Chapter 1: vanilla flavored magic
He’s got around two more hours until his shift ends. Great, Donghyuck thinks, it's not like he has better things to do than loiter around a perpetually old-fashioned diner, one that smells a bit too much of pumpkin spices and despair.
“We should at least get a new menu,” he mutters under his breath, blowing away a tuft of disarrayed hair from his eyes, hand on chin.
“The menu is perfectly fine as is, Donghyuck,” a toneless tenor voice calls out a few meters away from Donghyuck’s counter. It comes from one of the diner’s many empty booths, where a slim man in a black coat scribbles away on a notepad, not sparing a single glance at poor, bored Donghyuck.
“I’m just saying,” the boy continues, miffed, “a little update on our burgers and I’m sure this place will be brimmed with customers in no time.”
“You do know that more customers means more work for you, don't you?” the other man finally looks up at Donghyuck, big doe eyes half covered by stark black hair.
Donghyuck isn't fooled by those eyes though, he knows perfectly well Kim Doyoung is nothing short of a devil.
“Besides,” Doyoung continues before Donghyuck can reply, eyes already on his notepad yet again, “our main concern isn't the food, is it, Haechan?”
Donghyuck frowns at the terrible nickname Doyoung has unofficially given him but figures he should let it go for once, payday is just a few days away, after all.
He looks out the window, the sky is gray and it looks a bit too fucking freezing for Donghyuck’s taste. He’s gotta give it to Kim’s Magical Milkshakes ‘N Burgers, the place might be decades old and Donghyuck might be slowly rotting away in it, but at least the heating is magnificent.
Still, what good is that for if the weather outside is threatening to dump the whole of Antarctica on them. Surely Doyoung will take pity on him and volunteer to drive Donghyuck home, right? Pigs fly and all that, but Donghyuck’s hope doesn't waver.
He has half a mind to just put on his earphones, say fuck it—it’s not like there’s any sort of living being in near vicinity other than Doyoung, himself, and cranky, old Kim Taeyeon who is happily slurping on her black coffee—when the silvery sound of clinking bells echoes through the diner.
A rush of bitter, absolute zero cold makes its way into the place, sending Donghyuck’s frail teenage body into a shiver attack. He scowls at the newcomers.
“Ah! Warmth!" a familiar loud chorus of chatter and cheers fill in the room and Donghyuck rolls his eyes; he wanted death, but not this way.
“Haechan!" Ten calls out with a mischievous smile that Donghyuck has come to associate with him, nose and cheeks pink as he unwraps the white scarf hanging from his neck.
“Don't call me that,” Donghyuck pockets his earphones, whining at the nickname that will seemingly never go away. His complaint goes either unnoticed or purposefully ignored, as is usual.
“Hey, Hyuck,” Taeil, in all of his 5’6 feet glory and soft features, greets easily with a smile as the three of them take a seat in front of the counter, where vintage swiveling chairs have been placed.
“How's life been treating you?” Yuta beams, brown eyes lit up as he strides towards him, doffing his coat and beanie, tossing them atop the counter with disregard.
“I saw you all yesterday,” Donghyuck deadpans, “And the day before and the day before that. Seems you have nothing better to do than come here and annoy me every single day.”
“Now, now, that's no way to treat customers.” Yuta waggles his index finger with a smile. A huge, blinding smile that even Donghyuck has a little trouble ignoring.
“Customers actually pay, you three are just the worst of leeches,” Doyoung comes up from behind them, pinching Ten’s and Taeil’s cheeks with one hand each, making both of them wince.
“Best friend discount, of course!” Yuta is undeterred and squints at the menu, even if he already has it tragically memorized by heart.
“I’ll have a hot cocoa with choco drizzle,” Taeil smiles innocently, ignoring the stink eye Doyoung gives him with practiced perfection.
“I’ll have the same,” Ten pipes in cheerily, toying with the multiple jewel pieces in his right ear before shivering and bundling himself even more inside his coat.
Yuta throws the menu back at Donghyuck, who catches it smoothly with an annoyed sigh. “I’ll just have my usual, Hyuck.”
“This is basically what you’re paying me for, hyung,” Donghyuck says in a pointed voice to Doyoung, who is now seated next to Yuta. “Giving your friends free food and selling black coffee to weird ladies that talk to themselves.”
“Be quiet, she’ll hear you,” the older man hisses at Donghyuck before throwing a surreptitious glance at the lone woman sitting at the very corner of the diner. Both Doyoung and Donghyuck are terribly afraid of Kim Taeyeon.
“Whatever, I’ll be right back with your stuff,” Donghyuck whispers back, sending a glare to all four men who couldn’t care less about the younger boy’s resent. Those cursed, ancient fuckers.
He goes to the back of the diner, where his apron and clownish looking hat are carelessly tossed to the side, forgotten and never worn because Donghyuck would rather die than wear his job’s stupid uniform. It’s fine, Doyoung doesn’t really care if he uses it or not, and even if he did, Donghyuck would tell him to fuck right off because that’s the kind of relationship he has with his lovely boss.
And really, Donghyuck might endlessly complain everyday about his job and how goddamn boring it is, but he thinks it’s not so bad. Because sure, the days are slow and boring but the pay is great and sometimes, when his shift schedule collides with Yukhei’s, he even ends up having a little fun. Doyoung is also an ok boss, he isn’t there half of the time and truth be told, he couldn’t give three shits about how Donghyuck handles his job as long as he brings in the customers’ money.
He pours what appears to be some kind of brown powder into a pot of boiling water, clinks on it three times before moving on to make Taeil’s and Ten’s cocoa. “If only they weren’t so annoying, maybe,” he hums to himself as Yuta’s ever-vexing laugh is heard through the steel door separating the diner from the kitchen, followed by the unmistakable sound of Ten’s shrill whining.
In less than a few minutes, Donghyuck comes back out again with two cups of hot cocoa and a bowl of fried tofu udon, japanese style just for Yuta.
“As expected from our favorite little chef,” Yuta cheers as the wafting aroma of tofu reaches his nostrils. Donghyuck effectively snorts at the title of chef before all three men slurp down their respective drinks and food.
It is then than Donghyuck notices the unnoticed newcomer that has taken residence in the farthest corner of the counter, just five seats away from Ten. He can’t see his face very well, as the man is hunched over the table, hurriedly writing on multiple pieces of loose paper, very much like Doyoung was just a few minutes earlier.
“Down that quickly Ten, we’re leaving right now,” Doyoung quips with a snap of the fingers, breaking Donghyuck out of his curious reverie.
“You’re leaving early today?” Donghyuck realizes, mouth agape and brows scrunched up in chagrin. “I thought you were gonna supervise me in today’s—”
The older boy sighs, “I know, Hyuck. You can come by the office tomorrow, we can practice there,” Doyoung promises as he grabs his coat and papers, and Ten tries to gulp down as much of his cocoa as fast as he can. Donghyuck crosses his arms and huffs out an air of annoyance but doesn’t say anything; he really likes visiting Doyoung’s office, after all, that’s where all the cool stuff actually is.
Donghyuck silently pouts as the two men, both donned in black, make their way out into the freezing streets, definitely leaving him to close the diner by himself. He takes a glance at Yuta and Taeil, who are in the middle of an animated discussion that involves Yuta accidentally spitting ramen soup onto an unsuspecting Taeil’s sweater, and Donghyuck decides he doesn’t want to keep those two company. Instead, he walks towards the new customer, who, surprisingly, has yet to order any food or call for his attention.
“Um,” Donghyuck coughs out from his side of the counter, seeing as the other man hasn’t looked up even once. “Will you be ordering something?”
Finally, the man looks up, wide eyed and startled by Donghyuck’s voice—and it’s actually a boy, not much older than Donghyuck himself. A boy with dark, big eyes, mesmerizing. Not big and doe-like in the way Doyoung’s falsely are. No, Donghyuck can already feel the genuine aura emanating from this boy. And—
“A milkshake?” the boy says, or rather, asks, looking at Donghyuck with a face that tells him he really doesn’t care what he orders.
“A milkshake,” Donghyuck repeats as the dumb boy’s eyes flicker from side to side in aprehension.
“Isn’t that what you serve here?” the boy questions with a scratch of his head, the papers in front of him forgotten momentarily.
“Right. A milkshake coming right up,” Donghyuck sighs inwardly, face expressionless. Truly his luck to get a scary lady, a bunch of annoying idiots, and now this half-baked boy as his only customers of the day.
He goes back into the kitchen, eternally tired, he just really wants to close the diner already when a thought suddenly comes—oh. Donghyuck realizes it.
He scurries towards the kitchen door and takes a glance outside through the small, circular window, very much looking like a peeking meerkat. The boy is still there, attention fixed solely on his bunch of papers and Donghyuck stares at him, intently, curious.
Maybe his stare is too intense, for Dumb Boy looks up with a shudder, right at where Donghyuck is peeking from. He ducks quickly from his sight, heartbeat racing at being caught. He’s a human, the teenager realizes in that moment.
Donghyuck pours the vanilla milkshake—his least favorite because today he is not in the best of moods and that weird guy didn’t specify his order whatsoever—into a cup before taking a deep breath and walking out of the kitchen and towards the boy.
“Here you go,” he places the drink in front of the customer, pretending he wasn’t caught spying on him just a few minutes earlier.
The boy looks up at him before staring at the milkshake placed right in front of him. “Vanilla! My favorite,” he smiles at the painfully boring drink. Fitting of a human, Donghyuck supposes.
He takes one sip through the plastic straw before looking down again at his notes and Donghyuck supposes this is his cue to leave.
Except, he stays glued to his spot before glancing at Taeil and Yuta’s way. Yuta is still somehow talking endlessly, but Taeil, who is facing Donghyuck’s way, stares at him for a few seconds before raising an eyebrow. Donghyuck looks away and peeks at the strange boy in front of him. Yeah, he could just leave him alone and mind his own business like a normal person, but Doyoung didn't raise no cowards. If his boss was here, he’d hiss at Donghyuck to get information out of the boy.
“I haven't seen you around here before,” he nonchalantly says, lazily resting his elbows on the counter, chin on his hand. “This must be your first time coming in.”
The other boy looks up at Donghyuck, pencil still in hand. “How do you know?”
Donghyuck scoffs, “I know every single person that comes in here. It's not like we get new customers that often.” And it's true, everyone that buys from Doyoung is a regular; the diner is located right in the middle of a residential zone with a tight community, after all.
“Yeah, seemed like a cool place.” Dumb Boy shrugs before looking down at his papers again. Donghyuck frowns, he won't be ignored or lied to.
“So you just decided to have a vanilla milkshake in the middle of this freezing weather, huh?” he challenges. The other boy takes the bait and stops his scrawling at once.
“That's right,” he looks back at Donghyuck, eyes unwavered.
He sighs, his fingers drumming against the counter, his black nails a stark contrast with the white linoleum. “I'm Donghyuck,” he offers instead.
The boy eyes him for few seconds before his shoulders relax. “I’m Mark.”
“Mark.” Donghyuck tries out, the English name a bit foreign to his tongue. He's never met a Mark before.
Mark nods in approval with a small smile. Donghyuck finds that he likes him better with a name.
“Listen Mark,” Donghyuck tentatively tries again, “I’m kinda nosy, but I’m just really fucking bored and I still have an hour left of my shift. What are you working on?”
Mark looks down at his papers, distress evidently on his face and Donghyuck wonders what in the ever world is exactly on those papers.
“It's nothing important actually,” Mark says as he looks up again. To Donghyuck’s amusement, the other boy starts to flush a pretty color red. “Just research.”
“School work?” Donghyuck asks, knowing too well about research papers himself. High school is the bane of his existence.
Mark nods, “Something like that. For a school club, actually.”
“Oh,” Lame, Donghyuck thinks. To his own surprise, he doesn't say it out loud, his conversation with Mark still feels jittery, he can't let it crumble. “So you're just doing homework. A nerd in my establishment, I can't allow that.”
“I'm not a nerd,” Mark scowls, “This is cool research.”
“What's it about, then?” Donghyuck sees Mark stare at the dangling earring on his left ear before the other boy realizes the question a moment too late.
“Math,” he says quickly.
“Stop lying, no one thinks math is cool.”
“I love math!” Mark says too loudly, earning a curious glance from Yuta and Taeil, who are only a few feet away from them. Mark lowers his voice, repeating, “I love math.”
“I see no numbers written there,” Donghyuck points down at Mark’s notes, who hastily hides them from Donghyuck in panic.
“Ever heard of algebra?" he hisses, putting all his papers into a folder with finality. He takes another sip from his milkshake.
“Ok, ok, Mr. I’m-too-cool-for-Donghyuck, it's not like I was planning on telling everyone about your super secret diary,” he rolls his eyes for effect before looking at the wall clock. His shift is eternal but at least this Mark guy is entertaining.
Mark sighs, biting his lip, not looking at Donghyuck, “I’ll tell you if you promise you won't make fun of me.”
“I won't, I really won't,” he replies quickly, and he means it. Donghyuck might be annoying and sarcastic, but he's not a bully.
Mark nods, holding onto his folder tightly. He clears his throat before leaning right in front of Donghyuck’s face and whispering in a low voice. “This is research for the Monster Hunter Club.”
Two thoughts whir through Donghyuck’s mind at once. One, Mark’s face is way too close to him and Donghyuck’s own cheeks might be turning pink but surely it's just the cold weather. And two, Monster Hunter? As in… a person who hunts monsters? Ha-ha, that's super funny.
He wants to play it off and call Mark delusional and tell him to find a better hobby, however, the look on his face—the shine on Mark’s eyes, the bite on his lip, waiting for Donghyuck’s reaction. Donghyuck can’t do that to him. Not when Mark just bared his secret to a random stranger.
“Monsters?” he smiles, tentatively, his throat scratchy, “Real monsters?”
Mark scratches the back of his head, eyebrows furrowed. “It sounds so silly, I know—”
It's anything but silly, Donghyuck says to himself in anguish.
“I love the supernatural, it’s a hobby of mine,” he instead smiles brightly at the other boy.
Mark’s own smile grows instantly, giddy. Donghyuck thinks it's very much like a blooming flower. “Really?”
“Really,” he says, resolute.
Mark doesn't understand the extent of how much Donghyuck is telling the truth.
“When will you get this goddamn heater fixed?” Doyoung half growls, half whimpers as he tries blowing hot air into his balled up frozen hands.
“Maybe if we actually got paid in time I’d be able to buy a whole new car,” Ten bristles at his friend, hands on the steering wheel of his ‘13 Hyundai Accent. He rounds the corner of Yul-Yeong street with a heart-stopping break, making Doyoung surge forward, nearly colliding with the dashboard. “Don’t forget to wear your seatbelt,” Ten sing-songs in pointed mischief before parking near an array of outdated stone edifices, too old and musty to have been built in the current century.
“You're going to kill me one of these days,” Doyoung utters in clipped tones to himself as he follows Ten into one of the stone buildings.
The moment the door opens, the soft sounds of Billie Holiday reach his ears, the dim lighting of the place instantly making his shoulders relax. He looks around the place even though there’s really not much to see: only a waiting area that never gets used, filled with plush chairs, antique items and a much too old wallpaper that needs to be changed. There’s also a hallway, one that leads to a significantly large office room.
“Will ya mind putting something from the last decade once in awhile, Taeyong? I know you’re old as hell but for Satan’s sake, please,” Ten calls out, waving his hand around. He absentmindedly unbuttons his coat and, in absolute Ten-fashion, throws it into the air, not caring where or how it lands before making his way into the office room.
Doyoung grits his teeth just as he reaches forward, automatically extending an arm towards the falling coat. The garment, now suspending mid-air, is then softly placed atop a chair. He rubs his temples before following his friend yet again.
“I’m just saying, a little Jorja Smith won't hurt anyone,” says an exasperated Ten as he takes seat in the plum colored couch next to Taeyong’s desk and a huge stack of papers.
“Who?” Taeyong asks back, genuinely confused. He sits atop the mahogany desk—clearly expensive, clearly a relic—and, unlike his friends’ elegant dark winter coats, Taeyong sports a simple white dress shirt. How he still manages to somehow look eons classier and beautifully ethereal in comparison to try-hards, Doyoung and Ten, is a mystery.
“You’re impossible, Lee Taeyong,” Ten sniffs, turning up his nose and biting into a chocolate bar and Doyoung’s too afraid to ask where he got it from.
“How was working with the elf?” Doyoung greets Taeyong with a nod. He looks down at his own desk and sees documents upon documents of unread papers. No one said working alongside the Department of Magical Defense would be so tedious; he’s pretty sure being hired by Dark Magic Beings wouldn't require as much paperwork, damn his moral compass.
“It was alright,” Taeyong shrugs with a small smile, “Found out the culprit was a demon.”
“A phasing demon stealing banks?” Ten clicks his tongue, “So cliché, they can do better. Like an evil-hunting demon working with a freelance agency? Now that’s what I’m talking about.”
Taeyong shakes his head before jumping off the desk, making sure no scratches were left behind. “The elf case is closed, I just need to fill in some paperwork but I can do it tomorrow.”
“I can do that if you want,” Doyoung casually says with a shrug before Ten snorts.
“One of these days you’re gonna drop dead from overworking yourself, Kim Doyoung,” Taeyong says softly, exasperation dripping from his voice.
Doyoung merely ignores him, “C’mon, let’s close this Hell Pit for the day, we’ll drop you off at your apartment on our way back,” his back is starting to ache, his feet are as well and Doyoung can already feel the impeding headache that will come if he doesn’t get back home soon, the energy draining from his body after a long day out.
“Taeil and Yuta didn’t come with you?” Taeyong asks in response, zipping up his jacket and pocketing his keys as the trio makes their way out of the office, the dreary, frosty evening soaking into their bones, making their lips tremble.
Ten shakes his head, hands in pockets and looking tiny, all bundled up behind his scarf. “They stayed back at the milkshake place with Hyuck. Only poor me was rushed away by this horrible little man,” he points at Doyoung with his chin as they make their quick way to his car.
Taeyong’s face falls momentarily before a purse of lips. “It’ll be a lonely night for me I suppose. Might as well do some online shopping before Yuta gets home and stops me,” he adds as a giddy smile grows on his face, making Doyoung roll his eyes. Taeyong has been half in love with Ebay and Amazon Prime for the past year, it's starting to become a problem.
They let out a sigh of collective relief as the warmth of the car seeps into their bodies. Doyoung is absolutely in love with winter, don't get him wrong, but preferably while he's inside the sanctity of his apartment, drinking hot cocoa and watching subbed Jeopardy reruns. Certainly not out and about at work, with Ten and Taeyong of all people.
“Such lies, I know you love us, Dongie,” Taeyong smirks in mirth from the backseat of the car. “We’re your favorites.”
“Oi! No mind-reading you slimy reptile!” Doyoung barks at the older man who only throws his head back in a laugh.
“You’re just a little too loud sometimes, Doyoung,” he sighs with a grin as his laugh slowly dies down, “I don’t even have to try.”
“And you Ten,” Taeyong continues his hunt for blood, “Just tell Doyoung what you want to tell him and get it over with.”
“Taeyong,” Ten hisses, throwing him a nasty glare through the rearview mirror before Doyoung all but forgets about Taeyong, instead furrowing his brows in Ten’s direction, curious.
“What is he talking about?”
Ten sighs before stepping on the pedal and running a red light, earning a mortified splutter from Taeyong. “You know how Gongmyung said our new roommate is moving in next week?” he starts.
Doyoung nods in confirmation, his brother had texted him the details the week before. The new roommate. Right, something he’s been dreading for a while now. Sure, the split of rent will not be unlike a heavenly gift that Doyoung is in dire need of, however, the idea of sharing an apartment with a complete stranger is nothing short of appalling. It’s already enough as it is having to share his personal space with Ten, who, as much as Doyoung hates the unbearable truth, is in fact, one of his best friends. He can’t possibly imagine a stranger living with him but the veracity of it all, is that money comes first.
Ten parks in front of white building that radiates warmth and homemade meals and just overall cleanliness. It’s such a different feeling from Doyoung’s and Ten’s own apartment building, a costly, soulless new thing just two blocks away from Taeyong’s and Yuta’s home. Doyoung purses his lips into a pout thinking how different his life would be if he lived with Taeyong rather than Ten. It wasn’t even that Ten was bad—although, don’t misunderstand, he is that bad—it was the fact that Doyoung was just as bad as him. Double the horror, Taeyong likes to remind them.
“Thanks guys,” Taeyong smiles, leaning forward from the backseat and planting a wet, loud smooch on Doyoung’s forehead.
Doyoung fake gags, eliciting a loud laugh from their pink haired friend. “See ya tomorrow,” Taeyong calls out before getting off, no doubt getting ready for a night of online shopping and regrets.
As soon as Ten starts the car, Doyoung turns to his demon of a friend, eyebrows shooting up, “Get on with it. What about my brother and the roommate?”
“Well,” Ten whistles, “He might’ve messaged me three days ago telling me he’s moving in earlier than expected. And I kinda forgot to tell you about it.”
“You forgot?" Doyoung can already feel his migraine making way, a vein might be pulsating. “When exactly is he moving in then?” He snaps.
There’s a brief moment of hesitation before Ten looks out the window, resolutely looking nonchalant, “He’s like, waiting for us already. Right now,” comes the response, and Doyoung blinks because Ten is one of the most infuriating creatures on this planet—right up there with Nakamoto Yuta—and he wonders, not for the first time, how he ended up befriending him at all.
“I’m gonna curse you, Ten,” he mumbles under his breath like a mantra, “And then I’m gonna curse Gongmyung just for the shits and giggles. And then I’m gonna curse this random guy, whoever he is.”
Ten ignores him, although this isn't anything new either. “Yeah, yeah, Merlin, keep talking.” Considering Doyoung is a level 5 wizard—only one level away from Master of Wizardry—Ten should be a little more careful with his words, no one dare say he isn't ballsy.
They arrive at their own building soon enough, Doyoung can feel the life being sucked out of him in seconds.
They climb up the way too fancy entrance stairs of their way too fancy apartment building, a new structure entirely the opposite of their workplace. Doyoung had been wanting to move out for a long time, deciding that their apartment wasn't worth the insane rent they were paying. Unfortunately, annoyingly high-maintenance Ten refused to move out. So Lo and Behold, that's how New Roomate was summoned: the son of Gongmyung’s—Doyoung’s older brother, and actual Master of Wizardry—rich clients.
“Try and be nice,” Ten comments, side-eyeing him as they step into the building, where the vestibule is. “We don't want him running away on the first day. We need his money.”
“We wouldn't need another roommate if you had just wanted to move out in the first place,” Doyoung points out before looking around the place. There's only one person sitting there, a man mindlessly scrolling through his phone.
“Yeah, well, I was not about to live in a rat-infested apartment, you fucki—Hey! You must be Jaehyun, nice to meet you!” Ten smiles blindingly with what Doyoung calls Charming Smile #3.
As soon as the man looks up and their eyes meet, Doyoung feels dizzying vertigo. It's those eyes, dark and mesmerizing and fuck, it just had to be a fairy, didn't it?
Doyoung isn't prejudiced, far from it, it's just that… he really dislikes fairies. Cunning and deceiving under fake smiles and charm. He rather have an infinitely annoying incubus demon bothering him 24/7, than an ingenuine humbug of a fairy.
The man stands up, rumpled clothes, clean and soft, under a denim jacket that would have done nothing to protect him from the freezing december weather. There's an invigorating scent of peach permeating in the air. “Yes. Doyoung and Ten?” he says with wide eyes and a deep voice that's more fitting of a ninth circle demon than a fairy.
Ten nods, “I’m Ten,” he points to himself, “And this is Doyoung.”
Jaehyun shakes hands with him before turning to Doyoung, who in all senses of the word, is feeling a little numb. “Hello,” he musters to say as Jaehyun stares at him, curious, with the tiniest glint of irrepressible mischief Doyoung expected from him.
“Ugh, don't mind Doyoung,” Ten waves dismissively before ushering the newcomer upstairs. “He's a wizard simpleton, your fairy charms are doing a number on him, he should be fine in five minutes. Funny anecdote, same thing happened to him when we met.”
“Oh, a wizard,” Jaehyun’s eyebrows raise, turning to Ten as if Doyoung was not even there. “Then what are you? My fairy charms are not dumbing you down, it seems.”
Ten laughs and Doyoung can tell it’s a charmed one, the type that makes everyone and anyone melt at the sight of Ten. “I’m an incubus. No matter the amount of charm you have Mr. Fairy, an incubus always wins.” He ends with a wink as they take the elevator and the famous 'rosy blush of a fairy' dusts Jaehyun’s cheeks and nose.
Amazing, thinks Doyoung with a roll of eyes, predictable of Ten to outflirt even the prettiest of fairies.
Little by little he can feel the unwanted charm dwindle from his body into nothingness, Doyoung is finally able to relax. “Rude,” he coughs out, the sweet smell of peach too intense even now. “I hate fairies.”
“Doyoung,” Ten coughs out, jabbing a finger into Doyoung’s ribs, “By the love of Lilith, shut up.”
“Huh, what a coincidence. Me fucking too,” is all Jaehyun replies, eyeing Doyoung once before looking at the door in front of them.
Doyoung stares at him for a second too long before scrunching his eyes in confusion.
“Anyways!” Ten smiles, looking very much like a real estate agent. A panicked and desperate real estate agent. “Home sweet home! Such a lovely home that you're now part of~ Jaehyun’s home!”
They enter the place and at least, for once in Doyoung’s and Ten’s whole entire lifetimes, the living room doesn't look like an orc’s shack.
“Oh,” Ten notices, “Jaehyun, where's all your stuff? Your suitcases? Boxes?”
Jaehyun steps into the living room, looking around. Doyoung can't decipher what his curious glare means. He looks back at the pair, “It’s fine, it'll be sent over tomorrow by my butler. Ex-butler now, I suppose.”
Ten and Doyoung share a wide-eyed look with each other. How rich is this guy exactly?
“This place is really quaint. I like it,” Jaehyun finally assesses with a smile, a deep dimple appearing on his handsome face.
“Quaint,” Ten repeats, choking up, whispering at his friend while Jaehyun looks at Doyoung’s grimoire bookshelf. “We're plebeians, Doyoung. We're the rats infesting the building—”
“I know we’re the rats,” a sigh escapes Doyoung as he brushes past Ten, into the kitchen.
Resigned to a bitter life of sharing an apartment with an incubus and a fairy, he calls out, "I hope you at least know how to cook because Ten and I live off take-out and cereal.”
Jaehyun peeks his head through the door frame, soft brown hair light and fluffy, “Funny how you assume I’ve touched a spatula in my life.”
“No way,” Donghyuck wheezes out before whispering too loudly, “Vampires?"
Mark nods in quick-fire, his smile small but excited. “I’m pretty sure about it.”
It’s been nearly one hour since Donghyuck started his conversation with Mark, the milkshake place now completely empty besides them two. Yuta and Taeil had left 30 minutes earlier, asking Donghyuck if he wanted a ride after closing. He had said no, a feat he usually wouldn’t do, and ushered them out with a wave and reassurance that he’d be fine. Perhaps he should’ve agreed, at least he wouldn’t freeze to death on his way back home, but Mark’s company, surprisingly, had been too comfortable, too good, to let it slip away.
Besides, he’s doing them all a favor. Donghyuck is trying to squeeze out as much information from Mark as he can, and the truth is, Mark knows too much, even if he isn’t aware of it. How the hell did a high school kid with too much time on his hands single-handedly discover the existence of vampires? Yukhei will not be happy about it.
“My club and I have been following this one guy for a couple of weeks, we’re pretty sure he’s gonna lead us to his pack—”
“Coven,” Donghyuck interrupts him without thinking.
“Huh?” Mark turns his head, questioning.
“It’s called a coven,” Donghyuck looks away with a cough, “A vampire coven.” Great job, Donghyuck, he thinks to himself. It’s almost as if he was fed a Truth potion, except it’s just Mark Lee and his damn smile.
Mark nods in admiration, “You really do know your supernatural stuff, you’re amazing.”
“It’s whatever,” he mumbles, sheepish for once in his lifetime, “But uh, what is this about a coven?”
“Right!” Mark finishes the last remnants of his second vanilla milkshake with a loud slurp. There’s an identical, almost empty glass in front of Donghyuck, chocolate flavored. “So, we’ve been monitoring this guy for a month now. He has a routine, and every Friday he rides his bicycle through the park in front of my school at exactly 7pm, just right after Monster Hunter Club meetings are over and just after the sun sets.”
“So?” Donghyuck laughs nervously. A guy in a bicycle. Funny.
“I happen to take the exact same path as him since my house is that way too. The first times I saw him it was whatever, you know, just this random guy. But every time I saw him, he had these enormous carton boxes in his basket. And they smelled so weird. You know what was in them?” Mark speaks conspiratorially even though there’s absolutely no one else with them.
He’s a great storyteller, Donghyuck will give him that. “What, Mark, what was in them?”
“Blood!" Mark whispers, “Lots and lots of bags filled with blood. Human blood.”
Donghyuck frowns at the other boy. “How are you so sure it was human blood?”
“Ok, so I’m not exactly sure what kind of blood it was but vampires don’t really care about the type of blood they consume, you know?”
Actually, they prefer cattle blood over any except the now prohibited human blood, but Donghyuck manages to keep that thought to himself, dear god.
“And you’re just gonna stalk this man until you find his coven?” he raises an eyebrow instead.
Mark nods once, “That’s right. We haven’t been able to before because we have… curfew,” he says the last word with childish disdain, “But we’ve managed to tell our parents we’ll have a study night session that day and—oh, Hyuck!”
“You should come with us!” Mark grins and Donghyuck doesn’t miss the way the other boy blushes just the tiniest bit. He flushes too much, Donghyuck has come to discover in such a short time, it’s a cute habit, he admits. “To hunt the vampire! You clearly know about this, you’ll love our club!”
“Hunt the vampire? What are you guys even planning on doing?” He doubts Mark the high school kid can do a whole lot to a measly vampire, let alone harm the all-powerful Dong Sicheng, also known by Mark as the bicycle kid. Still, he's scared for Mark and whatever stupidity he’s planning on doing.
Mark pauses for a second, unconvinced, “I guess we'll just observe him. Until we know a sure way to kill him. I think.”
“Kill him! Mark, you could get injured!” Donghyuck all but yells. The nickname of Dumb Boy was entirely too accurate. He realizes he might sound a little too convinced, he tries backtracking, “If he even is a vampire, which you don't know. He could be a nurse for all you know.”
“It’s fine, I promise we're real careful! We have the Club’s Rules of Safety against Evil!” Mark places his hands on the counter before smiling, his eyes glinting, “And if you come with us I’m sure nothing will happen. Like a good luck charm.”
Donghyuck wants to roll his eyes. He thinks he might end up looking a little dumb as he chokes on air. “It’s—” he coughs, “Alright.” He manages to finally say before Mark woops in triumph the crinkles by his eyes looking too adorable.
Donghyuck is not agreeing to hang out with Mark because he wants to see him again, nor because he has a weak spot for dorks with amazing smiles. Not at all, Mark is a nerd that has curfew and hangs around with his equally nerdy friends who probably play D&D on the weekends.
He's too cool for that, too cool for Mark. Donghyuck has rad earrings, he's friends with a dragon, can read the Arcanas like the back of his hand. He paints his nails black, goddamnit! Donghyuck is a super cool witch.
If anything, he's doing this to keep everyone safe and sound, after all, it is his duty as the unlucky fool who happened to ask Mark Lee what he was doing.
Chapter 2: lake effect kid
the title of this chapter is named after fob's LP, lake effect kid. if you're familiar with the songs, then i'm pretty sure you know who i'm introducing in this chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Doyoung munches on his toast in silence, strawberry jam sitting messily on the corner of his lip. Ten sits next to him, eyeing his phone as he sips his heart-attack inducing Trix cereal.
Fridays seem to be a Merlin-given blessing, for Doyoung gets to sleep in for a few hours before going out to check on the milkshake place. Not that he's worried, recently, Donghyuck has been opening the place by himself right after he's done with school, and it seems to run smoothly enough. He trusts that little annoying witch: truly a Kim Doyoung apprentice.
“So, how did your date go last night?” he breaks out of his reverie, looking back at his friend, curious even though he knows this was just one date out of dozens Ten has had in the past month. ‘Dates’ is putting it lightly, hook-ups would be more accurate.
Ten looks up for a second, then back to his phone, a slight frown adorning his usually sharp features. “It went kinda bad.”
Doyoung snorts, sipping his coffee, “Well, that’s certainly a first. Whatever happened? Don’t tell me he was a bottom.”
“Hardy-har-har,” Ten sniffs, “As if that ever stopped me.” He turns off his phone, grabbing a nearby banana in the process before biting into it aggressively. “Oh Doyoung, you should've seen him, he was absurdly hot. You know, tall and dark and handsome but… I don’t know. My incubus charms didn’t work on him.”
It’s Doyoung’s time to frown, “How? Is that even a thing?” In all the time he's known Ten, Doyoung hasn't heard of his incubus charm failing.
Ten shrugs, seemingly irked at the whole situation, “All I know is that I went in there looking for a good time, turned on my charms to get into the guy’s pants and it didn’t work. He kept trying to make conversation and getting to know me. Why would he do that?”
“That’s usually what happens in dates, Ten,” Doyoung rolls his eyes at his obtuse friend. “Normal people looking for relationships.”
Ten dismissed him with a wave, “Yeah, well. I think he noticed I wasn’t really there to get a boyfriend or whatever, and the date ended pretty quickly. I’m still kind of offended I got rejected, I even wore my best leather pants.”
“Get used to it, Ten, the best of us get rejected.” Doyoung sips the last of his cold coffee before wincing at the flavor.
“Morning,” a deep, sleep-addled voice yawns into the room. Jaehyun lazily walks into the kitchen, wearing ridiculous silk pajamas and looking far too attractive for him to just have rolled out of bed. Life is truly unfair, Doyoung thinks as he eyes himself on the reflection of his phone, dark eyes prominent and hair a right mess.
It’s been exactly three days since Jaehyun moved in to their apartment, taking permanent residence in the room just across Doyoung’s. He hasn’t seen him that often though, Doyoung has a very busy schedule that involves having to leave the apartment before Jaehyun even wakes up. Between having to check in on Donghyuck and the milkshake place and helping out Taeyong at the magic firm, Doyoung doesn’t really have to time to be mingling with the new roommate. Not that he’s dying to, of course.
On the other hand, Jaehyun’s daily schedule seems to be filled with… nothing. The other man has practically been cooped up in their apartment for the past three days with no qualms whatsoever. Ten did say that he’s seen him go out for a few hours before coming back. Doyoung might be a little curious about his roommate, but he isn’t close enough to ask him. Ten, though, is quite the opposite.
“So, Jaehyun, do you have like, a job or what?” Ten asks, not even bothering to look up from his food.
Doyoung snorts out his milk, making his nostrils burn. Karma doesn't like mean wizards.
Jaehyun doesn't seem to mind though, walking up to them and popping into his mouth one of Doyoung’s strawberry jam toasts. “Not really. Why?”
“Just curious,” Ten raises his shoulders in a shrug. “I was just thinking,” he continues, standing up and making his way to the sink, “You should go with Doyoung today, then. To the milkshake diner.”
“What? Why?” Doyoung looks up in panic from where was he trying to get his toast back. What kind of manic plan is Ten concocting now?
He’s not the only one shaking in distress, Doyoung notices Jehyun furrow his eyebrows in distaste, “The what?”
Ten shrugs, “Doyoung’s family owns a diner. He and Gongmyung take care of it,” he turns to the alarmed wizard, “You can show Jaehyun around the place and buy him a milkshake, it's basically our second home.”
Doyoung grits his teeth, he's not looking to be this guy’s babysitter, he's got enough with Donghyuck as is. “I don't think Jaehyun will like it—”
“Gongmyung?” Jaehyun stands up straighter, a shine in his eyes Doyoung doesn't like one bit. “I would like to visit this milkshake place.”
“Oh my god, no. Stop.” Doyoung groans, shaking his head in rejection.
“I get it, Jaehyun. Gongmyung hyung is so fine.” Ten sighs dreamily before casting a glance at Doyoung, “Poor Doyoung got the bad genes of the family.”
“You’re horrible and I hate you." It's incredible how so many people seem to naturally fall in love with his older brother. It has come to the point where Doyoung has wondered if he has any hidden magical charm. Perhaps they're actually half-brothers and Gongmyung is part Fae while Doyoung’s mom is an orc.
The wizard stands up in a sudden motion, shaking their table in the process. He turns and walks to his room, a hand through his hair, visibly annoyed, “We leave in five Jaehyun, I won’t wait for you so hurry up and get dressed.”
Ten throws his head back in a bright laugh before facing Jaehyun, “Well, go on future Mr. Kim, Doyoung’s a beast about being on time.”
“You’re not going?” the other asks, fluffy slippers on his feet. “You’re leaving me alone with Doyoung? ”
“Dont tell him I told you this," Ten whispers conspirationally, "But Doyoung is one of the most caring and nicest people I know. He’s just a tough nut to crack, but I'm sure you'll get to him in no time,” Ten shrugs, “And no way I’m spending more time with you two, we already live together, I can feel your smell permanently seeping into me and it is not nice.” He grabs his car keys from the fruit bowl, smoothly taking his coat from the couch as he heads towards the door, “I’ll be at Taeyong’s. Have fun, babies!”
Ten snickers as he steps out of the apartment, wrapping his favorite scarf around him.
He knows Doyoung isn't too keen on hanging out with their new roommate—but really, when is Doyoung too keen on hanging out with anyone. Call it the hellish seventh sense of a demon, but Ten feels like Jaehyun’s candid and uncomplicated nature could be good for Doyoung’s labyrinth of a mind.
Or something. Maybe he just needed someone to distract Doyoung with.
He walks out of the building and the air instantly hits him. Damn Satan, when will winter be over.
Taeyong paces back and forth, biting his lip. Whatever, he says to himself, downing the last remnants of the rosé wine currently in his hands.
He hears the entrance door to his apartment open, it must be Ten. He leaves the glass on the kitchen counter before sauntering off to the living room. “Thank god, I really need to tell you something,” he starts, but his words die off as he sees the newcomer.
It’s not Ten—Taeyong should've known, Ten never gets there in time—instead of the short, black haired incubus he was expecting, it is Taeil who appears in his doorway. Donned in a brown coat, boots and hair softly disarrayed from the outside wind. Taeil stays there, immobile, looking at Taeyong for a few seconds, not saying anything. It’s awkward, there’s no denying, but Taeyong can’t seem to move nor talk, too immersed in the other’s surprised face.
Finally, it is Taeil who coughs, nose sniffling. “Hi,” a smile appears, removing his boots and placing them near the entrance. “It’s really cold out, isn’t it?” Taeyong finds his blooming smile, as it has always been, lovely, calming, like a spring flower garden—that's Moon Taeil for you.
He finds his voice, “Yeah, I won’t be surprised if we get snow this month,” Taeyong replies easily with a soft smile. As opposed to other dragons, he is absolutely in love with low temperatures, the snow, the cold. He’s always find it intimately beautiful.
Taeil plops himself on the plush sofa in their living room, he’s been here too many times, enough to get himself comfortable. “Where’s Yuta?” he asks, looking around the room.
“Should be in his room,” Taeyong says as he sits on an oak table just next to the sofa, opening up his laptop in the process, “Yuta!” he calls out, sounding way too much like a berating mother, “Taeil is here!”
There's a beat of silence as the clock ticks in near vicinity, “I see you dyed your hair again,” Taeil adds, curiously looking over Taeyong’s face, “It looks good on you, I think.”
Taeyong touches a stray strand of hair, he’s gone from light cherry pink to a warm honey color. “Thanks, it was time, I suppose.”
Taeil’s hand goes up to his own dark hair, “I should try it sometime too. What do you think, maybe blonde?”
“It’d look nice—super nice,” Taeyong checks the screen in front of him, feeling Taeil’s eyes on him, burning. He returns the stare, “But you already look perfect right now.”
Taeil blinks for a second, Taeyong sees him open his mouth a fraction before he turns around with an awkward laugh, shaking his head. “You're so weird.”
“Taeyong? Weird? No way,” Yuta says, socked feet lazily padding into the living room. “‘Sup, Moony.”
“Hey,” Taeil waves, squishing into the left side of the couch to make way for Yuta.
“I’m not weird,” Taeyong frowns with a pout, “Isn’t that Taeil’s job?” Taeil tries to throw a cushion in his direction, but Taeyong’s reflexes are too fast. Perks of a dragon.
“Where's Ten, anyways?” Yuta yawns, sprawling himself over the couch, feet ending up atop Taeil’s lap. “I woke up too early for this and he's not even here yet.”
“It’s midday, Yuta,” Taeil rolls his eyes at the absurdity of his laziest friend. “Maybe if you slept in at night like a normal person you wouldn't be complaining.”
“It's awful,” Taeyong interrupts, “He's too loud, walking around the house at 5 in the morning and blasting music from his room. I demand a new roommate.”
“Ok, so I’m a bit of a night owl, so what,” Yuta defends himself, arms crossed behind his neck serving as a pillow, “Would you rather switch with Doyoung and have Ten as your roomate? I think not.”
“Not Ten, maybe Doyoung,” Taeyong sniffs in distaste, “I’m not sure I’d like to have random naked men walking around my apartment every weekend.”
“Heard from Ten their new roommate is hot,” Taeil shrugs, “Maybe Yuta would like him as a roommate.”
“He is,” Ten replies with a grin, “Jaehyun’s a bit stuck-up though. Wonder why I’m the one trapped living with the jerks.”
“Fuck off, Ten,” Yuta bellows, hands going to his chest in panic, “Stop phasing through walls and knock on the door!”
The demon purses his lips, flicking his finger on Yuta’s forehead, “What's the fun if I can't even give my friends heart attacks?”
“Why are you always late?” Taeyong mutters as Ten takes a seat on the chair beside him, looking thoroughly disinterested.
“What is this secret meeting of yours?” he asks back instead. Taeil nods as well, not knowing the reason why Taeyong has asked to see them. “Why did you ask me to not tell Doyoung about this, I’m assuming it can't be anything good.”
“Doyoung doesn't know about this?” Taeil questions, scandalized. Ten is right, if Taeyong is hiding something from Doyoung, it can't possibly be… lawful.
Taeyong has the decency to blush, coughing into his hand. “I might need your help for something. And I rather not give Doyoung an aneurysm.”
Taeil rubs his eyes in exasperation, “Dear god, I’m not sure if I want to hear this.”
“Spit it out then, Yong,” Ten asks, curious glint in his eyes.
The dragon clears his throat at once, turning his laptop so his friends can see the screen. “So, two days ago I was scrolling through Ebay—” There’s a choir of groans that Taeyong ignores, “And I found this guy that’s selling, hear me out, dragon eggs.”
“Dragon eggs?” Taeil squints his eyes, looking at the screen. “Why would a random guy from Ebay be selling that online?”
“More importantly, why were you looking for dragon eggs?” Yuta points out even though this is the second time Taeyong’s told him this information.
“Semantics!” Taeyong frowns, “I looked at the pictures and they're authentic dragon eggs.”
Ten asks, “Ok, so? What about this guy? Do you want us to lend you money?”
“Dragon eggs are illegal, Ten!” Taeyong gapes at his friends, wide-eyed. “They're an endangered species! And this guy just happens to have them in his house to sell to the highest bidder,” he mumbles in a lower voice, “And they're too damn expensive.”
“So you want to steal them,” Taeil pinches his nose, knowing exactly where this is going.
“Exactly,” Taeyong stares at him, resolute. Now, get this right, Taeyong isn't an evil-doer. He's a Good Dragon, obeys the laws, even works with them sometimes. But a dragon’s blood duty is far more important than that to Taeyong, by a lot.
“Our good boy Taeyong breaking the law, I love it,” Ten sighs with a grin, “If you end up in prison it’ll be so funny.”
Taeyong scratches his chin, “Well that one Buzzfeed quiz I took last week did say I was Neutral Good.”
“This is more like Chaotic Good,” Yuta says, satisfied at the prospect of his best friend breaking the law. “This is why we're friends.”
Taeil elbows Yuta with a swift motion. “Stop hitting the most dangerous creature in this room!” he yelps, rubbing his own stomach in consolation.
“Do you even know where he is?” Taeil ignores him, sparing Taeyong a glance, still unconvinced.
Finally getting up from his seat, Taeyong nods, “Yeah, Yuta got his IP address and he lives somewhere in the Netherlands.”
“Oh, so that's why you need my help,” Taeil huffs out, crossing his arms, “You need a teletransportation spell and you're too scared to ask Doyoung.”
“That's not true!” Taeyong denies quickly before stopping mid-way, “Maybe it is true, but I also need your precious moral support.”
“And I’m guessing you need me to phase through a house or something stupid like that.” Ten adds, “You know, us incubi are more than just phasing demons, don't reduce me to that.”
Taeyong sighs, deflated, “Listen, if you don't want to help me, I completely understand—”
“Hey, hey wait up, I didn’t say that, Taeyong. We get to steal dragon eggs in the Netherlands for fun, do you really think I’m gonna say no?” Ten shakes his head, “And you’re crazy if you think there’s even a small chance of Taeil letting you go to jail alone.”
“I—” Taeil stammers, wide eyed, as Taeyong whips his head around in his direction.
“Really?” he asks.
Taeil scrunches his eyebrows, looking away, “Where are you going to find a better wizard, anyway?”
Taeyong’s eyes light up, “You’re the best, Taeil!” He exclaims as a small jet of flames accidentally shoots out of his mouth, missing Ten’s head by a millimeter, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry.”
“Lee Taeyong, you stupid lizard!”
“You have a really nice nose, you know that?” Mark says, chin plopped atop his own hand. “Like, really nice.”
Donghyuck groans. He’s also getting damn better at controlling his annoying pink blush from spreading all over his face. “I know I do. You’re welcome.”
The diner always seems to have more clientele on Fridays, for some reason. Donghyuck has been stuck taking orders and making milkshakes and burgers and he’s kind of tired, but at least Mark has been there for a while, making the most useless of comments here and there. It’s nice, not that Donghyuck is going to say it it loud.
Mark has been spending almost every single day at the diner ever since the first day he stumbled upon the place. Always there at 3pm, just after school. Donghyuck can’t seem to mind, it’s nice having company other than bossy Doyoung and his old friends.
“Today’s Monster Hunter Club meeting day, you know,” Mark starts, “You should come by today, show you around the place.”
“What place?” he replies, swiping the counter with a battered rag, he raises an eyebrow, “Your school’s library?”
Mark gives him a pout, it’s astounding how much of a puppy he can be. Donghyuck wonders if Mark isn’t some sort of werewolf boy and he’s hiding it from him. “It’s actually one of the storage rooms,” Mark sighs. “The school isn’t too cool about us having a, and I quote, sci-fi comic rendezvous after school hours, but Mr. Park, our literature teacher, says it helps our imagination and worldbuilding so he’s our tutor even though he’s never actually there.”
“Can’t imagine why they gave you the storage room,” Donghyuck huffs out a laugh before walking up to a couple in a booth and taking their order. Two strawberry milkshakes and a banana split.
“You never said no,” Mark sing-songs with a smile when Donghyuck comes back, “We can leave straight after your shift ends.”
“I can’t today, Mark,” Donghyuck looks at him with finality. He sees the way Mark sighs in dejectment and he can’t help but feel a little (read: a lot) bad. It’s in Mark’s nature to be this annoyingly cute. He rolls his eyes, “But I promised I’d to go to your little vampire hunt next week, didn’t I? I’ll be there.”
“I haven’t forgotten,” the smile is back on his face instantly, “I’m so excited, we get to kill a vampire together, isn’t that cool?”
“We are not going to kill him, Mark,” Donghyuck calls out as he walks into the kitchen.
In an astounding less than five minutes, he comes back outside, the couple’s food ready to be served.
“You’re great,” Mark eyes the banana split in wonder, “Where did you learn how to do all this? And so quickly!”
Donghyuck stammers out for a second. “My mom. She’s. A great cook. Taught me since I was a child.” This is a lie. Donghyuck’s mom is the worst cook he knows, even Donghyuck himself is slightly better than her and that’s not saying much.
In his household, everything is done with common magic spells, very much like all the cooking at the diner. Doyoung allows it and encourages it, it’s even considered part of his training as Doyoung’s apprentice, which is, in fact, the only reason why Donghyuck even bothers to work at the diner.
“Can you make me a banana milkshake? I wanna see how you do it,” Mark asks innocently enough and Donghyuck curses his curiosity. No wonder he’s the appointed leader of a monster club.
“No,” he refuses, shaking his head, “Only allowed personnel can go in there. Boss’ orders.”
“But you’re the only personnel.” Mark frowns, taking the last of his french fries into his mouth. “And you said you never listen to your boss anyways.”
“Is that so?” Doyoung appears out of thin air like the horrifying wizard he is. If it weren't for the fact that Donghyuck has seen his White Arts Grimoire collection, he’d be so sure Doyoung delves into the Dark Arts, evil laughter and everything.
“Uh,” Donghyuck grins from ear to ear, not unlike the famous swamp elfs of Seoul who steal your wallets the moment you look away. “Hey Boss. You look dashing today.”
“Don't lie to him, kid,” comes a another reply. A tall, sparkly man takes a seat next to Mark, who can only look on with wonder in his eyes. Donghyuck understands, he is feeling the same way right now. A peach-scented breeze reaches them. “Tell Doyoung about the bags under his eyes,” he points towards Doyoung, who looks anything but enamored.
“I told you, I didn't get enough sleep yesterday,” the wizard complains, visibly annoyed.
“You should try it. Look at me, looking fresh and cute.”
“That's because all you do is sleep, mosquito-man.”
Donghyuck raises a curious eyebrow at the pair. It is incredibly rare for Doyoung to bring people over who are not his immediate circle of friends to the diner.
“He’s my new roommate,” Doyoung turns to look at him, as if knowing what he's thinking.
“Jung Jaehyun,” the fairy greets with a smile, showing his perfectly white teeth. “If Doyoung’s your boss, does that make me your boss by association?”
“What kind of logic is that?” Doyoung exclaims.
“You are,” Donghyuck replies, voiced laced with affection. “My one and only boss.”
“By Morgana, he’s charmed.” Doyoung groans in lament as Jaehyun throws back his head in laughter.
“You are a beautiful man,” Mark says from Jaehyun’s other side, “Please marry me.” If Donghyuck is bad, then Mark is even worse, normal humans suffer the most under the Fae’s attraction charms.
“You might be a little too young for me,” Jaehyun pats the boy’s shoulders. At the moment of contact, Jaehyun’s eyes widen, quickly turning to look at Doyoung. He’s human, Jaehyun mouths, not that Mark would even understand if he were to say it out loud, he's too dazzled to even care.
Doyoung sighs, massaging his temple once before walking to the other side of the counter, getting a hold of Donghyuck’s elbow and dragging him into the kitchen.
“Hey, Donghyuck, you fool, wake up,” he snaps his fingers in front of the younger boy’s face. “He’s not even that cute, honestly.”
Donghyuck shakes his head, “Woah. His fairy aura is so... strong. I don’t think I’ve met a fairy like that before.”
“You get used to it,” Doyoung dismisses, “You’ll hate him in no time like the rest of us.” The sound of outside chatter is too loud, he wonders how Jaehyun is dealing with Mark. “But that’s not the point, Donghyuck. Mark’s been here all week, you’re going to get him in trouble. You’re going to get in trouble.”
Donghyuck’s mouth twists in protest, “If anything I’m keeping him out of trouble,” he mutters, “He’s onto us, Doyoung. Or at least the Qian Coven. I’m just keeping an eye out on him.”
“Is that it?” Doyoung gives him a pointed look, “Listen it’s fine if you like him or whatever—”
“I don’t like him!” Donghyuck squeaks out, apalled, “You bring your whole harem here all the time, just because he’s my friend and I give him free milkshakes doesn’t mean—”
“One, how dare you insinuate I have a harem,” Doyoung splutters, disgust evident on his face, “Two, you’re giving him free milkshakes? ”
Donghyuck looks away for a moment, “They’re the vanilla flavored ones, no one drinks those anyways.”
“Whatever,” Doyoung sighs, exasperated, “Just be careful, Donghyuck, look just how much he was affected by Jaehyun’s charms right now. Don’t try and mix Mark with the Magic world, it can bring a whole world of problems.”
He’s doing that all by himself, thinks Donghyuck, but it goes unvoiced, not wanting any more of Doyoung’s chastise. “Alright, hyung, I understand.”
Doyoung gives him a pat on the back as he always does whenever he awkwardly tries to thank or congratulate Donghyuck. Both men grimace. “C’mon, let’s go back. Hopefully Mark has already taken Jaehyun hostage or something.”
By the time they come out of the kitchen and back to the diner, Donghyuck sees that Mark has, effectively, taken Jaehyun hostage. He’s tightly gripping onto the older boy’s torso, trapping him in a hug, his head resting just below his armpit. “You smell so sweet,” he says with a smile, eyes closed.
Jaehyun has a horrified expression on his face, frozen in fear. “Doyoung, help me. He doesn’t want to let go.”
Doyoung tries to fight off his laughter but ultimately fails, enjoying the fairy’s suffering, “You’re just gonna have to wait until it wears off.”
“Please,” Jaehyun pleads, “What if Gongmyung comes in and sees me like this?”
“Gongmyung?” Donghyuck questions, “He doesn't come by on Fridays.”
“What?” exclaims Jaehyun, now truly defeated in life. “Doyoung, you said he was going to be here!”
“I didn't say anything!” Doyoung points at him, “You were the lustful little mosquito that forced me to bring you here!”
Jaehyun groans, and Donghyuck is sure that if he could actually move out of Mark’s grip, he’d be pulling at his beautiful strands of chocolate hair.
“Donghyuck, can you just make us a couple of chocolate milkshakes?” Doyoung says, reluctant, “Make sure to add eel eye powder to Mark’s milkshake.”
“To counter attack the fairy charm, right?” Donghyuck asks to confirm even though he knows exactly what eel eye does. Doyoung made him learn all about finned fish potions for a horrible three whole weeks that Donghyuck spent smelling stank.
“That’s right, young grasshopper,” Doyoung gives him a solemn nod before Donghyuck makes his way back into the kitchen.
“So he’s your apprentice?” Jaehyun asks curiously, Mark cuddling to his side, still too out of it. “He’s a wizard too?”
Doyoung shakes his head, “He’s a witch. Our mothers know each other because they worked together a few years ago,” he explains, “Last year he showed up at my apartment demanding that I take him under my wing. Of course I refused and told him to ask Gongmyung instead but he wouldn’t budge,” he finishes with the slightest hint of pride. Donghyuck might be a slightly anarchic brat, but he’s also a careful and dedicated student and Doyoung admires that. “I agreed on the condition that he would help me run the diner, so here he is.”
Jaehyun whistles, “I’m surprised you actually accepted an apprentice, you don’t seem like the type.”
“Yeah, well, I thought fairies were supposed to be nice yet you don’t seem like the type.”
“Faeries aren’t nice,” Jaehyun frowns at once.
“Oh, so you mean to tell it’s all a facade and that Faes are actually really fucking horrible. Who would’ve thought?” Doyoung rolls his eyes, bitter sarcasm dripping from his voice.
Jaehyun turns to look at him, “Well I’m a Fae and I’m not horrible,” he says in a low voice and Doyoung thinks he might be trying to convince himself more than he is trying to convince Doyoung.
The kitchen door opens on a whim and Donghyuck comes out, arms full with four glasses of flavored milk. “Two chocolate milkshakes for grandpa and grandma, one vanilla eel milkshake for Jaehyun’s husband, and one strawberry vodka milkshake for me because I sure do need it.”
“I kid, I kid,” Donghyuck says with a laugh as he places all the glasses on the counter. “C’mon, drink up, Mark Lee,” he says, placing the special milkshake in front of him that will dwindle the charm effects on the impressionable human.
“Only if Jaehyun feeds it to me.”
There’s a chorus of groans before Jaehyun reluctantly complies.
At the time, Taeyong’s plan seemed relatively plausible. It was easy, after all: get Taeil to do his little hocus-pocus spell and transport them to the guy’s house a thousand miles away from Seoul. Then, Taeyong would use his woosh and fly them to the second floor, or wherever the eggs happened to be hidden. And last, Ten would use his zap and phase them through the rooms without much difficulty. All the while, Yuta would keep them guard with his night vision.
In retrospective, they should’ve known it wouldn't be so easy.
As luck would have it, it wasn't the house of a suburban middle aged man from Amsterdam. It was, in fact and quite literally, an ancient stone castle in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by a greenish pond and, according to Taeil, guarded with very powerful Dökkálfar—dark Elven—magic.
“It’s basically surrounded by this dome of Dökkálfar magic,” Taeil explains as they huddle together, hiding amongst an expanse of viridescent hills, just a mile away from the castle. It’s nighttime, but the sky is a heavy gray and the clouds above them let out drizzle, the soft pitter-patter against the greenery doing nothing to acquiesce the atmosphere. “There’s also other magical beings inside the castle, probably guards. Maybe goblins or orcs if my emanation reading is correct.”
Yuta, nods in agreement, “I can feel goblin life-force. Which is good because they’re significantly weaker than orcs.”
“How did he even get Wi-Fi up to here?” Ten looks on at the castle, baffled.
Taeyong shudders at the thought, cold drops of water hitting the back of his neck. “Are you sure you guys want to do this?” he asks, eyeing his best friends. He doesn’t want to get anyone in trouble, or worse, hurt.
“We’re already here, Taeyong,” Taeil huffs out, giving him a reassuring look, “I wouldn’t be able to leave knowing those dragon eggs are under a dark elf.”
“I agree,” Ten crosses his arms, a hand going through his already mop of wet hair. “We’ve done worse.”
“Ok,” Yuta claps, “So, how do we get through that magic dome, Taeil? Does this mean your wizard magic won’t work?”
Taeil bristles at the comment, blowing hair out of his eyes, “If I were a level 3 wizard then maybe, Nakamoto. You’re underestimating me.”
“That’s Moony for ya!” Ten says, the rain falling faster to the ground. “Kim Doyoung wishes!”
Taeyong hums, looking at the stone castle in the distance, “Do you guys have any other plans?”
“I can conjure up a concealment spell. It’ll be like hacking into a firewall,” Taeil furrows his eyebrows in thought, “The only downside is that since the castle’s protective magic is too strong, I’ll only be able to conceal two people at the most. Preferably Taeyong and Ten, so they can get there quickly and phase through the place easily.”
“Taeil and I will stay here, then,” Yuta throws an arm around the shorter man, “I’ll use my life-force detection to guide you through the place until you find the eggs.”
Taeyong nods in understanding, it doesn't sound too hard. He’s lost in thought, contemplating the course of action, when he suddenly feels a warm hold on him. He looks down to see Taeil grabbing onto each of his hands.
He’s always liked Taeil’s hands, they’re small and clean; it’s a nice touch, pleasant and familiar and Taeyong can physically feel the flush creeping up his neck and cheeks, his stomach doing embarrassing flip-flops.
“Stop thinking, Taeyong,” Taeil says, voice monotone, eyes closed, “I’m doing a spell on you.”
Ten snickers behind him, “Calm down, Yong.”
He stills, cheeks still hot, but tries to remain unmoving, letting Taeil work his magic. After a few seconds he starts to feel a warm, tinglish sensation move throughout his body, the shield-like feeling seems to envelop him like a blanket.
“Should be done,” Taeil slowly opens his eyes with a satisfied smile, “This will last as long as my stamina can hold up, which should be around an hour.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll be in and out of there in fifteen minutes,” Ten says as he pushes Taeyong out of the way and grabs Taeil’s hands for himself, “Magic me up, Scotty.”
Taeyong frowns at his friend while dusting himself up, “You got my coat full of mud, asshole,” he mutters, grieving for his clothes. He’ll have to do laundry for the third time this week, it seems.
Yuta walks up to him, patting him on the back, “Don’t worry, Flames, I got you.” He gives a single, hard poke at Taeyong’s forehead. “Dream team, alright?”
Taeyong gives him a grin, if he trusts anyone in the world it is definitely Nakamoto Yuta.
“Ok, we’re ready, Taeyong,” Ten cracks his knuckles once, “Take us to the castle and let’s get this over with.”
Taeyong has no magical wings nor a shifting ability, or anything as grandiose as that, a fact he has always considered a shame. What’s the point of being a legendary creature if he can't even show it off? Compared to his beast counterparts, human dragons are pretty lame—not that he would ever admit that to his friends.
With one last wave at Taeil and Yuta, Taeyong grabs onto to Ten’s waist and lifts him up, starting their trek towards the castle.
The chilly air hits them in the face and any other occasion perhaps it wouldn't be so bad, but this time the cold drops of rain keep falling at a rapid pace, hitting them square in the face and making it difficult see past the blurry images a few meters in front of them.
“You’re kind of heavy,” Taeyong wheezes, just when they’ve reached mid-point, the castle growing bigger by the second.
“Are you really trying to call me fat now?” Ten yells, offended, “I’m lighter than Taeil and Yuta, you're just a weakling!”
“Well if I drop you, I’m sorry,” Taeyong grunts, wincing when Ten pinches his stomach, “Ow!” he stumbles in flight and Ten shrieks, holding onto Taeyong for dear life.
He knows Ten is mumbling some offensive insults and threatening to kill him in his dreams, however, Taeyong pays him no mind as the image of the castle in front of them becomes clear.
It’s eerily creepy, there's no other way to put it. It’s a grand old thing, hundreds of meters long, with various towers surrounding the main building. There's visible mold growing from the grimy cracks of the stone walls, and even from here, Taeyong can feel the imminent dark aura of the place.
“Are we in the medieval ages or something?” Ten splutters, “Seriously, what is this place?”
“Enter the castle by phasing through the highest window on the left tower. Should be almost directly in front of you." Yuta’s voice resonates through Taeyong’s head. He nods even though the other won’t see him. “That side should be free of goblins.”
When they get close enough, Taeyong is sure he can feel whatever dark elf magic Taeil talked about and a chill runs down his spine.
“Ok,” he exhales, getting ready for the queasy sensation of phasing through walls, “Get ready Ten,” he says just seconds before flying straight towards the wall.
As is always the case, Taeyong prepares for impact, closing his eyes the moment they go through the wall. However, instead of colliding against a hard rock wall, they go through matter easily.
As soon as they’re inside, Taeyong lands gently, a dizzy Ten just in front of him. “I hate flying,” his friend says looking greenish in the face. “Now what?”
They look around the room, it’s a vacant space with high ceilings, adorned with tapestries and stone arcs and intricate carved designs. There are small torches perched on the walls, illuminating the place with dim lightning. It’s much too dark and empty, Taeyong feels like any sound they make could produce a resounding echo.
“The eggs are in the highest room of the tower opposite to you, but the farther you go in, the more goblins I detect,” comes Yuta’s voice.
“Through here,” Taeyong grabs Ten’s hand as they walk through a stone arch that leads to an even darker hallway. “Let’s just be careful, Yuta says the goblins are near.”
They walk in small, silent steps, careful to not make unnecessary noise. Taeyong can see Ten’s eyes glow in the dark, a bright golden, very much like a cat’s, sharp and observant.
“Where are the goblins Yuta?” he thinks, as they end the near of the corridor. He takes a peek to the left, there’s another, shorter hallway but this one has doors aligned on the side, where warm light can be seen coming through the slits.
“Just go to your left, straight ahead. There’s goblins in those rooms but if you get past that, you’ll be fine. Just reach the staircase and go up, the eggs should be there.”
Taeyong silently points towards the end of the hallway, making a shushing motion to Ten. His friend nods and they shuffle their way through. As they get near, Taeyong hears the unmistakable sound of chatter and goblin laughter, shrieking little things, too annoying even to his own ears.
“They must be up drinking or something,” Ten mutters, nose upturned in distaste. “How discriminating is it to say I highly dislike goblins?”
“Everybody hates goblins, Ten,” Taeyong replies, eyeing the doors for any suspicious movement. They're not too far away from the main staircase, but Taeyong would rather not risk it, taking slow steps and being alert.
Just a mile away from the castle, Taeil bites his nails, trying to concentrate on keeping up his concealment spell. If he accidentally drops it, it won't matter if his friends get past the goblins. “What's taking them so long?” he asks, worry etched on his face.
“Taeyong’s just walking excruciatingly slow, he's too careful,” Yuta replies, the white back of his eyes visible as he monitors the place, “Don't worry, the goblins are too drunk to properly guard the place.”
“Taeyong, hurry up, it's too cold out here, man,” Yuta whines loudly into Taeyong’s mind, making him wince.
“Shut up,” Taeyong hisses, uselessly hitting his own head.
Ten raises an eyebrow in amusement, “Are you alright?”
Taeyong nods as they finally reach the end of the hallway, the stone stairway just within reach. “C’mon,” he grabs Ten’s waist without warning.
“Wait, no, Taeyo—!” Ten says too late as Taeyong plunges up into the tower, not bothering to take the stairs.
“It’s quicker this way,” Taeyong grins down at his friend. He really hopes Ten doesn't decide vomit in the middle of a mission. “Cheer up, Ten, we're nearly there.” He slows down just before the stairs end, right in front of an immense oaken door.
It’d be an understatement to say how many ridiculously giant metal locks there are hanging from the massive structure. “I appreciate you in times like these, Chittaphon,” he mutters, still gaping, wide-eyed, at the door.
“I’m expecting a nice dinner after this,” Ten sighs, taking Taeyong’s hand into his and walking straight through the door.
The room is cold, unbearably so. Even colder than the awful outside temperatures back in Seoul and Taeyong instantly frowns. Dragon eggs are supposed to be kept in warm conditions, the hatchlings might end up dying otherwise.
Then, another feeling. Or lack, thereof. Taeyong can feel the absence of Taeil’s warm fuzzy protection.
“What happened?” Taeil panics, “I—I swear I didn't drop the spell, something stopped it.”
Yuta turns to look at him, eyes back to its normal brown color, “I don't know,” he grimaces, “Something stopped my monitoring as well, I can't feel or see anything in that room.”
Taeil groans, “Just what we needed. There must've been Greater magical force guarding that room. The elf’s going to find out sooner or later.”
It comes sooner rather than later.
“Taeyong,” Ten gasps in a whisper, pointing towards the darkest corner of the room.
There, from amongst the shadows, walks out a slim, frail figure. They can't see much, but the slight moonlight reveals sharp, bony features and blue skin.
The elf yells loud and angry, his loud screeches echoing through the cold room, and clearly, it's something of importance but—
“Wow. Ok. I’m sorry, we have no idea what you're saying, we're not from here,” Ten yells back in loud Korean.
The elf is taken aback for a few seconds before growling, yet again, in what is probably Deutsch.
Taeyong and Ten don't seem to understand, obviously, and, when he gets no response from them again, the elf blasts a force of ice pikes in their direction.
“Oi! This is homophobic!” Ten yells just as he ducks the blast aiming straight to his head.
“Go to the corner, I’ll handle this, Ten,” Taeyong yells as warm, orange flames start growing from his palms.
“But Taeyong… nobody puts baby in the corner.”
“So you can't communicate with them at all?” Taeil walks in circles, hands going straight to his hair, panic rising.
“Call them!” Yuta exclaims, “Ten has his phone, doesn't he?”
“Yuta, we're in the middle of the Netherlands, I have zero Wi-Fi!”
“Uh, excuse me, you're a w-i-z-a-r-d, conjure up something cool right now or Doyoung is officially better than you.”
“You wish,” Taeil spits, already taking out his Samsung phone—“Wait, lend me your phone, I can't FaceTime on Android.”
“C’mon, Taeyong, melt his guts!” Ten screams from his corner of the room. Taeyong gives him a tired thumbs up, his temple dripping with beads of sweat. He's been holding the Elf’s attacks pretty well, but the other is clearly a master in magic and combat, he's no easy rival.
“Maybe I should've just reported him to Ebay,” he mumbles under his breath as another blast of ice heads his way. He fire-breathes his way to the chest where the eggs are, maybe he and Ten can take them and flee as quickly as they can. The eggs must be heavy though, so he isn't too sure how he’ll be able to take flight with all three of them plus a whole fat Ten.
The high-pitched tune of Ten’s phone fills the room, making Taeyong turn to face his friend in question.
“It’s a FaceTime call from... Yuta?” Ten looks at his phone before sharing a confused look with Taeyong.
“Look out, Yong!” Ten manages to say as the Elf runs towards the dragon, ice blasts ready to shoot. Ten makes sure Taeyong dodges the attack before answering the call, “Hey guys, guess what?”
“Are you guys alright?” Taeil yells in fright through the speakers, “Where’s Taeyong?”
“We’re fine,” Ten covers his ears, his eardrum shaking. He stops, “Actually, we’re not fine,” he turns the camera around, recording Taeyong fighting for his life. There’s a blast of fire and Taeil shrieks. “The stupid elf was already in the room when we got here.”
“Do you guys need reinforcements?” Yuta asks from Taeil’s side, the tiny screen not having enough space for the both of them.
“I mean, I’m sure Taeyong has it covered,” he says just as a blunt icicle hits Taeyong right in the stomach. “Just give us a few minutes.”
Ten, seeing Magical Dark Evil Overlord Elf too distracted with trying to kill Taeyong, decides to make a run for the egg chest, where they lay atop a clump of hay.
“Are those the eggs? They’re so—” Taeil starts but is interrupted by a loud blast coming from the oaken door. It seems the goblins have come to help their master, and suddenly, dozens and dozens of little creatures come running into the room, grotesque green skin and piercing yells.
“Shit,” Ten hisses as some of the gremlins come his way, the rest run towards Taeyong, who does his best to avoid them with more blasts. “Gotta take baby out,” he says as he lifts the cuff of his jeans, revealing two small daggers, perfectly laced with demon poison.
“You really think two daggers are going to help you with those?” Taeil says, exasperated. They really should’ve brought Doyoung with them.
“I have to do everything around here,” Yuta says dramatically, twisting his mouth as the once soft drizzle grows into a bigger storm, sky laden with clouds and wind going wild.
“Wait, Yuta,” Taeil looks at him, open-mouthed. He surely doesn’t mean—
“Super Saiyan mode,” Yuta yells as, once again, his eyes drastically change in color, turning a rich white. His whole body levitates in the air as two small and blue orbs of fire float playfully around him. Three ghostly, transparent tails have suddenly appeared, as well as small fox ears right atop of his head.
“You gotta stop calling it that,” Taeil grimaces, “No one will take you seriously.”
“Doesn’t matter as long as I can whoop their asses,” Yuta punches the air, twirling and spinning through the air gracefully.
“Yuta, don’t—” Taeil stops himself for a few seconds before sighing, “Fine, just be careful.”
“As always,” he winks as he swishes away, breaking through the air at a rapid speed, towards the castle.
Sometimes—most times—Yuta is a little lazy to go out and about with the rest of his friends on dangerous work missions, however, that doesn’t mean he isn’t all-mighty and powerful and better than his friends, because, he is. After all, those are the ways of the mythical Japanese Kitsune. Bonus: he has cute ears.
When it comes down to it, everything flashes in front of Yuta in slow-motion.
He shoots a light-blast through the tower’s roof, no uneventful phasing for him. He floats by some gremlins, absorbs enough life out of them to make them pass out, shoots some other with more blasts, it’s all pretty easy. He sees Ten give him a thumbs-up as he collects the three sizable eggs from the chest. Then, Yuta goes after the gremlins trying to attack a still fighting and looking worse-for-wear Taeyong.
“C’mon, Flames,” Yuta laughs, taunting and spinning in the air just behind Evil Elf who, like Taeyong, seems ready to collapse at any moment. “Are you telling me I’m gonna have to save your ass this time?”
“Shut up,” Taeyong pants, his left arm and hand are now covered in overlapping, tiny bony plates, shining like little rubies: dragon scales. He flings his arm once at the elf, hitting him square in the jaw and throwing him on the floor. “Don’t you dare, Yuta, this one’s mine.”
“Are you gonna kill him?” Yuta looks on curiously at the writhing elf, the storm is slowly calming down but the roofless castle does nothing to protect them from the chilling breeze.
“I’m not sure,” Taeyong frowns down at the elf, “We kind of already did destroy his house,” Taeyong says pointedly, looking around the collapsed roof and parts of the walls.
“Collateral damage for the greater good,” Yuta shrugs, “Maybe I can try and erase his memories—”
“Asshole!” Ten plants his dagger right on the elf’s stomach.
“You really suck at these, don’t you?” Taeyong mumbles with a laugh as he shoots virtual Doyoung with a rifle. Doyoung sticks out his tongue as his on-screen character dies for the second time in five minutes; they’re a tangled mess of limbs all across Doyoung’s sofa, his head resting on Taeyong’s lap while the other maneuvers his PS4 control, trying not to accidentally smack his friend on the face.
Doyoung hums in concentration as he clicks and shoots the scurrying Taeyong, missing each and every time. Taeyong aims at his head once, clean and precise, killing him in one shot.
“Don’t you roll your eyes at me, you sore loser,” Taeyong laughs full of glee as the game ends and the screen dictates him the winner, yet again.
“This is for nerds anyways,” Doyoung crosses his arms, disregarding the control with a sniff.
Taeyong laughs, eyes crinkling as he scratches his friend’s scalp in consolation, “Maybe one day you’ll beat me, but today is not that day. Probably not tomorrow either.”
“You’re awful,” Doyoung grunts as he stands up, leaving the comfort of Taeyong’s warmth. He reaches for the mug of hot coffee on the table next to them, “By the way, what were you up to today? I was stuck babysitting Jaehyun and Donghyuck’s boyfriend so I didn’t see you guys at all.”
Taeyong stills for a second, face hidden behind his own coffee mug. “Oh, just the usual, I suppose,” comes the easy reply as he downs the rest of his drink, looking down at his very interesting toes, “Did some paperwork, then watched a movie together. Nothing much.”
Doyoung eyes him with scrutiny for a long second before tilting his head, “Oh, Taeil was there too?”
He nods, “Taeil and Yuta and Ten, the whole gang. We missed you,” he says honestly.
“Oh, please, you’re too dependent, that’s what you are, it’s not good for you,” Doyoung shakes his head vehemently, but the undeniable glint of satisfaction is there.
There’s some shuffling coming from the hallway, suddenly followed by a yelp of pain and a curse, “Oh, sweet Baphomet, fuck this,” Ten cries, “I just stubbed my toe,”
Doyoung snorts as he calls out, “Are you really going out again today?”
Ten peeks his head out from his room, a mischievous smile adorning his face, “You underestimate the sex drive of an Incubus, Doyoungie.”
“I know plenty of Incubi who are settled and happily married,” Taeyong adds, raising an eyebrow. “I think you’re just too—”
“Is that a bruise on your arm, Taeyong?” Doyoung squints his eyes, leaning forward as he tries to get a better look.
Taeyong flinches, hiding his arm under the fleece blanket, “I hit myself, it was an accident. Doesn't hurt, don’t worry,” he smiles trying to reassure his fretting friend. Doyoung is too good, but he worries and nags too much, not that Lee Taeyong has any room to talk whatsoever.
“Are you sure—”
“I thought we were talking about me!” Ten waves in panic at Doyoung, trying to get his attention. He’s a great friend. “How do I look?” he twirls around once while sticking out his butt. He’s donned in a white dress shirt under a deep red blazer, the first two buttons open, leaving his smooth chest revealed.
“You could dress in a trash bag and Taeil’s ridiculous bucket hat and still charm the pants off everyone—well, not everyone.” Doyoung rolls his eyes, adamantly adding the last bit after seeing Ten’s open his mouth in protest.
“Whatever, I need to get my hair done,” Ten huffs out with a wave of dismissal, swiftly retreating to his room back again.
Taeyong shares a look with Doyoung, barely containing laughter at his demon friend.
They’re just starting their second round of their videogame (with Doyoung’s team already losing), when the jumble of keys can be heard as the door opens and closes within seconds. There’s a few soft giggles, and Doyoung has spent enough time with his new roommate to know who they belong to, but there’s also another laughing voice, chiming and cold, along with Jaehyun’s.
“Who is that?” Taeyong wonders lazily, his eyes never leaving the TV in front of them.
“Our new roommate, Jaehyun,” Doyoung sighs with a twist of lips.
“Oh. I heard from Taeil he’s hot,” Taeyong raises an eyebrow. Before Doyoung can object, the newcomers walk into the living room.
Jaehyun’s laughter comes to a halt the moment he sees Doyoung, he stares for a few seconds, as if caught off guard by the scene. “Oh, hey,” he waves slowly, “Didn’t know you’d be up so late,”
“It’s a Friday night,” Doyoung shrugs, looking from Jaehyun’s pink, cold nose, to the man just a step behind him.
“Hi,” Jaehyun’s friend waves with a shy smile, his soft features are a contrast to his completely black outfit and the prominent dark circles under his eyes. There’s a chill that runs through his spine, but he can’t pinpoint the reason as to why.
Jaehyun looks back at his friend, as if startled, “Right, this is Johnny. He’s my best mate.”
Doyoung nods at him in greeting before Taeyong coughs, “We haven’t met either, I’m Lee Taeyong.” he smiles politely, that one smile Doyoung makes fun of because it makes him look like a penguin. “You’re really attractive,” he blanches for a moment, “Wait, I didn’t mean to say that… not that you aren’t attractive! I’m just—oh, god.” Taeyong hides his face behind his hands, mortified.
“Ahh, trouble seems to follow you wherever you go, huh, Jaehyun?” Doyoung says with a mix of annoyance and amusement in his voice. “The trying times of the Fae.”
“A dragon!” Johnny steps forwards before Jaehyun can retort, “Nice.”
“Hey guys, have you seen my charger?” Ten bellows from the hallway as he walks back into the living room, “I can’t find mine and I need to take one or—” Ten gasps, finally looking up at everyone in the room. “You! ”
“Ten?” Johnny asks loudly, confusion etched on his face as he tilts his head, mouth open.
“Johnny,” he replies, everyone in the room looking at them as if watching a tennis match, “I knew it!” the shorter man says after a few seconds, snapping his fingers in a eureka! moment. “You did fall for me! And now you’ve stalked Jaehyun to get to me.”
“Don’t embarrass yourself this time, Ten,” Doyoung groans, “What are you talking about?”
Ten points at Johnny, who is still looking eternally confused, “He’s the guy I told you about! The one who didn’t want to put out, ” Ten mouths the last part in a whisper but everyone in the room hears him loudly and clearly.
Johnny shakes his head, “I didn’t stalk anyone, Jaehyun invited me over,” Jaehyun nods slowly, confirming.
“Oh,” Ten looks slightly shaken. “What a… small world,” he scratches his head while looking at Johnny, “So… does that mean you definitely didn’t get charmed? Like, are you sure?”
Johnny sighs, "I’m a nephilim. I can’t get charmed. At all. Sorry, I guess?”
“Wow,” Ten replies, stunned. “Ok, I see. A nephilim. Alright, it’s cool.” He looks around the room to see Taeyong and Doyoung have continued their game, too bored by Ten’s usual antics. “Guess I’ll just go then. I have a date.”
“Another one?” Jaehyun mutters next to him as Ten starts walking back into his room.
“Well, I didn’t exactly get to have sex yesterday, did I?” Ten answers with a glare directed at Johnny.
“Good luck?” Johnny smiles sheepishly as he and Jaehyun head to the latter’s room.
After their fourth and final round, just when it’s nearing the awful hour of two am, Taeyong decides to go back home. Doyoung tells him he can stay the night, but his friend insists on just taking a night cab.
“It’s fine, Doyoungie,” Taeyong pats him on the back, “See you tomorrow!”
When Doyoung comes back into the house after walking his friend out, he notices that the house is eerily quiet. Ten has gone on his so-called date and Johnny had just left half an hour earlier, saying a polite ‘nice to meet you’ and ‘goodbye’ to Doyoung and Taeyong before heading out.
He walks to the kitchen, the lazy paddling of his bare feet against the cold floor is the only noise loud enough to be heard. He downs a cold glass of water, his throat feels dry, a big lump in it, his heart heavy inside his chest. Frustration is starting to well up on him. He needs to sleep now or the familiar lurk of sad thoughts will well up on him soon enough.
He soundlessly heads back to his room, struggling a bit seeing as all the lights have been turned off. He squints his eyes as he tries to locate his door, and, just when he’s about to grab the knob, the door to Jaehyun’s room opens.
Doyoung staggers back in surprise. “Jaehyun?” he whispers harshly against the apartment’s silence.
“Uh,” Jaehyun falters, voice hoarse and odd, “Sorry, I was just going to the bathroom.” The lightning is incredibly bad and Doyoung can’t see much of the other boy’s features but he swears—he swears—that he can see Jaehyun’s eyes, red and watery and unmistakably sad.
“Right,” Doyoung coughs awkwardly, not wanting to intrude, “Goodnight, Jaehyun,” he softly says.
There’s a sole sniff. “Goodnight, Doyoung,” Jaehyun’s reply comes before he quickly saunters off towards their bathroom’s direction.
Doyoung walks into his own room, quickly closing the door behind him. The image of Jaehyun lingers in his mind for a few seconds, his back against the door as Doyoung’s heart inexplicably clenches.
thank you to all the lovelies who have been leaving kudos and comments on here, and tweeting and sending ccs! i appreciate you so much!
note: i got a cc anon asking me about update schedule, and for the time being, just letting you know i don't have a definite day, but i will try to update weekly/bi-weeky!
hints for the next chapter: blood, dreams, secrets.
Chapter 3: who you gonna call?
Taeyong’s heart swells as soon as his eyes find Taeil. He’s sitting on a table, hunched over a stack of books, the bushes of daisies next to him looking delightful.
“Taeil!” he calls out with an enthusiastic wave and a jump. The other boy looks up at the familiar voice and smiles back, grin growing as he spots Taeyong run his way.
“I’m a bit late, I’m sorry,” Taeyong says, apologetic expression on his face and panting.
“It’s fine,” Taeil replies placidly, scooting over to make space for Taeyong. It’s a tight fit but it’s not like either of them particularly mind. “It was only five minutes, Taeyong.”
“Five minutes too long,” he responds, taking a seat next to the older boy and placing a warm styrofoam box on the table.
Taeil rolls his eyes before brushing Taeyong’s silver hair to the side. It must’ve gotten messed up after he ran against the breeze just a minute ago. “Thank you,” Taeyong smiles timidly, small voice that makes Taeil’s smile grow just a tad more.
“Don’t worry,” he replies with nonchalance before looking back at the open book in front of him.
“You’ve been studying those protection spells for days now,” Taeyong frowns at the notes and books in front of him, he doesn’t like it when Taeil overworks himself, “You’re allowed to take a break, you know?”
“That’s rich coming from you, Lee Taeyong,” Taeil reproaches but closes his book on a whim, sliding it to the side and looking back at the other boy, he tilts his head to the side in question, “What did you bring?”
Taeyong looks at the box in front of them and beams, “Chicken! I bought it from that place you like. The one in Danjeol street?”
“Lemon sauce chicken?” Taeil hops in his seat, giddy, “What would I do without you, Yong?”
“Die, probably,” Taeyong snickers as he opens the chicken box, the aroma filling their nostrils. It’s a nice day, the sun rays feel warm and caressing as they fall upon his skin, the breeze is refreshing and the flowers around them are too colorful but most of all—
“Maybe it’s not so bad dating you, I would say.” Taeil laughs as he grabs the first piece of lemon chicken, getting his fingers dirty with sauce in the process.
“Please, best decision of your life,” Taeyong bites back as he starts eating too, but the words Taeil says echo through his head and leave him with a tingly sensation, warm and fuzzy. He loves Taeil, that’s a fact, and to be loved back is the greatest feeling he’s felt in a long time. He feels complete, like his life is in the impetus of a crescendo and it's never coming down.
“What are you thinking?” Taeil muses, sauce now drooling all over his chin, looking like an absolute disaster.
“That you look a fine mess,” Taeyong snorts before wiping at Taeil’s face, “Who am I? Your mom?”
“Hm, don't say that, it's weird,” Taeil shakes his head with a laugh.
Taeyong smiles too before biting into his chicken again. “I know you're going to blush and tell me to stop because that’s just how you are but…” He trails off.
Taeil raises an eyebrow, intrigued at Taeyong’s words. “Well, what is it? Don't leave me hanging!”
Taeyong’s prior words betray him, a flush of bright red making its way to his face. “I love you.”
Taeil chokes on his chicken, now sporting a matching blush, very much like Taeyong’s. He coughs something unintelligible before Taeyong freaks out. He just killed his boyfriend over chicken and sweet words, very Taeyong of him.
Taeil coughs out some more words before Taeyong passes him a water bottle, “What did you say?” Taeyong asks again, worried.
Taeil gulps the drink down, wincing at the ache in his throat. “I said I love you too.”
Taeyong knows if Yuta and Ten were here, they’d be laughing uncontrollably at the pair right now, not that he would blame them, sometimes Taeyong himself realizes how ridiculous he and Taeil can be. Still, that matters little because Taeyong is the happiest little dragon in love and that’s all he needs.
But then, the blaring alarm clock echoes throughout the room, effectively waking Taeyong up from his sleep.
He jumps from his bed, dark hair entirely disheveled as he rubs his eyes. He overslept.
“Really?” He groans in lament at the reality of his situation.
He looks at his phone, there's a text from Ten telling him to go hang out at their apartment. He doesn't oppose to the idea, maybe it'll clear his mind.
Taeyong looks around the dimly lit room before sighing, ready to start another day.
It relieves Donghyuck that, for once, the weather isn't sub-zero and trying to kill him. It’s still windy, with the cold breezes blowing his auburn hair out of his face and making his dangling earrings clink against each other. But this time, the crows perched atop the birches seem warm enough, cawing in content at the pair of boys walking below the rows of frosted trees. Smiling at the fluffed up blackbirds one last time, Donghyuck turns his gaze towards the boy next to him.
“When you said you’d pick me up from school, I thought you’d give me a ride.”
Mark looks up, wide eyed, and a with a slight sniffling pink nose, confused expression etched on his face. “You think I’m cool enough for a car? My mom won’t even lend me hers to pick up groceries from the store.”
Donghyuck snorts as they take a left turn, the pavement still wet from yesterday’s light snow. “You should start thinking about getting one, you're inviting random guys to your house, after all.”
“I don't invite random guys all the time,” Mark says, offended. “Just you. And you're not a random guy, are you?”
Cute, Donghyuck thinks to himself begrudgingly. He hates how Mark’s whole being is endearing. He shouldn’t be, he really shouldn’t.
The shorter boy takes a surreptitious glance at Mark with interest, Donghyuck’s own cheeks flushing a little, but that can always be blamed on the cold. Truth is, Mark might definitely be lame, but that doesn’t take from the fact that he’s handsome. With dark hair, high cheekbones, a sparkling smile and an even better laugh.
Fairies like Jaehyun might be beautiful, Donghyuck thinks, but Mark doesn’t need magic to look good.
Oh—He shakes his head.
“So where’s this house of yours?” he asks instead, clearing his mind of any unwanted thoughts.
“It’s just a few blocks away,” Mark points to the right, “We usually hang out at my friend’s house but mine is closer to the rendezvous point, we’ll meet there first.”
“Rendezvous point? Mark, you’re ridiculous,” Donghyuck rolls his eyes, chewing on his bottom lip. He doesn’t know exactly what Mark wants to do, or how this will all go down, but Donghyuck isn’t about to let him do anything stupid. The plan—his plan, a plan unknown to Mark—involves stopping his friend from whatever dangerous bullshit he wants to do, he’ll just keep him from actually trying to kill anyone and convince him there are no real vampires.
Donghyuck touches the necklace around his clavicle, his fingers feel the rough texture of five small stone skulls. It’s an ordinary necklace he bought for three thousand won at a market, but he’s charmed it with protection spells and good luck.
“Look, it’s that one,” Mark calls out, pointing in the distance. All the houses look the same, so it’s not like Donghyuck actually knows which one is Mark’s, still, he follows the other boy’s quickened pace. “I’m so excited, you’ll get to meet the whole club, Hyuck.”
At that, Donghyuck’s stomach does a flip. He’d honestly been so occupied with Mark and the vampire coven, he'd forgotten all about the actual club.
It’s never been that Donghyuck is a recluse witch that hates humans—he's not a walking stereotype, believe it or not—but he's never been good at making non-magical friends, especially when he can't be open about his true self with them. It's one of the reasons why Mark is such an oddity to him, in fact, Donghyuck is still half convinced the boy is a were-puppy undercover.
“You’ll like them,” Mark says with a smile, breaking Donghyuck out of his reverie, “And I’m sure they’ll like you.”
Donghyuck scoffs, “You so sound so sure.”
“Well, I like you,” Mark is blunt with a lift of the shoulders, “That’s enough for them to like you.”
They stop in front of a white picket fence house, too normal, too human, very Mark. Donghyuck eyes the colorful shrubs full of blooming flowers surrounding the gravel path that leads to the main door. “My mom’s into gardening,” Mark explains, “I’m surprised her flowers haven’t died yet in this weather.”
Instead of walking inside, Mark leads Donghyuck to the side of the house, where he can already see the open garage door and hear a few voices in friendly chatter.
“Guys!” Mark calls out as they turn the corner, “We’re here!”
“Took you long enough,” a voice replies with a cough, “We’ve been waiting here for an hour and it’s fucking freezing. Good thing your mom brought us hot chocolate or I’d be punching you right about now.”
Donghyuck follows Mark into the garage, where five boys instantly lift their heads turn to stare at him—or maybe they’re staring at Mark, point still stands, he’s feeling unnerved—three of them are huddled together around a table playing some sort of boardgame and dear god, Donghyuck is praying it’s really not Dungeons & Dragons or he’s bolting right out of there. Another boy is sat in a corner, a deep frown on his face as he shivers in utter suffering. The last one stands in front of a white board with a bunch of scribbles, a sweet smile sitting on his face.
Mark clears his throat, “Donghyuck, this is the Monster Hunter Club, the MonsterBusters!” he sing-songs.
“Magnificent,” Donghyuck mutters, looking around the grubby room. “Hello, nerds,” he says out loud.
The smiling boy—perhaps the least non-threatening in Donghyuck’s eyes—walks up to him, hand extended in greeting. “We’ve heard so much about you, Donghyuck!”
“J-Jeno!” Mark hisses as Donghyuck takes the other’s hand, eyebrows raised in question.
If possible, he smiles even brighter, eyes adorned by deep crinkles. “I’m Jeno.”
Sub-Leader of the MonsterBusters
Specialties: Deep knowledge on ghosts, spirits, spectres and other apparitions. A Tae Kwon Do black belt that believes in non-violence. Prettiest fucking eye smile you’ll ever see in your life.
Weaknesses: Cats and movies that are too scary.
Other Facts: Co-founded the Monster Hunter Club with Mark last year. He’s very cute.
“Hi, Jeno,” Donghyuck replies back with a small wave. “Nice… club you’ve got here.” He eyes the board right behind Jeno, a thing full of pins, intricate thread patterns and post-it notes.
Jeno gleams with pride at his work. “Thank you, we try.”
There's a single snort from the frowning, sniffling boy, but before Donghyuck can turn to look at him, he is ambushed by two running figures.
“So this is Donghyuck!” one of them latches onto his arm, wide eyed and smiling while the other snickers in Mark’s direction before saying, “He is cute.”
Mark groans, “Stop it, you two,” he turns to Donghyuck while scratching the back of his head, “Don’t listen to them.”
He suppresses a laugh before glancing at the pair. One of them is lanky, all long awkward limbs and a button nose. The other, while still taller than Donghyuck himself, is shorter, full cheeks and a mirthful shine in his eyes that makes Donghyuck shiver once.
The boy stares at him for a few seconds, truly examining Donghyuck for the first time, before he bursts in manic laughter.
“Hi, Donghyuck, I’m Chenle!”
Junior Member of the MonsterBusters
Age : 17
Specialties : Smiles and gets everyone out of trouble. Knows how to sing but not actually useful in any situation.
Weaknesses : Being chastised, especially by Mark. Chocolate.
Other Facts: Was dragged by Jisung to join the club, isn’t necessarily into supernatural stuff but loves his friends.
“You’re scaring him, Chenle,” the taller boy grabs his friends arm, “You need to stop jumping people you don't know.”
Chenle merely laughs again, backing down but holding onto to the other’s arm. “And this is Jisung! Pwark Jisung!”
Junior Member of the MonsterBusters
Specialties: Interested in Vampires, Zombies and Werewolves. Has watched and read every single zombie movie and book.
Weaknesses: Terrified of girls and talking in public. Starts hiccuping when scared.
Other Facts: Last member to join the club along with Chenle. Easily influenced. Would die for a vampire.
“They're our youngest members,” Mark continues, “A package deal.”
“That sounds… sounds weird,” Jisung comments, twisting his nose, “We're not always together.”
“We are!” Chenle is like a firecracker, Donghyuck has come to learn in the one second he’s known him, bursting and bright. “We're best friends.”
Jisung groans, covering his face with a hand, “You can't say that, we're in high school.”
“So?” Chenle challenges, “Jeno and Jaemin use that word all the time—”
“We're not like Jeno and Jaemin,” Jisung chokes out.
“You’re not?” The third boy who was huddled around the board game walks up to the group, “I could've bet you were,” before Jisung can protest, the newcomer looks at Donghyuck with a questioning glance, “I heard you’re into vampires.”
Donghyuck raises an eyebrow, “You could say that.” Internally, he scrunches his nose, Yukhei is cute but he's not that cute.
The unnamed boy hums, as if assessing Donghyuck. He is glad to note that—finally!—this guy is shorter than Donghyuck. His features are soft and elegant, with honey colored tufts of hair falling in front of his eyes.
“Do you believe in aliens?” he finally asks Donghyuck, eyes curious.
Now, the thing about aliens is: Donghyuck's never met one, he doesn't know if they exist as they're an equal mystery to both humans and magical beings. But, he’d be a fool to not believe in them when Yuta is out there being a magical flying furry that shoots light-blasts from his belly button.
“Of course,” Donghyuck answers immediately with a shrug. “I’m not dumb.”
“Ha!” the boy bellows in triumph, “You hear that, Na Jaemin, you crusty non-believer!”
He turns back to Donghyuck with a smile, “My name’s Renjun and you’re officially my best friend.”
Senior member of the MonsterBusters
Specialties: Knows all about aliens, UFOs and Area 51. Getting into mermaids and zombies.
Weaknesses: Can't run fast enough, if something were to chase them, he’d be the first one to die.
Other Facts: Third member to join the club, meetings are usually in his house.
“Okaaay,” Mark starts, patting Renjun on the back. “Are you guys ready? We need to be leaving right about now if we want to catch that vampire.”
Chenle tilts his head as he grabs a backpack much too big for him. “What’s the plan for now, Mark? Do I get the wooden stakes?”
Mark gulps down an alarmed squeal before taking a glance at Donghyuck, who is glaring at him. “Wooden stakes?” he hisses at the so-called leader.
Mark shakes his head at the younger boy, dropping a nervous sweat, “No, Chenle, we won't kill him. We'll only spy on him, take notes, and see where his coven is.”
“Oh, this guy has got you so whipped, Mark Lee,” a deep voice taunts before Donghyuck turns around with a scowl. It’s the frowning guy, still shivering from the cold.
Mark splutters and for a second, it seems like he’s about to retort, however, Jeno speaks up first, concerned look on his face, “Jaemin, are you really going outside wrapped in that blanket?”
Jaemin shrugs looking down at his pink cat-patterned blanket, “You guys are making me wear this awful uniform and I’m freezing my butt off.”
“This is serious business, Jaemin,” Mark reprimands, “The uniforms give us unity!”
Donghyuck eyes them all up and down, they look terrible. It’s not really a uniform, but rather some ill-fitted green and white sweatshirts with ridiculous neon colored belts around them in X form.
“Yeah, well,” Jaemin sniffs, “Deal with it, Mark, it’s not like the terrifying vampires are going to kill us if they see my blanket.”
Jeno pats him on the shoulder, “It’s fine, you can take it with you, Jaemin.” Mark groans but doesn’t press the issue.
“Donghyuck, this is Na Jaemin,” Jeno smiles, putting an arm around the other boy.
Donghyuck nods at the last of the members, and even from where he’s standing, a few feet from where Jaemin is, he can tell the boy is incredibly good-looking. With copper hair, big shining eyes and pink lips, he wonders if Jaemin is some sort of magical being like him.
“Hey,” Jaemin waves before he sniffles once more, looking tragically miserable. He looks back at Donghyuck for a second before he huffs out an airy, short laugh. “Are you here because you like vampires or are you here stuck like me?”
Senior member of the MonsterBusters
Specialties: Can throw a good punch.
Weaknesses: Has never actually punched anyone. Lee Jeno. Low temperatures.
Other Facts: The biggest sceptic. Doesn’t actually believe in anything other-wordly but is there for his best friend Jeno.
“Ok, c’mon guys, we’re going to be late,” Jeno walks forward into the cold, “I brought the extra bike for Donghyuck, Mark. Should be in the back.”
“We’re riding bikes?” Donghyuck asks, oh, he’s truly in an 80’s movie now.
Mark walks next to him with a thrilled smile, shoulders brushing against Donghyuck’s, “C’mon, Hyuck, enjoy yourself a little, don’t worry, if anything happens, I’ll protect you. Besides, nothing bad will go wrong. Good luck charm, remember?”
Donghyuck’s inner workings melt into a puddle. Sure, if anything does happen to them, he doesn’t think Mark could do anything to save them, most likely, but the sentiment is appreciated. Despite his reservations at the unknown, however, Donghyuck doesn’t regret agreeing to join Mark’s crazy endeavours, not if Mark is out there calling him his good luck charm, as embarrassing it is to admit.
“Alright, where’s this ridiculous bike of yours?”
Leader of the MonsterBusters
Specialties: Demonology and witches. A natural leader.
Weaknesses: Watermelon and puppies.
Other Facts: First one to come up with the idea of a Monster Club. Small crush on Lee Donghyuck.
“You're not tutoring Haechan today?” Ten is sprawled upside down, head dangling from the sofa as he calls out to an equally bored Doyoung.
“Nope,” Doyoung shrugs, “He was busy today. First time in months he skips a lesson, wonder what he's up to.” He sits on the single chair right next to their kitchen counter, languidly looking at Taeyong as he blends a mix of fat carrots and pink beets in a juice extractor Doyoung didn't even know they owned.
“And who’s going to drink that?” he asks, wrinkling his nose in distaste as the overpowering grassy smell of vegetables reaches his nostrils.
“You,” Taeyong places a giant glass brimmed to the top with the unnervingly bright concoction. “And Ten,” he walks around to the living room and hands Ten his glass, who, as soon as Taeyong turns around, can only sniff it before fake-gagging, much to Doyoung’s amusement. “Drink it up, it’s healthy for you. There's plenty for Jaehyun too.”
Doyoung snickers, “He’ll love some.” He takes a curious sip at the drink, it's a bitter, unsweetened flavor that makes him wince. He gives Taeyong a thumbs-up, who smiles back with bright eyes. Doyoung suppresses a sigh and takes another gulp.
Ten doesn't pretend to drink, instead, he whines theatrically in purely Ten-fashion, draping an arm over his head, “I’m so bored, guys. I shouldn't be this bored on a Friday, it goes against my nature.”
Taeyong rolls his eyes good-naturedly, bending his legs in pretzel style next to his friend. It’s not unusual to find Taeyong and Doyoung, sometimes with Taeil and Yuta too, mindlessly hanging out on a Friday night at either of their places. However, that's not a life for soul-of-the-party Ten. “Don't have any plans for tonight? No man to seduce?”
The demon whimpers, “BamBam cancelled on me tonight, that bastard.” Doyoung stifles a snort, if there’s an incubus louder than Ten it is definitely BamBam.
“What kind of name is BamBam?” a fourth voice barges into the kitchen, heading straight for the pantry and rummaging for food like a raccoon. An obnoxious, loud raccoon.
“He’s Thai, you dumbass,” Doyoung frowns at him, “Doesn’t hurt to be considerate, Jung Jaehyun.”
Jaehyun shrugs, munching on a handful of chips, cheeks full, “Sorry, mother.” He makes his way into the living room, feet bare and entirely too casual considering his attire consists of a white t-shirt and loose boxers. “Does anyone want to give Johnny a ride to his campus’ library?”
Ten raises an eyebrow, “You have a car, don’t you?”
Jaehyun hums, “Yeah, but campus is too far and libraries give me the heebie-jeebies.” He plops atop one of the sofa’s armrest.
“You? Not setting foot in a library? Color me surprised,” Doyoung replies, sarcasm dripping from his voice, carrot drink almost finished, “Just be a good friend and give him a ride, you lazy ass.”
Jaehyun frowns, mouth open, ready to retort, but before he can do so, Ten beats him to it with a quip, “I’ll drive him.”
Both Doyoung and Taeyong turn to face him, suspicion etched on their faces. Ten hasn't really mentioned Johnny or their flopped date since the night they met him, and neither of them have asked. However, Doyoung doesn't expect his friend to shove something like that under the rug.
Ten notices their expressions, shrugs as he stands up, dusting off invisible dirt off his t-shirt. “I have questions for that man.”
“Anyways, you three get ready, we're going out tonight.”
Doyoung raises an eyebrow, Ten always talks like a certainty. “We are?”
The other hums, “We can skip clubbing and go somewhere chill, call Yuta and Taeil and meet up at Bella Morte tonight, have a few drinks. Satan knows we haven’t gone out together in a long time.”
Taeyong ponders for a few seconds, Doyoung can see his hesitation, after all, Taeyong isn’t one that holds his liquor very well. However, the other’s shoulders visibly give up, and he says, “Why not?”
Ten grins, then looks at Doyoung, “You can’t say no now, Doyoungie.”
Doyoung grumbles in response, he’d wanted to work on some reports for the agency, maybe try a few minor illusion spells he’s been dying to get his hands on, but he knows Ten and he knows that man won't take no for an answer. Besides, recalling the events of the last time Taeyong got drunk, Doyoung’s not really too keen on letting the dragon go unsupervised.
“Great,” Ten says with finality, “I’ll meet you there at 8. I’m sure Johnathan will have his books ready by then.”
“Johnny!” he calls out into hallway, loud voice like thunder and sparkles mixed in one. “Put on your nicest boots Lucifer, we’re going to the library!”
“Wait,” Taeyong says, head tilted, “Johnny’s here?”
Doyoung sighs, self-suffering and tired, “Apparently taking in Jaehyun meant a 2x1 deal. Johnny’s the apartment’s pet now.” He can’t be too bothered, Johnny’s clean and polite and nice and pretty much just stays in Jaehyun’s room either doing homework or chit-chatting. If anything, he’d trade Jaehyun for Johnny in an instant.
“I can see what you're thinking and it’s not nice,” Jaehyun frowns, cheeks still smushed up like a chipmunk as he eats his snack.
“Oh, so you're a mind reader now,” Doyoung scoffs.
“No,” Jaehyun crosses his arms, “But you always make that one eyebrow frown when you're complaining about me, so I figured.”
“Excuse me, I didn't know you were an expert in body language.”
Taeyong laughs into his glass, hiding an amused smile before he winces at his own drink.
They hear Johnny’s heavy steps make their way across the hallway, a loud Ten hurrying him up and babbling on about taking too long. He flicks a strand of stark hair from his eyes and gives them one last glance, “I’ll be going to my Uber gig then, see you at Bella Morte! Don’t forget!”
Not that he’ll ever tell him, but sometimes Doyoung thinks Ten is too nice, considering he’s a demon and all that.
“I've been wondering,” Jaehyun starts, taking a seat next to Taeyong, where Ten had been sitting on, “How did ya’ll meet? You all work together, right?”
“Who?” Doyoung asks.
“All of you. You, Ten,” he points to Taeyong, “And Taeil and Yuta.”
Doyoung shares a look with Taeyong before the other replies, grin on his face, “Doyoung and I met in high school. You know us magical folk tend to stick together.”
Doyoung recalls the memory with fondness, he’d been a scrawny kid in glasses way too focused on books and grimoires, in the student council, talking to teachers instead of students. Taeyong, curse him, looked good even back then. He could’ve been popular, Doyoung thinks—has always thought that—but the older boy found himself in the library, with not many friends to speak of. He supposes it was inevitable they eventually befriended each other.
“Taeyong introduced me to Yuta, his neighbor, it was the three of us for a while,” Doyoung continues, “And then I met Taeil in Wizard Academy. Ten and Yuta met in god knows which sketchy bathroom during college and I’ve been stuck with them ever since.”
Doyoung remembers Moon Taeil as the quiet yet odd little guy he got stuck rooming with. He liked him well enough, in fact, he couldn't have asked for a better roommate. However, Doyoung never really thought they’d hit it off so well, that Taeil would fit so innately into his life, that even Yuta and Taeyong would love him to the stars and back. And of course, there was Ten, the last piece of their puzzle, a tiny loud boy who came in and settled into their hearts before they even knew what had happened.
Doyoung might be a bitter nihilist that worries too much and overworks himself everyday, he’s aware of this, but if he has one thing, he knows it's his friends.
“Aw, you’re the most important thing for us too,” Taeyong touches his heart with a genuine smile. “That’s the cutest thing you’ve ever thought about us, Doyoung.”
“Fuck you, Taeyong,” he bellows with embarrassment and self-disgust, “No mind reading or I’ll kill you with my bare hands.”
Jaehyun hums, deep dimple adorning the smile on his face.
“I want you to know this trip to the library isn't free of cost,” Ten squeaks out, eyes on the boy in front of him.
Johnny doesn't turn to look at him, too occupied searching for books atop the wooden shelf. “And here I thought you were doing it out of the kindness of your heart.”
Sadly and extremely disappointing is the fact Johnny is entirely Ten’s type. Tall, with brown hair and a soft smile that crinkles by the eyes. He’s not exactly what one thinks of when prompted with the word nephilim, he’s elegant, sure, effortlessly so, as if he’s not even aware of it, but Ten wouldn’t say he holds a particularly angelic image. Of course, he has never met a nephilim before, but the point still stands: Johnny has a grim aura around him. He supposes this is how being around a real angel feels like, at least, a half-angel.
Ten makes it his mission to not stare at the way Johnny’s arms flex as he reaches out to the highest of stands. He also makes it his mission to not think about the fact Johnny is able to reach that height without any help, something Ten wouldn't dream of being able to. It’s kind of hard though, especially as he is mere centimeters away from him, his smooth tanned arm right in front of Ten’s nose.
Ten leans back against the bookshelf instead, directing his sight to the unoccupied table in front of them, where Johnny’s backpack lays. “Just tell me, Johnny. Why?”
“Why what?” he doesn't say it unkindly, Ten knows this for sure, but his indifference makes it even harder for Ten to not lose his mind.
“Why aren't you attracted to me!” he whispers harshly, “Charm aside, did I do something wrong? Am I not attractive? Am I too short for you, is that it? Do I smell? ”
Johnny murmurs a sequence of numbers under his breath, tiny frown in place, before he lets out a soft A-ha and holds a book that could probably squish Ten to death.
When the thick book is finally in his hands, he turns to the shorter man, “Listen, Ten, I think you're fun. Great, in fact. A lovely person that seems to be fun and nice and knows how to drive.”
Ten raises an eyebrow. “And yeah you're hot,” Johnny dismisses with a wave as he turns around, making his way back to the table, Ten following along. “But answer this, do you feel a bubbly explosion of butterflies when you're around me? Do you feel like your breath is caught up in your throat when I smile at you?”
“Or even better, do you picture us getting married, living together and having eight kids?”
Ten, very much, chokes. “Don’t be ridiculous, Johnny, who do you think I am?”
“Exactly,” Johnny gives him a smile and a pointed look, “I am a creature of softness, Ten, I require care and proper love, and a lot of romance. Don’t take it personal, I just think—”
“I’m a hoe that wants to get bent?”
It is now Johnny who chokes at the choice of words. “No. That our ideals are extremely different. I could tell during our date.”
“Hm, I see,” Ten drops his chin on top of both hands, reflective, “I guess that makes sense. And I do feel better about it all. For a moment there I thought you hated I was too short.”
Johnny smiles, “What are you talking about, you’re cute!”
Ten smiles back, “You know what, I’m glad we had this talk. Now I can stop trying to seduce you, it’s kind of exhausting trying to without turning my charm on.”
“You were trying to seduce me?” Johnny questions, truly confused.
Ten groans, “Whatever, doesn’t matter.” His reputation as a slick incubus has truly been destroyed by this angel-man. “What are these books even for?” He eyes all three thick tomes as Johnny tries to fit them all into his backpack without much success.
“My thesis,” Johnny replies as if it is the most obvious.
“Oh, right,” Ten looks around the library as if seeing it for the first time. He vaguely remembers Johnny mentioning some type of grad school thesis during their date, Ten might've or might've not been paying attention. “For your, uh, very important degree in...”
“Right!” Ten exclaims, “Wait. Pediatrics. That's very… human.”
Johnny snorts, finally giving up on fitting all his books inside. “Not all of us want to use our magic for a living, Ten. Not that there's anything wrong with that, you know, Jaehyun mentioned you run a freelance consultant agency.”
At Johnny’s words, Ten visibly perks up, shy but proud smile starting to form, “Yes, I run it alongside Taeyong and Doyoung! I mean, it's mostly them running it, I just go where they need me to.”
“I’ll make sure to give you guys a call if I ever need anything.” Johnny nods seriously with a thumbs up.
Ten takes two of the books Johnny decided to keep out of his backpack, fumbling with the impossible weight before balancing them on his arms, hugging them tightly against him, “C’mon, Johnny Seo, let’s get some drinks.”
There’s a branch digging into Donghyuck’s stomach and a bunch of dry leaves getting into his mouth. Why did he agree to all of this in the first place? For Mark? In the words of wise and bitter Doyoung, he’s not even that cute.
Renjun’s on his right, Jeno on his left, they both have a pair of binoculars each, eyeing the bridge a few meters away from where all seven of them are hiding behind a pile of dead rose bushes.
“Mark, are you sure this is the right place? What if he knows we’re onto him?” Renjun whispers way too loudly. He’s not fooling any vampires with those kinds of decibels.
They’ve been waiting there for approximately an hour, but so far, there hasn’t been any signs of, well, anyone, even though according to Mark, the vampire should’ve passed through the bridge nearly twenty minutes ago.
“Renjun, I’m a 100% sure this is the place or my name isn’t Mark Lee,” Mark whispers back, a pair of ridiculous neon binoculars in his hands, “Maybe he’s a little late today, maybe he got stuck in traffic or something.”
“But your name is Minhyung,” Jeno mutters, confused.
“There’s no bicycle traffic, Mark,” Donghyuck rolls his eyes, “This is a sign we should leave. We can go back to your house and watch a movie or something.” Like normal teens would do, he thinks, not that he knows much about that. If he weren’t stuck here with Mark Lee and his nerd friends, he’d probably be learning some new potions from Doyoung or maybe hanging around with Yukhei and his friends.
“He might be a little creepy, but Donghyuck’s right guys,” Jaemin frowns from where he’s sitting cross legged behind them, not even pretending to be in the slightest bit interested. “Can’t we just get coffee and call it a day? I’m going to get sick and I’ll sue all of you.”
“Jaemin’s scared,” Renjun taunts, “He’s scared and he’s pooping his pants because he’s a big baby.”
“Don’t worry, Jaemin! I got a whole lotta garlic in here, ya want some?” Chenle pats the older boy’s shoulder before rummaging through his backpack, the scent of garlic too strong making Donghyuck gag. “Jisung also brought some rosaries, in case you want to wear one.”
“And holy water,” Jisung shows off a spraying bottle before spraying Jaemin right in the face, making him splutter. “Here, take it, might be useful later on.”
“I’m not scared!” he hisses, wiping his wet face with the corner of his blanket, “Why would I be scared of the random pale man you’ve been stalking for weeks like creeps?”
Renjun’s about to retort but before he can do so, they all turn towards Mark, who takes a sharp intake of breath before hushing them all. “That’s him, he’s coming,” he whispers.
They all turn towards the bridge’s direction, silent and doing their best to hide behind the shrubbery. Donghyuck can see a small figure leisurely approaching them, pace slow and relaxed, unaware of the fact he’s being observed by a bunch of teenagers with binoculars.
Donghyuck doesn’t need to see the man’s face to know he was right, the vampire Mark has found is in fact, Dong Sicheng, one of the most powerful vampires from the eastern vampiric suburbs of Seoul, aka the Qian Coven’s blood master.
Of course, looking at him right now, with a soft smile and riding the cutest bicycle ever, little bells included, he doesn’t seem like much of a threat.
“Get your bikes ready,” Mark whispers, never taking his eyes off Sicheng, “As soon as he’s off the bridge we start following him, we need to see where the coven is.”
Donghyuck rolls his eyes but doesn’t say anything, he knows it’d be a moot point by now, he can only hope they get disheartened by the fact that Sicheng looks nothing but a normal guy riding his bike at 8pm at night. With a huge box of blood bags in his basket. But it’s all fine, it’s all fine. Donghyuck has it all under control.
“C’mon, guys,” Mark says before rushing towards the tree where they’ve hidden their bikes. Renjun, Jeno, Chenle and Jisung all rush right after him, leaving Jaemin to sigh once before sharing a weary look with Donghyuck and going after them, blanket still ridiculously wrapped around him and fluttering with the wind.
“Damn it,” Donghyuck mutters to himself before running to get his bike, the rest of the boys already on theirs.
“C’mon ‘busters!” Mark says energetically with a pump in the air, making Chenle laugh and woop.
They stay several meters away from Sicheng, who seems to be too preoccupied with listening to music, if the earphones he’s sporting and his light head-bopping are anything to go by. It also helps that the sky is getting darker with each passing second, the sun setting and leaving splotches of orange and pink before night falls on them.
“Chenle, stop humming, don't you know vampires have perfect hearing?” Renjun scolds the younger boy, who is riding next to him.
“I’m setting the busting atmosphere!” Chenle sticks out his tongue and continues his happy little tune.
Donghyuck looks around the streets and roads around them; he knows this place, this is near the milkshake place and his own house. He also knows a little farther into a maze of streets, they’ll be in the eastern vampire neighborhood, where several covens are located, including Sicheng’s. He forces his already aching legs to pedal a bit faster in order to catch up with Mark.
“Mark, we’re just checking out the place, right? No wildling out there,” he pants, small sweat beads forming near his brow. He’s not used to such physical exertion, sue him.
Mark raises a single eyebrow, small smirk on his lips. “Getting tired already, Hyuck?”
“Screw you,” he coughs out, “Can’t believe our date consists of you making me ride a stupid bike with your nerd friends.”
“Oh, it’s a date?” Mark laughs, not looking the tiniest bit tired and entirely too smug for Donghyuck’s taste.
“That was a bad choice of words, I admit,” he bites back with a haughty sniff.
“Wait, this is a date?” Jeno asks. Donghyuck completely forgot the other boy was riding next to them, oh what a foolish man has he become in the presence of one Mark Lee.
Donghyuck stares him down with a single look, “No, Jeno, this isn’t a damn—”
“Oh, my god Mark, you’re really making Donghyuck chase after some weird dude as part of your first date?” Jaemin bellows, dignified, “This is why you’re still single.”
Donghyuck flushes, great, let all of Mark’s friends know he likes him , sure. He turns to look at Mark and is pleased to see he isn’t the only one blushing, at least. Make him suffer as well!
“Wait, Donghyuck’s gay?” Jisung asks.
“It’s not a date!” Mark whines, keeping his eyes on the road and pointedly not looking at anyone, “Stop embarrassing me.”
“It’s ok to be gay!” Oh beautiful, innocent Jisung. “Look at Jaemin, he’s great.”
“You’re too kind,” Jaemin deadpans, making Jeno and Renjun snicker and snort.
Donghyuck, still an alarmingly shade of red, gives up with a grumble but stays next to Mark, trying to keep up with his pace without shriveling up and falling to the ground from exhaustion.
Maybe next time they can do something normal, something like going to the movies or going shopping or eating an ice cream, not, quite literally, chasing a cute vampire man. A cute vampire man that’s—not there anymore.
Donghyuck looks around, he’s certain that Sicheng was there just a few minutes ago. There’s something else that seems to be off, and, Donghyuck realizes belatedly, they’re not on their way to Sicheng’s coven anymore. They’ve deviated from the usual path and have ended up on another part of the vampire neighborhood. It’s not too far from the Qian lair, but this place is grittier, darker, where the walls are graffitied, the buildings abandoned and the streets smell of copper. And worst of all, the sun has set, the dark has completely enveloped the streets.
Mark seems to notice at the same time he does, “Where did he go?” he panics, “He’s not there anymore,” he slows down, soon followed by the rest of his friends.
They halt down in the middle of an empty street that’s dimly lighted with rusty lampposts. There’s no one else in sight and the only noises that seem to echo around the place are the howls of the night wind. Donghyuck doesn’t like this one bit.
“Um,” Chenle looks around, wide-eyed, “Where are we guys?”
“I have no clue,” Jeno replies as he eyes the place, the building next to them far too tall and dark. The windows have no glass but all that can bee seen from the outside is pitch black darkness.
“Nice, guys,” Jaemin holds the blanket around him tighter, “We ended up in the middle of nowhere and you lost your guy. As expected from the MonsterBusters.”
There's a faraway sound of metal screeching, making them all turn around. Jisung hiccups.
“Maybe we should… ” Mark starts with a shiver, “Maybe we should head back, I’ll buy donuts on our way home.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Renjun nods, still eyeing the direction where the sound had come from.
Donghyuck sees it all in slow motion, he sees the way Mark tightens his hold on the bicycle’s handle and half a second later, a blurry figure runs past them, straight towards Mark. Before Donghyuck can do anything, his friend is pinned against the wall with a rough smack.
“Mark!” he yells, alarm creeping up his voice. Of course this would happen, of course it would, Donghyuck is so stupid, this is all his fault and now the possible love of his life might die.
Renjun and Jisung yell at the same time, finally realizing someone has attacked Mark, Jeno looks ready to run towards his friend and do something probably incredibly stupid, but Jaemin stops him with a hand to his chest, trepidation in his face.
“You think I wouldn’t notice you little kids trailing me down,” a cold, cold voice dripping with venom says into the night. Sicheng’s got a hold on Mark’s throat, who can only wheeze at the lack of air. His face is mere millimeters away from the vampire’s, whose hold doesn’t waver, Mark’s feet hanging in the air. “I saw you since you were at the bridge, what do you want, who sent you?”
Donghyuck sees Sicheng’s fangs as he talks and he wants to pass out, enough is enough—
“Argh!” Chenle screams as he runs towards Sicheng, throwing a heavy rosary at his back. “Leave Mark alone!”
“Ow!” Sicheng arches his back in a yelp before frowning and looking back, his hold on Mark loosening. “I’m going to suck all the blood out of you, little one,” Sicheng hisses.
“I’d like to see you try, Dracula,” Chenle laughs with a smirk and hold the fuck up, Donghyuck thinks, is this the same Chenle that giggles at farts?
“What the fuck,” Renjun mutters what everyone else is thinking.
Sicheng seems to take the bait and finally lets go of Mark, who falls to the ground in a coughing fit. Before he can take one step towards Chenle, Donghyuck has had enough.
“Winwin!” he yells, “Stop!”
He can feel all eyes turn to him now, including Mark’s and, thankfully, Sicheng’s. Or Winwin, as his coven has nicknamed him—as his cousin, Yukhei, calls him all the time.
“Haechanie?” Sicheng’s whole demeanor changes in front of them, his sharp dark eyes soften, taking a more human look. His tense shoulders fall and the cold, growling voice from before is now soft, laced with confusion. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m sorry, we didn’t mean to scare you,” Donghyuck replies quickly, “They don’t mean any harm, hyung.”
Jaemin and Jisung run towards Mark, checking if he’s injured, but the latter can only stare at Sicheng’s and Haechan’s exchange with confusion and worry.
“You know this guy, Donghyuck?” Renjun questions, looking at him with wide eyes. “He’s a vampire!”
Sicheng pouts and looks down at his feet and this is the guy Donghyuck knows, a soft little cupcake that drinks chicken blood on the weekends. “What does that mean?”
He looks up again, “You guys shouldn’t be here, Haechan, this is dangerous, you know how the eastern covens can get territorial. You need to leave, please. You’re lucky your friends found me and not the Cheng coven.”
“Lucky?” Renjun bristles, arms crossed, “But I agree, let’s leave the hell out of here before this guy decides to eat us all.”
“Vampires don’t eat humans,” Sicheng rolls his eyes, clearly annoyed at the misconception, “In fact, we aren’t even allowed to drink your blood—”
For the second time that night, Donghyuck sees his life flash before his eyes, and this time, his heart really drops. Another shadow, one Donghyuck doesn’t recognize, has barged in at light-speed, very much like Sicheng had done so a few minutes earlier. But this time, instead of Mark, the unfamiliar figure swoops in and takes ahold of their youngest one, Jisung.
“Jisung!” Donghyuck hears Mark yell, standing up from where he was still resting against the wall.
This person, Donghyuck doesn’t recognize, but the sharp teeth in her mouth and the dangerous glare in his eyes are not good news. Right next to him, he can see Sicheng’s breath hitch and fists tighten, which can only confirm Donghyuck’s suspicions. She is not a friend.
“Who do we have here,” the vampire hisses with a smirk, voice even more frightful than Sicheng’s. “Dong Sicheng.”
Donghyuck can see Jisung struggle against the vampire’s grip, but all effort is futile, she doesn’t even bat an eyelash, all eyes focused on Sicheng.
“Let him go, Cheng Xiao,” Sicheng growls, a terrible guttural sound from the depths of his throat, “He’s a human, if you drop blood there’ll be consequences.”
Cheng Xiao. Donghyuck knows that name, having heard it too many times from Yukhei. She’s the leader of the Cheng coven, one of the four main covens of the eastern neighborhood, and certainly, the most dangerous one.
“I didn’t see you having the same qualms about it moments ago,” she smiles tightly, a snarl threatening to erupt.
“We’re not the same type of vampire, don’t compare us.”
From out of the corner of his eye, Donghyuck can see Jeno and Jaemin trying to inch closer to Cheng Xiao and he wants to tell them to stop, but that would mean she would notice them too. Chenle and Renjun are just right next to him, all three of them in the vampire’s direct line of vision, not able to do much against her.
She growls, sharp fangs completely showing, “Care to explain why Dong Sicheng is parading himself around Cheng territory with a witch and a pixie to top it all off?”
Fuck, Donghyuck’s throat closes off, sparing a glance at Mark.
“A witch?” Renjun whispers.
“We were just passing by, let him go, Cheng Xiao.” Sicheng tries again, voice already strained. Donghyuck can see he’s only holding back for the sake of Jisung’s safety.
“As if. You tell me—”
During the few hours Donghyuck has known the Monster Hunter Club, he has realized one thing above all: they're all incredibly foolish. It makes absolute sense knowing Mark is their leader, Donghyuck supposes. For a while though, sceptic Jaemin, who was clearly only hanging out because of his giant, obvious crush on Jeno, seemed to be the only smart, rational man in the club.
Donghyuck was very wrong, Na Jaemin is just as stupid as the rest of his friends.
“Jaemin!” Jeno screeches as Jaemin runs forward, only the measly spray water bottle Jisung had given him earlier as his only weapon.
“Jesus Christ,” he can hear Renjun groan under his breath, “King of stupidity, as always.”
For all that is worth, Jaemin is fast. Faster than Donghyuck would even think possible given his gangly limbs and peevish nature. And so, he is quite successful in catching Cheng Xiao by surprise, just as he splashes the vampire’s entire face with the supposed holy water.
It all seems like a good plan if you ignore the prime fact that holy water does nothing to the Jiang Shi—chinese vampires.
Donghyuck’s ready to bolt to try and salvage any body part of Jaemin, who is now at the mercy of an angry Cheng Xiao (and Jeno, who is now stupidly running after Jaemin too), even if he doesn't really have any defense charms on him sans his skull necklace. But then, thank all the higher entities out there, Sicheng seems to act and think faster.
There’s a soft yell coming from Jisung for a moment before Sicheng is on Cheng Xiao, taking her to the ground with him. He pins her down in a swift movement, face close to hers in seconds.
Mark is with Jisung as fast as he can, soon followed by Chenle.
“I said we were just passing by, let us go our way Cheng Xiao,” Sicheng whispers harshly, growling voice back, “We don't want to fight.”
Cheng Xiao looks pissed, obviously not liking the way she’s being pinned down, vampires have way too much pride, Donghyuck knows this first-hand. However, she's not stupid, she's a coven leader after all. She spits out, “Leave now.”
He sees Sicheng loosen his hold on Cheng Xiao, enough that she's able to push him off and get up the ground. She hisses once directly at him, her fangs sharp and warning, before leaving in a rush. Sicheng stands there, making sure she's really left before scoffing.
Donghyuck makes his way to where the rest are checking up on their youngest. “Are you alright, Jisung?” he hears Chenle ask softly, eyeing his friend who winces in pain.
The younger boy nods once but, as he moves his left arm, hisses in pain. “I think her… vampire claws pressed down on me when Jaemin attacked her,” he sniffs, tears threatening to fall and Donghyuck’s heart clenches.
“Let me see,” Mark tells him, worry evident on his face. He lifts Jisung’s sleeve and they all recoil at the red marks on his arm, they’re superficial but they still ooze a decent amount of blood.
“He needs to have those cuts cleaned,” Sicheng slowly comes up behind them, sharing a glance with Donghyuck, one that’s both apprehensive and saying you’re in trouble.
“Yeah, no shit.” Renjun bends down, checking Jisung’s cuts himself, “They’re gonna get infected.”
Sicheng looks like he’s stopping himself from saying something, but Mark seems to notice and raises his eyebrows at him. The vampire scratches his neck, unsure, before looking at Donghyuck, “Kun can clean him up. If you want to go back…”
“To the coven?” Donghyuck groans, “I’m not sure they want to go to a place infested with vampires.”
“No way,” Renjun says as he comes up to them as well, after all of Jeno’s fussing is over. “We were almost killed by a monster.”
“Or possible serial killer, we don't really know if these crazies are actually vampires or not,” Jaemin rolls his eyes.
“You just sprayed one with holy water!” Jeno protests.
“Yeah and it did absolutely nothing, Sherlock! Jaemin: 1, Jeno: 0.”
“So we just wait until we get back to Mark’s house and let Jisung bleed to death?” Chenle says, uncharacteristically throwing daggers at them.
“A vampire almost choked Mark to death and another one nearly ripped Jisung into pieces,” Renjun frowns, “And you just want us to go this dude’s house?”
“He was hardly choked to death,” Jeno interrupts, “I, for one, think we should just take Jisung there, if Donghyuck says it’s fine then it should be fine.”
Jaemin glares at his friend before turning to Mark, who is still slumped over in the asphalt next to Jisung, “Do we trust Donghyuck?”
“I—” Mark’s eyes turn to Donghyuck, just a fraction of a second, but enough for them to meet each other’s gazes. Donghyuck hates it, he hates the doubt in Mark’s eyes, hates the way he can’t answer easily.
“Jisung,” Donghyuck says instead as he kneels down, voice firm and eyes solely on the younger boy, who had only watched the exchange in silence until then, “Do you want Winwin’s friend to patch you up? He’s really nice, I swear.”
Jisung is silent for a few seconds, all eyes on him, awaiting his answer. He turns to look at Chenle, who gives him a squeeze and a reassuring smile. “Is he really a vampire?” Is all Jisung asks, his voice traveling across the empty lot.
Sicheng answers before Donghyuck can do so, “Yes, the leader vampire!”
A smile breaks into Jisung’s still blotchy face, “This is the best day ever.”
Donghyuck tries to unsuccessfully hide a snort as Jaemin groans, loudly complaining about how all of them will be killed before the night ends. Still, he helps Jeno out as they both wrap an arm around Jisung, holding him up.
“Why couldn’t it be aliens instead?” Renjun mutters under his breath as he walks right behind them, Chenle catching up to him as he says something in undecipherable mandarin, smile on face.
He sees Mark get up from the ground with a sigh, but before he can walk up to him, Sicheng beats him to it, cautiously walking up to the eldest.
“Mark, is it?” he hears the vampire ask, his voice deep but warm, the one Donghyuck knows.
For a moment, he fears Mark might do something stupid like stab Sicheng with a wooden cross or maybe run away, but he doesn’t, all he does is nod with wide-eyes, still visibly apprehensive.
“I’m sorry,” Sicheng offers, “I thought you guys meant harm.”
Technically, they kind of did, Donghyuck thinks, walking up to next to Mark. They are a monster hunter club, after all. It’s just that the vampires would probably win against a bunch of defenseless high school kids.
“It’s fine, Winwin,” Donghyuck puts a hand on Mark’s shoulder, “Cheng Xiao would’ve done something awful if you hadn’t helped us.”
Sicheng smiles, “Alright, c’mon, our place isn’t that far from here!” He hops to the front, bubbly steps leading them across the dark streets. “Kun’s gonna be happy, we rarely get any human guests!”
Donghyuck and Mark let everyone else follow Sicheng before they look at each other. “Do you… do you trust him, Hyuck?” Mark says and Donghyuck is beyond relieved his friend is not mad, or worse, scared of him.
He nods, “I do, I really do.”
Mark nods slowly before looking at him, his brown stare sending a chill to Donghyuck’s spine. “Then I trust him too.”
Donghyuck’s heart swells at the boy in front of him, wind blowing his frazzled hair out of his face, sweet but resolute smile meant only for Donghyuck.
“We need to—” he starts before a deep sigh leaves him, “We need to talk, Mark.”
“Guys!” Renjun calls out from a distance, “Hurry up!”
Mark sends him a smile, “And I’d love to hear it but let's catch up with Jisung and the rest first.” The bolt of electricity that runs through Donghyuck when Mark grabs his hand before he runs is nothing short of embarrassing.
What Sicheng says is true, the walk from the Cheng lot to the Qian building isn’t too long, still, the few blocks it takes to get there make a difference in scenery. The buildings are no longer graffittied and the pavement makes way for grass and colorful flowers, not that they can see very well given that night has fallen upon them, but the whole aura feels lighter, less stuffier. Donghyuck hopes the rest of the boys can feel it as well, Kun’s well-taken care of neighborhood is one his favorite places around the eastern district.
Soon enough, they arrive at a less than stellar three-storey building, one with rusty stairs that lead downstairs.
“This is the place?” Jaemin says, one eyebrow raised at the place in question. The building’s outside appearance isn’t the prettiest, Donghyuck admits, but he knows it’s hard to afford a large house that houses nearly twenty rowdy vampires.
“Yes!” Jaemin’s cynicism seems to be lost on Sicheng, who only smiles proudly, showing off his home. He leads them to the stairs, where a wooden door lays.
However, as Sicheng fumbles with his keys, the door opens on a whim, revealing a man with disheveled hair and donned in a pink fluffy bathrobe. “Sicheng? Why are you so late, I was starting to get worried.”
Sicheng coughs, shy smile on his face, “Had a minor delay, but it’s fine, Kun, we’re—”
“Haechanie?” Kun interrupts, finally seeing the younger boy as he stands right next to Sicheng in equal sheepishness. “I didn’t know you’d be coming around.”
“You’re Kun, ok,” Jaemin says, Jisung still firmly around his arm, “If you’re going to bite us or whatever, do it quickly but patch up Jisung first, then we talk blood. If you really are a vampire or whatever you think you are.”
Kun looks at the rest of the boys with a curious glance over.
“We kind of had an altercation with Cheng Xiao on the way here,” Sicheng explains when he sees Kun’s alarmed face, one that doesn’t appease when the vampiress name is said, “We’re fine, I promise, but this little human got a few bleeding scratches.”
Kun tightens up his bathrobe as Donghyuck points to Jisung, who looks entirely too fascinated by the vampires interacting in front of him, “Hi,” he waves with a hop.
“Poor thing, come inside.” Kun rushes him over, soon followed by the rest of them, Mark in tow, “I have a first aid kid, I’ll bandage you up right now.”
Donghyuck definitely sees the apprehension in Renjun’s and Jaemin’s face, hell, he can even see it in Mark and Jeno, who seemed a little more calm than their counterparts. However, Chenle and Jisung appear to have no qualms about the place, looking more than fascinated at the lavish insides of the coven.
The basement, which serves as a common area, is filled with light curtains and plush furniture everywhere, making the place entirely un-vampire looking. Donghyuck was tragically disappointed the first time he was invited.
“Stay here, I’ll be right back,” Kun says in a hurry as he heads upstairs, where the vampires’ rooms are located, “Jisung you can take a seat there, Sicheng offer them drinks.”
“You mean alcohol?” Renjun says utterly too enthusiastic.
“Or blood?” Jisung questions, definitely too enthusiastic.
Sicheng shrugs before walking into the kitchen, rummaging through the fridge. “I’ve got chocolate milk?”
“That sounds good!” Jeno is quick to reply as he and Jaemin walk with Jisung to the living room. Renjun’s about to follow them before he notices Chenle, who is eyeing a foosball table.
"Sick,” Renjun says under his breath as he and Chenle run towards the fancy looking game.
Donghyuck shares a look with Mark, small smile forming on his face. He wants to ask him if he wants to try beating Renjun and Chenle in doubles but then—
“Hyuckie!” The loudest voice ever known to man suddenly calls out, echoing all across the living room and into the kitchen.
“Oh, sweet Anathema,” Donghyuck rolls his eyes as the approaching figure runs towards him, elongated limbs and entirely too big.
“You didn’t say you were dropping by!” The boy pauses, pensive, before continuing, “Or did I forget? Are we having a sleepover, man?” He smiles, grin just as big as the rest of him, eyes wide and lips full. The definition of a handsome vampire. “Oh, hello!” He finally notices Mark, who watches the exchange with watchful eyes.
Donghyuck mentally hits himself. He didn’t think the day his best friend and his—whatever is it that Mark is—would ever come. He sighs once, “Mark, this is Yukhei. Yukhei this is Mark.”
“What’s up, Mark!” Yukhei bellows as he wraps a whole arm around the shorter boy before he sniffs him. “You my friend, smell of watermelon, baby powder and… Donghyuck. Interesting.”
What does that mean! He wants to ask Yukhei but refrains himself for the sake of his and Mark’s blood pressure. Mark reddens for half a second before coughing out, “You’re a vampire too?”
“Oh?” Yukhei tilts his head, “A human, Hyuckie? Can’t say I’m surprised.” He gives Kun a lazy wave as the older walks downstairs, first aid kit in hand. He turns his stare back at the pair in front of him, “Yes, Mark the Human, I’m a vampire, look at my fangs, they’re pretty cute!”
Yukhei shows off his teeth, entirely too sharp and terrifying for Mark, who tries his best not to tremble besides Donghyuck. “They’re—cool. Love them.”
“There's more humans?” Yukhei looks around, counting, “There's four little humans besides Mark. What's the occasion?”
“Haechan’s friends,” Sicheng says with a shrug as he walks past them and back to Jisung and Kun, chocolate drinks in one hand. He hands some to Donghyuck and Mark who take them gratefully. “There's some fresh blood in the fridge if you want, Yukhei. Tell Yang Yang and Xiao Jun to come downstairs if they want some.”
“Oh? But they're out,” Yukhei calls out, making his way to the kitchen, “All three of them left me to fend for myself against Kun.”
“I heard that,” Kun grumbles as he wraps a sanitized bandage around Jisung’s skinny arm, “Now, Sicheng, Donghyuck, can you tell me what actually happened? Why did Cheng Xiao attack you?”
Sicheng bites his bottom lip, looking worried, “It was our fault, we were causing a commotion near her coven, it's all fine now. Jisung’s scratches were an accident. Nothing major.”
Kun’s eyes darken for a moment, voice laced with venom, “It's not fine, she attacked you, Winnie, what good are truces for around here then?”
“It was my fault, hyung,” Donghyuck steps in, feeling remorseful over everything. He could've prevented all of this had he stopped Mark from going after a whole ass vampire. “We just wanted to meet with Winwin but we ended up freaking him out. And then Cheng Xiao appeared and it all became being a huge mess.”
“I believe that,” Yukhei says next to him, earning a glare from his friend. “But! None of you got harmed, right? Now just enjoy your chocolate milk and relax.”
“I got harmed,” Jisung speaks up with a shrug, “But it was awesome.” He turns to Kun with wide, excitable eyes, “Mr. Kun vampire sir, can I look at your coffin collection?”
Kun looks confused for a second before exchanging an amused smile with Sicheng, who sips on his chocolate milk with bright eyes. “Sadly we had to leave the coffins back in China, but I have a really cool comic book collection, do you want to see it?”
“Yes!” Jisung nods before Jaemin panics, elbowing Jeno on the side.
Jeno looks at him before understanding what his friend means, then follows Kun and Jisung closely behind as they walk upstairs, “I’ll come with you Jisung.”
Donghyuck snorts once, taking a seat on the plush sofa himself. “They won’t eat Jisung, Jaemin, relax.”
“I need milk,” Jaemin stands up, entirely too miffed at the whole situation. “You, Fangs, take me to the kitchen.” Sicheng frowns at the new nickname but does as the younger boy says.
“Yeah, I’ll be right back too, Hyuckie, need to make a phone call,” Yukhei gives him a giddy smile as he makes his way upstairs.
“Aren’t you a whipped one?” Donghyuck snorts, making way for Mark to sit next to him.
“Look who’s talking,” is the last thing Yukhei says before disappearing out of sight, effectively leaving him alone with none other than Mark.
There’s silence for a few moments, the situation finally seeping into Donghyuck. A situation that involves telling Mark Lee he’s actually friends with a whole entire coven of vampires. He knows what Mark said, he knows that he trusts Donghyuck, but how much does he actually mean it? Enough for him to be ok with Donghyuck being a witch himself? Maybe Mark is not ready for this world, Mark should be with his friends living a normal human life, not hanging out with—
“Hyuck, stop thinking so hard.” Mark puts a hand on his thigh. When Donghyuck looks up, he is met with a timid smile, the one Donghyuck first saw at the milkshake place when Mark was telling him about the monster club. “Whatever it is you want to tell me, I’m sure it’s fine.”
The warm sensation in his stomach blooms like a thousand flowers in spring, even if he’s in the basement of a vampire coven in the middle of winter. Mark Lee is surely something else.
Donghyuck smiles back. For now, it’s alright. “Do you want to beat Renjun and Chenle in foosball?”
The familiar sign near the entrance of Bella Morte is as familiar as ever. It’s a neon purple skull, of all things, because apparently the owner, a short wolf named Baekhyun, doesn't know of subtlety nor irony.
Still, that particular bar is one of Doyoung’s favorites. Ten—because of course it was him—accidentally found the place during one of his drunk outings during college. Stuck in between the nooks and crannies of the narrow streets of the eastern district, it has become a staple place for Doyoung and his friends.
“We haven't been here in forever,” Taeyong muses as he zips up his jacket, leading Jaehyun and Doyoung inside the place. He touches the door handle and, sensing Taeyong’s magic, it instantly lights up, unlocking by itself and letting them through.
The inside is far bigger and fancier than what it's outside appearance promises, and the soft sounds of an old Arctic Monkeys song fills the room as the few patrons chatter in amicable laughter.
They hear Yuta call for them, “Taeyong, over here!” He waves around, a bottle of beer already on his hand. They sit on a circular booth, Ten and Johnny on one side, Taeil next to Yuta.
“What took ya so long?” Ten asks as he makes space for Doyoung.
“Doyoung takes years in the shower did you know that?” Jaehyun pipes in when absolutely no one asked, something that seems to be a favorite hobby of his.
“And he uses up all the hot water!” Ten agrees with a loud laugh, the alcohol in his belly already taking its first effects.
“Sana, bring more beer and soju, please!” Yuta calls out to a waitress that seems too bored, looking at all the patrons drink themselves to stupidity. “Enough for four more people!”
Doyoung sees Sana sigh before he turns around and takes a sip of Ten’s own beer. “This is gross, beer is gross, I hate it.”
“Then don't drink it! It’s mine,” Ten takes back the bottle in a swift motion, “And guess what guys?” He doesn't wait for an answer, “Johnny and I are friends now.”
Johnny shrugs as he takes a gulp out of his own drink, “I think we are, aren't we?”
Ten pats him on the back, “We've passed the awkward stage of ex-lovers, it's awesome.”
“I don’t think one failed date counts as ex-lovers, Ten, but I’m glad you are able to have friends other than us.” Doyoung snorts as Sana brings the rest of their drinks, quickly grabbing a green soju bottle. He has half of it down in minutes and, not for the first time, Doyoung is proud of his high alcohol tolerance. It comes in handy, especially for entertainment purposes when the rest of his friends get piss drunk by drinking two sips of grape wine.
“I love this song! Ten and Doyoung, c’mon I wanna dance,” Yuta says as the bubbly melody of a k-pop girl group song echoes through the dimly lit bar.
Doyoung groans, “Yuta, no one else is dancing and it’s too early for you to make a fool out of yourself.” He looks around the too empty place, “It’s too early for me to make a fool out of myself.”
“It’s never too early for that, Doyoungie,” Ten laughs in his ear, taking his hand and getting him out of the booth, “Here, just finish your bottle and we’ll be good to go.”
Doyoung whines, taking ahold of the bottle, but doesn’t protest any further as Yuta locks arms with him too and both drag the taller man out onto a makeshift dance floor in the middle of the bar. He can feel Taeyong’s and Taeil’s laughing stares on him, but it’s nothing they haven’t seen before. In fact, he doesn’t think anything will ever top third year of college Doyoung, the one who barfed all over Taeil’s lap after making out with an unnamed elf. If anything, Doyoung is a little bit more self conscious of the amused look Jung Jaehyun is giving him as he sits on the booth, bitter beer on his lips.
It doesn’t matter though, because the pop music resonating through his ears make his shoulder relax, his hips loose and, of course, his lips thirsty. Bottle after bottle, soju after soju, song after song and Doyoung reminds himself how good it is to let go once in a while.
“I love alcohol,” Yuta slurs as he twirls around to a BigBang song. He seems entirely too happy and a hell lot dizzier than Doyoung is.
You see, there are multiple types of drunks amongst Doyoung’s friends, and all seem to make regrettable life choices given the right opportunity.
Yuta, as is most expected, is a grand exaggeration of his sober self. A happy, loud and mirthful kitsune who loves trouble and making fun of everyone else. As his favorite Lady Gaga song plays in the background, Yuta giggles, face red and glowy and suddenly, he floats. He floats, as if unable to stop himself, not that he’d want to of course, he’s having too much fun. He twirls in the air as he hovers above the booths, lays a hug on an unsuspecting patron before stealing his glass and then makes his way back the dance floor again, where Ten is doubling over in laughter at his friend’s antics.
“Well you guys seem to be having fun, don’t you?” a voice says from behind him, too close to Doyoung’s ear for comfort. It’s Jaehyun, Doyoung doesn’t need to turn around to know that. When he does look back, he’s met with a ridiculously pretty fairy, skin flushed pink and smile entirely too breathtaking. Doyoung’s pride be damned, he admits Jaehyun is the most beautiful being he’s ever seen.
“Are you drunk?” Doyoung frowns, eyeing the half full bottle Jaehyun has in his hand.
“Not as much everyone else, didn’t think you lot would be so lightweight.”
“I’m not a lightweight,” Doyoung declares, taking another sip of his beer, “I’ll see you go down in no time, Jung.”
Jaehyun only has time to raise his eyebrows before Yuta sweeps in and forces him to dance, the fairy doesn’t seem too bothered, laughing along with the shorter man.
Doyoung grins at the pair before collecting one more bottle from the bar. Sana gives him a questioning glance before he leaves for the booth, where Ten has gone back and Taeyong and Taeil are in deep conversation.
“This one, Johnny! Swipe him right!” Ten yells excitedly as he and Johnny huddle over while looking at Johnny’s phone, “He seems like a romantic type, I bet.”
“But he’s taller than me,” Johnny whines, “I don’t like that.” He gasps, suddenly realizing something life changing by the looks of it, “Am I being too picky? Is this why I haven’t found love?”
“I wanna say that you’re not, because it’s not the time to make you feel bad, but,” Ten slurs as he chugs down the last remnants of his drink, “You are picky.”
Johnny groans, lowering his head on the table, “I’m gonna end up alone. I just want to have a cute boyfriend.”
Ten gags at his friend’s laments but manages to pat his back in consolation, “It’s ok to be picky. I mean, I wouldn’t know, I did end up making out with Yuta once but that is not the point Johnny. The point is, that it’s ok to be picky because that just means you know what you want in life.”
“So lift up your head, Lucifer, and only date who you want to date,” Ten finishes, too proud at his own speech before his arm sloppily slides off the table, toppling over. He’s another tragic lightweight.
Johnny sniffs but eventually does lift his head up from the grimy surface, brown locks covering his eyes. He sighs, “I need another drink before I actually swipe right to this guy. Tinder is so complicated.”
Ten is the drunk that makes out with anyone, Doyoung knows this first-hand. He’s never made out with him, thank Merlin, but he knows how handsy he can get after a few drinks. He’s been witness to Ten’s love shenanigans with a goblin, a merman, and a yokai, all in one night.
But he also knows how caring Ten can get if surrounded by the right people, by his friends; he’s been the one always ready with hangover remedies and chicken soup the next morning, after all, when Taeyong is too busy crying because of his headache and Taeil sleeps through whatever hangover pain he is feeling. And now, while he consoles poor, dumb Johnny, Doyoung can see how Ten really means it when he says Johnny is his friend now, Ten will care for him.
Doyoung takes a chip from the table and looks at the pair sitting next to him, in the very corner of the booth. His drunk self tries to eavesdrop, not that it is any hard, Taeyong is far too loud and Taeil is far too drunk to care.
“Taeil,” Taeyong whines into his drink, never taking his eyes off the wizard, “Taeil, why are you soooo pretty?”
Taeil chokes on his beer, Doyoung is pretty sure some of it comes out of his nose. “Stop saying stuff like that, Taeyong, it’s awkward and embarrassing.”
“It’s not embarrassing,” Taeyong grumbles, looking perhaps a little cute, pink flush and pout in place, “My feelings are not embarrassing!” He holds onto Taeil’s sleeve, clinging onto it, Doyoung notes how Taeil doesn’t move away, not like the many other multiple times he’s done so when sober.
Taeyong and Taeil. Not the best drunks, that’s for sure. Taeyong is the most lightweight drinker of them all, he starts getting red and silly after a few sips of heavy beer, it’s wholly entertaining for the most part, but he also gets unbearably clingy, especially if your name is Moon Taeil.
Taeil grabs a handful of Taeyong’s cheeks, smushing them together.
“Angghh,” is all Taeyong can muster, his lips looking like a fish’s.
“Be quiet lizardo. Ricardo lizard.” Taeil slurs before chuckling at his own comment, still not letting go of Taeyong’s cheeks.
“Are they always this weird?” Johnny questions looking at the pair. Ten is now handling his phone, seemingly in charge of Johnny’s Tinder conquests.
Doyoung sighs, “I feel like whatever Taeil says when drunk is what he’s actually thinking sober. He just doesn’t have a filter anymore.”
Taeyong mumbles something else, a frown on his face.
“I don’t understand what you’re saying,” Taeil tilts his head, “I think I like you better this way.”
Taeyong forcefully takes Taeil’s hands off his face. “I said, don’t hold my face like that if you’re not going to kiss me.”
Taeil looks at him for a second too long, his eyes hazy and Doyoung sees the hesitation in his face, as if he’s actually entertaining the notion of kissing Lee Taeyong. But then the moment is gone and Taeil looks away, grabbing his own drink and downing it all at once. “Yuta looks like he wants a dance partner, can’t let him be alone.”
Taeyong looks like he has something to say, but instead deflates, taking a chip from a table and munching on it with apparent distaste.
Doyoung sees Taeil walk up to the dance floor, where Yuta instantly whoops for him and carries him bridal style into the air, making Jaehyun laugh at the pair.
And then there’s Doyoung.
Out of all his friends, Doyoung knows he’s the most volatile, the most unpredictable. Sure, he can hold his alcohol better than all of them put together, but the effects of it are always unforeseeable. One minute he can be laughing into Taeyong’s shoulder, the next he can be a crying mess whining to Ten about his life’s misfortunes. Right now, however, right now Doyoung can feel frustration bubbling up inside of him.
He doesn’t know how much he’s drank in the few hours they’ve been here, but he can already feel his throat hot and in need of water, can already feel the sting on his eyes. And most all, he can already feel the bundle of emotions all gather up inside of him. Frustration is there, sure, but also anger, sadness, hopelessness.
He turns to look at his friend. Taeyong looks too pretty, and that shouldn't be surprising anymore, not at all, but somehow Doyoung still wonders how. It's not like dragons have naturally gifted appearances, not like Jaehyun or Ten. It's all Taeyong’s doing, no magic.
“Lee Taeyong,” Doyoung manages to firmly say, gaze focused on Taeyong’s gloomy figure. His vision is getting blurry, but it is nothing Doyoung can’t handle for now.
“Yes?” Taeyong looks up, question in his face.
“I know about the damn dragon eggs,” he says, waiting for Taeyong’s reaction. He knows about the eggs, of course he does, all of them are terrible liars, especially Taeyong.
Taeyong only looks on, dumbfounded, “I—”
“We should, uh, we should go dance or something,” Doyoung hears Ten whisper to Johnny, who only nods as they both scramble out of the booth in record time.
“I’m sorry Doyoung, we didn’t… we didn’t mean to steal them. I mean, we kind of did but—”
“I’m not mad at you for stealing them, Taeyong!” Doyoung shouts, he’s glad the blaring music has only become increasingly louder, otherwise, he’d be heard all throughout the bar. “I’m mad because you didn’t trust me enough to tell me.”
“We didn’t want to bother you,” Taeyong tries, and Doyoung knows he didn’t mean any harm, that none of them did. But the alcohol, his feelings, everything is up there at once and his head doesn’t make any sense of it, he just wants to let it all out.
“You told everyone but me,” Doyoung says softly, hurt, unspoken words never leaving his mouth, he looks away, “What are best friends for then?”
Taeyong looks mortified, and Doyoung does feel bad for it all, first Taeil, now him dumping all of this emotional tirade on his friend. But maybe Doyoung wants to be a little selfish, at least for once.
“You know I trust you, I trust you with my life, Doyoung,” Taeyong says after a few moments, “Is something else bothering you? I understand if—”
“It’s fine,” Doyoung says quickly, “I’m just in a bad mood. I’m feeling annoyed at you all hiding something from me, that’s all. But now you know how I feel. So I’m fine.” He feels a little nauseous.
“I’m going out, need some fresh air.” Doyoung exhales as he gets up from his seat, he adds, “Don’t follow me, please, Yong.”
Taeyong nods, looking even sadder than before, Doyoung’s heart hurts a little.
He takes a few stumbling steps, but he’s steady enough to walk outside.
The air hits his face and Doyoung instantly feels more sober. The street, as is no surprise, is devoid of any people, only the faraway alarm of a car sounds in the distance, but the rest is simply silence and cold air blowing in his face.
Doyoung knows he’s stupid, he knows that, but how does he change himself? How does he stop being so pathetic?
The sound of the door echoes against the silence of the night, Doyoung scrunches his eyebrows in annoyance at the intrusion, quickly wiping his tears away with the sleeve of his shirt.
There’s a few steps and then there’s silence, but Doyoung doesn’t turn around to see who the newcomer is. He kind of feels like he doesn’t have to. Who else is stupid enough to come outside to see him right now?
“Why are you so sad, Kim Doyoung?” Jaehyun’s deep voice reverberates through Doyoung’s core. Doyoung doesn’t reply, he doesn't even face him.
He continues, “I don’t think you’re a sad person, and that confuses me. But I see it from time to time, I see it in little bits and pieces of you. So what is it that’s bothering you?”
Doyoung turns around. The cool wind blows the dark strands out of his face, his nose is red, and his eyes are no better, red rimmed and with tears threatening to fall. “I saw you cry the other day, don’t say that to me when we both know that.”
Jaehyun breaks eye contact, looking at the empty bottle of soju in his hands. Somehow, Doyoung doesn’t feel as sober as Jaehyun looks.
There’s a palpable silence between them, one that should be more awkward, Doyoung thinks, but it’s not, for some unexplainable reason. Because who is Jaehyun to Doyoung but a roommate, a not so decent one at that.
Jaehyun lets out a shaky breath just as he makes eye contact with Doyoung again, the smile on his face returning. “I cut ties with my family, in case you wanted to know.” Doyoung listens to those words, feels the strange nostalgia in Jaehyun’s voice. “It sounds stupid, I know. I’m an adult. But…” his voice trails off.
“It’s not stupid,” Doyoung says, and he means it, he truly means it. “Your family is important, there must be a reason why and I bet it’s not stupid.”
Jaehyun laughs, a soft and sad melodic sound that makes Doyoung tremble, and he is astounded, even in times like these, Jaehyun manages to be magically beautiful.
“Have you heard of the Unseelie Court?”
“The mafia?” Doyoung questions. Of course he knows of the Unseelie Court, everyone does. A horrible syndicat of organized crime, one responsible for hundreds of deaths amongst the magical community each year. He’s had his handful of cases about them when the Department of Magical Defense asks for help. Of course, it’s always been small ones, the top fish of the Court are too powerful to ever bring down.
“Yeah, well,” Jaehyun exhales out a puff of hot air, crossing his arms, “My family funds them. Have done so for as long as I can remember.”
Doyoung looks at him, as if waiting for the joke to come, but the more seconds of silence pass, the more he knows it’ll never do. “Your family funds the biggest mafia in Seoul?” Is all he can say, feeling a little dumbfounded.
Jaehyun shrugs, “It’s kind of easy to ignore when you have lots of money and aren’t personally involved with them, you know?”
“But it gets to a point where you keep hearing about all these deaths, all this contraband. And then I see my mom happily sitting in our expensive table, eating fucking caviar as if people just didn’t die last night because of her and dad’s business.”
“So you left?”
“I love my parents, I do. But the moment my dad said it was time I took over, it was too much. So I left.”
“Merlin, Jaehyun,” Doyoung exhales, “I’m… sorry, I guess you must be having a hard time.”
Jaehyun bites his bottom lip, “It’s alright. Sometimes I just get homesick, some other times I don’t know what to do, but I know it’s just a matter of time, you know. I got Johnny, I’ll be fine
Doyoung looks at him for a few more moments, Jaehyun is too annoying, that's a fact, but if anything, Doyoung’s specialty in life is taking care of annoying fools like him.
“You’ve also got us,” he says with a firm nod, “I mean, if you… ever need anything. I’m here, so is Ten and the rest of the boys.” Doyoung feels his ears go red, he hopes it's not too visible under the moonlight.
The smile Jaehyun sends his way is far too honest, his eyes crinkling. There's a beat of silence before he speaks up again, “How long Doyoung?”
Doyoung looks up, trapped like a deer in headlights. “How long what?” But he knows exactly what Jaehyun means, the guy is not as dumb as he looks, that's for sure.
Jaehyun exhales, loud and clear. “How long have you been in love with Taeyong?”
And there it is. Doyoung wants to recoil, he wants to be surprised at Jaehyun’s bluntness, wants to tell him he’s wrong, but he can’t. Because those words are imprinted in Doyoung, words that have been there for years, like a second skin.
He turns around, facing the street and pressing his back against the brick wall of the bar, like Jaehyun is. He lets out a puff of air and a bitter laugh. He needs another drink, he’s too sober for this. “Is it that obvious?”
“Not really,” Jaehyun shrugs, looking at the street, “I’m just too perceptive, I’m too smart.”
Doyoung rolls his eyes, “I’d rather go with I’m too obvious.”
There’s a pause. “It's ok, you know?” Jaehyun adds, “It always works out, Taeyong will see and he’ll date you and you’ll live happily ever after.”
“You don't really believe all that bullshit, do you?”
Jaehyun laughs, “Could happen.”
Doyoung hums, “It's more complicated than that, Jaehyun.” He taps his fingers on the wall, the soft sound of cicadas in a nearby distance. “Magic might be real, but it's not as magical as everyone thinks.”
Finally, Jaehyun turns to him, half smile on his face, dimple gently poking into his cheek, “I think it is, it’s just never the way you expect it to be.”
Whatever that means, Doyoung is drunk enough to believe it.
“C’mon, let’s go back inside,” he winces, realizing how cold the night is actually getting.
“Please, my balls are actually frozen at this point.”
Doyoung laughs. Maybe it’s the alcohol, he thinks, but for a moment, Jung Jaehyun is more than alright.
Chapter 4: babylon
For once, the milkshake place is at its brim; and for once, Donghyuck isn't behind the counter. Instead, he finds himself sitting in a booth, side completely pressed against Mark’s own and looking as Yukhei takes orders like a madman. Maybe Donghyuck should feel a little bad for his friend but it’s his day off, no sympathy from the devil.
He also thinks he should be spending his free time somewhere far away from his work place, but Mark had been the one to set up their date—ah, excuse that, not a date, their club meeting—and it seems the other boy has taken a genuine liken to Kim’s Milkshakes N’ Burgers, much to Donghyuck’s dismay. It’s not like Donghyuck could argue, he hasn’t really seen Mark since last Friday and there is certainly lots of things to be discussed.
“Maybe I should try the raspberry milkshake today,” Mark says, casually flipping through the menu with a pensive look, “Or should I stick to the vanilla one? What do you think, Hyuck?”
Donghyuck is broken out of his reverie by his friend, who takes one look at Donghyuck’s distracted face and smiles, grin in place. “Are you ok there?”
“Get the raspberry one,” Donghyuck ignores him, taking the menu from Mark, “I’ll get the vanilla one, if you don’t like yours we can trade.”
“Oh, so we’ll just share!” Mark’s smile is undeterred. Higher entities, please help Donghyuck’s weak soul.
“Yukhei!” Donghyuck calls out before his tall beanstalk of a friend waves back with enthusiasm and makes his way to their booth. “He sure looks happy today,” he mutters under his breath.
“Hey Hyuck, hey Mark,” Yukhei bellows as he slides into the other side of the booth. Donghyuck notes that, unsurprisingly, Yukhei isn’t wearing his uniform; one of these days Doyoung will realize he has little to no control over his two employees. “You gonna order something?”
“A raspberry and vanilla milkshake,” Donghyuck gives him back the menu, “Make the vanilla one extra sugary, please.”
“You and your sweet tooth, Hyuckie,” Yukhei laughs, loud, unabashed, like the shameless vampire he is. “By the way, you coming over on Saturday? I convinced Xiaojun to lend me his PC, you know how mine is so slow, we can watch that boring romcom you wanted to last time.”
Donghyuck coughs, taking a mortified glance at Mark. Good job, Yukhei! He’s not a real best friend if he doesn’t embarrass you in front of your crush. “You mean that awesome Fast and Furious movie? Sure thing, bro.”
“No, I meant—”
“Yukhei, just go and bring the milkshakes!”
Yukhei snorts but gives him a mock salute, ushering his way back to the counter, where other customers await. Donghyuck also sees four lithe figures making fun of Yukhei as he goes back to the kitchen after rolling his eyes at them all.
“So, Yukhei, eh?” Mark starts, looking at the menu with far too much intensity.
“What’s that eh supposed to mean?” Donghyuck frowns.
“He’s… handsome. I didn't know vampires were actually supposed to be beautiful and sparkly.”
“I hardly think Yukhei sparkles,” Donghyuck laughs before stopping mid-way, realizing Mark’s words. “Did you say handsome? Mark, are you telling me… you like Yukhei?”
Mark turns to him, wide-eyed, “No! I’m asking if you like him. Or are you guys a thing? Maybe you have a vampire boyfriend and I didn't even know and that's why you knew so much about—”
“Mark, calm down!” Donghyuck jumps, pressing his palm over Mark’s mouth, physically making his friend shut up. The other does so, if only to stare down at Donghyuck’s warm hand against him. Donghyuck takes it back quickly, as if burned by the other’s skin. “I don't like him,” he explains quickly, he adds, “And we aren't dating.”
“Oh. Well he seems nice.”
Donghyuck rolls his eyes. “It’s almost as if you want me to date him.”
Mark shakes his head adamantly. Today he’s wearing glasses, Donghyuck notices, he should wear them more often. “I was just curious.”
“Look,” Donghyuck points to the counter, where the four boys from earlier are gulping down their burgers, “See that guy? Long legs in the silver hair. That’s Yukhei’s boyfriend, just so you know. And he’s real cool and older than us, so Yukhei would never date me, he is set for life.” Donghyuck shrugs, he adds belatedly, “Not that I’d even want to!”
“Don't put yourself down, Hyuck,” Mark furrows his eyebrows before placing a hand on Donghyuck’s shoulder, “Anyone would want to date you!”
Donghyuck can feel the blush creep up his neck, slowly and mortal, but this time, it seems the pagan deities have taken pity on Donghyuck and have sent the Freaks & Geeks squad to the rescue.
“Are we interrupting something?” Jaemin says, hiding a poorly hidden snicker as he walks up to their booth. “Are we third wheeling you guys again?”
“No,” Donghyuck replies quickly, “You’ve never third wheeled, don’t be ridiculous.”
“Come sit,” Mark pats the seat next to him as Donghyuck slides to the right, making space for the rest of their friends.
“I’ll rather sit over here,” Jaemin says casually as he, Renjun and Jeno take the side opposite from the pair, Jisung and Chenle squeezing in next to Mark, “Let the small ones suffer next to the boyfriends.”
“Oh my God, Na Jaemin,” Mark pinches his nose in annoyance, “Don’t drag us into this, you just want to sit with Jeno and—”
“Shut up! I’m trying to help you, you doofus, how dare you embarrass me—”
“Where are the vampires?” Jisung asks while Jaemin and Mark still argue in the background, Jeno trying to placate them as Renjun eggs them on.
“Two milkshakes and a vampire,” Yukhei arrives with a small tray, showing off a dashing smile, fangs and all.
“Yukhei,” Jisung shakes in excitement, “Hi.”
The older boy smiles even brighter, obviously loving all the attention. Donghyuck inwardly rolls his eyes, why are vampires so revered? They're nothing but glorified mosquitos. A witch though! Donghyuck knows nearly half a thousand spells and looks good while doing so. When will Yukhei and his coven beat that!
“You guys want anything?” he asks, ruffling Jisung’s hair.
“I want a glass of blood,” Jaemin grins with childish malice.
“Uh…” Yukhei scratches the back of his head, “We don't sell blood here. Boss’ orders.”
“Exactly!” Jaemin jumps from his feet, pointing fingers at Yukhei. “Because you're not really a vampire. That night? It was all a lucid dream and you can't fool me.”
“Three chocolates, a strawberry and a coffee, please. Black coffee.” Mark says before Yukhei, who looks confused at the whole ordeal, can reply. The other sends him a grateful stare before scurrying away from Jaemin’s accusations.
Jisung turns to glare at Jaemin but the other doesn't say anything else, pursing his lips in annoyance. There’s a beat of silence before Renjun cuts in. “Ok, so we obviously need to talk about something.”
“Right,” Jeno nods. “The elephant in the room.”
Of course, Donghyuck thinks, he wasn't expecting the Monster Hunter Club to shove under the rug the very existence of their own raison d'etre. He’s been dreading this moment while simultaneously ignoring it, Donghyuck’s a pro at this.
“Vampires exist,” Jisung says resolutely to the group, “That's so rad! Isn't it?”
“Yes!” Chenle laughs along before Donghyuck sends him a glare. Chenle ignores it in favor of replying with a shit-eating grin.
“I mean, we knew they existed,” Jeno shrugs, “What I didn't expect was the way they treated us. They even patched up Jisung.”
“And gave us chocolate milk,” Renjun adds. “If anything, Donghyuck, do you have anything you want to say? You seem completely acquainted with Sicheng and his coven.” Renjun looks at him with suspicion, obviously knowing something is up. He’s not Jaemin, of course Renjun knows something is up.
“Me?” Donghyuck replies innocently enough.
“You just happen to be friends with a vampire?” Jeno raises an eyebrow, “Aren't you scared? Do they suck your blood in exchange of friendship? Do you need help?”
“We can do that?” Jisung pipes in, “Sign me the fuck up!”
“Unless…” Jeno ignores him before gasping, “Donghyuck, are you a vampire?”
“What?” Donghyuck starts to feel small beads of perspiration form in his forehead. “Does it look like I have fangs?” Even though he is not lying, there's a slight tremor in his voice, he might as well just tell them his name is Count Dracula.
Mark looks at him, curious, probably aware that he’s getting nervous. This is it, Donghyuck thinks, this is how I get burned at the stake like a Salem witch.
“That woman, the vampire,” Renjun frowns, putting the pieces together in his head, “She said…there was a witch and pixie with us. I was confused at first but…”
Alright! He’s a witch. So what? Might as well say it, right? These are just tiny humans that Donghyuck could poison in the blink of an eye, there's nothing to be afraid of. Except maybe lose his one human friend in years, one who Donghyuck might possibly be romantically interested in. He supposes the rest of the Hunter club isn't bad either. It's not like he wants friends who would be scared of him, or even worse, hate him. He closes his eyes.
“Ya got me, I’m a pixie, guys.”
There’s a moment of silence in the booth, letting everyone understand what has been said. Donghyuck looks back at the boy in question, who only shrugs and laughs loudly.
“Don't be ridiculous, Chenle, pixies don't exist,” Jaemin rolls his eyes. “Vampires? I’ll give it to you, if that. Pixies are like, a whole new level.”
“Then what is this, hyung?” Chenle snaps his fingers, a sparkle of blue light emanating from the tips. The sparkle flies towards Jaemin, stopping right in front of his face before popping and dying with a fizzle.
Jaemin shrieks and Chenle laughs even louder. “What the fuck, Chenle?” he cries.
“Our waiter is a vampire,” Renjun panics, “And you’re a freaking pixie?!”
Donghyuck can still only watch wide-eyed at Chenle’s casual display of magic. Sure, he kind of guessed Chenle was a pixie, but that was only after Cheng Xiao pointed it out. Before that, the odd feeling he got being around Chenle had been unnamed. Understandably so, pixies are known to be the best at concealing magic from other beings, particularly humans.
“How did you do that?” Jeno asks, wide-eyed, “Is that magic?”
“I have no idea,” Chenle shrugs, “I only know that pixies can create sparkles and glamour, leave me alone Jeno.”
“My life is flashing before my eyes,” Jisung whispers, although, Donghyuck must say, he doesn't look as surprised as the rest of the table. Jisung is definitely his favorite.
“It be like this,” Mark looks down at his milkshake, looking way too calm at the whole ordeal, swirling the remnants with his straw, “Pixies and vampires. What’s next?”
“Witches,” Donghyuck says, loudly, “I’m a witch, Mark.”
“Took you long enough!” Chenle yelps, “I knew it the moment I sniffed you.”
“You sniff people?”
“Oh my god, I’m out of here,” Jaemin says, gathering his phone and wallet, “This is an elaborate Halloween prank that you're pulling three months late.” He manages to stand up for two seconds before Jeno wraps a hand around his wrist and sits him down.
“Think whatever you want, Jaemin,” Donghyuck slurps his milkshake. “I’m a full fledged witch. I have a whole cauldron and everything.”
“Do you?” Mark finally breaks his silence. Donghyuck forces himself to look back at him, and when he does, all he sees is Mark’s eyes, full of wonder and curiosity.
“No, but Doyoung does.” Donghyuck looks back at him, his voice full of question. Is it alright? Won't you think I’m weird?
Donghyuck’s bravado leaves him for a moment, looking down at the table. “I’m not lying, if that's what you’re thinking.”
“Of course you're not, and neither am I!” Chenle interrupts, “So deal with it, guys.”
“I mean, I guess a witch is not as cool as an alien but… uh, I support your potions or whatever it is you do, Donghyuck,” Renjun says tentatively, “Heck, can you read minds or something?”
“Do you have a spellbook?” Jeno asks.
“No, Renjun, I can't read minds,” Donghyuck frowns slightly, “And I don't have a spellbook either, sorry to disappoint. Again, that's Doyoung. And it's called a Grimoire, by the way.”
“Your boss is a witch too?” Mark jumps, excited.
He shakes his head, “He's a wizard.”
“Nice!” Jeno screeches, “Like Harry Potter!”
“Harry Potter?” Jaemin asks, turning around, almost breaking his neck at the whiplash. “Are you saying Harry Potter is real?”
“Ok, you’re taking it too far, Jaemin,” Renjun rolls his eyes, “Don’t be ridiculous.”
Jeno snickers lightly, “Yeah, Jaem, everybody knows Harry Potter isn’t real.”
Jaemin glares at them, “I hate you all,” he crosses his arms and leans back, giving up on the conversation altogether.
“Doyoung is a respectable wizard,” Donghyuck sniffs, “He wouldn't stoop as low as comparing himself to Harry Potter.”
“God, you're such a Slytherin.”
Donghyuck is glad when he sees Yukhei make his way to them, second tray of drinks in hand. “Here you go, kiddos,” he interrupts, placing the drinks on the table.
Before anyone can say more, Donghyuck grabs Mark’s wrist, leaning in, “Can we talk, Mark? Alone?”
Mark blinks, wide eyes and obviously confused, but he nods slowly before Donghyuck scoots off the booth.
“Where are you going?” Chenle asks as he slurps on his chocolate milkshake.
“Confidential leader stuff,” Mark puffs out his chest in jest, but deflates the moment Renjun and Jeno snort.
“Leader stuff. Right. Please don’t make out in front of Chenle and Jisung, we’re in public,” Jaemin takes a gulp of his coffee.
“Whatever, we'll be right back,” Donghyuck rolls his eyes, hand still wrapped around Mark’s. He leads the taller boy to another booth near the corner, one without any customers.
He sits on one side of the booth, thinking Mark will sit in front of him. It takes him by surprise when, instead, he motions for Donghyuck to scoot over, pressing himself against him just like they were minutes ago. Now it’s Donghyuck’s turn to look at him curiously for a few seconds.
“Hyuck?” Marks asks, “What's up?”
The boy in question breaks eye contact, hands spread out on the table. “I… listen.”
“Are you nervous?” Mark chuckles, “This is new.”
“I’m not nervous,” Donghyuck frowns back at the smiling boy. Mark has endearing teeth and an ugly laughing face, Donghyuck’s heart is very screwed. There’s more silence before Mark gives another smile and a nod. “I didn't want to tell you. About the witch thing.”
“Oh?” his brown eyes are wide, but other than that, Mark doesn't seem any different than how he usually does.
“I mean,” he stutters, “I wasn't supposed to tell you. Doyoung warned me not to. But hell, what does he know, anyway? He’s old and balding.”
“It's a secret, then? From humans?” Mark asks.
Donghyuck shakes his head, “Kinda. It’s not usual for us and humans to mingle like this but it's not a rule. It's just that… I’ve been scared how you were gonna take it. I've never told anyone before.”
He continues, having all of Mark’s attention, “I’m not sure if you think I’m weird, or, I don't know, a satanic demon that needs to be killed. I just. Wanted you to know.”
There’s a beat of silence before Donghyuck feels Mark’s warm hands intertwine with his once again. “Hyuck,” he says in a low voice, “I’ve been made fun of for believing in supernatural stuff my whole life. And here you are, telling me most of it is real. You’re like…” he trials off, a red color creeping up his cheeks.
Mark shakes his head, “Nothing. I’m just trying to say, I’m not creeped out, nothing has changed. It's not like you're going to kill me, right?” he pauses and his smile grows, “Please, what can you even do, Hyuck? Make scented candles?”
“Hey!” Donghyuck huffs out, taking his hands from Mark’s, “I learned voodoo from a South Orleans witch last year, watch out, Mark Lee!”
Mark laughs, head thrown back, “If anything, I should be scared of Yukhei, he has actual fangs.” He quiets down, gaze softening, “But he clearly isn't harmful. Nor was anyone in the coven. I’m ok, Hyuck. I trust you and I still… like you, if that’s what you're wondering. You’re funny and interesting, witch or not. You're Lee Donghyuck.”
You’re Lee Donghyuck.
“What a cheesehead,” he groans, but the grin on his face isn't deterred and, Donghyuck notices, the skip of his heartbeat is terrifying in a very wonderful way.
“I’m so tired,” Yukhei whines miserably, draping himself across the table. A table which he hasn't cleaned. Jungwoo crinkles his nose in distaste.
“You've only been working here for an hour, Xuxi,” he rolls his eyes fondly, ruffling the younger’s boy’s hair as he sits on the other side of the counter. “You’ve got two more to go.”
“Maybe I should just be your sugar baby,” Yukhei mumbles, cheeks squished against the slick surface. “I can carry your bags for you and give you kisses, sounds good, right?”
Jungwoo laughs, the image doesn't seem so bad in his head, if he's being perfectly honest. “You say that as if Kun isn't loaded with old money.”
Yukhei leans back, gagging, “But I don't wanna be Kun’s sugar baby. That's like, dating your mother.”
“Isn't Kun dating Sicheng, anyways?” Jungwoo wonders with curiosity, picking at the leftover piece of cheese on his plate.
“We aren't sure,” Xiaojun says in between bites, licking the ketchup off his fingers, “Hendery thinks Sicheng is dating Minghao from the Wen coven but I think that's just wishful thinking.”
“I’m not making this up!” a boy with dark hair jumps, “I saw them holding hands!”
“Maybe they're good friends,” Yukhei tries, “Or maybe you need glasses.”
“Whatever,” he grumbles, “I know what I saw. You’ll see the day Sicheng tells us he eloped and got married last year.”
“I, for one, am rooting for Kun-ge,” Xiaojun says, looking at Hendery, who can only glare back at him, “They're already joined at the hip anyways.”
Yangyang, the youngest of the boys, seems to have an epiphany. Judging by the sour lemon face he pulls, it's not a very good one. “But if they get together that means we're going to see them kiss all the time. I’m not ready for that. Especially knowing how thin the walls at are at our place.”
“It’s not like we don't already have enough with Jungwoo and Yukhei,” Xiaojun shudders before Yukhei surges forward, trying to hit him in the shoulder. Xiaojun dodges him with a laugh, leaving Yukhei grumbling.
“Cheer up,” Jungwoo laughs with mischief, “Maybe you’ll get a baby brother soon.”
“Jungwoo,” Yukhei cries, “Isn't it too soon to be thinking about babies?”
“I meant babies from Kun and Sicheng,” Jungwoo grins as Yukhei turns red, the rest of his friends laughing along at his embarrassing demise.
“I’m… I’m working, leave me alone!” Yukhei complains loudly as he goes back into the kitchen, flipping them off.
Jungwoo snorts fondly at his boyfriend one last time before turning around, looking around the freezing diner. Oh, he wished he could've stayed at home under his multiple fleece blankets and plushies, but Yukhei’s shift was a long one today and Jungwoo didn't want him to suffer too much by himself.
He sighs contently, sipping at his strawberry milkshake with a satisfied hum, leaning back against the counter.
“Hey, Jungwoo,” Yangyang calls, “Isn't that Doyoung? By the big booth near the window.”
Sure enough, Yangyang is right. Kim Doyoung is sitting in one of the last booths from the right, squeezed in between Taeyong and Ten. Moon Taeil is also there, Jungwoo notes, as well as two other boys he doesn't recognize. He can't say it's surprising to see him there, Doyoung owns the place after all, but it's rare to see him hanging around the place during Yukhei’s working hours. Jungwoo huffs out a laugh, hopping off his seat and taking his milkshake with him.
“That is Kim Doyoung,” he takes another sip, never taking his eyes off the older boy, “I think I’ll go say hello.”
“A Slytherin,” Doyoung says with finality, “There's no other way.”
Ten hums, “I can also see you as a Ravenclaw, Doyoung.” He continues, “You’re a Ravenclaw, Taeyong’s a Hufflepuff, I’m a Slytherin.” Ten pauses and looks at Taeil, who stares back with glinting eyes, “I don't know what Taeil is.”
“He's clearly a Hufflepuff,” Jaehyun, who sits in front of Doyoung, slurps his milkshake, “C’mon, look at the guy. Hufflepuff through and through.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Taeil frowns, “Hufflepuffs are cool!”
“I think,” Johnny muses, looking at them all as he sits next to Jaehyun. “Taeyong is a Ravenclaw. Doyoung and Taeil are Gryffindors. Ten, Jaehyun and I are Slytherins.”
“Johnny, you have no sense,” Ten snorts into his drink.
Doyoung has to agree with Ten, for once in his lifetime, there's no way Johnny is a Slytherin. He picks at the cold burger in front of him and thinks that maybe he ought to listen to Yukhei and Donghyuck about getting a new menu. He lets the mindless conversation go on without him, most of which revolves around Ten and Johnny arguing about Johnny’s claim to the Slytherin House.
When he lifts his gaze up, Doyoung is met with Jaehyun already staring back at him, paying no mind to the loud conversation going on around him.
“What are you thinking?” Jaehyun steals a french fry from his plate, placid smile on face.
“Huh?” He frowns before stealing one of Jaehyun’s fries back, “I’m not thinking anything, stop saying that.”
“You’re always thinking,” Jaehyun replies, leaning back against the booth. Doyoung doesn't like the way Jaehyun talks, as if he knows everything there is to know about Doyoung. “I’m still not sure if that's a good thing or not.”
“Well one of us has to actually use their brain, Jaehyun, I’ll gladly be the one.”
“Well, use it!” he quips, and if Doyoung were any more oblivious maybe he’d miss the infinitesimal, surreptitious glance Jaehyun throws at Taeyong, who sits on Doyoung’s left, still listening to Johnny’s speech.
“Maybe you need to shut up,” he replies hotly, taking a dignified bite from his burger.
“I didn't say anything,” Jaehyun chuckles, throwing his hands in mock surrender.
“Do you get off at making fun of me? Is that it, Jung Jaehyun?”
Jaehyun laughs even louder, eyes closed, “I’m not making fun of you, I just think you're cute when you get all flustered.”
Doyoung feels his face get even hotter, but before he can bite back at Jaehyun, he realizes something terrible: the rest of the table has gone completely silent.
Ten whistles, “You guys have gotten awfully close with each other, huh, Doyoungie? Who would've thought.”
Doyoung sees the flush on Jaehyun’s skin and he’d rightfully make fun of the fairy if Doyoung himself didn't feel the heat radiate from his own face.
“Did Jaehyun just call Doyoung cute?” Johnny raises both eyebrows before playfully slamming his hand on the table, “When have you ever called me cute, Jaehyun?”
“I call you cute all the time,” Jaehyun mumbles, burrowing his face in his hands.
Johnny pats his friend on the back, sharing a look with Ten, who cackles in evil laughter. “That is a complete lie, my friend.”
“It seems Jaehyun and Doyoung are close,” Taeyong starts, “But Ten and Johnny are…” he trails off, looking for the right word.
“Horrible together?” Taeil finishes for him.
“Yes,” he nods, “Horrible together.”
“Hey, why am I included in the slander?” Johnny exclaims, “I’m an angel!”
“You're an angel much as Doyoung is one, Johnny Seo,” Ten snorts, “Meaning, not very much.”
Doyoung rolls his eyes. “Great, and it comes back to me.” He blows the dark hair out of his face, “Donghyuck is a few booths away, if he hears how you all treat me, I’ll lose all the respect he has for me.”
“It's not like it’s a lot to begin with,” Taeil points out, earning a glare of his own.
He’s got half a mind to rant to all of his extremely annoying friends when, Doyoung’s sight trails off to the counter, where Yukhei is taking orders left and right. However, it is not Yukhei nor his three vampire friends that catch his attention, but it is the boy with the silver mop of hair. Doyoung fails to contain a groan.
Taeyong seems to notice at the same time, slight worry etched on his face.
“What is it?” Taeil asks, noticing the small exchange.
“Jungwoo,” is all Taeyong says as an explanation. It seems to be good enough for Taeil, who grimaces, but Johnny and Jaehyun, who had been listening in, look at each other in confusion.
“Jungwoo?” Jaehyun directs his question at Doyoung, the latter purposefully taking a big bite off his burger.
Ten purses his lips with a roll of eyes, “His ex-boyfriend.”
“He just saw you, Doyoung,” Ten glances at the counter, “Don't freak out but I think he might be coming our way.”
“Anghhgh,” Doyoung cries with muffled sounds at Ten’s words, cheeks still full of burger and cheese. It’s kind of tragic, maybe he shouldn’t have irrationally stuffed his mouth like that.
“Play it cool, it’s all fine,” Taeil acquiesces his friend, taking the plate away from him and sliding him his own glass of iced water. Doyoung takes it gratefully before gulping down, almost choking in the process.
“It’s just an ex-boyfriend,” Johnny waves, “Don’t be weak. Ex-boyfriends are nothing.” Taeyong squeaks out a sound from the back of his throat, Ten snorts.
“He’s a demon,” Doyoung says as soon as he finishes the drink, “Scratch that, not even Ten is as bad—”
“—He’s a nuisance to society, an evil fiend that should be eradicated—”
“Doyoungie!” Jungwoo calls out in a saccharine voice, sweet as the poisoned fruit of Eden. No, Doyoung is not being dramatic, metaphors hold truth.
“Jungwoo,” Doyoung replies with a tight smile, “Fancy seeing you here.”
The boy, clad in dark jeans and a gray sweatshirt, is looking dreadfully good. He smiles at them all before stopping in front of the booth, own strawberry milkshake in hand. “What do you mean? I’m always here, it’s you who never seems to be around the place, Doie.”
“Busy,” is all he says, Doyoung isn’t particularly looking to make conversation. It seems Jungwoo has other plans.
There’s a beat of awkward silence before he finally greets the other men at the table, “Taeyong!” he smiles brightly, his pink lips making way for those evil and adorable squirrel teeth of him, “I’ve missed you.”
Taeyong beams at him, genuine and friendly, as is one Lee Taeyong. “Me too, Jungwoo.”
“Do you wanna sit down?” Taeil offers, polite and amiable, as is one Moon Taeil. Doyoung hates them both with the passion of a thousand suns.
Jungwoo purses his lips, slight apprehension on his face, eyes not meeting Doyoung’s. “Sure,” he smiles with shyness, “If you don’t mind.”
Taeil dismisses him with a wave, motioning for Jaehyun to scoot over, who squishes into Johnny even more, making the latter wheeze.
Jungwoo finally sits down before smiling, voice dripping with adorable excitement, “Hey, I haven’t met you two! I’m Kim Jungwoo.”
Johnny and Jaehyun both wave, “I’m Johnny.”
“John-ny,” Jungwoo tries imitating Johnny’s accent, “American?” he asks in english.
Johnny smiles and nods, clearly enamored by the pesky little Jungwoo. Doyoung ought to cancel everyone at the table, shoo them all away, it’s his establishment anyway.
“Fairy!” Jaehyun exclaims, suddenly realizing it. “You’re a fairy, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” Jungwoo stares at him for a second before breaking out into a grin, “You are one too.”
“Jung Jaehyun,” Jaehyun greets him, “Nice to meet you.”
“Jung?” Jungwoo asks, mind seemingly whirring at the other’s last name.
Doyoung frowns. “He’s my new roommate. Living with Ten and I. He’s… cool, I don’t know,” he manages to interrupt Jungwoo’s train of thought.
“Oh?” the fairy is surprised, “You managed to get someone to pay for the overpriced apartment?”
“It’s not overpriced.” It is most definitely overpriced. Doyoung’s stingy ass knows it better than anyone. “It’s a very nice place.”
“Besides,” Ten jumps at the opportunity, “Jaehyun’s loaded, he’s rich, a millionaire, even.”
“That’s not for you to brag, Ten,” Taeyong shakes his head, sighing.
“It’s fine, I brag about it all the time,” Johnny reassures him, “Jaehyun, my rich best friend.”
“That’s not going to get you any good birthday gifts, Seo,” says Jaehyun, looking miffed at the entire exchange.
“Anyways, what are you doing here Jungwoo?” Doyoung says, not trying to hide the fact that the very presence of his ex-boyfriend is annoying him.
“Having a milkshake?” Jungwoo says innocently enough, showing off his now empty glass.
“I know what you're doing at the diner,” Doyoung gruffs with a roll of eyes, “I mean here. In my near vicinity.”
Jungwoo flushes, “Wanted to say hi, haven't seen you in a while.”
That’s true, Doyoung knows Jungwoo is a frequent customer of the place, has always been so. Which is why he makes it his mission to never clash with the other man’s schedule. Doyoung wouldn't dare ban Jungwoo from his establishment, he isn't ~that~ petty (of course, Taeyong warned him not too, he'd always had a soft spot for Jungwoo, after all).
He deadpans, “Ok. Hello, Jungwoo,”
Jungwoo sighs, probably feeling everyone's eyes on him, “I need to go back but,” he scratches the back of his neck. “Don't be a stranger? I’d like to hang out sometime.” He manages a small smile.
Doyoung tries to reciprocate it, truly, he does, but judging by Taeil’s grimace, he doesn't succeed.
“Ok, I’ll leave you to it,” Jungwoo quips. “Nice seeing you again guys,” he looks at Jaehyun and Johnny, “And nice meeting you two, I’d love to see you again!”
Jungwoo is so, so polite. Doyoung is very aware of this, he dated the guy for 8 months, after all. He’s also aware of the fact that it reminds him an awful lot of Taeyong. Also a very horrible fact.
Just as Jungwoo walks away, back to his little place near the counter, Doyoung can't help but call out. “Jungwoo?”
The other man turns around, question in his eyes.
“Say hi to Yukhei for me.”
Jungwoo’s face turns red before making his way back.
He can hear Taeil mutter under his breath, “What an asshole, Doyoung.”
Ten tries to salvage the small quiff he got going on. When it deflates for the 10th time, he gives up, irritated. Even an incubus like Ten can’t look perfect all the time.
“Fine, be like that,” he reproaches the strand of hair before running his fingers through it, “I can look good either way.”
“Are you talking yourself?” Jaehyun asks as he walks by Ten’s room, already in his pajamas and hair disheveled in a puffy mess. Jaehyun’s untidy state makes Ten feel a little better about himself.
“Are you eavesdropping now?” he retorts back with no bite.
Jaehyun shrugs, taking a bite of his apple. “The door was open. Where are you going?”
“The 7,” Ten says and Jaehyun nods. The 7 is a pretty popular spot amongst the magical eastern district people. It’s Ten’s personal favorite club, one where the music is good, the staff is nice and the people are hot. “Don't wait for me, I’ll probably be back pretty late.”
“I never do,” Jaehyun says simply with a grin.
“Of course not, Sparkles,” he sighs, “Is Johnny still here?”
Jaehyun nods, finishing his apple and leaving the remnants atop Ten’s drawer. Ten pinches his nose in disgust before taking it with two careful fingers and throwing it in the trash. “This is why Doyoung hates you.”
Jaehyun ignores him, leaning against the doorframe, “He is, he's in the living room trying to study. Can you believe him? Studying right before a date.”
Ten looks at the mirror again, “He spends a lot of time here.”
Jaehyun huffs out an airy laugh, “That doesn't seem to bother you, I’m starting to think you like him more than you like me, your actual roommate.”
It is Ten’s turn to grin in mischief, “That's because I do. For one, he’s clean and doesn't eat all of our food. He’s also better eye candy than you.”
Jaehyun gasps, “If you're into philtrums, then yes .”
“I don't know if I am, but what I do know, Jaehyun,” the demon says as he rummages through his closet, taking out a thick leather jacket and putting it on. “Is that I’m not into bread, Breadman.”
“Breadman? Are you kidding me?” Jaehyun sniffles, affronted, “This is you pulling my pigtails, Ten. You're pulling my pigtails!”
“You got the wrong gay, my friend.” He puts on his boots, finally ready to go out.
“Maybe if you guys were good friends you’d actually go out with me,” he loudly continues, making his way into the living room, leaving a still offended Jaehyun behind. “It's like you all want me to die drinking a spiked martini.”
He hears Johnny chuckle as he pages through a thick book, glasses in place. He looks like a handsome scholar, Ten thinks, one from an encyclopedia magazine shoot that he’d jerk off to.
“Are you sure you don't want a ride, Johnny?” he asks, looking back at his friend before glancing at himself in one of the small mirrors, trying to fix his hair once again, “You know the restaurant is on my way to the club.”
“It’s fine, really,” the taller man dismisses with a smile, “You need to get going soon, my date isn't until much later.”
“Who are you meeting up with? The moustache guy? Or the warlock?”
“Neither,” Johnny frowns, mouth twisting in a grimace at the image of the seedy guy with a moustache that had DMed him a few days ago, “I'm meeting with Lu Han? The really cute chinese guy?”
“The old one?”
“He’s not that old,” Johnny defends, “And apparently he’s a friend of my friend Tao. He seems like a good catch. He has two cats!”
“I don't know, Johnny,” Ten laughs, “Never knew owning cats made you a good prospect.”
“It’s fine, if it doesn't work out I still have like, eight other guys on my Tinder DMs,” he dismisses.
“Just eight?” Ten frowns, “You should have more.”
“You sound so insulted,” Johnny replies, finally closing off his book and, sadly, his glasses as well. “I had to delete the guys asking for dick pics.”
Ten thinks for a moment, before adding, “You can always just send them to me.”
Johnny laughs, standing up and dusting off his jeans, “You're crazy,” he takes another look at the incubus before making a shooing motion, “And you already look good like that, Ten. Go on, go charm some men and get your kisses.”
“I’m sure he’s looking for more than kisses,” Doyoung startles them, walking into the living room, sweatpants and a ratty tshirt looking a bit small on him. “But don’t ask me what Johnny, this is a holy household.”
“I won’t,” Johnny laughs, “Are you staying in tonight, Doyoung?”
Doyoung yawns with a nod, scratching his stomach and plopping himself atop the sofa, “I’m certainly not going with Ten to one of his seedy clubs, that’s for sure.”
“You’re exaggerating, they're not seedy. I always ask Jackson to keep an eye out for my drinks,” Ten, very maturely, sticks out his tongue.
“Doyoung,” Jaehyun barges in with a frown, still obviously shaken, “Doyoung, who’s hotter, Johnny or me?”
Doyoung takes one exasperated look at Jaehyun’s disheveled state, pajamas and all. Truthfully, it's not like Doyoung and his bunny pajamas bottoms are any better. Still, he says, “Johnny,” he shrugs when Jaehyun wheezes in mortification, “He's a doctor, everybody likes doctors.”
“Kinky,” Ten muses, “But you're completely right, Doyoung. Jaehyun looks like a bread.”
Jaehyun makes a noise akin to a whine, “I hate all three of you.”
“I’m sure there are people with bread kinks, Jaehyun,” Johnny points out, placating his friend, “Someone out there is dying just to eat you up like a muffin.”
“I’m pretty sure that's called vore,” Doyoung smiles a little too smugly, “But Johnny’s right, don't give up, you'll find the right vorer soon enough.”
Ten cackles, throwing his head back in laughter, and suddenly, the seat in between Johnny and Doyoung looks perfect. He looks at his phone’s clock again before sighing. It’s time to go.
The sounds of animated japanese voices and low laughter coming from the adjacent room make nothing to appease Taeyong’s increasingly broody mood. He’s sitting there, alone and pout in face, as three packets of instant ramyeon are placed in the counter in front of him. He opens one of the packages with unnecessary brute force, none of the contents spill, much to his surprise.
At this point in his life, Taeyong should be more than used to Yuta and Taeil’s quiet anime nights. Aside from the irritating fact that Taeyong is implicitly uninvited, they’re quite innocuous nights that his friends deserve. That Taeil deserves, seeing as Yuta is deliberately semi-unemployed; meanwhile, the eldest works a full-time job as a wizard researcher aside from working at Taeyong’s agency whenever his skills are required from time to time. So yes, he’s happy Taeil (and Yuta) gets to rest and be happy and laugh at japanese cartoons, however, that doesn’t mean Taeyong is not allowed to be broody. Especially when the apple of his eyes is having fun without him in his own house.
He pours water into the ramyeon bowl. It’s not like Yuta doesn’t ask him if he wants to join in, but Taeyong is too polite and knows he’d just make things awkward. He also doubts the other two would be willing to watch a magical girl anime for his sake. And so, poor Taeyong is forced to listen to Taeil giggle in the next room while he’s not there.
It’s fine, he thinks as he opens his mouth, letting the softest stream of flames graze his bowl, heating the ramyeon in seconds. He sulks at the bowl before taking taking strands of noodles with his chopsticks. It’s fine, all he needs is his ramen and—
His dragon eggs.
Right! His baby dragon eggs.
He takes the ramen bowl with him, single noodle hanging from his mouth before he slurps it, and makes his hurried way back to his room, wobbling like a penguin, both hands on the hot bowl, careful not to spill any soup onto his newly scrubbed tiles.
“Babies,” he sing-songs as he enters the room, closing it with his feet. “Yong is back~ how are you?”
With the help of Yuta, Taeyong had placed the eggs on a larger wooden chest, carefully plushed with soft blankets and pillows. Dragon eggs need decent heat conditions in order to hatch properly, so he'd also accomodated an electric heater right next to the chest. It’d warmed up the whole room so much, that Yuta had refused to hang out there for more than a few minutes at a time. Taeyong didn't mind the heat much, seeing as he needed to keep warm too as the harsher winter days approached.
“What will you do once they hatch?” Yuta had asked with a pointed look. “We’re not allowed keep dogs in the apartment, much less three dragons.”
Of course it's something that he's mulled over for weeks now, he needs to find them shelter soon, especially as dragons grow immensely big in just a matter of months.
“I’ll make sure to find you a home,” Taeyong mutters as he pats the middle egg with fondness. That one's called Sun, he's decided. Sun’s the biggest egg, a strong deep red with a rough, textured eggshell. The one on the left, a dark electric blue has been named Rain. And the third one, a green one resembling the color of lily pads, was baptized as Godzilla. Courtesy of Nakamoto Yuta.
“I’d keep you if I could though,” he muses, slurping his ramen, “I’d be your dad and I’d take you out to the mountains every weekend to fly together.”
There's more laughter coming from Yuta’s room. “Single dad,” Taeyong mutters, eyebrows furrowed. “Anyways, don’t worry tiny Yongs, you’ll be safe, I promise.”
He touches Rain, running his fingers against the cool and slick eggshell, and, just as the tip of his fingers leave the surface, it cracks.
Taeyong’s eyes wide in horror, did he accidentally break the egg or—
“Oh, shit, oh shit,” Taeyong mutters, standing up and leaving the bowl of ramen on his bedside table. He steps away from the chest, gaining a panoramic view of his eggs.
Rain’s eggshell starts cracking everywhere, a tiny sliver that grows branches all across the surface, like a flowing river. All at once, the cracks grow until, very slowly, a blob peeks out. At first, Taeyong can't quite discern the shape of the blue thing that's coming out of the shell, but soon enough, he sees what is obviously a tiny blue head.
He takes a few cautious steps towards the chest, but before he can actually take a closer look at the blue fledgling, who is still inside the egg, looking back at him, Sun’s eggshell starts to crack too, followed by Godzilla’s a few seconds later.
“Oh, my god,” he panics. He is giving birth, “Taeil! Yuta! I need help!” He screams, eyes never leaving the three eggs. He doesn’t know exactly how old were the eggs when he found them, certainly in their later stages given their size, but Taeyong thought he’d still have more time before they hatched.
Sun’s head is now peeking out as well, its bright red scales the same color as its shell. Before he can ponder much about it, however, Rain completely breaks free, hopping out of its remains, still inside the chest, still looking at Taeyong the way Sun is now doing too. Finally, the third, emerald colored head pokes out.
“Taeyong!” Taeil busts open the door, eyes frantic, followed by a curious Yuta. “What’s wrong?”
Taeyong, who must look a mess in his pajamas, bare feet and looking dumbstruck, can only stare back at his friends before pointing at the small dragons with shaking hands.
Taeil’s stare follows his movement in question before gaping and letting out a shriek.
“They hatched?” Yuta bellows, the noise attracting the dragon’s attention. Rain and Sun finally sniff the chest before clumsily hopping out of the chest while Godzilla is still struggling to break free from its shell. “Is that Godzilla? He looks so cute! He’s so dumb, he can’t even get out of his egg, I love him.”
“How do you know it’s a he?” Taeil, still looking agitated, says before stepping into the room, standing next to Taeyong’s side.
“I feel it in my heart,” Yuta shrugs, closing the door behind him and walking next to the chest, far closer than where Taeyong and Taeil are cowering. The green dragon, now almost completely out of the shell, lets out a tiny squeak.
“Heh,” Taeil smiles, still maintaining a distance, “That’s cute.”
“What do I do?” Taeyong grimaces, “Do I feed them? I didn’t think they’d hatch today. Or any time soon.” Sun is slowly walking towards him. He shouldn’t be nervous, right? These are just inoffensive baby dragons that need food.
“Do you have any raw meat?” Taeil asks, “Beef will do the trick, right?”
“I’m pretty sure,” he nods, “W-why, why are Sun and Rain walking towards me, they keep looking at me.”
Taeil stares back for a few seconds, before replying, “Taeyong, you’re their mom. I’m sure they can feel your dragon force. Maybe they imprinted on you."
Yuta snorts, “Yeah, look, Godzilla is now looking at you too.” He’s right, youngest dragon sniffs Yuta before making his uncoordinated and slow way towards Taeyong. When he looks down again, Sun is already at his feet, sniffing too.
“H-hi,” he awkwardly greets. So much for his maternal instincts.
The dragon looks up at him and Taeyong is about to smile at it, when Sun lets out a shrill squeak and jumps up, spreading its wings.
“Ahhh!” the three men yell in panic at the fledgling, Yuta flees into Taeyong’s closet while Taeil crouches down next to the bed, hidden. Taeyong is already on his way to hide inside the closet too when Sun, only after a few moments in the air, falls onto the bed with a plop and a squeak.
“Oh, no! Are you ok?” Taeyong jumps in panic, running towards the bed. Rain and Godzilla stare curiously at their brother, while Taeil peeks out his head and looks at the commotion. All Sun does is let out a yawn before hopping onto Taeyong’s lap, looking for warmth. He nearly coos at the red dragon before two more squawks are heard throughout the room. Godzilla and Rain both jump onto the bed as well, wanting to huddle with Taeyong too.
“These are the cutest lizards I’ve ever seen,” Yuta snickers.
Taeyong, now flustered at the three dragons on top of him, can only splutter, not even looking at Yuta. “Leave them alone.” He scratches Rain’s head.
“He’s right,” Taeil, still on the floor, smiles. If Taeyong didn’t know any better, he’d think fondness flashes across his face. Fondness and… something else. Taeil repeats, “The cutest lizards ever.”
“I just want to know,” Doyoung starts, trying to tie the apron around his waist. It’s an apron that's never been used and has been left collecting dust for more than a year now. “Why the hell do I always end up stuck with you?” As luck would have it, the cosmos have aligned yet again. The terrible, hateful cosmos.
Jaehyun, unamused, rests his side on their refrigerator. “It’s not rocket science, Doyoung.” He shrugs with a smile, “You don’t have many friends and I never go out. If Ten isn’t here, naturally it’d be only us two.”
“That doesn’t explain why you’re here. In the kitchen. With me.” Doyoung frowns as he opens the cupboards, all with dusty utensils and pots that only Taeyong ever uses when he comes by to make dinner. He grabs a metal pot that looks good enough to boil water in.
“I thought I could learn something, I feel like I can be a good enough cook if I actually try,” he shrugs, arms still crossed and looking at Doyoung struggle as he looks for a steel colander. “Also, no offense, Merlin, but I don’t want you burning the apartment down.”
“Well, thank you Jaehyun, that’s great,” Doyoung huffs out, hair disheveled, as he eyes the ingredients in front of him. “It’s fine. I’ll be fine! Cooking? How different can it be from brewing potions? I’m an expert at that, I should be an expert at this.”
“In theory, I guess,” Jaehyun looks unconvinced. He takes a look at Doyoung’s iPad, where a tab with a lasagna recipe is open. “This looks good though, if you succeed we’ll eat good tonight.”
Doyoung hums as he turns on the stove. “Ok, be useful then. You’ll be my assistant tonight. What’s the first step, assistant Jung?”
Jaehyun raises an eyebrow before laughing under his breath. He scrolls down to the recipe. “You gotta boil the pasta and while that’s getting done, you should make the sauce. Sounds easy enough.”
Doyoung nods once with resolution. “Alright. I’ll boil the pasta, I’ll leave the sauce to you.”
“You’re certainly leaving the hardest parts to the assistant.” Jaehyun eyes the meat package with a sigh.
Doyoung shushes him with a dismissing wave but both get to work adamantly. Jaehyun grabs his ingredients before reading the recipe again and getting to work, mixing an assortment of spices into the tomato sauce.
There’s a few beats of silence before Jaehyun frowns, looking up at his friend, “I’ll put on some music.”
Doyoung, who is carefully pouring water into a measuring cup, face entirely too focused, looks back at Jaehyun. He pauses, “That might be a good idea. Like plants, you know? If you play them music and give them love, they’ll grow bigger and pretty.”
Jaehyun laughs, “Your lasagna will grow bigger?”
“It’ll taste good,” he frowns, “It’ll feel my love and it’ll taste good.”
“Ok, then,” Jaehyun snorts as he takes out his own phone, looking through the music library.
If you're having girl problems I feel bad for you son
I got ninety nine problems but a bitch ain't one!
“Jaehyun!” Doyoung sputters, “Jay Z?!”
“What?” Jaehyun laughs at Doyoung’s scandalized expression, “This not good enough for your lasagna?”
“You’re so annoying,” he finally says with a resigned huff, turning back to his measuring cup, “If my lasagna flops it’ll be your fault.”
Jaehyun doesn’t stop laughing as he starts mixing his sauce, having too much fun riling up Doyoung. The obnoxious fairy making fun of him reminds Doyoung of earlier today at the milkshake place, where he had embarrassed both of them in front of everyone else. Doyoung feels annoyance and a hot flush creep up his cheeks.
“Hey, Doyoung,” Jaehyun starts, still looking down at his sauce with intense attention. Doyoung looks up from his own cooking.
“I didn’t know you had an ex boyfriend,” he replies, not looking up, adding pepper into the mix. At this point, Doyoung thinks Jaehyun isn’t even looking down at the recipe and is just adding whatever he wants.
“Jungwoo?” Doyoung grumbles at the mere mention of the other fairy. “Yeah, well. I bet you thought I’d been pining for Taeyong all my life,” he laughs dryly. He leans back into the counter, letting the boiling water do all the work for him. “We all make mistakes in life. Jungwoo is my least favorite one.”
For once, Jaehyun seems at a loss for words, “I just never thought of you having other romantic interests other than Taeyong. But Jungwoo… he looks nice. Really nice, actually.”
“Oh, why did poor, nice Jungwoo even date Doyoung?” Doyoung bristles, “Everyone thinks that, I’m used to it. He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing though, that’s who he is.”
There's a beat of silence, Jaehyun opens his mouth for a brief second before lowering his gaze. “The sauce is ready,” he says instead. He pours it into a container, cooling it down. He continues, “I didn’t mean that, I don’t know Jungwoo at all.”
Doyoung puts the pasta and water onto the colander as Jaehyun ponders, “Why do you hate him, though? You know what they say—”
“No, Jaehyun, I do not know what they say,” Doyoung interrupts loudly, glare in place, “What I do know is that Jungwoo broke up with me and then started dating someone younger just two weeks later.”
“Not only that, but he started dating Yukhei, my own son.”
Jaehyun rolls his eyes, letting Doyoung rant as he grabs the pasta from him. He starts layering it into the baking pan alongside the sauce and beef. “C’mon, Doyoung, he’s not your son, he’s your employee.”
“Same thing!” Doyoung pouts, clearly shaken, “Jungwoo had the audacity.”
Doyoung knows his looks are decent at best next to Yukhei, that he’s a fun guy who’s very kind and bright and Doyoung didn’t even try to fire him after dating his ex-boyfriend because who would ever do that to Wong Yukhei? Somehow that doesn’t make it any better knowing Jungwoo left him for Yukhei all those months ago.
“I don’t have feelings for him, if that’s what you mean,” Doyoung says, less heated than before, and for some reason, he really wants the other man to know that. He waits for Jaehyun to look back at him until he says it again, “I don’t have feelings for Jungwoo, I promise.”
“I believe you,” Jaehyun smiles and, for a few seconds, that’s all they do, stare at each other. He turns back, eyeing the stove with incertitude, “Let’s put this tray in the oven.”
Doyoung nods, eyebrows furrowing in confusion. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“Where are you gonna keep them, Taeyong? The dragons, I mean.” Yuta asks, carefully feeding a cube of raw beef to Godzilla. It seems the little green thing has taken a liking to the loud, enthusiastic man. On the other hand, Rain is peacefully using Taeil’s lap as a bed, the wizard somehow overcoming most of his nervousness and cautiously patting the dragon to sleep.
Taeyong scratches his head, “I have no idea, I need to find a place quickly. I really can’t keep them for long here, as much I want to.”
“Hey, Taeil, you work at a zoo, don’t you? They can keep them there!” Yuta says, eager at his bright idea.
Taeil, on the contrary, looks very much affronted. Taeyong has to hold down his laughter. “I don’t work at a zoo, Yuta, for Merlin’s sake.”
“He works at a research lab,” Taeyong says instead, “With animal samples and potions and stuff like that.”
“Stuff like that,” Taeil nods, still miffed.
“Well, but there’s an animal place there! I know because Taeil had to go collect golden honey last week and he got stung and cried for a whole day.”
“You got stung?” Taeyong turns to look at the other man, “How are you?”
“It wasn’t that bad,” Taeil replies, “Yuta’s exaggerating, I’m ok and,” he turns to Yuta with a glower, “I think you mean the magical creature reserve center.”
He continues, “Basically that’s not my branch and I seldom go there, but we do get our samples from them. Technically, they could accept some baby dragons but… it’s extremely hard to just accept creatures without doing a lot of paperwork,” he sighs.
“It’s fine,” Taeyong reassures, “I heard there’s a place in Gyeonggi province that serves as a reserve too, I can ask Doyoung to look it up since his parents live nearby.”
Sun climbs up Taeyong’s shoulder, startling the human, before he grabs another piece of meat and gives it to the dragon. Even though Rain hadn’t eaten much, opting to nap instead, Godzilla and Sun had gone through almost 15 ounces of beef in just half an hour. That was… certainly a lot for newly born fledglings. Taeyong’s wallet was definitely going to suffer these next few days.
“Taeyong, I think Godzilla is thirsty,” Yuta starts, legs folded on the floor as he keeps feeding him the last remaining pieces of food. “Do dragons need milk?”
Taeyong grimaces, “I’m not about to pull out my tit and let them bite my nipples off. I think water should be fine, I’ll go fetch it.”
Yuta splutters in laughter, his cackling scaring poor Godzilla. “I’m sure your tits are mighty fine, Yong.”
Taeyong mutters something under his breath before standing up, grabbing Sun’s rough belly and placing him on the bed, where Rain now scurries towards to as well. “I’ll be right back, I’ll go get you water, babies.”
Instantly, all three dragons whimper, already panicking at Taeyong’s retreating figure. “It's fine, it's fine! You're with Uncle Yuta and Uncle Taeil,” he tries placating as he backs away, opening the door. He hears Yuta say something undecipherable before he laughs.
Taeil hisses, “Shut up!” and it’s the last thing Taeyong hears before closing the door.
He walks briskly to the kitchen, not wanting to make the hatchlings wait too much and panic even more, who knows what they’d do. He doesn't want to go back to a charred bed. Although, he supposes, maybe letting the dragons be without him for a little bit will make them less dependent. His heart aches.
Looking for an appropriate water bowl is too much hassle, he decides to just grab one of his broth pots and fill it with water, it should be enough for all three of them. He wonders if he should get them more meat, it's not like he has an encyclopedia on how to raise dragons. Even the internet doesn't have a lot of answers.
He sighs, opening the water tap. “What did I get myself into?” he mutters, massaging his temple.
The expected silence is broken by a familiar voice. “I’m proud of you, Taeyong.”
Taeyong spurs around, bringing a hand to his chest, surprised. “Taeil.”
“Sorry,” he laughs, a hint of bashfulness on his face, “Just wanted to see if you needed any help.”
“Oh,” Taeyong tries to smile but instead of a crescent moon, his mouth resembles an awkward rectangle. He’s sure Taeil notices. “I’m good. I think.”
“I mean it,” Taeil replies quickly, “About being proud of you. You rescued those eggs, who knows what would've happened to them if you hadn't.”
The pot, now forgotten, is still being filled with cold water. “No big deal, I wouldn't have done it without you guys,” He levels his stare, “Without you.”
Taeil snorts, “I didn't do much, but thank you, Taeyong.”
“You did!” Taeyong exclaims, eyes bright, “You were great! That shield spell? Amazing, saved our lives!”
“I think you forgot it wore down the moment the elf saw you. But I can always count on you to inflate my ego, can't I?” Taeil smiles for a second before stopping, “Taeyong, the—”
“I’m here to inflate your ego anytime you want to! A whole lifetime, if you will—”
“Taeyong, the faucet.”
“Huh?” he’s confused for a moment before remembering the running water behind him. He’s about to turn around and close it, but it seems it takes him too long, for Taeil surges forward and closes off the tap himself. It takes a few seconds for his brain to recognize Taeil is now no more than a few centimeters away from him, left arm still on the faucet, meaning it's almost pressed to his side. His face is so close to Taeil’s own and Taeyong feels his heart beat faster and faster as the realization seeps deeper.
What's worse, is that Taeil doesn't move away, even after the water has stopped running, Taeil doesn't move an inch, just as paralyzed as Taeyong is.
He can feel Taeil’s ghost of a breath near his cheeks, can see his lashes and eyebrows. And most of all, he sees Taeil’s dark eyes look back at him, just as reverently as Taeyong is sure he’s looking at Taeil.
If Taeil can hear how rapidly his heart is beating, it’d be too embarrassing.
He’s about to move away, he really is, but then Taeil, in a soft voice Taeyong never thought would be directed at him again, says into the palpable silence, “I miss you.”
For a moment, Taeyong thinks it was him who uttered those terrible words. That he was the fool who voiced his thoughts, but there is no mistake. No mistake as he sees Taeil’s lips move along with the words, as he hears Taeil velvety voice, unmistakable because Taeyong knows it like nothing else.
“Taeil?” is all Taeyong can whisper back, low and unsure.
Taeil laughs, bitter, eyes still on Taeyong, “I miss you Taeyong and I can’t even hate myself for it.”
And maybe Taeyong is ready to pass out or scream or throw up from all the feelings his head is reeling with, but before he can do it, before he can do anything, Taeil leans forward and crashes his lips into Taeyong’s. It’s not the type of kiss he remembers, this kiss is urgent, wanting, desperate. Sad.
This kiss is trying to voice everything Taeil has been stopping himself from saying to Taeyong.
He can feel Taeil grasp onto the thin t-shirt Taeyong is wearing, hard and angry. “I just wanted to do this once.”
Taeyong wants to reply but there are no words right now, no words when he finally has Taeil so close to him, again. Instead, his hands move up to Taeil’s scalp, bringing his face as close to his as he can. Taeil wastes no time and kisses him again, lips rough and tongue vicious. It is then than the taste of salt reaches his mouth, and Taeyong belatedly realizes that Taeil is crying. Small rivulets of angry tears are staining his cheeks and Taeyong chokes up.
“Taeil,” he breaks the kiss, still holding onto the other man. He pauses and that’s all it takes for Taeil to step away.
The moment Taeil feels his cheeks wet is the moment Taeyong knows Taeil regrets it, and, tragically, it's also the moment Taeyong’s heart clenches.
“I’m sorry,” Taeil sobers up, using the sleeve of his sweater to wipe at his cheeks. “Just… forget this, I’m sorry, Taeyong. I’ll just—leave. God, I’m sorry. Yuta seems to be good with the dragons so I’ll just go.”
“Wait, Taeil,” he tries touching Taeil’s arm before the other flinches.
“Don't, Taeyong,” Taeil warns with an edge in his voice that Taeyong knows all too well. “I’m just… gonna go. Tell Yuta I had to leave. See you later.”
Before Taeyong can even open his mouth, his ex-boyfriend scurries from his sight, leaving for the hallway. The frantic sound of the opening and closing of the door echoing through the apartment. Taeyong leans back in the wall, head against the cold tiles, frustration and hope seeping into his core.
Ten had long ago lost count of how many clubs he'd ever been to. Too many to even think about counting. The blare of music through impossibly loud speakers is usually a welcome thrum, the presence of stranger’s bodies sticking to his own a nice feeling.
But tonight. Tonight the music is starting to give Ten a headache and the guy grinding on him is starting to get on his nerves. He didn't even have much to drink, only a couple of sodas and a jack on the rocks. One of Ten’s least favorite drinks but good enough to get him started. Except nothing actually got started and now Ten is just feeling sweaty, tired and about to punch this one guy if he doesn't take his hands of Ten’s ass right in this very moment. It’s not even close to midnight yet, what a tragedy.
“Excuse me,” Ten hisses before forcefully removing the stanger’s hands off him. He doesn't even spare Ten a glance before he’s moved on to the girl next to him. Ten should feel a little miffed but all he does is roll his eyes before making his way through the crowd of dancing bodies.
When he's finally out there, he waves goodbye to the bartender, Jackson, before he leaves the club in unusual relief.
The cool air hits him instantly, the wind blowing tufts of hair off his face before he zips up his leather jacket as fast as he can. He walks a few meters from the premises, where music can still be heard even from outside and through the walls, before he takes out a spare cigarette from his jeans pocket and lights it up. He doesn't smoke that often, but there's certain warmth in taking the cigarette from his fingers to his lips and right now, that’s all Ten needs, warmth.
He takes a few puffs before taking out his phone, checking his messages. There’s one from Taeyong, announcing the birth of his dragons, maybe Ten should get them some baby shower gifts. There’s another one from Doyoung asking where their cooking apron is, not that Ten would even know, hell, he didn’t even know they owned an apron. And finally, there’s a message from Johnny.
about to start the date….luhan’s really cute, i’m nervous!!
The message was sent nearly an hour ago, when Ten had been in the middle of dancing and drinking. Ten smiles down at the little exclamation marks, he thinks Johnny shouldn’t be nervous. Who wouldn’t like him? He’s hot and nice. And interesting and funny!
i just got out of the club lmao, how did the date go?? got lucky ;)) ?
He’s about to pocket his phone before it buzzes, mere seconds after he sent the message.
HELP ME….this is a bad date T_T can u call me in 5 mins and say jaehyun died or something. Please
Ten snorts before nodding to himself, putting out his cigarette on the stone wall behind him. He makes his way back his car, parked only a few blocks away from the club. He might as well go pick up Johnny too, the restaurant isn't far away from where he is anyway.
As soon he unlocks the door he huddles inside his car, reeling in the warmth of his seat. The heater still doesn't work but this is better than nothing. He dials Johnny’s number, unsurprisingly, the man picks up after the second ring.
“Yeah?” Johnny’s voice says from the other side.
“Hey Johnny, it’s Ten, I’m sorry to say this but Jaehyun died. Like, five minutes ago,” Ten laments into the phone even though he knows Luhan can't hear him.
Johnny gasps dramatically, “Oh no! My dear friend! I must see him immediately, I’ll go right now, don't worry.”
Ten waves, “It's fine, finish your date, he's dead either way, he's not going anywhere.”
He can hear Johnny grumble before replying, “No, I insist, I need to see him. Right now.”
“Alright,” Ten laughs, starting the car’s ignition, I’ll go pick you up, be there in 10.”
There's a second of silence before Johnny continues, “You don't have to, Ten—”
“I’m on my way already,” he interrupts, “See ya soon, Johnny.”
A sigh, “Thank you.”
With that, Ten hangs up, satisfied smile on his face. Really, it's no big deal picking Johnny up. Besides, Ten’s a little curious as to what Luhan looks like, maybe he'll catch a glimpse of him.
It’s curious, Ten thinks, how seamlessly Johnny has settled into Ten’s life like a routine. Not just Johnny, but Jaehyun, his actual roommate, as well. It’s a very nice change to have more people around. Not that Ten was getting tired of Doyoung or Yuta or any of the others, but Johnny and Jaehyun seem like the little bit of puzzle piece that was missing. And well, Jaehyun’s nice, great, even, but Johnny… Ten has never met anyone as easy to get along with him as Johnny Seo. For once, he’s kind of glad Johnny stopped him from having a one night stand with him that first date.
He takes a turn to the left, where he knows that fancy restaurant Johnny went to is. He’s about to look for a place to park, not like the place is full, there’s just a few spare cars around after all, when he sees a huddling tall figure shivering around the entrance door. Johnny waves at him.
Ten can’t help the smile on his face as he sees the other’s red nose, even from far away. He drives just in front of Johnny, who then looks back to face a lithe, much shorter figure. Ten hadn’t noticed him before, but there seems to be another man next to Johnny. Johnny was definitely not kidding when he said Luhan was cute, in fact, Ten thinks Johnny sold him short. He sees Johnny throw his date a genuine apologetic face, Luhan shrugs him off with pat in the back and an understanding smile.
After their goodbyes, Johnny finally makes his way into Ten’s car, where he snorts as soon as Johnny closes the door.
“Did you actually tell him Jaehyun died?” he inquires, shivering at the cold that made his way alongside Johnny before driving off the narrow street.
Johnny sniffles, “I told him he was real sick and that I needed to go see him.” He messes with the heater, trying to turn it on even though he knows it's a sad moot point.
“Was the date that bad?” he asks, sparing a glance his way. “He was really hot.”
Johnny grimaces, “He was so nice! And really hot, did you see him?”
“But?” Ten sends him a knowing glance before Johnny huffs out a sigh with a cross of arms.
“He was obviously still hung up on his ex,” he shrugs with a purse of lips, “Kept mentioning him whenever he could. I actually felt bad for the guy.” He sighs again, “I’m guessing I was his first date after the break up.”
“Oh, Johnny,” Ten laments, “It's fine, you said it yourself, right? You got lots of people knocking on your door, Mr. Popular.”
Johnny pauses before he breaks out into a soft smile, “I guess, if you say so.”
“C’mon, I know it's late but I’ll buy you some chicken nuggets, I’m really fucking hungry.”
“I just had dinner,” Johnny raises his eyebrows, “And it's almost midnight.”
Ten rolls his eyes, “What did you even eat there? Salad?”
“Oyster soup,” the taller man laughs, wrapping his scarf around him, “I guess chicken nuggets do sound like a good idea.”
They stop by a 24/7 McDonald’s that’s a few blocks away from Johnny’s own apartment, which in turn is not that far away from the diner. It’s pretty useful having everything close by, it’s not like Ten needs to go out much from the eastern neighborhood often aside from when his job requires it.
“We’ll have a 20 piece McNugget set and two sodas, please,” Ten says into the Drive-Thru intercom, earning an incredulous look from Johnny. “What?” he drives to the next window, where a bored looking teenager is quietly on her phone. “I’ve seen how you eat, John Seo, believe me when I say we're gonna finish those faster than you think.”
Ten turns to the window, where the girl has their orders. He pays up and, as she hands them their bags and change, she peeks through the window, taking a glance at Johnny. She whistles, “It’s not everyday you see an angel and a demon. New boyfriend?”
“Mind your business, Yeri,” Ten takes the bags away from her, “Keep the change. And for the love of Lilith, stop taking the night shift, you'll freeze to death.”
Yeri laughs brightly, giving a salute, “Maybe next month. See ya Ten!”
Ten sighs with exasperation, vexed at what is obviously not the first time he's had this conversation.
“A friend?” Johnny asks, amusement in his eyes, the wafting aroma of chicken fills the car rapidly. He huddles the bag in his arms, trying to collect any warmth he can from it.
Ten rolls his eyes, “You can say that. She’s a witch, friend of an incubus friend. Disaster waiting to happen.”
“Ten being friends with little witches. That's cute.”
Ten wants to shove him but focuses on the road instead. He stops the car in the small park just in front of Johnny’s apartment.
“We can eat here, I don't mind crumbs,” Ten shrugs, eyeing the bag of nuggets with hearts in his eyes. He really didn't have much alcohol, still, his mouth feels a little dry and his stomach is starting to grumble in protest.
“You don't wanna go inside?” Johnny asks but Ten’s already taking the giant box out of the bag.
He dismisses, “Your roommate’s probably there, no offense, but I rather just eat here.” He doesn’t wait for an answer before starting to munch on a piece of chicken, cheeks full and thankful for the heat the food provides.
Johnny starts eating too, visibly pondering, “You know, I think Sehun likes you. As in… like like you.”
“I know Sehun likes me, Johnny,” he chomps on the nugget, “Who doesn't? And he's terribly hot but,” he shrugs with nonchalance, “It’d be too awkward having to go back to your apartment and seeing him there all the time, wouldn't it?”
Johnny laughs, slurping on his soda, “You could try dating him? Have you ever thought of…” he trails off.
“Dating?” Ten asks but it's mostly to himself.
Dating? Of course he's thought of it. When he was a teenager full of raging incubus hormones that's all he did. That, and masturbate. Ten thinks he was on his way to becoming a full blown romantic the way Johnny is. But the way of the incubus is different, he thought it was set. And everytime someone sent his way a pair of lewd glances, Ten thought he knew what he was meant to do, what incubi are supposed to do.
“No,” is all he replies. Along the way though, Ten became a self-fulfilled prophecy.
“What about you?” he asks instead. To Ten, Johnny is a wonder, something he doesn't understand. “You seem awfully intent on dating.”
Johnny pauses, thinking for a few seconds before looking back. “You might think it's really weird. Why I put so much effort. I myself don't know. I just... the need for love is ingrained in me. I want to say it's an angel thing. But I have no idea.”
“Maybe it's a Johnny thing,” Ten replies. The need for love. Sounds terribly like a Johnny thing, angels are not that great, they're not that pure, at least not the way Johnny is.
“Besides,” Johnny continues, excited gleam in his face. Ten can only look in wonder. “If my soulmate is out there, I won't find them if I just sit there. I have to look for them.”
Ten lightly snorts, “That's assuming your soulmate is also a serial dater like you. For some reason I don't think that’s the case. But your thinking is nice, I suppose.”
Johnny hums, “I don't think so either. But I can try.”
Ten takes a whole nugget into his mouth in lieu of a reply. He still doesn't fully understand Johnny’s way of thinking. Ten feels satisfied, he doesn’t understand why he would go out and look for love in random people.
He feels content right now, he feels content in this stupid car that needs its heater fixed, content eating McDonald’s nuggets until he dies and content with one Johnny Seo by his side.
“Oh,” Ten gulps down his last chicken nugget. Maybe even self-fulfilled prophecies can be broken.
thank you guys for reading! and sorry for the awful wait in between chapter 3 and 4, still, i hope you all liked this update! also, i shall link this story's playlist since there won't be any possible spoilers anymore: mythical milkshake playlist
hints for the next chapter: reverse, gift, divine.
Taeil tries not to wince as his nails dig into the palm of his hands, his bottom lip raw as he bites down. He watches as Taeyong bites his own lip too, more in concentration than anything, squinting at the laptop in front of him. He’s working on paperwork for last week’s case, one that Taeil helped the agency with, along with Ten and Doyoung.
He looks at Taeyong’s shiny lips, pink, pretty. His large eyes, dark as a deep pond and filled with knowledge and kindness. The look of concentration had always looked good on him, at least to Taeil. To Taeil, Taeyong has always looked beautiful, ever since he met him back in college, with his hair long and fried with white dye. Anyone would've been able to be mesmerized and enchanted by his good looks, but Taeil, as cliche as he admitted it was, could see beyond the layers of physical beauty that surrounded Taeyong.
He saw the small stuff; the secretive smiles every time he liked the taste of his own cooking, the loud complaints whenever he lost one of his online games, the blush in his cheeks when someone complimented him, the small voice he used when he was unsure in his words.
Taeil loves every single bit of Taeyong, even the bad, the things that make him curse under his breath, that irritate him to no end, he loves them like he’s never loved anything else.
“Taeyong,” he finds his voice, throat scratchy. He hopes Taeyong doesn’t notice.
“Hm?” his boyfriend replies, eyes never leaving the screen in front of him, the luminescent white brightening up his features.
Taeil sighs. “We need to break up.”
That, certainly, catches Taeyong’s attention. “What?” he says, taking off his glasses, finally, finally looking away from his computer.
“We never spend time together,” Taeil’s voice shakes. He’s memorized what he’s going to say, has been mulling over this conversation every night for the past few weeks. He hasn’t slept well in the past few weeks.
“We’re here together. Right now,” Taeyong says and Taeil thinks he believes every word he is saying.
He shakes his head, “No we’re not, Taeyong. You have your job and it’s obviously time consuming and you need to make the agency work—”
“Taeil, please… We’re supposed to do this together, right?” Taeyong whispers, tears threatening to erupt and Taeil’s heart is breaking.
“I will, Yong,” he says with pure honesty, “I’ll be here for whatever you need but not like this.”
“Taeil,” Taeyong starts before looking at the floor. Taeil sees a tear drop onto the floor and he needs to leave, he needs to leave right now before he regrets his words and takes it back because hurting Taeyong is a thing he never thought he would do. Hurting each other is a thing he’d never thought they would do.
He looks out the window, where the setting sun is slowly filling the room with oranges and yellows. It’s beautiful, but Taeil doesn’t think he’ll ever see such a breath-taking sunset ever again without the sight of a crying Taeyong and the feeling of his own heart breaking.
“I’ll leave,” Taeil manages to say without his voice breaking, putting up a brave front not only for Taeyong, but for himself. “It’s going to be fine.” He stands up, still looking at Taeyong as he walks across the living room and towards the door. Taeyong doesn’t look up and it almost maddens Taeil how it looks like he’s given up, how he’s lost the fight.
Taeil has a million reasons to stay, he only has a few to leave. But what good is it staying if Taeyong can’t tell him one reason, one reason from Taeyong’s lips and Taeil would stay. He’d apologize and kiss him senseless and say sorry into his lips. But it never comes. Taeyong doesn’t move, doesn’t ask him to stay, Taeil can only watch as his shoulders shake and tears fall down onto the pristine floor. He turns to look away and opens the door.
“Are you, ok?” Yuta swallows his popcorn, giving Taeil a worried glance-over. “It looks like you saw a ghost.”
Taeil gives a short laugh, self-derisive. “Kind of.” He looks at the movie playing in front of them, a mermaid biting the head off a sailor. “Hey, isn't this movie too gorey?”
“Just how you like them,” snorts Yuta, taking another mouthful of popcorn. Taeil must still be looking awful, for Yuta hasn't taken his eyes off him.
Taeil sighs, pursing his lips, “What?”
The kitsune gives him a knowing looking before taking the remote from Taeil’s hands and pausing the movie. “You’re clearly off today, Moony. What's up?”
“Nothing's up,” Taeil answers, he tries keeping eye contact but Yuta, once in a while, can be wiser than he's given credit for. His reputation precedes him and it is entirely Yuta’s own fault. What kind of mystical spirit spends his day eating junk food and watching bad gore movies, anyways?
“Are you gonna answer truthfully or shall I start tickling you?” Yuta he threatens, raising a single eyebrow. “I know how much you hate tickles.”
Taeil frowns, stealing popcorn from Yuta’s bowl. “What a pest, Yuta.”
“It's what best friends are for,” Yuta grins and even now, Taeil can't hate the perfectly white teeth in his friend’s annoying smile.
“I thought you were Taeyong’s best friend,” is all Taeil can think to mutter.
“I can have more than one best friend,” Yuta shrugs, “Flames is my best friend when I need someone to cook. You, Moony, are my best friend when I want to watch anime.”
“I feel grateful,” Taeil shoves him before falling silent again. His friend doesn't reply anymore but the movie is still paused and Yuta is still expectant.
“Did you ever like Taeyong?” Taeil says unexpectedly. The look on Yuta’s face is of incredulity. He amends, “Just a little bit, maybe. Like a crush. You’ve known him for almost twenty years, it could've happened.”
Yuta pretends to gag. “Not everyone is in love with that guy, Taeil. I’m not you and I’m not—”
“Don't be rude.”
He lifts his hands in mock self-surrender before adding, “Why are you asking me something so terrible?”
Taeil looks at the screen in front of him, fidgeting with his fingers in a last attempt to hide his feelings from Yuta. He finally speaks up.
“How can someone not love him?”
Yuta is about to speak up in rebuttal, disgust evident on his face, but Taeil continues. “I kissed him.”
Taeil sighs, rubbing his forehead. He’s tired, he didn't sleep too well last night, his thoughts, as always, gnawing at his brain and heart. “I kissed Taeyong two weeks ago.”
“You what? ” Yuta whispers in surprise, choking on a dry piece of popcorn.
Taeil groans, taking one his plushies and using it to cover his face in shame. “I know and—”
“Taeil,” Yuta continues, affronted, “You kissed Taeyong two week ago and you didn't tell me until now? Best friend my ass!”
“What was I supposed to say?” Taeil whines, now hiding his face in the crook of Yuta’s arm. “Oh yeah, by the way, I kissed my ex-boyfriend today?”
Yuta dismisses him with a wave, “Ok, so you kissed him? Or did he kiss you?”
“I kissed him, I mean, he kissed me back right away,” Taeil looks at Yuta confused, “But I initiated it.”
“Yes!” Yuta whoops, punching the air in victory. His fox ears pop up, most likely due to unadulterated excitement. “Ten owes me fifty bucks!”
“You betted on me, you asshole?” Taeil jumps in indignation, “Tell me a good reason why I shouldn't turn you into a fat toad right now, Nakamoto Yuta.”
“Hey, listen, listen,” Yuta tries placating his friend, “You should be happier, Taeil, the odds were against you and I still decided to bet on you. Because I am a good friend who believes in you. You’re welcome.”
Taeil huffs an air of annoyance before slumping down back on the bed in defeat. “Whatever, that's not the point.”
“The point is,” Yuta starts, snaking an arm around his friend, “That you love Taeyong and you want to father his baby dragons and get back together with him.”
“That's not true!” he removes Yuta’s condescending arm from him. “I’m not in love with him anymore.”
Yuta gives him the coldest look Taeil's ever seen, one that very much says, what-a-fucking-idiot-Moon-Taeil. He sobers up, at last, putting his popcorn bowl to the side and looking him square in the eye. “Taeil, I don't think you ever stopped loving him.”
Taeil feels the dread of the words envelop him whole and it's terrifying. Give it to Yuta to tell him the honest truth. He continues, “You might fool Taeyong because he's kind of stupid, and you might even fool yourself Taeil, because you're a wimp,” he adds with a shake of the head, “God, I can't believe Ten and I became the smart ones of the group.”
Taeil doesn't reply right away and that's how Yuta knows he's correct. He continues, softer this time, “You never stopped looking at him the way you did when you were together.”
“How?” Taeil questions and Yuta rolls his eyes with a smile.
“I don't know,” he pauses to think, “It's a mushy corny look. I call it the Taeyong look. It's horrible, makes me want to watch porn instead.”
Taeil laughs, a weak smile but genuine. He’s grateful for Yuta, he really is. “I don't know what to do,” he sighs, “It's like my heart and mind are fighting each other and I’m in the middle, waiting for the worst to happen.”
He feels the strong hold of Yuta’s hand on his shoulder, a friendly anchor. “What a poet, Moony.” He sighs once. “I can't tell you what to do, but as someone who knows Taeyong more than I’d like to—he's not going to keep on pushing forever, you know? He loves you, Taeil, but that entails respecting your feelings. One day you're going to tell him no and he’s not going to come back.”
And Taeil knows that, that's why he’s so scared. Maybe it’s what he needs. Maybe he needs Taeyong to stop pushing and stop looking at him like he holds the world in his hands because one day, Taeil is going to stare back and give him his whole fragile heart like the very first time.
What a joke. Taeil can't give Taeyong his heart, not when it's already his.
Donghyuck rings the doorbell, shaky fingers from the outside breezes. The winter is slowly ebbing away from Seoul, but the cool remnants still make hands and lips tremble.
“Why is it taking him so long?” Donghyuck grumbles, “He has like, three friends and one of them is Taeyong, it can't be much of a party.”
Mark laughs, looping an arm around Donghyuck’s own. “I think he’s plenty cool.”
“You thinking that,” Donghyuck declares, “Makes him even lamer.”
Before Mark can reply, the door to the apartment opens, revealing Donghyuck’s boss, Mr. Kim Doyoung. Mark has met Doyoung plenty of times now, he would, seeing as he’s always keeping Donghyuck company at the milkshake place whenever he's not busy himself. Even then, the tall, stoic man, managed to leave Mark in awe at how well-put together he seemed. And now, knowing he’s actually a powerful wizard, Mark likes him even more.
“Donghyuck,” Doyoung purses his lips before turning to look at him. “Mark.” Mark likes to think Doyoung likes him back too, even if a little. At least he's a bit softer on him than he is on Donghyuck.
“Hey, hyung,” Donghyuck sniffles, red nose. “Here, happy birthday, oldie.” His friend extends an arm, showing off a tiny, badly-wrapped box in red paper and a yellow ribbon. The edges are folded in thick chunks and the masking tape is everywhere, Mark and Donghyuck tried their best.
“Happy birthday, Mr. Doyoung!” Mark smiles, hoping that the man will like his gift. It’s a set of small wax candles that Mark had helped make before Donghyuck had enchanted them with a smell of true love spell or something equally ridiculous.
“Mark and I made them,” Donghyuck shrugs noncommittally, although Mark knows Donghyuck hopes the wizard likes it. He doesn't like admitting it, but he likes his boss a lot.
Doyoung looks down at the wrapped box with a small smile and Mark thinks he should do it more often. It is then that he notices the soft, pink sweater he’s wearing. It's completely unlike the long, black coats he usually wears at the diner, the ones full of that mysterious aura Mark has come to associate with Doyoung.
“Thank you boys,” Doyoung says sincerely before a familiar voice that Mark somehow recognizes as Jaehyun’s, is heard, singing along to a tuneless melody. There's a bit of silence as Donghyuck and Doyoung stare at each other in awkward pause.
“Do you want to—”
Donghyuck adds, “We just came by to drop that off. We're going to Velvet’s, I need to restock on some stuff.”
“Actually,” he continues, “Do you think you could lend me the White Grimoire today?” Donghyuck smiles innocently, as innocently as one Lee Donghyuck can muster.
Doyoung stares at him for a few seconds before raising a questioning brow, “That's why you came all the way to my apartment, huh?”
They both shake their head, Donghyuck opens his mouth, “I wanted to see my favorite wizard on his special birthday.”
“Flattery will get you nowhere, Haechan.” Doyoung replies with a stern stare, arms crossed as he leans on the door. Donghyuck smiles at him again before Doyoung sighs, giving up. He goes back inside, leaving the door open. Mark can see the narrow hallway but not much else. He imagines Mr. Doyoung’s apartment is clean and nice and professional. A proper adult house.
Doyoung comes back soon enough, thick book in his arms. He hands it to Donghyuck, still looking suspicious. “You very well know half of the spells in here are level three and higher, Donghyuck. Don't try anything I haven't taught you or I swear I’ll make your hair fall off.”
“Of course not, hyung,” Donghyuck rolls his eyes, he hugs the grimoire tightly, pressing it against his chest, “Just wanted to show Mark some basic spells.”
“You wanted to show off, you mean.”
Donghyuck nods with a smile, “Exactly.”
The man sighs in exasperation one last time but Mark can also see the ghost of an amused and fond smile. He of all people understands it very well. “See you on Monday, you menace.”
“On the dot, boss.” Donghyuck salutes with a grin. “Happy birthday!”
After that, they leave Doyoung’s apartment building, wanting to take advantage of the few hours of sun they still have left. Donghyuck leads the way through some streets nearby, streets Mark has never been in. Which he finds extremely weird, considering he’s lived in this small part of Seoul his whole life.
“Sileno’s shop of music, Valkyrie Boutique, Scale Waxing Shop,” Mark reads the various shops on both sides of the narrow street, all stone buildings, as old as age. “Donghyuck, what is this? How come I’ve never been here? Why is it all so in the open?”
Donghyuck gives him a mischievous smile, “A man of curiosity,” they’re still holding onto each other’s arms. “This, dear Mark, is Donghwan Street. You’ve probably been here before, but this whole street and some adjacent ones are covered in glamour, so you've never seen it as is.”
“What’s glamour?” A man, tall enough to reach the buildings’ second floor windows walks next to them, making Mark shriek and recoil to Donghyuck’s side.
“That’s a cyclops, don’t worry, they’re mostly nice,” Donghyuck throws his head back in laughter, obviously enjoying Mark’s alarmed state too much. He continues, patting Mark on the back in reassurance, “Pixies, fairies and certain demons can create glamour, which basically serves as an illusion to cover places and creatures from non-magical beings. Kind of like a magical veil.”
Mark looks around the place in wonder, eyes shining, gazing over the entire street, “This whole place is covered in glamour then?” He stops then looks at Donghyuck again, “How come I’m able to see it?”
The witch boy points at the tangled arms with a smirk, “Because you're holding onto me.”
Mark wills the heat on his cheeks to go away although he doesn’t let go, instead, he looks to his left, where a pair of giggling trolls are walking around with corndogs in their hands.
They walk for a few more minutes, Mark trying to absorb every minute detail of the magical streets. Mark still can’t believe all of this exists. Sure, he’s always had an avid imagination and penchant for the supernatural and magical, but this is far beyond anything he imagined. Most of it has to do with the fact he definitely didn’t think the supernatural would be so… cute. In his head, monsters attacked and ate people and didn’t have mermaid ice cream shops. Soon, Donghyuck stops in front of a small shop right in the very corner of the street. It has tall windows and black walls, a wooden sign hangs from rusty metal hinges. Velvet’s Magick Shop.
Donghyuck opens the door on a whim, the door’s bell tingling with the brusque movement. “Hello, old witches.”
The shop smells of soft incense and primrose, it's a warm smell that puts Mark at ease as soon as he steps into the place. The wooden boards creak under his footsteps, letting Mark know how old this place truly is. Everything inside is a clutter of assorted items Mark has no idea what each of them are, boxes and shelves filled with candles, plants, bottles and random items that look centuries old.
“Haechan!” a light voice calls out. A girl with blonde hair and curly bangs peers out from the counter, her cheeks are full as she excitedly greets Donghyuck.
Donghyuck smiles back easily, “Hey, Seulgi. Long time no see.”
“Ran out of ingredients?” she raises an eyebrow, her cheery smile never faltering. She finally seems to notice Mark, who waves at her with shyness. “Oh! You've got a friend. Hello, welcome to Velvet’s Magick Shop!”
“This is Mark,” Donghyuck offers, “Mark, this is Seulgi. She’s my favorite witch.”
“I heard that!” a booming voice says from behind a red, thick curtain that's next to the counter. It slides open to reveal a another girl, with red cheeks and short hair—
“Yerim?” Mark asks, voice a few octaves higher than before.
The girl looks from Donghyuck to Mark and her wide smile turns to terrified surprise. “Mark Lee? What are you doing here?” She looks back at Donghyuck before Mark can even reply, “Did you just bring a human to our shop, Lee Donghyuck?”
Donghyuck looks wide-eyed at her before shrugging and looking at a crystal box that's on the counter as display, curiously peeking at it. “I see you two know each other.”
“We have homeroom class together,” Mark elaborates, then turns to Yerim, “I didn't know you were a witch.”
She grimaces once before sobering up and walking up to Seulgi, who’s watching everything with amusement. “Should've known that little monster club of yours was trouble.”
“It’s fine,” Donghyuck waves, stepping in front of Mark. “He's with me. We're just here to buy some stuff and we'll be on our way.”
“Him being with you is exactly what worries us, Haechanie,” Seulgi laughs, but she seems less worked up about it than Yerim, who is still looking at Mark with apprehension. “Anyways, what do you want today? The usual?”
Donghyuck nods, “Usual batch, please. But add in white snakeroot and purple-lizard eyes.”
Seulgi grabs a basket but eyes Donghyuck with suspicion. “White snakeroot? Doyoung’s letting you use that?”
Donghyuck smiles, nodding convincingly, “Of course! I’m a fast learner, he’ll start teaching me wizard-only potions soon enough.”
By the look Seulgi gives him before she barges inside, deeper into the store, Mark thinks she doesn't fully believe Donghyuck. But Seulgi is kind enough to leave it at that, Yerim, however, is still staring Mark down with suspicion in her brown eyes.
“Does Doyoung know about this, Donghyuck?” she asks after a substantial pause before returning her gaze to Donghyuck.
“Of course he does,” he blows hair out of his face in annoyance, “I don’t think he cared much, but to be honest, he’s been distracted lately, I wonder if he has a new boyfriend or something.” He smiles, baring his teeth in a unfriendly grin. “Now my turn. Yerim, does Irene know you’re a meddlesome little wench?”
Yerim looks entirely too vexed at the words but instead of biting back, she simply pouts and slouches in her seat, “Fine, whatever. But Mark Lee, if you dare spread this around school I will curse you generations to come, I swear by Anathema.”
Mark wants to ask if he can tell the rest of the monster club about her, but reasons that he can’t forfeit Yerim’s good opinion so soon, so he settles with fervent nods, “Of course, Yeri, I would never.”
“He’s a good boy!” Donghyuck helps him out, looping a friendly arm around his shoulder. They both beam at her in jest, making her roll her eyes.
“Got ya stuff, boys!” Seulgi comes back, basket full of miscellaneous ingredients that Mark supposes are all for charms and potions. “Should I put it on your tab, Haechan?”
“Yes please, Seulgi, my love,” Donghyuck steps in to grab the heavy basket. Mark then hears the other boy mutter something under his breath, it sounds like another language, one he doesn’t understand, and before he knows it, the hefty basket levitates in front of Donghyuck.
“Woah,” Mark looks on wide-eyed as Donghyuck looks proud of himself. He takes a few steps back and the basket follows behind him, still floating in the air.
“Can’t lie, I’m kind of jealous,” Yerim vocalizes out loud, she isn’t surprised or baffled like Mark is, but she does look impressed. Mark guesses this isn’t one of Yerim’s own abilities. “Can’t believe I didn’t think of learning under a wizard, now I’m stuck making curse spells with Joohyun.”
Seulgi snorts, “She can take Doyoung any day, Yeri, don’t let her hear you.”
“Well, we’ll be off, ladies, say hello to the rest for me please,” Donghyuck waves his fingers, the basket still following him like a loyal puppy.
Mark scrambles behind, trying to catch up to his friend. The door opens and a gust of cold wind barges in, making Mark regretful about leaving the place so soon. He looks back at the two witches, “Nice meeting you, Miss Seulgi! See you later, Yerim!” Seulgi looks quite jovial, waving back enthusiastically. Yerim doesn’t look as happy but she still manages to smile warmly at him.
“C’mon,” Donghyuck urges as the door closes behind them, “I still got so much to show you.”
“No, that is completely crooked.” Jaehyun has one eye closed, thumb in front of him as reference, “Just move it a little to the left.”
Doyoung huffs out in exertion, arms in the air as he tries to fix the Happy Birthday! banner on the wall.
“To my left, Doyoung,” Jaehyun chastises, the poor banner now completely twisted and crumpled.
“How was I supposed to know which left? Damn it Jaehyun.” Doyoung grunts, tossing the banner to the table next to him, he crosses his arm in a frown, “Why am I even decorating my own birthday party?”
“Yuta,” Taeyong calls out from the kitchen, listening to Doyoung’s and Jaehyun’s predicament, “Please help out Doyoung with the decorations.”
“Yes,” Doyoung emphasizes, “Get off your lazy ass and help me out. You can… float around and put these up or something.”
Jaehyun laughs, sitting down on the couch as he watches a grumpy Yuta float into the living room. Doyoung watches on with satisfaction as the other man tries to pin banners and balloons on all walls, struggling with all the paper decorations by himself.
“You’re evil,” Jaehyun grins at the wizard, who only shrugs with a smile.
“Maybe so,” he relents, “But it's my birthday, so I’m allowed to.”
He looks around the room. It looks cozy and feels warm, a soft aroma of something akin to strawberry milkshake permeating in the air.
The couches have been moved to the sides, freeing up most of the living room. A table has been set up with more than enough snacks and beverages for a small army, courtesy of a very enthusiastic and fussy Taeyong. Taeyong, who’s currently in the kitchen finishing up a vanilla birthday cake for Doyoung, as well as a dozen mini-cupcakes. Jaehyun is starting to understand what Ten and Yuta mean when they say Taeyong is a workaholic of the worst kind. Jaehyun’s kind of gotten used to it, as Doyoung is very much the same, sleeping entirely too late, working on files and potions and managing the diner all at the same time. It's a miracle he hasn't died at this point. Taeyong’s stress-baking seems like a normal occurrence by now.
Johnny and Jaehyun had been in charge of setting up the living room, moving chairs and couches and helping out with the food table. Jaehyun didn't see the purpose of it all, seeing as the party would consist of only them and five other people, but he did as Taeyong said. Meanwhile Ten had self-proclaimed himself DJ for the night. Of course, rather than turntables and fancy stuff, his set-up consisted of bluetooth speakers and his Spotify playlist. Too many gay club songs had been played already and the party hadn't even been started.
“I just hope you all leave by nine, I don't want you all here meddling for too long.” And then there was Doyoung, the birthday boy. Jaehyun smiles at him with a fond snort, getting up from his seat and walking up to his friend.
Doyoung hadn't been too keen on the idea of a birthday party at all. Taeyong, however, had insisted on at least a small get-together with food and music. Ten had hopped on the train too quickly, always ready to get drunk and dance. Jaehyun didn't mind either, he thought Doyoung would look cute in a party hat cone.
“Don't forget I live here too,” Jaehyun sing-songs as a reminder.
Doyoung feigns a headache, pained look on his face, “Don't remind me, Jung, you forgot to wash the dishes this morning.”
“Oi!” he jumps at the accusation, “It was on you today! I’m positive it was your turn!”
“Nuh-uh,” Doyoung touches his forehead with a single finger, “I don't forget stuff like that, it was your turn. Taeyong had to wash them before he started baking.”
Jaehyun lets out another laugh, “Taeyong’s a dweeb.”
“Hey,” Doyoung defends half-heartedly before pausing. “Yeah, he is,” he says after thinking about it, sharing a smile with Jaehyun before they break into short bursts of laughter.
“Can you stop giggling like toddlers and maybe help me with the decorations?” Yuta whines as he tries putting up a side of the tragic banner.
“Sorry, we’re supervising the snack table.” Jaehyun shrugs before taking a sip of orange soda from a red solo cup.
“Very important job, cheers, Yuta,” Doyoung concedes with a cheeky grin, popping a chip into his mouth.
“Annoying,” Yuta mutters under his breath before turning back around. It’s fine, Jaehyun reasons, Yuta can't fall, he's already floating.
They stay in amicable silence, watching on as Yuta struggles with the decorations and Ten fiddles with his phone, making a birthday playlist. Johnny occasionally recommends a random song as he sprawls across the floor next to Ten, who adds the tune with a nod of approval.
Doyoung’s other friends should be arriving soon, Jaehyun only knows one of them, Sicheng, a cute vampire that sometimes frequents the milkshake place. Sicheng will come along with Kun, his coven leader and close friend of Doyoung’s. He doesn't know much about the rest but he supposes they'll be alright, they're friends of Doyoung anyways, he sort of trusts his judgement.
“Doyoung,” Jaehyun hears a warm voice coming up behind them. It’s Taeil, all wrapped up in a blue sweater and sporting a smile on his face. He pauses for a second before sniffing the air, “Hey, is something burning? It smells like smoke.”
“Nothing is burning, what are you saying,” says an offended Taeyong. He rushes over to peek his head out, “The cake’s out of the oven already, I’m just frosting it.”
“Oh,” Taeil opens his mouth to say something else before Taeyong goes back into the kitchen. He frowns for the smallest second before he goes back to normal, facing a curious Doyoung. “Here, Doyoung,” Taeil hands him a tiny box, white and elegant and smaller than the palm of his hands. Doyoung takes it gingerly. “I know you've been looking for some for a while and I know it's extremely hard to buy so…” he trails off awkwardly before surging forward in a squeezing hug, “Happy birthday, Doyoung.” Jaehyun doesn't mean to, but he’s close enough to hear as Taeil whispers in Doyoung’s ear, “I love you, Doie.”
Jaehyun feels a warm sensation in the pit of his stomach as Doyoung gets flustered momentarily. Doyoung coughs and looks back at Taeil with a genuine look on his face, grateful and friendly. “Thank you, Taeil.”
Taeil grins then looks at the box in question. “It’s Hong Kongese wolfsbane powder.”
Doyoung’s eyes bulge out in an instant, opening the little box in awe. Jaehyun isn't a wizard and he as hell isn't sure what Hong Kongese wolfsbane powder is, but by the proud look of Taeil and the wonder in Doyoung’s face, he thinks it’s probably a big deal. It doesn't look like much though, he admits, it's just a little bright purple powder in a clear bottle.
“Taeil, this is so expensive,” Doyoung chokes out, “How…”
“It's alright!” Taeil dimisses, “I might've stolen some from the research center’s new batch. I’m sure they won't miss it. Probably.”
“By Merlin, Taeil,” Doyoung puts the bottle back in the box with much care. “Thank you.”
“Ok, if you're done with your Oprah moment over there, can you give me a hand with the balloons, Taeil,” Yuta yells, a handful of yellow balloons in his hand.
“You don’t have to be salty just because you gave him a used dildo,” Taeil grumbles but does as he is told, walking over to their friend, careful not to step on the giant nephilim still resting across their floor.
“Excuse me, that was my gift to him,” Ten quips with a frown, as if the aforementioned gift was something to be proud of. “And that was an important family heirloom! Yuta just gave him a box of cheese sticks.”
“I’ll have you know that those are Doyoung’s favorite snacks,” Yuta sniffs, taking umbrage to his words.
“Fighting to be Doyoung’s worst friend isn't exactly what you should be doing on his birthday.”
Jaehyun tunes out the conversation, turning around to face Doyoung with fidgeting hands. As far as he knows, everyone has already given Doyoung a small birthday present, he really shouldn't have left his until last, now he feels self-conscious. “Doyoung?”
Doyoung, still amusedly watching as his friends bicker and squabble amongst each other, turns around, “Hm?” Jaehyun was right, Doyoung does look absurdly cute in a party hat.
“I have your gift too, it’s in my bedroom,” he scratches his head, “I’ll go get it for you.”
His friend looks on as Yuta and Ten wrap Johnny in pink leftover tinsel before humming. “I’ll go with you, no one else has arrived and they're already driving me insane.”
They make their way into the hallway, passing by a hard-working Taeyong, who has frosting in his nose and and cheeks. Jaehyun’s stomach clenches a little but he doesn't know why.
“You shouldn't have gotten me anything, Jaehyun,” Doyoung berates as they enter his bedroom. The room is pretty clean, with american bands posters aligned on the walls and a fresh towel tossed on a chair. Jaehyun is pretty sure he has the cleanest room in the whole apartment. “The wrong present and you could end up burdening me forever.”
He knows that, he also knows getting the stingy wizard something expensive would be out of the question, he wouldn't hear the end of it. “Don't worry, it’ll end up burdening me as much as you.”
He kneels in front of his bed, taking a decent sized box wrapped in black from underneath it. He hands it to Doyoung, who looks at it curiously.
“You can open it now,” tries Jaehyun, plopping atop his bed and motioning for Doyoung to do the same. When he does, Jaehyun continues, “It's not as cool as whatever it is Taeil bought you but I’m sure it beats a used dildo.”
Doyoung shakes his head with a half-smile before dropping his eyes down to the gift. He unwraps it with nimble fingers, careful not to tear the wrapping paper and Jaehyun finds that utterly charming. He finds Doyoung as a whole utterly charming. He might be brash with his words and quick with his tongue, but Jaehyun remembers what Ten said when he first met them a few months ago, when he said Doyoung was one of the most caring people he knew. He agrees with that sentiment and it's oddly bad to his heart.
“The Dummy Wizard’s Guide to Cooking, ” Doyoung reads out loud before bursting into laughter, gummy smile on full display.
Jaehyun smiles at him, eyes resembling crescent moons, “I thought we could try a few recipes together. We can't rely on Taeyong forever, you know?”
“Yeah,” Doyoung nods, “You're right.” He pauses for a moment, looking down at the thick book before looking up again, “Thank you, I really like this.”
Jaehyun opens his mouth to reply, he doesn’t know with what, he just knows he doesn’t want to go back to the living room just yet, but before he can say a single word, a ringing buzz fills the room.
“That’s a terrible ringtone,” Doyoung comments with mirth, “As expected from Jaehyun.”
“This is your mom calling, it’s her default ringtone,” Jaehyun replies haughtily, earning a cushion to the face. When he looks down at the caller ID, however, he realizes he wasn’t far off. It is not Doyoung’s mom, but his own mother calling. His mom, who hasn't called since he left home.
“Hold up, Doyoung,” he frowns, getting up from the bed and walking to the corner of the room. Doyoung nods and opens his book, going through the pages in mindless curiosity. Jaehyun vaguely hears Yuta and Taeyong arguing in the far background. He answers the call, “Mom?” From the corner of his eye, he sees Doyoung look up for a second before going back to his book.
“Jaehyunnie!” a velvety, feminine voice calls from the other side of the line, “My baby, how are you?”
Jaehyun can't help the light smile at the sound of his mother’s voice. The last time he talked to her was more than a few months ago, and it hadn't been too pretty. “Nice of you to call me, haven't heard fromof you since I left.”
“Oh, please, Yoonoh,” her voice turns a little harder, “You could have contacted us too.” There’s a pregnant pause before a sigh can be heard through the phone. “It’s fine, I’m calling you now.”
“Is there a reason for that?” He doesn't mean to sound too harsh, after all, he has missed his parents, but there’s still an edge of bitterness left in him.
She hums into the phone, thinking her words before saying, “Just wanted to see how you were doing. I still can't believe you moved into that part of town. Isn't it a little, you know... rough?"
The roll of eyes isn't unwarranted, she’d always been too pretentious, “It’s completely fine, mom. You know Youngho lives around here too.”
“Ah, yes! Fine young man. You still frequenting each other, I’m assuming?”
He snorts, “Too much.” There’s more silence. Before it can border on awkward, he continues, “And, yes, I’m doing good, I really like it here, mom.” Jaehyun feels a little self-conscious saying those words, remembering how Doyoung is just a few paces away from him. He can only hope Doyoung is still reading and not paying attention to him, lest he embarasses himself.
There's a tired sigh from his mom, and he knows what’s coming. “Jaehyun,” she starts, “It's been a couple of months already. Are you going to come back?”
Jaehyun takes a deep breath, he knew the moment he saw his mom on the caller ID that she was going to ask this. “No. I’m not, I’m really not. I’m happy here.”
When Jaehyun moved out, he was hurt and he was tired. For the most part, he thought being away from his mansion and the adjacent Jung buildings wouldn't last too long. He was comfortable there, after all, in a community that respected his name and where he had a whole future planned out. He didn't think he would feel at home anywhere else.
“Jaehyun, you can always come back, your father and I missed you.”
“Thank you, I miss you too,” and he truly means it, but he also means it when he says he’s happy here. He looks back at Doyoung, who’s now intently looking at his cooking book with a subtle look of concentration on his face. Jaehyun smiles, he’s truly happy here.
His mom mutters something else, asking him to visit when his birthday comes around. He agrees without really paying attention, but he’s still looking at Doyoung and then, when a sudden thought comes to mind, Jaehyun’s head goes dizzy and his stomach drops.
Because, oh, wouldn't it be terribly wonderful to kiss Kim Doyoung? Horrible, cranky, smart, funny and beautiful Kim Doyoung.
“I’ll call you later, mom,” is all he manages to say. His mother is still speaking, but he ends the call on a whim.
“Fuck this,” Jaehyun mutters under his breath, his head effectively going into overdrive. “I’m so stupid, I’m so stupid. Fucking idiot, Jaehyun.”
Doyoung looks up, “Are you alright?” And right then and there, with his dark and big eyes, Jaehyun can't help but confirm his previous thoughts. Doyoung is beautiful and all Jaehyun wants, for once, is to kiss him into oblivion. He wants Doyoung to forget about Taeyong and Jungwoo and everyone else, he wants Doyoung to like him back.
He opens his mouth before closing it again. Fantastic, Jaehyun. He manages to croak out, “We should go back to the living room.”
Jaehyun doesn't look back before bolting out of the door, he probably shouldn't have left Doyoung alone like that, but there's not much he can do as his brain short-circuits and his heart betrays him.
The thrumming of a Dua Lipa song reverbrates throughout the room. It’s not nearly loud enough, not as loud as Ten would like, thank god, but Taeil is still afraid one of Doyoung’s neighbors will soon knock on the door and tell them to shut the fuck up.
The living room is full now, there’s Yuta and Johnny trying to flail their bodies to the music (curse whoever told them they were good dancers), Taeyong is making small talk with Jisoo, one of Doyoung’s old college friends, and Ten is massively losing to Jinyoung and Sooyoung in a game of drunk bingo. It’s a tame party, not that Doyoung would want it any other way.
Just a few minutes ago Taeil himself had been sitting next to Doyoung, they both looked on as Daniel the elf attempted to eat the whole bowl of chips in less than a minute. He succeeded much to everyone's horror.
Taeil sighs once before refilling the giant bowl with cheetos. He downs whatever beer is left from his can before rummaging through their friend’s fridge, specifically looking for Doyoung’s cheese sticks.
“Is there any more beer?” a familiar voice says from behind. Taeil glances back to see Ten leaning back against the wall. “Or soju.”
He grabs the last beer can before handing it to Ten, who opens it with a fizz.
“Enjoying yourself, Moony?” Ten asks with a set of raised eyebrows. “You look off.”
Taeil slants Ten a look, “Not worse than you, that’s for sure. Did you even sleep last night? You got severe dark circles.”
Ten throws him a lewd look and a smirk, “Oh, you got me. No sleep for Ten last night.” Taeil thinks the insinuation is a lie and he isn’t surprised that Ten doesn’t acknowledge his claim, but he doesn’t push for more information. If he does, not only will Ten not reply, but he’ll derail the conversation to other topics, most likely to Taeil himself.
“Don’t seduce Jinyoung please, it’s Doyoung’s birthday,” is what he says instead. Ten throws his head back in laughter.
“I don’t recycle, baby,” his friend simply replies before leaving as swiftly as he came. Taeil wonders how it must feel living like Ten.
Taeil tries to juggle the giant bowl of cheetos, the cheese sticks, and a can of soda. He makes it all the way to the threshold before the soda slips out of his hands, dropping to the floor with a loud clank. He groans, walking to the counter to leave his stuff and get the soda back.
Before he can move an inch, a particular dragon enters the kitchen. Taeil gets hit with a mix of feelings as soon as he meets eyes with the man.
“You dropped this,” Taeyong notes, kneeling down to get Taeil’s soda. A soft smile that curves his lips forms as Taeil grabs the soda back. He hasn’t been alone with Taeyong since the last incident. He avoided Taeyong and Yuta’s apartment the first few days, and, after everything went back to normal, with Taeyong not mentioning The Kiss, Taeil made sure to never be alone with him if possible. He doesn’t know if Taeyong noticed this—he probably did—or if this meeting is coincidental. Either way, the last time he was alone in a kitchen with Taeyong, it didn’t go very well. Or too well, Ten would probably say.
However, Taeil does have something to do. Taeyong doesn’t move an inch, he’s still looking at Taeil expectantly, maybe waiting for him to do or say something, which is completely understandable. Still, Taeil doesn’t want to talk about it, he doesn’t want to because he still, after two weeks, does not have an answer to whatever Taeyong wants to ask him.
“Taeil, can we—”
Taeil feels a heavy weight in his back pocket. He was going to hand it over to Yuta so he could be the one to give it to Taeyong, seeing as he’s too much of a milksop himself, but the sheer willpower of not wanting to have this specific conversation with Taeyong gives Taeil the perfect opening.
“I have something for you,” he interrupts him. He stays silent for a few more seconds, awkwardly balancing the bowl of cheetos in his hands.
“What is it?” Taeyong questions, looking around the kitchen.
“Uh,” he stammers out, “It’s in my back pocket.”
Taeyong raises an eyebrow, “Do you want me to get it for you?”
“Don’t even think about, Taeyong,” Taeil’s face contorts in incredulous dismay, to which Taeyong only laughs, raising his hands in defense. “Just—” He struggles with the unwieldy stuff, walking back to counter and dropping it there before taking out a crumpled paper from his pocket. It’s too wrinkled and grimy now so he’s starting to get sheepish at the whole ordeal, but before he can mull over it for too long, he hands it to Taeyong, who only looks at him in question before carefully taking the small piece of paper from him.
“I know it’s not your birthday,” Taeil falters, self-conscious, looking for the right words, “But happy birthday. I guess.”
Taeyong unfolds the piece of paper, reading it over. Taeil thinks this is his cue to leave, he grabs, for the third time, all the food before making his way to the doorway. Doyoung should be wondering where the snacks are by now.
“Taeil?” Taeyong says in disbelief, “This is from the Seoul Magical Reserve Center.”
Taeil turns back and stares at him. “Yeah, I know.”
“You got my dragons approved,” he continues, still reading the letter of acceptance with wide eyes and mouth agape, “How—you said it would be really hard to get them there.”
“Well,” Taeil shrugs, “Made a few calls, did a few favours, nothing extravagant. I think the people at the Center are really excited, your dragons are kind of rare or something, I think.”
Taeyong’s grin becomes impossibly wide, joy and delight evident all across his face. Taeil knows very few things in life better than a smiling Taeyong.
“Taeil, thank you so much,” Taeil fears Taeyong is going to start tearing up, he better leave soon before he does something stupid like pat him on the back, or worse, pin him against the wall and kiss him senseless until they both cry. Again. “This means so much to me.”
“Yes,” he hedges. Taeil can almost hear Ten and Yuta laughing in the distance, Taeil’s adopted children, they would taunt. “It's not a big deal. Wouldn't want the fledglings off somewhere unsafe.”
Taeyong visibly hesitates for a second before yanking Taeil into a fierce hug, wrapping his arms around him before the other can think to dodge. It’s not a comfortable hug by any means, what with all the stuff Taeil is carrying in between them, even still, Taeil revels in the natural warmth of Taeyong, comforting and familiar.
Taeil is the one who breaks the hug after a few seconds. He smiles timidly, “You can take them to the reserve starting next week. I’ll come with you, if you want.”
It’s nine o’clock and everyone is still in Doyoung’s apartment. Sure, he’d expected said atrocity, even if he had warned them against it. It’s not like he can do much now, he doesn’t want to be called the Birthday Grinch by Ten for a second consecutive year. He’s relying on a wing and prayer now for his friends to leave, ie., they won’t.
He can’t deny it’s a nice atmosphere though, everyone’s been mildly well behaved, amiable, and the room is cozy, filled with food, and drink. He gets up from where he’s perched on the right side of the sofa, next to Taeyong and Kun as the pair play with a Wii console Johnny had set up for them. “I’ll be right back,” he mutters to Taeyong, who nods choppily, too absorbed in the game. He looks around the rest of the living room, most of his friends are somewhere around the TV, waiting for their turn at virtual tennis. The only ones missing seem to be Daniel, whom Doyoung thinks is sick and has been stuck in the bathroom for the past half hour, and, surprisingly, Jaehyun, whom Doyoung had only scarcely seen since the other gave him his birthday present.
He thought Jaehyun’s abrupt change in mood had been odd and singularly unlike him, and Doyoung can only guess it had something to do with his mother’s call. He didn’t want to pry, really, especially because he knows family is a touchy subject for Jaehyun but he did worry for the other man. Doyoung lived to complain and Jaehyun was always there to listen, he thought that maybe he could return the favor now. Of course, this was impossible if his friend was nowhere to be seen.
Doyoung feels a slight buzz on his phone. When he digs it out of his pocket, it is to see his Instagram notifications. He’s already been tagged in twenty three pictures by Ten. The devil works hard, but the incubus Ten Chittaphon works harder. He pockets the phone again with a sigh, looking back at the snack table; there’s a slight smell of peach in the air and he wonders if Taeyong’s cake is fruit flavored. Doyoung’s too bored, he has half a mind to just grab a handful of pretzels and go back to his seat in the couch, when the resounding noise of the doorbell echoes through the whole apartment.
He sees Ten stand up immediately but motions for him to sit down with a wave, he’s closer to the door anyway. Doyoung wonders who could possibly be visiting at this hour, especially on his birthday, he hopes it’s not a complaining neighbor or Ten won’t hear the end of it tomorrow.
He waddles through the corridor until he reaches the knob and when he opens it, Doyoung instantly wishes it was a complaining neighbor instead.
“Happy Birthday, Doie!” a soft, velvety voice cheers, holding up a giant present in front of him. His worst nightmare, the evil fairy, Kim Jungwoo. To make matters worse, Jungwoo is not alone, behind him, like an ever-present towering shadow, is his boyfriend, Yukhei, smiling like a doofus.
For half a second he thinks about slamming the door shut in their faces but Doyoung likes Yukhei and he’s technically the boy’s boss.
“Jungwoo,” he grimaces, “What are you doing here?” Doyoung hopes that Taeyong didn’t invite Jungwoo without telling him, or else he’s pretty much a dead man. Same goes for the soft-hearted and foolish Taeil.
Jungwoo’s smile doesn’t waver, “Don’t look so stricken, Doyoung,” he snorts without heat. “We just came here to bring you a gift. It’s not like we don’t know it’s your birthday, you know.”
“Happy birthday, boss,” Yukhei yelps with a bright smile. He’s wearing matching scarves with Jungwoo. It’s terribly cute and Doyoung wants to hate it but it’s too much effort on his part.
Doyoung takes the box from Jungwoo’s hands with caution, sniffing it and shaking it to hear what could be inside. He decides to ignore Jungwoo’s eye roll, one can never be too careful when it comes to an ex-boyfriend’s gift.
“Thank you,” he says resolutely, holding the gift with both hands. Doyoung has decided it is safe.
Jungwoo hesitates for a second, “Don't worry, we won’t be staying but…” he trails off and Doyoung wonders what he wants to say.
“Spit it out, Jungwoo,” he taps his foot against the wooden entrance floor, “I’m not getting any younger.”
“How old are you again, boss?” Yukhei asks without malice but it still makes Doyoung’s vein pulsate in irritation.
He snaps, “Definitely older than you, kid.”
“You don’t look old,” Yukhei nods, oblivious to Doyoung’s chagrin, “But if you want, I can—”
“Yukhei,” Jungwoo interrupts, laying a hand on the boy’s arm, “Can you give us a few minutes alone?”
The vampire looks back at Jungwoo with doe eyes, closed smile dripping with affection before nodding, his blonde bangs moving with the movement. Doyoung doesn’t recall ever being that disgustingly adorable with Jungwoo.
“I don’t need to talk,” Doyoung says instead, feeling a creeping edge of unease at being alone with Jungwoo.
The other boy looks at him for a few seconds, “Please, Doyoung,” his voice is still soft but drops the honey-laced tone into something more serious. Doyoung just returns the stare and for a few seconds there’s only static silence between them, Yukhei increasingly growing more awkward. At last, Doyoung is the one who gets tired of the stare-down.
With that, Yukhei grins and slips past him, into the apartment, probably ready to eat all the remaining snacks and greet Sicheng and Kun.
When he’s out of ear-shot, Doyoung closes the door behind him, raising a single eyebrow at Jungwoo. “What it is it?”
“We haven’t talked in so long. Since, you know…” he tightens his coat around him even though the outside weather is far from getting into the building.
“The break-up, yeah.” Doyoung knows this all-too well, he’s the one mostly responsible for avoiding Jungwoo, even if the latter had tried endless times in making small chatter with him. Never like this, Doyoung notes, never as serious as this. “Well, what do you want to say? Now or never, Jungwoo.”
Jungwoo lets out an audible breath, looking down at his mittened hands before looking up, tired. “Let’s be friends again, Doyoung.”
Friends! Color Doyoung surprised, why would Jungwoo want that? The look on his face must betray him—or not, because Doyoung wasn’t really trying to hide anything but surprise—but Jungwoo continues, “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want at least my friendship, we are very compatible people.”
“Is your friendship supposed to be a pity gift?” Doyoung frowns at the other’s words, “Because you feel bad that you broke up with me and now you want to make amends?”
The look Jungwoo gives him, something akin to disbelief, makes Doyoung pause. He doesn’t have time to think about it before Jungwoo replies. “I don’t feel bad for breaking up with you,” he says slowly, waiting a beat to make sure Doyoung understands what he is saying, “I did it for the both of us.”
The words don’t make sense in Doyoung’s head, so he asks, “What do you mean?”
Jungwoo smiles, sad, “Doyoung, you never loved me. You only dated me to forget about Taeyong, our relationship was going nowhere.”
Doyoung feels the protective brick wall around him crumble. Jungwoo always did know how to disarm him best. But hearing those words out loud, all the angry facade dissipates from him.
“I—” he starts but doesn’t know what to say.
Since the day Doyoung met Jungwoo, he’d been charmed by the younger man. Not in the literal fairy charm way—although that did happen as well, just like how it had happened with Jaehyun—but ever since he laid eyes on him, Doyoung thought Kim Jungwoo was lovely in a way he’d never felt about anyone else before. Soft features, soft smile, soft voice, tinkling laugh that made everyone turn to look at him, and underneath that soft front, there was also a fiery personality, strong and unabashed. And Jungwoo seemed to like him too, a lot. For a while, he thought he’d finally found someone that could make him forget about Taeyong. So he tried, and he wooed Jungwoo and it worked—they started dating quickly enough.
But Doyoung soon found out that his gaze still gravitated towards Taeyong rather than Jungwoo, that his heart still beat faster when Taeyong was close to him, not Jungwoo. He soon realized that whatever he felt towards Jungwoo had vanished in a very short time. And the mistake of dating him solely for that selfish reason rested upon his shoulders alone. However, he’d never thought Jungwoo had seen through him, and now he feels even worse for underestimating him, for knowing Jungwoo knew everything.
“When you broke up with me,” Doyoung starts again, voice quiet, “I felt free.”
Jungwoo smiles again, a little brighter this time, “I know. I did too.”
“I’m not mad because you broke up with me,” he continues. Everyone thinks Doyoung treats Jungwoo the way he does because of the break-up, but that’s not exactly it. He told Jaehyun this, it wasn't the break-up. “I think…”
“Your pride’s too much, Doie,” Jungwoo finishes for him, “You felt hurt because I started dating Yukhei so soon after we broke up.” Doyoung nods, looking at the present in his hands, fidgeting with the well-placed bow. Yukhei’s too good, the way Doyoung could never be, not for Jungwoo.
The other continues, “I understand and I’m sorry for that.”
He thinks back to the way Yukhei looked at Jungwoo just before he went into the house, the soft touch Jungwoo placed on him. Jungwoo shouldn't feel sorry, Doyoung thinks with remorse. He’d already hurt the fairy when they were dating, maybe Doyoung should give him some peace of mind.
“Don't be,” he scratches the back of his head, awkward, “You needed to move on from such an awful relationship.”
Jungwoo snorts, wrapping his scarf tighter around him, “Don't be silly, it wasn't awful. We had some fun too.”
He thinks back to their ferris wheel dates, at the autumn festival where Jungwoo always failed to get him the bunny plushie from the toy claw machines. It wasn't that bad.
“Alright,” he finally says, the image of a smiling Jungwoo wearing a Minnie Mouse headband on his mind. “Let’s be friends again, Kim Jungwoo.” Maybe this time it can be Doyoung who does something for the both of them.
Jungwoo hops, he grins with excitement, “This is a good present, isn’t it?”
“Don’t push it,” he warns, but the curve of a smile threatens to come up in the presence of Jungwoo for the first time in months.
Doyoung feels a weight lift off his shoulders, maybe he’d miss Jungwoo too without realizing it, maybe a subconscious guilt was eating him away and he hadn't known it.
He feels Jungwoo stare at him for a few seconds before Doyoung looks back, question in his eyes. Jungwoo tilts his head, “Can I ask you a question? As my first act as Doyoung’s friend again.”
“Go ahead,” Doyoung replies, amusement in his words as he leans back on the wall.
Jungwoo pauses, looking for the right words, “Do you still like Taeyong?”
The question doesn’t surprise him. It’s something he asks himself once in a while, especially these days, for some reason. Does he still like Taeyong? At this point the feelings are engraved in him, he doesn’t think about whether they’re there or not, he just knows they are.
“He loves Taeil,” he answers instead. For as much as he likes Taeyong, Doyoung hasn’t had a chance in years, he knows this. And he doesn’t want one, not when he knows Taeil loves Taeyong back.
“That doesn’t answer the question,” Jungwoo raises his brows.
Doyoung pauses, thinks about it. He gives the most honest answer he can up with right now. “I don’t know.”
Jungwoo nods, not pushing for more. “It’s ok. I just want you to try, Doyoung.”
“To be happy,” he says, as if it is the most obvious thing and Doyoung doesn't know a damn thing in life. Maybe he doesn't. Jungwoo looks around, “We should head back, Yukhei promised Yangyang we’d drive him to the blood buffett tonight.”
He nods, looking one last time at Jungwoo before opening the door to call for the vampire, “Yukhei,” Doyoung shouts, hoping the other can hear him.
Jungwoo sniffs the air and then questions, “Sicheng and Kun drinking blood in there?”
“I don't know, I hope not,” Doyoung frowns, “Blood’s a bitch to clean up.”
“We should hang out sometime,” Jungwoo says as they hear Yukhei’s heavy steps along the hallway, “Call me when you're free, I’m sure you still have my number.” Doyoung does, it's still in his phone contacts.
He sighs, “I will.”
“Hope you like your present, Boss.” Yukhei says from behind him, arms full of Taeyong’s mini cupcakes, “Jungwoo chose it.”
“I’m sure he will,” Jungwoo says confidently, taking a hold of Yukhei’s hand and entangling their fingers together before stealing one of the cupcakes. “See you later, Doie. Hopefully.” He smiles, satisfied with their conversation.
Doyoung smiles back and for once, it is easy. “Yes. Good luck at the blood buffett.”
The couple smiles at him and Doyoung admits they look good together.
“Happy birthday!” Jungwoo chants with a waggle of hands as they walk to the elevator. Doyoung waves back before going back in and closing the door behind him.
He leans on the door, wide eyed. That was completely unexpected, not bad, just odd. He’s glad though, he’s glad it happened.
Doyoung looks down at the present in his hands and wonders what it could be. He untangles the small ribbon with care before lifting up the top. He smiles warmly.
It’s a bunny plushie, giant teeth biting into its carrot.
Mark munches on the nymph-dusted candy apple with glee as he walks arm in arm with Donghyuck. The sun has set, making the sky a night blue, but the hustling through the Eastern District streets has yet to subside.
“Hey, Hyuck,” Mark ponders after taking a giant bite of his apple, “Are you really going to use Doyoung’s spell book?”
Donghyuck looks up from his own snack, glint in his eye, “Well, he gave me permission, didn't he?”
He shakes his head, “You know what I mean. He warned you to not use some of the spells there.”
“The level three spells,” Donghyuck nods with an exaggerated shrug, “Well, what he doesn't know won't hurt him. And you won't tell, right?”
Mark sighs. They lazily stroll through the cobbled streets, most of the people walking alongside them look as normal as any human Mark has ever met, but once in a while they’d stumble upon a flying figure or a tiny man or a giant creature with five eyes. He’s still trying to get used to the odd sights but he’s getting there, especially when Donghyuck presses his warm side next to Mark’s, completely relaxed and delighted.
“I don't trust you,” he says without heat, “What if you set something on fire?”
“Then I put the fire out,” he replies easily. Mark likes the way Donghyuck thinks, even if it’s potentially hazardous thinking.
They sit on the edge of a stone fountain. Donghyuck’s basket, now full of other assorted items they’ve collected from store to store, follows them along obediently. “Why did Yerim look surprised when you made your basket float?”
“My, Mark Lee, you're full of questions today,” Donghyuck snorts but the grin on his face says he isn't too bothered by it at all.
“You can't expect me to not have questions when you're showing me all of this,” Mark replies, waving aimlessly at the surrounding stores. His apple is gone and regret at it eating too quickly settles in.
“Fair enough, my simple human friend,” Donghyuck mocks, handing the rest of his apple to Mark, who takes it like a kid opening a christmas gift. The witch licks his finger and dusts off his jeans, his black nail polish glinting under the street lamps.
“Yeri’s just jealous because wizard magic is better and she can't do it,” Donghyuck pompously continues.
Mark raises an eyebrow, “As far as I know you're a witch too, not a wizard.”
“Yes,” Donghyuck nods slowly, as if Mark’s too slow to understand, “But Doyoung is a wizard and he teaches me wizard magic. It’s not easy, you know? Witches don’t have the same amount of natural magic as a wizard, so they have to train extra years to even conjure basic wizard spells. Real spells, not just potions and charms.”
“And you're that good?” Mark smiles indulgently at Donghyuck, who preens and nods at the compliment.
“I sure am,” he trembles a little as a breeze passes by. “Doyoung wouldn't have just any witch under his tutelage. Doyoung wouldn't just have anyone. I’m a gift.”
“I believe you,” laughs Mark, “A real gift.”
“A good luck charm,” he says after a moment, “I remember you called me that. Do you remember?”
“No,” Mark lies and he's very thankful for the lack of good lightning outside, the warmth on his cheeks are traitorous.
“You do remember!” Donghyuck sing-songs, “I bet you do. I’m your good luck charm!”
“Don't get cocky,” Mark complains, “You're not cute when you brag!”
“Oh, but I am,” Donghyuck defies, “I’m always cute. But I guess I’ll save you the embarrassment of admitting it today.”
Mark whines but doesn't say anything else, mostly because Donghyuck is right. He’s too cute, even when he complains. And especially tonight, wrapped in a red jacket as his auburn hair is blown away by the wind, soft tufts around his head.
“You know, if you keep looking at me like that I might actually believe you think I’m cute,” Donghyuck laughs, but Mark can tell it's not as friendly as it was just moments ago. Is Donghyuck nervous?
Mark coughs, “I wasn't looking at you!” He looks around for an excuse, eyes frantic. “I was looking at the fountain.”
Donghyuck turns around, looking at the object in question. He raises an eyebrow, “This is Poseidon’s Mermaid Fountain.” He points to the stone statues attached to the inner circle of the fountain.
Mark pauses for a second, closely studying the giant figure in the middle whom he supposes is Poseidon, if the trident and beard are anything to go by. “Is Poseidon real?” The very notion of Gods being real is too absurd, even for Mark, who has seen lots of stuff by now.
However, Donghyuck simply nods, “Of course,” he ponders for a second, hand in chin, “Well, I’ve never seen him myself. But I’ve met a handful of mermaids and they all say he is. Lives somewhere in the ocean. Probably Atlantis or something, I wouldn't know, I hate the beach.”
“Are you serious?” Mark squeaks out. He doesn't know if the other is pulling his leg but he really hopes he isn't.
“That's what the mermaids say.”
“I need to tell Renjun about this,” he realizes, “I can't believe we all laughed at him when he told us he wanted to go mermaid-hunting next.”
“Ooh,” his friend shakes his head, “I don't recommend it. They're quite feisty, they'll chomp off Jaemin’s head in no time.”
“Please,” Mark snorts, “The mermaid will be right in front of Jaemin and he’ll be trying to convince us it’s a tuna fish gone rogue.”
Donghyuck laughs, loudly, filling the street with tinkling sounds that make Mark’s stomach tremble. When his laughter subsides, Donghyuck looks around. The people roaming outside have dwindled, with most of the shops around closing for the day, turning off the lights and shutting down their windows.
“It’s late now,” his friend says, “We need to head back home.”
Donghyuck’s house is several blocks closer than Mark’s, which is just on the outside of the so-called Eastern District. Still, Mark says, “I’ll walk you home.”
When Donghyuck gives him an exasperated roll of eyes, Mark just laughs, standing up and offering him a hand, “C’mon, it's not that late yet.”
“I guess chivalry isn't dead as long as Mark Lee lives,” Donghyuck deadpans, but his actions betray his tone as he takes the offered hand. The weather is still somewhat cold, especially at night, at least that's what Mark tells himself as he refuses to let go of Donghyuck as they start their trek home.
“You’ll walk me all the way uphill, then you’ll take a bus home, ok?” he continues, “I don't want you freezing to death.”
“Alright, sounds like a plan,” Mark relents, their intertwined fingers making him grin from ear to ear. He’s glad the rest of the Monster Hunter club isn't here, lest he’d never hear the end of this.
With one last glance at Yonghwan Street, Mark and Donghyuck round the corner, where the streets are less bright, less busy. Technically this is still a magical district, but he supposes everything else has to be subtle.
“Donghyuck,” he ponders, “The milkshake place doesn't have glamour, right? That's why I was able to see it and go inside.”
The other nods, curving his lips in a knowing smile, “That's right, Doyoung doesn't put up glamour. We rarely have human customers, you were the first I had in months, that's why I kept pestering you.”
“You were really annoying. You are annoying.”
“But…” Donghyuck taunts, swinging their hands around and Mark thinks he’s nothing short of ridiculous. The bus stop is close now, next to a convenience store, both barren of any other people.
“But what?” This time, it is Mark who laughs out loud. His voice is loud amongst the lonely streets, echoing like a cheerful song that only he and Donghyuck can hear.
“But you still love me,” the other grins, mischief in his voice but there’s also something else. Something that Mark knows himself and makes him shiver.
They halt next to the bus stop. This is where Donghyuck should go right, keep on walking for five more minutes before he gets home; Mark should stay here, wait for route 156, the bus that will take him just in front of his porch.
“C’mon, Mark just say it.” Donghyuck whines with a pout, both hands holding onto Mark’s fingers. Mark thinks he really had the whole witch thing wrong. Sure, Lee Donghyuck likes to wear black and occasionally be broody, but he’s also nice and adorable and makes Mark laugh until his stomach hurts.
“Donghyuck,” he sighs, as if the very name is a chore. It’s not, not to Mark.
Donghyuck stops his wiggling before grinning,“Yes, Mark Lee?”
“Do you—” he pauses with a laugh. Donghyuck’s nose really is nice. “—want to be my boyfriend?”
“Oh, Mark,” Donghyuck groans, throwing his head back in mock-annoyance, “You could’ve said that more romantically.”
“Is that a yes or a no?”
The other boy seems to ponder, hand in his chin and can Mark just kiss this idiot already?
“Well,” he starts, “Jeno kind of already asked me before you.”
“That's the biggest lie you could've said!” Mark exclaims, bringing Donghyuck closer to him to which the latter only laughs. From up close Mark can see Donghyuck’s smooth skin, the little moles in his cheek and his shining eyes, always full of mirth. “Jeno would never, he’s got his eyes somewhere else.”
“Hm,” Donghyuck hums in tuneless melody, “You’re right. Ok then.”
“Ok then?” Mark cries out in indignation, “That’s all, maybe romance is dead and we both killed it—” Mark, however, cannot finish his sentence, for his lips are soon meeting Donghyuck’s in a kiss. He can feel the other boy smile into the contact and all Mark can do is sigh in content.
The cold weather never felt so warm to Mark and Donghyuck.
Doyoung places his new bunny plushie on the bed. He hopes Ten won't make fun of it or even worse, ask where he got it from or who gave it to him. Still, satisfaction sits well on his heart for now.
He can hear a crash near the kitchen, to which he groans, no one said being a host for his own birthday party would be so awful. Doyoung completely blames Taeyong for this.
He rubs a hand against his face and looks at the mirror once, hoping to see some sort of decent resemblance to his face rather than a slightly tipsy and very tired reflection. He’s alright, he supposes, the hair’s kind of messy and his eyes do look weary but he still has enough in him to finish up this party.
“Shots!” he can hear Sooyoung’s distinct screech and he wonders how the party went from video games to drinking and shouting in a short amount of time. Maybe he ought to stay cooped up in his room and sleep, if he’s lucky, when he wakes up everyone will be gone.
With one last look at his room, Doyoung decides to go out and suffer a bit more, this is the lesser evil than Ten and Taeyong whining later on that he missed his birthday party.
The hallway is mostly dark, all the lights off save for the entrance and the living room, where everyone else is. Or rather, that's how it was before Doyoung went into his room. Now, however, there's a thin sliver of light coming out of one of the rooms, Jaehyun’s room. Doyoung wonders what the other is doing there instead of being outside with everyone else.
He doesn't like the idea of Jaehyun being there alone, so Doyoung, as a good friend, decides to go get him, or at the very least, ask if he’s feeling unwell or sick, it’s not like Jaehyun to be so isolated, especially when he looked excited just a few hours ago.
His knuckles are just an inch from knocking on the door, but then, Doyoung hears the low sound of a conversation. Jaehyun is not alone, he can hear two voices, one belonging to Johnny. And then he’s able to hear it, softly, but there—“Doyoung wouldn’t, I know it.”
Maybe he should leave, scratch that, he should definitely leave because Doyoung is not an eavesdropper, he’s not Yuta. However, it’s almost as if Doyoung’s feet are stuck to the floor and he’s unable to move, all he wants to do is know what Jaehyun is saying about him.
Taking a surreptitious glance to the sides, Doyoung grimaces to himself before leaning against the door, trying to listen in.
“C’mon, Jaehyun, you can't be serious.” It’s Johnny. “Doyoung is a reasonable person.”
He doesn't know what the pair is talking about but he mentally thanks Johnny nonetheless. Still, what could Jaehyun and Johnny be possibly talking about him at nearly midnight?
“You don't understand. I’m just… I’m an idiot, Johnny.”
“You know, you can always give him a chance.”
Doyoung is startled. Give whom a chance? Does Jaehyun like someone? That sits oddly with Doyoung, Jaehyun never mentioned anyone special before.
He hears Jaehyun scoff. “It’s not about me giving him a chance. It’s about him not even looking at me that way.”
Who? And what does Doyoung have to do with all this?
Johnny sighs, the sound muffled by the door between them. “Just tell Doyoung you like him, Jaehyun. Whatever his response is, it’s all on him, not you.”
Doyoung, for the first time in his lifetime, realizes he’s not as smart as he thinks he is.
He hears as Jaehyun replies, softly and exasperated, but Doyoung doesn’t want to stay there anymore, his feet take him away from the door in shock. He wants to rationalize this, wants to tell himself he misheard or completely misunderstood the conversation, but the truth is, Doyoun can’t.
He finds himself making his way to the living room, where the rest of his friends are still laughing and having fun, oblivious to Doyoung’s discovery just a few minutes ago.
“Doyoung!” Yuta calls out, “Where were you? C’mon, join us.”
“Not now, Yuta,” he plasters a slightly deranged smile on his face as his eyes scan the room, looking for a particular tiny person. There he is, giggling with Taeyong and not even glancing at Doyoung’s direction. “Ten!” he calls out, almost a bark that makes Ten turn to him instantly, waving in cheerfulness. “I need to speak to you. Now.”
“Only if you take a shot!” Ten replies, his tone playful as his smiles grows biggers as the rest of his friends egg him on.
“Ten," he grits out. Maybe he does need a drink. Or five. But right now he needs to talk to someone and it sure as hell won’t be Taeyong or Taeil or Yuta, who’s currently trying to convince Sooyoung to slurp tequila from his non-existent abs.
“Ok, ok!” Ten laughs with a drink in hand as he makes his way to Doyoung, who doesn’t wait for him before making his way to the barren kitchen.
He mutters under his breath, taking a cold water bottle from the fridge and gulping it down. “You should’ve just made Taeyong and Jaehyun ugly, God.”
Ten enters the room with a smile. “What’s going on, birthday boy?” His face is flushed pink and the stench of beer reaches Doyoung even from the few feet he is away from his friend.
“How drunk are you, Ten? What the hell, I can’t leave you guys alone without you causing havoc, can I?”
Ten walks closer, patting the other in the back. “I am not drunk. That word implies a lot. Just slightly tipsy. Drunk in love and life, today on your beautiful birthday.”
“What?” Doyoung shakes his head. “Whatever, Ten, this isn’t about you. I have something to say—”
“Tell me, buddy, I’m here to listen.”
“Maybe let me finish first,” he frowns, mind still whirring with thoughts. “Jaehyun. Jung Jaehyun. He likes me. Me as in Doyoung. I know it sounds crazy, Ten. Trust me, I know but—” he can’t even finish his sentence before the sound of Ten’s laughter interrupts him. It’s a grating, loud laugh that comes out in chortles, making Ten double in laughter, almost making him fall over and spill his drink.
“Are you making fun of me?” he splutters in indignation. Sure, Jaehyun is seemingly and tragically way out of Doyoung’s league, that doesn’t mean fucking Ten gets to laugh in his face about it. “Hey!”
He waits for Ten’s annoying self to calm down, but the other boy doesn’t seem to relent, face red and barely being able to breathe. Doyoung hopes he chokes gasping for air. “It’s not that funny! Ok, you know what? My bad. Jaehyun would never, forget it.”
“Oh, my dim-witted friend,” he stands upright, calming himself enough to be able to look at Doyoung in the eye. “Jung Jaehyun has been ready to suck your dick the moment you called him a lazy idiot.”
“It’s ok,” he continues, seeing Doyoung’s expression of mild disgust and disbelief, “He was kinda oblivious too, I wonder how he realized it.” He pauses in thought for a moment, “How did you realize it?”
“First of all,” Doyoung squeaks out, “Did you just call me dim-witted? You of all people, this is a new low for me and I hate you.” He takes a deep breath, trying to make sense of Ten’s words. “Second of all, what are you talking about, all I do is complain to him and call him names.”
His friend shrugs taking another sip of his red solo cup before Doyoung takes it away and slams it on the counter. Ten sighs, “Maybe he’s into that, I don’t know. Everyone's got a fetish.”
Doyoung pauses, looking into Ten’s grimy beer cup. Jaehyun is… Jaehyun is cute, by all means. In fact, Jaehyun is the damn Adonis of passiteries, with a great face and stupid jokes that make Doyoung laugh, he’s also helpful and wants them to cook pasta together like a pair of domestic clowns, and he always listens to whatever he has to say, and he thinks Doyoung is cute when he gets flustered and—Doyoung takes a swig of the beer.
“Ten?” he says weakly, finishing up the drink much to Ten’s whiny dismay. He repeats the words Jungwoo had asked him earlier, still fresh on his mind, “Do you think I still like Taeyong?”
Ten looks up, sobering up and visibly thinking what he’s going to say. He purses his lips, “Doyoung, don’t take this the wrong way,” he starts, piquing Doyoung’s curiosity, “But I think you've genuinely stopped liking Taeyong a long time ago.”
Doyoung feels a drop in his stomach. It is not bad, precisely, just extremely confusing. He asks tentatively, hand mindlessly scratching the counter, “What do you mean?”
Ten looks at him with serious eyes. “You’re clinging on to him, for some reason,” he scratches his head with a pause, “And I don’t know why… you’re not willing to do anything about it anyways.”
“There’s Taeil,” he says instantly, just like he said to Jungwoo, because there’s always Taeil, above everything.
“Exactly,” Ten replies, taking back his empty cup, “So maybe it’s time to move on, Doyoung. Sorry to say this, but you fucked up the moment you didn’t tell Taeyong how you felt. And that’s ok, you know? Taeyong is… well, he’s not happy because he’s an idiot, but he’s getting there. I think Jungwoo is happy too. Maybe it’s time for you to do the same.” He laughs once again, his smile grounding Doyoung just a tiny bit. For that, he is grateful. “Also, Jaehyun is hot. Like, super hot."
Doyoung sighs with a roll of eyes but he can't deny it, not tonight, instead he laughs, exhausted. “What about you?”
Ten blinks, grabbing a stray chip that's sitting atop the counter. “What about me?”
“Are you happy?” he raises his eyebrows, studying his friend.
“I’m just peachy! Don't worry, Dongs,” he winks with a glint, still munching on his chips. “Just peachy.”
He sighs, “You can also talk to me whenever you want to, alright, Ten?”
“I know I can,” Ten smiles again, looking him with gratitude in his eyes, “Well, if you excuse me I need to go look for more alcohol and a cigarette, but c’mon, let me hug you first, you tall slinky. A birthday hug!”
Doyoung obliges with a roll of eyes even though a grin escapes him as he opens his arms, his friend whooping and holding on tight to his torso. Ten might be a small demon, but he certainly gives the best hugs Doyoung could ask for.
Johnny is getting dizzy from a mix of all the shots he’s been drinking and the tangerine-scented living room. It is when he sees a certain silhouette outside by the balcony, that he decides to step out for a moment too, leaving the rest of his friends to their luck with their drunkard games.
It’s nearing almost midnight, the night cool and slightly somber, with few sounds coming from the streets below. Ten, however, as he sits on one of the two small cheap chairs placed there, looks nothing like the surrounding landscape, even doing nothing but sitting there, with the slight wind blowing his bangs out of the way, he manages to look alarmingly charming. Johnny smiles at him, not wanting to interrupt his friend’s seemingly calm moment but giving in after a few minutes.
“Hey there, stranger,” he smiles, breaking Ten out of his reverie. When Ten smiles back in welcome, grin bright and crinkly eyes, Johnny takes it as his cue to sit down next to him. “Are you a friend of Doyoung’s? Haven’t seen you around.”
Ten laughs, leaning back on his chair, stumping out the cigarette that's between his fingers. He plays along as Johnny knew he would, “Yes, I’m his roommate. And who are you?”
“I’m Johnny, I just came here to deliver the pizza.”
Ten laughs, harder this time, his attention fully on Johnny now. It is then that he realizes Ten is not completely sober, there's a slight flush in his cheeks and a hazy glimmer in his eye, he can't blame him, Johnny himself is feeling slightly dizzy from all the shots he's been taking. Still, even in this state, Johnny relishes on the feeling of making Ten laugh, it’s like an accomplishment that never gets boring and his friend’s pretty smile is the reward he gets to reap.
“What are you doing here?” he asks again, a little softer now, “Did you get bored with the party already?”
He shakes his head, looking back at the desolate streets in front of them, “Just wanted a smoke.” He shows him the burnt out cigarette as proof. “And I really like it here. It’s nice and quiet. Doyoung doesn't like it much cus he says everyone on the street’s able see what he's up to and Jaehyun lives cooped up in the living room, so it's usually only me out here.”
Johnny can see why Doyoung would say that, it's a nice view but their floor is so up high, that the balcony towers over almost every surrounding building, everyone looking up would be able to take a peek at them. Still, right now, when the night envelops the sky and city sleeps, he feels the calmness and peace Ten speaks about.
He pulls the sleeves of his wool jumper, shivering at both the place and the weather. “I like it. I should come out here to do my homework.”
Ten snorts, “You’ll eventually end up moving here, I know it.”
Johnny grins, placing a stray strand of hair behind his ear. “I’m sure Sehun won’t mind me leaving him behind, he likes it when I’m not home.”
“Doyoung probably would, but I’m sure if we trade you in for Jaehyun he’ll accept.”
“Would he?” Johnny raises an eyebrow, “I’m not too convinced by that.”
Ten thinks for a moment before glancing back him, looking too small in his black hoodie. Sometimes Johnny wonders if this little guy is really an official agent against Dark Magic, especially when he looks like Johnny could crush him with a hug.
“Jaehyun likes Doyoung, doesn't he?” Ten finally asks but it doesn't sound like a question, just an affirmation. It was glaringly obvious, although that was something Johnny kept to himself instead of embarrassing Jaehyun more than he already was when he’d told him about his crush.
He doesn't think there's anything to hide, at least nothing that Ten wouldn't know, so he only shrugs, “Yeah. Doesn't Doyoung like him back?”
“I think so,” he replies in seconds. Even if Johnny can see it himself when he’s around Doyoung and Jaehyun, it gives him relief that Ten doesn’t think the crush is unrequited, Jaehyun deserves a lot of love, even if it comes in the shape of a nagging wizard. Especially if it comes in the shape of a nagging wizard.
“Good,” Johnny says, “Maybe Jaehyun needs a boyfriend already.”
“Don't project yourself onto him,” Ten calls him out, “Jaehyun can be a single hoe if he wants to.”
Johnny laughs at his sniffing friend, lightly nudging him in the shoulder, “Now who's projecting?”
“I—” Ten frowns, visibly opening his mouth to speak before closing it again. “Maybe I’m not.”
“Maybe you're not what?” he furrows his brows in confusion. He looks at Ten’s eyes, hooded with a probable drowsy mix of alcohol and the late hours of the night.
“Nothing,” Ten replies. Is it the alcohol messing with his head or is Ten closer now than where he was at the beginning? He can almost see Ten’s eyelashes just from how close they are, he can certainly see his smiling cheeks and pink lips and, not for the first time, Johnny loses himself in the thought of just how extraordinarily pretty Ten is.
If he's honest with himself, the physical attraction he feels for Ten had been obvious to him from the start. No, Ten didn't need any magical attributes to charm him, he had done it all by himself. It was just a tragedy he’d only been interested in sex back then. And now, as Ten looks at him with those pretty eyes of him, his face dusted with pink, Johnny can't help but feel his heart thrum inside him, hammering against his chest, eyes solely focused on the man in front of him.
“How drunk are you, Ten?” he stammers out, trying not to focus on their proximity.
Ten smiles, knowingly. How can he not know how Johnny’s feeling when he’s a master of seduction? The only difference between Johnny and Ten’s conquests is that Ten isn't even trying right now, it’s all Johnny.
“Not more than you are,” he replies and now he can really feel Ten’s breath so close to him Johnny might explode.
And there he is, the boy Johnny has become infatuated with, all beautiful face and charming laugh and incredibly funny and Johnny isn't a fool, he knows when a boy wants something, he knows Ten is offering himself right now.
And Johnny might be half an angel, but the other half of him is painstakingly human and right now, all he wants is Ten.
When their lips connect, Johnny feels electricity running through their mouths, coursing through the rest of his body. He never knew kissing could feel this way, as Ten runs his hands through his hair, smiling against his lips, a muted laugh as Johnny keeps on kissing him, hands on his neck. Ten almost slips over the chair and Johnny has to hold on to him, the demon only laughs out loud for a few seconds before kissing him again, a groan escaping his mouth.
For all that is worth, Ten’s hands feel impossibly warm against him, soft and plump lips kissing his mouth and neck and God, why did Johnny refuse him in the first place.
It is Johnny who stops first, lips already feeling a bit raw. Ten can only stand up, taking his hand and leading him inside with a secretive smile.
There's still the ever-present noise of their friends laughing but they pay them no mind as Ten makes his quiet way to his room, near the end of the hallway.
When they get near the threshold, Ten unceremoniously pushes him inside and locks the door behind him. He looks at Johnny like he’s precious, and his own heart feels like bursting. Johnny doesn't even have time to think, all he wants is Ten’s lips on his body once again. He takes off his shirt as Ten works on his own clothes until it all a mess of sweat, spit and sticky orange lube, and Johnny can feel himself burning from the inside.
And, finally, when Ten’s naked body collides against his own, it is heavenly.