Yixing was used to strange things happening in his daily life. He realized at a fairly young age that he never got sick like his classmates, and if he fell and hurt himself the wound healed within seconds. He was quiet growing up, so it was easy to keep his abilities to himself. Even when he realized that by touching others who were wounded he could take their wounds upon himself and heal them, the wounds he had taken from them disappearing from his body as well. He helped when he could, healing bruises and cuts from his friends when he was sure they wouldn’t notice.
He wasn’t afraid to heal others or of the pain that came with it. No, he was afraid of being found out, of being taken by the Chinese government and experimented on until they knew why he could do what he did. So, he never told anyone, never let on how gifted he was, not even to his parents.
Until the day Yifan fell out of the sky.
Yixing was a senior in high school when it happened. He was running laps after school to condition for football, more focused on doing footwork drills to improve his dribbling than he was on his surroundings as he did lap after lap. It was long after everyone else had gone home for the day, which in retrospect was a blessing because he was the only one to see Yifan fall right out of the sky and land on the grass in the middle of the football field with a sickening thud.
Yixing rushed over to him and put his hands on the man’s barely moving chest. He had never met Yifan before, he hadn’t known his name when he fell from the sky. All he knew was that within seconds of placing his hands on his chest, he knew Yifan had five broken ribs, a broken arm, internal bleeding all over the place, a punctured lung, a dislocated shoulder, and fractures in both his hips.
Yixing looked around to make sure there wasn’t anyone around to witness what he was about to do. With the coast clear, he took a deep, bracing breath and slowly began to take the man’s injuries on as his own. He started with the lung and internal bleeding, relief coursing through him when the man began to breathe a bit easier. The broken ribs were next, and every breath he took for the ten long seconds it took his body to heal them sent stabbing aches through his chest.
By the time he got to the broken arm and the fractures in his hips, Yixing was short of breath and sweating, shaky from the intensity of the pain. He had never healed someone so extensively and it was more exhausting than he thought it would be. His one consolation was that with each injury he healed, the man under his hands grew more and more comfortable, relaxing and slowly becoming more conscious.
Yixing placed a shaking hand on the dislocated shoulder, and the moment it slotted back into place the man’s eyes fluttered open, looking right at Yixing.
“Hello,” he breathed, staring at Yixing curiously. “I’m Yifan.”
Zitao was lost.
He knew that he was eighteen right now, but that didn’t mean he was eighteen a few seconds ago. He knew he was in the same room he could remember being in the last time he was lucid, but he didn’t know how long he had been there. He knew that the face he kept seeing was someone in his future but he didn’t know when or how he’d meet him.
Zitao was lost in time and he didn’t know how to be found.
He had always been able to slip in and out of time. He first realized he was doing it when he was seven and he woke up two days in the future, only to blink and in the next second he was back to the present in his bed. When he had told his mom, she said it had probably been a dream.
But it kept happening.
Zitao started slipping in and out of the present with increasing regularity until by the time he was sixteen he wasn’t ever sure when he was. His parents insisted he was lucid dreaming, that he had an overactive imagination and that he couldn’t possibly be losing time like he thought.
And for a while he thought they were right.
Until he froze time for two minutes during an argument with his parents. Everything stopped: the clock on the mantle frozen at half six and forty seconds, his father halted mid-sentence, his mother’s small frown fixed on her face. In his panic, time resumed and the scene continued like it hadn’t been stopped for two minutes. His parents didn’t seem to know how to take their son suddenly collapsing on the floor and babbling about how time had stopped and they’d been frozen and they wouldn’t move or answer and he didn’t understand what was happening to him.
After that they believed he was crazy, but they didn’t believe him when he said they had also been frozen. He didn’t have enough control to keep time suspended while keeping them in the present.
A month later he was admitted to a long-term care facility for the mentally unstable in Shanghai—far enough away for his parents to forget they’d ever had a son.
He’d since gained a semblance of control over his power, but that was something that came much too late and in the silence of a cell that was his home now. But even with that fragile amount of control, he could never trust his own sense of time and he never knew when he was.
The solitude didn’t help, either.
When Zitao woke he wasn’t alone.
“Who are you,” he blurted out, startling the boy on the bed across from his. Since when have I had another bed in my room?
The boy looked back at him warily. He was pretty in a way that looked dangerous, his delicate features at odds with the hardness behind his eyes “I’m Luhan, your roommate.”
Okay, that was definitely new. “What day is it? What year?”
Luhan gave him a bewildered look. “It’s April eighteenth, two-thousand eighteen. Are you okay Tao?”
No, he wasn’t okay. The last time he could recall remembering what day it was had been in March. He’d missed almost a month of time. “How do you know my name?”
Luhan looked, if possible, more alarmed that he already was, his eyes wide as he backed slowly away until he was pressed up against the wall behind his bed.. “You told it to me? When they placed me as your roommate?”
Damn, so he had been lucid enough to carry on simple conversations. Those were the worst slips because he never knew what he’d said. “How long have we been roommates?”
“For like, two weeks now. Tao are you sure you’re okay?”
“I lost a month…” he trailed off. How much had he told to Luhan in his semi-lucid state? How crazy had he sounded? He looked up at Luhan nervously to find him studying him with a concerned expression.
“Tao, do you remember anything since I’ve moved in?”
Zitao thought quickly. He could fake it like he did every time he had a session with the in-house psychologist. Or, he could take a chance and tell Luhan the truth. And what the hell, if Luhan was in here, he was probably as crazy as everyone thought Zitao was, so what did he have to lose? Neither of them was going anywhere soon. “I don’t. I lose time a lot.” It wasn’t even a lie. He did lose time, or his hold on it.
Luhan shrugged. “Okay, and?”
Zitao blinked. “And I get lost in time?” What the hell, he thought, deciding to go all in. “I have control over time,” he explained hesitantly, glancing at the door to make sure it was completely closed. “I can theoretically stop, fast-forward, or rewind time, but I don’t have enough control over it so I usually end up spending days or weeks trapped in the past or future.”
Luhan looked at him blankly. “Oh, is that all?” He slumped back on his bed and stared at the ceiling. “I can move things with my mind.”
“Is that all? I tried to tell my parents and they—wait…what did you say?” he asked, finally registering the second part of Luhan’s response.
Instead of replying, Luhan stared intently at Zitao’s pillow and Zitao watched in shock as it lifted from the bed to hover in front of his face before thumping him gently over the head.
It took him a few moments of gaping stupidly at Luhan, who was starting to look apprehensive for the first time since this bizarre conversation started, before he could respond. When he finally found the words he said, “I’m not alone.”
Luhan huffed in relief. “I suppose not.”
Zitao’s only response to that was to lunge across the room and gather a very surprised Luhan up in his arms. “Thank you, for proving I wasn’t crazy.”
Luhan hesitantly hugged him back from where he was crushed underneath Zitao’s body on his bed. “You’re welcome.”
There was silence as a moment that felt like several seconds stretched into minutes before either of them spoke again. Zitao was far too content to bury his face in Luhan’s neck and relish the knowledge that he wasn’t the only one who was different. Luhan took a breath to speak, and his words had Zitao stiffening in surprise.
“So, how are we going to get the fuck outta here?”
Yixing slicked his hair away from his face and stood under the stream of hot water, letting it wash away the dirt and grime that had accumulated throughout the day. Work wasn’t awful, but there was something about Shanghai itself that made him feel dirty just by riding the transit into work every day. It was probably the pollution.
Meeting Yifan had changed everything for Yixing. The knowledge that he wasn’t the only unusual one, wasn’t the only person with talents shifted his entire world view. He had stuck to Yifan like glue ever since, and the moment he had graduated high school he moved to the city with Yifan and rented an apartment together. They’d changed cities every few months while they finished college through online classes, wary of being noticed by organizations that actively hunted people like them.
Now that they were both done with school it was easier to remain hidden under the mask of society, allowing them to work while secretly trying to find other people like them in the vast hoards of people along the Chinese coastline. So far, they hadn’t found anyone else, but they hadn’t stopped looking in the year since they’d been in Shanghai. Unfortunately Yixing couldn’t do much more than peruse the internet for news and keep a shrewd eye out, looking for odd news stories, videos, blogs, or anything else that could hint at hidden powers. He didn’t even have much use for his powers, besides occasionally healing Yifan when he got hurt trying to land on their tiny balcony, or after the one time he flew through an angry flock of birds.
Yifan was much better at flying now than when they had first met, at least.
Yixing scrubbed his body down with soap, washing his hair quickly before turning off the water. Yifan was cooking dinner and Yixing was starving after a ten-hour shift at the hospital.
He sluiced the water from his arms and legs before stepping out and grabbing a towel to tie around his waist. He walked over to the fogged-up mirror above the sink and wiped away the condensation, only to freeze when he saw his reflection. Or rather, the face in the mirror that should have been his, but wasn’t.
He yelled in shock.
Yifan came bursting into the bathroom, looking ready for a fight with flames flickering at his fingertips. Ever since a close call with a couple of scary men who had noticed they were different a few months ago, Yifan and Yixing had been on edge, ready to run in case they were in danger. When he saw that Yixing was staring at the mirror in shock, Yifan relaxed, chuckling.
“You see your own face all the time, is it just now hitting you how ugly you are?” The flames dancing along his knuckles disappeared with a small curl of smoke.
Yixing motioned for him to be quiet. “Come look in this mirror and tell me I haven’t gone crazy, please,” he said as calmly as he could manage.
Yifan sighed but stepped up next to him and looked in the mirror. “Holy shit.”
“Okay, so you see him too? I’m not crazy?”
“Either we’re having a shared delusion, or there’s a boy waving at you in the mirror.”
Said boy began to babble rapidly at Yixing. “Do you know what he’s saying?” Yixing asked Yifan. He was certain the language he was hearing wasn’t Chinese, but Yifan was better at languages and he was too tired to pick it apart right then.
“You can hear him?” Yifan looked confused, like maybe Yixing was finally getting him back for the Flour Incident. “I can see his mouth moving but there’s no sound.”
“That’s concerning,” Yixing said, frowning at the boy in his mirror. It was obvious that whoever this boy was, he was like them. Special. But what exactly his power was Yixing couldn’t say. In any case, he could clearly hear whatever it was he was saying while Yifan could not, implying that what was happening was for him specifically.
“What does it sound like?”
Yixing listened for a moment and then repeated the last thing the boy had said to Yifan, hesitating over the unfamiliar way his mouth twisted to shape the sounds. In the mirror, the boy got more animated, gesturing wildly between himself and Yixing and smiling.
“Oh shit,” Yifan muttered, peering more closely at the boy. “He’s speaking Korean.”
Well, that was a problem. “My Korean is…not great.” He moved aside, ignoring the panicked look on the boy’s face, and pulled Yifan in front of the mirror. “Can you figure out what he’s saying?”
In the mirror, the boy had gone still, eyeing Yifan nervously and shooting pleading looks at Yixing, who was still visible in the mirror, but only slightly. “I think he’s here for you, whoever he is,” Yifan concluded. “Try saying something to him in Korean.”
Yixing dug through his exhausted brain, trying to remember the limited words he’d picked up from school and Yifan. “Hello,” he finally said in Korean, softly. “My name is Yixing.” He took a moment to really look at the boy, noting the red streaks in his jet-black hair and the slightly-smudged eyeliner around his eyes.
The boy in the mirror beamed, smiling widely. “I’m Baekhyun,” the boy said slowly, evidently picking up that Yixing was not Korean and speaking slower than he had been initially.
Yixing turned to Yifan. “He says his name is Baekhyun,” he said in Chinese. “How do I ask him how he’s doing this?”
Yifan thought for a moment while Baekhyun waited patiently in the mirror, glancing between Yixing and Yifan curiously. Yifan slowly sounded out the words Yixing needed so that Yixing could repeat them to Baekhyun.
When he finished, Baekhyun hesitated before speaking again, chewing his bottom lip in thought. When he did reply, Yixing only caught a few of the words. “I have...trying to find...people...you have...only way...talk.”
Yixing groaned in frustration, tugging at his wet hair and turning to Yifan with a pleading look. “I don’t know what he’s saying.”
Yifan gave him a flat look in return. “I kept telling you to learn Korean. You should have studied harder.”
“Now is not the time to gloat, Yifan. Help me, gē.”
“I can’t hear him! And there is no way I’m going to be able to read his lips. Try asking him what he can do.” Yifan patiently sounded out the words for Yixing to repeat back to Baekhyun.
Instead of answering in words, Baekhyun began to gesture. First to himself, then to Yixing through the mirror, miming the act of looking at something. “Is he saying that finding people in mirrors is his power?” Yixing asked Yifan, who shrugged in response.
“Your guess is as good as mine.”
Baekhyun waved his hand to get their attention again. Once he had it, he began to shine.
Bright, pure light began radiating from him, matching his beaming smile and making Yixing and Yifan squint to keep looking at him.
“Okay, so he glows. Great.”
“I think it’s more than that, gē,” Yixing said, studying a now back to normal Baekhyun. He looked more tired than he did before he began to shine. “He found me in a mirror.”
“Ask him where he is,” Yifan suggested. “Maybe he’s somewhere close.”
“It’s like you don’t realize how big Shanghai is,” he muttered, before digging out the right words in Korean and asking Baekhyun where he was.
“Seoul,” he replied. “Where are you?”
“Shanghai,” Yixing said with a small frown.
Baekhyun looked devastated. “That’s…so far away.” He stared off in the distance for a moment.
Yixing studied him while he thought. He was cute in a sharp way, his eyes shrewd and his lips always tilted in a wry sort of smile. He looked a bit foxlike, and Yixing was helplessly drawn in by him.
“Where in Shanghai are you?” Baekhyun asked suddenly, those sharp eyes boring into Yixing through the mirror.
“What’s he saying?” Yifan whispered.
“He wants to know where in Shanghai we are.”
“Are you going to tell him?”
“Do you think we can trust him? We’re already keeping a low profile—what if he draws more attention to us or sells us out to some lab that will run endless tests and experiments on us?”
In the mirror, Baekhyun waved for their attention, pointing frantically at the back of his wrist when they both looked at him.
“I think he’s running out of time,” Yifan said. “You need to decide now.”
Yixing turned to Baekhyun as his image started to ripple like still water disturbed by a pebble. He rattled off their address before he could second guess his gut feeling, repeating it until Baekhyun disappeared from the mirror.
“Well,” Yifan began, dryly, “let’s hope he doesn’t get us killed.”
Yixing whacked him in the chest and stepped past him out of the bathroom, making for his room. “He won’t. I have a feeling this is supposed to happen.” And he did. He couldn’t explain it, but after the initial scare, meeting Baekhyun had felt…right, and he couldn’t help but trust his instincts. He’d stayed alive this long.
As he got dressed and Yifan went back to the kitchen, Yixing hoped he hadn’t just made a serious mistake.
Silence greeted him, and Minseok frowned. It was unusual not to be greeted as soon as he stepped through the front door. He set his keys in the bowl on the runner table in the entryway, slipping off his shoes and moving further into their house.
He reached the dining room, only to find it empty. The sun room was as well. Maybe Junmyeon was in the west wing? He’d had plans to fix some things in that wing for a while now. He went back to the foyer, just in front of the sweeping staircase that led to the second floor, and was about to look upstairs when arms wrapped around his waist from behind and a head pressed against the back of his neck.
“Welcome home,” Junmyeon said softly, ignoring the way Minseok’s skin went frigid with the surprise.
Minseok spun around to face Junmyeon, who looked sleepy and rumpled. Minseok smiled fondly at the sight. Junmyeon was normally so put together—he never set foot outside unless everything was perfect about his appearance—but at home when it was just the two of him he was more relaxed, and if you were to ask Minseok, this was the version of Junmyeon that he loved most. “Where were you? I was just about to head upstairs to look for you.”
Junmyeon yawned. “I was napping on the window seat in the parlor. The afternoon sun hits it just right.”
Of course, the parlor. Minseok should have checked there first. It was Junmyeon’s favorite room in this giant house they called home. When Junmyeon had inherited the estate from his great aunt he had taken an immediate liking to the parlor, renovating it with plush settees and rugs thick enough that you sunk up to your ankles when you walked on them. He had done everything in varying shades of blue, and Minseok always felt like he was stepping underwater whenever he walked into the room.
“How was your day?” Minseok asked, smoothing down a stray strand of Junmyeon’s deep blue hair.
Junmyeon shrugged. “I did some work to the east wing, cleared out a few more rooms and planned renovations for them. Fixed the loose floorboard that creaks in the west wing. Napped.” He pulled Minseok closer and rested his chin on his shoulder. “Missed you.”
Minseok hummed and returned the embrace, one hand threading through Junmyeon’s hair and the other wrapping around his waist. “Sounds like you were productive.”
“I was. How was work?”
Minseok shrugged. His work varied from day to day as a physician’s assistant, but today had been rather uneventful. “It was fine. None of Dr. Cha’s patients died and I got to assist him during a surgery. It was fine.” He yawned. “Tiring.”
Junmyeon lifted his head and pressed a gentle kiss to Minseok’s forehead. “Let’s make dinner and go to bed early then? Fall asleep to a movie? I’ll cook.”
Minseok kissed him slowly, savoring the warmth and softness of his lips. “Sounds great,” he said when they parted. “I’ll go change and join you in the kitchen.”
Junmyeon hummed in response and headed through the dining room to their right that would lead him to the kitchen in the east side of the house. Minseok watched him go before heading in the opposite direction toward the master suite in the north-west corner of the house.
The great room was just behind the stairs and connected to the ocean room—or the parlor Junmyeon had designed--off to the left. Once he was in the parlor he turned to his left and walked past the door leading to their room, shedding his scrubs as he moved through the attached bathroom and into their large walk-in closet. If Junmyeon hadn’t inherited this house from his super rich great-aunt and the fortune that came with it they wouldn’t have been able to afford something like this on their own, ever.
He grabbed his favorite pair of sweatpants and t-shirt, tutting over the mess Junmyeon had made of their closet sometime in the last ten-hours he’d been on shift, before walking back into the bathroom for a quick shower, desperate to scrub the feel of the hospital and the smell of disinfectant off him.
Technically he didn’t need to work. With the money Junmyeon had inherited, neither of them needed to work another day in their lives and they could live very comfortably. But he liked the distraction that came from being so busy he didn’t have time to think about anything else like the perpetual danger their lives were in. Plus, it kept him from being annoyed at the constant chill that he felt because of the ice in his veins. He was almost always too cold to ever feel truly warm, no matter how many blankets Junmyeon piled on top of him at night.
He turned the water as hot as it would go, it still only feeling lukewarm to him as he washed under the spray. By the time he was finished with his shower and changed into his sweatpants and shirt he was considerably warmer than he’d been all day.
“What’s for dinner?” he asked, once he’d made his way into the kitchen.
Junmyeon straightened from where he was bent over a steaming pot on the stove and flashed him a smile. “Kimchi jjigae. It’s supposed to storm tonight so I thought something warm and spicy would be good.”
Minseok hummed in appreciation, coming up behind Junmyeon to wrap his arms around his waist from behind, hooking his chin over his shoulder and watching as he idly stirred the soup by circling a finger over the pot.
“Want me to dry your hair for you?”
Minseok nodded and stepped away so that Junmyeon could turn around and lift the remaining water away from his hair and send it into the sink with a dismissive flick of his wrist. “Thanks, babe.”
“Anytime.” Junmyeon’s smile was as bright as a spring morning. “Now, let’s eat?”
A booming crash woke Minseok up in the dead of night.
He jolted awake, Junmyeon’s arm slipping away from his waist as he got out of bed to look out their bedroom windows overlooking the back lawn. What he saw in the bright flashes of light had him running back to bed to roughly shake Junmyeon awake. “Myeon, wake up.”
“Mmpf, wha’ is it?” he mumbled, sitting up and rubbing at his eyes. “Seok, it’s like three in the morning,” he moaned, looking at the bedside clock.
“You need to see this, get up!”
“Look,” Minseok said, pointing out across the back lawn just as lightning struck with a thunderous crash. In the flash of light, a figure could be seen, conducting the lightning like an orchestra of chaos.
“Holy shit,” Junmyeon breathed, squinting to see through the darkness and the rain.
Minseok yanked him out of their bedroom and into the parlor, where there were doors leading out onto the patio. The second they stepped outside they were pelted with sheets of rain, which didn’t bother either of them necessarily, but was still annoying and hard to see through.
“Babe, what are we doing out here?” Junmyeon yelled over the wind. “This is insane!”
Minseok ignored him and stared fixedly at the figure in the distance. They called the lightning down in bright flashes of light that temporarily blinded him and thunderous booms he could feel in his bones. It was beautiful to watch someone harness so much raw power, to conduct pure energy through themselves and into the earth, and Minseok wanted to get closer but knew that would be a Bad Idea with how conductive he and Junmyeon were with electricity.
He didn’t know how long they stood there getting drenched by the rain, watching this person who was like them, who was special, harness the raging force of this storm in one body, but looking back they probably saved his life when it all went wrong.
It was in the blink of an eye, but Minseok saw the man drop his arms, leaving him unprepared when the biggest bolt of lightning yet slammed into his defenseless body. It happened almost too fast for him to process, but once he replayed what he’d seen in his mind, he began sprinting across the lawn, up the hill, until he reached the man lying prone on the ground.
His hands were shaking as he rolled the man onto his back, gasping as he saw what had happened.
“Is he okay?” Junmyeon gasped, out of breath from their sprint across the lawn. “Oh, shit,” he said looking at the man.
Minseok felt his neck for a pulse. “His heart’s still beating,” he said in surprised relief. “We need to get him out of this storm fast.” Minseok lifted him carefully, trying not to put pressure on the livid red lines lacing across the visible patches of skin. “The last thing we need is to get hit like him.” Minseok looked back at the house. “Junmyeon, go on ahead and get me cold water, clean towels and if you can, whatever ointments or disinfectants you can find.”
“I’ll get them. Meet me in the parlor,” Junmyeon called out as he turned and ran back to the house.
Minseok followed him, albeit slower, and prayed that he wouldn’t get hit by the next bolt of lightning. The man in his arms was about his size, and while he wasn’t heavy, he wasn’t light, which had Minseok breathing heavily by the time he reached the patio and walked back into the house through the parlor doors, which Junmyeon had left open.
Junmyeon was ready for him with one of the couches covered in clean towels, along with buckets from the kitchen, some of which were full of water while others were empty. As soon as Minseok had laid the man on the couch, Junmyeon was pulling the water from his body and into the empty buckets by his side. Minseok moved around Junmyeon and gingerly unbuttoned the simple black shirt the man was wearing, unsurprised at what he saw, though it wasn’t nearly as bad as he’d anticipated.
“What are those?” Junmyeon gasped softly, his eyes wide.
“Lightning scars—or they will be, once they heal up.” Minseok pointed to some faded white lines on his chest. “Look, you can see some old scars. This isn’t the first time this has happened to him.”
The man’s chest was a mess of vivid red lines. There were several deep holes that looked like a hot poker had been shoved into his skin—the points where the lightning had entered his body. A large one on his left shoulder, another on his right collarbone, one on his ribs by his left elbow, another on his left hip. Smaller marks were on the side of his neck and his cheek. They were going to scar, but what really held Minseok’s attention were the intricate lines spreading from each point of impact—a visible map of how the lightning had spread through his body.
“Will he be okay?” Junmyeon asked, lightly tracing the line that arched over the bridge of his nose and curled to an end on his right cheek below his eye.
Minseok cooled his hands until his fingers were chilled at the tips and prepared to place his hands over the points of impact to soothe and cool the burned flesh. “I think so, as long as he doesn’t have any kind of brain damage from the sheer amount of electrical current he was conducting. This looks a lot worse that it is. He’ll be in pain from the burns, but nothing unbearable.” He studied the injuries in front of him with a critical eye. “Normally, with something like this, I’d expect third degree burns, but these look like they barely qualify as second degree.” He had barely touched two fingers to the burned patch of skin on his ribs when the man arched off the couch, his eyes snapping open as he shouted in pain.
“Woah! Easy, we’ve got you,” Junmyeon soothed, easing him back against the couch.
“Who…?” he croaked, looking between Junmyeon and Minseok in confusion before squinting his eyes shut and groaning in pain.
“I’m Junmyeon, and that’s Minseok,” Junmyeon replied, once the man had opened his eyes again. They were glassy with shock and pain. “We saw you in the storm, watched you control it, and saw you get hit.”
A look of panic flashed across his pained features.
“Don’t worry,” Minseok said, giving him a reassuring grin and wiggling the fingers of his other hand as he let them frost over. “We’re like you.”
“What’s your name?” Junmyeon asked while the man looked between the two of them warily.
“Jongdae,” he finally said, wincing as Minseok lifted his cold fingers away from his ribs and placed them to the burned skin of his hip. “I didn’t know anyone lived in this house.”
“Surprise,” Minseok said wryly. “Is there anyone we should call? Family, friends?”
Jongdae shook his head. “No, I’m on my own.”
Minseok nodded. “Okay, that’s fine, we’ve got you. Myeon, will you get him some painkillers? Some of the strong stuff from when I broke my ribs? He’ll need it.”
Junmyeon left the room without another word, while Jongdae groaned in pain. “How bad is it this time?”
Minseok chewed at his bottom lip. “Here, I’ll help you sit up.” He warmed his hands to room temperature and shuffled around Jongdae, placing one hand behind his neck and the other under his mostly uninjured right side to help lift him up and back so that he was leaning against the arm of the couch instead of fully reclined on the cushions.
Jongdae closed his eyes and took a deep breath before opening them and looking down at his bare torso. “Oh fuck,” he breathed shakily. “Ow.”
Minseok chuckled. “You’re lucky these aren’t worse, honestly.”
“I wasn’t sure which one you wanted,” Junmyeon said, walking back into the sun room, “so I grabbed everything we had.” He dropped a few bottles of pills on the floor by Minseok’s knees. “Feeling better, Jongdae?” he asked, smiling at Jongdae as he knelt by Minseok.
Jongdae grimaced. “My whole body hurts like hell and I feel like my internal organs have been rearranged.”
Minseok frowned, running through his internal catalogue of medical knowledge to figure out what he should check for. “Myeon, will you see if he’s got blood going anywhere it shouldn’t? Moving liquid is more your specialty than mine. You’re looking for excessive blood flow in the brain, heart, lungs or abdomen.”
“Are you a doctor?” Jongdae asked Minseok, as Junmyeon gently laid his hands on Jongdae’s torso, avoiding the burns as best he could, a small furrow appearing between his eyebrows as he concentrated.
“Physician’s assistant,” Minseok replied. “So yes, but also no.”
Junmyeon rolled his eyes. “He’s being modest. He’s smart enough to be a doctor but didn’t want to deal with the extra years of school. He’s as good as one, either way.” He lifted his hands off Jongdae’s body and turned to address Minseok. “He’s not bleeding anywhere he isn’t supposed to be.”
Minseok nodded in satisfaction. Looking at the pills Junmyeon had gathered and finding the bottle he wanted, he dumped out two and handed them to Jongdae. “Take these, they’ll help with your pain.” Junmyeon helpfully pulled some water from one of the buckets and formed it into an orb that hovered in front of Jongdae’s mouth.
“This is so weird,” Jongdae muttered, tossing the pills into his mouth and swallowing before opening his mouth again to let Junmyeon guide the water into his mouth. “Ugh,” he shuddered, “weird.”
“We should probably get you into a bed and let you sleep,” Minseok suggested. “Do you think you can walk or do you want me to carry you?”
“Nah, I’ve got this,” Jongdae said, waving off Minseok’s help. He slowly stood from the couch and took a step, only for his legs to give out from under him.
Minseok got an arm around him before he went down completely, making Jongdae hiss in pain as the arm he slung around Jongdae’s waist agitated his injuries. “Junmyeon, what room should we put him in?” Junmyeon knew which rooms in the house were ready for occupants better than Minseok did, since he was the one renovating everything.
Junmyeon came up to Jongdae’s other side, slipping his arm around Jongdae’s waist and helping Minseok support his weight. “The only rooms that are ready besides ours are on the second floor.”
Minseok huffed in frustration. “I don’t like the idea of him being so far away from us while he sleeps and stairs are going to be difficult for him right now.” He tilted his head thoughtfully. “How do you feel about him sleeping in our room tonight?”
Jongdae sighed. “I really don’t want to deal with stairs right now. I guess I’ll take your room, if that’s okay.”
“I’d say we could all share our room, but Junmyeon is a cuddler,” Minseok supplied.
Jongdae made a sort of whimpering sound in the back of his throat. “Yeah...no, thanks. As tempting as that is,” he said sarcastically, “I’ll pass.”
Together they moved into the bedroom—also done in varying shades of blue, although lighter than the parlor—and got Jongdae settled in the bed.
Junmyeon disappeared in the direction of the bathroom.
“The pain meds should be kicking in soon, do you need anything else?” Minseok asked.
“Do you want to change into these?” Junmyeon asked before Jongdae could answer Minseok, sweats and a t-shirt in his hands. “These are Minseok’s so they should fit you; you’re about the same size.”
Jongdae sighed. “Yes, please.”
It only took watching Jongdae struggle to sit up on his own for a second before Minseok and Junmyeon were helping him out of his slightly charred clothes and into the clean ones Junmyeon had brought.
“Better?” Junmyeon asked as Jongdae relaxed back against the pillows with a sigh.
“Much.” He looked at both of them intently. “Thank you for saving me.”
“Of course, we were happy to.” Junmyeon brushed his fingers across Jongdae’s forehead as he spoke, and Minseok watched as Jongdae’s eyes fluttered and he slipped into deep sleep.
“You put him under?”
Junmyeon nodded. “Just helped him sleep faster. He was already well on his way.” He tangled his fingers with Minseok’s, tugging him toward the parlor. “Let’s go back to sleep, yeah?”
Minseok swayed, his exhaustion suddenly hitting him now that the danger was over and Jongdae was sleeping peacefully. He turned off the lights in the bedroom as he followed Junmyeon into the parlor.”Yeah, let’s.” He wouldn’t be surprised if Junmyeon was using the physical contact to coax more melatonin into his system, but he was too weary from his long day and the events of tonight to care.
He allowed Junmyeon to bundle him up into blankets, catching the parlor lights before joining him and curling around him, pulling Minseok flush to him on the settee. “Sleep, love,” he whispered, placing a soft kiss to the skin below Minseok’s ear.
Minseok slipped into sleep, warm and safe.
Minseok woke with electricity zipping under his skin and his hair standing on end. He startled, jolting in Junmyeon’s arms and snapping his eyes open to see Jongdae standing over them, his hand on Minseok’s shoulder.
It explained the electricity, at least.
“Jongdae,” he said, reaching up to pat at the uninjured side of Jongdae’s face. “What do you need?”
Jongdae whined in the back of his throat. “I’m hungry.”
“You’re zapping me.”
As soon as Jongdae registered his words, the current humming under his skin stopped. “Sorry,” Jongdae said sheepishly. “I’m usually alone so I don’t have to worry about things like this.”
“Why are you two talking this early,” Junmyeon groaned into Minseok’s neck, shifting behind him to press closer to his back. “Go back to sleep.”
Minseok could use a few more hours, and he felt his eyes drifting shut again with the warmth of Junmyeon lulling him back to sleep when Jongdae whined softly, “But I’m hungry.”
Junmyeon grumbled something into the skin of Minseok’s neck that sounded a lot like, “munfkn whiny-ass man lemme sleep,” but sat up anyway. He leaned over to place a soft, gentle kiss to Minseok’s lips, lingering far longer than was probably appropriate when there was a near-stranger watching them but Minseok was too pliant to resist the pull of Junmyeon.
“I’m right here,” Jongdae groaned, covering his eyes with his hands.
“You’re making us get up to make you food,” Junmyeon pointed out, “you can deal with me kissing my boyfriend good morning.”
Minseok chuckled dryly, gently pushing Junmyeon off him so he could sit up and stretch his limbs awake. “Come on, I don’t have to be to work until tonight and I don’t want to spend all day sleeping anyway.”
Junmyeon smirked. “Are you sure I can’t persuade you to stay in bed with me?”
“I’m still here, guys,” Jongdae huffed, dropping his hands to glare at them. “Are you two normally this gross, or is this just for my benefit?”
“He’s always like this,” Minseok replied. He leaned over and kissed Junmyeon briefly while he was hovering over him standing up.
“Judas,” Jongdae moaned, while Junmyeon winked at Minseok as he walked toward their room to head for the bathroom.
Once he was done in the bathroom, Minseok walked over to the sink to wash his hands and glanced up at himself in the mirror, except.
He looked back at the mirror and yelled, “Junmyeon?!”
“There’s a boy in the mirror,” Minseok shouted, trying not to panic.
“What?” came two voices shouting in tandem, followed by the sound of footsteps.
Minseok didn’t take his eyes off the boy in the mirror, who was waving at him cheerily. The boy opened his mouth and said, “Hi, I’m Baekhyun!” at the same moment Junmyeon and Jongdae walked into the room.
“Holy shit,” Jongdae said. “How in the hell is there a person in your mirror?”
The boy—Baekhyun—pouted at them. “I can hear what you’re saying. And to answer your question, scarred man, I’m scrying you.” He squinted at Jongdae, his face getting larger as he leaned forward to peer closer. “That looks like it hurt. What’d you do, walk into an electric fence?”
Jongdae made a choked sound.
“I’m sorry, you’re what?” Junmyeon asked, squinting at Baekhyun like he was crazy, and maybe he was.
Baekhyun looked momentarily surprised. “Oh! You can all hear me this time! I must be getting better.” He beamed happily for a moment at their stunned expressions, then said, “I’m Scrying. You know,” he waved his hands around his head, “trying to find people like me.”
“People like you?” Minseok felt like he was two steps behind what was happening. If this kid was looking for people like him, people like Minseok, then maybe he and Junmyeon weren’t as alone as they thought they were.
Baekhyun held up his hands and Minseok flinched back before he realized that Baekhyun was beginning to shine. Pools of light gathered and collected in his palms, pure and bright. “I’ve got powers, and I bet you do too.”
“Where are you,” Junmyeon asked, expression intense. “Are you safe?”
Baekhyun nodded. “I’m safe. I’m in my dorm at Seoul University.”
“You’re scrying in your dorm?” Junmyeon hissed, fisting his hands in his dark blue hair. “What if somebody walked in on you?”
“Relax,” Baekhyun said, waving away Junmyeon’s worries in a way that bespoke the casual carelessness of youth. “I’m perfectly safe.”
Minseok and Junmyeon traded a look. They both knew that Baekhyun wasn’t nearly as safe as he thought he was—but they’d clearly had a different experience than Baekhyun had and a far more dangerous one at that. It took a second, maybe two, for Minseok and Junmyeon to reach a silent agreement. After so many years together it came easily, knowing what the other was thinking.
“You need to come here, as soon as you can,” Junmyeon instructed. “We need to meet you, tell you what we know and what to avoid.”
Baekhyun’s mouth dropped open in surprise. “But…I have classes?”
“Skip them,” Jongdae said, moving closer to Junmyeon and Minseok so that Baekhyun could see him in the mirror. “You should get here as soon as you can.”
“But, I was going to use the upcoming term break to find the guys in China.”
“Baekhyun,” Minseok began softly, “are you saying you’ve contacted others besides us?”
Baekhyun nodded happily. “Yeah! They’re in China and I think they’re alone, so I was going to go and meet them.”
Minseok felt his hair frost over in terror. China was the last place Baekhyun should go, but telling him why might not be in their best interest right now.
“Come here first,” Junmyeon reasoned, “and once we explain things and figure some stuff out we will help you find the guys in China.”
Baekhyun chewed his lip in thought. “Fine, where are you guys?”
Junmyeon gave him their address, making sure he wrote it down before letting Baekhyun go.
“Oh, and Baekhyun,” Minseok called, and Baekhyun’s rippling form solidified once more. “Don’t scry anyone else until we can talk to you, please.”
Baekhyun narrowed his eyes but nodded anyway. He looked a bit drained—probably from the effort of scrying them for so long—and his image rippled until all they saw in the mirror were their own pale faces.
“What the fuck,” Jongdae whispered, looking like he might faint.
Minseok couldn’t help but agree.
“Okay, but what if he does get us killed?”
Yixing sighed and rolled over to find a nervous Yifan standing by his bed. “He’s Korean, who is he going to tell?” He tried to wake up faster. Yifan shaking him awake when he was upset or nervous wasn’t uncommon, but usually it happened at a more reasonable time of the morning. “Yifan it’s like,” he glanced at his phone, “five in the morning. I have to work today, can you let me sleep?”
Yifan grimaced. “My father isn’t even in China right now and yet his men still nearly managed to catch us. I’m too freaked out to sleep.”
Oh, it made sense now. In the few days since Baekhyun had appeared in their bathroom mirror Yifan had been getting progressively more uptight. Yixing hadn’t thought much of it until this moment, but he should have realized sooner.
“He doesn’t know where we are Yifan, we’re still safe.”
“But there was that brush with his men a few months ago. He knows we’re in this city.”
Yixing sighed. “We chose Shanghai for this reason. Even if he knows we’re here, there’s so many people he’ll never be able to narrow it down. Besides,” he said softly, “we should at least wait a month or so and see if Baekhyun finds us. I don’t want him to run into anyone from your dad’s company.”
Yifan blanched. “We shouldn’t have given him our address.” He sat down on the edge of Yixing’s bed. “What if we get him killed. Yixing, he probably has no idea! He’s just a kid.”
“Slow down,” Yixing said, sitting up and running a soothing hand up and down Yifan’s back. “It’s going to be fine. He doesn’t even speak the language, so I doubt he would come here alone.”
“Then we’ll have gotten several people killed.” He was panting now, his breathing coming in short gasps and his hands clenching in the fabric of his favorite sleep shorts as he stared blankly at the floor.
Yixing huffed in frustration and pulled Yifan’s face around to look him in the eye. “Breathe, Yifan, it’s going to be okay. Calm down. We’ll do what we always do.” He waited until Yifan had calmed somewhat before continuing. “We stay vigilant, under the radar as much as possible, and we keep an eye out for a lost-looking Korean kid and hope that he makes it here in one piece.”
“But my father—”
“There’s no point in worrying about that until we know that something is going to happen. Where would we start?” He ran a hand through Yifan’s hair—it was brown this month and getting long; they’ll have to get new haircuts and colors—trying to soothe him. “We have no way of contacting Baekhyun, so we have to wait and watch.”
“I hate this.”
Yixing pulled him closer, wrapping Yifan up in his arms. “I know. We’ll be okay, Yifan.”
Yifan wrapped his arms around Yixing’s waist, burying his face in his shoulder as slow tremors shook his large frame. Yixing wanted to take this pain away from Yifan, remove the heartbreak and betrayal so he could be whole again, but Yixing could only heal physical pain.
“So, how much do the two of you know about people like us?” Jongdae asked over the breakfast Junmyeon had made. He was looking much better this morning. The lines branching over his skin weren’t as red or vivid, the burns slightly less angry looking, and Jongdae hadn’t cried when he saw himself in the mirror earlier, which Minseok considered progress.
They’d been eating in silence so far, each of them too lost in their own thoughts after their conversation with Baekhyun to talk much.
Minseok and Junmyeon traded a glance.
“Quit doing that,” Jongdae groused, “I’m right here, geez.”
“We know that people like us have disappeared in the past without a trace, never to be found again,” Junmyeon said slowly.
“We also know,” Minseok continued, “that in China people like us are actively hunted. They’re in far more danger than we are here.”
“At least in Korea they don’t come for you unless you cause problems or draw attention to yourself,” Jongdae agreed, chewing slowly. “It’s not a coincidence that the two of you live out here, is it?”
“No,” Minseok answered, “it isn’t. Junmyeon inherited this house from his great-aunt, which was a blessing. Out here we don’t have to worry about someone accidently seeing us doing something unexplainable. The nearest town is like, fifteen minutes away by car, so—”
“You’re safe.” Jongdae smiled. “I get it. Oh, and before you ask, I was storm chasing.”
“That’s why you found me in your backyard. I was following storms to help increase my control and was lucky enough to be found by the two of you.”
Minseok chewed a mouthful of food before speaking again. “Where did you come from? We’re really far outside of Seoul.”
Junmyeon looked at Jongdae carefully.
“I’m from around Seongnam but live in Seoul.”
Minseok raised an eyebrow. Their house was in a forested area between Gwangju and Seongnam and not the easiest to find. It would be a miracle if Baekhyun didn’t somehow get lost on his way to them. “You are lucky we found you.”
Jongdae nodded and continued eating. “Hope the kid is safe. He can’t be very old.”
Junmyeon eyed him skeptically. “You don’t look that old yourself.”
Minseok tried not to laugh at Jongdae’s indignant tone. “Like he said, not very old.”
“Yeah, well, you don’t look much older than fifteen, chipmunk.”
Minseok froze Jongdae’s jjigae. “I’m twenty-eight, you punk.”
“And I’m twenty-seven,” Junmyeon supplied. “Be nice to your hyungs.”
Jongdae rolled his eyes before glaring at Minseok until he thawed his jjigae.
“For someone who is imposing on our hospitality, you sure have a lot of sass,” Junmyeon muttered.
“Oh please,” Jongdae griped. “You love having me here.”
Minseok opened his mouth to argue before he realized he couldn’t. There was something about Jongdae that made it seem like they’d been friends for years. Junmyeon’s hand found his knee under the table, squeezing gently to get his attention.
Minseok looked at him, and they came to a silent agreement.
“You’re right,” Junmyeon said.
“Of course I’m—wait, what?”
“We do like having you here. You can stay, in fact you probably should until your injuries heal. Do you have a job?”
“Uh, well, kinda?” Jongdae pushed the remains of his jjigae around his bowl. “I work at a convenience store.”
“Do you need to keep going?” Minseok asked. “You can carpool with me into the city, but you’ll probably have to adjust your schedule to mine, and I tend to work long hours at the hospital.”
“If you don’t want to work,” Junmyeon supplied helpfully, “you can stay home with me and help with renovations when you feel better.”
Jongdae thought about it for a moment. “Nah,” he said finally. “I hated that job anyway. I’ll stay here with you guys. Can you teach me how to control my power?”
“Uh,” Minseok blinked in surprise, “I could try.”
Jongdae nodded happily. “Cool. I’m excited! It’s gonna be just like summer camp!”
Junmyeon and Minseok looked at each other before groaning in unison. “We’re too young to have kids, dear,” Junmyeon said with a straight face.
Minseok fought the way his mouth twitched up in a smile. “Good thing we got a puppy instead.”
They both bolted from the table as Jongdae threatened to ‘zap those smug smiles off your faces’. Minseok couldn’t remember the last time he laughed so carelessly.
The door to their room opening woke Zitao from his light sleep. He was a light sleeper now that he was locked up in this place. He didn’t want to risk someone injecting him with something while he was asleep.
Zitao relaxed back against his pillow. It was just one of the nurses. “Yeah?” he mumbled as Luhan stirred awake. It was early still, and even though Zitao didn’t have a clock, when he was lucid he always knew what time it was.
“Time for your meds,” the nurse said, moving further into their room, the door remaining open enticingly behind him. “Mind if I turn on the lights?” he asked softly, conscious of their still sleepy states.
“S’fine,” Luhan yawned, sitting up with a stretch.
They were both used to this routine—being woken up first thing in the morning by one of the nurses, taking their meds, and then going back to sleep if they wanted—but it didn’t make waking up any easier.
The nurse flicked on the lights, and once Zitao’s vision cleared he saw that this morning it was his favorite nurse, the soft-spoken and gentle one. Of all the people in this place, Zitao liked him best.
“Who are you?” Luhan asked, blinking warily at the nurse.
Zitao quirked his head in curiosity. This nurse has worked here for a year or so—not as long as Zitao had been here but a while—it seemed weird that Luhan didn’t know who he was.
The nurse smiled, noting Zitao’s confusion. “Ah, I’ve been taking the evening shifts for a while and haven’t seen you since you came here, Luhan, we haven’t met yet.” He set their tray of meds down on the small table between their beds.
“My name is Yixing.”