Summer has always been Dejun's favorite season. There's something about the way the soft breeze blows and how the sun keeps shining even when it rains, about the way the day is always longer, and colors seem more vibrant.
It has always been the season for adventure, his mother used to tell him when he was little and just learning how to change from his dragon form. He was scared to go out of his home and play with the other kids, too shy and too new in his human form to feel at ease, but his mother's words had an impact on him.
So, for the following years, he took those words by heart.
Dejun is fifteen when he starts thinking of travelling.
China is a big, vast country. Teaching him to fly, his father took him to every province. Took him to the sea and showed him the mountains, taught him about history and culture and the tight-knitted relationship their kind has always had with their land.
And it sparked something in him.
He started reading, developed a liking for books. He read about other cultures in his free time, searched on the internet about other countries. Learnt about geography and traditions. Discovered variety.
Being the youngest son of a kind of conservative family, he was taught the importance of his species. About honor and status.
China is not a diverse country. Has never been. Most magical creatures are ancient or holy. The human population has been increasing rapidly. For Dejun, that is a shame.
Dejun wants to know about much more than what he sees. He wants to get to know the desert and how it feels to touch its sand. Wants to know the jungle and maybe rest under a tree that’s bigger than the one in his backyard. But mostly, Dejun wants to get to know more and more about magic. He wants to meet a vampire, with big fangs and pale skin. A werewolf and see if their change is momentaneous like his or if it takes some time. Maybe a fairy and ask them about nature. He wants to see it all.
He starts harboring these ideas, of freedom, of knowledge.
He lives his life the way his parents want him to. He's a good son, a good brother, a good peer, a good citizen. Learns the lessons his father teaches him, how to control water, how to use fire. He's a top student, is part of the student council, is respected by everyone around him. And, life is good that way, but he can't help but be greedy.
So, years pass by and nothing really changes for him, until one day in early spring.
Dejun is seventeen, walking to school in the middle of a cold morning when a black cat crosses his path. He stops in his tracks.
The cat looks at him carefully, tail standing proud and yellow eyes somewhat intense. Then, after a few seconds, the cat goes straight to his legs and starts smelling him.
The thing is, there's nothing to fear when it comes to animals, but Dejun always feels uneasy around them. Maybe is the way they stare at you like they know all your secrets.
He tries to keep walking, his mind reminding him of his schedule and how important it is for him to get early to his classroom if he wants to sit at the front. But the cat just... won't let him.
He tries shaking his legs, shoos him and even throws a little piece of his lunch sandwich a few feet away for the cat to follow, but everything is to no avail.
"Stupid cat," he says when he starts losing his temper, "leave me the hell alone. My pants are going to end up smelling like... stupid cat"
And then, the cat raises its head and looks at him right in the eye before opening its cute snout and, defying anything Dejun could have even imagined that the cat would have done, says, "who the hell are you calling stupid, you stupid?"
And even if the cold hasn't gone away, and the flowers aren't in bloom yet, Dejun doesn't know it, but that's when his summer adventure begins.
The cat's name is Liu Yangyang. Turns out, he's not exactly a cat.
After what happened on the sidewalk, and Dejun's yelp of surprise followed by the biggest confusion he had ever found himself in, the cat shifts to a boy right in front of his eyes.
He's taller than Dejun, his smile is friendly when he introduces himself and calls him out for being an asshole to a poor, vulnerable cat. Dejun is just trying to grasp the situation.
"Close your mouth! You're gonna catch flies in there" Yangyang says, a cheeky edge to his voice. He interlocks their arms together and starts going to another direction.
Dejun sobers immediately, "What do you think you're doing? I have English class in like, fifteen minutes" he says, trying to sound in charge, but he keeps walking, nonetheless.
"Oh!" Yangyang chirps as he presses the button of the pedestrian traffic light, "we so need to talk. Do you like smoothies?"
"It's seven in the morning, and I don't know you?" he declares quickly, eyebrows furrowed.
"Let's get to know each other then. Do you like smoothies?"
"I'm literally lactose intolerant. What are you trying to do?" Dejun answers, trying hard to no lose his temper again. "Look if you don't explain yourself right now I will literally-"
"I said," Yangyang interrupts him, his brown eyes starting to turn yellow as they were when he was in his cat form, "do you like smoothies?"
Dejun shuts his mouth for a second, his mind suddenly muzzy. "I. Drink. I mean. I do. I drink them with almond milk" He stutters. Something about the situation starts to seem... less strange and calmer instead.
"Fabulous! I just know this place around the corner, you're gonna love it"
As Dejun finds out, Yangyang is great at the fine art of asking the right questions. He's not blunt per se, but he's insistent and smart, and he knows how to get what he wants.
They've been talking for a few minutes when Dejun dares to ask a question himself.
"So... what was all that situation with you being a cat and then being a person?" he says nonchalantly, taking a sip of his vanilla smoothie. His classes long forgotten and his attention on Yangyang, "are you a shapeshifter?"
Yangyang shakes his head no on the seat in front of him, he's a messy eater and his mouth is all dirty from the chocolate cake he ordered, "Nothing like that, but it'd be super cool. What about you, though?"
"What are you, Xiao Dejun?" Yangyang elaborates, taking a napkin to clean his hands.
There's doubt in Dejun's mind. It's been a long time since magical creatures and human beings made peace among themselves, so magical creatures don't have to hide, but since Dejun lives a totally normal and boring life full of human peers who doesn't ask questions and doesn't really have close friends -normally being too uninterested for actual bonding- the question takes him by surprise. He's kind of uncomfortable saying it.
"I asked first" is what he responds, "that's cheating"
Yangyang laughs loudly, enough for some people to spare them looks, but soon enough he's giving an answer, "I'm a familiar. Like, a wizard’s familiar. And I know exactly what you are. Xiao Dejun, a water dragon"
And that gets Dejun as interested as wary.
"Explain yourself" he says, crossing his arms on his chest. Putting on his best I-won't-hesitate-bitch façade.
And oh, Yangyang does explain.
The story Yangyang tells him is the most engrossing thing Dejun has ever heard in his whole life. Nothing in his books or the internet, not even his dreams could have prepared him for when Yangyang says that his master needs Dejun's blood.
He gets up immediately, ready to leave the place as soon as the words leave the boy's still chocolate covered mouth and feels threatened in the slightest, but Yangyang takes his wrist and begs him to listen. Contrary to what his better judgement tells him, Dejun stays.
In the end, he doesn't regret it.
He leaves the little coffee shop with Yangyang's number and an invitation.
Because dragon blood has magical properties, Yangyang's master, a wizard named Kun, head of a small coven, asked him to find a water dragon to ask for their blood. It's nothing significant and of course it is not intended as a threat. Kun just needs it for his potions and it is difficult to find since it is not a commercialized product and almost all the dragon population are nobles or politicians.
Dragons are not a rare breed, but they can be tricky to get in contact with.
Thus, the invitation.
For the low price of giving Kun enough blood for him to survive without having to ask again for some time, he is inviting him to Korea for all the summer, all expenses included.
The plan sounds... appealing to Dejun's ears. It sounds literally like the adventure of his life so far. He gets to know a new culture, a new city, gets to know new creatures and forms of magic and that excites him so much that he can feel his legs trembling.
Still, he says no.
The idea is wonderful and the whole concept makes him want to jump out of his skin from the thrill, but he's not dumb.
Not that dumb.
But Yangyang won't take a no for an answer and gives him his number and says that there's still plenty of time for him to decide.
They part ways shortly after, and Yangyang goes back to his cat form before disappearing through an alley.
It takes Dejun exactly three minutes to start considering it seriously. Then the next month for him to make the decision.
It happens in the afternoon of a rainy day, when all his family is sitting on the living room sofas and his father starts praising him for being excellent in everything he does, from school to dominating his ability to transform and fly, and just for being a good son.
His parents call him outstanding and capable, and so he knows that he's ready to take the chance, to accept the invitation and to have a new, a bigger adventure. He messages Yangyang that night.
Obviously, his parents don't like the idea at first. Even his brother is against it, but Dejun is extremely good at being convincing, even if it takes three months for him to get them to say yes.
He takes his fly to Korea on a sunny noon in late June.
Kun's house is bigger than expected. With three rooms and a big living room and equally big kitchen, it reminds Dejun of those American frat houses he has seen in movies.
They meet in the airport. Kun and Yangyang waited for him to arrive and took him to a little Korean restaurant to welcome him with a good meal. In between the airport and the food and the entertaining conversation, Dejun's heart feels like it's about to explode from excitement.
Kun is extremely kind and friendly, kind of proper at the beginning, too. He introduces himself with a firm handshake and a bright smile, soft voice saying thank yous and making promises of fun and magic while Yangyang makes gag sounds in the background.
All in all, is a tiring day. His feet and back hurt from the voyage, his head aches, and with his tummy full, Dejun feels like he could sleep a millennium when they finally get to the house. But Kun insists on the importance of talking their arrangement through, and Dejun knows that he can't say no when what Kun is saying is totally reasonable.
Kun goes over what Yangyang told him months ago, but he explains it as if he were talking to a little child. Talks about how he hopes their schedule to be: he expects to draw a little less than a liter every three days. Talks about how much he investigated before asking him for this favor and swears he'll be safe and that Dejun will be free to do as he pleases while he stays with them.
Dejun nods, he's perfectly okay with everything Kun says, and finds it amazing that he took the time to inform Dejun of everything that is about to go down.
"So when do we begin?" Dejun asks confidently.
Kun starts playing with his own hands, "I was thinking about tomorrow? I can wait if you don't want to do it tomorrow, but it'd be great if you say yes"
"Of course. Whenever you what is fine" Dejun assures him with a sleepy smile, his eyelids heavy.
Yangyang comes out of the kitchen then, carrying a teapot, "can you please let him go upstairs and sleep? he's literally dying here" he says to Kun, "he needs to be awake tomorrow if you are going to draw the blood, and he’s going to meet Xuxi, too"
Kun nods as he stands up and takes the teapot from Yangyang's hands, "that's true. Tomorrow will be a great day! Have a good night, Dejun. If you have any question don't hesitate to ask me or Yangie" he finishes, motioning Yangyang to show him where he is going to sleep.
Yangyang takes him to the room closest to the stairs on the second floor and helps him to carry his luggage. The room has a big bed in the middle, dark blue walls and a desk full of colorful books -which sparks his interest. It looks... more like someone's room and less like a guest room.
As if reading his mind, Yangyang speaks up when he puts the bag he's carrying on the desk chair, "this is actually Kunhang's room, but he's not here at the moment. You'll have it to yourself for a few days until he comes back from his trip" he explains kindly, "we don't have a guest room, I'm sorry"
"No, no! Don't worry" Dejun brushes it off, "It's cool" he thinks that Yangyang looks pretty different when he is in his familiar duties, more focused and less silly.
Yangyang waves him goodbye then, reminding him that he sleeps with Kun and that their door is always open if he needs something, and to make himself at home.
After a shower and brushing his teeth, Dejun quickly starts to calculate if his whole body would fit on the bed. His dragon form may not be very big, since water dragons tend to be sort of small, but he needs to change in order to rest and it'd be great if he could still sleep on the bed. It ends up being a tight fit, but he's content all curled up in himself.
Before falling asleep though, the thought of the many books on the desk makes him look at it again, and he wonders what kind of books are the ones that this Kunhang person likes to read.
But he's sleepy, his eyes dropping, so he decides that he'll find out later.
The first two days of his trip are wild.
On the second day of his stay, he wakes up to Kun gently patting his back, petting him, "your scales are the prettiest color I have ever seen" he says when he notices that Dejun is awake, "I came here to tell you that breakfast is ready, you can come down whenever you want" Kun tells him before leaving, closing the door behind himself.
It's nine in the morning, and Dejun usually hates getting up before noon when he doesn't have school, but his excitement erases any trace of sleep from his mind.
That day, he meets Yukhei, who uses turtle necks in the summer and laughs loudly. And, after breakfast, they take him to their -strangely big- backyard, where they have a small vivarium full of pretty flowers and plants that smell strongly and everything in between.
Inside, there's a small area full of bookshelves, a table full of knives and wooden spoons and pots, some chairs, and in the middle of it all there’s a big black cauldron hanging from the ceiling above a small bonfire.
Kun explains him that there is where he'll extract the blood every morning after breakfast and that he's free to be there whenever he wants.
"You can come here even when we're making potions! We'll show you everything and explain how it works" Yukhei says excitedly.
Dejun loves the idea.
That day is mostly spent planning, what he will visit, what he wants to see, learning some basic Korean phrases that any tourist should know. After he gives the blood to Kun, he asks Yukhei about himself and asks him to take him to some cool place.
Yangyang is nowhere to be found, but Kun tells him to not worry, since he's probably exploring or having one of his meditation days.
Yukhei takes him to an arcade, and that's nothing new to him, but he has a really good time there.
On the third day, Dejun wakes up earlier than the day before to Yukhei knocking on his door telling him to hurry up and come downstairs to see something great.
In the kitchen, Kun is orchestrating the whole cutlery to make breakfast for him as he scrolls down his Instagram feed.
"Isn't it amazing?" Yukhei tells him, arms crossed on his chest and a wide smile curling on his lips, "Kun is the greatest wizard I've ever met, it takes a lot of practice and knowledge to use magic that effortlessly"
Dejun's mouth is hanging open watching it all happen, the eggs cracking themselves into the bowls, the oil pouring itself onto the pan. Watching magic actually happen before his own eyes.
That day, Dejun gets to visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace with Kun, Yukhei and Yangyang, eat ice cream after, and have a day full of walking around and having fun with his new friends.
It's only after dinner, when Yukhei announces that he'll be going out with his boyfriend, and Yangyang and Kun are talking softly about some orders they must make for the next week, that Dejun remembers the books on the desk of the room he's staying in.
Turns out, the books are all in a language he can't recognize, but the letters are all Romanic. It doesn't matter because they're also filled with what Dejun thinks are very descriptive drawings of whatever the book he chooses is about. It's oddly entertaining even if he doesn't understand a single thing.
On the fourth day, Dejun wakes up to a loud screech.
There's also the sound of doors opening and footsteps and some mumbling mixed with shouts.
Dejun's brain is trying to catch up when he hears Yangyang, "Stop! Do not. I repeat, do not go in there. Leave him alone" he says sounding angry and sleepy. The next think Dejun knows, his door is opening wildly, and a guy enters practically vibrating.
"You! Who are you!" the guy says, his eyes open wide and a big smile plastered on his face. Dejun raises his head, his eyes focused on this person trying to decide what to do next.
"For fuck's sake. Kunhang! I fucking told you to leave him alone. I'm telling Kun!" Yangyang shouts from the hall.
Wait. That name. Wait just a second.
Kunhang stands there his hands on his face, he looks ecstatic. Without giving it a second thought, Dejun changes into his human form and gets up.
"This is your room" he states, standing awkwardly beside the bed, "I'm really sorry, I thought they'd told you that I'd be sleeping here" Dejun explains, his voice apologetic.
"Are you fucking kidding me?!" Kunhang says, walking closer to Dejun, his smile still intact.
"Hi! My name is Wong Kunhang. Please call me Hendery, everyone does it. And you! You are a dragon! Oh my God this is literally the best day of my life. I'm gonna be sharing my room with a dragon for the rest of the summer! What's your name? Are you Chinese too? How old are you? What kind of dragon are you? Oh my God, this is so exciting! This is my first encounter with a dragon! I need to tell my friends, they're gonna be so jealous. Why the fuck nobody told me about-" Kunhang -Hendery rants, voice high and eyes shining. Kun enters the room, a frown on his face, his clothes crumpled from sleeping.
"Wong Hendery, shut the hell up right now. This is exactly why nobody told you about him" Kun snaps, clearly irritated.
"Kun! I'm so excited! I'm-"
"Yes. Yes, I know you're excited, but this is not the way of treating a visitor. And why are you here this early? It's freaking five in the morning"
Dejun is still standing awkwardly on his spot when Hendery starts talking about the reason why he's there that early. Yangyang approaches him.
"Don't worry, Jun. Hendery is not angry you're here. On the contrary, from now on you're gonna have to stand him and his excitement. He's really a fan of the supernatural" he tells him, his voice soft and calming.
"Oh" Dejun lets out, not knowing what to say, "thank you... Do you think we can go back to sleep?"
There's a loud guy in the room that's still talking, yes. But he's still tired from pulling an almost all-nighter reading the books -Hendery's books. He thinks that it'd be better to deal with this situation later.
"Sure thing, I'm really tired too. Wait, I'll calm Kun"
An angry Kun is difficult to calm down, too invested in his monologue about basic manners. But Yangyang gets him to calm down when he turns into his cat form and starts rubbing himself on his legs, just like he did to Dejun when they met.
Dejun had never seen something like that, but Kun melts and takes Yangyang in his arms, "alright Yangie, let's go. But this conversation is not over, Hendery. We'll talk later" he threatens as he goes out, kissing Yangyang's furry head and cooing.
Dejun immediately starts getting into bed again, too tired to think about anything else. Apparently, Hendery has no plan of going back to sleep when he starts talking again.
"Phew. Those two" he tsks, his hands on his hips. "Yangyang is mostly annoying to me but I'm really glad he's here when Kun gets all angry and nothing else will stop him. Just swoosh, all he needs is a Yangyang's cute kitty self and maybe some kisses from his human form" he laughs as he takes a seat on the desk chair. "Hey, what's your name, though?"
Hendery talks a lot. Maybe it is because he's excited as Yangyang said, maybe it's just the way he is, but he talks a lot.
"Maybe you could answer all my questions? I'm really happy to know you" Hendery smiles, his voice sounds sincere.
Dejun sighs, he's clearly not sleeping anymore. "My name is Xiao Dejun. I'm seventeen. I'm Chinese, yes. And I'm a water dragon. That's all, I think?"
Hendery beams. "A water dragon! Oh my god! Your blood has curative qualities!"
Dejun didn't know that, but he nods anyway.
"Did you know that Kun ge could literally give life back to the dead with your blood? Water dragons have the most powerful blood. No other dragon possesses that power!"
"Wait, seriously?" Dejun asks, shocked by the revelation. This is not something his father had told him.
"Yes! It is against the rules the magic council set, but it is theoretically possible. It is useful for many, many things. Even for divination!"
Dejun's last vestiges of sleep disappear, his interest in the conversation growing. "Divination?"
"Yes! The three most powerful elements for divination are carnation petals, fire frog mucus, and, above it all, water dragon blood" Hendery explains, "I have so many books about this topic!"
Dejun stares at him, marveled. "How do you even know these kinds of things?" Because Dejun has searched, he has investigated a lot about magic, about his own kind, but he had never heard things like what Hendery has been saying.
"I'm really, really interested in magical beings" Hendery says. "I learnt Latin and asked Kun to find me a lot of really old books. I could tell you all about your kind. And water dragons have always been my favorite! Also, I'm a clairvoyant, so I know a lot about that too"
Dejun smiles widely. Now this, this is something that he didn't expect.
When Dejun came all the way to Korea he was anticipating many things. To meet new people, to see a new culture, to see magic. He certainly didn't expect to have a roommate that came suddenly and started talking about that kind of knowledge. And oh, he loved the way things turned out.
He stands up, walks to the bookshelf beside the desk and takes the first book he tried to read the day before, something about plants and anatomy. Then walks to Hendery, takes a seat on the floor in front of him.
"You're really smart. I like you. Can you read this book to me? I really want to understand" he asks happily, handing the book to Hendery.
Hendery's eyebrows lift, his eyes wide. He turns his head sideways and scratches his hair, "Thank. Thank you. I'll read it to you" Dejun doesn't notice, too amazed to pay attention to something other than what Hendery starts saying when he reads the title of the book fairies, elves and other creatures of the woods (oh Lord, Dejun loves fairies), but Hendery's ears are red and his hands tremble from the embarrassment and the attention all the morning.
That day, Dejun doesn't leave the room after he's done giving Kun the blood. Too immersed in the way Hendery's voice teaches him about everything he has always wanted to know.
It takes three days before Dejun finally asks Hendery about clairvoyants.
And it happens because one morning, Hendery wakes up beside him all hyper without any reason -they decided to ask Kun to transmute a little pillow into a single bed mattress and attach it to the big mattress that was already there, so none of them had to sleep on the cold, hard floor- and begs him to postpone their daily outing until the night, offers him to show him the Han river that is the prettiest when it's dark outside.
After Dejun has given his blood, Yangyang asks him about his plans for the day and he tells him that nothing for the moment, so Yangyang offers him to teach him to bake a cake.
Hendery comes out of the shower to find Dejun and Yangyang giggling over the disastrous kitchen and promptly joins them for a while.
Until Yukhei enters the house. Then, Hendery perks beside Dejun where he stands trying to clean the stains of pink frosting.
Even though Yukhei is part of the coven and he lives there, he spends an awfully big quantity of time at his boyfriend's house.
He goes in in a hurry, a giddy expression on his face as his hands hold a box.
"Kun ge! Kun ge, where are you!" Yukhei shouts through the house.
"Kun ge is in the vivarium, Xuxi!" Yangyang answers from where he's trying to clean an egg stain.
"Is he too busy?" Yukhei asks entering the kitchen.
"He's making an enlightment potion, you know how he gets" Yang supplies.
"Aw but this is important!"
Beside Dejun, Hendery mutters an exhilarated here it comes, followed by a giggle. Dejun turns to look at him curiously.
A new voice joins them, followed by a guy Dejun has never seen before entering the kitchen, "Xuxi! I told you to wait for me, you big oaf!"
Short, pale, brown hair. Dejun wonders who he is.
Hendery clears his throat loudly, "Yukhei, aren't you gonna introduce Renjun to Dejun?"
Yukhei claps his hands, "of course! Dejun, this is my boyfriend Renjun. Junnie, this is our new friend, the one I told you about"
Renjun smiles courteously. And, wow.
He offers his hand and Dejun takes it dumbly, followed by an also dumb "you... are a vampire" with the most awestruck expression he has ever made.
Renjun laughs, "yes! Be careful huh, or I'll suck you dry"
"Renjun!" Yangyang and Yukhei exclaim at the same time
"The only person you can suck dry is me, you motherfucker" Yukhei says angrily. To what Renjun answers with a let's get to it then and promptly takes him by the hand to his room.
Yangyang groans about how these two can't never keep it in their pants. But Dejun can't think about anything over the fact that he just met a vampire.
Hendery starts laughing, high and uncontrollably, "this is exactly how I saw it coming! You're starstruck!"
Dejun turns to face him, "he. He is a vampire. He is a vampire! That's so cool! I really wanted to meet a vampire!" he says, hands gesturing way too much.
"I adore your face right now" Hendery keeps laughing, "I'm so happy I had that vision this morning and I was here to see it happening!"
"What!" Yangyang says, finally done with his scrubbing, "your visions are getting more frequent?" he beams.
Hendery gets shy in a second, "I- yes. But I still can't really control it. They just come to me, yeah"
"This is amazing! Oh God! I need to tell Kun!" Yangyang exclaims before leaving the kitchen in a hurry.
It leaves Dejun confused, and then curious. So, he thinks and realizes that, yes, he and Hendery have talked about a lot if things these few days, about themselves, about Hendery's books, about random things, but he hasn't actually asked Hendery about the whole clairvoyant thing.
He takes the opportunity.
Hendery is bashful answering. His gaze never leaving the floor, like he's ashamed when he admits that he's still learning how to do things and that he can't actually control it. And then blushing madly when he admits that he really wanted his vision to become true when he saw the happiness on Dejun's face in his dream. Dejun giggles at that. A strange feeling appearing in his tummy.
After that, Hendery is kind of quiet for a long time as they finish cleaning the kitchen, but their silence is comfortable.
Before going out, Hendery asks Dejun to dress fancy because they're going to a restaurant in front of the river.
They end up walking in the dead of the night, talking about everything and nothing.
That night, when they're both in their room and have already said their goodnights so Dejun can change to his dragon form, Dejun can't stop thinking about the way Hendery's hair looked under the light of the streetlamps on the way home.
Weeks pass just like that.
By now, Dejun has eaten almost every traditional Korean food, has gone to as many places as he could, has gotten to know more about Korean culture, and has learnt a lot thanks to Hendery and their scheduled lectures every day.
His favorite moments are when he helps Kun and Yukhei in potion making -he's just giving them the ingredients but still-, but recently, he has also been helping Hendery with divination.
Every morning, Hendery would ask him if he wanted to know something from the near future and he'd ask things like where we will be at five in the afternoon? or what will we eat today? or even what book will we read tonight? When Hendery asks him about his own powers.
It's innocent, Hendery asks him about how confident he is about them and if he can see him doing something. And now Dejun knows how Hendery felt when he asked him about what a clairvoyant was. It's embarrassment mixed with shyness.
He tries to be clear for Hendery. For now, Dejun only knows how to fly, transform and more or less control water, but he can't produce fire by himself and he isn't sure if he can create venom. It's strange, it feels like he's showing off and he doesn't like the feeling. "But it's whatever, really." he finishes his explanation quickly, arms crossed on his chest.
"That sounds really, really amazing" Hendery says honestly, sitting with his legs crossed in front of him on the bed, "I have read that just learning to shapeshift is very difficult"
"It's not that bad" Dejun says, "at this point I kind like my human form more than my dragon one. I only change to sleep because it's necessary"
Hendery hums, a soft frown on his face, "Why is that? Your dragon form is really great, have somebody ever told you that your scales are the prettiest green ever?"
Dejun smiles, thinking about how was the first thing Kun told him when he saw him like that, so he tells Hendery about it, and Hendery lets a light giggle out. "Well, he's right. But yeah, why?"
Dejun takes a moment to think about it, but he already knows the answer. "I live a very normal life back home, you know China is not very diverse. It just fits me, I think. Boring old me. And I'm comfortable like that, I think? It's just... convenient?"
Hendery's mouth turns downwards at that, and Dejun suddenly feels strange again. He doesn't want to make Hendery upset, but it seems like he already did. "I mean. I don't hate it" he says trying to repair it, "it's okay. I also change when my father tells me to go practice and when we are training and-"
Hendery interrupts him, "that's so sad, Jun." he says with this... look on his face. Unreadable.
"No, no. It's-"
"Hey, it's okay" Hendery says, "there's no problem in feeling comfortable one way or another. I just feel like... Jun, are you scared of something?"
The air of the morning is still when Dejun ponders over the question. Hendery sat in front of him with his dumb piggy pajamas. Is he?
"Maybe?" He decides to say. "Doesn't it ever happen to you that things are just the way they are, and you're scared of going against the flow?" Dejun tries to get his point across but he doubts he did.
"How so?" Hendery asks, resting his head on his hand, confirming his suspicions.
Dejun changes his position to lie on his tummy, "what I'm trying to say is that, my peers are all humans, and where I live nobody ever talks about magical creatures? They're all so very... human? No, not human. I would say they are all like robots. My father always tells me about honor and respect, and it's all very monotone. I prefer my human form over my dragon form because I really feel like being a magical creature goes against the flow of my reality? I don't know, man. I'm probably not making any sense" he shrugs.
They're silent for a few moments when Hendery asks him, "do you hate it?"
Dejun shakes his head no. "I'm used to it. Even though sometimes I'm greedy and I do reckless things like this whole trip, I already know that when I'm back I need to go back to that kind of life"
Hendery bites his lip, "I wish you didn't think like that, you know" he sighs, "being different is nothing to be ashamed about. Having dreams and hopes and opinions is not wrong. Being yourself is never bad"
He takes Dejun's hand in his without warning, and Dejun feels his face warm up, his eyes flicking quickly between his hand and Hendery's face.
"Who you are is who you are" Hendery continues. "And if you truly feel more comfortable being a human, then that's okay. But only if you truly feel like that and it's not because you want to fit"
Dejun is at a loss for words for a moment, his eyes looking into Hendery's. He looks so compassionate, so tender. His tummy starts feeling strange again.
Dejun doesn't know where it comes from, but he lets out a soft, silent whimper and he finds himself asking, "do you maybe... want to pet me?"
Hendery cocks his head to the side, confused.
Dejun stutters, "I. I can like. I can like change, maybe? And you can pet me? If you want, though. Like you'd do with Yangyang when he's a cat"
The biggest smile breaks on Hendery's face then, his hand squeezes Dejun's. "You'd let me? I'd love to"
So Dejun separates himself from Hendery and changes wordlessly. The change is immediate, but somehow it feels like it takes and eternity to become who he is in front of Hendery.
His dragon form is lean and long, almost like a snake, with four legs that have big claws. His snout is long, and both his upper and bottom fangs stick out of the sides of it, he doesn't have horns and his ears aren't that big. But, as Hendery said, this is what he really is.
He lies on the bed with his head cautiously on Hendery's lap.
Hendery seems lost, his hands by his sides, unmovable. So Dejun rubs his head on his stomach. And that gets Hendery going.
He starts petting his head, behind his ears, and bops his nose. Stretches himself to pet his neck.
"Can you like, curl in yourself so I can pet your tummy too?" Hendery whispers because somehow it feels wrong to talk louder than that.
Dejun does as asked and when Hendery rubs his tummy he lets a growl of satisfaction. Hendery giggles silently.
It's... so intimate. Dejun has been petted before, by his mother, by his grandma, even by Kun, but it has never been heart-going-crazy petting like this. It has never been this much of a heartfelt caress.
"Your scales are really soft, and they sparkle really brightly" Hendery mutters, before he lays his head on top of Dejun's.
They fall asleep like that, and it's strange when they wake up, all shy glances and red ears and cheeks. Until Hendery thanks Dejun for letting him do that, and then it isn't awkward, it just feels warm and secure. It just feels like them.
After that day, Dejun slowly becomes more confident until one day, a week later, he asks Hendery to take him to the closest lake he knows.
Hendery doesn't even ask, he just packs some sandwiches, a few bottles of water and sunscreen before he asks Kun to lend him his car and they get going.
It takes Dejun a lot of courage to say it, but when they're there he nonchalantly asks Hendery if he wants to see something cool.
Hendery nods eagerly from where he's laying the cloth he brought to lie on.
Dejun has been planning this, has been thinking about it, has dreamt about it, so he knows exactly what to do.
He takes a deep breath and puts his hands into the water.
"Hen! Close your eyes!" He shouts from the lakeside when he feels ready.
Dejun gets up, and in his hands, there is a big bubble of water, big enough for two colorful fish to swim in. He smiles to himself and hopes with all his heart that Hendery will like it. "Open them now"
Hendery does and his face is priceless. He lets out a screech. "Xiao Dejun! Oh my God! What is this! How! Oh my God! Dejun let me keep them, please. Please! I'll name them! This one could be Xiaojun for you and the other could be Henxiao or Henjun? Like a combination of our names? Please, Jun! This is the most amazing thing ever!" he rants like he does when he's delighted. Dejun finds it cute.
"You can keep them if you have something to put them into for now, because I can't go all the way back like this. I'll lose my focus and they could die" Dejun explains kindly, admiring the way Hendery scrunches his nose when he is this happy.
"For sure! Let me get the sandwiches out of the Tupperware and we can go home quickly!" Hendery answers hurriedly.
It's only after they have left the fish in the vivarium, in a bowl that Kun fortunately had lying around, and decided to go to the shopping center of the city and drink some iced tea that Hendery addresses it.
"Jun you're super talented. I really liked it"
Dejun adverts his gaze, shy but proud. "Thank you"
Hendery takes his hand in his. He's been doing that a lot lately, taking Dejun's hand in his. But Dejun finds out that he likes it plenty, the strange feeling, that he has come to identify as butterflies thanks to Yukhei, goes crazy every time it happens.
"I'm being really serious, you know?" Hendery says. "You're really smart and talented and kind, and so many wonderful things, Jun" he tells him, looking right into his eyes. Dejun suddenly feels naked in the middle of the concurred little coffee shop. "I don't need to be able to tell the future to know that you're gonna end up being successful and happy in anything you decide to do"
Dejun is taken aback by the force of the compliment. His mouth forming a thin line and his eyes downcast. "Hendery, what- thank you. I... don't know what to say"
"Oh!" Hendery brightens up, "you don't have to say anything, little dragon! Just take the compliment"
When the waiter comes to their table to ask for their orders, while Hendery orders for the both, Dejun has the passing thought of Hendery being ethereal, and how everything that has to do with him becomes golden.
July ends in a whim.
Between group outing, and all the time he spends alone with Hendery. Waking up early in the morning and giving blood to Kun. Meeting the group's friends and being a tourist.
Yukhei and Dejun are in the vivarium making a love potion, Yangyang is in his cat form, lying lazily on top of the table.
Dejun is passing Yukhei a vibrant blue jar when Yukhei starts talking about how sad it is for him to make this kind of potions.
"It because it's not true love, you know? It's like a lie" Yukhei laments.
Dejun hums, "but what’s the difference, really? How can you tell apart what this potion makes you feel and true love?"
Yukhei purses his lips, "well... love is a unique feeling for everyone, so that's difficult to say. And it doesn't even have to be romantic"
"Wait, what does this potion exactly?" Dejun asks curiously.
"This potion makes the person that drinks it love you, as simple as that. But it's like... I think the feeling is more akin to obsession than love. Can you pass me the rose petals?"
Dejun complies, then asks again, "but how can you know when it's true love?"
The cauldron is radiating pink, Yukhei mixing everything patiently, "it depends. For me, love is adrenaline. And the feeling of Renjun's cold as fuck hands on my chest. Maybe it sounds dumb, yeah. But love is special for everyone" Yukhei reasons, "how does your love feel, Yangie?" he asks loudly.
Yangyang shifts to his human form, sitting cross legged on the table as he eats a little cat treat. "That's gay, Xuxi"
Dejun laughs when Xuxi responds with a son, I am gay, please answer the question and stop being the shittiest.
"I don't know! For me love is compromise? A whole lot of I'd die for you feelings, and many cuddles on Kun's bed every morning after he combs my fur and scratches my ears and- wait. Xuxi, you're making me say corny stuff!"
Yukhei and Dejun laugh loudly at Yangyang's bafflement.
"I hate you both! I'll make Kun lecture you!"
"For what, exactly?" Yukhei challenges him, "if you tell him the only thing he's gonna do is smooch you to death"
"Shut the fuck up I'm gonna scratch your face off!" Yangyang threats, "Dejun! Just answer the fucking question so I can kill Xuxi"
"What?" Dejun says, clearly confused.
"Yeah, Dejunnie" Yukhei eggs him on. "What is love for you?"
What love is for me. Dejun takes a seat next to Yangyang as he thinks.
He uses their examples as a guide. Love. It's actually a foreign concept. He knows he loves his family to death. So he says just that.
"Okay yeah, I know I said it could be nonromantic love but right now we're talking about romantic love, so try again, Dejunnie" Yukhei supplies as he blows off the bonfire and starts searching for a bottle for the potion.
Love. Hmph. Well, love has to do with security. If you feel secure, then there's love.
Love has to do with care. If you're being taken care of then that's love.
Love has to do with understanding. If you're able to understand and are understand then that's definitely love.
Love has to do with soft hands and cute smiles too, like-
The front door of the vivarium opens, interrupting Dejun's train of thought. He recognizes Hendery's voice when he asks for him.
"Here I am!" Dejun calls back.
Yukhei asks Yangyang to help him find the bottle he's been looking for as Hendery walks in.
"Little dragon! What are you doing here? I've been searching for you for like three eons!"
Yangyang and Yukhei snicker "Stop being dramatic, Hendery. You literally messaged me asking where he was, and I told you he was here" Yangyang says and Yukhei lets out a loud exposed!!
Hendery has the decency to look sheepish, "Yeah... Nobody asked, Yangie... Anyways!" He says turning to look at Dejun. "I've got tickets for the National Museum! I know you've been wanting to go so when I finished my errands this morning, I bought them"
Dejun smiles, his legs dangling from the table, "That's sick!"
Yukhei and Yangyang snicker again.
"Hendery," Yangyang starts. "Wanna know what we were talking about?"
"Uh, yes? I always want to know stuff please tell me"
"We were talking about love!" Yukhei says excitedly. "You literally almost caught Yangyang showing signs of whippedness"
"Hey!" Yangyang says indignantly and it's Dejun and Hendery's turn to snicker.
"Whatever. The question was, what is love for you?"
Hendery blushes out of nowhere when he lets the question sink in. But he answers without missing a beat, "love is hands sweating and heart beating fast and the need of making a person the happiest because they also make you the happiest"
"Aw, that's cute, bro" Yukhei says. "Does this love have a name?"
Dejun's breath is caught in his throat. A lump in his heat being formed suddenly at the prospect of an answer.
"Stop harassing me, fuckers!" Hendery hisses, "Jun and I are leaving. Good-fucking-bye" he takes Dejun's hand in his and they start walking out of the vivarium.
So he totally evaded the question, Dejun thinks. But Hendery stops on his tracks, distracting him. "They're literally the worst"
Dejun smiles at Hendery's childish tone, his hand bravely taking Hendery's. "Not gonna lie, they are"
The Museum is amazing. It’s full of traditional Korean elements and there are rooms where one can watch videos about the place. It's big so they walk a lot, and there's an exhibition of modern paintings that interests Dejun a lot, portraits, still-life, cubism. Anything and everything all made by local artists. There's one painting specifically that calls for Dejun's attention. There are two boys holding hands in a living room, the work is called Contentment, but Dejun can't help but think of the word love.
Hendery calls him to see another one about a fiery red dragon and tells him to pose next to it, so Dejun starts doing silly poses for him.
"Stop being so ugly and strike a great pose, Jun" Hendery demands.
"I’m sorry but I can't hear you over the sound of my model-like presence"
"Your what?" Hendery says, lowering his phone.
"As you heard. Stay mad, average person"
Both explode in laughter after that, their eyes watering from it so much that they have to take a seat for a few minutes.
Dejun looks at Hendery sitting by his side, and Hendery raises his gaze and looks right back at him. "Thank you for bringing me here, Hen. I'm having a really great time" he says giving Hendery a soft smile.
Hendery stares at him in the eyes, his expression unexpectedly serious for someone with tears of laughter clinging to his eyelashes, and there’s a moment of stillness where Hendery looks like he’s lost in his thoughts, then he takes his hand, as per usual now, and promptly says, "love is that look on your face"
Dejun is as taken aback as Hendery himself, so, so taken aback that they stop holding hands. And sit in the strangest silence they have ever had.
Dejun's heart is beating so fast he feels like he could puke, his hand and face warm. What did just happen?
Hendery clears his throat. "Hm. Aren't you hungry? I'm starving, let me go get us some food" and he leaves awkwardly. Walking fast through the mass of people.
The day ends between furtive glances, some shy conversations and a whole bunch of stuttering.
It is so notorious that when they get to the house, Kun asks them if something's wrong.
Sharing a bed that night is really weird, and Dejun hates it, so he puts on his big boy pants and asks Hendery to read him a book, trying to ease the obvious tension around them.
Hendery looks surprised, but he complies quickly and starts reading Potions and curses to him, and something about the way Hendery's lips move as he enunciates each and every word correctly makes Dejun wonder how it’d feel to kiss him.
For Dejun, love is caring, understanding, is security. Love is long talks about anything and everything. Love is encouragement. Love is warm cheeks and even warmer chest. Love is soft hands that pet him and soothing smiles that lead him.
Love is pink lips and tender eyes. The smell of tangerines in the morning. Love is... Hendery?
Yes. Love is Hendery, and Hendery is… home.
The realization of his feelings toward Hendery comes to Dejun as natural as it is simple. Hendery is wonderful, full of glitters and gold. Dejun now knows that he didn't stand a chance against the hurricane of marvel that guy is.
So, the next few days after what happened are... sweet. They are filled with the prospect of hand holding and soft words muttered in the silence of their bedroom at night. Dejun is so, so sure that Hendery feels the same.
He sees it in the way Hendery touches him, careful and eagerly. In the way he looks at him when he thinks Dejun isn't looking. In the way he talks and talks to him about everything he asks or shows interest in.
Dejun tells Yangyang first, because over the entire time he has been in Korea he feels like he has bonded with Yangyang in ways he can't explain. Maybe it's his kitty charm, as everyone else calls it, but he truly thinks of Yangyang as a really close friend.
Yangyang only grins happily, a duh, as if I didn't know it already leaves his lips. Then promptly tells him to just get things done and talk it through with Hendery himself.
But Dejun doesn't feel capable of it, yet. He knows Hendery will accept him, but there's something about the situation that's as romantic as thrilling. He decides to wait.
Eventually, everyone in the house knows about his feelings except Hendery, because Yangyang can't keep his mouth closed for his life, but Dejun doesn't mind as long as his days keep being filled of him, him, him.
The day of his birthday, the boys wake him up with a tower of pancakes so high and so fluffy Dejun wonders how it hasn't topped over.
They sing happy birthday to him loudly, their voices sounding like a cacophony in the quiet air of the morning before leaving the room and Hendery and him alone.
Hendery waits patiently for him to change and eat before tackling him onto the bed in a bear hug.
Dejun laughs, his hands find Hendery's neck as he hugs him back. Hendery's face is resting on the crook of his neck, his soft breath tickling Dejun when he says, "I wish you the happiest birthday, my little dragon. I'm really happy I got to know you"
Dejun's hands move up to caress Hendery's hair as they lie there, a content grin on his face as he feels himself fall asleep again. This is good. Hendery with him is good. Being there, engulfed in a hug as some birds sing outside his window is good. Feeling this way is really, really good.
Kun is very strict about some rules of the house, so things like parties, for example, are totally forbidden. But that doesn't stop them from celebrating Dejun's birthday big time.
All of them have a common friend called Ten. Dejun doesn't know him personally but has heard a lot about him. A mischievous fairy that loves disaster and cute things.
Hendery tells Dejun that the guys and him planned a party for him after they have woken up from their nap. Ten offered his house and the drinks.
Dejun is not the type to party, mainly because back at home he's too focused on other things like his studies and his training, but he says yes immediately. He'll have time for being boring when he comes back.
The party is bigger than expected. It’s almost nine when they get to Ten’s house. It’s deep in the woods, on the outskirts of the town, not as big as Kun’s house, nor nearly as carefully decorated and outstandingly clean, but more like a mix between homely and personal. Like, Dejun doesn’t know Ten, but he can truly figure that this guy is exactly as his friends described him: chaotic and entertaining.
There’re too many people for the little space, a mix of voices and sounds and music, people dancing, people drinking, people playing games. Dejun is totally impressed because of it and because of how many of them are magical creatures.
Of course, that being in Korea for an entire month has taught him about many things, he has seen so much, known so much. Korea is so different to his home, lively and accepting and diverse, but he surely wasn’t expecting this.
Everyone congratulates him when he enters, even if no one in there knows him except for Renjun, who makes his way to the door as soon as he sees them, but all of them are truly friendly and welcoming to him, palming his back and even giving hugs. He doesn’t understand Korean, doesn’t need to since he’s living in an all Chinese household, but he so wishes he could, so he’d be able to thank them purposefully for their attention, for their warmth.
He meets demons and shapeshifters and fairies. An angel named Johnny who can actually communicate with him, even a guy who’s a ghost. There are creatures that he didn’t know that existed, like a boy called Jeno and his brother Doyoung who are something called Pterippus, whatever that is. There are even some humans and putting aside all he has said about humans back home being almost robots, these guys are great and funny and adopt him even if he can’t say anything besides annyeonghaseyo and gamsahamnida to them. It’s okay, he likes sitting on Taeyong’s lap as he drinks something Ten said was his birthday surprise, neon purple and sweet as candy.
At some point, he finds himself elated to learn that Xuxi can solve his problem of communication with a spell. “it’s literally putting subtitles to everything they say for you and everything you say for them. You can’t even imagine how helpful it was for me when I first came here” he explains before closing his eyes and snapping his fingers, making instant words appear over everyone’s heads as they speak. From there, everything starts going more and more uphill as Dejun starts slowly getting less and less sober.
Hendery finds him like that, still sitting on Taeyong’s lap as he laughs wildly at a joke Taeil said. His face is red as a tomato, his hair pushed out of his forehead by a pink headband that nobody knows where he got from.
Dejun brightens up when he notices Hendery standing in front of the couch, standing quickly to go hug him tightly, “where were you, I missed you!” he says, inhibited and gleeful.
Hendery hugs him back, his hands on his lower back, a wrinkle on his forehead as he realizes the state Dejun is in. “I’ve been looking for you, Dejunnie. What happened to you?” he asks kindly, an edge to his voice.
Dejun takes his cup from where he left it on the little table beside the couch. “Ten ge gave me this! It tastes amazing and it made feel so, so good! I’m having so much fun!” he slurs a little, his mouth feels like sandpaper and his lips kind of shaped.
Hendery takes the cup from his hand and smells it quickly, his frown deepens. “Dejunnie this is full of fairy dust. I’m gonna beat Ten up. How dares he…”
Dejun doesn’t understand the problem, too absorbed in the feeling of contentment. But he does understand how pretty Hendery looks at the moment, his midnight black hair combed nicely, his white shirt adjusting perfectly to his body. He opens his mouth to speak but nothing comes out, so he hides his face in the crook of Hendery’s neck.
The music is still nice, and the talking doesn’t really bother him, but suddenly he wishes he could be alone with Hendery. Maybe cuddling, maybe talking, maybe he could… kiss him. Hendery’s hand has moved up to caress his hair as they stand there, and he talks to Taeyong in front of them in practiced Korean. Hendery’s voice is so nice, Dejun could live his entire life listening to him. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath as a bubbly feeling starts arising from his tummy to his throat, it feels like butterflies, but it ends up being a random cackle that startles Hendery.
“What are you laughing at, darling?” he asks, a little confused.
And oh, he called Dejun darling. For some reason that makes Dejun giggle even more, the feeling from before still there. He shakes his head no, there’s no reason behind his laughter, he just feels like it. Hendery starts muttering something under his breath before he speaks up.
“Dejun” he says, trying to gently peel him from his body so he can look him in the eyes, “do you want to get out of here and go to eat? We can go downtown to that Korean buffet you like so much, or to McDonald’s if you prefer”
“Yes” Dejun says instantly, without really grasping what was asked to him. He just knows that he’ll follow whatever Hendery asks, whatever he wants.
Hendery smiles, subtle but present, his eyes kind. “Yes what, little dragon? It wasn’t just a yes or no question”
Dejun tilts his head to the side, a mouth closed smile appearing on his face and eyes crinkling. “Yes to you”
Hendery scrunches his nose in amusement, “okay then, let’s go”
Actually leaving takes more or less fifteen minutes, because they need to find Kun in order to get the keys of the car. Kun ends up being in the porch of the house, he’s very drunk and is showing an equally drunk Yangyang how he can make the apple tree in front of the house change the colors of its leaves.
Hendery tells Dejun they’re going to McDonald’s, a long ride from Ten’s house but not as long as it would’ve been if he decided to go downtown. Dejun’s mind is cloudy as ever, but he’s literally having the time of his life riding shotgun looking at Hendery drive and how the city lights shine on his profile. They’ve been in this same situation many times by now, but now it feels… different. It feels like the build up for something bigger, greater. Maybe it is, maybe it is not, either way Dejun is feeling great.
“Can we hold hands?” he blurts when Hendery stops at a red light. “Over the console, I don’t want you to stop driving, I’m having fun” he explains quickly, as if it needed to be clear for Hendery.
Hendery looks at him and giggles. “Of course. I’ll keep driving, don’t worry”
Dejun’s hand is sweaty but Hendery holds it in his on his thigh for the rest of the trip. Dejun feels like melting on his seat.
At some point, Dejun falls asleep, and he only notices when Hendery wakes him up when they get to their destination. His head is much clearer than before, but there are still traces of unaltered joy going through his body. He stays silent the short walk, trying to check himself, and is surprised as Hendery takes his hand again as they move to the door of the establishment, his ears warming up and his heartbeat picking its pace up. There’s something natural and familiar about the way their hands fit together.
Hendery orders for them both and they take a seat as they wait for their food to come. They don’t talk, silence falling over them like a blanket, it’s pleasant.
They’re eating when Dejun remembers the drink from before. It was an experience.
“Hey, Hen,” he calls, Hendery checking his phone on the table. He looks up, waiting for Dejun to continue, “what even was that drink Ten gave me? I mean, it was great and all but… it left my mind all cottony”
“It had fairy dust. It’s not bad but for non-fairies it’s like… a drug? Well, not a drug since you can remember everything and you’re still conscious, but it’s very close to it. I’m really mad at him for giving you that” Hendery explains, his voice sounding angry.
“Don’t be angry” Dejun says quickly, trying to cool him down. It wasn’t that bad. “I had a good time and Taeyong and Taeil ge were taking care of me”
That seems to be the wrong thing to say though, when Hendery suddenly looks even madder and he tightens his fist slightly over the table. “Yeah. I noticed.” He says curtly.
“Yes, I mean we were talking and-“
“But why were you on Taeyong’s hyung lap? Did you sit there by choice?” he cuts Dejun, his stare hard.
“Well there was no other seat and he offered?” Dejun says, feeling a little defensive at Hendery’s tone.
Hendery leaves his burger aside, and he leans forward. “Oh yeah?” his tone is… sarcastic and Dejun doesn’t like it.
“yeah” Dejun answers using the same tone, “why, are you jealous, Hendery?” he accuses, more out of anger than anything. But then, then Hendery looks taken aback and leans backwards rapidly. Takes his hamburger and focuses on his phone again and shuts up. And oh.
Oh. Dejun gets it quickly. Hendery was jealous.
Dejun’s chest feels warm at the revelation, he diverts his gaze to the window beside their table. The sky is black and there are no stars visible. He finishes his own burger and fries without a word and then sighs.
“You don’t have to be jealous you know,” he lets out in a whim, “they’re not you”
Hendery lifts his gaze immediately, a fry dangling off his mouth. He looks so shocked Dejun feels like taking a picture. “What-“
But Dejun doesn’t want to have this conversation in a McDonald’s at two in the morning. He’s ready for it, he wants it to happen now, wants to assure Hendery, wants to pour his heart out, but not there, not out of their intimacy, so he drinks the last of his coke, and as he makes sure that Hendery is also finished he says, “let’s go home?”
Hendery complies straight away.
The house is deserted when they get there, the others still at Ten’s and probably not coming back until well past noon.
They leave their shoes by the door and go slowly to their room. The air is tense but Dejun isn’t afraid, he knows exactly what he wants to convey, he just needs to find the words and let Hendery know it.
They dance around each other carefully, Hendery is shifting from one foot to another as Dejun takes a moment to find what he wants to say first, but then Hendery seems to overcome his awkwardness as he takes a step forward and takes Dejun’s hand in his. “I have a gift for you” he starts, “I’ve carried it with me all day, but I was too nervous to give it to you” he continues, taking a little box out of the inner pocket of his coat. “I know it’s not your birthday anymore, and I’m sorry but. Please accept it anyway?”
Dejun looks at him in the eye, suddenly embarrassed without reason. He always feels weird when receiving gifts, “Hen, you shouldn’t have, I was totally fine without-“
“No. Please take it. I really want you to have this” Hendery states thrusting the box in Dejun’s hands a little more forcefully than expected.
Dejun takes it without a word and opens it after a few seconds of doubt, Hendery’s gaze on him intently. There’s a pretty bracelet inside, it’s silver and has two gemstones attached to it, one pink and one black. Dejun is about to say how much he loves it when Hendery interrupts him.
“Those are a rose quartz and a garnet. They’re supposed to give strength and power to dragons, you know?” Hendery elucidates, Dejun catches the way his lips are trembling subtly. “But wanna know something else I found about them?”
And then, Hendery is taking another, and another step in Dejun’s direction until they’re impossibly closer. He’s not touching Dejun in any way, but Dejun feels like Hendery is all around him.
“Rose quartzes are literally called the love stones. Garnets symbolize passion” he states simply, as if his words aren’t charged with intention. As if he hasn’t just left Dejun speechless and anticipating. “You can take this as a friendly gift and focus on what I told you before” he says as he puts his hands on Dejun’s waist, “or you can take it as me telling you that you drive me crazy and that I really want to kiss the daylights out of you right now, have been wanting to do it since a while ago, in fact”
Hendery’s eyes have this look on them, a mix between sweet and something else that Dejun can’t quite recognize, his breath warm over Dejun’s mouth and his hands tender but pressing on Dejun’s waist, and Dejun feels… wild.
He feels lightheaded and his mind is a little foggy, but there’s so much want inside of him, so much longing. He longs for Hendery’s lips on his, for his hands touching him and caressing him, for his love belonging to him.
Dejun doesn’t say anything else, he just surges forward and complies to his heart’s desires. He kisses Hendery, and it’s everything he has been waiting for, everything he wanted and expected, except that even better.
Hendery lets out a little sound and he kisses him back, soft lips and careful caresses, until it turns less gentle and a lot more heated as Hendery bites Dejun’s bottom lip, his hands fondle with the skin of his hips under his shirt. And Dejun wants it. Wants it so much that it makes him eager and leaves him like putty in Hendery’s hands, so he puts his hands around his neck and doubles his efforts, trying to kiss Hendery as enthusiastically as he is being kissed.
Hendery grabs him by the back of his thighs and carries him to their bed and puts him down softly, the drapes himself all over Dejun only to keep kissing some more.
Hendery kisses his neck reverently, his cheeks, his nose and eyelids, his forehead and even leaves some kisses over his sweaty hair. Kisses his lips until they feel raw and are red as a cherry, and Dejun loves it all, loves it so much, lives for the way Hendery feels and how he is unrestrained and giving him everything he needs. There are moments when they need to catch their breaths, and Hendery uses them for saying the sweetest things on Dejun’s skin. He tells him how much he likes him when he’s kissing his collarbones, tells him how he is prettier than the stars when he is taking off his shirt, tells him how much he adores his mind as he comes back to kiss his cheek, tells him how much he desires him when he traces his mouth over the obvious hard on Dejun’s sporting under his tight jeans.
And then, Dejun doesn’t know how they end up like this, but next thing he knows Hendery is removing his pants and kissing his thighs intently. Everything is out of Dejun’s control and he can’t find the strength to do anything other than moan and whimper when Hendery leaves hickeys on the delicate skin and tells him more words of adoration, it’s the most overwhelmed he has ever been.
Dejun has kissed people, but this is something he has never done, has never gone past a chaste kiss that lasts maybe a few seconds more than necessary. This is new, this is thrilling, this is something he wants to experience, this is something that he wants Hendery to own, wants to give this first time to him.
Hendery’s mouth on his dick feels amazing. Hot and wet and so, so good. Dejun doesn’t stand a chance. He comes the quickest he has ever come in his entire life, but he can’t bring himself to feel self-conscious about it when his mind is flying and his feet and hands are literally numb from pleasure, and especially when he notices the wet patch on Hendery’s pants.
They lie there trying to catch their breaths, and Dejun is so tired. He’s sure Hendery is tired too, but there are things that he needs to say for his mind peace, so he speaks up, even though he’s still breathless, “this was… not how I expected this conversation to go. It was amazing, but unexpected” he reveals.
Hendery giggles by his side, his eyes closed and a sated smile adorning his face. He’s literally glowing. “and what did you expect, then?”
Dejun takes a few seconds to think. “I really, really like you”
“and so do I” Hendery answers wholeheartedly, moving to hug Dejun to his chest. “So much, Dejun you can’t even start to imagine”
Dejun cuddles himself against Hendery’s body that’s still fully clothed, a sharp contrast to his own fully naked body. “That’s great” he mutters quietly but surely, “because I really don’t want to let you go”
Hendery kisses the crown of his head and hugs him even tighter, “be mine, then” he states simply. “be my boyfriend, Dejunnie. Be mine”
Dejun grins, his chest warmer than ever and his heart content, beating excitedly in his chest. He lifts his head and kisses Hendery softly on the mouth, “yes, please”
By the time Kun and Yangyang come back -having left Yukhei at Renjun’s house- a little past two in the afternoon and come to check on them, they find Dejun’s dragon form all curled around Hendery, and a smile on Hendery’s face as he sleeps soundly.
The rest of the summer goes extra fast. Dejun is so, so happy. Hendery makes him so, so happy.
They spend their days going out and discussing many things, from conspiracy theories to the difference between dumplings back in China and the ones that are sold in Korea. Hendery still reads his Latin books to him, and Dejun still listens fascinated, except that now he kisses him between phrases and sometimes they end up all over each other on the bed.
Dejun learns more a more about magic thanks to Kun and Yukhei, even if he can’t practice magic, and Yangyang teaches him more cooking, and the days pass.
At some point, Dejun notices that he’ll be leaving in less than three weeks and panics thinking about his relationship, but Hendery talks about trust and commitment, talks about how it’s not forever and that they can figure it out, together. And Dejun believes him, believes in them together.
So, when the summer ends, Dejun is ready to go back home. The day before he kisses Hendery until his mouth is incapable of kissing anymore and enjoys him as much as he can before leaving, knowing that he won’t have the chance to do it again soon.
As they get to the airport, Hendery holds his hand and smiles brightly at him, even if Dejun can see some sadness behind it. There’s nothing to do about that, they know that this is not their end, but it’s impossible to feel fine when they’re separating.
Dejun’s eyes water when he’s about to definitely leave.
He hugs Kun and Yangyang, who tell him that he is welcome back whenever he wants, and then Yukhei and Renjun, who surprisingly came to wish him a safe trip, before they retreat and tell Hendery that they’ll wait in the car, so they can have some time alone.
They look at each other, and Dejun feels vulnerable and empowered at the same time just by it.
Hendery engulfs him in a hug and kisses his neck, and Dejun kisses his cheek. “We’ll see each other sooner than expected, my little dragon” Hendery murmurs from where he’s hiding, and Dejun nods silently because his throat feels clogged up.
The speakers call Dejun’s flight to board, and Hendery separates himself from him, but takes his hand as he has done an infinite amount of times throughout the summer, the situation familiar and calming. “We’re gonna be fine, Dejunnie”
Dejun looks at their hands intertwined, at the bracelet on his wrist (and he remembers the awkward search for it the day after his birthday when they lost it because they were too wrapped up in each other to notice where it landed when it fell off Dejun’s hands without him noticing), and then at Hendery’s pretty eyes that look him sadly but surely, lovingly, convincingly. And so he knows. They are going to be fine. This is just a see you later.
Dejun kisses him one last time for good luck, for his heart’s content, and he makes sure to memorize the shape of his lips, the way they feel against him one last time before actually boarding his plane, giving him a vague wave as he walks.
Hendery smiles watery, but he shouts over the noise of the airport, “love is what you mean to me! Take care, my little dragon!”
And Dejun smiles too, because even if he didn’t tell Hendery, for Dejun love is Hendery’s existence.
So, he goes, gets back to his home.
His parents fetch him at the airport, ask all kinds of questions about his summer. What did he visit, what did he eat, how were the people.
And when Dejun is finally in his own bedroom, organizing his clothes and putting the souvenirs he bought on the shelves, he receives a message from Hendery that reads I’m gonna start learning Greek for next time. These books won’t read themselves!
He truly can’t wait for his next adventure.