make out Jongdae’s face in the darkness, but the brightness of Youtube’s background is enough to make out the length of his eyelashes, the bridge of his nose.

“Nothing interesting,” Jongdae answers, but offers out the other earbud wordlessly as Baekhyun buries into his cold chest; his clothes smell like lemon detergent and Jongdae. There isn’t a heartbeat, which Baekhyun finds funny, but his chest still rises and falls with breath he doesn’t need to take, like it’s a habit Jongdae hasn’t broken yet. It’s comfortable and warm --even if Jongdae is cold-- and safe, and Baekhyun doesn’t feel the usual frustration he has at this time of night for not being asleep, he just feels oddly content. Even if his best friend is a vampire, well, at least he’s still Baekhyun’s best friend.

The sun rises as they’re on their umpteenth Let’s Play for the night, with Baekhyun muffling his laughter into the crook of Jongdae’s neck so as not to wake his parents.

Jongdae’s fingers are gentle as the brush Baekhyun’s bangs out of his eyes, his voice low as he mutters, “You should really go home and try to sleep more.”

“Probably,” Baekhyun agrees noncommittally, but he’s just so comfortable. Jongdae laughs quietly when Baekhyun makes a move to bite his wandering fingers and something in Baekhyun’s chest seizes up completely, frozen still. There’s enough grey-tinted light through the open, rain-streaked window for Baekhyun to make out Jongdae’s upturned lips and Baekhyun thinks, oh.

“C’mon Hyunnie,” Jongdae says, overly sweet, shutting the laptop and swinging his legs over the side of the bed. “I’ll walk you home.”

While silence is usually hated by Baekhyun in all forms, giving him too much room to think and hear the nagging thoughts he spends a lot of time ignoring, with Jongdae it’s merely comfortable, as they tip-toe out of the house and down the road to Baekhyun’s old family home. The air is damp and smells like rainfall as the world only just begins to wake up, and Baekhyun grimaces at the thick dark clouds in the sky, threatening to pour again.

“Soooooo,” Baekhyun starts, wrapping his hand around Jongdae and tugging it, swinging it between their bodies. “Thanks for walking me home, vamp in shining armour.”

Jongdae’s eyes twinkle as he laughs. “Thanks for keeping me company--” he boops Baekhyun’s nose with his free hand. “--Insomniac in yesterday’s clothes.”

Baekhyun scoffs at that, Jongdae laughing all over again, and even though they’re standing outside Baekhyun’s front door right now, Baekhyun doesn’t want to leave.

“I hope this means you won’t start ghosting me to fulfill your self-loathing broody vampire agenda anymore,” he adds pointedly, as Jongdae just winces a little.

“I really do think it’s dangerous to be around me,” he sighs, rubbing the back of his neck.

“It’s a good thing I live on the edge then,” Baekhyun retorts, giving Jongdae a cheesy grin. Jongdae exhales all over again.

“Stubborn asshole,” he says affectionately.

“Brooding bastard,” Baekhyun adds saccharinely, and then they both laugh, still stuck in this rut of not wanting to leave one another. Jongdae laughs with his whole face, mouth stretched wide and nose all crinkled up, eyebrows scrunched together, and Baekhyun really doesn’t want to leave, he knows, because he’d rather kiss Jongdae instead.

It’s a split second thought, staring up at Jongdae with their fingers intertwined, that it isn’t right to say that’s nothing changed between them, because everything has. Baekhyun isn’t the awkward teenager confused about his sexuality and worried about his future, he’s just someone who has lost everything and doesn’t really have much less to lose. And Jongdae is… Jongdae, devilishly handsome and kind and self-sacrificing and Baekhyun just really wants to kiss him, sue him.

It’s not like Baekhyun does anything as soon as the urge hits him, but either way Jongdae leans back immediately as if he knows, and retracts his hands like Baekhyun has burnt his icey skin.

“Well,” Jongdae says suddenly, laughing forced and nervously. “See you around Baekhyun hahahaha.”

And then like that he does his freaky vampire super speed thing, and Baekhyun is left wondering what the fuck just happened, blinking at the empty space.




 

Baekhyun does manage to catch another hour and a bit of sleep before he’s awake again, glaring at the seven a.m on his phone like it just ate all his favourite snacks in the pantry. Even his grandmother won’t be awake yet, which is truly tragic, as Baekhyun sits up and groans into the palms of his hands, scrubbing his eyes with his knuckles.

Memories of last night bubble through his mind at the rate of sickeningly sweet syrup, making Baekhyun’s chest alight with strange butterflies that feel so familiar he wonders if they’ve always been there, when it comes to Jongdae. In high school Baekhyun couldn’t tell if he’d liked boys or not, couldn’t tell the difference between friendship and more. Now, Baekhyun is a little more adverse, and it’s kind of nice, in a weird way, to be reminded that he is able to have feelings like this. So much of his emotional effort over the past few years has been directed towards hating himself or trying not to, it’s kind of refreshing to remember that he’s capable of softer things.

Then he remembers the part where Jongdae abruptly acted weird.

Again.

Maybe it’s just a vampire thing.

Baekhyun scrambles out of bed to shower some of the grogginess away, and rummages through his overnight notifications while he waits for his face mask timer to go off. Most of it are app reminders and a few emails he refuses to read, but there are a couple of texts from Minseok Baekhyun kind of feels bad for accidentally ignoring, time stamped across various hours.

 

Minseokkie ♡

look at this [Minseokkie ♡ sent a link]

are you mad at me? I’m sorry for what i said the other day, i was being a jerk

Baekhyunnnnn

 

Baekhyun winces.

 

byunbaek

sorry, i was with a friend

didnt wanna be rude ykno

Minseokkie ♡

No it’s okay!!!

Are you free today?

 

Baekhyun blinks at that, scratching his chin absentmindedly and grimacing when it dislodges the face mask a bit.

 

byunbaek

kinda free all the time,,, why?

 

Minseokkie ♡

Let me buy you breakfast!

And you can tell me cool vampire facts.

 

Despite everything, Baekhyun finds himself smiling at his phone, because Minseok can be so stupidly cute sometimes it’s ridiculously endearing. It doesn’t help that he’s like the hottest person alive and loves giving Baekhyun the thing he wants most (attention), but the fact that he’s trying to make it up to him with little gestures speaks mountains, really, and Baekhyun is so stupidly flattered and charmed he wishes he wasn’t so easy, honestly.

Butterflies in his chest again; but this time, not because of Jongdae.

Oh no.

Chapter Text

The cafe Minseok had suggested lies towards the centre of town, family run, of course, but since it’s the middle of nowhere they don’t actually open until noon --but Minseok had assured Baekhyun the breakfast menu was indeed all day. It’s cute and fairly new considering Baekhyun doesn’t remember it, but maybe that just sort of fits the Minseok theme. Cute and new.

“Hi,” Baekhyun says, as soon as he spots Minseok sitting at a table by the window. It’s sunny out, for once, but still absolutely freezing, swathed in a fluffy sweater and a bright blue scarf. It’s adorable and makes Baekhyun want to bundle him up, and he just can’t stop staring.

“Hi,” Minseok replies happily, eyes curving as Baekhyun takes the seat opposite him, looking at him to the point that Minseok is unnerved. “What?”

“You know,” Baekhyun realises, having wondered why the casual clothes on Minseok seem so… noteworthy. “I think this is the first time we’ve actually properly hung out. Outside of your job, I mean.”

“Oh…” Minseok scratches his cheek sheepishly. “I work a lot, don’t I…”

Baekhyun smiles softly in amusement. “Understatement much?” He plucks one of the laminated menus from the napkin stand, perusing it idly.

“I have to save up a lot so I can travel…” Minseok rubs the back of his neck --he’s only mentioned the places he’s visited thus far in passing, but Baekhyun is pretty sure the list is long.

“Where were you thinking of going next?” He asks. Baekhyun’s palms are sweating because he’s nervous, antsy to keep the conversation going --not that he’s ever been bad at that, but it’s still an urge regardless. Minseok can be quite soft-spoken despite his friendly composure, so Baekhyun wants to make sure he keeps him opened up enough. It’s probably just because Minseok is super hot and Baekhyun really wants him to actually like Baekhyun, but that’s just semantics.

“Hmm I don’t know?” Minseok answers, mouth twisted in thought. “South America, maybe? I was thinking New Zealand but it’s expensive…” He makes a momentary face of distaste. “And cold.”

That causes Baekhyun to frown. “If you’ve travelled the world so much, why the hell would you come here?” It’s certainly not Rio de Janeiro or Auckland, with its dull gloom and quiet nothingness. It’s impossible for Baekhyun to imagine the way Minseok lives, paycheque to paycheque, yet exploring every corner of the world. Baekhyun had been raised to think that a steady job up a corporate ladder was the only way to live, yet here Minseok is, living far more than Baekhyun ever has --and choosing to spend some of that in Dagger, of all places.  

Minseok shrugs. “It’s easier to work and save up here instead of worrying about visas and stuff, but I still want to try new things, so i picked this town at random, really.” He smiles.

Baekhyun grins charmingly. “Lucky for me.” Minseok just laughs bashfully, shaking his head at Baekhyun.

“If you hate dagger so much,” he asks pointedly. “Then why are you here?”

It’s not the first time Minseok has asked, of course, but it’s the first time Baekhyun feels like he can answer. “Because I had a mental breakdown, was hospitalised for a bit, and my family decided they didn’t want to deal with me so they sent me back here because I guess my grandma is the only one willing to deal with me.” He gives a bitter smile, wincing slightly for airing so much dirty laundry. “Sorry,” Baekhyun rubs the back of his neck. It’s always a sour topic, even if it’s the truth, but the lingering resent of being treated like a ticking time bomb hasn’t faded even after all these months. “I shouldn’t have dumped that on you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Minseok scolds. “I asked, didn’t I?” He kicks Baekhyun lightly beneath the table, giving a reassuring smile. It’s the first time Baekhyun has ever told someone who’s treated Baekhyun with something other than pity or an awkward pause, just completely accepting of the truth without question or judgement. “I’m sorry your family treats you like that,” Minseok says softly. “But I think you should be proud. You’ve come a long way from that from the sounds of things, it’s really admirable to be able to take care of yourself like that.”

Baekhyun pauses, absolutely taken aback, because the words mean more to him than Minseok could ever possibly realise. All he’s ever received is judgement and the reminder that he simply needs to do better, try harder, that just because he was in hospital didn’t make his mental illness real --even if they’d lost the language and some of the traditions, his family was still Korean to the bitter end.

So Minseok’s genuine praise hits Baekhyun like a string of trucks, and as much as he wants to get bashful and brush Minseok aside, he knows better than that. “Thank you,” Baekhyun says earnestly, face pink as Minseok just smiles at him and, oh. “What about your family?” He quickly changes the topic, picking up the menu again to hide his flushed face. “Do they like you travelling around the world all the time?”

“Ah, well, no…” Minseok pulls a face. “I don’t really get along with my step-dad, and mom doesn’t like that I move around all the time, so I don’t visit that much…” He gives a reassuring smile. “My sister and I talk often though, but it’s hard since we don’t see each other a lot.”

Baekhyun slumps guiltily. “Sorry,” he rubs the back of his neck, feeling awkward for having hit such a sensitive spot. “We’re really talking about all the fun topics today, huh?”

Minseok shakes his head. “It’s okay,” he says. “It’s… actually kind of nice to have someone I feel comfortable enough saying it to?” He pauses, laughing nervously. “Is that weird?”

“No,” Baekhyun answers honestly, grinning at Minseok, feeling butterflies in his stomach. “Not at all.”

A waitress comes to take their order, and they both fumble since they hadn’t really been paying that much attention to the words on the menu. While waiting for their food they talk about more light-hearted topics, like Minseok’s bad customers at work and some of Baekhyun’s experiences in L.A --a job which, of course, his mother has always pointedly said he was throwing away by having his meltdown, but, reminiscing on it now, with Minseok in front of him in this quiet country town, Baekhyun is glad he had-- Minseok asks if Baekhyun plans to stay in Dagger forever, maybe even try to get a job here; Baekhyun admits that he hasn’t thought about it, but maybe a job would be a good cure for boredom.

Minseok laughs at all of Baekhyun’s jokes and teases him back in return, makes Baekhyun groan when he says something only a Dad would say, and rubs his foot along Baekhyun’s calf underneath the table, sometimes looking like he wants to lean across the table and kiss Baekhyun until the moment passes and Baekhyun thinks he's imagined things. Minseok is flirty and cute and fun and more than all of that he isn’t like Jongdae with his weird on-again-off-again signals, which is why Baekhyun has no qualms with flirting right back, because his little infatuation with Minseok is quickly becoming a full-blown crush.

It’s all going swimmingly until two people Baekhyun doesn’t recognise walk up to the table, interrupting Minseok mid-sentence.

“Minseok,” the man says plainly, but he’s obviously not used to the Korean syllables because the name is butchered on his tongue.

Minseok’s expression hardens within milliseconds. “I told you to leave me alone.” Baekhyun has never seen him act so cold before.

“You didn’t give us an answer, stray,” the other person is quick to add. “So when we saw you--”

Minseok stands up, chair squeaking loudly enough that the men are silent.

“Come on Baekhyun,” Minseok says gently, as Baekhyun just gives him a look he hope properly communicates what the fuck is going on!?!?!?!

“I--” Baekhyun barely manages before Minseok is pulling him up and towards the counter, paying quickly before dragging him out. The strange men from before --dressed in clothing so similar it’s almost uniform with an odd ruggedness to their faces-- just stand at the entryway, watching them go. “--Who was that? Should we call the police?”

Minseok snorts. “They are the police,” he answers, which Baekhyun’s eyes widen at because first vampires and now this? What the fuck is going on in this town??? “But don’t worry, I’m not in trouble with them. They’re just bothering me about something to do with their family, not the law. Don’t worry about it.”

He brushes the topic off so quickly Baekhyun doesn’t even have a chance to formulate a follow up question. It’s a sour end to an otherwise excellent date --if Baekhyun can even call it that-- but it does stand to remind Baekhyun that apparently everyone in this fucking town keeps secrets; he wonders what Minseok's is.



It’s curiosity and a rare burst of split-second motivation that has Baekhyun opening his laptop that night and thumbing through the three entire job listings for the city of Dagger. He doubts half the people in this town realise the internet even exists, and knows he has better chances handing in resumes or getting links through friends of family, but just the thought of having to do anything outside of his bed has him snapping his laptop lid shut and sighing.

It’s raining again.

It falls against the window pane in thick droplets, carving out streams along the glass. Baekhyun stands with a sigh to draw the curtains shut, wondering if it’s even worth bothering to try and sleep tonight, even as he rubs at his eyes. Just as he’s about to pull them over completely, he spots something standing at the boundary of trees behind his family home, the patio lights spilling across the ground and making the tall pines cast long shadows.

But this isn’t a shadow, because this has eyes.

“Holy fucking shit,” Baekhyun says to no one, as he stares at the huge fucking wolf outside his bedroom window. “I’m going crazy.”

He blinks once, twice, rubs at his eyes all over again just to make sure he really hasn’t had his symptoms manifest into hallucinations, and when he can still see the wolf he runs downstairs to the patio door, where he can see it more clearly, watching him from the shadows. It’s a huge white wolf edging on the end of silver, with dark eyes that watch Baekhyun closely. Fear keeps him from opening the patio door, but curiosity gnaws at him, because something about the wolf seems so inevitably unthreatening Baekhyun is almost drawn to it. There’s no way a wolf would sit outside a house alone as bait or anything, right? Baekhyun knows dogs are smart but fuck, they’re not that smart.

Right?

“If I die,” Baekhyun mumbles to no one, as his hand closes around the doorknob. “Donate my blood to Jongdae.” He might as well get one good meal out of it.

Baekhyun figures he just needs to step outside so he can see it clearly, and if the wolf makes any bad moves he can dart back in and lock the door and pretend this never happened. In one swift movement he pulls the door open and steps outside, only for the wolf to sit and tilt its head at him, like it’s waiting, or confused as to why he might be so scared. Baekhyun rapidly blinks all over again to make sure the wolf is really fucking there but it has to be, because Baekhyun’s imagination is wild but not wild enough to pick up on the shimmer of dark fur across the wolf’s back, the way it’s breath fogs in the air or the wetness of its coat. There’s a real fucking wolf sitting in Baekhyun’s backyard like a good dog waiting to be told a command, and Baekhyun is fucking bewildered.

The wolf slowly pads forward, not in a hunter’s stalk, but a hesitant trot, head down and tail between its legs like it’s submitting to Baekhyun, and it’s fucking huge. The closer the wolf gets the more Baekhyun realises how wrong he was to assume a wolf would be the same size as like, a husky, because this wolf easily stands at Baekhyun’s own head height --at least, until it lies down at the bottom step with its nose in the dirt, completely submitting.

“Um,” Baekhyun says, and when he walks forward, the wolf doesn’t flinch, just continues watching him from beneath dark eyes. “Good… boy?”

Never let it be said Baekhyun’s self-preservation instincts are fine-tuned, because the wolf looks so entirely docile he doesn’t think twice as he crouches over the two porch back steps to pat the top of its head, and the wolf positively preens, tail wagging behind it happily as Baekhyun’s fingers dig into the wet fur. It’s kind of slimy and a little gross, but the wolf seems happy as its eyes close and its tail keeps wagging, sweeping patterns into the dirt behind it, covering its white tail in filth.

“Wow you really are a good boy,” Baekhyun notes as his hand moves towards the side of the wolf’s face and it lifts its head so he can scratch beneath its chin, laughing in bewildered delight when its cold, wet nose bumps against his cheek and a lick is placed there in apology. Maybe wolves can be domesticated, or something --that’s how they got dogs after all, right?-- or maybe everything in this upside down town is just fucked up. Either way, Baekhyun is surprisingly numb to it.

He grows more adventurous with his rigorous patting as the wolf grows more pleased, rubbing along its neck and the front of its chest, happily licking at Baekhyun’s fingers and his cheeks, snuffling against the crook of his neck as it stands and nearly knocking Baekhyun over with its brute strength.

Baekhyun only laughs, lightly chastises with a, “Stop it, you.” Admiring the wolf under the low porch light --he always has been a dog person-- ignoring the raindrops that have now soaked his clothes and dampened his hair as he’d stepped out of the back porch cover.

Baekhyun’s grandmother calls, “Baekhyunnie?” And Baekhyun freezes in place because, shit, he might be used to all the weird ass shit in this town he’s meant to accept at face-value like the nihilist he is, but his grandmother might have a heart attack and die.

“Uhhhhh coming grandma!!” Baekhyun calls back, and hisses, “Go!!!” To the wolf before jogging back inside the house. The wolf only sits down dejectedly outside when Baekhyun casts a look over his shoulder, so he waves a hand and whisper-yells, “Go!!!” All over again.

“Who are you talking to?” His grandmother asks, as Baekhyun stands in front of the door with his hands behind his back.

“No one!” He says cheerily, and risks a single glance backwards. The wolf is gone. Baekhyun almost would think none of it had happened if he couldn’t still feel the dirt on his palms from touching unwashed fur.

“Why were you outside?” His grandmother asks, squinting as she regards his soaked body from head to toe disapprovingly. “You’ll catch a cold.”

“Just clearing my head for a bit,” Baekhyun gives a small smile as he lets his hands fall back to his sides, his grandmother seemingly unimpressed. “That’s all.”

His grandmother seems unconvinced, but Baekhyun flashes her another smile and she lets it drop, scolding him for getting his clothes wet this late at night regardless, especially since he’ll have to shower again. It’s not like Baekhyun’s head feels any clearer between the revelation of vampires being real, the existence of police stalkers, and friendly neighbourhood wolves, but, well, at least Dagger feels a little more interesting now.



 

When Baekhyun wakes up in the morning --the first time around, at one am-- he searches big magical dogs to no avail; nothing shows up other than picture books and children’s illustrations and Baekhyun thinks oh my god, I’m so fucking tired.

After staying up for another few hours watching minecraft videos and justifying to himself that he’s allowed to do this even though he isn’t a twelve year old prepubescent tween, and then falling asleep a little more, Baekhyun wakes up again refreshed and alert (insert studio audience laughter here) and ready to tackle the day.

Aka lie in bed and do some wikipedia jumping (after eating breakfast with his grandmother, of course).

Naturally this turns into being hassled about being productive and not fermenting in his room or something, so Baekhyun whines and says he’ll go into town to hang out with Jongdae, which is all a stunning plan until Jongdae says I have work lol.

Cross-off reliable as one of the traits Jongdae didn’t carry with him into the afterlife.

Regardless Baekhyun figures he’ll check out the library again, because it had some neat, niche sources on working the vampire thing out, maybe it will tell him what clifford the big white dog is, because something tells Baekhyun --well, okay, Wikipedia had told Baekhyun-- that wolves are big but they’re not that big, so either this town has an issue with nuclear waste being dumped into the rivers and causing radioactive mutants or vampires aren’t the only children’s tale that are real.

“Hi,” Baekhyun says, approaching the front desk where the same twink from before is on-duty. He looks at Baekhyun with a veiled look somewhere between recognition and disinterest. “Wolves?”

“Five-nineties for zoology,” the librarian replies flatly, scanning a book and adding it to a cart behind him. The fact that he knows the dewey decimal system off by heart is kind of impressive.

“Uh, no,” Baekhyun says. “I’m talking like, really big wolves. Of the magical kind?”

The librarian blinks. Once. Twice. “Such as… werewolves?”

Shit, why hadn’t Baekhyun thought of that?

“Maybe?” Baekhyun answers noncommittally, as the librarian squints at him for a moment. Had it been a full moon last night? Baekhyun hadn’t noticed...

“Then… three-hundreds for myths and eight-hundreds for literature,” he recites, the exact same answer as before. “Do you have a fantasy creature fetish or what?”

If Baekhyun’s hands weren’t full juggling his reawakened feelings for his best friend and the crush on his cute midnight waiter at the same time, (a problem he's still procrastinating thinking about) he might’ve said something a little more flirtatious to the librarian involving fetishes.

As it stands he thinks that plate is heavy enough as is, so Baekhyun has no problems saying, “I dunno, you look like you enjoy Dungeons and Dragons, you tell me if I’ve got the symptoms for the fetish, Doctor…” Baekhyun leans forward to read the librarian’s name tag. “... Sehun.”

Something about the name feels familiar, but Baekhyun can’t remember what. Maybe they went to high school together?

“I don’t play Dungeons and Dragons,” Sehun adds, with a pout. “No one will campaign with me…”

Baekhyun snorts. Knew it.

“Well, maybe if you spent less time in the dark quiet of a library and more time outside you’d find someone to join your quest against the depths of… dungeons and the fire of… dragons…”

Sehun rolls his eyes, but it’s nice to see that Baekhyun’s banter bounces off of him rather than anything else --it’s always awkward to find where someone’s humour lies, especially when making people laugh is Baekhyun’s favourite thing to do, and offending them is at the bottom of the list. They’re a nice colour of gold as they fix Baekhyun with a flat look. Huh.

“I’m Baekhyun, by the way,” Baekhyun outstretches a hand.

“Right,” Sehun says dryly, limply returning the gesture. “Don’t you have books to read?”

Baekhyun knows a pardon when he sees one, grinning. “Magical dogs to research, you know how it is.” Baekhyun gives him an ear-to-ear grin, then happily skips off the browse the shelves, sitting himself down at one of the large round tables and digging in. He finds physical books a lot easier to read when he can touch them and keep his focus in with the large words and pretty pictures rather than the dull glow of an electronic screen, yet maybe he’s not invested in the truth about his dog friend as much as he’d like, or maybe he’s just not as sure as to what it is. After his success with Jongdae Baekhyun thought he might actually be a little bit better at this sort of thing, but there’s nothing in the werewolf books or the normal wolf books that give him any giveaway clues as to who his big furry friend is, and why it’s so damn friendly.

Frustrated, Baekhyun looks up to find Sehun refilling the shelves, and tries to remember where he’s heard that name before. It’s not like a Korean name that unique is going to be something he comes across more than once around here, and the answer is just on the tip of Baekhyun’s tongue.

Still watching Sehun, on a whim he asks, “Are you the only person who works here?”

It takes Sehun a little while to realise Baekhyun is talking to him, which is when he turns and curtly says, “No.” Going back to restocking the shelves not too far from Baekhyun’s desk.

“Then where are all your coworkers?” Baekhyun asks, squinting.

“On their lunch break,” Sehun replies without a beat.

“But it’s three p.m,” Baekhyun points out.

“Is there something you needed help with?” Sehun asks, which has Baekhyun frowning, beginning to remember exactly where he’s heard Sehun’s name before.

“Actually, yeah,” Baekhyun replies cheerily, finally putting his finger on it at Sehun’s obscurity and rests his chin in his palm as he starts noting the similarities. Golden eyes? Check. Pasty skin? (Something Baekhyun had thought was a side-effect of being a nerd but is beginning to reconsider.) Check. Ethereally beautiful? Check. Fangs? Well, he’d need to take a closer look, but the list is long enough that Baekhyun is pretty fucking sure it’s not a coincidence.

“You’re a vampire, right?” Baekhyun asks nonchalantly. “Can you tell me more stuff about what that’s like?”

At least Sehun stills for a little bit, slightly tense. “I think you’ve been reading too much.”

“Oh c’mon man, don’t play dumb,” Baekhyun groans as he stands and walks towards Sehun, trying to gain his attention. “You’re pasty, you have gold eyes, and I bet if you opened your mouth you’d have fangs.”

Sehun doesn’t even flick his gaze towards him as he continues filling the shelves. “I’m a librarian, of course I’m pasty.”

“Okay, but,” Baekhyun touches Sehun’s hands to prove a point, and Sehun easily pulls them back, but not fast enough. Ice cold, as suspected. “Pasty and cold? It’s like twenty-five degrees in here.”

“I’m a summer child,” Sehun answers shortly.

“Bullshit,” Baekhyun retorts. “This is Canada.”

Sehun finally seems to give up on this, and turns, squinting at Baekhyun. Baekhyun suddenly becomes aware of the fact that Sehun is a head taller than him, probably isn’t as weak as his twink ass makes him look, and could also be a blood-thirsting murderer.

“Also, Jongdae told me,” he squeaks out.

Sehun sighs.

“Accidentally!!” Baekhyun amends. “And he didn’t tell me tell-me but he did namedrop because he’s a namedropper it’s a bad habit actually ‘cuz sometimes he refers to people I don’t actually know but I guess in this instance it didn’t matter so much because here we are--”

Sehun shoves a book against Baekhyun’s mouth, promptly shutting him up.

“Hasn’t anyone ever told you to be quiet in a library?” He asks, deadpan, but with a twitch to his lips that tells Baekhyun he’d enjoyed that more than he should have.

“Sorry,” Baekhyun apologises,as he pushes the book away from his mouth and wipes the taste of paper off of his tongue. He has a bad habit of rambling when he’s nervous, but now that Sehun has had a chance to shut him up by killing him and hasn’t, his fear has calmed down a little. Also, the cute little smile had helped --Sehun is so cute.

Sehun grumbles unhappily as if he’d read Baekhyun’s mind. “I’d kick you out if you weren’t Jongdae’s singer.”

Baekhyun’s blood turns cold. “How do you know that?”

“Deductive skills,” Sehun teases, then smiles a little bit. “Oh come on, how many Baekhyuns exist in Dagger that also know Jongdae?” He returns to stocking the shelves, but the smile is gone quickly enough as Baekhyun double-steps to keep up with the cart.

“Jongdae talks about me?” Baekhyun asks, a little shocked. (And flattered.)

“Yes,” Sehun answers flatly. “He’s a chronic namedropper.” He gives Baekhyun a sideways look. “I’ve been told it’s a bad habit.” Baekhyun rolls his eyes. “Someone has to tell him how to work against his singer urge…” Sehun mutters.

Baekhyun blinks at that, considering. “Do you have a singer?” He asks, figuring that since Sehun is so knowledgeable on the topic…

“Had,” Sehun corrects

Baekhyun pales, swallowing. “You killed him?”

Sehun hums. “Worse,” he says. “I turned him.” Baekhyun’s eyes widen at the realisation, and he subconsciously reaches for his neck, wondering if Jongdae might... “Jongdae would never harm you,” Sehun says easily, as if sensing Baekhyun’s thoughts. “He’s too human for that.”

Baekhyun is about to ask what he means, but then the front doors slide open as kids from the nearby school come marching in, a worried look passing over Sehun’s face as he moves to return to work.

“Wait,” Baekhyun stops him with a hand around Sehun’s cold, washed-out wrist. There’s still something Baekhyun needs to know. “Before you go, and just for the record --since we’re being so honest with each other--” Sehun looks down at him with a frown. “Is there a wolf problem in this town?”

The howling the night he confronted Jongdae --the shadow outside his window, too-- and now the friendly pet. Baekhyun hasn’t heard about any wolf problems from his grandmother or Jongdae, so he doubts they’re a threat, otherwise the Kims wouldn’t keep their chickens freely in the front yard.

“No,” Sehun answers, confused at the sudden strange question. “Why?”

Ignoring that, and thinking back to Sehun’s earlier hint, Baekhyun instead asks, “Is there a werewolf problem?”

Sehun is completely silent.

(It’s an answer in and of itself, really.)



 

Knowing his furry friend probably patrols around as a human being during daylight hours makes Baekhyun a little more hesitant when he glimpses movement out of the corner of his eye and lo and behold, the wolf --werewolf-- is back, staring up at him.

In fact, knowing that there’s a human beneath all of… that, just makes the fact that it keeps watching Baekhyun kind of creepy, but acting like a happy labrador as Baekhyun had scratched its chin hadn’t been particularly human-like, so maybe the actual person itself can’t control the wolf part?

Then again, Baekhyun had thought werewolves were meant to be savage and destructive, uncontrollable and filled with rage, yet this dog is so calm and placating, and also it’s not a fucking full moon. It hadn’t been a full moon last night, either --Baekhyun had checked on the bus ride home-- so why the hell is Baekhyun looking at a werewolf right now.

“Who are you?” Baekhyun mutters to his window. The wolf’s ears flick, and by the time Baekhyun makes it to the back porch and out the door, the wolf is gone, frowning into the darkness.

“Baekhyun?” A voice asks, and Baekhyun jumps, screaming embarrassedly as Jongdae just stands beside him with a small smile on his face. “Thought I heard you out here. Hi?”

“Shit, you scared me, asshole,” Baekhyun shoves Jongdae, who doesn’t even budge, cackling. “What’re you doing here?”

Jongdae holds up a plastic bag. “I brought leftovers…” he trails off, staring at Baekhyun’s disheveled appearance, still in his pyjamas but standing outside in the dark. “Is this a bad time? Thought I could make it up to you for the other day...”

Baekhyun shakes his head. “Uh, no. not at all.” He casts one last lingering look towards the forest edge where the wolf had disappeared to, smiling at Jongdae. “You know I cant turn down free food, come on in.”

They head back up the porch steps and Baekhyun busies himself with putting the leftovers away (while serving a plate up of them himself) knowing that Mrs. Kim would kill him if she ever caught him microwaving the stuff instead of heating it up properly on the stove. His grandmother is out for the night with her knitting club so Baekhyun luckily has a free house, humming to himself while Jongdae stands by the counter with a clenched jaw, knuckles white on the countertop.

“You okay?” Baekhyun asks worriedly, hoping Jongdae doesn’t fracture the counter, too.

“Your house,” Jongdae croaks out. “Smells like…” Baekhyun and his tasty blood undoubtedly, which Jongdae seems to be struggling to deal with. Baekhyun hunches his shoulders guiltily.

“Sorry,” he mumbles. Jongdae shakes his head.

“Not your fault, I’ll get used to it.” He gives a weak little smile, clearing his throat. “It’s probably just bad because I haven’t fed in a while.”

That causes Baekhyun to pause as he pulls out his plate from he microwave, now feeling weird about stuffing his face in front of Jongdae, who’s practically starving while smelling the meal he wants to eat most everywhere around him. He frowns. “Why don’t you get like, blood from a butcher or something?” Surely he could do take-away.

Jongdae gives Baekhyun a quizzical look. “Have you… ever tried to get someone to just. Give you animal blood before? No questions asked?” Okay, fair point, it would probably be a little weird. “Also I can’t,” Jongdae adds. “It has to be fresh.”

Okay, then-- “Why not just eat from humans?” Baekhyun counters, quickly adding, “Without killing them.”

Jongdae shakes his head. “It’s too dangerous… with my venom and everything…” he trails off.

“I dunno I think it’d be kinda hot,” Baekhyun says without thinking, behind a mouthful, leaning against the counter as he shoves his fork into his mouth. Jongdae gives him an unimpressed look. “What? Vampires are hot.”

He scoffs in disbelief. “What are you, a prepubescent tween?”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes. “Shut up,” he grumbles. “They totally are.” Granted, everything Jongdae is and does is hot but that’s… unrelated.

“It’s not as hot as it looks…” Jongdae mutters, suddenly somber, and Baekhyun shuffles from foot-to-foot a little bit, guilty that he'd made a joke about something Jongdae obviously doesn't find funny.

“Let’s watch something,” he suggests, with a tentative smile, just to change the topic. Jongdae nods and relaxes in relief slightly, Baekhyun grabbing his laptop from upstairs to bring into the living room, thinking that he probably shouldn’t bring the bloodsucking undead creature that wants to murder him into his Baekhyun-scented bedroom --not without taking him out to dinner first, at least.

They bicker over what to watch from Baekhyun’s netflix queue as Jongdae is adamant on more bad white heterosexual rom-coms while Baekhyun begs for them to watch something else, playing rock, paper, scissors to the best of three until Jongdae wins and Baekhyun groans in pain, the aforementioned snickering as he loads the terrible movie up. Undoubtedly Jongdae --ever the romantic-- enjoys this sort of thing far too much (although Baekhyun does too; but he’ll never admit to it.)

The seemingly douchey male character has his soft side revealed when the headstrong female lead is kind to his dog --the only companion such a rough-edged man can have-- and it causes Baekhyun to pause in thought. “Have you ever met a werewolf?” He blurts, turning to Jongdae. They’re sitting with Baekhyun having haphazardly thrown himself across Jongdae’s chest --when he turns his chin, his face is so close to Jongdae’s he can make out every little detail and bump in Jongdae’s perfectly smooth skin. (Stupid vampire complexion.)

Jongdae grunts. “Unfortunately,” he answers, looking at Baekhyun. “Why?”

From here it’s so easy to make out the shape of Jongdae’s everything, the bump across his nose and the slightly uneven bow to his lips, the moles beneath his eyebrows and beside his hairline. “What do you mean unfortunately?”

Jongdae shrugs, budging Baekhyun in the process, who takes the opportunity to put a little more distance between them, swallowing in the process. “Werewolves are… bad, okay?” Jongdae says --Baekhyun swallows any mention of his furry friend down, thinking it’s probably best if he keeps it to himself. “Just take my word for it.”

Baekhyun wants to prod further, but Jongdae shifts back to the movie, evidently ending the conversation there. It makes Baekhyun want to pull Jongdae’s face towards him to just make him look at Baekhyun, to focus on him and pay him attention and to stop with his weird secret-keeping that any other person wouldn’t notice if they weren’t Baekhyun, who remembers every single one of Jongdae’s tics and mannerisms even after all this time, catching himself off-guard at Jongdae’s new ones, too.

He almost does it, honestly, force Jongdae’s chin to face him and have him answer some questions, but Baekhyun knows if he did that there’d be nothing stopping him from kissing Jongdae --and that realisation clouds his stomach with guilt, because he’s pretty sure he has a definite, full blown thing with Minseok, but here he is wanting to make out with his ex best friend.

Baekhyun bites his lip and focuses on the movie instead, shoving his impulsive hands into his lap just to make sure they don’t start any funny business. Jongdae has rejected Baekhyun plenty enough for Baekhyun to know that he doesn’t like Baekhyun in the same way, that’s for sure, which is how Baekhyun consoles himself out of trying anything, even if Jongdae’s hand rests on the back of his neck, scratching it gently with his fingernails in a way he must remember Baekhyun’s loves.

Jongdae doesn’t like Baekhyun, he’s just… being Jongdae. Kind and attentive. And Baekhyun doesn’t like Jongdae, he’s just confusing the fluttering feeling of someone liking him platonically into romantic attraction. It’s just an infatuation, probably, and a momentary one at that.

At least, that’s what Baekhyun keeps telling himself, because he has Minseok. He doesn’t need Jongdae too. It will pass in time.



 

The wolf never returns after that, much to Baekhyun’s dismay, but he finds himself awake later and later each night, just to double check. It makes him question everything all over again as to whether the wolf had been real at all to begin with, but Baekhyun knows he should stop second-guessing himself --even if his memory is shitty, it’s not that bad.

One particular restless night has him even venturing into the forest a little bit, just to see if there’s any signs of the wolf having existed. Of course, the rain has washed away any footprints and Baekhyun is no certified tracker, not to mention the deeper he gets in the woods the more he thinks about how fucking creepy it feels, especially with the whole magical world having been revealed to him earlier, so it doesn’t take long for Baekhyun to turn back.

Only for the floorboards to creak as the wind batters at the house and Baekhyun needs a drink.

Preferably the caffeinated type, which has him back at the corner diner down the road, where Wendy smiles at him knowingly and excuses herself to grab Minseok. It’s just those two on the floor and one cook, and the only other person in the restaurant is a trucker staring grimly at the window. Despite the early hours of the morning, Minseok’s grin is blinding.

“Hi there stranger,” he greets. “Haven’t seen you here in a while.”

Mostly because Baekhyun’s been busy searching for werewolves, hanging out with vampires, and trying out a little of that sleeping thing that kids these days won’t shut up about.

“Miss me?” He batters his eyelashes, but Minseok’s resounding snort is dejecting enough that Baekhyun pouts cutely, keeping it on his face even as Minseok fills his cup with coffee and then returns the pot to it place, sliding into the seat across from him.

“I always miss you Baekhyunnie,” Minseok says cutely, which makes Baekhyun smile, abashed. “Mostly because it’s 3am and I’m bored and would miss anyone but, feel free to think you’re special.”

Ugh. “You are so rude,” Baekhyun chastises, kicking Minseok underneath the table, who laughs as he takes the hits.

“Only the best for you,” he replies sweetly, then continues with, “So what’s up? Usually you only come here when you can’t sleep.” Minseok pauses on that. “Or um, super-extra can’t sleep.”

“Ah, nothing really,” Baekhyun answers noncommittally, running a stirrer through his coffee just to give his hands something to do. “Some nights are just worse than others, I guess.”

Minseok seems unconvinced, but he’s closer to Baekhyun now, more familiar, and knows when to push it and when not to, which Baekhyun appreciates immensely. He recognises he’s basically a jumble of blurred borders and trip wires, overactive to the littlest of things and far too numb to the rest, and while he’s working on it, sometimes it just takes a little consideration --plenty of which Minseok has, for the record. It’s the part of the reason why Baekhyun likes him so much, or why he likes him too much.

A lifetime of rejection and disappointing others ensures Baekhyun is a little too reciprocative towards the smallest bouts of affection, and while he wishes Minseok’s surefire interest in him wasn’t as flattering as it is, damn it it’s hard not to fall. Which is probably why Baekhyun’s being so cautious with him --he has to make sure that what he’s feeling isn’t just a side-effect of thinking that he’s the most worthless human being alive.

“I’m sorry,” Minseok offers consolingly, and Baekhyun waves him off because he doesn’t need sympathy now or ever. “How goes your job applying, then?”

It’s the little attention to detail that has Baekhyun’s brain saying senpai truly does notice you! While he pointedly ignores it and scratches behind his ear.

“Oh, you know,” Baekhyun answers noncomittally, because it had been a passing thought, really, but the more he thinks about getting a job, the more he stresses out about it. He still has his savings and his family would never leave him in the dirt --Baekhyun needs to recognise that he doesn’t need to jump right back in to being human again, not straight away.

“Hey,” Minseok consoles, soft and gentle. “If you decide that’s not something you want to do right now, then don’t. Taking care of yourself comes first.”

“I guess...” Baekhyun says sheepishly, feeling his neck turn pink at Minseok’s gummy smile. The consideration makes him feel like less of a useless member of society that has no sort of goal in his life, and it’s a quality that’s quite rare in people that Baekhyun has come to appreciate

“Don’t push yourself,” Minseok says, prodding Baekhyun with the top of his sneaker beneath the table. “Do you even know how long you want to stay in Dagger?”

Truth be told, Baekhyun has no idea, has no plans for his future or how long he’s meant to stay in Dagger, since he certainly doesn’t want to return to L.A. Already it feels like his grandmother needs too much help around the house to be on her own and Baekhyun doesn’t really have any dreams or aspirations anymore. Which is stupid, but it’s hard to rekindle that spark when the first time around crushed it into ash so quickly. Baekhyun is tired, exhausted, and far too directionless --the only goal in life he has is to sleep for more than two hours.

“Maybe a few months, maybe forever,” he answers noncommittally instead. “Who knows?”

“Hey,” Minseok reaches across the table and puts his hand on Baekhyun’s. “If there’s anything I’ve learnt, travelling around and being useless--” Minseok laughs nervously. “It’s that life is a lot longer than everyone makes it out to be, and you don’t need to rush yourself to find what you want.”

The words are comforting, and perhaps the thumb tracing circles over his knuckles even moreso. Minseok’s eyes are dark and warm and so oddly familiar as Baekhyun meets them through the oddly thick silence that he jerks his hand back when he realises the situation and spills coffee all over his shirt.

“Shit,” Baekhyun cusses, as he pulls out of the booth to stop it from ruining his jeans, too. “Fuck. I’m an idiot.”

“You’re tired and need to sleep,” Minseok corrects. “Not drink shitty coffee in the middle of nowhere.” He stands and gently tugs Baekhyun into his own seat instead, while excusing himself in promises of cleaning it up.

“I’m so sorry,” Baekhyun rambles as Minseok sponges the liquid up with a wet cloth. Luckily, most of it had seemed to fall on Baekhyun, rather than the floor, yet on top of everything Baekhyun feels his resolve crumbling, that dark, empty chasm in his chest opening up to swallow him whole. “I’m a total dumbass--”

“Baekhyun,” Minseok says sternly. “It’s okay, seriously. I’ve cleaned up worse than this.” With the table and chair successfully wiped down, Minseok crouches at the edge of the booth and picks up Baekhyun’s hands, wiping the ends of his fingers and drying his palms, massaging them through the towel as it soaks up the coffee. Baekhyun relaxes at the touch. With most of the coffee cleared off his skin, Minseok regards the front of Baekhyun’s shirt with a frown. “You can’t walk back all wet, though, you’ll freeze.”

Baekhyun glimpses down to the soaking patch of his t-shirt, and says, “I’ll be fine.” His coat was in a fine condition since he’d thrown it into the corner of the booth, it didn’t matter if his t-shirt was a little soaked from coffee.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Minseok chastises, clicking his tongue. “C’mon, I have a spare in my bag.”

Baekhyun tries to argue but Minseok is having none of it as he tugs Baekhyun by the wrist through the kitchens into a back room that’s messy with random cardboard boxes and a few backpacks. He reaches into his own black bag to pull out the t-shirt he must’ve worn on his way instead of his uniform, and Minseok pushes it towards Baekhyun’s chest while saying, “Here. You can give it back to me later.”

“Thanks,” Baekhyun manages lamely, way too tired to argue by this stage while reaching for the hem of his wet t-shirt, tugging it over his head. He keeps his face down as his shoulders hunch and he pulls Minseok’s shirt overhead, trying not to feel too self-conscious about being shirtless in front of a boy he maybe-kind-of-probably likes, with his chubby, pasty torso and noodle arms. The shirt is a little tight-fitting too, which doesn’t help. “You’re way too nice,” Baekhyun mumbles, self consciously tugging the hems down. The tee is black and has a white deer printed on its front, with a brand name scrawled across it that Baekhyun can’t make out upside-down.

“Only to you,” Minseok says cheekily, giving his flirtatious smile all over again as he smooths down a few strands of Baekhyun’s hair that must have fluffed up during the changing process. “I’ll get you a bag for that.” He adds, referring to the coffee stained Supreme shirt. Baekhyun hopes his grandmother knows how to get the stains out of it, because laundry is simply one of those adult tasks Baekhyun has never mastered.

Minseok gives him a plastic bag they use for doggy-bagged orders as Baekhyun just thanks him all over again, feeling out of place and clumsy and way too flustered by all of Minseok’s little excuses to touch him. Minseok has practically been painting I LIKE YOU on a billboard in front of Baekhyun’s eyes and yet still his brain tells him that he’s overreacting, that he’s looking too deeply into things, that he’s pricing himself as being someone that’s actually worth having an interest in and that just can’t be right. Minseok is just nice, he’s friendly, why would anyone ever like someone like Baekhyun.

Shit, the self-loathing is hitting hard tonight.

“I should probably get home and sleep before I embarrass myself anymore,” or try to, at least, Baekhyun excuses as he takes the swings the plastic bag beside him. “Thanks for the shirt I can…. Return it to you tomorrow? After your shift?”

“I’ll live without it for a while, don’t worry,” Minseok jokes, patting the top of Baekhyun’s head in a way that makes the little Baekhyun’s in his brain go into overdrive as they think IS THIS FLIRTING OR DID HE JUST FRIENDZONE YOU!?!?!? especially as his fingers linger on his cheek. Minseok's eyes flick down to Baekhyun's lips, and Baekhyun thinks he finally might do it, but then he just smiles instead. “But if you want I’ll be home tomorrow before my next shift and you can drop it off then.”

“Okay,” Baekhyun exhales in relief, because he hates being a burden more than anything else, and then moves to step back before pausing, and then steps back again, wincing at his own awkwardness. “Good… night? Thanks for the shirt.”

“Anytime,” Minseok smiles easily, giving a curt wave.

And the free coffee!! Baekhyun’s brain remembers as he’s always halfway out the door; he turns to tell Minseok as such, but he’s gone.

Huh. What an odd sense of deja vu.



 

It’s ironic, really, that the first time Baekhyun sleeps for more than three hours is the first time he actually has to be somewhere, still in his clothes from last night as he scrambles to reach for his phone, checking the bus times.

“Shit,” Baekhyun curses. “Shitty shit shit.”

He hastily throws on a sweater and coat as he kisses his grandmother on the cheek, and sprints to the bus stop down the road, panting as he climbs onboard with a smile towards the driver, who flashes him a look of disinterest. Baekhyun settles into a window seat and rubs his eyes --no more falling asleep for now.

Minseok’s place isn’t far from the centre of town, shoved into the squattish blocks of the old factory district, where the old timber processing mills used to be before the relocated outside the city decades ago, closer to the thinning edge of the forest. In fact, Minseok’s rental must be one of the actual factory blocks themselves, which have been renovated and reformed into townhouse-like blocks back to back nearer the centre of town for tourists mostly, and travelers like Minseok; only a few people who worked in town lived in such a bare neighbourhood, with most of the families long-established in the outer-lying lands. Baekhyun’s own grandparents had come here decades ago, when the town seemed like it might have become a great city. Now, Dagger is just washed up wreckages, aged and withered, with plenty of immigrant families well-nestled in tight communities and bringing more and more in when they sponsor family members and friends overseas to get their visa.

Baekhyun is so caught up carefully watching Google maps for his directions, he nearly drops his phone altogether when a loud voice shouts, “Baekhyun!!!”

He manages to catch it between his fumbling fingers just in time, only to look up and see someone with bright blue hair crossing the street towards him with a grin on his face. At first Baekhyun is terrified, then kind of resigned because out of all the things to happen to him here recently, it isn’t the weirdest, and then third and last of all he feels like an idiot, because there’s only one person in the whole province who would dye his hair that colour.

“Chanyeol?” Baekhyun blurts lamely, and Chanyeol double-steps towards him, slapping him on the shoulder.

“Wow it really is you, I thought I was crazy.” He pats Baekhyun’s shoulders with too much force as if double-checking he’s really there, manhandling him like a toy as Baekhyun gets put off balance. “What’re you doing here? I thought you booted it to the states.”

“Well I… came back…” Baekhyun says lamely, taking in Chanyeol’s over-eager form. He looks like a puppy being reunited with his owner after a long day --Baekhyun can even imagine the tail behind him, wagging. “Jongdae never mentioned you were still around.”

Surely it would have come up at some stage; Baekhyun had assumed Chanyeol had left long ago --the trio were joined at the hip throughout their childhood, Baekhyun and Jongdae more so since Chanyeol lived a town over, but their families were all friends through the same Korean church they attended hours out of town. Chanyeol seemed to be the only person in the world who never cared to third wheel Baekhyun and Jongdae’s twin-like companionship, but maybe that’s just because he was an idiot.

Still might be one, really.

At the mention of Jongdae’s name, Chanyeol winces, and Baekhyun thinks, oh.

“Yeah well… work brought me nearer to Dagger so I make the commute…” he rubs the back of his neck, laughing nervously. “I guess I’m just Jongdae’s nameless ex though, now, huh?”

Jongdae and Chanyeol dated? Baekhyun’s mind goes into overdrive trying to process the information. Chanyeol had always seemed closer to Jongdae than he was to Baekhyun in high school simply because Jongdae is Jongdae (and maybe petty teenager Baekhyun had felt a little jealous about it.) Now, eight years later, petty adult Baekhyun still feels a little bit jealous about it, and that just reminds him of the feelings he really wished he didn’t have sometimes.

But to the point of breaking up without talking… that just seemed unlike Jongdae altogether.

Except.

“Oh my god, you’re the one who dumped him because he’s a vampire.”

Chanyeol freezes at that, eyes wide as he glances around as Baekhyun slaps a hand over his mouth because he might’ve yelled the vampire part, and then Chanyeol slumps, hands in his pockets.

“You know about that?”

“Uh, yeah,” is all Baekhyun can manage, because he doesn’t know if Chanyeol is talking about the break-up or the vampire thing. “It’s fairly recent knowledge but. I’m coming to terms with it.”

If Chanyeol knows Jongdae is a vampire, then did he dump him because he was afraid? It seems to be the only logical conclusion, and suddenly Baekhyun’s body is flooded with vengeful anger he doesn’t have much of a right to feel. Jongdae had trusted Chanyeol with his greatest secret and Chanyeol had left him --but, it pays Baekhyun to remember, he’d left Jongdae long before that too.

“Did you dump him because you were scared or what?” Baekhyun asks, somewhat more scathing than it had needed to be, but he can’t help it. Jongdae in his newfound vampire-ness had seemed so oddly vulnerable and sad, the idea that Chanyeol had actually hurt him because of that sets his blood ablaze.

Chanyeol blinks owlishly. “What? Of course not!” He glances around, and then harshly whispers, “I dumped him ‘cuz I’m a werewolf, and it just wasn’t gonna work out anymore.”

Baekhyun relaxes at that, because although it’s more or less the supernatural equivalent of it’s not you, it’s me, it’s somewhat better than fear or disgust towards Jongdae’s vampire lifestyle.

Then the rest of the sentence hits.

“You’re a what ?” Baekhyun asks, jaw hanging open as he looks at Chanyeol in shock. It’s far less mindblowing than the Jongdae-vampire revelation, probably because Baekhyun had been a little more prepared for the existence of werewolves. He just can’t believe Chanyeol is one. “For how long?”

“Since… forever?” Chanyeol seems confused, snorting. “Dude, werewolves are pure bred and born, not bitten. That’s just vamps --the legends get mixed up sometimes.”

Baekhyun can’t believe he’s spent so much of his youth being friends with a… with a… with a fucking furry.

“I can’t fucking believe this,” Baekhyun says, dumbfounded. “I can’t believe you never told us.”

Chanyeol just shrugs. “It never really came up.” He says, aloof; Baekhyun rolls his eyes. Bullshit. “Also I’m like, not really meant to, y’know, tell normies.”

“Normies?” Baekhyun asks with a raised eyebrow, and Chanyeol just shrugs as if to say, that’s what you’re called! Baekhyun opens his mouth to nearly say they might as well just use muggle, but then his brain jumps back a bit and curiosity nags at him, “Why’d you break up with Jongdae just because you’re a werewolf, then?”

Surely it makes sense for supernatural beings to stick together --shouldn’t Jongdae’s turning to Chanyeol’s side have made them closer, or something? No more secrets? Not to mention the fact that they’d be able to keep up with each other, so to speak --assuming werewolves had some sort of supernatural enhancement aspect to them too, if pop culture had taught Baekhyun anything (although the idea of Chanyeol having any sort of stamina at all seems laughable).

“Because werewolves and vampires hate each other?” Chanyeol answers obviously, eyebrows scrunched together as if he doesn’t understand why Baekhyun doesn’t know that. “Seriously dude that’s like, wolf 101, I’m surprised your boyfriend hasn’t brought it up yet if you and Jongdae are friends again.”

That sentence is a mouthful and a half as Baekhyun just asks, “What boyfriend?” Tilting his head, confused.

“The… wolf whose clothes you're wearing…?” Chanyeol tries, blinking. “I just assumed I guess but he’s like, scent-marked you big time, so…”

Baekhyun glimpses down at his open coat only to see his plain black sweater, pulling at the collar and realising he’s wearing Minseok’s shirt.

Holy fucking shit.

In all his panic to arrive on time and actually find Minseok’s place, Baekhyun had completely forgotten the original fucking reason he’d meant to show up to begin with. At the very least, he had actually brought the shirt --even if he is wearing it, he should be okay in just a sweater for the bus home-- but that’s only problem one at hand.

“Oh my god,” Baekhyun blurts.



 

With a rushed excuse to leave of being late to Chanyeol, a quick exchange of numbers and a lot of fiddling with google maps and the address Minseok had sent him last night, Baekhyun finally texts Minseok an ominous I’m here and waits for the steel sliding doors to be pulled open, rattling like oil drums as they do.

Minseok gives Baekhyun a gummy smile, and Baekhyun blurts, “You’re a werewolf.”

Whereas with Jongdae Baekhyun had time to rehearse and be dramatic, his confrontation with Minseok is a little more hurried and impromptu, lacking in finesse --but maybe bluntness is better with someone as multifaceted as Minseok.

Immediately his face falls, his hands drop to his side, and his voice is careful as he nervously laughs and says, “What are you talking about?”

“I know it’s real. All of it.” Baekhyun says, his own shoulders drooping in resignation because he doesn’t want to deal with arguing about this all over again --even if he technically doesn’t know about all of it, just the two. “Vampires. Werewolves. The whole shebang. You’re one of them.” Heavy silence settles between them as Minseok evidently internally debates whether to reveal his secrets or not, earring twinkling in the grey morning light, and Baekhyun continues with, “Is this why you tried to keep me from researching vampires and stuff? Because of what you are?”

Minseok winces, glancing behind Baekhyun as he says, “Can we please talk about this inside?” While Baekhyun feels somewhat wary walking into the lion’s --well, wolf’s-- den, he slowly nods, reminding himself that Minseok is still Minseok the way Jongdae is still Jongdae. There’s more hesitation, he notes, however, because Baekhyun doesn’t know Minseok quite the same way, and it holds him slightly back.

Well, at least it’s nice to know he has some scraps of self-preservation left.

Minseok’s rental place isn’t much more than a giant empty room disguised as a ground-floor studio apartment-esque thing, a wide expanse of space with huge, factory windows --one of which is taped up with plastic, and splattered with paint and graffiti on every surface. There’s nothing much in the room other than a tattered couch with a coffee table, a futon in the corner, and a mini kitchenette with a tiny, cheap tin heater flooding what little warmth it can into the space. It’s the barest of bare necessities, but also oddly pristine and neat, everything in place and dirt or dust free --Baekhyun doesn’t know how Minseok can stand it.

“So,” Baekhyun says, not liking the way the silence prickles at his skin as Minseok gestures for him to sit on the couch as he moves towards the kettle. “You’re a furry too, huh?”

Minseok stares at the counter at that, his finger still on the switch. “What?”

“A furry,” Baekhyun clarifies. “Y’know. You have a wolfsona and everything.”

“I’m not--” his eyebrows furrow together. “I’m not a furry, oh my god.”

“Seems like a furry to me,” Baekhyun shrugs, smiling a little, glad that the tension has alleviated a little. “A stalking one at that.”

Minseok goes so pale Baekhyun thinks he could pass for a vampire as he swallows and says, “I am… so fucking sorry about that.”

So he is Baekhyun’s window wolf. Huh. Lucky guess.

At least he’s not denying anything.

“I can’t control my wolf side it’s-- a little too wild sometimes,” Minseok winces as he places two tea bags into two plastic mugs. “It just gravitates towards you because it’s obsessed with you and I’m so sorry. I’m so embarrassed about it.”

Baekhyun just laughs at Minseok’s flustered composure, accepting the tea gratefully as it brings warmth to his fingertips.

“Don’t worry about it,” Baekhyun shrugs, idly dunking his tea bag in and out. “It’s cute.”

“No, it’s not, it’s stalking and it’s creepy,” Minseok shakes his head as he takes the seat at the end of the couch, leaving a space between himself and Baekhyun wide enough for another person entirely. “As soon as I could gain control again I got out of there but god, I’m so sorry my wolf is just… animalistic. And undomesticated.”

Baekhyun laughs at that, and Minseok smiles, somewhat relaxed.

“Seriously, it’s not your fault, it’s fine,” Baekhyun waves a hand nonchalantly, tucking a stray strand of hair behind his ear. “But why is your fursona so obsessed with me anyway?”

Minseok pauses at that, and luckily the question has seemed to strike a deep enough nerve that he doesn’t say anything about the repeated furry joke, just grimaces like he wishes he was better at lying, or maybe that Baekhyun hadn’t asked the question to begin with.

“How much do you know about werewolves?” Minseok asks quietly, after too much silence, which shows Baekhyun just how heavy this truth is going to hit. Oddly enough, his heartbeat picks up, and Baekhyun is torn somewhere between anxious nausea and excitement.

“Uh,” he manages. Just about nothing, only found about them ten minutes ago! “Not much. Why?”

Minseok swallows, putting his mug on the coffee table and pointedly staring at it to avoid looking at Baekhyun. “Have you heard about imprinting?”

“Like, the thing baby chickens do?” Baekhyun asks, and Minseok snorts before shaking his head.

“No, the werewolf version, which is… a little different…” he’s nervously wringing his wrists now, chewing on his lip. Baekhyun simply waits for him to continue. “It’s… well, like baby chickens, it involves a deep attachment,” he explains, as Baekhyun just nods slowly to gesture for him to go on. “But, unlike chickens, it’s not towards a parental figure, more towards a… soulmate.”

Minseok’s voice had grown so quiet as he’d continued, the last word was barely more than a mumble, so Baekhyun thinks he’s heard it wrong. “Pardon?” He asks, leaning forward.

“Soulmate, Baekhyun,” Minseok sighs. “You’re my soulmate.”

There’s a beat of silence, and then another. “Pardon? ” Nothing much more than a squeak.

Minseok exhales in frustration as he digs the palms of his heels into his eyes. “It’s not as serious as you’re thinking,” he says calmly.

“It sounds pretty fucking serious!!” Baekhyun replies, not panicking per se just… gently freaking out. Baekhyun can’t even handle having a crush on Minseok, how the fuck is he meant to deal with the knowledge that they’re bonded for life?

“It’s not-- it doesn’t always have to be romantic,” Minseok explains, his voice quickening to overcome Baekhyun’s breakdown, which cools down somewhat at the words, meaning Minseok relaxes too. “It’s just. A bond, I don’t know. I’m simply… drawn to you. Kinda.”

Baekhyun inhales slowly, and exhales equally, an old trick he uses for all his panic attack prevention needs.

“‘Kinda’?” He parrots skeptically, giving Minseok a pointed look. If they’re going to be bonded together for life, Baekhyun really has to make sure Minseok works on his eloquence.

Oh god, Baekhyun’s already sitting down, but his head is so light he feels like he really needs to sit down.

“It’s not love it’s… a pull, a natural gravitation towards you,” Minseok tries slowly. “It’s just… an instinctive urge to be near you I suppose but also... to be… with you, however you may need me to be.” He shifts awkwardly, still avoiding Baekhyun’s eyes, obviously embarrassed saying the words. “It happens when you first see the person, the whole world pulls towards you, and it just… grows. I can’t control it, I barely even understand it.” He huddles into himself defensively, staring at the floor. “That’s why my wolf is so obsessed with you, it just… wants to be near you, all the time.” He reaches up and places a palm over his chest, rubbing the spot where his heart is absent-mindedly. “It’s like a physical relief when you’re nearby, you know?”

It’s... certainly a lot to take in.

“Is it just me?” Baekhyun asks tentatively, as Minseok nods in response.

“A werewolf only ever imprints on someone once,” he confirms, making Baekhyun huff out a breath of air, puffing out his cheeks.

“I feel like you should’ve at least taken me out to dinner before saying this,” he jokes, immediately making Minseok flinch, so Baekhyun leans forward guiltily, dropping his joking facade. “Is this why you never…”

Well, kissed me hangs in the silence, because there was certainly the opportunity to, yet Minseok had drawn back each time.

“I’m afraid of it,” Minseok admits quietly. “How much I want to stay near you. I’ve never wanted to stay anywhere in my life.”

The words are spoken softly, barely above a whisper, but they hold rightful power behind them too. Minseok has spent his whole life hopping from place to place and never sitting still, yet here Baekhyun is, holding him back. Deadweight.

“I’m sorry,” Baekhyun apologises immediately. “I’m a ball and chain around your ankle.”

Minseok’s eyebrows furrow together at that, and he finally looks at Baekhyun.

“Don’t ever say that,” he half-snaps, stern. “You’re not a burden, and this isn’t even your fault. It’s just some… stupid thing my father’s blood left me with. It doesn’t control me or you.”

But Minseok is still afraid that it might; Baekhyun can see it in his eyes.

Yet it’s not like Baekhyun has felt any sort of world-changing pull or gravitation towards Minseok, he’d simply harboured a crush on the cute boy with a gummy smile that gave him free coffee and showed him so much genuine interest it was hard not to be flattered. But with this imprint thing out in the air, how much of that was genuine, when it’s instinct for Minseok to… be with Baekhyun, or whatever?

“Does it mean it’s not real, then?” Baekhyun quietly asks, almost afraid of the answer. Minseok tilts his head. “Us,” he barely manages. “Does this just mean that all of it was up to some supernatural force?”

It doesn’t even take a whole second before Minseok says, “No.” It’s all he says --at first-- so simple and calm, but so earnest too that something bubbles up in Baekhyun’s chest, hopeful. “You don’t understand how hard I fought it, how much I ignored it --running away from you the first time we saw each other, pushing against my urges, keeping distance between us, even wrestling for control with my own wolf.” He huffs and smiles down into his mug, bitterly fond. “I fought against it and yet every time I found myself drawn towards you. Not because I’d imprinted on you, not because of some supernatural force, but simply because you’re… you,” Minseok relents. “You’re funny and charming and so kind... I know that whether I’d imprinted on you or not, I’d still always want to be near you.”

It doesn’t take much thought for Baekhyun to put down his mug and close the gap to kiss Minseok, both hands on either side of his face. In all honesty, it’s been a long time coming, which is why it’s all the more rewarding to feel Minseok kiss him back, relaxing into the kiss, a hand gently resting on the side of his face.

Baekhyun pulls back with a quiet gasp and presses their foreheads together.

“Probably not the best way to react when someone compliments me,” he half-jokes, ever the validation seeker.

“Probably,” Minseok agrees distractedly as he stares at Baekhyun’s mouth, mumbling, and leans right back in.

Minseok kisses the way Baekhyun would expect him to, careful and attentive, but soft and sweet too, slow and gentle as he coaxes Baekhyun’s lips open with small ministrations and exhales through his nose in content as one of his hands rests at Baekhyun’s hip, the other still rubbing his thumb along Baekhyun’s cheekbone.

Baekhyun, on the other hand, probably kisses like a mess, considering it’s been more than an entire fucking year since he genuinely kissed someone, not having the time or focus to pour into something as strenuous as a relationship or even just simple dating. His brain also does it’s classic anxiety-induced thing of running at a hundred miles per hour, overthinking every movement, too aware of where his body is and what he’s doing with his hands. He has the horrid realisation halfway through that he hadn’t even brushed his teeth this morning since he’d been in such a rush, and yet Minseok just keeps kissing him, and Baekhyun forces himself to relax.

He’s imprinted on you, Baekhyun reminds his piece of shit brain. He’s forced to never be disappointed. It’s oddly reassuring, as bad as it tastes.

It’s nice to simply sit there and kiss someone, Baekhyun eventually realises, especially when that person is Minseok. It’s nice to finally have weeks of tension surmount to this, and it’s nice to be so… gentle, to feel so oddly liked. Baekhyun hasn’t had sex in what feels like centuries since his last ex had dumped him for being too self-centred, so going there would freak him out because he’ll probably come his pants like an inexperienced virgin, which is why it’s so nice that they’re just. Kissing. It’s not heated or desperately passionate or anything but soft --there’s hardly even any tongue in it-- it’s just two people kissing with slightly numb legs because Baekhyun has been kneeling for the past few minutes and he can’t feel his feet.

Whether Minseok has pins and needles, can read minds, or his freaky furry superpowers give him equally as freaky instinct, Baekhyun doesn’t know, but it’s like he can sense Baekhyun’s discomfort as he pushes Baekhyun down somewhat, so that his legs are spread and Minseok can nestle between them, pressing the front of their jeans together.

Oh.

“Hello there,” Baekhyun says as he pulls back from the kiss and Minseok groans in embarrassment, hiding his face in the crook of Baekhyun’s neck.

“Shut up,” Minseok mumbles, breath fanning against Baekhyun’s neck and making him shiver. “I’m… sensitive, because it’s you.”

“Because I’m your imprintee or because I’m devilishly handsome?” Baekhyun tries to clarify, waggling his eyebrows as Minseok pulls back to glare down at him, half-hard dick still pressing pointedly against Baekhyun’s thigh. Apparently Minseok hadn’t been thinking about how nice it was to just be kissed.

“Because you’re insufferable,” Minseok says, supporting his weight on one arm easily as the other flicks at Baekhyun’s nose, making him yelp. “I guess I’m into that.” Minseok gives a resigned sigh.

“Hey!” Baekhyun squawks indignantly, and Minseok just laughs as he kisses his nose in apology, then moves to Baekhyun’s cheek, his jawline, his neck. Baekhyun just huffs, which somewhat turns into a sigh of bliss as Minseok sucks gently beneath his ear and it sends pleasant shivers across his skin. “You’re lucky I’m so forgiving....” Baekhyun mumbles, as Minseok just snorts against his neck in response. Baekhyun whines in disappointment when Minseok draws back a little while later, licking his lips.

“Can I give you a hickey?” He asks, before Baekhyun can even complain at the loss of contact. Minseok licks his lips, looking slightly animalistic --Baekhyun ought to get used to it. “I just... Really want to do it.”

“Uh, sure,” Baekhyun agrees, feeling oddly wild today, he supposes, being with a possessive wolf and all. “Oh my god,” he blurts in realisation. “I’m the furry.”

Minseok, who had been well on his way to Baekhyun’s neck, pauses. “What?”

“I’m the one that wants to fuck a wolf, I'm the furry.”

Minseok huffs out a reluctant laugh, then pauses, and pulls back.

“You want to fuck me?” He asks, a little eager.

“Uh,” Baekhyun says, feeling his face heat up. “Not like, now, but that is something on the table here for the future yes--” Minseok’s eyes are sparkling with humour. “--Oh fuck you.”

Minseok laughs and Baekhyun lightly pushes him, chastising him for his teasing.

“So mean Minseokkie,” he whines, pouting, and Minseok kisses it away. “Can’t believe you’re teasing me about being attracted to you when your pet dog follows me around and your other friend is having a lovely visit on my thigh.”

Minseok pauses at that, closing his eyes in great pain. “Please don’t refer to my dick… like that.”

“Would you prefer I say ‘member’?” Baekhyun offers cheekily. “‘DNA dispenser’? ‘Meat sword’? ‘Jungle stick’? ‘Wing-Dang-Doodle’?” Baekhyun pauses expectantly.

“Keep going,” Minseok offers. “You’ve nearly completely killed the moment and my friend is almost gone.”

Baekhyun cackles and shoves Minseok again playfully, as he just laughs against Baekhyun’s neck in victory.

“Shut up,” Baekhyun says with no bite, tentatively lifting his thigh a little to know that Minseok had definitely been lying about anyone else leaving the building. “We can deal with it if you want, you know. Or we can stop?”

Minseok swallows, and he’s so close to Baekhyun’s ear Baekhyun hears it.

“That’s a bit fast, don’t you think?” Minseok says shakily in a way that tells Baekhyun he really wants to go that fast but is fighting against it. “Also, you’re…”

Minseok nudges his knee towards Baekhyun’s pathetically disinterested dick.

“Ah, well…” Baekhyun says lamely, trying to find some it’s not you, it’s me way to explain that he’s like, a little aroused, but he’s so into kissing because it’s not about sex and also depression kills his sex-drive the way Jongdae kills deers. Oh, Jongdae and Jongdae’s deer-murder, Baekhyun’s internal monologue just managed to kill what little arousal he already had all over again with a few sparing thoughts. “It doesn’t have to be like. Really full on.”

“What do you mean?” Minseok asks, as Baekhyun stares at the ceiling in his embarrassment.

“Well, you know.” He answers pathetically, too mortified to properly vocalise what he means --both for himself and for Minseok-- instead bringing his thigh up a little to rub at Minseok’s clothed dick. “Sometimes it’s the basics that are the most fun.”

Minseok releases a shaky breath against Baekhyun’s neck, and then slowly begins grinding back, hips moving with a sheer dextrous languidness to them that makes Baekhyun’s murdered sex-drive a little more interested in this situation and the possibilities it holds for a future where he’s slept more and feels a little less like a human mess of the day.

“You’re… okay with this?” Minseok asks, and Baekhyun snorts.

“I don’t have to do much, that’s the definition of something I love doing,” he jokes swallowing thickly when he has to match Baekhyun’s pace. “‘Sides…” he mutters lamely. “It’s hot.”

Minseok kisses him inappropriately softly at that, and then moves to Baekhyun’s neck to finally get started on that hickey, where between Minseok desperately rutting against his thigh and his teeth on his neck Baekhyun’s dick rises slightly from the dead. It’s not enough to be considered worthy of being dealt with but it is slightly reassuring to know that Baekhyun is capable of quashing his anxieties and dampened mood long enough to like… get it up outside of his designated jerk-off timeslots, he supposes. Usually performance anxiety would be enough to keep him back, but it’s a good sign that he’s comfortable enough with Minseok already that he has no embarrassment issues about himself or his body --well, at least, no more than usual.

Minseok’s tongue presses into the fresh bruise on Baekhyun’s neck and Baekhyun moans at the slight-pain, mostly-arousal it causes, moving the hand that had carded through Minseok’s hair to join his other in his back pockets, helping to pull his hips closer against Baekhyun, unabashedly groping his ass (on the low-key).

Minseok groans slightly, and his grinding increases further as he pulls Baekhyun’s mouth back towards his to kiss with more heat than what Baekhyun has been used to thus far, and a lot more tongue. Baekhyun happily sucks on Minseok’s tongue and Minseok moans all over again, as his hips continue rutting against Baekhyun with his hands to help direct him, his own dick slightly aroused by the constant friction against it.

“Fuck Baekhyun,” Minseok exhales, laughing in disbelief. “I’m--”

“Come,” Baekhyun says simply, breathless. “It’s okay.”

Minseok buries his face in Baekhyun’s neck as he simply releases a shuddering breath when he comes, Baekhyun watching in fascination as a dark spot slowly pools beneath the fly of Minseok’s jeans and fuck, why is that so hot? Baekhyun himself groans a little as a wave of arousal floods through him --he just doesn’t feel up to dealing with it right now.

“Shit,” Minseok says, then laughs. “That was…”

“Weirdly hot?” Baekhyun offers, grinning as Minseok presses a kiss against his cheek, somewhat slumped on top of him. “Told you the basics never fail.”

Minseok laughs at that, then glances down. “Are you…”

“Extremely relieved that I don’t actually have erectile dysfunction?” Baekhyun offers. “Yeah, but other than that I’m… not really up to it. Sorry.”

Minseok just kisses his forehead, causing Baekhyun to wrinkle his nose. “Never apologise, I’m the one that feels like I got more out of this…” he laughs somewhat nervously.

“Don’t worry about it, I offered,” Baekhyun gently tucks a stray bit of Minseok’s blonde hair behind his ear. “Maybe next time you can pay me back.” He gives a cheesy wink.

Minseok kisses his cheek in a promise as he moves to stand. “Deal.”

Minseok excuses himself to shower and get ready for work, so Baekhyun takes the opportunity to take off the t-shirt, subtly stuffing it into his coat’s huge pocket to that it doesn’t look like he wore it here (or Minseok will probably insist he needs a new shirt to wear home.) Other than that he simply stretches his limbs and idly wanders around the room, checking out the neatly ordered objects at the edge of the coffee table in order to distract himself from his boner. Baekhyun picks up a sketchbook at one stage, before deciding that Minseok would show him his art if he wanted him to see it, and just as he’s putting it down something flutters out of the pages, a torn piece of paper from what looks like an atlas or something, the first page --a world map.

Except it’s vandalised more or less, by Minseok, having traced a line in marker along the page, stretching towards different spot in most continents and almost completely shading in Canada.

“It’s all the places I’ve travelled to so far,” Minseok admits, making Baekhyun jump and drop the page, fluttering to the ground beneath him. “I’ve been to… a lot. It’s nice to keep track.”

“Sorry,” Baekhyun says, flushing, not sure as to why he’s apologising as he blindly stuffs the map back into the pages of the sketchbook.

“Don’t be,” Minseok laughs easily, running a towel through his hair. Thankfully, he had enough sense to put on pants inside the bathroom --god knows how Baekhyun would have reacted if he came out in just a towel-- however he is still shirtless and damn it Baekhyun’s still uncomfortable turned on and Minseok does have abs. Ugh, why is he so hot?

Minseok neatly folds his dirty clothes for some unknown reason as he places them into a laundry bag and carefully sorts through his backpack for his work shirt, pulling it out.

“Oh, that reminds me,” Baekhyun says suddenly. “The reason I’m here.”

He pulls out the t-shirt from his coat pocket and holds it out as Minseok blinks. All according to plan.

“It smells like you,” Minseok says as he takes the shirt back and Baekhyun instantly flushes, Minseok pausing at his own words. “Pretend that that’s… way less creepy than it sounds.”

Baekhyun just laughs, oddly flattered Minseok knows what he smells like, but of course he would --his wolf had to have tracked him down somehow.

“Feel free to say as many weird wolf-boy things as you’d like,” Baekhyun smiles. “I may have accidentally slept in your shirt though, so sorry for getting it so dirty.”

Minseok shakes his head. “Don’t worry about it,” he replies, fingers curling into the material as he steps forward and smiles as he flattens down some of the stray strands on top of Baekhyun’s head that must have been fluffed up in the rushed changing process --talk about deja vu. His fingers linger on Baekhyun’s cheek again.

“Are you scent marking me?” Baekhyun blurts.

Minseok blinks, snatching his hand back. “Am… I?” He asks, near-horrified as he stares at his palm. “Oh my god, I never even realised, it’s just-- instinct .” He sighs. “Ugh.”

“We really ,” Baekhyun mumbles amusedly against Minseok’s mouth, as he tugs Minseok by his (clean pair of) jeans’ belt loops. “Need to take you to puppy school.”

Minseok groans and Baekhyun just kisses him, slow and soft and reassuring to let him know that all this freaky furry stuff is okay. Dogs are territorial, Baekhyun needs to remember --no wonder Minseok had wanted to give him a hickey so badly.

“Okay I really gotta go to work,” Minseok manages, words slightly slurred from the kiss, pulling away and smiling as Baekhyun just pouts a little at the broken contact. “But I’ll see you soon, okay?”

Baekhyun relents with a soft smile. “Okay.”



 

It isn’t until he’s back in the cool, rain-filled air and his head is clearer without Minseok around that Baekhyun’s stupid brain takes the opportunity to remind Baekhyun just how much he’s fucked up. Silence tends to do that, Baekhyun has found --it’s why he hates Dagger so much.

Not that anything with Minseok had gone badly, of course, because Baekhyun finds little butterflies hatching from once frozen cocoons just at the thought of his smile. It’s rare to find someone who makes Baekhyun feel so comfortable that a lot of his usual inhibitions can be put aside --in fact, the only person who Baekhyun can also associate that feeling towards, is Jongdae.

Which is… exactly where he’s fucked up.

Because Baekhyun may like Minseok --more than like, really, but there’s no word that’s just a degree above it-- but he loves Jongdae. Or at least had, once upon a time, even if he hadn’t recognised it, and now it’s all back in the air and completely rekindled --maybe not to full-blown love, but to something well on its way. Minseok hadn’t called Baekhyun his boyfriend or put a ring on his finger or anything but… well, there was still this big lump of guilt about it all, like he was lying to Minseok, or something, or maybe to Jongdae?

Maybe even to himself --Baekhyun can’t tell.

He frowns as he walks, because it’s not like his newfound… thing with Minseok, has quelled what he feels towards with Jongdae. If anything, it’s flamed it further, as if it stands as proof that Baekhyun’s instincts are right, that his feelings are real and exist to be acted upon, that he’s someone who is capable of having something like this.

It’s terrifying.

So Baekhyun currently stands at a precipice between Jongdae, comfortable and familiar, or Minseok, comfortable and… new. Is he just meant to make a choice? It’s not like he sees himself rejecting Minseok after what had just happened… so has he instinctively already given up on Jongdae?

No. He hasn’t since he was eighteen. Even if Jongdae keeps pushing him away, Baekhyun knows something is pulling them together.

So Baekhyun feels no closer to having made a choice than he did days ago --in reality, it just feels so much worse.

It doesn’t help that there’s so much… supernatural… stuff… thrown on top too, and Baekhyun doesn’t have enough answers. He doesn’t know enough about werewolves or even vampires to know what all this means, and what the consequences are --because there has to be some, right? If he’s going to enter a relationship with either of them he’s going to need to know what to expect, and it also plays a part into his choice, too. Is his existence as Jongdae’s singer the vampire equivalent of being Minseok’s imprintee?

Baekhyun frowns into the air. Probably not, because apparently Jongdae just wants to murder him half the time. Maybe that’s just a vampire’s way of showing their love?

Still… Baekhyun can’t deny that something is pushing him in two directions --one towards Minseok, and one towards Jongdae. He feels like he’s being torn in half; Baekhyun can hardly pick a favourite colour, how is he meant to pick a love interest?

“I’m in a fucking love triangle,” Baekhyun realises, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk. Un-fucking-believable.

Love triangles always seem like such an easy decision on TV, he ponders idly, because there’s simply always a superior choice depending on your subjective tastes, it’s exactly how they’re tailored to be, and deep down you always know the protagonist doesn’t really have a tough choice to make, because one is always far more predetermined than the other.

Yet, Baekhyun doesn’t feel that way at all. He’d thought being in the middle of such a choice would be flattering --to have even one person interested in him seemed like a feat in itself-- yet Baekhyun doesn’t know --doesn’t know who to pick, doesn’t know what to do.

As soon as he enters the library, determined to worm more information out of Sehun about all this, Baekhyun stops dead in his tracks, hearing, “It feels like it’s getting worse--” before the familiar voice cuts off altogether, and Jongdae immediately turns to face him, gold eyes shifting black within an instant.

Well. That’s literally the last person Baekhyun wants to see right now.

Baekhyun swallows, and steps forward, putting on a smile as a brave front.

“Hello boys~” he calls, sing-song as he leans exaggeratedly over the front counter Sehun sits behind, frowning up at him. “How about that blood stuff, eh?”

Sehun looks unimpressed, but Jongdae just looks… unsettling? He isn’t smiling, even if his lips are upturned, and his eyes are dark and piercing as he watches Baekhyun almost predatorily, eyebrows drawn together.

“Why do you smell like wet dog?” Jongdae asks, nostrils flaring slightly.

“Wow Jongdae! Good to see you too after you left my house and never called--”

Jongdae snatches Baekhyun’s wrist in mid-air, and watches Baekhyun strangely. Baekhyun doesn’t feel scared, even if Jongdae’s grip is nearly bone-crushing, he just feels irked. Irked, and conflicted. Maybe Minseok really is the obvious choice, when all Jongdae has ever done so far is evade him and avoid him at every turn, then be moody and elusive the next. Baekhyun is fed up with it.

Jongdae’s expression darkens, and then his eyes zero in on the hickey at Baekhyun’s neck, embarrassment prickling at being… caught, or something. Baekhyun doesn’t understand his shame, but he turns red all the same, guilty for being with someone else when he’d promised to stay by Jongdae’s side.

Jongdae scowls, an unfamiliar expression on a familiar face, and storms away, the glass doors shaking behind him as he slams them with inhuman force.

Baekhyun blinks, confused. “What?” He asks Sehun. “I didn’t even say anything!”

Sehun snorts. “I don’t even need to have Jongdae’s empathy to know your emotions must have been very telling.” He types something into the computer. “Your face is an open book.”

Baekhyun frowns at that. “What do you mean ‘Jongdae’s empathy’?” He asks, eyebrows furrowing together.

Sehun looks away from his computer to look up at Baekhyun, mirroring his expression. “All vampires have an individual ability based on their personality traits from when they were human,” he recites easily, evidently wondering why Baekhyun doesn’t know this. “Didn’t Jongdae ever mention his?” Sehun taps his hand. “He knows what you’re feeling when he touches you.”

Baekhyun thinks back to all of Jongdae’s weird, preemptive maneuvers, where Baekhyun had felt like his mind had been read --the Japanese restaurant, the porch, right now. Of course Jongdae couldn’t fucking read minds, he could read emotions.

It doesn’t take long for Baekhyun to rush out the heavy library doors, gently falling shut behind him. Luckily it’s broad daylight --well, as daylight-esque as Dagger gets, anyhow-- so Jongdae can’t do any superhuman speed stuff, his retreating figure still easy to spot at the end of the road as Baekhyun runs towards it, ignoring the rain streaking across his face as he moves towards Jongdae’s easily recognisable yellow sweater.

For someone so broody and undead, Jongdae really needs a new wardrobe.

“Jongdae!” Baekhyun shouts, and he can tell Jongdae must have heard him because he falters slightly, hands in his pockets, before he picks up speed. “JONGDAE KIM.” Baekhyun shouts, as loud as he possibly can --which is very loud. He's starting to panic and his brain is freaking out and all he just wants is Jongdae to talk to him. “JEALOUSY DOESN’T LOOK GOOD ON YOU!”

That gets Jongdae to stop once and for all as Baekhyun slows to a halt behind him, flushed and panting. Jongdae turns only his head over his shoulder, opening his mouth to speak before it falls shut, eventually turning his whole body around.

It makes sense that a vampire would live here in Dagger, Baekhyun realises, as Jongdae stares at him through the rain, because this is their element. The shadows, the rain, the cold. All of it just makes Jongdae stand out that much more, look all the more imposing and powerful as his skin looks impossibly smooth, his eyes impossibly dark.

The rest of him, however, just seems impossibly tired.

“Just leave me alone, Baek,” he says, resigned. “Not forever--” he amends, relaxing Baekhyun somewhat. “But just. Just for now, okay?”

Baekhyun puffs up his chest indignantly. “Why didn’t you tell me you ability was more than just...” Animal hypnotism?

Jongdae winces at that. “It didn’t come up?” He offers lamely.

And to think werewolves and vampires hate each other when they have so much in common.

Baekhyun marches forward, and pushes a finger against Jongdae’s chest, which actually makes him stumble backwards.

“I am so fed up with you!” He starts.

“I know,” Jongdae mumbles, pushing Baekhyun's hand down gently. “I felt it.”

“I’m not done yet--” Baekhyun hisses, as Jongdae’s shoulders hunch in submission and Baekhyun prods him with more fingers. “All you do is just give me mixed signals.” Push. “You keep secrets and avoid me but laugh with me and spend time with me and then you get weirdly jealous but sad and--” Push “-- Ugh. Just make up your mind, Jongdae!!!”

“It’s not that simple,” Jongdae says, anger rising in his voice, sparked by Baekhyun’s frustrations, planting his feet firmly. “I’m dangerous, and being near me is dangerous for you. Yet you’re so--” he struggles to find the words. “--Stubborn! And insistent!” He quickly adds, chest rising and falling in his boiling irritation. “You walk out of my life and just barge right back into it with no care in the world as if in high school I never--” he cuts off, but Baekhyun knows exactly how the sentence ends, sharply inhaling.

A thick silence settles over them, coating them like the rain.

“I did too,” Baekhyun says, too quiet to truly be heard, but it doesn’t matter, because even with the cracks of thunder and the pounding of the rain he knows Jongdae can hear him. “In high school... I did too.”

Eight years of delay makes the moment feel less than spontaneous than perhaps it should be, but Baekhyun doesn’t know what to feel anymore. Had he loved Jongdae? Once upon a time, absolutely, but it had faded and healed and then the scab had been torn right off again and left to bleed so much that Baekhyun couldn’t even remember where the wound truly was through all the red. Leaving Jongdae had done more damage than loving him ever had, yet Baekhyun had chosen the more painful option, and to this day still can’t make out the inner-workings of his teenage self and why he did exactly that.

Funny that Jongdae emphasises how much Baekhyun should be afraid of him, when he’s only ever been afraid of himself.

So the confession is worthless, almost, simply skeletons tossed out of the closet into the bare air, an acknowledgement of the elephant in the room so that their pain is clear to see, a confession that they’d both had something to lose from Baekhyun’s departure. Ironically enough, maybe it was that same love that had them fall apart to begin with, maybe they’d thought it’d hurt less in the long run that way.

Still, they’ve changed. For Jongdae, that’s quite literal, but Baekhyun knows they’re different people now, inside and out, there are new things to learn about each and maybe new things to eventually love, too. Distance had torn them apart, but something stronger than that had brought them back together --could it really have just been sheer coincidence, that Jongdae had been one of the first people Baekhyun had seen after returning to Dagger, all those weeks ago? And that they’re linked, too?

No, Baekhyun doesn’t think so, and it’s exactly that that makes him feel like it’s not worth it, not worth letting Jongdae push himself away, not worth giving up on Jongdae a second time.

“You felt it,” Baekhyun states plainly, refusing to break eye-contact. “That night, on the porch, you felt how much I wanted to kiss you, and you didn’t.” Jongdae’s eyes fall to the ground guiltily --the gesture is familiar. “You had your chance and you didn’t--” Baekhyun’s voice breaks slightly.

“We-- I --” Jongdae corrects. “--Can’t do this, Baekhyun,” he admits, eyes filled with so much Baekhyun doesn’t know what to make of any of the muddled colours. “I can’t be with you when every second I’m near you I’m torn between kissing you and tearing out your throat.” Baekhyun doesn’t flinch at the words. “It’s not… it’s not safe. Not for you, and not for me. Friends, I can handle, maybe, eventually, but anything more than that is just... tempting fate.”

Fate. Baekhyun decides he quite likes that word.

“Do you think we can really just be friends?” Baekhyun asks incredulously. They certainly hadn’t been just friends in high school, and they certainly aren’t just friends, now. Even if they agreed to never stretch their relationship beyond platonic, would they be able to do it? Would they not always be aware of each other’s feelings, yet never act upon them --isn’t that just the same as tempting fate?

Jongdae grits his teeth. “No.” He admits. So that leaves what? They stay away from each other forever? Being in the same town near each other and resisting the urge to reach out, avoiding one another, pretending like they’re not drawn together, like they’re not two halves of one whole, like their lives aren’t empty without the other.

Baekhyun has lived one life without Jongdae. He doesn’t want to go through with that again.

Baekhyun steps forward, but Jongdae steps back quicker.

“I can’t trust myself,” he says weakly. “If I give in to my desire and kiss you, then what stops me from fulfilling the rest?”

Baekhyun searches Jongdae’s face, so open and bare, so weak for an immortal creature who could extinguish Baekhyun’s life within an instant.

“I trust you,” Baekhyun tells Jongdae, unwavering. “And if you don’t want to give in and kiss me,” he continues. “Then don’t.”

Because Baekhyun will do it for him.

At first it’s just nothing really, a simple press of lips. Jongdae’s mouth is soft but cold beneath Baekhyun as he draws back, searching Jongdae’s darkened eyes, that are still staring down at Baekhyun’s mouth.

He silently begs Jongdae to make the right choice.

Jongdae leans back in, and suddenly, his cold everything is lost in Baekhyun’s sheer heat, as Jongdae pushes Baekhyun against a nearby brick wall and Baekhyun moans because the display of strength is hot, his legs wrapping around Jongdae’s waist as Jongdae holds him up with no issues, nonplussed.

His mouth is a trap, Baekhyun is fairly certain, because Jongdae really knows how to use all of it to his advantage as his front teeth gently bite Baekhyun’s bottom lip, making him moan as both of Jongdae’s hands rest in Baekhyun’s back pockets and palm at his ass, while he aggressively licks into Baekhyun’s mouth, tongue piercing and all, moving down to his neck as Baekhyun can only gasp in pleasure. It’s so much more heated and driven then the slow, sticky kisses he’d shared with Minseok, but equally as enjoyable as Jongdae aggravates the bruise on Baekhyun’s neck and Baekhyun is surprised at how much he enjoys the pain, even though it feels like a punishment. His desire is still warm from this morning but it’s fully burning by now, pulsing through him in waves. Jongdae moans against his skin, hips rolling slightly, and Baekhyun realises Jongdae can feel it, he can feel how much Baekhyun wants this, so Baekhyun concentrates on his desire all that much more, just to hear Jongdae groan and pant heavily in front of him.

It feels hot and frantic and rushed as they hurriedly make out in the rain, Baekhyun pinned against the wall and continuously being attacked by Jongdae’s mouth on his lips, his cheek, his jaw, his neck, his hands slipping underneath Baekhyun’s sweater and nails raking at his sides, making Baekhyun shiver, his own hands spreading down the broad plane of Jongdae’s chest while the other stays with his arm wrapped around Jongdae’s neck, a feedback loop of desire as Baekhyun’s lust fuels Jongdae onwards and Jongdae acts upon it on Baekhyun, who then feels arousal even more burning in his blood. Decades of love and lust and tension surmounting down to this.

At one stage Jongdae moves towards the right side of Baekhyun’s neck, where his pulse is --the opposite side to Minseok’s mark-- and makes a hickey of his own. Quick, dirty, and desperate, in the middle of the street where anyone can see, making the back of Baekhyun’s head hit the wall as he makes a strangled noise in the back of his throat, way too aroused by Jongdae sucking beneath his earlobe.

Then he feels Jongdae’s fangs.

It’s a split second where his entire body freezes, yet maybe it had only been an accident, or maybe Jongdae had been testing him, the tips of his fangs just lightly digging into Baekhyun’s skin, right where his pulse thrums against them, accelerated from how breathless Jongdae’s kisses have made him.

Yet it’s that split second moment of Baekhyun’s wariness that ends up being all that it takes for Jongdae to pull away, Baekhyun stumbling to get to his feet on time as Jongdae’s chest rises and falls --not from exertion, because vampires surely cannot feel such a thing, but panic.

“This was a mistake,” is all he says, eyes so dark they’re like obsidian mirrors Baekhyun can see his own disheveled appearance in, and then, Jongdae is gone.



 

Unsurprisingly, that night, Baekhyun can’t sleep.

As soon as his grandmother had gotten home from her book club she’d sensed something was wrong with Baekhyun, but how could he voice his troubles to a seventy-eight year old? Instead he just lets her hug him and stroke his hair like he’s six instead of twenty-six and while it doesn’t calm his anxieties it at least grounds him, somewhat, keeps him centred.

As soon as she leaves for bed, though, it’s a good few hours of restlessly rustling in the sheets, staring up at the ceiling in the darkness and trying to make sense of the guilty thoughts in his head. He'd kissed Jongdae right after Minseok... it hadn't been the brightest of ideas, but circumstances had made Baekhyun impulsive and desperate. It seems like on TV, maybe, that kisses should have been the giveaway as to who Baekhyun is meant to pick, that one should cause fireworks and show him that that’s who he’s meant to be with.

Yet --a single hand gently brushing over the bow of his lip in memory-- neither of them felt more… chemically electric than the other. Minseok’s kisses had been soft and slow and gentle, whereas Jongdae’s had been rushed and ravenous, but Baekhyun had felt equal amounts of investment in both.

Sitting up, Baekhyun checks the time on his phone, notifications empty save from a text from Minseok which says, you better be asleep right now ʕง•ᴥ•ʔง , and he wonders if he could even pick Jongdae, if Jongdae would let him. He’d walked away after all, called it a mistake, but… Baekhyun is still alive, so surely that’s a good sign? Proof to Jongdae that he is capable of controlling himself.

Baekhyun groans as he rubs at his eyes, the creaking of the house isn’t helping, and his brain doesn’t feel awake enough. He needs coffee. Why his grandmother only keeps tea will never fail to perplex him.

Slipping on his shoes and heading out, Baekhyun sighs at the fact that he hadn’t gotten information out of Sehun like he’d meant to --as soon as Jongdae had left he’d felt a little heartbroken, and didn’t feel like doing much other than going home and moping. It had made Baekhyun feel like an eighteen year old all over again, really, staring at the shards of his heart in his palm and wondering what he was looking at --except this time, Baekhyun knows his feelings, and it just hurts all that much more.

The diner is a blur of fluorescence in the deep, rain-streaked distance, and Baekhyun enters easily with a small smile on his face, while Joy --the other night waitress-- instantly waves Minseok over.

“Hi,” Minseok says, with a dopey grin on his face that has Joy laughing into her hand across the room as Minseok shoots her a brief dirty look. “You should be asleep right now.”

“But I wanted coffee,” Baekhyun pouts cutely, and Minseok sighs as he moves to grab the pot off its station, filling Baekhyun’s mug as he curls his fingers around the warmth.

“I don’t know why I indulge you,” Minseok says, shaking his head.

“Because I’m cute and you like me?” Baekhyun flutters his eyelashes, Minseok just pinches his ear, making Baekhyun yelp.

“No, that can’t be it,” Minseok says easily, and the look on Baekhyun’s face must make him laugh as he breaks out into a victorious little giggle and slides into the seat opposite him, nudging his leg beneath the table.

“So what’s up?” Minseok asks. “Usually you can't sleep this much when you’re really bothered by something.”

Baekhyun blinks, stunned that Minseok had noticed as much, but it’s probably true. His insomnia will wake him up in the middle of the night, but it’s his anxieties that make him restless.

“I want to know more,” Baekhyun starts nervously, improvising, fingers fidgeting with the rim of his mug. “About… you know.” He glances around surreptitiously. “Your doggy friend.”

Minseok’s face turns contemplative at that, and then he says, “Fair enough.” Perhaps Minseok thinks Baekhyun only wants to know out of burning curiosity, but it’s a lot more than that. He needs to know what he’s going into if Minseok ends up being his choice --maybe finding out more about it will help soothe his inner turmoil. At the very least, it distracts him, keeps him from worrying about what’s really bothering him.“What do you want to know?”

Well, where to start…

“Okay, so, it’s not a full moon thing, right?”

Minseok nods his head in agreement. “Right. We call ourself werewolves, but technically we’re more like… shapeshifters. Children of the moon are the infected ones, but they’re bitten by other children of the moon, not werewolves.”

“And you can control your wolf form?” Baekhyun continues. Minseok obviously retained his memory from such, and it seems like his relationship with his wolf is different to the rabid animals often shown in movies.

“Not… always, but for the most part, yes. My--” his voice drops. “--wolf self, is a little more impulsive than my human form, but I’m usually conscious and aware of what I’m doing.”

Except when Baekhyun is involved, apparently.

It goes unsaid.

“Okay then so… do you have a pack, or what? How does it work?”

Minseok winces at that, and Baekhyun thinks, oops. Striking a nerve this quickly deserves an award.

“No,” Minseok says shortly. “Most do but… my mom is a human, and she hated the pack, thought they were like a weird cult, so she left and took me with her when she divorced my dad.” Minseok sighs. “Remember those weird people at the cafe I avoided ages ago?”

Baekhyun blinks. “They were from your pack?”

“They were from a pack,” Minseok corrects. “Being a lone wolf is… difficult, because it’s rare, and packs are always looking to increase their ranks and recruit other wolves. Lone wolves are seen as easy targets, so most packs in places I visit always try to get me to join them.” He runs a hand through his hair, frowning a bit. “Some packs are nicer than others, I’ve found the local ones around here aren’t violent, at least.”

Such a comment sends Baekhyun’s blood running cold, wondering just how much danger Minseok has been put into, purely because he’s not a part of some… pack.

“Is that why you travel so much?” He asks --it would make sense, after all, avoiding recruitment.

Minseok just laughs.

“Oh no, I can handle being pestered by pack dogs every now and again,” he waves his hands. “I travel because I love it, but wolves aren’t… really meant to do that sort of thing I guess. If you’re a part of a pack you’re meant to stay and guard the territory, serve your family, blah blah…” Minseok wrinkles his nose in distaste. “I’m not cut out for that sort of thing --I guess other wolves don’t really get that.”

Huh. It makes Baekhyun wonder just how many of the long-standing families around here are a part of these… packs. Chanyeol’s family must be, for one. Who else?

“So what does being a werewolf like, do?” Baekhyun asks, watching Minseok closely. He won’t deny that hearing about this is kind of cool as shit.

“Uh, not… much?” Minseok answers, laughing nervously at Baekhyun’s enraptured stare. “I guess most packs would guard the territory and act as a sort of… watcher over the supernatural happenings of their area, but for the most part it’s just a whole lot of boring cultural traditions and customs, and all I get from it is enhanced senses and strength and a dog that needs night walking all the time.” Minseok shrugs stiffly.

“Man that’s cool,” Baekhyun says wistfully, leaning back slightly and letting out a small whine. “I wish I had superpowers.”

“Superpowers…” Minseok repeats, laughing. “No, it’s really not that cool. Promise.”

Minseok’s cheeks are pink in his embarrassment, so Baekhyun decides to save him from further hassling, enamoured with the knowledge that this entirely different world exists and no one seems to know about it.

“What else exists?” Baekhyun asks eagerly. “How come humans don’t know about all of this?”

Minseok blinks at that, contemplative, then shrugs. “It’s really just the three --vampires, wolves, and children of the moon-- but humans are fearful creatures, so I guess we all just… hide to protect ourselves.” He mulls over it. “I know there are plenty of humans who do know about our existence --like you, obviously-- but there’s no exposure because… well, if a werewolf exposed other werewolves, they’d put themselves and their family at risk, and humans that know about us tend to be… very close to our world, so they don’t want to out us either.” He bites a cheek in thought. “Other than that, I suppose, in the past people knew… but most nowadays don’t actually believe that it’s true even if they are told, and if they’re considered a threat they’re… dealt with.”

Well, that sounded ominous, causing Baekhyun to shudder slightly. Note to self: no spreading the existence of vampires and werewolves around, then.

(Baekhyun has yet to add a child of the moon to his pile of love interests, but hopefully that doesn’t happen anytime soon --his plate is a little full.)

“And why do vampires and werewolves hate each other?” He asks, because it’s been bothering him ever since Chanyeol had mentioned it. He’s never really talked about Minseok to Jongdae or vice versa, but Baekhyun can’t deny that this little feud between species might not… help, if he does end up making a choice.

Minseok’s look of disgust tells him enough to know that it’s not just pack conditioning. “Because they’re disgusting, vile creatures. Who needs more of a reason than that?”

Jesus. “I mean, they can’t all be bad,” Baekhyun offers weakly, avoiding eye contact.

Minseok sighs in frustration. “So some of the ‘vegetarian’--” he says the word sardonically. “--ones will lead you to believe, but at the end of the day, they’re still blood-sucking parasitic corpses that have killed thousands of people with no second thought.” Okay, so obviously this hatred runs a little bit deeper than simple prejudice. “The ones I’ve always run into have been less than friendly….” Minseok’s fingers hover over the skin on his neck, expression hardening. “We’re like cats and dogs, you know? We just can’t get along.”

Except Baekhyun has watched plenty of puppy and kitten compilations on youtube, and knows for a fact that you can’t generalise something like this, because they can get along --vampires have personalities as much as werewolves do, it’s just going to depend on the people involved, not on what they are.

Another customer walks in, a trucker no doubt, and Minseok stands from the table.

“I need to work--” he says, giving an apologetic smile. “--gimme a sec?”

Baekhyun nods agreeably, unsure of what much else to do, and sits in his newfound solitude, pondering. He wonders if the hatred is two-sided, then --Sehun hadn’t seemed disgusted as soon as Baekhyun had said the word werewolf, but then again, Sehun has the emotional range of a teaspoon. Jongdae doesn’t strike him as the sort of person that’s going to hate someone purely for what they are, but if it’s instinctual for their species, then… well, Baekhyun probably thinks it’s best that he doesn’t bring up the fact that he’s kind of crushing on two people at once who are probably sworn to hate each other.

Huh, this sure is messy.

Minseok returns to the table with a smile on his face, but he pauses when Baekhyun turns to smile back.

“Baekhyun…” he says slowly, oddly serious. “What’s that?”

Baekhyun blinks at him, confused. “What’s what?”

That,” Minseok says scathingly. “Under your ear.”

Baekhyun reaches up with his right hand to touch beneath his ear, and pales at the dull pain that greets him.

Jongdae’s hickey. A possessive challenge against Minseok's.

“Uh,” well, so much for keeping that one on the downlow. “About that…”

It’s not Jongdae’s blink from one spot to the next, but Minseok is unreasonably fast as his hands grip Baekhyun’s chin to turn his face and look at the hickey, frowning darkly. Baekhyun swallows.

“I don’t understand…” Minseok says. His forceful touch doesn’t hurt, but Baekhyun still feels nervous. “Why would you kiss someone else?” Minseok’s expression darkens. “It was him, wasn’t it. The vampire.” He scowls. “I was wondering why you smelled like a cemetary more than usual today.”

More than usual?

“You know about Jongdae?” Baekhyun blinks, and then remembers --the wolf in Jongdae’s window, that’s when it had first started. Baekhyun’s face falls. “Your wolf form saw us.”

Minseok winces. “I was out walking and it smelled you near a vampire it-- I, felt protective. I had to make sure you were okay.” Minseok laughs bitterly. “Only to see you fraternising with the damn thing.”

Thing?

“Jongdae is my friend,” Baekhyun says sternly, irritation bubbling under his skin. He gets that Minseok has a right to be hurt by this but he doesn’t need to be so… possessive, hateful. “Not a thing.”

“Do friends help other friends cheat?”

Cheat!? ” Baekhyun laughs incredulously. “On what relationship?!?”

“I said you were my soulmate and kissed you,” Minseok hisses. “I figured it was kind of implied!!”

“Of course it wasn’t!?” Baekhyun says bitterly in disbelief. “I’m not a wolf, Minseok, you can’t just kiss me and leave me with more questions than answers and then expect me to just-- submit to your every whim instinctively.”

Baekhyun stands up, walking out of the booth, dropping a handful of coins onto the table to pay for the coffee. Minseok doesn’t often make him pay, and that’s exactly the sort of fuck you Baekhyun is hoping to leave behind.

Minseok breathes steadily to calm himself, placing a hand on Baekhyun’s shoulder placatingly. Joy and the trucker are watching them oddly, while discretely pretending like they aren’t.

“Okay, look, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have expected you to understand how much it meant to me or just, trapped you into something without talking about it first,” Baekhyun relaxes at his words. “But obviously kissing… him … is going to upset me. Why would you do something like that so quickly? Do I mean so little?”

Baekhyun’s chest hurts. “No, Minseok of course not, I like you it’s just--” it’s just what ? Even Baekhyun doesn’t seem to know. “--It’s complicated. You’re right, I probably shouldn’t have kissed him, and I’m sorry for fucking things up but it’s. Not that easy to explain.”

“Isn’t it?” Minseok asks, and Baekhyun wonders if he’s right, yet the words won’t rise to his lips. He doesn’t know how to voice that he likes two people at once so much he doesn’t seem to be able to choose between them, and things with Jongdae aren’t as clear as they are with Minseok, Jongdae is far more… finicky. Minseok exhales a deep breath, calming himself, somewhat. “Just… promise me you won’t do it again, then, okay?”

Baekhyun pauses. “What?”

“The vampire,” Minseok explains. “Just… look me in the eye and promise me you won’t kiss him ever again. He’s dangerous, Baekhyun, he’s a vampire. You need to stay away from him altogether.”

Minseok’s eyes are so dark, it’s almost terrifying, the possessive, territorial instinct so easily laced through his every word. But Baekhyun doesn’t belong to Minseok, and certainly hasn’t committed to anything with him either --Minseok has no right to lay such a claim over Baekhyun’s life, and certainly not who his friends are.

Baekhyun is so fucking sick of being told to stay away from Jongdae.

“Don’t tell me what to do.” Is all Baekhyun says, icily, and walks out.

He doesn’t look behind him; Minseok doesn’t call his name.



 

 

Baekhyun spends the next few days wallowing in his misery, muting his teammates as soon as he gets into League so that not even they can harass him for his mediocrity. It’s the first time his grandmother hasn’t hassled him to go outside or be productive or any of it, obviously sensing that he needs to just wallow. It’s relaxing, at least, to have his grandmother press a kiss against his forehead as she says she’s going to do groceries and asking if he needs anything, but it doesn’t make him feel better.

His anxiety runs rampant replaying the last few days events in his mind, and it kicks his self-loathing into full gear. Baekhyun had made terrible choices and done terrible, impulsive things in his frantic confusion, and somehow he only has himself to blame for that, really --all of this would be so much easier if he wasn’t so clingy.

Baekhyun sighs as he checks his notification bar, completely empty. All he’s received in the last few days are texts from Chanyeol asking to catch up --which he’s ignored for the time being, definitely not feeling up to it-- and one from Jongdae.

All it had said, unprompted, was, I promise I’m not avoiding you, just let me think about things, okay?

Baekhyun hadn’t responded to that one either.

“Feelings are so dumb,” he tells his ceiling, wondering when he’ll stop feeling guilty for ruining things with Minseok, wondering when he’ll be able to think about Jongdae without being conflicted or, again, guilty --because of Minseok, no less. Baekhyun has really messed up on all fronts, and binge-playing Overwatch on his laptop doesn’t seem to be making his mood any better, only helping to keep his mind distracted.

Thunder rumbles in the distance on one particular night of self-hatred and isolation, tumultuous, and Baekhyun turns when a flash of lightning catches his eye, causing him to glance outside the window.

Only to see Minseok’s wolf gazing back.

Baekhyun rushes down the stairs and out the porch without a second thought, but as soon as he’s on the ground in front of Minseok, the wolf steps back, growling slightly.

Baekhyun stops and holds up his hands in surrender, so that Minseok rights himself until he’s standing and simply watching Baekhyun, obviously not wanting Baekhyun to get any closer. His eyes look tired and sad behind the white fur, and Baekhyun doesn’t know if Minseok is here because of himself or because of his wolf, but it’s obvious his wolf wants… something.

“I’m sorry,” is the first thing Baekhyun manages, because it’s what he owes Minseok. “For what I said, and what I did, I was angry and upset and confused and--” his voice chokes up a little, so Baekhyun swallows the sensation down. “--and I’m sorry.” The wolf just continues to watch him, impassive. “But you really hurt my feelings too, you know!” Baekhyun hurriedly adds, just to make sure he doesn’t push all the blame onto himself because that’s what his therapist had always said he has a bad habit of doing. Relationships are a two-way street, most of the time. “I told you it was complicated, okay it’s--” Minseok’s wolf whines slightly, and Baekhyun relents, slumping onto the bottom porch step. The wetness of the wood seeps into his jeans as rain pelts his hair.

“I shouldn’t have kissed him,” Baekhyun tells the wolf quietly. “But I-- I had to know, okay? I had to know how Jongdae felt.” His elbows dig into his knees as he rubs at his eyes with the palms of his hands. Neither he nor Jongdae had been thinking about Minseok when they'd kissed. “I like Jongdae so much it’s like sometimes I-- I forget about anything else.” Minseok’s ears droop at that, tail tucked between his legs. “But that’s the thing!” Baekhyun hurriedly continues, because he hadn't been thinking about Jongdae when he'd kissed Minseok either. “I like you just as much.”

Tentatively, the wolf stalks forward, and Baekhyun slowly rises his hands as Minseok’s eyes close and Baekhyun rubs the length of his muzzle, other hand gently scratching beneath his chin.

“It’s stupid, I know,” Baekhyun tells the wolf, and somehow it’s easier to admit all of this to the oversized dog, knowing he can’t say anything back. The wolf’s expressions are easier to read than Minseok’s human ones, far more earnest. “But I thought that-- maybe… eventually… I’d get over one of you and just be with the other but it’s. I can’t.”

Can’t choose, can’t get over them, can’t stop liking them so much. If Baekhyun’s feelings were going to die off, now would have been a really good opportunity for it, yet, if anything, his feelings for the both of them only seem to grow stronger with each passing second. Some part of Baekhyun will always be in love with Jongdae no matter what he does, yet some part of Baekhyun will always be drawn towards Minseok too. Baekhyun won’t fight the fact that fate had brought both of them into his life, but he doesn’t understand how he’s meant to only be with one.

Unless… of course… he doesn’t.

It’s a bit of a lightbulb moment, really, as Baekhyun sadly scratches between Minseok’s ears, but Baekhyun can’t believe he hadn’t thought of it earlier. There’s no reason one person only has to be with one person, because if Baekhyun isn’t meant to then… then why would he possibly like both of them? Of course, Jongdae and Minseok probably hate each other simply because of what they are, so it’s not… ideal, but it’s-- well. Surely it’s happened before? Baekhyun knows of sleeping around and dating around and polygamy but, something like this… it makes sense.

Baekhyun has spent so long telling himself he can only have one, because that’s how these things always go, right? Baekhyun is only expected to have one boyfriend, one partner, one choice.

But Baekhyun doesn’t want one.

“I’m a fucking idiot,” Baekhyun blurts, because, okay, he doesn’t really know how these things work, or what to do, and he can barely handle taking care of himself, let alone one relationship --let alone two -- but surely it’s a thing, surely it’s been done before, surely if Baekhyun isn’t meant to have both of them, then he wouldn’t be so intent on harbouring these crushes. Baekhyun never has been any good at making choices; so maybe he’d simply never fucking meant to bother making one in the first place.

Because Baekhyun can’t choose, he can’t and he won’t, he refuses to. Jongdae and Minseok mean too much to him, he doesn’t want to lose either of them, and he certainly doesn’t want to give up on the opportunity to love either of them too.

Minseok tilts his head slightly, confused, but then he starts growling in Baekhyun’s hand and Baekhyun pulls back, worried he’s done something wrong. Minseok’s body swivels almost immediately towards the right, and when Baekhyun turns he sees Jongdae standing there, watching with a confused look on his face.

“Jongdae,” Baekhyun says, standing up, taking in Jongdae’s rain-soaked self, who’s staring at Minseok with a frown on his face. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to talk, you weren’t responding to your phone and I figured  you’d be awake--” Jongdae continues glaring at the wolf. “This your pet dog, then?”

Minseok straight up barks at that, in warning, but Jongdae looks entirely unbothered. Do vampires beat werewolves? Baekhyun doesn’t know --he assumes they must, though, since they’re far stronger; a werewolf’s strength would be in its numbers, but Minseok doesn’t have any of those.

“Jongdae this is Minseok,” Baekhyun introduces warily. “Minseok --stop growling--” he does not. “--this is Jongdae.” Baekhyun flicks the end of Minseok’s nose. “Hey!” Minseok stops at that, but he does glare at Baekhyun, making a muffled noise of discontent and still shooting daggers in Jongdae’s direction. “What did you want to talk about?”

“Us,” Jongdae says simply, shrugging, and Minseok makes more rumbling noises. “But I guess you’ve found something better already.”

Jongdae turns to leave, and Baekhyun shouts, “Jongdae!” Before he can disappear, yet Minseok is faster, the wolf sprinting past in a blur of white and skidding across the dirt in front of Jongdae, barking in warning. Jongdae stops, and hisses at the wolf, fangs on full display. It’s the most inhuman Baekhyun has ever seen him, yet he still isn’t afraid of either of them.

“Can you stop being an idiot for two fucking seconds and just listen to me?!” Baekhyun shouts, glad that Minseok is helping him, although he isn’t sure if that’s because he wants to or because it’s what he knows Baekhyun wants. Jongdae’s mouth seals shut immediately as he turns to Baekhyun, impatient, watching him carefully. “I like you, Jongdae.” Baekhyun says plainly. “But I am so fucking sick of your-- stupid-- vampire-- broody-- bullshit!

“I--” Jongdae falters, casting Minseok a wary look. “--That’s why I came here to apologise.” He clenches his jaw. “I thought about it and… you were right." Baekhyun pauses. What? "All the time I spent worrying about my self-control, I was being stupid.” Jongdae shakes his head. “I would never hurt you, I would never want to hurt you. Kissing you proved that, I just-- I had to think about it,” he admits quietly. “I had to be sure that being with you is worth the risk and of course it is, it has, it always will be.” Jongdae finally meets Baekhyun’s eyes. “I let you go once, and it was one of my biggest regrets. I’m not letting that happen again.”

Something happy bubbles in Baekhyun’s chest, as Jongdae stands in front of him, determined.

“No more being a broody little bitch?” Baekhyun asks hopefully.

Jongdae lets out a self-deprecating laugh. “Yeah, no more of that.”

Baekhyun smiles, and then the wolf standing behind Jongdae disappears, shifting back into a very naked, very sad looking Minseok.

“Is he your choice, then?” Minseok asks, quiet, as if he’s afraid of the answer, watching them both closely. “The one you want to be with?”

“What?” Baekhyun blinks, finding it very hard to focus when Minseok is standing in front of him like that. “No!!! It’s-- please put on some clothes--”

Minseok seems unbothered by his nudity entirely as Baekhyun peels off his outer layer and hands it to him, avoiding his gaze as Minseok shrugs on the jacket, hanging over his thighs, thankfully. The rain hits Baekhyun harder, now.

“It’s him then?” Jongdae asks, jabbing a thumb at Minseok like he refuses to acknowledge he has a name. “The nudist wet dog?”

Minseok scoffs in disbelief, folding his arms over his chest. “Says the overgrown leech--”

“Guys,” Baekhyun tries.

“Dirty mutt,” Jongdae spits.

“Evil parasite,” Minseok retorts.

Guys.” Baekhyun says firmly, and stands between them, looking at them both in disbelief. Does the vampire-werewolf prejudice run so deeply that even two of the kindest people in Baekhyun’s life won’t look past it? This is ridiculous. “I choose neither of you.”

They both pause at that, falling back in time, giving Baekhyun mirroring confused looks. And to think they refuse to get along after just having met when they’re so similar.

“What?” Minseok and Jongdae say in unison.

Baekhyun flushes red, standing straight. “I choose neither of you,” he reiterates, huffing. “And why should I have to make a choice? I’m not going to just-- ignore my feelings for one of you.” He shakes his head. “That’s not how this should work.” He points at Minseok. “I’m your imprintee,” he says, then turns to Jongdae. “And I’m your singer. I’m meant to be with both if you.”

Minseok scoffs. “A murderous urge is hardly a sign from fate,” he laughs bitterly, causing Jongdae to shoot him a glare. “So what?” Minseok asks Baekhyun, still holding the jacket across his body. “You’re just going to… be with both of us?” He frowns, giving Jongdae a dirty look. “I’m not sure if I’m okay with that.”

“Is that because you’re against open relationships, or because Jongdae is a vampire?” Baekhyun asks scathingly, Minseok’s pointed silence giving him enough of an answer as is. “You two are unbelievable, you don’t even know each other!”

“I don’t need to,” Jongdae turns up his nose. “The stench of mouldy carpet tells me enough about his personality as is. God knows the last werewolf I met was just as much of a pretentious, prejudiced jerk.”

Minseok laughs humorlessly in disbelief as Baekhyun just sighs, slapping his forehead in frustration. Thanks, Chanyeol.

“Oh and I’m meant to be okay with Baekhyun dating a walking, violent murderous piece of--”

Enough.” Baekhyun says sternly, fed up with it. “It’s either both of you or neither, so I suggest you work out your issues.”

Like that he turns on his heel, marching towards the back patio, and slams the door behind him. Minseok and Jongdae can squabble like little children all they want, Baekhyun is sick of trying to be the mediator.

He leans back against the door and sinks down it, ending up with his knees against his chest, which aches slightly. He likes both of them so much, he doesn’t want to lose either of them.

Why can’t they see that?

Chapter Text

“Wow,” Sehun comments. “I don’t even need to be an empath to see you’re depressed.”

“Thanks,” Baekhyun replies. “It’s because I have depression.”

Sehun whacks him over the back of his head with a paperback. “You know what I meant.”

Baekhyun pouts, and rubs at the spot, picking up the paperback Sehun had used as punishment. Wuthering Heights. Ouch.

It had been almost a week since The Great Conflict, and Baekhyun’s phone still had no notifications. Approaching Minseok or Jongdae first defeated the purpose of the entire thing, so Baekhyun had quickly been growing frustrated and bored --and lonely.

So bored he’d found himself playing League at the library so his ping was better, and bothering Sehun.

“What is your power, anyway?” Baekhyun offhandedly asks. Sehun offers information the same way a greedy man offers money; he doesn’t. Most of the time, anyway, but rarely enough Baekhyun can pester it out of him. Sehun has already seemed to grow accustomed to his presence at the library --and it’s a little bit terrifying.

“Nothing particularly interesting,” Sehun admits, pushing a book onto the shelf as Baekhyun skim reads the blurb of Wuthering Heights. A tale of true love and tragedy… he frowns. “When I touch objects, I can see their past.”

Baekhyun blinks, looking up. “How is that not interesting?” He asks. “Is this why you like books so much?”

Sehun’s fingers pause over the spine of a novel contemplatively. “I… suppose so, I’ve never thought about it, but… books are treasured and cared for, taken to many places, see so many things…” he gives a fond smile, reminding Baekhyun that he most likely isn’t the twinky twenty year old he appears to be at surface level. “So yes, it plays a part, I suppose.”

Huh. “How old are you, exactly?”

Sehun gives a wry smile, eyes twinkling. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“Uh, yeah? That’s why I asked.”

Sehun just rolls his eyes, obviously wondering why he bothers with Baekhyun sometimes --Baekhyun is used to the expression.

“Let’s just say I wasn’t fond of the Joseon era.”

Sehun lived through that ? Baekhyun frowns, his Korean history is a little rusty, but that could put Sehun between… a hundred and twenty and six hundred and twenty.

Which isn’t very specific, and, judging by Sehun’s little smirk, exactly the point.

Jerk.

“And you’ve spent those redacted amount of years doing what?” Baekhyun prods. “Converting fledglings to the vegetarian lifestyle?”

Sehun frowns at that, hesitating. “No,” he says. “In general, I isolate myself from other vampires. They can be… volatile.” So Minseok has said. Sehun gently pushes a book back into place. “Jongdae is an exception.”

Interesting. “Why?”

Sehun just sighs, which is how Baekhyun knows he’s about to be gifted an absolute nugget of knowledge Sehun doesn’t want to give.

“Most vampires have rebellious phases, periods of bloodlust before their human consciousness wakes up --in which case, most of them discard it. Jongdae didn’t experience that, he woke up fully stocked with morals and conscious, it was… odd.”

So Sehun has killed people other than his singer? He’d practically implied as much, anyway --Baekhyun resists the urge to shudder.

“So what’s different about Jongdae?” Baekhyun prods, and Sehun only shrugs.

“A powerful will? I don’t know.” He purses his lips. “Either way, he was a victim of an accidental turning --they’re less common than you think-- and I couldn’t leave him alone like that. Fledglings are no better than puppies that need to be toilet trained.” He pauses. “Except instead of urine and faesces all over the place it’s blood and murder.”

Baekhyun tries to imagine it really, how the centuries-old Sehun had stumbled across the ravenous fledgling Jongdae, undoubtedly lost and confused and so scared. It makes him proud, at least, that Jongdae’s self-control is so strong, but it makes Baekhyun wonder, too, exactly what it is about Jongdae that sets him apart from the rest --then again, it is Jongdae.

Baekhyun hears the front doors opening, tearing him from his thoughts, and Sehun says, “Ah, speak of the devil.”

Baekhyun blinks, and turns around to see who’s entered, only to see Jongdae heading towards them, a guilty look on his face.

“What are you doing here?” Baekhyun asks, as Jongdae just glances towards Sehun in lieu of an answer and Baekhyun gasps dramatically. “Traitor!” He tells Sehun --no wonder he was so oddly chatty, being a distraction. “I can’t believe you’re Team Jongdae.”

“He better be Team Jongdae,” Jongdae mumbles lowly, at the same time Sehun just shrugs.

“You’re always just moping here,” he says flatly, apathetic, even if Baekhyun can see the maybe genuine concern beneath it.  “Someone had to make sure you three solve your issues.”

“Aww,” Baekhyun coos. “The tinman does have a heart!!!”

Sehun walks away as Baekhyun just shouts baby come back before Jongdae pointesly coughs and shuffles from foot-to-foot, reminding Baekhyun of the problem at hand.

“Well?” He prompts, a little snippy.

“Walk with me?” Jongdae asks, hopeful. Baekhyun sighs as he stands.

The silence is stifling for obvious reasons, both of them with plenty of things to say but neither breaking it. Baekhyun almost jokingly asks if walking is going to be their always before reminding himself that he’s mad at Jongdae for a variety of reasons.

Baekhyun really is far too forgiving.

“I--” Jongdae says, at the same time Baekhyun exhales and says, “Look--”

“You go.” They say in unison.

“You first,” Jongdae quickly adds, as Baekhyun just scratches the back of his head, hating this awkwardness with Jongdae. They’d been comfortable together even when they hadn’t seen each other in eight years --why is he dealing with this now.

“It doesn’t matter,” Baekhyun mutters --he’d only been about to chew Jongdae out for not breaking the silence anyway. “You start.”

Jongdae chews on his cheek for a while, scuffing the tips of his sneakers into the concrete. Baekhyun raises an eyebrow impatiently.

“Well,” Jongdae says, anticlimactically, and tenses somewhat. “I was wondering if you’re free this Friday.”

Baekhyun rises both eyebrows at that.

“What’s the special occasion?” He asks, narrowing his eyes --Jongdae certainly hasn’t made it onto The Good List™ yet, but more than that, they’ve never… been the planning types. Jongdae could knock down Baekhyun’s bedroom door at three in the morning and Baekhyun would probably still agree to whatever Jongdae would demand of him.

“Our first date?” Jongdae offers, and Baekhyun just. Stops. Right in the middle of the sidewalk, still squinting.

“I thought about what you said,” Jongdae quickly amends, taking Baekhyun’s cue for him to clarify. Jongdae laughs nervously. “I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.” Baekhyun just continues being impassive, watching Jongdae awkwardly shuffle from side to side. He slumps. “I don’t want to live with my regrets forever, and I will… literally live with them forever.” He inhales. “So I don’t want to give up on what we have, whatever it used to be, whatever it is now, I know it’s… good. It always has been. I’m not losing sight of that.” Jongdae swallows --Baekhyun resists the urge to let his eyes flick down to his throat. “I… I think the only reason I was so intent on pushing you away, was because I was… scared. Not of hurting you, or killing you, but… of this. Us.” Jongdae quickly licks his lips. “I never really got over you leaving when we were kids and only friends, I was… terrified, of how it would feel if I let you get even closer and you left again.”

Jongdae huffs out a humourless laugh. “But we’re not kids anymore, and life --well, yours, anyway-- is too short to skip right to the ending. So I want to try this. You and me.”

While Baekhyun is undoubtedly moved by Jongdae’s monologue.... “Just you and I isn’t an option.” He calmly says, waiting to see how Jongdae will react.

“Ah, right, well…” Jongdae clears his throat. “While I dislike ultimatums, it is your life, and your choice, and even though I’m not a really a dog person--” Baekhyun gives him a flat look. “--I’m not going to get in the way of… whatever you two have. It’s not fair on you and--” a deep breath. “--It’s not fair on him, either.” Baekhyun’s body bubbles with giddiness. “It might be a little unconventional but if it’s what you want then… then I’m okay with it.”

Baekhyun grins, moving forward to hug Jongdae, but Jondae steps back.

Typical.

“But don’t go… rounding up more boyfriends without asking me first, okay?” Jongdae gives a wary look. “This… open relationship thing might… take me awhile, to get used to it. Just me and him.”

Baekhyun quickly hugs him. “That’s okay,” he mumbles against Jongdae’s shoulder, feeling the way Jongdae hesitantly returns the hug. “It’s still our relationship, you know? You’re allowed to define boundaries too.”

“Does that mean I can put in the boundary that you can’t sleep with him--” Baekhyun pinches Jongdae’s back. “--Ow ow okay okay bad joke, Jesus.”

Baekhyun pulls back from the hug, huffing his bangs out of his face. “I did do research into this kind of relationship, you know," he'd certainly had the free time to. "Polyamory and all that stuff…” Baekhyun had to admit, the concept had been new to him, but it makes sense. You can have more than one parent, more than one friend, more than one sibling… so why was it that no one thought to question having more than one significant other? The internet is a marvellous place. “And communication is going to be important, so we have to be honest with each other. If you feel unhappy or mistreated or--”

“Baekhyun,” Jongdae interrupts, laughing as he reaches out to tuck a strand of hair behind Baekhyun’s ear. It really is growing too long, he’ll have a mullet soon enough. “That’s how most relationships work.”

“No that’s how they should work,” Baekhyun corrects. “Not how people necessarily treat them.” He frowns. “I was just saying…”

Jongdae smiles, and the look is so fond despite his black eyes it makes Baekhyun’s stomach butterflies awaken to flutter around.

“It’s okay, thank you,” Jongdae says. “It’s nice to know that you’ve actually thought about this and aren’t just jumping into a messy relationship with no clue of how to handle it.”

“Me?” Baekhyun asks innocently, pointing at himself and blinking. “Do something without thinking? I would never--”

Jongdae laughs, leaning in to press a kiss against his cheek.

“Hey!” Baekhyun scolds. “No kissing before the first date!”

Jongdae snorts. “T’was just a cheek kiss milord, no need to feel so scandalised” he bows over dramatically as Baekhyun rolls his eyes, shooting him a cocky smirk. “Like we haven’t already had the hottest makeout session of the year.”

Hey,” Baekhyun flicks his forehead, just to get Jongdae to stop looking at him like that. Ugh, flirty Jongdae is the worst, bring back the self-loathing, brooding one. “That was me trying to prove that I was right --which I was, by the way--” Baekhyun adds matter-of-factly. “--It doesn’t count.”

Jongdae’s eyes twinkling. “So does this mean Friday’s a date?” His lips twitch. “And that I can kiss you afterwards?”

Baekhyun hates how flustered he feels, but the mood quickly dampens. He rubs the back of his neck. “I want to, but Minseok…” Jongdae’s expression dims somewhat. “... We haven’t talked about it, he hasn’t…”

“Talk to him,” Jongdae says immediately. “Tell him what you’ve told me, convince him.” He pokes Baekhyun’s shoulder lightly. “Not everyone can be left alone to make their own decisions, sometimes they just need a little nudge.” Jongdae looks out into the distance as the wind blows past, sweeping at the long dark curls framing his face. He smiles sideways at Baekhyun. “Even if you don’t want to be the one do it.”

He’s right, even if Baekhyun would rather die than admit it, and it’s times like these that Baekhyun remembers just how reliable Jongdae is, how he’s always kept Baekhyun in check, and why it is exactly that he still thinks of him as his best friend. Boyfriend or not, Jongdae will always be his best friend first and foremost.

Boyfriend, though --Baekhyun quite likes the word.

Baekhyun sighs dramatically. “And here I was thinking my petty silent treatment would do him some good.”

Jongdae cackles, then nudges Baekhyun’s shoulder. “It’ll be fine,” he reassures, unprompted. “Just talk to him.”

Baekhyun nudges Jongdae right back. “Who said I was nervous about it?”

“It’s you, Baekhyun,” Jongdae says simply, with a smile tugging at his lips. “You’re always nervous.” He pauses. “Even if you’re really, really good at hiding it.”

Fair enough.

Before Baekhyun can even come up with a witty retort, Jongdae is leaning in with a hand against his cheek, and kissing Baekhyun, slow and soft and sticky, chaste but sweet. It’s languid and open-mouthed, and Baekhyun’s eyes flutter open as Jongdae pulls back, somewhat dazed.

(That mouth is definitely a trap.)

“Cheater,” Baekhyun mumbles accusingly.

“What can I say?” Jongdae gives a cheesy wink. “I’m a rule breaker.” Baekhyun scoffs --Jongdae’s a good little catholic boy who can’t even kill flies. “You can reprimand me about it on Friday.”

Like that he walks away, still laughing to himself in victory, and Baekhyun shouts, “Don’t think I won’t!!!!!” At his retreating figure.

“Let me know how it goes with Minseok!” Jongdae shouts back, ignoring Baekhyun’s comment altogether, and giving a half-hearted wave. Baekhyun huffs out a frustrated breath of air.

Stupid boys.



Baekhyun wishes Jongdae’s comment about him always being nervous wasn’t so damn right.

Well, technically he’s not nervous --it’s mostly the anxiety.

But even Baekhyun sans the illness --which is impossible to imagine, really, since Baekhyun has lived with the issues for so long it feels like there had never been a difference-- would feel nervous about this, he hopes.

He knocks.

Once, twice, no answer.

Baekhyun tries again.

The steel doors rattle to no avail, and Baekhyun slumps against them, pouting. This usually works out in the movies, but Minseok must be working the morning shift, so he won’t be back for another hour at best.

Baekhyun really should have planned ahead.

Instead he sits on the front porch step with his chin in his hands, watching the few people and cars that go by, giving him equally as questionable looks. He pulls out his phone and starts playing the few games he has on his phone until he gets a battery warning and switches it off altogether, sighing. Visiting houses unannounced always works out for Jongdae…

A motorbike rolls up to the curb and stops, a short distance in front of Baekhyun, which he perks up at immediately, watching as Minseok steps off and pulls his helmet off of his face, regarding Baekhyun with careful eyes. Baekhyun hadn’t known Minseok could drive… that --it’s startlingly hot, but now isn’t the time to be thinking about it.

“What are you doing here?” Minseok asks, not scathingly so, but not exactly a warm welcome, either. Baekhyun stands up immediately.

“I wanted to talk to you,” he blurts, fidgeting with his fingers. “And I think… now that we’ve cooled off, we should. Properly.”

Minseok just sighs as he walks up, helmet under one arm as he uses his free hand to dust some of the dirt off of Baekhyun’s backside that he’d gotten from leaning against the step.

“How long were you waiting out here?” Minseok asks.

“I dunno,” Baekhyun replies abashedly. “An hour or so?”

Minseok just shakes his head with a fond laugh. “And you didn’t think to call or text?”

Baekhyun blinks. “Well, we needed to talk in person, and I wasn’t sure if you’d actually agree to see me.”

Minseok’s shoulders drop at that, frowning. “Baekhyun, I was… upset, but I’d never… I’d never do something like that to you. You’re still my friend.”

Baekhyun swallows thickly. “Okay so… call next time. Lesson learned.”

Minseok just laughs softly again as he fits a key into the lock on the doors, sliding them open and immediately turning on the overhead lights. It’s as ordered and clean as it was last week, but somehow Baekhyun feels more out of place here trying to explain his feelings to Minseok more than he did when he was accusing him of being a fucking werewolf. Exactly when it was that Baekhyun’s life turned so upside down, he can't say.

“What did you want to talk about?” Minseok asks, as he holds up the kettle as if to say tea? And Baekhyun nods in response, fidgeting with the hems of his sleeves.

“I think you know what I want to talk about,” Baekhyun responds, and Minseok’s silence is all too telling as he busies himself with staring at the electric kettle, because that apparently needs to be done. “You haven’t… you haven’t said anything, yet. It makes me worried.” Baekhyun laughs nervously to alleviate the tension --to no avail.

“Because I still don’t know what my choice is,” Minseok admits, sighing as he rubs the side of his head and finally turns to Baekhyun. “I don’t…” he trails off. “... I like you Baekhyun, I really do, but now that I know you’ve always been in love with some vampire--”

“He wasn’t always a vampire!” Baekhyun quickly adds.

“Definitely the part you needed to defend,” Minseok mumbles, rubbing at his face again as he laughs self-deprecatingly and shakes his head. “I feel like I’m getting in the way of that, vampire or not, he was… first.”

“What are you talking about?” Baekhyun asks, furrowing his eyebrows together. “You’re my choice just as much as he is, the whole point is that you’re not getting in the way of anything!!!”

“But my mind doesn’t work like yours, Baekhyun,” Minseok says sadly. “I may be a wolf, but I’m also a person, and I don’t know how I’m meant to feel about the fact that my boyfriend will always have somebody else, and I could end up being number two.”

“It isn’t like that,” Baekhyun quickly assures, shaking his head defiantly. “I wouldn’t let it be like that.”

“Wouldn’t it?” Minseok asks, with a tired smile on his face. “I mean, what if you felt like you were treating us equally, but I didn’t? What then? Would you dedicate more of your effort towards me rather than him, only for him to feel left out?” Baekhyun really wishes that Minseok and Jongdae could learn to say each other’s names --it won’t kill them. “What then? What if it’s just a mess of jealousy and awfulness and manipulation--”

“Oh my GOD.” Baekhyun finally interrupts, cutting Minseok off so that his mouth quickly falls shut. “Is this all you think about? The end of the world itself?????” Baekhyun is fed up with it --Minseok can be so frustrating with how much he overthinks, honestly, and that’s coming from fucking Baekhyun. “Yeah, okay, I guess that could happen, but how do you know it won’t work until you try it??” He huffs. “So maybe polyamory doesn’t look good on the surface level to some people, okay, I get that, but how can you possibly know as to whether you can actually handle it unless you try?” Baekhyun throws his hands into the air. “You think I’m walking into this with optimism and rainbows?? I’ve never done anything like this either and fuck, I can hardly even handle one goddamn relationship, what am I meant to do with two?” He slumps again. “But that’s what talking is for, and healthy communication, and expressing ourselves, and if it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t work out and it might hurt a bit, sure, but... but at least I’m willing to fucking try.”

“Baekhyun,” Minseok tries. “Listen--”

“No, you listen,” Baekhyun says, a little panicked maybe, because he doesn’t know what he wants to say, just that he doesn’t want Minseok to try and ruin everything with his apocalyptic mindset. “I’m tired of feeling guilty for screwing everything up with you, I’m tired of thinking it’s wrong for me to care about more than one person, I’m tired of having all these feelings and being unable to do anything about them and I’m-- I-- fuck!”

Baekhyun stands there, chest heaving from exertion, and Minseok just quietly pours hot water into two mugs. The silence is thick and stretches on for minutes, with Baekhyun only watching Minseok as he moves about, face twisted.

“Okay,” he says eventually.

“I’m not done yet--” Baekhyun quickly argues, ready to defend himself before his brain catches up to the rest of him. “--wait, what?”

“I said okay,” Minseok says, laughing slightly. “I hear what you’re saying loud and clear, and although I don’t like this--” Baekhyun huffs. “--It’s nice to know that you have actually thought about it.”

“Are you kidding me?” Baekhyun laughs, devoid of any humour. “I can hardly think about anything else...” he mutters, taking a long sip from his mug.

“I don’t… think this is going to work,” Minseok admits, which causes Baekhyun to frown. “And maybe that’s just me, but…” he exhales. “If I have to choose between something that might fail, and not getting to be with you at all, then--” he places his mug down as he reaches out to hold Baekhyun’s hand, running his thumb along his knuckles. “--Then you’re right. I should at least try.” Baekhyun grins. “But,” Minseok continues, making Baekhyun pout again. “Don’t think I won’t kick that vampire’s ass if he so much as scratches you.”

“Oh my god you’re ridiculous,” Baekhyun blurts, laughing in disbelief as Minseok just gives him a small smile, all the tension and irritation washing away as Baekhyun just feels the sheer relief at being able to have Minseok in his life again, that their relationship is still salvageable. “No freaky werewolf possessiveness or I won’t take you out next weekend, Minseok Kim.”

Minseok just looks taken aback at that. “You want to take me out?” He asks, blinking owlishly. “Like… on a date?”

“No, on a treasure hunt,” Baekhyun replies sardonically; Minseok punches his shoulder. “Ow!”

“That’s a yes, by the way,” Minseok translates, gummy smile and all, even if Baekhyun is still rubbing at the spot that will inevitably bruise. “Although maybe next time don’t insult me before you do it.”

“Oooh already planning a second date are we?” Alright, Baekhyun deserves this one. “OW.”

“Play your cards right and we’ll talk about it,” Minseok says slyly. “You’re still on thin ice.” He pauses. "And it's... just us, okay? I don't want this open-relationship to be a total free for all, not without talking about it first."

"Of course," Baekhyun agrees easily, although they can establish more boundaries when they get to them. Instead of saying anything else, Baekhyun just pouts cutely in order to beg for forgiveness, and then demands Minseok kiss the spot he’d punched better to help the bruise heal. Minseok just kisses his cheek instead, which isn’t exactly what Baekhyun had been asking for, but he’ll take it.

Relationships are all about compromises, after all.



 

Despite all his nervousness beforehand, Baekhyun’s first dates go well.

Jongdae takes him to the movie complex outside of town and spends the entirety of it flicking popcorn kernels at Baekhyun in order to get his attention. Even though Baekhyun had been entirely enraptured in the movie (and a little more invested in pissing Jongdae off via ignoring him) he’d eventually given into Jongdae’s whims and paid him the attention he craved.

Which turned into more or less making out in the back of the cinema in the darkness, trying to regain all the lost time they’d wasted as kids.

It’s fun and stupid and Baekhyun doesn’t stop smiling the whole night, even when they go to a cheap fast food place and Jongdae tries to play footsies beneath the table while Baekhyun teases him about not being able to eat the deliciousness of McDonald’s fries --which, predictably, causes Jongdae to go into a health rant about it, which Baekhyun only rolls his eyes at and continues munching away, genuinely feeling a little bad that Jongdae can't eat.

With Minseok, it’s a little more hesitant, maybe, possibly because Baekhyun doesn’t know him quite as well, possibly because he goes into it knowing Minseok will be extra critical of how he acts, attempting to judge the legitimacy of this threeway relationship. Either way, the night starts off tense as Baekhyun climbs over the back of Minseok’s motorcycle and carefully wraps his arms around his waist, giving him directions to an art exhibition a town over. The silence is thick and awkward and heavy until they reach a painting in the gallery of a man with a very small dick, to which Baekhyun softly says, “Me too,” and Minseok actually laughs.

The hesitance is disregarded after that, as it the entire night turns into Baekhyun forming innuendos about every painting, whispering them lowly into Minseok’s ear and clinging to his bicep while Minseok pretends he doesn’t find them funny, Baekhyun occasionally shutting up and staying silent when a particular piece impresses him, which seems to please Minseok. It ends again with Baekhyun paying for dinner while they talk about their favourite things that they’ve seen and Baekhyun can’t even help the smile on his face when Minseok starts rambling about his favourite artists, showing Baekhyun examples on his phone that he’s collected from across the world --he’s so passionate it’s the cutest thing in the world, and Baekhyun is so fucked.

All-in-all, despite Minseok’s negativity, and Jongdae’s hesitancy, and Baekhyun’s everything… it actually kind of works. Baekhyun doesn’t end up drained or oversaturated because the people he’s dating are both people he’s familiar and comfortable with, and neither of them seem to have many complaints, either. Baekhyun had been worried he’d get double exhausted trying to handle two relationships, but if anything he’s just having twice as much fun.

Of course, it’s hard to gauge so much about the relationships from the honeymoon period, but Baekhyun likes to think it bodes well. There’s really only one part about the entire dynamic that bothers him and it’s the fact that Minseok and Jongdae hate each other.

For a multitude of reasons, really. Maybe all his optimism and rainbows just wants to see the people he likes getting along, but hell, Baekhyun doesn’t even care as to whether they get along or not, he just wants them to be able to say the other’s name for Christ’s sake. Baekhyun has to tiptoe around mentioning one to the other if he doesn’t want to sour the mood when they hang out, and Baekhyun loves the attention, really, he does, he just wishes their common ground extended past… well, him.

It bothers him because he doesn’t like the idea that his boyfriends disapprove of his respective other choice, and the blind hatred and prejudice is just… exhausting, stupid. It kills him to see people he cares about so much be so wrapped up  in something so insignificant, Baekhyun can’t stand it.

And maybe more than all of that… Jongdae and Minseok are so similar, Baekhyun doesn’t understand why they wouldn’t get along. He’s not saying they need to hold hands and go to each other’s soccer games like supportive parents, but… well, surely they could handle smalltalk?

Chanyeol just snorts. “Only you would date two enemies at the same time and get away with it, Byunbaek,” he jokes, pointedly stirring the coffee Baekhyun had paid for since their catch up had been a long time coming and according to Chanyeol, therefore Baekhyun owed it to him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Baekhyun accuses, only for Chanyeol to give an innocent little shrug.

“I dunno it’s just, something ridiculous that shouldn’t happen to real people,” he explains, which causes Baekhyun to squint. “Like, y’know, not only are you entering an unconventional relationship, but like… it’s kind of like if Juliet started dating Romeo and Paris at the same time, it just seems like something that isn’t going to work out.” Baekhyun frowns at the analogy, mostly because he doesn’t know who Paris is --probably the bad guy or something, judging by context. “It just feels like, yeah, I’m sure a relationship would work when the two parties don’t hate each other’s guts, but it’s… hm, I dunno, seems kind of pressuring for you? Like obviously jealousy and hatred are a big problem in polyamory, and you're really hitting that nail on the head.”

“Ugh, you have no idea,” Baekhyun whines, slumping down onto the cafe table, which Chanyeol laughs at. “It’s like… selective shame, I don’t know. I’m not ashamed of our relationship, or of either of them, but then when I’m with the other… I subconsciously become embarrassed, because they’re just so… judgemental.”

“And their opinion matters to you,” Chanyeol adds. “For obvious reasons.”

Baekhyun nods slowly, fiddling with his mug. The cafe Chanyeol had recommended has actual coffee --Baekhyun has been living off of diner trash for so long he’s forgotten what good coffee actually tastes like. He almost can’t stomach it.

“It’s just…. Annoying,” he decides, frowning. “I hate seeing people I like not get along…”

Chanyeol just huffs in amusement. “I’d pay money to watch a reality TV show about you trying to make them, though,” his lips won’t stop twitching. “Just shove them in a room together and force them to get along, like Big Brother.”

“You need to watch better television,” is the first thing Baekhyun says, which Chanyeol pouts at, but he… actually kind of has a point. Maybe Baekhyun should force Minseok and Jongdae to get along, just to take some of the stress out of their relationship. It will certainly make things less tense for everyone involved if they could both pull their heads out of their asses and actually get along.

If only he had any clue about how to make that happen.

 

 

 

It’s the sort of thing that happens a bit like the Professor knocking chemical X into his cauldron or whatever when he’s making the Powerpuff girls --a freak accident, perhaps, but a blessing in disguise. Baekhyun had had particular trouble sleeping that week for no apparent reason and it had piled up to make him airy, thoughtless, careless. Between Jongdae inviting him around to see his share house in town while his roommate was out and Baekhyun freaking out and cockblocking his own boyfriend, a leak in the house requiring him to go out in the rain and use what little carpentry skills his grandmother could yell-describe at him from the ground to stop the living room from flooding any further, and Minseok open-endedly asking if they could 'talk’ this Friday, Baekhyun was stressed.

Of course, a typical average everyday person could perhaps handle more than one responsibility at a time, but it’s this exact sort of mindset that had Baekhyun cracking the first time around and the reason why he can’t trust himself. It’s hard enough as is to hear his mother’s disappointing tone when he admits he’s not any closer to pulling himself together as he had been three months ago, but it’s all just straws breaking the camel’s back with the camel’s back consisting of Baekhyun’s acting up insomnia that leads to carelessness when Jongdae asks if Baekhyun can hang out tonight and he replies with sure.

At first, it’s midday, and Baekhyun is just trying to sleep, so he replies to Jongdae and rolls around and manages maybe an hour of squeezing his eyes shut until he’s sitting up and groaning, scrubbing at his face. Hanging out with Jongdae will be a good thing even if Baekhyun is tired, because maybe Baekhyun can explain why his dick machine is broken and to why he freaked out when Jongdae’s fingers dipped beneath his shirt and more than that, seeing Jongdae is always refreshing and fun.

But then he checks his phone again out of restlessness and sees that it’s Friday, and that’s a whole other problem to deal with.

So Baekhyun is fucked, because he can’t cancel on Minseok when he’d planned so far ahead, but it feels kind of weird to tell Jongdae that he’s changed his mind an hour after saying yes --he certainly can’t admit to either of them that he’d kind of forgot about the other, because that would only be proving the unspoken argument that Baekhyun can’t handle this relationship, and he can. He’s determined to. If nothing else in his life wants to work out, then he’ll at least force this aspect to.

Maybe Chanyeol will be getting his episode of Big Brother sooner rather than later.

Minseok arrives first, as Baekhyun had expected, because he’s Minseok, dressed in lighter layers since the winter is beginning to warm up into March --as much as it can for Canada, anyway-- and smiling as soon as Baekhyun opens the door, kissing his cheek with a soft, “Hey.” And instantly making Baekhyun’s stomach writhe with guilt.

Baekhyun easily leads Minseok to the living room as they exchange smalltalk and then debate pizza toppings, with Baekhyun flopping is head onto Minseok’s lap while Minseok reads them all out, his hand absentmindedly moving to run his fingers through Baekhyun’s hair. Baekhyun hums against the ministrations, because they help to calm him down, and he’s wondering if he should drop the Jongdae card first or finally address the elephant in the room and see what exactly it was that Minseok wanted to discuss.

“We should probably just order vegetarian,” Baekhyun says nonchalantly, because there’s clearly something he’s more prepared to do out of those options, cracking an eye open as he pauses. “And no garlic bread.” He adds quickly. He doesn’t know if the garlic thing is real or not, but better to be safe than sorry.

“I mean, sure,” Minseok blinks, looking down at Baekhyun in confusion. “If that’s what you want...”

Baekhyun shrugs --well, as best as he can lying in somebody else’s lap. “It won’t add to the tension, is all.”

Minseok tenses at that, and Baekhyun feels it beneath him, swallowing.

“What tension?” Minseok asks, confused, and his head snaps towards the front door seconds before Baekhyun hears the knock, smiling innocently.

Baekhyun.” Minseok says sternly, as Baekhyun scuttles away with an apologetic grin on his face to open the front door, only to see the exact moment when Jongdae’s face falls.

“Why does it smell like damp carpet?” Is the first thing Jongdae says, at the same time Baekhyun yells, “Jongdae!” Hoping that it had been loud enough to drown out Jongdae’s comment for Minseok’s sharp ears, pulling him into an over enthusiastic hug.

“What is this?” Minseok asks from behind Baekhyun, clearly glowering at Jongdae in the doorway, who mirrors the expression well enough.

“Funny story actually,” Baekhyun laughs nervously.

Minseok and Jongdae scowl in unison --at least they have that much in common.


 

It goes about as well as Baekhyun had originally expected it to waking up at midday only to discover his colossal mistake --which is to say it doesn’t go very well at all. Jongdae and Minseok have a shouting match over who should leave and who should stay with the most childish reasoning behind each argument before Baekhyun snaps and says they can just all hang out instead.

Naturally neither of them agree to it at first, arguing that it’s bad for their relationship and they don’t want this blah blah blah, not until Baekhyun rubs at his eyes and mumbles that he’s too tired for this shit and suddenly they’re both quiet.

Which is how Baekhyun ends up on a couch built for two people squishing in three instead, with Minseok on his right and Jongdae on his left. The movie he’d put on is meant to be funny but within the heavy atmosphere it’s hard to find anything particularly laughable, as Minseok picks at the pizza that had been delivered and Jongdae wrinkles his nose every three seconds --either at the smell of human food or Minseok, Baekhyun doesn’t know. (He kind of feels bad that Jongdae can’t eat, honestly.)

It’s dead silent and terrible and only made worse by the tension in the air that’s so thick Baekhyun could touch it if he wanted to --he won’t though, too afraid it just might snap beneath his fingertips. Jongdae nestling his head onto Baekhyun’s shoulder certainly doesn’t help either, as Minseok pointedly pulls Baekhyun’s hand into his lap and intertwines their fingers possessively. Jongdae’s silent retaliation is to wrap his arms around Baekhyun’s left one, only for Minseok’s free hand to move atop Baekhyun’s thigh, fingers dipping along the seams of his jeans.

All the contact makes Baekhyun’s skin burn, setting him on edge, and the way Minseok and Jongdae keep subtly pulling him towards their respective direction makes him feel like a tug-of-war rope that’s being stretched too far, leading him to stand up drastically and yell, “Enough!!!!” Hitting spacebar on his laptop and pausing the movie. In the now empty space, Minseok and Jongdae desperately hug the arm rests, like they’re afraid of being near each other, let alone touching.

“You two are ridiculous, why can’t you just get along instead of these-- these stupid displays of possession!”

Minseok and Jongdae exchange a look.

“We don’t like each other,” Jongdae says, gesturing to them both as Minseok nods in agreement --which makes Baekhyun want to facepalm like it’s still 2013. “Why can’t you get that?”

“Because you don’t even know each other?” Baekhyun offers, incredulous that they’re both really this thick. “And at first I figured it wouldn’t affect anything and we could continue on like always and I wouldn’t get in the way of this stupid little vampire-werewolf feud but no! I’m done! I’m fed up with it!” His voice continuously raises in pitch. “I’m sick and tired of two people I care about hating each other for no good reason!!!!” The exhaustion is catching up to Baekhyun now, and it makes his voice wobble, his shoulders droop. “You two won’t even try.”

“... Isn’t it natural?” Minseok asks eventually, but the heavy silence that had preceded him had been… odd. “To not want to get along with your boyfriend’s other boyfriend? To not want to get along with your species’ mortal enemy?” Jongdae gestures to Minseok and nods thoroughly, as if to say, see?

“Is that how you view it? Natural?” Baekhyun counters. “That it’s not even worth maybe --I don’t know, getting to know each other as people before you make such snap judgements? Because neither of you are apparently human enough to overcome instinct ?” That seems to strike a nerve, as both Minseok and Jongdae wince --their unplanned synchronisation is beyond comical.

“Look,” Baekhyun starts, sighing as he scrubs at his face, feeling far more tired than he’s used to even with such little sleep. “You two hating each other affects this whole relationship, whether you’ll admit it or not. Jealousy is the reason people argue against poly, but we can overcome it.” Jongdae flinches; Minseok just looks oddly pensive. “There’s so much… judgement, so much… underlying animosity and competition. I can’t handle something like that.” Baekhyun slumps to the ground dejectedly, hugging his knees to his chest as he looks down at the carpet in thought. “I thought, maybe it would work, if you two never interacted but…” But? “... but it doesn’t.” Baekhyun exhales deeply. “And I’m not saying I want you two to start making out and get married or something--” god, imagine. “--but couldn’t you at least try to get along as just… even acquaintances? For me?”

A silence weighs in the air, which makes Baekhyun nervous, as he tries to give the best pleading puppy-dog eyes he can, blinking up at both of his boyfriends innocently. Jongdae opens his mouth, and Baekhyun thinks that he’s about to say it --about to confirm that he and Minseok can’t get along, and never will, but then Minseok speaks.

“Let’s finish the movie,” he suggests, and looks at Jongdae across the couch, relaxing in his seat somewhat so he’s not squished against the armrest. “All of us.”

Jongdae’s jaw clenches, but then his face falls.

“Okay,” he says slowly, body softening somewhat. “Minseok has a point.” Jongdae turns to Baekhyun, offering a hand out to help him back up, and Minseok does the same.

Baekhyun grasps onto both of them, unable to hold back his grin --it’s not a definite ending, but it’s certainly a start.


 

Baekhyun visits Jongdae at work on a Tuesday afternoon partly out of boredom, partly out of forgiveness, and maybe partly out of curiosity too. Visiting Minseok at work is like, their thing, but he’s never seen Jongdae in his element, and he’s almost sad about it. Plus he hasn’t seen Jongdae since the awkward double date where he and Minseok hadn’t yelled at each other for an entire, dead-silent hour; Baekhyun misses Jongdae.

Apparently, there’s been some sort of zoonotic disease spreading through the nearby farms that means a lot of the vets at the animal hospital --which, in reality, is more like one reception room with maybe three consultations behind it, since most of the doctors are on call-- are forced to hop from place to place a lot, and Jongdae, being their receptionist, has had to pick up extra hours to handle it all.

But he doesn’t look too busy --although he looks strung out, pallid and sallow-- as Baekhyun pushes the front door open and immediately a nearby dog in one of the doctor’s arms starts barking at him, wriggling.

“Baekhyun,” Jongdae says in surprise, blinking, and as the vet beside him starts making frantic noises of worry. “What’re you doing here?”

“Can’t a man spontaneously visit his b--” Baekhyun realises he has no idea as to whether Jongdae is out at his workplace or not, pausing. “--est friend spontaneously?”

“You’re the boyfriend?” The vet suddenly asks, shoving the wriggling puppy into Jongdae’s arms as Jongdae just places his hand on its head and it immediately stills, quietning --it must be a vampire thing, or something to do with his empathy?

“I am the boyfriend,” Baekhyun hesitantly says, amused. “And you are…?”

“The roommate I didn’t want you to meet,” Jongdae mumbles, sighing and rocking the puppy lightly in his arms as his roommate just squawks in offense. “Han, Baekhyun. Baekhyun, Han.”

“Nice to meet you,” Baekhyun says politely at the same time Han yells, “What do you mean you didn’t want us to meet!?”

“Because you’re loud and annoying and dress like a twelve year old fuckboy when you’re not in scrubs,” Jongdae says easily, barely even blinking at Han as he hands the puppy back over and steps forward to kiss Baekhyun’s cheek. “I appreciate you coming even if it’s out of boredom.”

Baekhyun gasps in offense, holding a hand against his chest. “How dare you accuse me of such treason,” he shakes his head at Jongdae. “I’ve missed you.”

Jongdae opens his mouth to undoubtedly give a sassy retort, but Han cuts him off with, “Jeez, Dae. Can’t you at least spare one lunch break for your boyfriend, who came all the way out here to see you?”

“But I don’t eat,” Jongdae says, as if the answer is obvious, and then he and Baekhyun exchange a simultaneous wide-eyed look as Jongdae quickly corrects it to, “Uh, I mean I don’t eat at like. This time of day.”

“How can you not be hungry when I’m the greatest looking snack around?” Baekhyun jokes, which Han laughs at and Jongdae subtly jabs at him for the double entendre.

“C’mon Jongdae, you don’t want to get dumped so early in,” Han interjects, hanging an arm off of Jongdae’s shoulder, who gives him a flat look in return. “Look at him.”

As Han gestures towards him, Baekhyun gives his best puppy-dog eyes, and Jongdae sighs.

“This is why I didn’t want you meeting,” Jongdae mumbles, which causes Han to snort. “I’ll be back in thirty, okay? No killing Coco while I’m gone.”

“I think I can handle giving a puppy its shots considering I’m a fully-trained vet and all,” Han replies sardonically, which is when Jongdae pats Coco pointedly only for the puppy to immediately start barking and wriggling all over again, which Jongdae laughs at as he wraps his hand around Baekhyun’s wrist and tugs him outside after grabbing his backpack from behind the front desk.

“How do you do that?” Baekhyun asks incredulously, as they fall into step and Jongdae intertwines their fingers instead. “The animal thing.”

“Oh,” Jongdae replies, rubbing the back of his neck with his free hand as Baekhyun idly swings their interlocked hands back and forth. “I uh, can also sort of… emit emotions? As well as read them? But only animals seem to be susceptible to it --I don’t think people are as... sensitive.”

“Huh,” Baekhyun blurts, at a lack of how else to respond. Jongdae had done it at the pet shop, too, and with the deer --Baekhyun looks down at their hands, and wonders what Jongdae senses he’s feeling.

Jongdae gives a fond little smile, and Baekhyun’s heart seizes in his chest, which only causes Jongdae to give a shit-eating grin, as Baekhyun tears his hand back.

“Cheater,” he mumbles; Jongdae just gives him a wet apologetic kiss on the cheek, and rejoins their hands.

“So what have you been up to?” Jongdae asks, and Baekhyun gives him a quick recap which consists of mostly nothing and maybe a Minseok namedrop every now and then just to see how Jongdae reacts --he doesn’t, which is a very good sign, passing the test. He quickly complains about his usurping boredom being stuck in such a dead-end town, and then Jongdae says, “Maybe you just need something productive to do, like a part-time job or something? Just while you work out what you want to do next.”

It’s only an offhanded suggestion, but it still makes Baekhyun twinge, because he has no clue of what he wants to do next --originally, the idea had been to go back to L.A, but now he’s kind of invested into Dagger, and he doesn’t want to leave the quiet; as much as he hates it, it’s good for him, and Baekhyun can feel the difference within himself.

“Maybe,” he mumbles noncommittally, and stares down at the ground. “How was work, anyway?”

Jongdae goes on a rant about one of the local farms and how they hadn’t been cleaning the barn properly so of course the animals kept getting sick, and sure, Jongdae doesn’t get physically exhausted, but it doesn’t mean that all the overtime isn’t making him mentally exhausted and it’s chewing into his relaxation time.

Apparently it doesn’t help that it’s fucking with his hunting patterns too --something that’s begrudgingly muttered under his breath because Jongdae is still somewhere between trying to be open and honest and pretending that he isn’t basically a leech in human form-- because hunger does less than good things to Jongdae’s head.

“I wasn’t kidding when I called myself a snack you know,” Baekhyun says before he can even think about the words coming out of his mouth, and Jongdae just looks at him with raised eyebrows --at least mildly amused. “I mean-- I don’t understand why you don’t just have my blood?”

Jongdae completely freezes at that, right on the sidewalk in their little impromptu walk, hand falling out of Baekhyun’s; Baekhyun frowns. He'd felt awkward suggesting it before, but now that he and Jongdae are dating...

“You don’t know what you’re saying.” Jongdae says lowly, suddenly solemn. Baekhyun hates this side of him.

“Uh, yes I do,” Baekhyun says, with an unspoken duh attached. “Seriously, isn’t my blood meant to be delicious to you? Wouldn’t it be better for you to feed off of me occasionally instead of killing animals and stuff?” Baekhyun would be lying if he said he hadn’t been considering it all the times he’d eaten in front of Jongdae and Jongdae had gotten nothing in return. “Besides,” Baekhyun mutters nonchalantly, shrugging. “It’d be kinda hot.”

“Baekhyun I’d kill you.” Jongdae says, incredulous.

“Even hotter,” Baekhyun replies --dying via Jongdae is certainly one way he’d like to go.

Jongdae lets out a reluctant laugh and shakes his head in bitter disbelief. “Absolutely not.”

Baekhyun just rolls his eyes. “What? I’m telling you I want you to!! It makes me more comfortable to know you’re not out there killing deer and stuff…” Baekhyun wrinkles his nose. “Besides, it’s convenient, it tastes better, and it’s not like you have to suck every last drop, you know.”

“Don’t you get it?” Jongdae asks, squinting. “I would. You’re literally my murderous wet dream, that’s exactly what a blood singer is. You wouldn’t be able to stop me from killing you.”

Baekhyun blinks. “Then just have a third person present.”

Jongdae pauses where he stands, eyebrows furrowed. “What?”

Baekhyun shrugs. “We just have a third person present? Like? To make sure you won’t kill me and stuff,” Baekhyun rolls his eyes again. “Since you’re so convinced you will.” Fucking vampires --does being extra come with the immortality? “Like a mediator.”

Jongdae just sighs all over again. “Baekhyun, I’m a vampire. What sort of third person are you thinking of that both knows of the existence of vampires, trustworthy enough to stop me, and is strong enough to--” Jongdae pauses.

Baekhyun smiles.

Jongdae stares at him.

Baekhyun just smiles even wider.

No.”

“Oh come on! He’s literally the perfect choice!” Baekhyun whines.

“No. Fuck no I’m not-- I’m not feeding off of you, Baek.” Jongdae stubbornly juts his chin.

“Are you sure?” Baekhyun pouts, and then picks up one of Jongdae’s hands in his, so that Jongdae can feel just how much Baekhyun wants this for him, rolling his head to the side and exposing the long, smooth column of his neck. “Not even one tasty bite~”

Jongdae’s eyes are pitch black as they zoom in on Baekhyun’s pulse point; he tears his hands away.

No,” Jongdae reaffirms. “You’re being stupid. Reckless and stupid.”

“Why?” Baekhyun tilts his head, still making sure his neck is clear and visible. “It’s healthier for you too, no animals harmed in the making, and it’s convenient.” Jongdae licks his lips. “Just think about how much better it will taste, how much more full you’ll feel--”

Jongdae steps back. “Stop it.”

“--how much you want it, how much I want it, and--” Baekhyun pauses for dramatic effect. “--how much you’ll be able to let go, because Minseok will be right there to pull you back from the edge.”

Jongdae’s face twitches, his eyes not having once left Baekhyun’s neck.

Baekhyun smiles all over again.


 

“No.”

Baekhyun sighs in frustration, head lifting off of Minseok’s shoulder. “Why not?”

Minseok looks at him flatly. “Because it’s like jumping into a shark tank, Baekhyun. Why the hell would I agree to you doing that?”

“Sharks aren’t even that aggressive,” Baekhyun mumbles, and Minseok rolls his eyes, returning to his laptop screen in front of them on the coffee table, huddled together under a thin blanket on Minseok’s threadbare couch. “And it’s why I want you to be there, you know? To act as the shark cage.”

“So glad that’s all I am to you,” Minseok deadpans. “A shark cage.” Baekhyun pinches his shoulder, and Minseok makes a cute face of hurt that immediately has Baekhyun regretting the decision, fingers gently kneading at the spot apologetically.

“You know what I mean,” Baekhyun says, dejected, and pouts, bottom lip jutting out. “Why are you so against it? It’s a good thing.”

“Attaching a murderous man-sized parasite to your neck is not a good thing, Baekhyun,” Minseok sighs, still avoiding Baekhyun’s gaze by trying to focus on the movie instead.

“Didn’t you agree to try not to think of Jongdae like that?” Baekhyun frowns, prodding at Minseok’s side with his fingers. “You’re slipping into your vamprejudice again.”

“Don’t say that like it’s an actual word--” Minseok argues, slapping away Baekhyun’s irksome fingers. “--And don’t guilt me into agreeing to watch over you while your other boyfriend lightly kills you.”

“Not into getting cuckolded, huh?” Minseok pinches Baekhyun’s ear. “Ow!”

“Can you take this seriously for three seconds?” Minseok complains, rubbing at his temple. “It’s not happening. I forbid it.”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes. “Well, not to be a bearer of bad news here, darling dearest, but you’re my boyfriend and not my overprotective father.” He pokes Minseok again, swearing he hears a small growl in the back of Minseok’s throat in the process. “And I can do what I want, remember?”

Minseok’s eyes sharpen at that, and all trace of the TV show they’d been marathoning together washes away as Minseok watches Baekhyun instead, searching his face --Baekhyun gulps.

“What’re you implying?” He asks slowly, cautious.

Baekhyun shrugs. “Of course, Jongdae would never agree to bite me if you’re not there, but if he’s so impulsive like you believe he is then it won’t be hard for me to bait him into it--”

“Baekhyun,” Minseok says sternly. “Do you even hear what you’re saying? How could you possibly think this is a good idea??”

“Because it’s good for him,” Baekhyun says, matter-of-factly. “Animal blood isn’t the same as human blood, it makes Jongdae sick, and weaker, and I know for a fact he doesn’t exactly enjoy murdering animals all the time either.” Baekhyun puffs out his cheeks. “He’s really stressed out at work and having trouble hunting and I think it would just be good thing for him, okay?” Minseok looks conflicted at that, with a pained expression across his face that almost makes him look constipated, in hindsight. “Plus, it’s a great bonding experience for you two, right?”

Minseok looks at Baekhyun.

Baekhyun just smiles charmingly.



It’s kind of a weird thing to set up, in hindsight, but Baekhyun is determined, titling the groupchat BLOOD-DONORS-R-US just to watch the various exasperated emoticons Minseok and Jongdae both send, causing Baekhyun to laugh. It’s easier to set up a where and a when and whatnot when they’re all communicating clearly, and he can tell Jongdae and Minseok are holding themselves back a lot from the polite, proper speech they use in the presence of one another, but Baekhyun doesn’t point it out --amazed they’re even (kind of) texting at all.

So they end up in Baekhyun’s bedroom of all places since Minseok had suggested Baekhyun would need rest after Jongdae’s fed off of him --especially because of his venom-- and his tiny, thin futon isn’t great for that. Han didn’t know Jongdae was a vampire and Jongdae’s parents wouldn’t agree to the ordeal so his locations were both out of the question too, but Baekhyun could recognise the fact that neither Jongdae nor Minseok wanted the other encroaching on their territory or whatever --but they were still agreeing to the whole thing, so he didn’t argue about it.

It’s late at night, so Baekhyun’s grandmother has long since passed out at nine like a good old person, with Baekhyun sneaking Minseok and Jongdae up the creaky steps to his bedroom on the upper floor. The walls aren’t too thin, luckily, so they should be alright to make a little noise, as Baekhyun loads up some chill music on his bluetooth speakers and Minseok and Jongdae stand in his bedroom like they don’t know how to use furniture anymore.

Baekhyun sits on the edge of his bed, suddenly feeling weirdly self-conscious about his slightly messy room with his two boyfriends in it --neither of them have actually been in the bare space, and it makes him feel weird that they’re only doing it now, simultaneously; but not in a bad way. Truth be told, Baekhyun hasn’t been in the mood to have sex with either of them… well, ever since they ended up in this relationship, and he’s not exactly sure why. Of course neither Minseok nor Jongdae have pressured him into it, even if he’s left both of them with an unfortunate case of blue-balls on a few occasions, but Baekhyun has just felt… like something was missing.

“Well?” Baekhyun prompts impatiently, at Minseok and Jongdae still standing by the entrance of his room, who exchange a look in unison, not saying anything. Jongdae looks far more tired and pallid than usual, worn out for an immortal creature of the night, but Minseok just seems… wary. “Are you ready or not?”

“No more than ten--” Jongdae starts, turning to Minseok.

“--Small mouthfuls, shouldn’t take you more than thirty seconds, I know.” He finishes, somewhat amused by Jongdae’s nervousness, which makes Baekhyun’s eyebrows raise before he quickly smothers the expression. Jongdae tosses something at Minseok, and he catches it mid-air with one hand effortlessly, not even looking at the object. Minseok opens his palm with a frown. “A lighter?”

“It’s a vampire’s main weakness, other than beheading,” Jongdae says easily, as if trusting Minseok with his achilles heel is no big deal. “If I don’t pull back… burn my skin, and it should scare me enough to do it alone, then take Baekhyun to hospital.”

Minseok narrows his eyes, holding up thr lighter. “What if you don’t pull back from this either?”

“Then be prepared for a fight,” Jongdae says cooly, stepping forward. While Baekhyun appreciates the dramatics, he takes Jongdae’s hand with a small tug, pulling him forward.

“Hey,” Baekhyun says. “I trust you. You won’t hurt me.”

Jongdae looks conflicted, and Minseok softens, moving to sit across the room at Baekhyun’s desk chair, where his computer is still on, the League home screen open, a first aid kit and a few towels sitting beside his keyboard --just in case.

“You have my blessing,” Minseok jokes awkwardly, as Jongdae rubs the back of his neck and Baekhyun gives him a polite laugh, the thickness in the air super palpable as Jongdae just sits next to Baekhyun at the edge of the bed, holding his hands. Baekhyun focuses on the calmness that he feels, imagining that it radiates outwards --he thinks he sees Jongdae’s shoulders relax, somewhat, but maybe it’s just a trick of the light.

“Did you drink enough water?” Jongdae mumbles.

“And ate a salty snack,” Baekhyun rolls his eyes, having heard this lecture from Jongdae a bazillion times over the past few days. “Yes, dad. Enjoy the taste of Doritos in my blood.” Jongdae snorts, as Minseok just remains silent, watching them both impassively. “While I’m still young and beautiful, perhaps?” Baekhyun suggests.

“Shut up,” Jongdae mutters indignantly, one of his hands coming to trail down the side of Baekhyun’s face, over his pulse point. “I’ve never done this before, I’m nervous.”

“Aww, you’re a virgin bloodsucker,” Baekhyun teases, which Jongdae glares at him for, even though he’s smiling a little. “Can you not get them up? Your fangs? Too nervous?” Baekhyun can’t help but laugh at his own joke --Jongdae has fangtile dysfunction. “You don’t have to be, you know. I trust you.”

“God only knows why,” Jongdae murmurs, dark eyes trained on Baekhyun’s neck as his lips fall open a little.

“Well, I trust Minseok more, but, you know.” Baekhyun shrugs and Minseok gives a pointed snort, which is the exact moment Jongdae leans in and begins kissing Baekhyun, causing him to let out a muffled “Mmph.” In surprise as he melts into the kiss, eyes falling shut while Jongdae pries his lips open.

“This makes it easier,” Jongdae whispers between kisses, and Baekhyun remembers their heated make out against the wall the one --and only-- time Jongdae had ever slipped, where his fangs hadn't been fully retracted and his eyes dark enough to swallow Baekhyun whole the way Jongdae’s instincts want him to. As Jongdae bites on Baekhyun’s lip, Baekhyun moans and tries to focus on his desire, his want, because that had seemed to be what had made Jongdae hungry last time, too. It’s not so much sexual so much as it just… is, a want --no, a need -- to get Jongdae closer, for Baekhyun to wrap his fingers around Jongdae’s belt loops and tug him closer, press their torsos together, wind his arms around his neck as Jongdae’s hands run up and down between his waist and hips.

Baekhyun pulls back with a gasp and Jongdae starts kissing down his jawline, hands dipping under Baekhyun’s t-shirt as Baekhyun flutters his eyes open only to catch Minseok watching them, eyes dark. He looks like he kind of can’t look away, and it makes Baekhyun in all his egotistical glory moan, loud and unabashed, and okay, so maybe he’s kind of getting turned on --it’s a little terrifying, in hindsight, that all it takes is the prospect of death to get Baekhyun’s dick interested.

Except that’s not really the reason, Baekhyun knows, as he holds his eye contact with Minseok while Jongdae kisses down his neck, moaning a little more just to see the way Minseok swallows, tense. He’s totally fucking into this and Baekhyun would be outright losing his shit if he wasn’t so fucking into it himself. Shit, this is just meant to be about making sure Jongdae is eating right, but now the air is thick and heavy and charged and every inch of skin Jongdae’s cold fingers run over burns beneath his touch, only to run twice as hot when Minseok’s eyes follow the movement.

Jongdae pulls back, not panting even if Baekhyun beneath him is flushed and breathless, semi-hard, his eyes black and fangs poking out over his lips.

“Ready?” Jongdae asks, but the question isn’t directed at Baekhyun, who is more than pliable under Jongdae’s steady hands --it’s to Minseok, whom Jongdae regards coolly, and Minseok just watches back, the air humming with something Baekhyun can’t hear.

“Ready.” Minseok affirms.

Jongdae gives Baekhyun one last kiss, closed mouth and chaste and inappropriately soft and grateful, all things considered, before Baekhyun cranes his neck and Jongdae bites down onto it.

It does hurt, but that quickly subsides as Jongdae’s venom comes into play and it’s a soothing, droopy numbness spreading across Baekhyun’s body, an odd sort of sensation he can’t quite put a name to. His desire heightens, but at the same time he feels giddy and loose, smiling dumbly as Jongdae sucks on his neck, his arms wrapped tight around Baekhyun to hold him close as Jongdae moans at the taste, the stud on his tongue pressing between the punctured holes.

“‘S it… that good?” Baekhyun barely manages, and then laughs at his own lameness, vision starting to blur. He can feel Jongdae’s mouth suck with each pulse of his heart and he can feel the coldness of Jongdae’s body far too much, too, the cotton of his bed sheets, the softness of his socks. Everything is enhanced and overwhelming and at the same time, and Baekhyun feels fucking great, heart rate slowing down rather than picking up even though he’s losing blood, eyelids drooping.

“Jongdae,” Minseok says suddenly, cutting through Baekhyun’s haze. “That’s enough.”

Jongdae doesn’t pull back.

Baekhyun whimpers, because it’s all he can seem to be able to do, a small, high-pitched whine of distress that’s no louder than a mouse, too weak to do much more under the headiness of Jongdae’s venom, worried that maybe he won’t actually stop and after everything, Baekhyun truly was wrong.

“Jongdae.” Minseok tries again, an edge to his voice, and this time, Jongdae pulls back, swallowing, quickly licking over the wound on Baekhyun’s neck so his saliva coagulates the blood.

“Shit,” Jongdae curses, pulling back so that Baekhyun falls without Jongdae holding him up, laughing as he hits the bedsheets. He barely makes out Jongdae staring down at Baekhyun with wide, golden eyes, a hand against his blood-stained mouth. “I nearly--”

“No, you didn’t,” Minseok says, with a hand on Jongdae’s shoulder. “You didn’t.”

Jongdae seems to relax under Minseok’s touch, somewhat, swallowing as he licks the last of the blood from his lips. The last thing Baekhyun remembers is Minseok moving towards him with the first-aid kit in hand, before the rest fades to black.


 

Baekhyun awakens to the sound of rain and something tickling his neck. He feels like he’s been hit by a truck in the worst kind of way and flinches when he stands to glance outside the curtain, seeing that it is, in fact, broad daylight --well, grey-tinted daylight, anyway.

Padding outside into the hallway, he follows the sound of voices, making his way to the kitchen downstairs where Jongdae and Minseok sit at the dining table, conversing in low voices, Minseok’s hands wrapped around a mug.

“You’re awake,” Jongdae states, although he doesn’t seem surprised, the both of them undoubtedly having heard or smelled Baekhyun or whatever.

“How long was I out?” Baekhyun groans, rubbing a hand against his neck --only to touch a bandage. Ah.

“About nine hours, give or take,” Minseok answers, and Baekhyun’s jaw fucking drops.

“Nine what?” He asks, turning to Jongdae incredulously. “Do vampires cure insomnia!?”

“Supernatural venom induced rest probably isn’t the best medical discovery,” Minseok says wryly, only for Jongdae to shift, looking guilty.

“Are you fucking kidding me? I think I remember what it’s like to be alive again,” Baekhyun shakes his head in disbelief, then quickly moves to the sink. “God I’m fucking thirsty though.”

Jongdae is still oddly quiet, so as Baekhyun stuffs a slice of his grandmother’s latest baking creation into his mouth he points to him and says, “You look better, y’know. Told ya it was a good thing.”

Jongdae huffs. “For one of us, at least.”

“Hey I’m alive and not in hospital, that’s a plus,” Baekhyun replies, pulling the cookie out of his mouth as he chews around a bite. “Your self-control is fine.”

Jongdae is quick to shake his head. “If it wasn’t for Minseok--”

“Hey,” Minseok interrupts, placing a hand on Jongdae’s shoulder, which relaxes beneath the touch. Huh. “I was only a plan B, you pulled back on your own.”

Jongdae gives a small, grateful smile, and Baekhyun’s eyes widen, quickly covering it up with a cough. Double huh.

“Nine hours, eh?” Baekhyun muses, briefly gesturing between Minseok and Jongdae with the leftover bitten half of his cookie. “What’d you guys do in that time? Watch me sleep?”

Jongdae gives him a confused, yet somewhat amused look, while Minseok just shrugs. “I didn’t want to sleep so we went out and got coffee, told your grandmother we were visiting when we got back this morning and said we’d wait until you were awake.”

Baekhyun can’t fucking believe this.

He hides his smile behind a glass of water as he takes a long sip and then refills it, gasping, refreshed, and then hiding his smile all over again.

“Well, thanks for being my guardian angels, but I do actually feel okay,” Baekhyun reassures, giving a thumbs up. “It’s like, the first time I’ve slept in three hundred years. I think could single handedly fight an entire army.”

“Maybe we can just start with battling your dietary requirements instead,” Minseok teases, standing and smiling as he presses a kiss to Baekhyun’s forehead. “Why don’t we go out for lunch? It’s meant to clear up today, for once, and I don’t have a shift until tomorrow.” Baekhyun hums in agreement --happy at the thought of free food and always happy at being kissed-- which is when Minseok turns over his shoulder to Jongdae at the table. “You can come too, of course.” He adds.

Of course!?!?!?!?!

Jongdae shakes his head. “I’ll let you two have your private time,” he gives a little smirk, which Minseok seemingly rolls his eyes at --which is kind of a typical Jongdae-Minseok interaction, but instead of being laced with bitterness and hate it’s just… banter. What the fuck happened in those nine hours? “Work wants me to do another shift this afternoon and I need the cash, so…”

“Raincheck then,” Minseok says easily, smiling, and Baekhyun loudly thinks WHAT THE FUCK. Jongdae walks up to leave a kiss on Baekhyun’s cheek, who is still enclosed in Minseok’s arms, not even the slightest nose wrinkle from either of them at the close proximity and subsequent supposed bad stench.

“I’ll see you later, okay?” Jongdae tells Baekhyun. “Call if you need anything.”

“Jongdae, I’m fine,” he pushes him as best as he can with Minseok’s hands still around his waist. “Go save some puppies and kittens.”

Jongdae grins, but then it falters as he pauses.

“And thank you,” he adds. “Both of you. For last night. I do… feel better.”

“You look better,” Minseok replies, before Baekhyun can say the words himself, but it’s obvious from the healthy, brown colour to Jongdae’s skin and the gold in his eyes that maybe vampires really do have a weakness other than fire or decapitation.

Jongdae’s hands flex, the tendons in his wrist shifting as he looks down at them. “It’s the singer thing,” he says. “It’s just…”

“I’m amazing, I know,” Baekhyun answers for him. “No need to explain.”

Jongdae laughs and kisses him on the cheek again, which Baekhyun scrunches his nose at. “You really are,” he pulls his phone out, checking the time, and apologises for leaving but ducking out all the same now that he’s sure Baekhyun is okay, leaving Baekhyun against the kitchen counter with Minseok in front of him, who he quickly turns to face with a raised eyebrow.

“What?” Minseok asks innocently, smiling a little at Baekhyun’s own satisfied smirk, searching his face.

“You two are getting alooonggggg~” Baekhyun teases, which Minseok scoffs at, bumping the tips of their noses together.

“Hardly,” Minseok mutters, eyes dropping down to Baekhyun’s lips. “He’s just… not terrible, I guess.”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes, but lets Minseok kiss him all the same, hands falling down to the counter behind him for balance as Minseok hungrily licks into Baekhyun’s mouth, desire tingling down from his lips to his toes.

“Isn’t there a no strenuous exercise rule after giving blood?” Baekhyun pants, one hand resting at Minseok’s hard waist. Minseok snorts against the curve of Baekhyun’s neck --the side opposite to the bandage, of course.

“Probably,” he agrees, barely much more than a mumble. Of course the one time Baekhyun could actually be up to some fun sexy times is the one time he can’t. Minseok pulls his keys from his back pocket. “Lunch first then.”

Baekhyun showers --careful to mind the bandage at his neck-- before changing into less slept in clothes and getting on Minseok’s bike, arms around his waist and head pressed to his shoulder. It’s strange that with nine hours of sleep Baekhyun somehow feels more tired, but he lets it go as he continues trying to prod more information out of Minseok and Jongdae’s sudden budding friendship. No matter how hard he tries though, Minseok doesn’t relent.

“Seriously,” Baekhyun whines, kicking Minseok underneath the table as he shoves a forkful of waffle into his mouth because it may be noon but Baekhyun doesn’t give a fuck. “It’s like you stopped hating each other overnight, but I missed the bits that explains why and now it feels like the story has jumped the shark.”

Minseok looks at Baekhyun strangely for a second, sighing as he idly twirls a fork around his own spaghetti, mouth twisting.

“Did you know I’ve never really… talked to someone like me?” He starts, which causes Baekhyun to pause, blinking at Minseok. “I mean, I never knew my dad, my mom is human and so is my half-sister, I can’t talk to other werewolves because they’re always pack animals, and it’s not like vampires are friendly…” Minseok trails off. “So I guess it was nice to finally talk to someone who… who gets it.”

What Minseok is saying surprises Baekhyun, because he’d never really considered it before. Minseok seems to have relatively good control over his wolf, so it’s hard for Baekhyun to remember that yeah, it probably does make him feel ostracized to most other people, that it’s still this huge secret he has to keep and even if somebody knows what he is --like Baekhyun, for example-- that doesn’t mean they understand it.

“I didn’t think the vampire plight was similar to yours,” Baekhyun carefully jokes, as Minseok just flashes him a small smile.

“I didn’t either, but…” he looks so fidgety and uncomfortable, like he doesn’t know what he wants to say, let alone how to say it. “... it is? The control, the secret-keeping, living like a human while constantly being reminded you’re not… Jongdae gets that.” Minseok chews around a mouthful for a moment, but Baekhyun remains silent, knowing that he’s not exactly done talking, just taking his time. Unlike Baekhyun --and Jongdae, for that matter-- Minseok is always far more careful and hesitant, actually thinking before he speaks. “He was really shaken up after biting you, you know, terrified that he’d hurt you and of how close he’d come to killing you.” Minseok bites his cheek. “I guess, in a way, he and I aren’t so different, with how much we fear the other half of ourselves. He’s… a good person.”

It certainly gives Baekhyun something to consider --he’s always so wrapped up in himself and his issues, he feels guilty that he’d never really thought about the fact that it is hard for both Minseok and Jongdae. Now shame sinks through his gut like lead, but Baekhyun’s mouth tastes like iron --all he’s ever done is push Jongdae to overcome his own fears and not even spare a glancing thought towards Minseok. He’s a fucking shitty boyfriend.

“Hey, don’t give me that look,” Minseok teases, bringing a hand up to hold onto Baekhyun’s over the table. “It’s not something either of us talk about that much, you know.”

Baekhyun relaxes somewhat, and squeezes Minseok’s hand back. “Then I’m glad you both did get to talk about it,” he decides, nodding slightly to himself. He bites his tongue to prevent gloating over how he’d always known Minseok and Jongdae could get along, ha. “Is that all you talked about for nine hours?”

“I don’t know, we had a lot of time to kill before you woke up and nothing else to do…” Baekhyun actually feels sort of bad --he hadn’t expected to pass out for so long, he would’ve given them permission to use his computer or something. “We just… talked. Jongdae is very easy to get along with.”

And God, doesn’t Baekhyun know it.

“Did you talk about me?” Baekhyun teases, fluttering his eyelashes, deciding that the heavy atmosphere is too much for now and Minseok deserves a little respite from speaking of things he evidently doesn’t really enjoy vocalising.

“Of course,” Minseok laughs, eyes twinkling. “He gets just how annoying you can be.”

Baekhyun gasps in offense, and Minseok laughs good-naturedly, gums showing and eyes crinkling in a way that would make Baekhyun kiss him if they weren’t in public sitting across from each other at one of the family-run restaurants in town.

(He leans across the table to do it anyway, chair screeching across the floor as he stands --Minseok’s surprised squeak makes it worth the embarrassing stares.)



While Minseok and Jongdae seem to have an odd sort of respect for each other after their nine hour long deep and meaningful discussion at two a.m --honestly, in a way, Baekhyun gets it; people are at their truest self so late at night, he’d know-- it’s by no means perfect. They happily say each other’s names and sometimes even ask questions about the other if Baekhyun drops a name here or there, but they’re not exactly going to each other’s soccer games or making lunches for each other like Baekhyun had secretly wished they would. It seems kind of awkward, like they have this newfound respect between them and don’t know what to do with it, having been so used to hating each other to begin with, and too prideful to really let that go until nearly killing Baekhyun --well, not even nearly-- had broken Jongdae and Minseok had had no choice other than to pick up the leftover pieces, recognising the jagged edges for something within himself.

So maybe Baekhyun wants to nudge them in a right direction a little, he can’t help it. It’s an impulsive itch that wants to see Minseok and Jongdae properly getting along like good friends and by now it’s not even about him or his relationships, Baekhyun is realising, it’s about the both of them opening up and learning to let someone else in, one person at a time. Maybe it had always been like that in a way, Baekhyun pauses in his realisation, that Minseok, Baekhyun and Jongdae all carry their own brand of stigmatised loneliness, and can only count on each other to soothe it. Maybe Baekhyun has always seen that in them and has always wanted to pull them together. Maybe it’s something else altogether.

Either way, Baekhyun wants to try having them all hang out again --maybe with less blood-sucking, and not quite so accidental-- just to see if he can push it a little more. It doesn’t help that he feels guilty at how much Minseok has hinted that he can’t rely on Baekhyun to understand the being supernatural thing, so if Baekhyun himself can’t help, then…

 

byunbaek

hey who wants to hang out w me tmrw

 

Baekhyun refuses to let BLOOD-DONORS-R-US ever die.

 

Jongdae ☆❂♡☀

What is this, an auction?

byunbaek

yes however ideally ud both win the bid and id be forced to sacrifice my highly demanded time to hang out w both of u

 

Jongdae’s reply doesn’t come quite as instantaneously, and Baekhyun consoles himself with the fact that Jongdae is at work and probably quite busy, but then how could Jongdae have responded so quickly the first time ? Baekhyun sighs as he flicks his own forehead a little. What’s the point of having a brain if it doesn’t work properly?

 

Minseokkie ♡

well, i’m free?

 

Baekhyun exhales in relief, phase one of his plan complete, now all that he needs is for phase two to come to full fruition so he can begin project get-along.

Jongdae’s response comes over an hour later.

 

Jongdae ☆❂♡☀

Me too.

 

Baekhyun grins.



While Minseok and Jongdae had expressed their concerns (privately) about the double date idea, Baekhyun had consoled them both by saying that it wouldn’t, in fact, be romantic, and would instead be more like three dudes hanging out, even if Baekhyun just happened to be dating two of them.

It seemed to help reassure them both somewhat, and Baekhyun takes careful note to remind himself that he does have to be cautious when dealing with two relationships at once --while he wants Jongdae and Minseok to get along, causing them to feel jealous or left out certainly won’t help, but unfortunately Baekhyun's the only person who can act as a mediator between them, so he just has to be attentive.

All in all, the hang out is about as awkward as the last one had been, just in a different type of way. The silence is thick more out of Jongdae and Minseok not knowing what to say rather than not wanting to say anything at all, so it’s lucky Baekhyun is a chronic rambler who can fill the space up.

Everything changes the moment Jongdae asks if Baekhyun still has his Nintendo 64 here, to which Baekhyun realises he just might, still upstairs in the attic. Nothing tests the strain of a relationship more than Mario Kart, which is how a prickly silence turns into Baekhyun and Jongdae yelling at the top of their lungs because Minseok has never played this before, why is he beating them. Insults are thrown in every direction to one another and Baekhyun threatens to break up with the both of them at least twice, but at the end of the day revenge is achieved when Baekhyun and Jongdae commit themselves to ruining Minseok’s life in battle mode, only to immediately regret the decision when he loses all his lives and comes back as a bob-omb, chasing them across the map as they scream in an attempt to stay alive.

Controllers are thrown and wires are plugged in sabotage attempts, their hasty, childish squabbling and their being at each other’s throats cut off only when Baekhyun’s grandmother returns home and comments on how nice it is to see that Baekhyun has made such good friends --with Baekhyun having wrapped his controller’s chord around Jongdae’s throat while Minseok tries to pull him back being the freeze-frame while she smiles at him-- which earns Baekhyun a slight side-eye from both Minseok and Jongdae, because Baekhyun doesn’t really know how to tell a seventy-eight year old he’s dating one man, let alone two.

It’s a wake up call to turn off Mario Kart for the night, however, lest Jongdae finally become a murderer as they switch to some good old-fashioned Ocarina of Time instead, as Baekhyun and Jongdae reminisce about their days of coming over so that they could both watch Baekbeom solve all the puzzles, always whining about never getting a turn of their own. Apparently Minseok has never even touched the game, which is a criminal offense, and is exactly how Baekhyun and Jongdae end up on either side of Minseok as he starts his own save file, backseat driving via telling him what to do.

Minseok grunts in frustration as he dies to a spider in the first dungeon. “You know, you guys are kind of ruining the fun of this for me.”

Jongdae plucks the controller out of his hands, bumping their shoulders together in the process. “We wouldn’t have to yell at you so much if you didn’t suck,” he replies, matter of factly. Minseok just scoffs in offense as Baekhyun laughs.

They take it in turns each time they die, rotating the controller around, and it leads to Baekhyun with his feet in Minseok’s lap yelling out instructions to Jongdae about how to get through Death Mountain in hopes that he might die and Baekhyun will get his own turn. Anytime Jongdae and Minseok argue about how to beat a puzzle or a new enemy it puts Baekhyun on edge that at any moment Jongdae might break out into full fang mode and Minseok will become his nudist furry self, but it’s more like the harmless bickering of a married couple than it is anything with actual animosity behind it --Jongdae whines at Minseok’s lame jokes and poorly described instructions, and Minseok groans in distaste when Jongdae is running through the Forest temple only to point out the rabid wolf enemies and say, “Look Minseok, it’s you.”

“Can you please,” Minseok grunts in frustration. “Shut up, for once in your life.”

Jongdae’s smirk is devilish as his eyes glint. “Make me.”

Baekhyun pauses at that, wondering what Minseok is going to do about the challenge as he pauses the game to stare Jongdae down, who holds his gaze while something in the air crackles and fizzles, only for Minseok to blindly toss the controller into Baekhyun’s lap, moment over.

“Your turn,” he says easily, smiling saccharinely at Jongdae.

“Hey, I was next!” Jongdae squawks, reaching forward for the controller as Minseok just holds him back and Baekhyun laughs, dangling it out of reach.

“You can wait,” Minseok says simply, smirking --he and Baekhyun share an evil grin.

It’s stupid, and fun, and they stay up way too fucking late and play way too much Ocarina of Time, yet none of them really complain about it. There’s a natural sort of banter-like dynamic that flows between the three of them so easily Baekhyun hardly remembers what it had been like when Jongdae and Minseok hadn’t gotten along. Throughout high school, Baekhyun knows, people had struggled to be friends with both Baekhyun and Jongdae, because they operated on a wavelength that could seem exclusive unintentionally, but with Minseok, that’s not a problem at all, and it’s hard for Baekhyun to tell if that’s because his and Jongdae’s relationship has changed since then or if it’s because it’s Minseok, and he’s kind of just always meant to be here, laughing at every joke and being completely unperturbed by their teasing.

Maybe this is why Baekhyun has been so intent on pushing Minseok and Jongdae --they’re tied to each other just as much as he’s tied to them; Baekhyun’s just the bridge to make sure it happens.



Jongdae invites Baekhyun over for a Sunday dinner at his parents’ house since the Kims are determined on meeting Baekhyun all over again as Jongdae’s boyfriend, formally and properly.

Except, of course, the minute Baekhyun gets there Mrs. Kim is pressing a kiss to his cheek and hugging him while complaining about how he doesn’t visit enough, with Mr. Kim also squeezing the air out of his lungs and chastising Jongdae much the same.

“To think I bothered wearing my nice jeans,” Baekhyun sighs quietly as Jongdae wraps a hand around his wrist to tug him into the dining room, laughing.

After cleaning up and flicking soap bubbles at each other, somehow making more of a mess, Jongdae excuses the both of them to his room upstairs as he closes the door behind them by pressing Baekhyun up against it and kissing him, humming against his mouth.

“Been too long…” Jongdae mutters between kisses, causing Baekhyun to make a small noise of agreement as he remembers the last time they’d done any sort of contact that couldn’t border on platonic was when Jongdae had bit him.

“How often do you need to feed?” Baekhyun blurts as he draws back from the kiss, Jongdae looking up at him helplessly.

“Uh, I dunno, I haven’t felt hungry in a while. Probably only once every few weeks?”

“Huh,” is all Baekhyun says lamely, as Jongdae just kisses down his neck, phone buzzing in his back pocket. “Because, you know, we could hang out again and do that. If you wanted to.”

Jongdae pulls back again and shrugs. “I guess?” He says, noncommittally. “We do need to finish off Ocarina of Time…” he snorts a little. “I know Minseok wants to.”

Baekhyun furrows his eyebrows at that, confused. “What do you mean you know?” He asks, because Minseok certainly hadn’t mentioned wanting to to Baekhyun.

“I guess he’s mentioned playing it again, once or twice?” Jongdae says offhandedly, as his phone buzzes in his back pocket again, and Baekhyun’s eyebrows scrunch together because Minseok hasn’t mentioned it in front of Baekhyun, that he’s absolutely sure of, which means…

Jongdae’s phone buzzes again and he groans as he pulls back from Baekhyun altogether, mumbling under his breath as he types.

“Please… stop… cockblocking... me… thanks…” he mutters as Baekhyun tries to make out who he’s texting, but Jongdae locks the phone screen with a smile before he can. “Sorry about that.” His phone buzzes.

“You should really just put it on silent,” Baekhyun points out amusedly. “Unless you’d rather text someone than make out with your very cute, very kissable boyfriend.”

Jongdae laughs and presses the curve of it against Baekhyun’s mouth, who uses the distraction to dip into Jongdae’s back pocket just to grab his phone and see who he’s texting. He’s not being a crazy jealous partner or anything, he promises, he just really needs to confirm his suspicions.

“A-ha!” Baekhyun cries in victory as he sees Minseok written on the notification bar. “You two are texting. Outside of the group chat!”

Jongdae rolls his eyes as he snatches his phone back, but Baekhyun had already managed to read Minseok’s reply of stop making out with my boyfriend, grinning in satisfaction because they’re actually fucking getting along. Without his help!

“It’s not a big deal, texting is essential to millennial culture,” Jongdae replies matter-of-factly, a tone of childish indignance lacing through his voice. “He’s fun to talk to. Plus, Minseok knows of a lot of really cute animal videos.”

Baekhyun hmphs and watches as Jongdae types out the teasing response of, because you’d rather kiss me instead? :*, only to gasp as he realises something.

“You like him,” Baekhyun accuses, which Jongdae looks up at and furrows his eyebrows.

“Uh, yeah, congratulations,” he says, unimpressed. “You forced your boyfriends to get along like, weeks ago, Baek.”

“No no no,” Baekhyun corrects. “You like-like him.”

Jongdae just pauses. “What?”

“You’re flirting with him!” Baekhyun points out, and it’s not filled with jealous accusations so much as it’s filled with delighted realisation.

“I flirt with everyone,” Jongdae rolls his eyes. “It’s called being nice.” He ruffles Baekhyun’s hair patronisingly.

“No no, you’re mean flirting with him, you only do that to people you genuinely like,” Jongdae is so polite at surface level it takes a whole lot of familiarity to push past that into the phase where he genuinely feels comfortable enough teasing you, confident that he’s not hurting anyone’s feelings, because Jongdae is legitimately that fucking nice. The only people Baekhyun has ever seen Jongdae taunt so flirtatiously includes a) himself, Jongdae’s current boyfriend, b) Chanyeol, Jongdae’s ex-boyfriend (who he’d flirted with a lot in high school, how had Baekhyun never noticed that before now?) c) his senior year crush on a girl from the year below and now d) Minseok.

Jongdae pauses then, narrowing his eyes. “I don’t have a crush on somebody else when I’m dating you, don’t be ridiculous.”

“Oh, really?” Baekhyun taunts. “Not even a little bit of an infatuation? With Minseok? The hottest man alive?" He scoffs. "Honestly I think it’d be weirder if you didn’t.”

Jongdae frowns at that. “First of all, offended that you think he’s hotter than me--”

“Equally as hot,” Baekhyun amends. “All three of us are tied in first.”

“--Second of all,” Jongdae continues, ignoring Baekhyun altogether. “Why are you encouraging this? Shouldn’t it be weird for your significant other to like someone else?”

Well, maybe, but not in these circumstances.

“I mean, shouldn’t I ask you that?” Baekhyun jabs a finger against Jongdae’s chest to prove a point. “If I can have feelings for two people at once, why can’t you?”

Jongdae’s mouth twists as he pushes Baekhyun’s hand away. “Because I don’t?” He wrinkles his nose. “I like Minseok, sure, and he's hot I guess--" ha. "--but not… not like that, okay? We’re still trying to get to know each other through…” through the old hate, Baekhyun figures he wants to say, the residual feelings. “We’re working through it, because you were right. This is better for all three of us. Plus, he’s cool, I dunno. I like spending time with him.”

“I’d be okay with it, you know,” Baekhyun says quietly. “If you did like him.”

Jongdae doesn’t say anything, just leans down to kiss Baekhyun instead.

“I think one is enough for me,” he says quietly, with a glint in his eye. Baekhyun pinches him for the subtle insult regardless.

“Ass,” he grumbles, but then Jongdae kisses him, and Baekhyun forgets what he’s meant to be mad about.



It’s actually at Minseok’s suggestion that Jongdae feeds again, having apparently noticed that Jongdae’s strength was waning again --but being far too prideful to admit as such. The first time having passed without incident seems to make Jongdae less hesitant to agree, but it doesn’t mean they’re getting lax on any of the precautions, either.

If anything, Baekhyun is kind of eager to experience it again, because the venom had felt… good, and the way it had felt to have Minseok watch them felt even better. But neither Minseok nor Jongdae need to know about that, lest they think he has an addiction problem, or something.

Minseok arrives first since his shift had finished nearby and he couldn’t be bothered going home, but Jongdae won’t be done at work for another hour, so they have time to kill, Baekhyun pulling up the episode they’re up to of that new Netflix series they’d been binging together.

Baekhyun makes himself comfortable with his head against Minseok’s chest, but he can tell something is off since Minseok seems unfocused, not really reacting properly when Baekhyun cracks a joke about what’s on screen, only idly running his fingers through Baekhyun’s hair.

“Okay,” Baekhyun interjects, leaning forward to hit the spacebar. “What’s up? You seem distracted.”

“Nothing,” Minseok reassures, with a small smile. “I’ve just been thinking about things.” Baekhyun lays his head back into Minseok’s lap.

“Things like…?” He prompts Minseok to elaborate, who only makes a noncommittal noise in response.

Minseok shifts a little, obviously uncomfortable, and he opens his mouth only to falter, shutting it again.

“C’mon Minseokkie,” Baekhyun prods, poking the centre of Minseok’s chest. “If something’s bothering you, we should talk about it.”

“Well, not bothering me, but... “ he trails off, avoiding eye contact. Now Baekhyun’s brain is just overreacting, and it’s making him worried. “... I guess I’m just worried about Jongdae biting you again.”

“But you suggested it,” Baekhyun frowns, sensing that that’s not the true issue bothering Minseok at all. Minseok shrugs.

“I’m trying to be more open-minded about it, you know, but I still worry…” Minseok pauses. “For both of you.”

Baekhyun knows whatever is truly bothering Minseok still hasn’t been spoken, but Minseok has always been too good at bottling things up, containing his discrepancies at the strangest of times. Minseok is always so quick to voice his concern when it involves others, but rarely speaks up if what’s bothering him is personal, it’s a difficult concept for Baekhyun to understand, who overshares towards everyone within listening distance, most of the time. (Which he often jokes about, but isn’t quite true, either --Baekhyun covers up his struggles with a smile so much it’s kind of the reason he’s in Dagger to begin with.)

Just the fact that Minseok’s overprotective nature spreads to both Jongdae too has something in Baekhyun’s heart squeezing in happiness, as he leans upwards to press a soft kiss to Minseok’s mouth, looking into Minseok’s eyes.

“What was that for?” Minseok mumbles, searching Baekhyun’s face right back.

“Nothing,” Baekhyun says, a little dopey. “I just really like you.”

“I really like you too,” Minseok says back, and kisses Baekhyun all over again, who hums pleasantly into the ministrations, adjusting his position so that they both don’t have to crane their necks so much. The fact that Minseok and Jongdae really did try to get along, for Baekhyun’s sake, and the fact that their friendship has blossomed to the point that they actually care for each other… it makes Baekhyun’s chest muddy with an arrange of emotions, pride, happiness, something a little stronger than plain old like --but it’s something to process at another time; for now, Baekhyun would rather focus on running his fingers through Minseok’s hair, pressing his mouth against his jawline and covering it in soft, sweet kisses.

They break apart only when Minseok mumbles, “Jongdae’s here,” followed by a loud knock that resounds up through the house and Baekhyun’s open bedroom door, groaning as he pulls back and trudges downstairs, Jongdae giving him an amused look at his disheveled appearance as he opens the door, still wearing his work scrubs.

“Did I cockblock you?” He asks teasingly, to which Baekhyun only grunts in response, pulling the door open and kicking it behind him as Jongdae steps through, swooping forward to kiss Baekhyun. He wonders if Jongdae can taste Minseok on his lips.

“Hey, you can feed later you glutton,” Minseok scolds from the stairwell, arms crossed over his chest as he smirks teasingly, Jongdae pulling back with a childish pout, as if his hands had been slapped out of the cookie jar. “Beat the stupid water temple and then you can get your reward.”

Jongdae cackles but seems to oblige all the same as he kicks his shoes off and lines them up by the door, already heading towards the living room where the Nintendo 64 is still set up from last time, slumping onto the couch as he switches both the console and the television on, while Baekhyun goes to get the pizza takeaway menu from the kitchen, asking Minseok what he wants.

“No broccoli!!!” Jongdae shouts back too. “I don’t want your blood to taste like grass.”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes as Minseok calls to make the order --Baekhyun has too much phone anxiety, honestly-- sitting himself next to Jongdae on the couch as Jongdae navigates through the main menu. Minseok eventually joins in on the other side of Jongdae, flicking through his phone idly as Jongdae navigates through the hell that is the water temple.

Baekhyun breaks the silence by asking, “What does my blood taste like?” Because he’s curious --sue him. “I mean, did it taste like the delicious cheesiness of doritos, or…”

Jongdae frowns at that, still focusing on the game as he thinks of his answer, shooting a wary glance towards Minseok.

“Uh,” he says, suddenly quite abashed. “It tastes... Good?” His eyebrows furrow together. “Tell me how I’m meant to talk about blood being delicious without sounding disgusting.”

“You don’t.” Minseok says cooly but a simple glimpse at his face reveals his twitching smile, as Jongdae rolls his eyes and uses one hand to swat at Minseok’s knee while the other steers Link forwards.

“It’s just… kind of sweet I guess? But really warm and soothing… it’s like drinking a hot drink on a cold day,” Jongdae decides eventually, eyes flicking between Baekhyun and the screen.

“In a murderous, morbid way?” Baekhyun adds. Jongdae snorts.

“I guess,” he mulls over it for a moment, focusing on beating an enemy on screen instead. “It’s like I’ve been in a desert for a week and your blood is a waterfall. It doesn’t taste like anything more than blood, it just… feels different.”

“Huh,” Baekhyun says lamely. “So what was deer blood like?”

Jongdae wrinkles his nose at the thought, but also looks oddly sad, undoubtedly thinking about all the animals he’s killed to survive. “Like being dehydrated and drinking seawater.” He answers solemnly.

“What do you think regular human blood would be like, then?” Minseok asks, and Jongdae seems taken aback by the question. “Considering Baekhyun is your singer…”

Jongdae shrugs stiffly. “Well, regular humans smell pretty good, but it also depends on the person. Most are pretty easy to ignore.” Implying Baekhyun isn’t, even though Jongdae has been resisting biting into him for months.

“‘Regular humans’?” Minseok quotes with a raised eyebrow. Jongdae’s slightly elongated fangs peek through his smile.

“You smell worse than deer, if you were wondering.”

Minseok rolls his eyes. “Like you don’t smell like a morgue.”

“Wow, just like old times huh?” Baekhyun jokes drily, although he can tell there’s no true bite between either of their words.

“Wolf blood is toxic to vampires,” Jongdae explains. “It adds to why we don’t really get along.”

Minseok blinks. “Oh,” he replies lamely. “So vampires murder us because we taste bad? Seems counterproductive.”

Baekhyun swallows, because it’s edging on uncomfortable now, the silence before Jongdae speaks thick and heavy.

“I don’t… know?” Jongdae answers hesitantly, cautious. “My… friend, Sehun, said it’s always been over territory disputes and the subsequent fighting, but vampires and wolves will always find more reasons to hate each other.”

Baekhyun, for once, stays silent, sensing that it is not his place to speak.

Minseok’s face is tense. “I guess.” He says noncommittally, hands idly running over the skin of his neck. He gives a small smile. “Nice to know some of us are above that, at least.”

Jongdae seems a little taken aback at that, before he smiles at Minseok. “Yeah.” He agrees, eyes indescribably fond in a way that makes Baekhyun’s head burst into various siren noises. (He doesn’t mention the fact that they had most definitely not been above it, to begin with --he shouldn’t try to undermine how far they’ve come.)

They continue squabbling over the game as they backseat play for one another and fight over the controller in some instances when they believe the one playing is doing something wrong. Pizza arrives right as they finally make it to the boss of the stupid ass water temple, but Minseok suggests (well, orders) that they all stop playing so they can clean up, causing Baekhyun and Jongdae to exchange exasperated looks as Minseok just says, “I saw that.” And they scramble to the kitchen to wash the dishes and put away the grease-covered trash, Baekhyun and Jongdae laughing as they gang up on Minseok’s house-husband habits.

Minseok hums beneath his breath as he dries up the last of the dishes and Jongdae sneakily presses Baekhyun up against the counter to steal a quick kiss while Minseok’s back is turned, only to cause Minseok to turn around and whip Jongdae with a tea towel.

“Save it for later would you?” He asks incredulously, hand on his hip as it cocks out, mouth twisted. “You two are so… Touchy.”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes, tugging Jongdae closer to him and sticking out his tongue.

“Oh like you’re not a little bit into it,” he jeers, which Minseok falters at enough for Jongdae’s eyes to widen.

“Wait, you’re actually into this?” He laughs delightedly, as Minseok flushes. “Fucking cuckolding?”

No,” Minseok argues pointedly. “Baekhyunnie is just saying stupid things as per usual--”

“Aw, c’mon Minseokkie~” Baekhyun coos, enjoying the suddenly embarrassment across Minseok’s face as he huffs. “Don’t think I didn’t notice how much you were enjoying Jongdae and I making out last time.”

Jongdae just keeps cackling like this is the best thing he’s ever heard, and Minseok sighs in defeat.

“... You’re both hot, watching you makeout is hot…” he mumbles, relenting, and Jongdae doubles over.

“I just-- we barely even tolerated each other at that stage--” his laughter is as loud and punchy as always. “--you’re just that into fucking cuckolding.”

“It’s not--” Minseok’s mouth opens and closes helplessly. “--It’s not really cuckolding--”

“I still can’t believe you’re into Baekhyunnie and I making out,” Jongdae continues, with a tone of awe to his voice mixed with amusement, which Minseok sighs at, rubbing at his temple. “Does this get to you Minseokkie~?”

Baekhyun lets out a surprised squeak as Jongdae presses their mouths together, grinning too much to make much of a kiss out of it as Jongdae’s eyes slide towards Minseok, eyebrows raised in a silent question. Minseok just rolls his eyes and crosses his arms over his chest.

“Is that a no?” Jongdae asks, like the certified piece of shit he can be, which only causes Minseok to exhale in exasperation as he pulls Baekhyun forward by the front of his shirt and kisses him.

Baekhyun only lets out a little muffled, confused squeak --but by no means not enjoying this-- as Minseok winds his arms around Baekhyun’s neck and Baekhyun’s eyes slip shut on impulse, hands falling to Minseok’s hips. Minseok’s kisses tend to edge on soft and a little cautious, but this is open-mouthed and hungry, as Minseok unwinds an arm to run it down between Baekhyun’s shoulder blades and Baekhyun’s skin shivers beneath the touch, pushing Minseok against the sink behind him and moaning as Minseok bites on his bottom lip in retaliation. Baekhyun flutters his eyes open to see the way Minseok is so clearly watching over his shoulder, and it reminds him that he is, in fact, not meant to make out with his hot boyfriend for the next hour or so --that they have a guest, so to speak.

Baekhyun draws back, gasping and a little too turned on, and Minseok --still pushed up against the kitchen counter-- just raises his eyebrows at Jongdae.

“Ah,” is all Jongdae says, shit-eating grin wiped from his face altogether as his eyes seem a little darker than usual, adam’s apple bobbing as he swallows.

Baekhyun’s face scrunches. “I don’t get it,” he voices. “Just how hot could it be?” Neither Minseok nor Jongdae seem to answer, intent on staring each other down, which is when Baekhyun says, “You two do it. I wanna see.”

It has the effect of shattering glass as Minseok and Jongdae both turn to him like he’s crazy.

“That’s different,” they say, in unison. Jinx, Baekhyun thinks sardonically.

“Yeah, it’s not cuckolding if I’m dating both of you, I guess,” Baekhyun jokes, which causes Minseok to turn a little pink and… Jongdae to look flustered, he guesses, considering he doesn’t really have a functioning circulatory system. “C’mon, it’s just a kiss!! I wanna see if it’s that hot to watch your boyfriend make out with someone else.” Who, in this instance, also happens to be his boyfriend.

“Fine,” Minseok says, clipped, and Jongdae just stiffly shrugs as Minseok pulls him forward by the front of his shirt to kiss Jongdae. Jongdae’s eyes widen as he looks down at Minseok, who has squeezed his own eyes shut, and Baekhyun is about to open his mouth and complain about such a juvenile kiss not really being all that hot, but then Jongdae is groaning as his hand comes to cup Minseok’s jaw, opening up the kiss entirely and yeah, yep, that’s definitely hot.

Baekhyun is into fucking PG cuckolding.

He expects Jongdae and Minseok to break apart at some stage, but they don’t. They just keep kissing like they’re ravenous and the only thing they can eat is each other, and Baekhyun can’t fucking look away, can’t even open his mouth to try and say something because he’s as caught up in his boyfriends kissing as much as they’re caught up in kissing each other. It’s like every moment of thick tension has been waiting for this to snap as Jongdae pushes Minseok up onto the counter edge and Minseok groans as Jongdae slots between his thighs, lips never leaving each other.

It reminds Baekhyun of his and Jongdae’s first kiss, months ago, now, and then he remembers exactly why that is; it’s the feedback loop of bottled-up desire, flowing from Minseok in waves and edging Jongdae on further, increasing both of their pleasure exponentially.

Minseok gasps, and Baekhyun still doesn’t say anything, instead stepping forward to press his hands against the back of Jongdae’s neck, who moans loudly in response, faltering with his forehead pressed against the curve of Minseok’s neck as he undoubtedly feels twice as much pleasure emanating from both of them.

“Fuck…” Jongdae exhales, and spins around so that he’s kissing Baekhyun instead, forceful and hungry, heated in a way that has Baekhyun a writhing mess before it’s even been an entire minute.

Minseok is only watching them with dark, heavy eyes, and Baekhyun feels brave, so one of his hands ghosts lower, brushing over the front of Jongdae’s pants in a silent question. Jongdae only groans against Baekhyun’s mouth and pushes forward, pressing his dick closer to Baekhyun’s hand.

“Shit,” Minseok exhales, finally cutting through the thick silence. “What the fuck are we doing?”

Baekhyun expects Jongdae to pull away, but instead his hand just drops to Baekhyun’s wrist, encouraging him to palm at Jongdae’s dick. He moans into the sensation, and it only helps Baekhyun to move faster, fascinated by the shuddering breaths Jongdae lets out by his collarbone.

“I don’t know,” Baekhyun answers honestly, over Jongdae’s shoulder so he can see the way Minseok swallows as he watches Baekhyun’s hand disappear between their bodies. “But I want this.” He states clearly, which seems to shock Minseok, whose head snaps upwards. “Do you?”

“I--” Minseok falters, swallowing, and then Jongdae lets out another high-pitched moan as he bucks against Baekhyun’s hand, sucking marks into his neck. “--Yes.”

“Bedroom,” Baekhyun breathes out, because as much as he’s nervous to confront literally anything about this, he’s also way more terrified of his grandmother randomly coming home to see him having a fucking threesome in the kitchen --although that is definitely a fantasy he wants to fulfill at some stage, just maybe not in his childhood home.

Luckily Jongdae’s vampire speed means Baekhyun is literally in the bedroom before he’s even finished saying the word, squeaking as all he registered was Jongdae’s arms around his waist and a scenery change and now they’re here, with Jongdae pushing him down onto the bed and Baekhyun only helplessly groans because Jongdae is super fast and super strong and it’s really hot --sue him.

Unfortunately Minseok is not quite as fast and makes it up to the bedroom a few seconds behind them, a little more disgruntled and clearer minded now that he’s had the twenty second walk up the stairs to remember how to think.

“We should talk about this,” he says, as Jongdae just kind of stills above Baekhyun, erection pressing pretty obviously through his jeans and against Baekhyun’s thigh.

“What’s there to talk about?” Jongdae asks, sitting back up so that he’s simply prostrated between Baekhyun’s legs and Baekhyun shudders a little at the image, looking at Minseok.

“Us. This. It’s--” Minseok’s mouth twists up. “It’s weird. It’s complicated. It’s--”

“Not just sex,” Jongdae says slowly, as Minseok swallows thicky, taken aback. “For… any of us.”

The implications of that have Baekhyun pausing, and he elevates himself onto his elbows as he says, “What?”

“I felt it when you kissed me,” Jongdae says, and Minseok’s eyes widen. “How you… feel, about me.”

What?” Baekhyun repeats, as Minseok just says,

“What’re you talking about?”

“I’m an empath,” Jongdae adds slowly. “I thought you knew…”

“Why didn’t you mention this?” Minseok hisses, but this time it’s directed at Baekhyun, who just feigns innocence.

“Oops?” He offers.

Minseok looks like some mix between terrified and ashamed and angry, but Jongdae just stands off the bed, in front of him, face-to-face.

“I don’t know how I feel about you,” Jongdae admits, reaching out with one hand to intertwine his fingers with Minseok’s. “Feelings like this are…”

“Really confusing,” Baekhyun answers for him, because he’s been in the whole having-feelings-for-two-people-at-once thing, and it’s definitely not easy. Jongdae nods.

“And I don’t know what it means for all three of us, or what I’m meant to do about it, or how to work out my own feelings, but--” Jongdae squeezes his eyes shut, as Minseok just watches him, completely silent. Jongdae exhales steadily. “--I know that I've wanted this for longer than I'll ever admit, and I know that you do too, so--”

“Just shut up already,” Minseok interrupts, and grasps Jongdae’s face in his hands again pushing him against the bed so that Jongdae’s knees hit the edge and he’s forced to fall down onto it, Baekhyun scrambling to pull his legs up to make room on the queen sized mattress --it’s really not enough space for three people, but hopefully they’ll squeeze on somehow. Minseok and Jongdae keep kissing passionately, so much so that Baekhyun sees their tongues pass between them, it leaves Baekhyun with no choice but to palm himself through his jeans a little, just to relieve the budding pressure.

And that causes him to moan, which breaks Minseok and Jongdae apart so they turn to look at him, Minseok straddled over Jongdae’s thighs, panting, while Jongdae just looks at him with dark eyes.

Slowly, Minseok pulls off of Jongdae, crawling on all fours until he’s over Baekhyun, who only muffles a moan beneath his left hand while his right hand touches himself.

“Can I…?” He asks hesitantly, hand hovering just above Baekhyun’s belt. Baekhyun shakes his head.

“I don’t--” he manages, panting a little as he scrambles to sit up --Minseok having pulled back the moment Baekhyun had said no. But he doesn’t know how to explain it really, the fact that yes, he definitely wants to have sex with them, has for a very long time, but the thought of taking his clothes off or having anyone touch him without them makes him so uncomfortable he could puke.

It’s only made worse by the fact that Minseok and Jongdae never have asked for an explanation, have always taken his no for a no and have never pressured him beyond the harmless kisses. If anything, it kind of just makes Baekhyun want to sleep with them even more, but the mess that is his brain won’t be magically cured overnight.

“Tell us what you want,” Jongdae says softly. “What you’re okay with. If you don’t want to be touched, that’s okay, but I-- I still want you to be a part of this.”

“Me too,” Minseok affirms, nodding. “What do you want, Baekhyun?”

Baekhyun swallows, overwhelmed with the possibilities of it all --and also by his crushing mortification right now. God, sex is so nerve wracking; how the hell do people deal with this?

“Um,” he manages, not much more than a squeak. “Maybe just, uh, do whatever you want and I’ll. Give moral support?” Jongdae seems unimpressed by that answer, so Baekhyun works on his fears one by one by kicking his embarrassment aside and clarifying with, “By uh. Watching. And… touching myself?”

That seems to appease Jongdae as he coughs to cover up his flustered composure and weakly says, “That works.” Causing Minseok to laugh.

“What do you wanna do then?” He asks Jongdae, earring swaying as he tilts his head.

“God, anything,” Jongdae complains. “Baekhyunnie has been blue-balling me for months.”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes as Minseok just snorts and says, “That makes two of us.” Prompting Baekhyun to kick at both of them with socked feet.

“I have heard that werewolves can be especially horny,” Jongdae says slyly, waggling his eyebrows a little.

“Would explain why he came in his pants one time,” Baekhyun adds with a smirk, just to feel a little less like the teasing is directed towards him as Minseok pulls a face and shamefully hides behind his hand, as Jongdae laughs and comes up behind Minseok, wrapping his arms around his waist and kissing behind his ear.

For all that they're joking about Baekhyun leaving them high and dry, he’s secretly relieved they’ve found a solution like this, where Baekhyun can share fun, stupid, hot intimacy with them both without worrying about what he’s doing or if they’re judging him and how much pleasure they’re getting. It helps take the stress off even if Baekhyun is still a little daunted by the idea of what has yet to come, and it’s progress.

“I don't know what I want to do…” Minseok mumbles. “What do you want to see, Baekhyun?” Minseok asks suddenly, as Jongdae just rests his chin on Minseok’s shoulder, watching Baekhyun.

“Anything,” Baekhyun breathes out, finding it difficult to get oxygen in his lungs with Minseok and Jongdae looking at him like that. Jongdae frowns, a little disappointed, and it becomes apparent to Baekhyun that he kind of wants Baekhyun to give his input, have him be a little more involved, so Baekhyun musters up his courage and adds, “Maybe um. Kiss me?”

Jongdae grins with all teeth as he easily obliges, unlatching himself from Minseok to crawl over Baekhyun and kiss him, running his hands up Baekhyun’s sides, fingers grazing over his hips. It’s pleasant, but makes Baekhyun feel oddly claustrophobic, and less in control considering Jongdae handles the pacing like this.

So Baekhyun gently pushes Jongdae back with two hands and asks, “Can I… be on top?”

Jongdae blinks down at him. “What?” He says, Baekhyun raising his eyebrows at the fact that Jongdae has no doubt skipped straight to an innuendo, and then his mouth falls open in realisation, scrambling back. “Uh, sure.”

Baekhyun exhales steadily as Jongdae lies down and he straddles over his hips, frowning downwards as Minseok shuffles over to accommodate the change in position, watching quietly. Like this, Baekhyun controls the situation a little better, and it helps to calm his nerves as grinds his ass down on Jongdae’s dick and he immediately groans, hips bucking up helplessly.

Baekhyun enjoys the way Jongdae grinds up beneath him, the desperation in his moans as Baekhyun splays one hand on his chest to keep Jongdae down, purposefully slowing the pace. It makes his own dick feel painfully neglected, so Baekhyun uses his other hand to palm himself again, taking the edge off.

“Shit,” Minseok curses, and moves forward so that he’s cupping Baekhyun’s face and pressing kisses across his cheek and his jawline. “You’re doing so well.”

Baekhyun doesn’t know if Minseok is talking to him or Jongdae but it causes the latter to buck up forcefully all the same, Jongdae’s hands gently gripping around Baekhyun’s hips as he uses the leverage to help himself rut upwards against his ass, Baekhyun grinding down in time.

“Fuck,” Jongdae laughs. “If we don’t stop Minseok won’t be the only one who’s come in his pants.”

Baekhyun bursts into laughter as Minseok just draws back to flick at Jongdae’s nose, which wrinkles in response, Baekhyun alleviating some of the pressure by shifting onto his knees so Jongdae doesn’t ruin his nice jeans.

“Keep this up and you won’t come at all,” Minseok threatens, which has Jongdae’s face falling so quickly Baekhyun can’t help but laugh all over again, which is cut off when Jongdae sits up to kiss him, capturing the shape of Baekhyun’s smile behind his teeth.

“I feel like Minseokkie’s been strung out enough,” Jongdae mutters, which Baekhyun lazily hums at in agreement. “Maybe you should give him something to do?”

Baekhyun blinks at the suggestion, then licks his lips at the dark look in Jongdae’s eyes, because he wants this, not only for Baekhyun to get involved without… getting involved, but also… to be told what to do.

“I--” Baekhyun starts, but hesitates, because there’s a hundred and one possibilities running through his head right now and he’s not quite sure which he wants to see more. Jongdae’s hands slip into Baekhyun’s back pockets as he unsubtly kneads his ass, and he looks so eager and oddly excited that Baekhyun gains a little more confidence. He turns to Minseok, who matches Jongdae’s expression, and it’s probably the weirdest time in the world to feel such a surge of affection for his boyfriends, but there it is, right in his chest. “--I don’t have any condoms.” Baekhyun finishes anticlimactically.

“I do,” Minseok and Jongdae say in unison. Then Jongdae shifts left a little to throw Minseok an amused glance. “We really have been blue-balled too much, huh?”

“Shut up,” Baekhyun retorts, as Minseok just seems to huff in unison and pads downstairs to quickly grab them, Baekhyun’s guessing. “You guys are so horny, I’m glad you have each other to fuck it out.”

“You’re telling me,” Jongdae lowly mutters, and then Minseok is tossing a few foil packets onto the bed expectantly, raising an eyebrow at Baekhyun.

“Well?” Minseok prompts, biting his cheek.

Baekhyun swallows as he looks down at Jongdae, still beneath him. “How would you feel about Minseok sitting on your face?”

Jongdae’s subsequent shit and Minseok’s shiver seems to be a positive answer at the very least, as Minseok says, “I’m okay with that. Definitely okay with that.” Jongdae nods eagerly in agreement.

Baekhyun moves sideways so that Jongdae can properly take off his shirt, as Minseok strips by the foot of the bed, and it feels strange to remain in his t-shirt and sweatpants like this as they both get naked, Minseok completely nonplussed by it but Jongdae obviously a little embarrassed as he doesn’t take off his jeans. Minseok fiercely kisses Jongdae while Baekhyun busies himself being the guardian angel of safe sex, rummaging around his desk for a pair of scissors and reaching under his bed for his bottle of lube, tossing it onto the bed while he fiddles with carefully cutting up the condom into a neat square for a dental dam.

Jongdae laughs, dangling the half-empty bottle of lube in the air. “For someone with two boyfriends you’ve definitely used this alone way too much.”

Baekhyun points the scissors at Jongdae threateningly, even though he’s immortal and they’re not really a threat at all. “Shut it,” he hisses, deciding Jongdae doesn’t deserve any more than that --the bottle of lube is also quite old, but Jongdae definitely doesn’t need to know about that.

“‘Pina colada’?” Minseok reads off the bottle with an eyebrow raise, Baekhyun whining because they’re ganging up on him, damn it.

“If you guys are so intent on dissing my lube I can take it back--” Jongdae protectively cradles the bottle against his chest as Baekhyun just smirks knowingly, laughing.

“Don’t you dare,” Jongdae says gravely, as Baekhyun just feels the mattress dip beneath his weight as he presses an exaggerated kiss against Jongdae’s cheek with a loud mwah.

“That’s what I thought,” Baekhyun says, sing-song, and hands Minseok the makeshift dental dam as Jongdae mutters unintelligibly beneath his breath, pouring the lube onto one hand and rubbing between his fingers to properly coat them.

“Ready?” Jongdae asks Minseok, and it’s all Baekhyun can do to sit back with a sharp inhale as Jongdae presses his fingers in, with Minseok’s nails raking at his shoulders in the process, sinking down on Jongdae’s hand and pulling his chin forward for a kiss. It’s hard for Baekhyun to choose between watching the way Jongdae’s hand thrusts in and out or the way Minseok keeps moaning against Jongdae’s mouth.

Either way, it doesn’t take long for Jongdae to pull back and hold Minseok’s gaze as he sinks down onto the pillows behind him, lying flat and parting his mouth in encouragement as Minseok just shudders in anticipation, shifting forward.

It takes some fiddling for Jongdae to line the piece of rubber up properly after Minseok hands it to him, and it takes even longer for Minseok to get in the right position, having to face Jongdae’s lower half in order for the position to work properly. There’s one last question of being ready from Jongdae before he tentatively licks along Minseok’s perineum and Minseok lets out a small noise, buckling over somewhat so that he’s forced to place both hands on Jongdae’s abdomen in order to keep himself up.   

At this, Baekhyun can’t fucking take it anymore, and bites the back of his left hand as his other sneaks beneath the waistband of his pants, wrapping around his dick, whimpering pathetically because he’s so fucking turned on he’ll really be joining the came-in-my-pants club way sooner than he needs to.

Luckily not even Baekhyun himself is exempt from his own teasing, so Baekhyun constantly pulls his hand back to run down his stomach instead, or along his thigh, purposefully neglecting his own dick. That can only last for so long though when Jongdae fucking moans like eating Minseok out is the best thing he’s ever done, and suddenly Baekhyun finds himself matching the pace of Jongdae’s pierced tongue as it consistently fucks in and out of Minseok, who only lets out breathy pants in response, grinding down onto Jongdae’s face as if to get his tongue in that much deeper.

Baekhyun can’t fucking take it, the only sounds in the room are various noises of pleasure and the wet sounds emanating from Jongdae’s mouth, but neither Jongdae nor Minseok are going to be able to get off from this, so Baekhyun says, “Stop.”

They both obey almost instantly, as Minseok crawls off of Jongdae’s face and they both watch him helplessly, waiting for an order. Baekhyun has to squeeze his eyes shut to ignore the throbbing of his own dick as well as the embarrassment that comes from telling two people what to do with a hand down his pants --in a weird way though, it’s really empowering too. It’s pointless to give his own mortification attention, though, because sex is embarrassing for everyone  He just has to get over it.

Baekhyun licks his lips, and he doesn’t even have the brain power to kindly say, “Ride him.” Instead saying it a little forcefully and rough, voice strained from how badly he is blue-balling his fucking self right now. Jongdae just curses beneath his breath and shimmies out of his jeans while Minseok throws away the used condom and tears open another one, rolling it over Jongdae’s dick.

“Ready?” Minseok asks, and Jongdae nods, which quickly stops short in favour of moaning as Minseok sinks down, exhaling steady as he does so. If Baekhyun had thought the face-sitting was bad, then this is outright unbearable, because he doesn’t want to come too long before them, but it doesn’t seem like Minseok nor Jongdae want to fucking come at all with the slow pace they set, Jongdae’s hips rolling upwards smoothly as Minseok rises and falls to meet him, kissing open-mouthed as they do so. Baekhyun whines helplessly as he bucks into his fist at the same pace that Jongdae thrusts upwards, because it’s somehow not enough and too much all at once.

It’s ten times more intense than watching porn even if it’s a similar sort of layout, but there’s also the added benefit of not worrying about too much that helps make it all a little easier than regular sex. Baekhyun can’t think of two people he’d rather watch fuck each other more than his own goddamn boyfriends, and it does, somehow, just feel kind of right, because Baekhyun hadn’t wanted to have sex with either of them on their own, but doing it like this feels… natural, involving all three of them.

Knowing he needs to slow himself down while also finding a way to make Minseok and Jongdae speed up without actually telling them to --because that ruins half the fun of what he’s about to do-- Baekhyun reaches across the bed for the bottle of lube, and it makes Minseok pull away from Jongdae’s mouth, hands still wound around his neck as he watches Baekhyun closely.

“What are you…” he starts to ask, and then Baekhyun swallows any sort of hesitance as he reaches down behind himself and presses a finger inwards, causing Minseok’s eyes to widen as one of his hands turns white knuckled along Jongdae’s shoulder.

“Oh my fucking god that’s so hot,” Jongdae blurts, and his hips stutter a little as he seeks more friction while Baekhyun doesn’t say anything, just continues fingering himself and thrusting into his own hand beside them, moaning as lewd as possible.

“Fuck,” Minseok exhales, and then his head tilts back as he blindly reaches for one of Jongdae’s hands and guides it to his dick, Jongdae reaching for the lube with his other to help with the glide as he starts jerking off Minseok with tight fingers, fucking him at the same time.

God,” Baekhyun breathes out, already so fucking close at the feeling of being full as he pulls his fingers out and starts trying to find that spot along his perineum that usually does its charm. Baekhyun moans as he does and his pace speeds up, maintaining eye contact with both Minseok and Jongdae as he doesn’t slow down, only pants helplessly before he cries out, officially coming in his pants.

It doesn’t take long for Jongdae to finish after that, and then quickly pulling out so that Minseok won’t feel any discomfort after Jongdae’s hand helps him come all over Jongdae’s chest, covering it in strips of white.

Jongdae collapses in a boneless heap back on the bed, saying, “Well.” As Baekhyun and Minseok just laugh between their panting, Minseok sitting back towards the edge of the mattress as Jongdae nuzzles up against Baekhyun’s side. “That was fun.”

“Fun,” Baekhyun parrots incredulously, as Jongdae noses along his jawline, lazy.

“We should clean up,” Minseok voices, which causes Baekhyun and Jongdae to groan in unison. “What? You want to just lie here in come and sweat for the next few hours?”

“Uh, absolutely,” Jongdae argues, and pulls Baekhyun closer against him to prove a point, as Baekhyun just laughs, pressing a kiss against Jongdae’s cheek in agreement.

“You’re both disgusting,” Minseok complains, but then Jongdae reaches forward to tug him down and Minseok squeaks as he falls, Baekhyun laughing as Minseok is crushed between himself and Jongdae and peppered in kisses. “Gross!”

“You like us~” Baekhyun teases as Minseok just grunts in response.

“Unfortunately,” he replies, and there’s a quick look of guilt that passes along Jongdae’s face before Minseok just flicks the tip of his nose, having none of that. “You vampires are so self-pitying.” He sighs mockingly, although his quick glance shows Jongdae that they’re probably both as hesitant about this --but Baekhyun is confident time will help them sort it out. Jongdae just pokes his tongue out in retaliation, before settling in next to Minseok, nuzzling against his neck.

“You’re so cold…” Minseok mumbles. “And Baekhyunnie is so warm. This is the weirdest feeling.”

“It helps with temperature regulation while we cuddle,” Baekhyun declares, and Minseok hums in agreement as Baekhyun throws an arm across his chest and snuggles into him, feeling lax after so much exertion even if there is come drying in his underwear right now. Minseok seems to have been lulled into a similar state of lazy contentedness, eyes slipping shut as his hand idly traces patterns over Baekhyun’s.

Jongdae breaks the silence with, “So I guess this means Baekhyun is really into cuckolding.”

Minseok and Baekhyun both punch him.


 

Unfortunately not even the joy of fulfilling the long running fantasy of a threesome will cure Baekhyun’s insomnia, meaning he wakes up an hour or two after falling asleep in Minseok’s arms, feeling far too hot and restless as he carefully peels himself out of bed, noting the empty space where Jongdae should be. Pulling a face and quickly changing clothes in the bathroom down the hall, wiping away the dried come with a wet towel, Baekhyun pads downstairs until he spots Jongdae sitting outside on the back porch step, watching the rain with an oddly solemn expression.

“You look like you’re in an emo music video and you just got dumped,” Baekhyun says, as he slides the door open and Jongdae tosses him a small smile, moving to sit beside him. “Can’t sleep?”

“Ha-ha,” Jongdae laughs drily.

“Is it because we didn’t feed you?” Baekhyun teases, although Jongdae should be able to last long enough without it… Jongdae shakes his head. “Seriously then,” Baekhyun nudges Jongdae’s knee, laughing softly. “What’s up?”

Jongdae seems hesitant to speak, but eventually starts with, “Last night was… nice.”

Baekhyun smiles amusedly, because he’s not sure nice and threesome are two words he’d play the word association game with. “It was.” He agrees, yet there’s still an unnatural downwards curl to Jongdae’s lips. “But…?”

“But…” Jongdae continues, eyebrows furrowed together as he watches the way the rain falls through the trees, filling the air with the scent of earth and pine. “... but I don’t know. It’s confusing.” Baekhyun simply nods to show he’s listening, waiting for Jongdae to elaborate. “The sex was-- great, yeah, and I do like Minseok but… I don’t know if I like him…” He sighs in frustration, running a hand through his hair. “But I feel weird if we’re all just sleeping together but we’re not dating and-- fuck, I don’t know.” Jongdae curls his arms around his knees, hugging them to his chest. “This is so confusing.” He rubs at his eyes.

“Hey,” Baekhyun places a hand on Jongdae’s shoulders. “It’s only confusing if you make it.” Because that’s what humans love doing, isn’t it? Slapping labels onto things so that it fits better in their brain, then complaining when it takes up too much space and they can’t handle the weight of it. Baekhyun isn’t above that, sure, but a lifetime of fiddling with labels and being forcefully applied some others means he’s kind of passed the point of caring as much. He likes Minseok, he likes Jongdae, they… mildly like each other (?), Baekhyun isn’t too distraught on working out the exact details, but Jongdae doesn’t think the same way, clearly. “You don’t have to force yourself into something you’re not comfortable with.”

“But that’s the thing!” Jongdae hurriedly exclaims. “I am comfortable with it!!!” He makes frantic hand gestures in the air as he speaks. “Being with you two--it feels right, but at the same time, I can’t tell if I really… feel anything for Minseok? Other than like, yeah, he’s hot, and maybe a little infatuation…” Jongdae furrows his eyebrows together. “... I’m just, not exactly willing to jump off bridges or pull stars out of the sky for him, you know?”

“Implying you are for me?” Baekhyun jokes, but Jongdae’s silence is far too telling, causing his brain to short circuit at a lack of how to respond.

“But when he’s around…” Jongdae seemingly ignores Baekhyun’s question, which only makes Baekhyun turn red at the insinuations. “... Did you know that usually when we’re together, I have to pour so much effort into control, but with Minseok there it’s like… my vampire self is too busy freaking out over the fact that a werewolf is near, that I can just… be human again.” His shoulders fall slightly. “And I don’t have to worry about hurting you, because Minseok balances me out, and even if I did hurt you, I know he’d protect you.” Baekhyun’s chest swells at the words, a mix between fondness and pride. “It just feels. Right. To be all of us. Do you feel that too?”

Baekhyun bites his lip, then nods. “Yeah,” he admits, shakily, because sure, he doesn’t have a murderous instinct or a gravitational bond, but… it’s always felt like, in a way, that the three of them are meant to be a three, that some force in the universe is tugging them together, and although it had been uneven and clunky and they’d collided too harshly in some instances, recently it had… well, it had felt like things Baekhyun hadn’t even realised had been missing to begin with, were finally settling back into place, and all he’s left is the ghost sensation of having wanted them there all along.

“Which is weird,” Jongdae clarifies. “Because Minseok and I aren’t… connected. Not like you are to us.”

“Does that matter?” Baekhyun asks, tilting his head. “You thinking I taste good and Minseok’s fursona being obsessed with me doesn’t just… invalidate all our other emotions.” Baekhyun shrugs. “Technically I’m affected by neither of those things, y’know? But I still fell for both of you.” The admittance feels cheesy when said aloud, and Baekhyun flushes, inwardly cursing at Jongdae probably still being able to see his pink face even in the darkness.

“Maybe the problem is you’re comparing apples with oranges,” Minseok says from behind them, which causes both Baekhyun to jump, although Jongdae must have heard him coming. He takes the empty spot next to Baekhyun.

“I was confused at first too,” Minseok starts, staring up at the grey clouds. “By all of this, really. Judging Baekhyun for liking two people at once and then getting confused when I kind of did too, because I’m not exactly jumping off of bridges and pulling stars out of the sky for you…” he smiles sideways at Jongdae, and Baekhyun flushes at the fact that Minseok must have heard most of their conversation --because of course he has, he’s literally a fucking dog. “But I do like you, and that’s kind of when I realised… Jongdae, Baekhyun and I have been dating for months, and you two are the same.” Minseok gestures between them. “But you and I--” his hand signals between himself and Jongdae. “We’re not at that level, but I think, subconsciously, we’re kind of expecting ourselves to be? As if this entire relationship needs to start from the same level. But it doesn’t.”

Jongdae stills at the realisation, obviously considering the words carefully.

“I’m not going to call you my boyfriend or anything from day one,” Minseok continues, smiling at the sky. “But… I don’t know. I think we should try it. Whether we end up deciding to be friends or friends with benefits or what, I don’t know. But we should just… do what we want, and see where it goes.” Minseok intertwines his fingers with Baekhyun. “Together.”

It makes Baekhyun’s chest elevate with affection, that Minseok went from being so judgemental and wary of their relationship to this, to wanting this, that he put aside so much personal bias and preconceived notions of what can and can’t be and stepped out of his shell. Baekhyun would jump off bridges and pull stars out of the sky if Minseok asked him to --he’s sure of it.

“How would this even work?” Jongdae asks, staring at the point where Baekhyun and Minseok’s hands are joined with a skeptical look on his face. “I mean… three of us? Are we just going to do a three point long distance relationship if Baekhyun moves back to Cali? How are we going to explain it to people? To our families?” He laughs nervously in disbelief. “What happens to you two when you’re in a retirement home and I’m still young and beautiful? How could we have a family? A life?” He shakes his head.  

Baekhyun rolls his eyes. “Who cares?” He asks. “We’re all still young and beautiful, we can cross those bridges when we get to them.” He huffs stubbornly. “I say anyone who doesn’t support our choices can get fucked.”

“I agree,” Minseok adds, smiling.

“And we can always murder some babies to turn them, adopt a few dogs,” Baekhyun can’t help the grin spreading across his face. “It’ll be like a family of our own.” He shrugs nonchalantly. “You’re a vampire, he’s a werewolf, I’m an insomniac, we’re all creatures of the night, we’re meant to be. Besides,” Baekhyun waggles his eyebrows. “Who knows? Maybe we’ll want to be immortal too.” He turns to Minseok. “A vampiric werewolf sounds super sick, doesn’t it?”

Minseok laughs in lieu of agreement, and Jongdae just looks at Baekhyun with an expression Baekhyun can’t describe, somewhere between love and awe and sheer disbelief.

“You just don’t worry at all, do you?” Jongdae sighs.

“Jongdae are you kidding me?” Baekhyun asks rhetorically. “Literally all I ever do is worry, worrying is why I’m in Dagger to begin with!!” He throws his free hand outwards exaggeratedly. “Which is exactly why I’m not going to let myself worry about something I know I want.”

Jongdae is silent, then just softly says, “You’re ridiculous.”

“Come on Jongdae,” Minseok prods at Jongdae’s thigh with his free hand. “Live a little.”

Jongdae gives him a flat look. “I’m dead.”

“That’s kind of the joke,” Minseok says amusedly, cocking his head. Jongdae opens his mouth like he’s going to say something, then just sighs, and Baekhyun has to bite his lip to suppress his grin as Jongdae reluctantly adds his hand to theirs, fingers curling over both Baekhyun and Minseok’s palm.

“Together?” Jongdae asks hopefully.

“Together.” Baekhyun and Minseok agree.

Chapter Text

No relationship is perfect; but theirs is pretty close.

Of course, it doesn’t start off that way, not really, with Minseok and Jongdae trying to build something between them while balancing what’s already been established with Baekhyun. But they manage it, somehow, asking each other out on private dates, insisting that Baekhyun doesn’t need to be there every step of the way because this is about them. Sehun says that they’re probably the first vampire-werewolf couple in history, let alone vampire-werewolf-human threesome, and Baekhyun can’t help but smile and say, we’re kind of historical like that, huh?

The longer they stay together, though, the easier it becomes, and it really works, like, ten times better than it had when Baekhyun was dating them separately. Baekhyun is by no means a perfect boyfriend but Jongdae helps round out his emotional obliviousness, while Minseok softens his sharper edges; when Baekhyun can’t function like a regular human being on the worst of days he has two people to pull him back up, rather than one, and if he can't be what they need then they have each other instead, and it makes it easier on them he’s certain, to share his burdening weight. (Of course, Minseok and Jongdae insist he’s not a burden in the slightest, but they’re biased; as Baekhyun’s traitor brain is so fond of reminding him.)

Baekhyun and Jongdae help to keep Minseok smiling, and Minseok and Baekhyun help to ground Jongdae, center him. Better than all of that, though, is the fact that Baekhyun never has to worry about blue balling his boyfriends, because they’re both such perpetually horny supernatural beings with the sort of stamina humans dream about, they can keep each other infinitely busy while Baekhyun plays League on his desk next to the bed.

(The first --and only; Baekhyun takes great precautions after that-- time his grandmother walks in on all three of them making out, Baekhyun says, “Um. These two are my boyfriends now, by the way.” In the most awkward Korean known to man.

Her only response is, “Ah… as long as you’re using twice the amount of protection.” And Baekhyun is so mortified he can’t get his dick to work properly for the rest of the week.)

Which is how Baekhyun ends up where he is right now, with Minseok and Jongdae making out on the couch behind him as he tries to focus on the movie in front on the coffee table, rolling his eyes at these two idiots, no better than horny teens.

“Wanna feed…” Jongdae mumbles, which causes Baekhyun’s eyebrows to furrow, because he fed him two days ago --bites are now a common occurrence once Baekhyun has come, since Jongdae gets off on it, or some weird kink shit-- and Baekhyun is definitely not in the mood.

“No way,” Baekhyun retorts, turning to Jongdae to give him a look of discontent only to see him nuzzling against Minseok’s neck.

“Not you…” Jongdae mumbles softly, and Minseok blinks in surprise, pushing Jongdae back, whose eyes are dark.

“Really?” Minseok asks, as Jongdae just nods slowly. “Isn’t my blood poisonous?”

“In large amounts,” Jongdae shrugs. Baekhyun just laughs in bewilderment --if Jongdae wants to eat something he knows for a fact will taste bad, then he can go for it. “My venom won’t affect you either, so…”

“I mean, sure,” Minseok relents.

Which is how Baekhyun ends up forgetting about the movie altogether in favour of carefully counting Jongdae’s mouthfuls of Minseok’s blood as they grind their hips together, Minseok seemingly getting off on it just as much as Jongdae is. Honestly between this, the cuckolding, and just how much they enjoy bossing and being bossed around, their trio really is into way too much kinky shit.

Jongdae pulls black with bloody lips and licks them clean, only for Minseok to follow it up with a kiss and lick his mouth clean, and Baekhyun has to admit… it’s kind of hot.




 

In May Baekhyun gets so bored (and broke) he badgers Sehun to give him a job at the library until he relents, and Minseok takes him and Jongdae out to dinner to celebrate Baekhyun’s new job and his twenty-seventh birthday. (Baekhyun is still mad Minseok hadn’t mentioned his birthday having passed until April; Baekhyun and Jongdae had had a whole month of missed nearly-thirty jokes to make.)

Baekhyun whines for the entire time about getting older, only for Jongdae to shrug in indifference and say, “Just can’t relate.”

“Turn me when I’m twenty-nine so I can be young and beautiful and not-thirty forever,” Baekhyun complains, then wrinkles his nose. “Actually, scratch that, I’m going to be the hottest silver fox ever --wait until I’m fifty and super rich. A total daddy.”

“That is definitely the worst thing you’ve ever said to me.” Jongdae doesn’t even miss a beat.

“Second only to that time you asked me if my dick had ‘magical wolf powers too’,” Minseok helpfully adds.

“What?” Baekhyun defends vehemently. “The prospect of knotting terrifies me! I had to make sure!”

“We’re in a public restaurant...” Minseok sighs in defeat; Jongdae just cackles.

“Back to you being super rich,” Jongdae continues, waggling his eyebrows at Baekhyun. “How do you expect to do that in Dagger?”

“By stealing from Sehun’s vast wealth, obviously,” Baekhyun gestures as if to say duh. “He’s like, a bazillion years old. He can share some of it with his trusted protege.”

Jongdae snorts as Minseok just idly stirs his drink and asks, “So no going back to Cali?”

Baekhyun pauses, having been wondering when someone was going to ask him what he was doing with his life next --after his mother, of course, who had already sounded disappointed when he told her his plans the last time she’d called. He grins.

“Nope,” the smile turns lovey-dovey as he leans forward onto his elbows, chin resting atop his folded hands. “Dagger is boring, and quiet, and nothing ever really happens here," except for all the supernatural bullshit. "But that’s what’s best for me.” He bites his lip as he stares at Minseok and Jongdae across the table. “Plus, there are a few other reasons to stay.”

“Just a few?” Minseok asks teasingly, so Baekhyun feigns apathy.

“One or two, I guess,” he says disinterestedly; Jongdae kicks him under the table.

Minseok is still biting his cheek like he has something to say, however, and Baekhyun is about to ask before Jongdae turns sideways and asks, “What?”

“About staying…” Minseok begins, and swallows. “Well… a friend of mine from China is going to Russia this summer, and invited me.” He shifts in his seat, avoiding eye contact. “I’ve saved up enough, but he wants me to come to China beforehand since visiting his hometown is on the way, and my rental is nearly up, so it would probably be a two? Three month trip? But--”

“Sounds amazing,” Baekhyun easily cuts in, grinning. “You should go.”

Jongdae nods in agreement. “Would you work over there too?”

Minseok is clearly caught off-guard by their response. “I-- I might teach English, yeah, I-- why aren’t you guys trying to talk me out of this?”

Jongdae and Baekhyun exchange a quizzical look. “Because it’s obviously what you want to do?” Baekhyun asks, eyebrows furrowing together. “Honestly Minseokkie, who cares where you go, so long as you come back.”

“Yeah,” Jongdae readily agrees. “And who knows? Maybe by then Baekhyunnie and I will be sick of Dagger, and want to tick off more deadend Canadian towns on your list.”

Minseok just smiles, eyes so soft and fond Baekhyun thinks he’d start crying any minute now if it weren’t Minseok, and all he manages to say is, “Thank you. Both of you.” He laughs a little nervously. “I think you’re the first people in my life who have never asked me not to go.”

“That’s because we’re the best,” Jongdae answers easily, and Minseok rolls his eyes --he doesn’t punch him though; unfortunately, Baekhyun has discovered, Minseok has a soft spot for Jongdae ninety percent of the time, which is stupid, because he’s the fucking indestructible one.

Minseok pays the bill --his treat, he insists, even if Baekhyun argues that he should be saving up for Russia -- and they head back to the bus stop. (The only con to having two boyfriends was that Minseok’s bike could only fit one other person, and none of them could afford a car.) Baekhyun and Jongdae idly make out while waiting for the bus to come, and Minseok just sits there on his phone giving them dirty looks, texting his friend the affirmative on their upcoming Summer trip.

“Maybe, when you get back…” Baekhyun starts on the bus, leaning forward to the row in front where Minseok and Jongdae sit --another con to being a trio: even numbers-- sharing a headphone each between them. “... We could go somewhere too? Just for a weekend or something, like a road trip?” He looks out the rain-streaked window. “I wouldn’t mind seeing the sun for once.” Jongdae grimaces, and Baekhyun realises he’s never even fucking thought about it. “Wait, can you even be in the sun?”

Yes,” Jongdae hisses, pushing against Baekhyun’s forehead as he laughs. “It’s just… a little more obvious I’m not human.”

“Now we definitely have to go somewhere sunny,” Baekhyun mutters conspiratorially to Minseok, narrowing his eyes suspiciously at Jongdae. Jongdae just huffs and turns away.

Handling the long distance thing turns out to be kind of difficult as they end up roping Sehun into driving them into the airport so they can properly say goodbye to Minseok. There are way too many kisses between them and way too many shocked looks from the people passing by but Baekhyun and Jongdae couldn’t care less as they keep fussing over Minseok and making him promise to call every day. Baekhyun is glad there’s three of them because it means Jongdae can stop him from getting lonely while Minseok is away, but it’s Minseok he’s worried about.

“Every day is ridiculous, you two, honestly…”

“Don’t carrreeee,” Jongdae whines, pouting as he wraps his arms around Minseok and squeezes, swaying them side to side. “Gonna miss you so much.”

“You are such a baby,” Minseok sighs, exasperated, but Baekhyun sees the fond look in his eyes as he squeezes Jongdae back.

Baekhyun grins at the exchange, but then Minseok is complaining about going to miss his flight so he and Jongdae each simultaneously kiss Minseok’s cheek, watching as he shuffles off to immigrations completely red-faced.

“I miss him already,” Baekhyun pouts, jutting out his bottom lip.

Jongdae just laughs and says, “C’mon Baek, it’s only three months. I believe in us.”

“Three months of being forced to deal with you on my own,” Baekhyun says wistfully, suddenly solemn. Jongdae pinches the back of his neck. “Ow!”

Three months, it turns out, is not as short as it sounds, and it feels like the days pass without Minseok excruciatingly slowly, even if they are calling every day --because yes, despite Minseok’s protests, he’s super whipped (although he pretends not to be.) The reception is always weird and a little bit blurry and Jongdae won’t stop suggesting webcam sex until Baekhyun points at the grainy image on screen and says and how will that work out? While Jongdae curses the internet for being so slow when Russia is right over there, for fuck’s sake.

“We miss you,” is the first thing Jongdae says on one particular call around August, nearer to Minseok’s return. “Baekhyun let me touch his dick the other day without getting squirmish and I was so sad you weren’t there to witness it.”

Minseok just laughs as Baekhyun slaps a hand against his forehead and says, “Ugh.” He drags it down his face. “It was so momentous apparently it needed to go in our synced calendar as ‘an annual memory’.”

“I was wondering why August fifth suddenly had a ‘first not embarrassed dick-touching’ event on there.” At least Minseok sounds amused.

“It was just a handjob!” Baekhyun squeaks. “Really not that amazing!!”

“Yeah, but this is about you working through your self-consciousness and feeling more comfortable around us,” Jongdae presses a kiss to his cheek. “That’s worth celebrating.”

“You are such a sap,” Baekhyun complains, pulling a face. “In the worst way possible.”

“You love me~” Jongdae sing-songs, and Baekhyun doesn’t deny it. (Not that he ever does; and Jongdae is quite fond of reminding him.)

“You should’ve seen him at his cousin’s engagement party last weekend,” Baekhyun tells Minseok, pushing Jongdae away from him. “Wouldn’t stop cheering at everything like a loser. Biggest fucking romantic in the world.”

“Ha!” Jongdae scoffs. “Like you didn’t get drunk off of two glasses of wine and complain about polygamy not being legal--” it dissolves into their usual bickering as Minseok just watches them through the screen, and it ends up being his laughter that causes them to stop, watching the way it blooms across Minseok’s face and then smiling at him, too.

“You two are so dumb,” Minseok states amusedly, as if he doesn’t remind them of that fact nearly every day. Someone speaks, hidden away from the camera and muffled across the distance, and Minseok nods at them before there’s the click of a door shutting. “I have to go, but try not to strangle each other too much, okay? Love you.” He pauses, swallowing, and adds, “Both of you.”

Jongdae blinks at that, because sure, Baekhyun and Jongdae say it all the time, and Baekhyun and Minseok say it all the time, but there’s always been an acknowledgement that Minseok and Jongdae didn’t quite have that relationship --not yet, anyway; which makes sense, because Baekhyun had a head start.

Which is why Baekhyun grins at the words too, because watching two people he loves fall in love, well… there’s probably nothing more beautiful in the whole entire world.

“Really?” Jongdae asks tentatively, and Minseok laughs as he replies.

“Really.” He affirms.

Jongdae’s grin is brighter than the sun --not that Baekhyun even remembers how bright it is, considering he lives in Dagger.

“Then we both love you too,” Jongdae easily replies, eyes curving in fondness.

“Holy fuck please come home already,” Baekhyun complains, petulant; Minseok and Jongdae both laugh.




 

The destination Baekhyun and Jongdae pick out is not too far from Dagger, but far enough that there should actually still be some sun lingering around, even if it’s September. Jongdae had argued that they couldn’t pick any of the popular Vancouver beaches or he’d be spotted, so they’d gone for something a little farther north outside of the city, way less tourist-filled.

Baekhyun had haggled his grandmother’s car for the weekend (and given the keys to Minseok, of course, because gay culture, as Baekhyun always dutifully recites, is not being able to drive, which Minseok repeatedly gives him a flat look for because he literally has two boyfriends and can still drive, can’t he?)

They get the keys to their airbnb while Jongdae (decked out fully in head-to-toe in long black clothing and a floppy sun hat like some weird goth beach babe) handles the luggage, and everything about the town seems cute and fun compared to the dullness of Dagger --it even comes with its own local werewolf pack, according to Minseok and Jongdae’s noses, but it doesn’t really matter, because Minseok had mentioned that he’d stop being bothered over things like that; being pack-less, or whatever. No one is going to approach a werewolf that smells like a vampire; especially one with such a possessive, claiming bite mark right across his neck.

Baekhyun hurries both Minseok and Jongdae out of their room to get as much beach time as possible before the sun sets in a few hours, and they lazily oblige --still tired from the drive, which is stupid, because Jongdae doesn’t sleep, Minseok doesn’t sleep half as much, and Baekhyun is the fucking insomniac in this relationship.

Baekhyun happily runs out onto the sand exclaiming his praises to the sun, and Minseok rushes up behind him, capturing him by the waist from behind in his arms and spinning him around, lifting Baekhyun so easily he can’t do anything but helplessly laugh and swat at Minseok’s hands to put him down.

“You coming or not?” Minseok calls over his shoulder towards Jongdae, who’s still frowning by their towels in the sand, as Baekhyun just stands in the cold water fiddling with the hem of his t-shirt, expectant.

Jongdae looks behind him, at the stretches of empty beach and shrubbery, and then sighs as he tugs his clothing and hat off, causing the literal best thing of Baekhyun’s entire life to happen.

“You--” Baekhyun says, as Jongdae steps towards the water in his swimming shorts alone, an unamused look on his face as Minseok bites both his cheeks to stop himself from smiling. “You’re fucking sparkling.”

And sure enough Jongdae’s pasty skin is positively glittering, iridescent like a diamond in the direct sunlight, across his face and bare chest, extending over his arms.

Jongdae sighs, as if in great pain. “Don’t laugh at me.”

Baekhyun fucking wheezes as Minseok bursts into laughter too, causing Jongdae’s frown to deepen further.

“I’m sorry this is just--” Minseok tries to gain his breath, coughing into his palms between fits of giggles. “--it’s just so ridiculous! Why does it even do that!? No wonder you hate sunlight.”

“I’m so fucking happy right now,” Baekhyun wheezes, doubling over, so Jongdae walks through the water to push him over, meaning Baekhyun stops laughing together as his mouth hangs open in shock, feeling the freezing water seep through his clothing.

“Cold?” Jongdae asks, smug, so Baekhyun just clenches his jaw in determination and pulls Jongdae’s glittering self down into the water, who only gargles at the inconvenience, unaffected by temperature.

Minseok is laughing at them both, which is why it’s easy for Jongdae to grab a mouthful of seawater and spit it directly at Minseok, just to see the way disgust creeps across his entire body at the drips running down his face. Baekhyun bites his lip to contain his laughter, and then Minseok is fucking stripping and shifting into wolf form to tackle Jongdae down into the water, sitting on top of him so that he can’t come back up --he doesn’t need to breathe, after all, so Minseok seems intent on having Jongdae learn his lesson.

“You’re such a sadist,” Baekhyun tells the wolf, who only seems to preen happily as Jongdae’s limbs flail beneath him, Baekhyun finding himself shivering already and heading back to the sand to grab a towel and wrap it around himself. Minseok eventually lets Jongdae go, who comes up gasping for breath --more out of a habit then necessity, and also to help himself cough out all the water in his unused lungs.

“Fuck you,” Jongdae hisses, and shoves the wolf so that Minseok stumbles sideways --which is a terrifying display of strength, because his wolf form is as tall as Baekhyun and nearly twice as long. Minseok just barks with his tail wagging as if to tease Jongdae, and Jongdae just grimaces as he sparkles and drips across the sand, reaching for his towel. “It reeks of wet dog now…” he mumbles. Minseok retaliates by shaking his body next to them to dry off his fur, spraying them both with water as Baekhyun screams at the sensation, making Jongdae disgruntled even further.

Minseok asks for forgiveness by covering Jongdae’s face with licks as Jongdae can only laugh and reluctantly move his hands up to scratch beneath his chin. “Yeah, yeah, I love you too you dumb dog.”

“Fucking furry,” Baekhyun says with distaste, clicking his tongue. Jongdae flicks sand at his face.

Minseok happily remains in wolf form as the three of them lie together in the sand and sun to dry off, Baekhyun putting on a pair of sunglasses just to get rid of some of the glare from Jongdae’s glittering skin. They probably look ridiculous --a guy in wet clothes, a human sparkler, and a giant fucking wolf-- but there’s no one around, and Baekhyun wouldn’t care even if there were.

As the sun sets, Minseok and Jongdae leave to grab burgers from the place a little farther up the road (Minseok shifting back into human form and pulling on clothes, thankfully) with Baekhyun being far too lazy to follow, deciding that he’ll mind their stuff instead, lazily replying to a few texts from Chanyeol and Sehun. He watches the waves roll across the sand in a state of tranquility, and it’s nice, Baekhyun thinks, because like this --not forcing himself to overwork, not surrounding himself with people who hate him, or judge him, but with people who love and support him, building his life back up one slow step at a time on his own terms-- he’s beginning to heal, and it’s the best feeling in the entire world.

“One veggie burger with pineapple like the weirdo you are,” Jongdae declares, snapping Baekhyun out of his reverie as a paper bag is dumped onto his lap.

“Okay, what the fuck, pineapple on burgers is so good,” Baekhyun nudges Minseok. “Back me up.”

“He’s right,” Minseok adequately backs up like the dutiful boyfriend he is --Baekhyun gives him a grateful smile.

Jongdae adamantly shakes his head. “Nope, I don’t even eat food anymore and I know that’s just wrong.”

“But you don't like broccoli,” Minseok cooly replies. “So your opinion is invalid.” Jongdae squawks in offense.

“Gentlemen, please,” Baekhyun says placating, gesturing to the water. “Can’t we just enjoy the beautiful sunset in calm, manly silence?”

Jongdae exchanges a look with Minseok as he sits in the empty space beside Baekhyun.

“You? Silence?” Minseok teases. “Who are you and what have you done with Baekhyun?”

“This is the new, post-spiritual-awakening Baekhyun,” Baekhyun nods, mock-sagely. “What do you think?”

“In the fifteen minutes it took for us to get dinner you finally found your soul?” Jongdae makes a noise of disbelief. “Sounds fake.”

Baekhyun scoffs, nudging Jongdae with his elbow. “Says the vampire.”

“Hey man I have a soul,” Jongdae retorts. “You know that’s just a myth. Don’t be so soulless.”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes in exasperation, but they end up settling into silence anyway as Baekhyun and Minseok busy themselves with eating and Jongdae tilts his head onto Baekhyun’s shoulder, watching the sun set over the water. His skin’s sparkling has died down as the sky turns peach and apricot, and Baekhyun hums in contentment as Minseok nestles into his other shoulder, wiping his hands on the napkin in his paper bag before taking Baekhyun’s hand and intertwining their fingers, with Jongdae easily snaking his on top in a glittery covering.

Baekhyun doesn’t know what comes next, when Minseok still wants to travel, and Jongdae wants to go back to school, and Baekhyun doesn’t want anything but knows he should. He doesn’t know what will happen when their relationship is the way it is and how to deal with the fact that they’re all trying to learn how to be normal humans and kind of failing. Baekhyun doesn’t know about what comes next and isn’t sure how he’s meant to feel about it either --his brain gnaws at him with dread and endless possibilities but he doesn’t listen to any of it.

This, right here, right now, is all he cares about --the three of them. Together. And nothing will ever be more important than that.