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say a little grace

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Being a vampire is nothing more than a nuisance to Doyoung.

Correction, being a half-vampire, because there was a definite difference between the two. Had his father done the expected thing of a young, strapping bloodsucker and not fallen in love with a human woman, life might have turned out easier for Doyoung. He has the bloodlust regardless—along with the aversion to garlic, crucifixes, and holy water—but none of the extended life. The approximate lifetime, about double of that of a human, is supposedly preserved in the matrilineage.

How very fucking convenient for Doyoung’s father to bequeath him with all of the aspects of a vampire into his frail human body, panicking when he realized that he was going to outlive his wife and child, and taking off before Doyoung could learn to walk.

His mother did the best she could in raising a little fang-toothed kid, her job as a nurse allowing her to sneak home baggies of donated blood from the hospital and sticking straws into them like they were juice pouches. Sating his cravings was a problem she could handle, but Doyoung couldn’t bring himself to bemoan the loneliness of elementary school.

Another part of his inheritance involved his sensitivity to the sun, and no amount of sunblock could prevent him from burning up immediately and collapsing in fatigue when exposed. That meant long sleeves in the summertime, staying under the shadow of the tall trees during recess, and no one wanting to keep Doyoung company when they could be playing soccer or hopscotch instead.

The solitude was bearable, but it was interrupted by Ten’s arrival. His sudden move from Bangkok meant that he spoke little of the language, and was similarly shafted by classmates who didn’t care to be welcoming. The first few days he sat in silence next to Doyoung in the shade, fidgeting and looking towards him to beg him to speak first, but Doyoung refused. He wasn’t one to initiate interaction. He was content spending recess reading his book and ignoring the nagging desire to sink his teeth into a fellow fourth grader. It was a pest of an urge, and even knowing his half-vampire nature wouldn’t be able to turn anyone, he still felt sick thinking of it.

Ten finally gave in, and said hello first. Doyoung was unsociable, but not impolite, so he said hello back. In a sentence of broken words and flailing gestures, Ten asked what Doyoung was reading, and asked if he would read it aloud. Doyoung agreed, albeit with some reluctance. It had taken him years to admit it to himself, but he could have really used a friend.

They passed their time that way, Doyoung reading to Ten and Ten eventually going on to read things back. However, the odd time that Ten tugged Doyoung towards the soccer field to join the others, the latter’s fervid refusal always struck him as odd. He never seemed to mind playing when Ten came over for dinner, kicking the ball around like he’d done it a million times before under the glow of the streetlights.

It didn’t all click until ninth grade, when Doyoung and Ten had their first beers in the latter’s basement during a sleepover. Doyoung opened his mouth wide and displayed the slope of two of his front teeth, how they curved into a sharp point meant to pierce through the skin of a neck. Ten asked if he could see how it felt. Doyoung had never had a willing participant, and being curious himself, he did it.

From then on Doyoung rejected his morning blood pouch, blaming the lowered appetite on puberty and waiting out until his and Ten’s shared lunch period to feed from him in the boys’ bathroom. Any student who happened to walk in chalked it up to regular teenage antics. Overzealous hickey giving wasn’t really foreign to high school students.

This arrangement of theirs wasn’t spoken of often, as frequently as it occurred. Doyoung sometimes wondered whether Ten did this as some sort of repayment for his friendship, an incessant sentiment of insecurity about the one person who knew more about him than anyone else. He couldn’t help this fear of abandonment, only ever exacerbated by his absentee father and the mother whose gaze grew afraid whenever Doyoung was upset. Ten was his only friend in the world, and he couldn’t bear to think of him leaving.

Doyoung’s horror was almost realized a few weeks prior to their graduation, when he couldn’t stop himself. The latent instincts to take and take and take overpowered his rational thought, and he didn’t know how to stop until Ten dropped to the floor, body pale and leaden. Doyoung couldn’t stop his hands from shaking the entire way to the hospital, and even then he couldn’t even begin to explain what had happened. When Ten opened his eyes the next day, weakly smiling, Doyoung had never felt so helpless in his life.

It took months for Doyoung to accept Ten’s forgiveness, and even longer for him to forgive himself. Yet another trait he had inherited from his father, this craving for more that couldn’t be fixed. The next time Ten offered himself when he noticed Doyoung growing antsy, he adamantly refused. He would never endanger his friend that way again. He couldn’t be the reason why he lost someone he loved.

Being a vampire is more than a nuisance to Doyoung, it’s a curse.

 

Perhaps it should have been expected that Doyoung’s tutorial for Introduction to Environmental Studies would have low attendance, considering it was the only section that ran in the evening from eight to nine. The few who did show up tried their best not to fall asleep during the hour, bless their hearts, but Doyoung couldn’t blame them for being so tired.

It wasn’t ideal for him to have so sparse a class, but Doyoung needed the experience for his grad school requirements and he couldn’t teach a class in the daytime. Had his request for a classroom without windows been fulfilled, he would have gladly taught at a more reasonable time. Alas, there was no such luck in the world, and he found himself in a class with no more than twelve students struggling to pay attention while he attempted to lead a discussion on the ecological ramifications of crop chemicals that bled into the fjords of Newfoundland.

Jeno, at least, contributed as much as he could over the course of the hour, even gently nudging his buddies awake when something important was being gone over. They all snapped out of it and drifted back into a half-slumber several times throughout the hour. When Donghyuck started snoring at the midway point Jeno gave Doyoung the most apologetic of smiles. He didn’t have the heart to be mad at any of them when Jeno was involved. That child is an angel.

“Alright, we’re at the hour, so you’re free to go,” Doyoung says, and the students all come to life for the first time since they entered the classroom, zipping their backpacks closed at record speed and rushing out. It actually makes him chuckle, how quickly they break out of their lethargy to leave, reminding Doyoung of when he would rush out of the darkest corner of his lecture halls to sprint to his next class along the shadowy side of the sidewalk.

“Doyoung?” a voice pipes up, mildly startling him as he took his time packing away his things. He lifts his head and sees Renjun, one of the torpid quartet. “I had some questions about the last assignment but I have class during your office hours. Could I meet with you a different time?”

“Sure. Email me with what’s some convenient times and I’ll get back to you,” Doyoung says. “Just make sure it’s after six.”

“How come?” Renjun asks.

“I’m allergic to the sun,” Doyoung deadpans, joining in on Renjun’s good-natured laughter. At least someone found it funny.

 

When Doyoung arrives home, he expects his roommate to still be out, having been pulling especially late hours at the library recently with how rapidly some deadlines are approaching. To his surprise, Doyoung hears a pleasant humming coming from the kitchen, coupled with the scent of butter and rosemary.

“Hey,” Jungwoo says as he strides out of the kitchen. “Are you hungry? I’m just making dinner and I have more than enough.”

“Yeah, if it’s no trouble. It smells great,” Doyoung comments, setting down his bag by the coat closet.

Jungwoo returns with a steaming plate of roasted potatoes and cutlery, placing it on the table set up on the side of the living room and going back to the kitchen as the microwave beeps. “I went overboard with the carbs again,” Jungwoo says as he puts down a warmed up portion of the mushroom quiche he had brought home the night before. “It’ll be good to have a hand in finishing it all.”

“Sometimes I swear you’re just trying to fatten me up,” Doyoung laughs, which Jungwoo returns with a quip of his own.

“I need to stuff you up before I devour you,” he replies, and although the laughter continues, Doyoung’s become more nervous as a result of Jungwoo’s wording. It wasn’t exactly the most agreeable of jokes for someone like him.

He would never dare to make Jungwoo feel as though he did something wrong, even unintentionally. It was one of the most fortunate instances for Doyoung to have met such a compatible roommate after his previous co-tenant moved out. Jungwoo was clean, polite, and made the best vegetarian meals Doyoung ever had. He largely avoided meat growing up, a raw steak being enough to set off his most primal urges, and therefore needed a roommate who had a similar diet. When Jungwoo, just starting grad school himself, showed up at Doyoung’s doorstep, he was sure they’d get along fine.

“How’s the writing going?” Doyoung asks, clearing his throat during the abrupt change of subject. With a plate set in front of him, he helps himself to generous portions of food, not having realized his hunger until just now.

“As well as it can be, I guess,” Jungwoo hums, stabbing his fork into a quartered red potato. “My advisor’s being kind of a hardass, but I can’t blame him. He’s almost as much of a perfectionist as you.”

Doyoung scoffs in mock offence, affronted at the assertion. “I’m not that bad! I’m just very…particular about how things get done,” he says, conviction faltering as the words leave his mouth.

“You’re right. It’s a different kind of perfectionism. You’re picky about method. My advisor just can’t stand anything being out of place,” Jungwoo says with a smile. “I think he just needs to let loose a little, not that I could ever see him doing it.” He pauses. “You too, you could use a night out.”

Doyoung laughs at the prospect. “I’m not sure. I think you’re more likely to see your advisor wilding out than me anytime soon,” he remarks.

“Probably,” Jungwoo grins. “But you need to take a break one of these days.”

“You too,” Doyoung says. “All you’ve been doing lately is writing.”

“And editing,” Jungwoo tacks on. “But it’s fun even when it’s stressful.”

“What’s your thesis on again?” Doyoung asks. “I don’t think you’ve ever told me.”

“Cohesion of logic in vampiric literature,” Jungwoo responds. “Basically figuring out how vampires work.”

It takes a moment for Doyoung to compose himself before nodding along as though nothing at all is the matter.

 

“I’m so fucking screwed,” Doyoung groans into the arm of Ten’s sofa, careful not to widen his mouth enough to avoid ripping two thin little marks into the fabric like he had done before. “I’m gonna die of thirst.”

Ten pats Doyoung’s back half-heartedly, scrolling through Netflix with his free hand until Doyoung lets out another long disgruntled sigh. “I’m always offering, dude,” Ten reminds him, and Doyoung lifts his head to shake it from side to side as quickly as possible.

“First off, no, I’m never feeding from you again. You know that,” Doyoung says, very seriously. “And also I bet your blood and nut taste like jet fuel because of how vitamin deficient you are. Eat a fruit.”

Ten snorts. “Johnny never seems to mind,” he sings, and Doyoung pulls a disgusted expression. “By the way, he’s coming over in a little bit so I’m gonna need you to skedaddle.”

“After all we’ve been through, you’re going to kick me out for a dick appointment?” Doyoung asks, appalled.

“Yes,” Ten says easily. “It’s Friday night. Can’t you go out and do something? Take your academic ass out to a bar with your twinky roommate?”

“Jungwoo and I get along but we’re not really friends,” Doyoung sighs. “Get this—last night he told me that his thesis is about vampires.”

Ten looks at Doyoung for a prolonged moment, waiting for him to follow up with a comment of sarcasm but when it never comes, he bursts into laughter. “That’s fucking rich, oh my god,” Ten says, close to tears at the absurd coincidence. “Looks like you have something to talk about then! He can get a first-hand account from you.”

“Shut up,” Doyoung says through gritted teeth. “I’m stressed enough as it is. It’s been what—a month and a half since the last time? I’m so on edge. I’m gonna end up biting the next squirrel I see.”

“Ugh, gross,” Ten says with a grimace. “Go out tonight. I know you detest doing it, but you need to. Just don’t go overboard and you’ll be fine.”

Doyoung sighs. He hates when Ten is right.

 

The lights of the bar are already dim when he enters, the establishment trying its best to contrive an alluring ambience that its patrons saw past as soon as they walked through its doors. It isn’t exactly a high-end establishment, but it’s just expensive enough to weed out the local university students who were just trying to get smashed. Doyoung is more of a sit and sip kind of guy.

So is the guy across the counter, evidently. Both of them have been nursing their respective drinks and tossing glances to each other for half an hour now. It seems they’re both plagued with the inability to approach. Doyoung isn’t sure what the other man’s deal is, but Doyoung’s struggled with hurting himself and everyone he cares about since he was young, so he thinks he shouldn’t be the one to have to suck it up and say something. He does though, with some resentment, picking up his drink and walking five stools down.

Upon closer inspection, the man is much more handsome than Doyoung originally perceived him to be. He thought the vodka goggles had something to do with it when he was further away, but no, this guy is just an unreasonable sort of attractive. His sharp jawline and high cheekbones seem to be at an almost disparity with the softness of his expression and upturned lips. Needless to say, Doyoung is smitten.

They exchange smiles and greetings. Doyoung offers to buy him another drink, and he agrees, on the condition that he gets to buy one for Doyoung. It’s a fair trade-off. The stranger’s name is Taeyong. He’s a grad student, like Doyoung, but wrinkles his nose at the mention of environmental studies.

“It’s a little too concrete for me. I like things that are more…malleable,” Taeyong drawls, and when Doyoung watches his mouth curve around the word, sees how his tongue peeks through his teeth for an instant, he throws all of his original convictions away. It wasn’t his plan to have met such a gorgeous person tonight but he certainly didn’t mind.

The enchantment has to do with more than his appearance, it’s also how Taeyong speaks as though he cherishes each word, spoken not without its poise despite his early state of inebriation. Neither of them are little more than tipsy, Doyoung assumes. It’s a good place to be, anything beyond that and he would worry about his self-control. (And any more sober he would feel the immediate guilt.)

“Do you want to get out of here?” Doyoung asks, ears turning red at having unintentionally interrupted Taeyong’s half-finished thought. Impatience isn’t at all one of his shortcomings, but he can’t hold back for much longer. His cravings are reaching a dangerous breaking point, only exacerbated by his concurrent captivation with Taeyong.

Taeyong, to Doyoung’s relief, smiles in return and picks up his phone. “I live alone,” he says. “Shall I call a cab?”

 

It’s almost embarrassing how needy Doyoung is, how hastily he undresses Taeyong and spreads him out on his bed, acting with far more familiarity than someone as a newcomer to his home should. However, Taeyong seems not to mind the roughness. He revels in it, actually, noises of approval rumbling through his voice anytime Doyoung is ungracious in his actions.

There’s an underlying strain of contrition that runs through Doyoung whenever he finds himself in such a situation, but he tries as much as he can to smother it. He can’t help himself, he thinks, this is to secure his own health and others’ safety.

It’s hard to continue thinking of it as an act of charity when he’s running his tongue along the protruding vein of Taeyong’s neck. The older man is writhing underneath him, practically crying for Doyoung to go harder, and he complies without complaint. It’s a moment of power that’s rare for him. He’s more often at the mercy of his uncontrollable nature. To be on the receiving end of vulnerability is intoxicating.

Taeyong is digging his nails into the backs of Doyoung’s shoulders, little whines escaping his lips until Doyoung shuts him up with an open-mouthed kiss. Neither of them are too bent on keeping up formalities at this point. Doyoung presses coaxing words into his jaw, tongue and teeth inadvertently leaving marks that are lighter than he would usually prefer.

The sound of mewls alongside breathy profanities are Taeyong’s incoherent attempts at desperate pleas. Although he’s yet to get what he truly wants himself, Doyoung’s happy to gratify Taeyong first. There’s so much he can’t articulate about how satisfying it feels to have some authority for once, even if it’s not over himself. This moment is extravagant for him, to watch Taeyong’s back bend as he’s swept up in the rhapsody of pleasure.

Doyoung follows shortly thereafter, the expression of ravishment crossing Taeyong’s face having tipped him into his own state of euphoria. Their bodies collapse in on each other, chests rising and falling as their breath is caught. Taeyong kisses Doyoung again, the slick feeling of the latter’s tongue brushing into his mouth one that leaves him dizzy and wanting more. There’s a swell of emotion that blooms in Doyoung’s chest just then. It’s not quite affection but it’s something close to it. The aftermath is nothing but tender, at least for now.

“Your hands are cold,” Taeyong comments passingly, taking them in his own with some curious fascination. His features remain stunning, even dimly illuminated by the pale streetlights peeking through the slats of his blinds. As Doyoung kisses along his jaw, he realizes something. If there’s such thing as a right time, it’s now.

There’s no hesitance in piercing Taeyong’s skin with the sharp dip of his teeth. Taeyong is in a state of stupor as it happens, as Doyoung’s come to expect, and in the meantime, he closes his eyes and drinks. The taste of his blood is rich and heavy on Doyoung’s tongue, and he engorges himself long enough to satiate just beyond his bare minimum appetite. No harm done.

When Doyoung releases Taeyong from the trance, he’s unaware of anything having happened. He’s brought right back into the heat of the moment prior, feeling only more lightheaded than usual. So he wouldn’t go for another round, at least not tonight. With how well their conversation had gone earlier and how well they their bodies fit together now, Taeyong is sure he wants to see Doyoung again.

Doyoung has no such intentions.

 

It’s just before daybreak when Doyoung manages to get back to his apartment. Leaving Taeyong’s home had been a greater challenge than he expected, the other man having wrapped his arms tight around Doyoung when he slept. After carefully peeling his limbs apart from Doyoung’s body, he tiptoed quietly around the room to retrieve his clothing before seeing himself out.

Being far from home when it’s light out is too compromising of a situation. Doyoung would hate to get caught in a sunbeam and be too weak to move out of it. Such an occurrence had happened once in his life when he slept over at Ten’s, and he barely had the strength to ask Ten to roll him into the dark side of the room and close the blinds. He would never test his limits, but he wonders if he’d just shrivel up and die if he stayed within light’s reach. How fitting.

He walks into the living room with a yawn, wanting nothing more than to crawl under his covers and sleep until noon. The less hours of daylight he faced the better. Surprising him curled up on the couch, however, is a gently snoring Jungwoo, hands folded into prayer position beneath his head like a kindergartener during nap time.

“Jungwoo?” Doyoung calls out, softly nudging the younger man awake. “What are you doing out here?”

Jungwoo’s eyelids only open halfway in response, widening slightly more upon recognition of his roommate. “Was waiting for you to come home,” he explains groggily. “Asked where you were and you never texted back.”

Doyoung frowns. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you’d be waiting up for me,” he says with a sigh. “Go to your own bed, please. Thank you for being so considerate.”

“Mmkay,” Jungwoo mumbles, clumsily getting onto his feet. With some assistance Doyoung tries to lead him into his room, opening the door and seeing it in its entirety for the first time. He had only been in the space a handful of times, the last time being when he had vacuumed the floor prior to Jungwoo moving in.

It was interesting to see what he had done with it, his belongings organized in every place they seemed to belong and all of his study materials stacked in a neat pile on his desk. There was also a plethora of plants lined up along his windowsill, and a small watering can sitting on the very end.

Doyoung lifts the floral-printed blanket for Jungwoo to climb into bed, and he feels himself smiling at the serene image of Jungwoo settling immediately into a comfortable position. “G’night,” Jungwoo murmurs, the blue light seeping through his thin curtains beginning to welcome in the dawn.

“Goodnight,” Doyoung responds, taking one last look at the premises before shutting the door closed.

 

“And how was your latest conquest?” Ten asks, enthusiasm unhidden by the grin with which he takes a long sip of his matcha milkshake. He, unsurprisingly, rejected Doyoung’s offer for a sip of his own strawberry one. The café wasn’t very occupied for this time of day, probably due in part to the gloomy weather outdoors. Doyoung loves it.

“Please don’t call it that,” Doyoung says, brows drawing together. It had been routine for a long while, even now that they were attending different schools, to find one time in the week to catch up. Not that either of them ever found it difficult to find time for each other. Doyoung would find it hard to admit what Ten would yell from the rooftops, but they couldn’t go without seeing each other for very long.

“Fine, how was your latest victim?” Ten rephrases, and despite disliking that even more, Doyoung doesn’t bother expressing the sentiment.

“It was fine. I ended up doing more than feeding,” Doyoung says, trying to ignore the positively delighted smile that crosses Ten’s face at the admission. “Too bad I’m never going to see him again. We got along really well.”

“What, you bite and don’t call back? How chauvinist of you,” Ten says, mockingly affronted.

“Shut up.” Doyoung tries not to smile at Ten’s words, an attempt that becomes futile when Ten maintains his ridiculously offended expression. “You know I can’t.”

“Listen, I know better than anyone that you don’t realize it’s happening. It doesn’t even hurt,” Ten says. “And unless you’re still making a mess of it like you did in high school there’ll barely be a mark.”

“I got a lot better at it, okay?” Doyoung admits, a rare flush rising in his neck. “It can’t be helped anyway. I left before the sun even went up.”

Ten laughs. “Sometimes I can’t believe that’s a real thing you have to do,” he says. “You having to stay out of the sun in case you catch on fire.”

“I don’t catch on fire, I burn,” Doyoung clarifies with a huff. “Anyway, when I got home it was around…five in the morning I want to say? And Jungwoo was asleep on the couch because he was waiting up for me.”

“He’s the sweetest,” Ten says, practically cooing. For all of the times Ten had come over to his and Jungwoo’s apartment, he had spent maybe 50% of the time, by the least generous of estimates, fawning over how adorable Doyoung’s roommate was to Jungwoo’s endless abashment. “Does he still cook for you?”

“Yeah, and I always feel guilty about it,” Doyoung says, hitting the end of his straw into the empty well of his glass. “He always says he just made too much but I just can’t believe someone’s ability to portion is that bad.”

“He could also be making up for that time he almost killed you,” Ten supplies with a snort.

“To be fair, I never told him about my garlic allergy,” Doyoung shrugs. “I had food poisoning for two days, and then I got over it.” For Jungwoo’s sake, Doyoung had minimized the incident in his mind. Those 48 hours had been an awful ordeal of fever and chest pains, but Jungwoo had apologized so much afterward that he couldn’t even feel angry.

“If you’re as normal as you say, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to track your one night stand down, you know.” The smile on Ten’s lips as he says so makes Doyoung realize he’s been trying to circle back to this topic all along. “It’s not like you can’t date.”

“I don’t want to date someone if I also want to feed from them.” Doyoung grimaces at the mere thought. It’d be some hedonistic version of combining church and state. “That’s so…messy.”

“Don’t those traits overlap a bit anyway?” Ten asks curiously. Doyoung hesitates, but nods, which seems to encourage his friend to lead into his argument.

“Unless you want to be lonely forever you’re going to have to tell more people than me,” Ten points out, knowing full well that Doyoung is aware of this fact. “I know it’s on a need-to-know basis but still, someone’s going to need to know.”

“I’m content as I am,” Doyoung insists.

Ten hums, “If you say so.”

 

Life’s so much better after a recent feed. His mood is more buoyant, his skin more luminous, his constant lack of sleep more tolerable. Doyoung wishes he had the option of replenishing himself in such a way on the daily. Alas, he has to remain vigilant about not getting too caught up in the feeling, as pleasurable and satisfying and fulfilling as it was. He needs to focus on the human side of his existence—what he considers to be the whole of his life, that is—if he wants to do anything with his comparably short lifespan.

Right now, school and work related to school remain his priorities. There are papers to be written and first year assignments to be marked. TA duties had to be carried out and his thesis needed to be worked on. No time for dating or feelings or thinking about when his next feed would be along with all that, no matter how much his hands may shake when he thinks about how good it feels to have the heavy taste of blood on his tongue. Academic responsibilities are his top and only priorities. He’s a man of well-established duties.

For this very reason he’s on campus for a little longer than usual, keeping his promise to Renjun and speaking to him once he’s finished classes for the evening. It doesn’t take long—Renjun’s probably one of the brightest students in his tutorial, despite his habit of snoozing during it, and just needs additional clarification on the comments left on his previous assignment.

Once Renjun’s thanked Doyoung with a smile and leaves the office, Doyoung stretches his arms over his head and yawns. The weather’s been downcast lately, and while that would delight him, it doesn’t prevent the fatigue caused by his recent lack of sleep. It would continue for at least a few more days, which means he’ll need a coffee before he heads back home. He needs to stay up late again, but he’s always preferred working in the nighttime anyhow.

The student coffee shop on the first floor of the building is closed by the time he descends down the elevator, so he opts to walk to the Starbucks a block over. This one is hidden in the crevice between some of the lecture halls used more often for humanities courses. Doyoung only knows about it because Jaemin occasionally arrives late to tutorial with an iced coffee in hand, which Doyoung said he would only forgive if he was given the location of this elusive branch.

He’s in line to order, still debating whether it was worth getting something fancier than a regular coffee when someone clears their throat behind him. Realizing that he must be in their way, he steps aside, when the person says something that sounds like a hello.

Doyoung turns his head and meets eyes with Taeyong, who’s dressed less casually than when they first met but has the same piercing gaze. Fuck. Suddenly Doyoung remembers the part of their conversation where Taeyong said he was a grad student too—not that he recalled whether he mentioned at what school. It must not have come up. Doyoung had been too fixated on the way his lips curved around every word.

It’s not often that he does this, but Doyoung begins to stutter. Taeyong just smiles.

“I’m not going to bite,” he says jovially, and Doyoung can only laugh nervously in return.

“I’m sorry I left—“ Doyoung begins to say, thinking of some lame excuse in his mind about having had some ridiculously early dentist appointment when Taeyong cuts him off with a wave of a hand.

“It’s fine,” Taeyong says. He genuinely doesn’t seem offended about the whole situation, and it makes Doyoung exhale away his tension. Admittedly, he still feels bad for leaving without saying anything, but it’s never been part of his whole routine, if it wasn’t such a crass way to describe it. Rarely did he even get so far in the process.

“I’m still sorry,” Doyoung settles on saying, and Taeyong shrugs, the sentiment breezier than it was dismissive. “I don’t want it to seem as though sleeping with you was my only intention.” It wasn’t a complete lie; his only intention was a different kind of physical satiation.

“I’m really okay. I was only disappointed because I thought we got along pretty well,” Taeyong says. “Can I buy you your coffee? Repay you for the drink?”

“I thought so too,” Doyoung agrees, thinking back on what he had talked about with Ten. Maybe he could use an active change. “Would you let me do you one better and take you out for dinner?”

Taeyong looks pleasantly surprised. He says yes.

 

Jungwoo’s home again when Doyoung arrives with a coffee in hand and a smile on his face. The smile’s returned, as it always is. It’s been a more frequent occasion to have Jungwoo at the apartment rather than the library by the time Doyoung gets home.

Initially when they had just moved in and were virtual strangers, three degrees of separation apart through friends, Doyoung preferred the absence. As of late, ever since they had crossed the line into genuine friendship and not just necessary amiability, Doyoung almost missed the sounds of humming from the kitchen or the light footsteps outside his door.

“I’m finally feeling less like a zombie now,” Jungwoo says, holding up a peace sign to the side of his face from his spot on the couch. An important assignment of his was just handed in the day prior—he must be taking it easy for the night. Looking to Doyoung’s large paper cup, he asks, “Late night?”

“That’s good. When I was where you were in my first year I was already far past zombie,” Doyoung says with a laugh. “I’ve got to finish an annotated bibliography.”

Jungwoo makes a fake gagging sound upon hearing the words “annotated bibliography”, and Doyoung can sincerely relate. “I’m probably going to get back to reading soon,” Jungwoo says, patting the novel on the armrest next to him. “Good luck on your work.”

Doyoung gives him a wave and walks into to his room, opting to turn on his lamp light rather than his overhead. Even artificial sources of light could get on his nerves if there were too many of them. It’d be ideal if he had night vision, honestly. He wonders if that kind of thing is also hereditary through the matrilineage. He also wonders whether Jungwoo would know, although Doyoung had yet to ask about much of his research for his own sanity’s sake.

About a quarter past midnight, when Doyoung’s deep in a document about renowned Professor X in the field of Y who wrote a paper on Z, he hears a knock on his door. Jungwoo sticks his head through the gap that’s been opened for him. Doyoung opens it the rest of the way to let him inside. It might be the first time that Jungwoo’s been in his room despite having lived together for nearly a semester. That being said, Doyoung had only recently seen Jungwoo’s room too.

“Whoa,” Jungwoo says upon entering, seeing the blackout curtains hung in front of Doyoung’s windows even by the dull light of his lamp. “Have you always had those?”

Doyoung looks towards his window before extending his usual excuse: “I have a pretty severe sensitivity to sunlight, so I have to stay out of it as much as possible.”

Jungwoo actually pouts after hearing that. “Why didn’t I know this before?” he asks. The rounded curve of his lips is the focal point of his cute expression, although Doyoung’s never denied how adorable Jungwoo could be without even trying.

“It’s alright. I didn’t think it’d matter much. It doesn’t really need to be accommodated otherwise,” Doyoung says with a shrug. “Sorry, did you need something?”

After hearing the question Jungwoo seems to realize his purpose contained in his hands. “Yeah, I thought you could use a snack,” he says, jutting his chin down at a cup of tea and a small plate of cookies. “I baked when I got back from class.”

Doyoung smiles thankfully and places the items on the last of his desk’s real estate, the rest of the surface covered in a variety of notes and printed-out articles. “Thank you, Jungwoo,” he says.

“Anytime,” Jungwoo says softly, a smile now forming on his lips.

 

When Doyoung walks into the apartment a few days later, he wants nothing more than to crawl into bed and sleep. Fatigue had settled deep into his body after a day of trying helplessly to dodge the sunlight. It had been a difficult task, considering there wasn’t a single cloud in the damn sky. When he unlocks the door, he expects to have to shield his eyes from the normally brightly lit living room, but instead, he finds the place to be unusually dark.

“Hello?” Doyoung calls out into the vicinity, wondering whether Jungwoo was home yet. The obstruction in front of the windows certainly wasn’t there when Doyoung had left this morning.

Jungwoo pokes his head out of his door, the sunlight streaming into his own room peeking through the crack. “Hey, I know you said it didn’t matter much but I got some blinds,” he says with a somewhat sheepish smile. “I just wondered whether you would spend more time out here if there was less light. I hope you don’t mind.”

Doyoung, of course, doesn’t. He’s more so surprised that Jungwoo would do such a thing, but he supposes he shouldn’t be when he knows Jungwoo to be an angel incarnated. “You didn’t have to,” he says. “But thank you, really.”

“Are you free tonight?” Jungwoo then asks suddenly. “Do you want to watch a movie or something?”

“I, um, actually have a date,” Doyoung says. The phrase feels foreign on his tongue. He hasn’t been on a real date since high school, and even then he had to let her down easy by the end of it. It just wasn’t going to happen, and it wasn’t to blame on the whole vampire thing either.

“Oh,” Jungwoo says flatly, looking somewhat taken aback. Doyoung doesn’t blame him. “With who?”

“Another grad student. I met him at a bar a few weeks ago,” Doyoung explains.

“A bar?” Jungwoo repeats with a laugh. “You went to a bar? That’s unlike you.”

Doyoung laughs too, albeit with some discomfort. It definitely was unlike him. He’s never been to one for the sake of doing something other than sinking his teeth into the first neck he liked.

“I guess I’ll take Yukhei up on going to the club tonight after all,” Jungwoo hums. “Have fun tonight.”

“You too,” Doyoung says with a smile before shutting himself into his own room, wondering why Jungwoo hadn’t said yes to Yukhei in the first place.

 

Taeyong’s too sharp not to notice Doyoung’s apprehension about this whole situation. It’s not particularly difficult to catch, but the older man does seem to find the best way to diffuse the situation. That is, by acting as though things are just fine, because they are. Taeyong is kind, smart, and witty enough to keep Doyoung on his toes. Their conversation over dinner is a mental tennis match, and Doyoung’s thankful that it’s making sure he’s tethered to the present.

His nervousness would show otherwise, and he would hate that. Guarding all of his vulnerabilities behind walls of steely sarcasm and weaponized intellect is exhausting, but he does it to protect himself. He would much prefer being hurtful to himself—that at least, is somewhat in his control—but to get hurt by someone else? He might shatter for good. A metaphorical wooden stake in the heart. (It’s a cliché but it’s his cliché, damn it.)

There’s another drink shared between them before they find themselves kissing in the corridor of Doyoung’s building. It’s still a fairly foreign feeling to Doyoung, to have a warm body against his. He thinks that it’s a pity to have denied it to himself for so long.

Taeyong was the one who initiated it this time, and Doyoung offered his own place. It was closer, and although Doyoung was only somewhat sure it was too early for Jungwoo to already be home, Taeyong’s scent mingled with the fragrance of red wine made Doyoung need him as soon as possible.

Doyoung is unsure why he’s acting even more deprived than before, his nails digging harshly into Taeyong’s sides before either of them have their clothes off. It would be disorienting to have Taeyong so close if it wasn’t for how Doyoung’s desire to taste him again is giving clarity to every other emotion.

The thought also gives Doyoung pause, because he can’t tell whether his yearning is solely fuelled by blood. That is, for Doyoung’s own satisfaction. After a brief moment of deliberation he confirms to himself that he wants Taeyong first, and the satiation of his own bloodlust second.

It’s as dishevelling as the first time, perhaps even more so now that they’re more keen to do without the formalities that were barely there in the first place. It’s hard for them to pull apart even when they’re left exhausted and panting side-by-side, Taeyong’s hands reaching for Doyoung’s again to make his fascinated observation.

“Still cold,” Taeyong says, and when he pulls Doyoung in once more for a kiss, Doyoung aims lower towards his neck instead. It’s a tactless approach, but Doyoung’s desperate.

He’s riskier this time as well. There’s more blood passing his lips than there should be, more than he should be allowing himself, but he’s been antsy all night. He doesn’t know why he keeps needing to take, but the thing that finally gets him to pull away is the chilling memory of Ten collapsing to the floor.

Doyoung watches Taeyong’s eyes blink open like he’s just woken up from a nap, somewhat drowsy in his mumbling of a goodnight. He presses close to Doyoung for either comfort or warmth, neither of which he feels apt to give as he stares up at the ceiling in horror. Although his hunger’s been satisfied, he feels emptier than before.

 

In the morning, Taeyong makes a passing remark about how dark it’s kept in the apartment. “Everything the light doesn’t touch is your kingdom, huh?” he comments with a laugh that Doyoung returns with trepidation.

The night prior still has him shaken. Taeyong seems fine this morning as he picks up his clothing off of the floor, hair still damp from having recently showered. The both of them have only been awake for half an hour, and Doyoung’s spent the time wallowing in his own self-condemnation.

“You okay?” Taeyong asks, kneeling by the bedside and brushing Doyoung’s hair away from his forehead. Doyoung nods. Taeyong leaves a kiss on his forehead. “I’ll see myself out. You seem sleepy.”

Doyoung isn’t really in the mood to insist otherwise, especially since Taeyong seems to be in an unbothered hurry. “I’ll text you,” Doyoung says, feeling pitiful as he watches Taeyong throw him a smile as he leaves.

Not even three minutes later Doyoung hears the door open once more. He expects it to be Taeyong returning after forgetting something, and so he sits up in bed to get an early start on looking for said thing, but he hears Jungwoo’s voice softly call out to him instead. Doyoung calls back.

Jungwoo sticks his head through Doyoung’s door, holding up a large white paper bag. “I got bagels, do you want some?” he asks.

Doyoung nods, rubbing his eyes as he follows the younger man out into the dim living room. Some light peeks through the strips of the blinds, but doesn’t go far enough to hinder him. He takes a seat across from Jungwoo at their small table, watching his roommate wander into the kitchen to retrieve some plates.

“When did you get home last night?” Doyoung asks.

“Around two in the morning? Yukhei and I split a taxi,” Jungwoo says nonchalantly, setting the plates down on the table and pulling out a poppy seed bagel for himself. He’s cutting it in half as he gets onto his next sentence. “I think I ran into your date when I was getting off the elevator.”

Doyoung answers with a hum as he takes out another bagel for himself, opting to bite into it without anything additional. He just wants a reason to not have to talk too much. Divulging in last night’s happenings is not really what he wants to do right now.

Jungwoo pauses. “So you’re dating Lee Taeyong?” he asks.

“Yeah…” Doyoung trails off, words slightly muffled due to his mouth full of bread. “You know him?”

“He’s my advisor,” Jungwoo says, punctuating his sentence with an awkward cough as he spreads cream cheese across his bagel.

Doyoung shoves his own farther into his mouth so he can delay responding.

 

Doyoung thinks his life is a joke. It’s never gone that well considering the circumstances of his lineage, but he thinks fate should still have more sympathy than as to have the first person he’s taken interest to in years be his roommate’s immediate superior. Of course, Jungwoo would never coerce Doyoung to stop dating Taeyong for such a reason, nor were they really even close enough friends for Jungwoo to advise the situation.

It was still, with every attempt not to make it awkward, very awkward. Jungwoo is an angel and therefore insists that Taeyong is welcome at their apartment, but Doyoung is nowhere near as accommodating. Even for himself. He didn’t want to discomfort Jungwoo or Taeyong at all, and so his solution is to keep them as far apart from each other as possible.

“But you’re still going to keep seeing Taeyong?” Ten asks, interest finally diverted from him probably texting Johnny every variation of the heart emoji. His feet are unceremoniously plopped onto Doyoung’s lap, ignoring the whole rest of the space on the couch on which he could have rested them.

“I mean, yeah,” Doyoung sighs. “It’s not like I’m his student. There’s no conflict of interest, right?”

“I don’t think the advisor situation is that big of a deal. It’s just a weird coincidence,” Ten comments with a shrug. “The real problem is that you’re breaking precious Jungwoo’s itty bitty heart.”

Doyoung raises an eyebrow. Jungwoo spoke of Taeyong highly, albeit with some disdain due to his occasional uptightness, but never had he given a hint as to having those kinds of feelings for him. How would Ten know of that anyway?

“I don’t think I am?” Doyoung says in puzzlement, before then cutting Ten off with a far more pressing topic. “I keep wanting to feed from Taeyong. Every time I see him, it gets worse. It’s getting harder to stop myself. What if…” he pauses, the hypothetical especially difficult to deliver to Ten. “What if I hurt him?”

“You would never,” Ten says immediately.

“I feel like I’m losing more control every time I’m around him,” Doyoung says, pressing the heel of his palm against his forehead. “It’s so…unnerving.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t be feeding from the people you’re dating,” Ten supplies with a sarcastic tone. None of Doyoung’s random hook-ups ever turned out this way. It was a bit of a bizarre situation for anyone to be in, but Doyoung also couldn’t imagine anyone else having to deal with such a problem.

“You make a good point,” Doyoung concurs. “But what should I do?”

“Uh, be careful,” Ten says, as though it’s the obvious solution.

Doyoung frowns. “I’ve been doing that my whole life.”

 

“So, is it serious?” Jungwoo asks, poking his head through the open bathroom door. Doyoung pauses combing his hair and looks to him with some confusion before his roommate clarifies. “I mean, are you and Taeyong…serious?”

Doyoung snorts and shakes his head. “I’m not really the type for serious.”

Jungwoo’s lips press into a flat line, his expression unreadable. “Where are you going tonight?” he then asks, standing idly by the door but not going a step further.

“Just for dinner, probably,” Doyoung says. “Taeyong said there’s some new Japanese restaurant he wants to try out.”

“Have fun,” Jungwoo says, the atypical cold tone of his voice making Doyoung recall his recent conversation with Ten. Maybe he was doing Jungwoo a disservice, but he couldn’t help it having happened, could he? “Yukhei is coming over later.”

“Okay. If I’m out past midnight, I’ll probably be staying over at Taeyong’s,” Doyoung says, making eye contact with Jungwoo in the reflection of the bathroom mirror. “So no need to stay up this time.” He adds an awkward laugh that Jungwoo doesn’t reciprocate.

Jungwoo returns to his room silently.

 

Any attempts to hold back tonight have been largely successful. Whenever the urge to bite into Taeyong’s neck struck, Doyoung smiled and dug his nails as hard as he could into his palms to distract himself. It’s like he’s antsy for a cigarette, but his craving could only be satisfied by sucking all the blood out of his date, so it wasn’t like wanting a cigarette at all.

Doyoung’s growing too attached to Taeyong all too quickly, and it’s scaring him. It would be one thing if he likes him—which he does—but whenever Taeyong is even an arm’s length away from him, Doyoung feels dizzy. Part of it has to do with how Doyoung’s gotten too familiar with his scent at this point, and it’s only become more intoxicating.

It’s worrying Doyoung again, the fact that he can’t seem to stop himself from wanting to be close to Taeyong, and not in the way he knows he should be wanting to. His hands have a shaky grip on the bottom of the steering wheel as he drives the both of them to Taeyong’s apartment. Taeyong has a hand resting near Doyoung’s knee, his fingertips absentmindedly stroking his thigh as he tries to engage him in conversation about a novel he had read recently.

All he’s been able to discern about Taeyong’s explanation is that it’s about a woman who becomes vegetarian to rid herself of recurring nightmares. He’s not entirely sure how the story unfolds from there, but he’s sympathetic of the woman’s woes. His own vegetarianism has a similar reason, although all of his nightmares occurred while awake.

“Doyoung,” Taeyong says in a way that catches him off guard. It’s a call for attention. “You passed my street.”

Doyoung exhales deeply, flicking on his turn signal and looking out to make the next legal U-turn. “Sorry,” he says. “Just tired.”

“You’ve been acting a little off all night.” Taeyong sounds more concerned than bothered. “Is everything okay?” They hadn’t talked about the (unfortunate? funny?) coincidence. It wasn’t too much of a conflict to impede their relationship, Doyoung presumed. (His relationship with Jungwoo, however, Doyoung wasn’t so sure.)

“Everything’s okay. There’s been a lot on my mind,” Doyoung sighs, pulling onto the side of the road in front of Taeyong’s apartment complex. After unbuckling his seatbelt, he turns his head and leans forward to kiss him, hand resting over the one Taeyong still has on his leg. The kiss is briefer than Doyoung wanted, but it’s only so Taeyong can glance up at him with a slightly sheepish smile.

“You can’t come upstairs tonight, I’m sorry,” he says, retracting his hand from underneath Doyoung’s. The sudden absentee source of heat is immediately noticeable. “I’ve got to get up early.”

Doyoung smiles in understanding. “There’s no need to be sorry,” he says, the words coming from a place of human sincerity he was desperately trying to dig up. The other part of him was merely desperate, dejected for all the selfish reasons that Doyoung was trying to stifle and smother. “Can I still walk you in?”

Taeyong’s eyes crinkle in that helplessly gorgeous way that Doyoung wishes he could still appreciate. A sick feeling sits in his stomach like a weight, and he has to work to drag his heavy legs over to Taeyong’s side. He feels nothing but resentment when he takes the older man’s hand in his, their short walk occupied by a comfortable silence on Taeyong’s side and a suffocating guilt on Doyoung’s.

When they’re stopped in front of the entrance to the lobby, partially obscured from the rest of the street by the roof above them, Doyoung wastes no time.

Taeyong becomes absolutely still in his arms, his breathing steady as Doyoung’s grows laboured. It’s become a greedy, slovenly procedure. Shame permeates past his skin, the cold temperature to which he was so accustomed now making him feel stranded in a feeling all too frigid.

This is dangerous. This is as much in public as Doyoung has ever fed, and the situation is less somnolent than the others. Taeyong could realize more time has passed than he recalls, but Doyoung doesn’t, can’t care. At some point Taeyong’s knees could buckle, and his legs might give out from underneath him. Doyoung says to himself that he’ll stop before it gets to that point.

Whatever trust he has in himself to ensure that isn’t there, but he still manages to pull away, pressing his lips to Taeyong’s until he feels him stir. Doyoung locks eyes with Taeyong, looking dazed but with a gentle smile on his face regardless.

“Goodnight, Doyoung,” Taeyong says softly, breaking into a yawn as Doyoung squeezes his hand in return, the taste of metal still on his tongue. As Doyoung begins to walk back to his car, he makes the nauseating realization that Taeyong’s hands felt cold.

 

If he were to rank his hobbies, Doyoung would put self-loathing pretty high up there. It’d be placed above applying sunscreen and below general seclusion, because he’s fairly certain the one thing he does more than anything is lock himself up in his soon-to-shatter ivory tower.

Along with self-loathing, Doyoung has also spent plenty of time this week agonizing over the fact that he’s losing his mind. He replies to Taeyong’s texts normally, conducts himself without worry around Jungwoo, and expresses a reduced amount of mental anguish towards Ten. There was nothing more anyone could do for him, not when he has an obvious decision to make.

He can’t keep doing this. He can’t keep endangering someone for his own sake. Maybe he should just walk into a church and burst into flames. He’s not actually sure if that would work, even with his aversion to crucifixes, but he’s willing to try. He could also try bathing in holy water, although that would require him to walk into a church to get it. Would Amazon Prime sell it by the gallon?

Doyoung is losing control, and it’s killing him.

The self-loathing has been especially bad as of late because it’s all he does. He goes straight from school to home, for once wholeheartedly welcoming the sunshine and its fatiguing qualities. It means he can slip right into bed at 8 p.m and forget about his worthless pathetic little life.

There’s an occasional knock on the door from Jungwoo, probably to offer him something homemade or ask how work’s going. His limitless generosity is also making Doyoung’s head hurt. If Ten was right, then he was hurting Jungwoo too. He hates that he’s put himself in this situation.

As much as Doyoung likes Taeyong, he can’t be around him without thinking of anything but his blood. He’s not the person who intrigued Doyoung in the first place, he’s the dehumanized product of Doyoung’s cravings. Doyoung can’t do that to someone. If has to become the emotionless vessel to prevent himself from turning someone else into one, then so be it.

 

Jungwoo is surprised to see Doyoung out of his room for the first in a while. There’s a wine glass on the table at which he sits silently, only occasionally moving to take another sip. It probably isn’t Jungwoo’s place to ask what’s the matter, but he’s already been holding back asking such a thing ever since his roommate became even more reserved than before.

“Doyoung…” he says quietly. Doyoung’s head turns lazily to look at him, the corners of his lips slowly turning upwards in a polite half-smile. “Are you okay?”

“I broke up with Taeyong,” Doyoung says, no longer looking to him, the languid delivery of his words making Jungwoo think that this was far from his first glass of wine. “But he seemed okay so I don’t think he’ll be an even bigger hardass of an advisor, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“I’m sorry,” Jungwoo says, having gotten close enough to take a seat across from him. “That must be really hard.”

“It’s not. He was expecting it. Said I had been acting distant.” Doyoung lets out a sad laugh. “It’s okay. We weren’t together for long at all. It just reminded me how much of a fuck-up I am.”

“You’re not—“ Jungwoo begins to say.

Doyoung quickly cuts him off with a shake of his head. “I am. I don’t think you know me well enough to say otherwise.” The words are meaner than he had meant them to be, but Jungwoo nods in agreement. He apologizes once more before quietly seeing himself to his room. The frown on his face makes Doyoung feel even worse.

 

Doyoung hasn’t replied to Ten’s texts in an excruciatingly long 12 hours, and now Ten is knocking on his bedroom door. Doyoung regrets giving him the passcode to the apartment.

“I’m respecting your privacy by knocking but asserting my authority as your best friend by coming in anyways!” Ten calls loudly from the other side. What time was it even? Doyoung had gotten home at 4 p.m to an empty house with a still-ringing hangover and had been lying in his bed of self-hatred ever since.

The small stream of light that Ten lets into the room is too bright to be natural. He must have turned on the overhead in the hallway, which means the sun’s gone down already.

“Go away,” Doyoung mumbles, lying on his stomach with his face planted in his pillow. He hears Ten close the door and sit on the edge of his bed.

“You know I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s wrong,” Ten says. “Does it have to do with Taeyong?”

“No,” Doyoung replies curtly.

“It’s not your fault that you can’t help yourself,” Ten says anyway, the weight shifting on the mattress as he leans back on his hands. “But if you really feel so strongly, then you’re going to have to stop seeing him.”

“We already broke up,” Doyoung says. The decision had been made when he was driving home after seeing him last week. It wasn’t feasible to date someone who didn’t mean anything to him, as much as Doyoung desperately wanted him to.

“So what’s got you in 24/7 emo hours? Did you like him that much?” Ten asks.

“Ten. I’m going to be alone forever,” Doyoung says. “And as much as I thought I’d be okay with that, I’m not. I liked Taeyong, and I finally trusted myself not to be so closed-off, but then this happened. I can’t even remember one thing we talked about on our last date because I was only thinking about how much I wanted to feed from him. It’s pathetic.”

Ten’s silent, surely thinking of his own experience, although enough time has passed since for the memory to be vague. Doyoung did get more impatient about it over the course of high school, but it had never been so bad. The incident they rarely spoke about had been the only such occasion. Even still, he had offered his neck since because he trusts Doyoung.

“I fucked everything up and I thought it’d be okay as long as I wasn’t hurting him anymore but,” Doyoung sighs, feeling Ten rubbing reassuring circles between his shoulder blades. “It made me realize it gets worse the closer I get with someone. I don’t want to put anyone else through that again. When I was breaking up with him I couldn’t even recognize him. I’m a freak.”

“You’re not a freak,” Ten says consolingly. “Your circumstances are unfortunate but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to try again. They’re separate things. I know there’s no one to really consult for this kind of thing but it’s not hopeless.”

Doyoung thinks it is, but he’s also too tired to argue his side. He knows Ten is being the best friend he can be right now. That fact is why he feels guilty for wanting nothing but for him to leave Doyoung alone to suffer quietly. It’s a juvenile response and he doesn’t care anymore.

 

“Hey Doyoung, what’s your blood type?” Jungwoo asks as he saunters into the living room, most of his attention fixated on the book laid flat on his hands. Doyoung recognizes it even from afar, having seen it in various places around the apartment now that he was keenly alert about what kinds of reading materials Jungwoo had. This one was probably the one he had seen most: An All-Inclusive Guide to Vampires. It made him snort. Unless he’s in it, it certainly wouldn’t live up to its title.

“It’s…B? I think?” Doyoung isn’t so sure how vampire blood factors into it all, but B is what’s in his health record.

There’s a lack of natural light coming into the room, covered by the blackout blinds that he had been putting to good use ever since Jungwoo bought them. With all the sulking Doyoung did, it was useful to have a place other than his bed to do it. Sometimes one needed a change of scenery while coming to turns that they shouldn’t be with anyone again, and that they should be limited to a very select number of friends.

Jungwoo hums, scribbling something down into the margin of his book. It’s not really like him to be on the quiet side, not unless he’s as focused as he is now. The apartment has been silent for the past few weeks, occupied only with the sounds of stressed exhales and the loud clacking of keys. They both had deadlines coming up it seemed. Conversation had been scarce for a different reason.

Doyoung considered reaching out to Jungwoo a few times, considering their last real conversation had ended so abruptly. It hadn’t been Jungwoo’s fault at all that Doyoung was as upset as he was. The especially rough period of his mood had now passed, however, and Doyoung felt like he owed Jungwoo an apology he wasn’t sure was still appropriate.

“What did you want to know for?” Doyoung asks instead, hoping he could lead the conversation into something that wasn’t the polite small talk they had restricted themselves to as of late.

“Just curious. I’ve been trying to figure out whether the mention of blood types in some articles is relevant to how vampires would theoretically react,” Jungwoo explains, now having flicked on a light switch and taken a seat across from Doyoung on the couch. “Like, if most of the blood types of the town in the story, the same town the author lived in, are historically A positive, should that make vampires more picky about their victims?”

Doyoung gulps. This is starting to feel dangerously close to home. For the sake of his own sanity, he would like to redirect this conversation elsewhere. But as minor of an apology as he would like to deliver unto Jungwoo, he thinks he can contribute somehow.

“Have you factored blood type compatibility into it?” Doyoung asks, and he gets his answer with the way Jungwoo’s eyelids flutter back at him. “Like…type O being the universal donor could mean something.”

The information had been logged into Doyoung’s mind ever since Ten needed a blood transfusion back in high school. It was the first time Doyoung had ever been so discomposed, crying to the nurse that if necessary he’d donate all of his own if he had to help his friend. Very calmly was it explained to him that he wouldn’t be a suitable match for Ten anyway, and that they were waiting on the arrival of identical type A or the always compatible type O.

“I haven’t really, actually…” Jungwoo trails off, either too distracted by his own thoughts or sleep-deprived to pay Doyoung too much attention. Doyoung doesn’t mind; he’s just glad Jungwoo doesn’t seem to be treating him any differently, not that Doyoung expected anything else. “Maybe that’s what I’ve been needing this whole time.”

Doyoung ponders his own words for a moment. The type of blood he drank never really mattered, considering there were few repeat sources, but there was a definitive difference between each one. He had known that since he was grabbing pouches from his mother’s fridge. He wonders what it was about Taeyong’s that made him so antsy for it, and whether there was a type that would satiate him just enough.

They sit there in silence for another few moments, long enough to notice that the atmosphere was verging on an awkward. Jungwoo gets up abruptly and stomps back into his bedroom, the door shutting the only sound that snaps Doyoung out of his own reverie.

It was one that started in the passive recall of being in the hospital room with Ten, the previous occurrence of feeding that hadn’t been a problem until that point. When, in his reverie, he buries into the neck of his friend, the memory changes. It’s no longer Ten beneath him, pliant and willing in the clumsy embrace of his arms, but Jungwoo.

 

As insignificant as that interaction initially seemed, it allowed for things to return to normal, or as regular as such a dynamic between half-friend roommates could get. That meant more frequent knocks on his door, more small talk that became conversation, more smiles traded between each other even with how busy they both were. It’s pleasant, but Doyoung’s starting to have the uncomfortable fact creep up on him. He might have a crush on Jungwoo.

It’s stupid and he hates it because it makes him feel like he’s some timid high school student who can’t confess for shit. But he’s not, he’s a timid grad student who can’t confess for shit. He thought it’d be a passing feeling, soon to evaporate as soon as he got his next fix, but it’s not.

Just a few hours ago he had a run-in with some guy whose smile was easy to spot even on the other side of the club Ten had dragged him to because some cheering up was in order. It’s unknown whether Ten’s intention was to get him fed or laid, but regardless Doyoung felt significantly better afterward. Ten didn’t ask, but he bet on the former.

Doyoung didn’t admit to his best friend his other pressing problem. There was a very, very real chance he’s developing yet another set of futile emotions for someone he would, in any other circumstance, stay the fuck away from due to their general purity and joy they contribute unto the life around them. Jungwoo did not need Doyoung’s storm of doom and gloom and insatiability taking the light out of his life like he did with their apartment.

No, it was much easier kissing the guy who had his hands firm on Doyoung’s waist, his name yelled over the music having been long forgotten when Doyoung ran the pad of his thumb along the side of his neck. Maybe if Doyoung’s feeding wasn’t so unnecessarily adjacent to attraction, his life would be an iota easier. He thinks about it for a good moment before saying fuck it and biting into the guy whose grip on Doyoung’s torso tightens until he’s had enough. They dance for a little while longer before Doyoung leaves him with a polite smile, the taste of the stranger’s blood still lingering on his tongue.

Life will never be easy, Doyoung concludes. At least now in his young adult life he can handle his understated pursuit of blood alongside his social life, coupled with whatever youthful good looks he could still take advantage of, but what about when he grew older? What would he do then? Call his estranged mother for grossly cold bagged blood? Raid blood banks in the dead of the night? Show up to crime scenes with a straw? The last one makes him gag. He resents himself for thinking of it.

Ten thinks the second one would be the most viable option, but he admits none of them are that great in the first place. Doyoung doesn’t point out that he’s merely stated the obvious. It’s almost two a.m. He stumbled out of a cab a little too drunk to be considered tipsy and collapsed onto the couch just as Ten called to see if he got home safe. None of this is doing favours for his usual wit.

“I’m sleepy, call me in the morning,” Doyoung mumbles into the receiver of his phone, stifling a yawn halfway through the sentence. After chirping a few more words of advice that Doyoung isn’t absorbing, Ten hangs up with a syrupy call of good night. His phone’s screen goes black, showing Doyoung a pitiful reflection of himself that’s frowning right back at him. This sofa is incredibly comfortable when one’s this tired from moping about one’s strange circumstances.

It’s been a few months since he’s stopped seeing Taeyong, and Doyoung still thinks of him sometimes. He hadn’t lied to Ten, he didn’t like Taeyong that much considering they only went on a handful of dates, but what if he would have? Doyoung growing incapable of seeing Taeyong as anything but a meal was a most tragic outcome, but if he had tried harder, pushed beyond his vampiric instincts, would they still be dating now?

Humouring such hypotheticals seems unhealthy and unproductive. So perhaps Doyoung should just get into bed and sleep. Except bed seems far and sleep seems close. Maybe Doyoung should just stay where he is, especially since he barely has the willpower to prevent his phone from sliding out of his hand and onto the floor. He’ll figure it out later, he’ll figure it all out later.

 

Doyoung gets woken up by a stinging sensation, skin feeling feverish for no immediately explainable reason. The first thing he thinks is that the heat in the apartment is up too high, or maybe the A/C’s the thing that’s broken, before he realizes that the recent spring weather wouldn’t require either. Then it dawns on him that there’s far too much light in the room for him to be in his own bed. The sun barely passes his line of vision, luckily, but he still manages to realize the source of the pain. His bare arm is fully in the sunlight.

Retracting it with a hiss, Doyoung glares at the open blinds, then at his forearm with a grimace. The length of his limb is red up to his elbow, the sunburned skin already beginning to peel. Thank goodness he woke up when he did. Any longer and he may have woken up without a functioning arm at all.

“Fuck me,” he whispers under his breath. Of course this would happen to him at one of the lowest points of his life. Why the hell not? Everything else was going kind of shitty so it made sense that he would be reminded of any way it could get worse. At least the sun had just barely seemed to have creeped into the sky before he woke up. If his whole body had been caught in a sunbeam it really would have been over for him.

The creaky sound of an opening door catches his attention, a groggy Jungwoo stepping out of his bedroom and making the short trek across the hallway into the bathroom. He’s rubbing his eyes as he walks, nose scrunching up in a slumber-dissolving mannerism that even in this pathetic moment of Doyoung’s life, he finds endearing. It’s not until a minute later when Jungwoo’s stumbling out slightly more awake that he realizes his roommate standing in the living room dumbly looking his direction.

“Doyoung?” Jungwoo mumbles loud enough for Doyoung to nod his head, shirt sleeve rolled up to the shoulder of his burnt arm and the other arm still having half his jacket hanging off of it. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” Doyoung blurts out, realizing how odd he must look. Hair mussed, still in the clothes Jungwoo saw him leave in the night before, so clearly a product of having slept on the couch overnight. Jungwoo peers at him curiously, before stalking forward and observing Doyoung’s arm with a gasp.

“Is this what happens to you in the sun? You just…melt?” Jungwoo asks, running his thumb along the outer part of Doyoung’s arm with some fascination.

No, I just burn really quickly. I get acute cases of sun poisoning,” Doyoung explains, to his roommate’s apparent horror.

“Wait here,” Jungwoo says, hurrying in and out of his room in the silent shuffle of his home slippers. There’s some sort of leaf or stem in his hand when he walks out, its choppy edge suggesting it had been snapped from its place. He asks Doyoung to adjust the blinds, which he does with caution as he hears the vaguely familiar sounds of a knife’s scraping.

When Doyoung’s sat back down on the sofa, still confused by the situation and disoriented by the pain, Jungwoo returns with a plate stacked with what looks to be wobbly ice cubes.

“I have an aloe plant,” Jungwoo says, seemingly in response to Doyoung’s confused staring. “It’ll help soothe your burn, but you’ll still want to get some medication for it, of course.”

Doyoung lets out a sigh when he feels the gel against his blistering skin, easing the pain somewhat. The sound carries much more of a burden than he knew he possessed, but it makes sense the more he thinks about it. His life is, in many ways, spiralling out of control, but this moment makes him achieve some fleeting sense of normalcy.

Getting taken care of by someone other than himself is an unfamiliar thing. He’s not very good at it. It’s been a gradual but necessary process, coming to acknowledge his fear of loneliness. He should have known for so much longer, ever since he met Ten in the shade of the tallest, oldest tree in the playground, heart squeezing like his small curled fist when he finally made a friend.

“Thank you,” Doyoung says, tiredly. He’s so tired of having to live like this. He just wants to be happy for once, but such a request seems futile.

“Is everything okay lately?” Jungwoo asks, tone even and careful so as to not offend like last time. Doyoung feels badly for the fact that Jungwoo is having to show such restraint because Doyoung can’t keep his own feelings in check.

“No,” Doyoung says, the admission something he wishes he could have said much earlier. “I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I can’t change whatever’s wrong with me.”

“Are you sick?” Jungwoo’s voice flits to concern, compounding Doyoung’s already overbearing guilt.

“It’s more of a…genetic condition,” Doyoung explains slowly. “It’s really rare. You probably haven’t heard of it.”

“Oh.” Jungwoo frowns. “Does it make things hard for you?”

“Extremely. It’s probably why my only friend is Ten,” Doyoung says. It’s a little pathetic to admit out loud but he supposes he may as well lay it all out.

“You can consider me a friend too. If you want.” Jungwoo’s words are still cautious. It makes Doyoung nauseous to think that he could ever hurt someone like him. “I might not be the best help but you can vent to me if you ever need to. Sometimes it’s better to talk to someone detached from the situation.”

The problem is that you’re not detached from it at all, Doyoung wants to say, but instead he smiles. “Thank you, I’ll keep that in mind,” he says. “And I’m sorry for being a dick to you that night. I wasn’t in a good place.”

“It’s okay. I might have overstepped, but it was only because I was really worried,” Jungwoo says. “I know I worry too much. I should really scale back.”

“You shouldn’t. It’s just you being caring. I like that a lot about you,” Doyoung says, biting his cheek to remind himself not to say anymore. Jungwoo’s considerate nature is perhaps what Doyoung likes and envies most about him. He’s been nothing but self-preserving, with good reason, his whole life. There’s a desire to care for others, but a deficiency of technique. If Ten didn’t possess such a strong independence himself, Doyoung is sure he wouldn’t be able to help him out of situations as drastic he’s been talked out of by Ten.

Jungwoo smiles at that, remains silent. There’s a soft flush in his cheeks, Doyoung notices, but he won’t let wishful thinking cloud his judgement. Even without the sun filtering into the room, it’s easy to tell that the day is going to be quite warm.

 

Pining is not one of Doyoung’s strong suits. As someone who was built to be self-deprecating, his mind’s great at pining, but his heart can’t take it anymore. It’s nothing but a waste of time, wanting what he can’t have. That’s why pining feels futile. He knows he can’t have most of what he wants.

It would be lovely though, if just this once, he could be granted even a little of what he deserves. Maybe he should just move out. That would probably be the best solution in response to the universe so cruelly giving Doyoung the most considerate roommate in the world then making him have unrequited feelings for him. Doyoung is dramatic only in his wallowing.

Jungwoo is caring in ways that Doyoung wishes he could be towards others, his need for protecting himself over anything else having resulted in his uncongenial disposition. With how much concern Jungwoo showed him, however, Doyoung wants to return it tenfold. It’s the gestures of bringing over a snack when they’re pulling late nights, shutting the blinds on sunny days, and putting blankets over Doyoung if he falls asleep on the couch, but it’s also just him.

Doyoung’s never wanted to take care of someone so badly, but he knows he couldn’t. (He knows he shouldn’t.) Whenever he speaks to Jungwoo, makes the conscious effort to smile to show his appreciation, tries to put down his walls, it’s not as difficult as he thought it would be.

It’s just easy to open up to Jungwoo, even if Doyoung has to air his grievances in the vaguest of terms, because Jungwoo is only ever understanding. He’ll make Doyoung feel heard, make his emotions feel valid, and Doyoung wants to believe that Jungwoo would forgive him for being a freak of nature. It doesn’t change the fact that telling him would be a disaster.

An absolute disaster, Doyoung repeats to himself, but the idea won’t leave his mind anyway. Out of all people, Jungwoo would be sure to understand, wouldn’t he? As fucking insane as it would sound, at least Jungwoo would, as an academic or an angel, understand Doyoung’s plights somewhat.

If he didn’t forget about this in a week, then Doyoung would begin to consider telling him. He’s rarely compulsive, has a filter with a patience like no other. He would never speak without thinking.

 

Jungwoo speaks first. There’s a movie on the television that Doyoung insisted Jungwoo pick. The general energy of the apartment was strange since dinner. Jungwoo seemed hesitant to say something, started sentences only to change their course halfway through. Doyoung didn’t pry, not wanting to force him to say something he was uncomfortable with admitting—he could understand that entirely—but he couldn’t help his curiosity either.

They’ve been spending more time together lately. Doyoung would quickly consider him a friend. It makes him happy to think he has another. Jungwoo is a good friend, a good confidante, and a good person. He’s logical in ways that Doyoung appreciates, which is why he knows Jungwoo must not be saying this on impulse.

“I have feelings for you,” Jungwoo says, voice soft but their proximity to each other close enough for his words to be heard over the film. “I like you, Doyoung.”

Doyoung’s life is a cruel, cruel joke. His parents’ reckless mistake is the set-up and everything since then is the punchline that has never stopped punching.

He’d rather be half-robot than half-vampire, because at least then he would have a reason as to why he’s malfunctioning right now. He’s pretty sure his eye twitches, his words stuttering out at many attempts of a sentence he hasn’t even thought of.

“Well then,” he manages to get out, to his immediate regret because what the fuck did that mean? The confusion is apparent on Jungwoo’s face too. “We’re roommates,” he then states, a fact already known to the both of them.

“I know that makes things complicated,” Jungwoo says with a nod. “But I wouldn’t have told you unless I thought I had to.” He pauses. “And I really thought I should.”

“Why?” Doyoung chokes out, because apparently his mind has shrunken to the point of only being able to speak in one word sentences. “How…long?”

Jungwoo flushes. “For a while. Probably since before I found out you were dating Taeyong, but that’s what made me realize,” he says, gaze locked on his twiddling thumbs. “I was feeling jealous about it, because Taeyong is so…handsome and intelligent and responsible. All the same things I like about you.”

Doyoung realizes with a sinking horror that he had misinterpreted Ten’s words this whole time.

“And I’ve really tried to stop feeling this way but I can’t. I just want to be with you,” Jungwoo says, so much braver than Doyoung could ever be.

“You can’t. We can’t,” Doyoung says firmly, flinching when Jungwoo’s face falls.

“Am I not enough?” Jungwoo asks, low enough to be a whisper. His expression makes Doyoung’s chest ache. He doesn’t want to hurt someone again.

Doyoung doesn’t even want to start the it’s-not-you-it’s-me speech because Jungwoo deserves better, but he doesn’t know how to begin to explain. After taking a deep breath, he looks to Jungwoo hoping he could steal away some of his courage. It’s difficult to confront the potential of hurting someone as sweet as him, but it’s better than the alternative.

“I can’t be with you, or anyone for that matter,” Doyoung starts, watching Jungwoo’s expression carefully. “I’m a deviant. I can’t even go near you without wanting to devour you sometimes.”

Jungwoo blinks in response, the words settling in after some consideration. “That’s not a problem on my part,” he says.

Doyoung almost laughs. “I mean, I want to…Listen, this is going to sound mad and I won’t blame you if you call the police on me for even suggesting this but,” he inhales sharply. “I’m a vampire. Or at least, half of one.” He holds his breath watching Jungwoo’s expression change after hearing it, but it doesn’t. Not really.

“Okay,” Jungwoo says, blinking again.

“Is that it?” Doyoung asks, confused.

“I always had a feeling you were hiding something bigger,” Jungwoo says with a shrug. “But of course I was never going to ask. This makes sense though.” He hums, probably thinking of Doyoung’s aversion to garlic, his nocturnal tendencies, and his allergy to the fucking sun.

“I don’t understand. How are you okay with this?” Doyoung asks, absolutely flabbergasted. Jungwoo just laughs in response, and the sound makes him jump with how on edge he feels.

“Don’t be so surprised I believe you when it’s all I’ve been studying. At this point I’d go crazy if I found out vampires weren’t real.” Everything Jungwoo says is making Doyoung’s head spin. This is not the way this had played out in his head. Out of all the scenarios he had thought of himself, the best one involved Jungwoo getting Doyoung arrested and the worst one involved Jungwoo tossing Doyoung out onto a sunlit street.

“Plus,” Jungwoo continues. “Some people don’t even believe I’m bi. I’m saying that crazier things have happened.”

“Right,” Doyoung says dumbly. His hands are folded in his lap ultra-appropriately. He doesn’t know what to do with himself in this situation. Some honesty would be good, probably. “This doesn’t change the fact that I’m not a good person to be with.”

“Why is that?” Jungwoo asks.

“I…I’m not so sure of it myself but,” Doyoung gulps. “You’ve gathered this, I’m sure…But to like, sustain myself I have to, you know…” He feels like an idiot for being so inarticulate. The antithesis to his usual self, the self that Jungwoo apparently has feelings for, but his dummy self is still being smiled at in an understanding fashion.

“Feed,” Jungwoo finishes for him. “You’ve got to feed.”

“Yeah,” Doyoung says, somehow breathless just by speaking. “And that was my problem with Taeyong, I…I was going overboard. It got worse the more time I spent with him. I don’t want that to happen with you either.”

“If you’re already thinking about it, then it means you’re going to try not to let it happen. That’s enough effort for me, Doyoung.” Jungwoo reaches a hand out towards him, and Doyoung tries not to recoil when it lands over one of his. “Also, I…wouldn’t mind.”

“Don’t mind…what?” Doyoung feels his hand being squeezed.

“You can feed from me. If you’re comfortable with that,” Jungwoo says, leaning in a little closer towards him. “I know I’m not Taeyong, even though I don’t know what his blood type is—“

“Don’t say that. I don’t even know how that matters,” Doyoung interjects, closing the distance even more on his side. “I pitched the idea once. I’m not sure if it means anything.”

“I was theorizing…Commonness could have to do with how much someone would need to feel satiated,” Jungwoo explains quietly. “And I’m type AB.”

“Rarest,” Doyoung says, nodding in understanding. “What would that mean?”

“I’m not sure,” Jungwoo admits, getting a little braver, his hand now curling onto Doyoung’s knee. “But I want to say to you again, I want to be with you. Do you feel the same way or not? Because if you don’t, I get a little hurt now and we move on with our lives.”

When put that way, Doyoung is given a difficult choice. He’s being presented an opportunity to let someone into his life again, the situation made much different with the knowledge of acceptance. For some odd fucking reason, working in his fortune or not, Jungwoo doesn’t care that he’s a freak. There’s a compassion in his eyes that makes Doyoung know that none of his words are empty promises. He’s trapped between two walls closing in on him, and he can’t hold them apart anymore.

“I have feelings for you too,” he manages to say, to Jungwoo’s own surprise. “A shorter time than you have, but I haven’t said anything for obvious reasons. I really felt like I was capable of doing something heinous when I was with Taeyong. I really did. I can’t put you through the same thing.”

“Then you won’t. Simple.” If only Jungwoo’s confidence in Doyoung was transferable. “Don’t you think it’s worth an attempt?”

Doyoung shuts his eyes, takes a deep breath. He hears and processes Jungwoo’s question but he also hears an echo of don’t you want to be happy from his own mind. He yearns for happiness, and while knowing he won’t find it in one person alone, he knows he has to be more vulnerable than he ever allows himself.

“Please,” Doyoung whispers, head bowed in a show of deference. “Please don’t hurt me.”

The words weren’t thought through as they left his lips, the request something he has held at the back of his throat for years. Jungwoo only nods, unfurling his arms as a silent offer of an embrace if he needs one, and Doyoung accepts, not realizing the tears that had pooled in his eyes until they burst against Jungwoo’s chest and roll down his cheeks.

 

“Are you sure this is okay?” Doyoung asks, hovering carefully over Jungwoo, laid out on top of his bed. This was a scheduled event, from days earlier Doyoung having made sure of Jungwoo eating proper meals and getting enough sleep. Even if Jungwoo was the one who offered, Doyoung would be damned if he did anything to endanger him.

Jungwoo nods, the look in his eyes as determined as ever. It’s been years since Doyoung had a willing volunteer. “It’s okay. I’m okay,” Jungwoo says.

Doyoung kisses him first, as gently as he can so as not to even startle the strands of hair brushing across Jungwoo’s forehead. It’s been about two weeks since the conversation that still, at times, felt like it had occurred during a fever dream. Amazingly enough, when he woke up every morning, Jungwoo was asleep soundly next to him, or across the hall humming happily, or knocking on his door to greet him.

The closeness is gradual, because Doyoung is still nervous. It’s unlike any previous attempts at anything similar. There’s full disclosure this time, and it terrifies him. For the first few days he only harboured the concern that Jungwoo would snap out of it, realize what a horrible idea this was, and kick him out. Jungwoo, however, has never even brought up the whole vampire-thing, save for one instance when he politely asked Doyoung if he could ask him a question for his work.

“Tell me again,” Doyoung says softly, the fear of being overburdening pricking at his sides again. It dissipates when Jungwoo smiles reassuringly up at him.

“It’s okay, I’m okay,” he repeats, a mantra that serves to comfort Doyoung far more than himself.

It’s different this time, Doyoung’s desires having been repressed for so long around Jungwoo that they’ve plateaued, either by his own demands or something natural to him. He recalls how his appetite had seemed to have exhausted itself back in high school, the incident with Ten leaving him unable to even think of feeding for months. No attempt at recreating such a sensation was successful after that, the trauma of the event having been too grand to emulate.

Something about Jungwoo is different than before. When Doyoung finally, tentatively bites into his neck, his eyes close of their own accord. The act is almost relaxing, sedating. It has to do with the willingness, he thinks, but it feels like there are less boundaries to cross than that. There are none at all.

It’s a satisfaction unlike any other. It’s as though any thirst he’s experienced before has been retroactively quenched. He doesn’t understand how the blood passing his lips is that much different than before. Barely a minute’s passed before Doyoung pulls away, entirely satiated.

He gives it a moment to let Jungwoo collect himself, in the meantime peeling away the paper backings of a Hello Kitty bandage and placing it over the minuscule puncture wounds. They’re barely more noticeable than the mark left behind from a flu shot, but Doyoung wasn’t taking any chances.

“How long was that?” Jungwoo asks, as chipper as before. “You were right, I really didn’t feel anything.”

“Barely a minute,” Doyoung says, the pad of his thumb running over the bandage. “Are you feeling okay?”

“I feel fine,” Jungwoo nods. “I think my theory was right.”

“What theory is that?” Doyoung asks, repositioning himself to rest on his side facing him.

“About blood types,” Jungwoo says quietly. “Do you know what your mother’s blood type is?”

“AB,” Doyoung answers, and something clicks.

“Looks like I’m best fit to take care of you after all,” Jungwoo hums, reaching for Doyoung’s hands beneath the blankets.

Doyoung sighs, leaning in to press a kiss on Jungwoo’s forehead. “Thank goodness,” he whispers. “I’ll need you to teach me too.”

“You’re doing fine,” Jungwoo assures him, and the encouragement makes Doyoung want to melt. There’s a lot for him to come to terms with, so much more experience needed to feel comfortable in his own skin, but he’s surprised to feel alright in this moment now. He doesn’t know if it’s happiness exactly, but the feeling is warm.