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Blood, Water

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Things were moving faster than Hongjoong could have ever imagined.

He went out with Seonghwa almost every night he could, sometimes even on nights he shouldn’t, meeting him after work and insisting he wasn’t tired. He got his shifts rearranged so that he’d have more free time at night. If either of them were too busy to meet they would text, almost nonstop, and when Hongjoong got the chance he’d call just to listen to Seonghwa’s calm, measured voice break into giggles when Hongjoong teased him.

He guessed he should be more careful, take things slow, but he couldn’t help it. His first kiss with Seonghwa had thrown him past the edge, and Hongjoong had nothing to hold to slow his fall.

They went out to galleries, to exhibits, to parks and plays. They went to the movies one night after Hongjoong had the closing shift at the record store. He’d been so tired he fell asleep within the first half an hour. He woke up long after the movie ended, and only because an employee had shown up to ask them to leave.

“Sorry,” mumbled Hongjoong, rubbing his face as they walked out. “You should’ve woken me up.” He’d fallen on Seonghwa’s shoulder, and Seonghwa hadn’t moved the entire time to make sure he didn’t wake up. 

“I could tell you needed the rest,” said Seonghwa. “You should’ve told me before. We could’ve rescheduled.”

“I didn’t think I’d fall asleep,” said Hongjoong with a sheepish laugh. 

Seonghwa looked at him and frowned. Hongjoong knew what was coming and braced himself for it.

“You work too much,” said Seonghwa. The usual opening line. 

“I’m fine,” said Hongjoong. The usual response. 

He expected Seonghwa to sigh or grumble like he usually did, so Hongjoong could kiss him and end the conversation, but this time he did something different. He stopped walking and took one of Hongjoong’s hands in both of his and said, very quietly, “I’m worried about you.”

He looked so sincere Hongjoong felt his heart melt like butter under sunlight. “I’m sorry, Peach,” he said. “But I’m okay, I promise.”

“Don’t push yourself too much,” said Seonghwa. 

He wasn’t in the mood for joking, and Hongjoong could tell. “I won’t,” he said. “And I’ll tell you if I’m tired or sleepy next time, okay?”

Seonghwa nodded, and raised Hongjoong’s hand to his mouth to press a kiss to the back of it. 

And Hongjoong just kept falling.

After that he stopped taking extra shifts and working overtime. He also didn’t take the extra job he thought he would. The painting Seonghwa had asked from him took up more of his time and energy than he’d expected, and he decided he didn’t have enough left over for another job. Hongjoong slowly got more comfortable with the idea of Seonghwa commissioning him. He couldn’t deny he liked the thought of Seonghwa as one of those rich nobles in Renaissance-era Europe, essentially paying Hongjoong’s entire monthly budget for one painting. When he’d first suggested the amount Hongjoong’s jaw had dropped.

“Too little?” asked Seonghwa. “I’m sorry, I’ve never done this before.”

“Are you kidding?” demanded Hongjoong. “Too little, like what the—are you for real? That’s way too much!”

“You’re an artist, Hongjoong,” said Seonghwa seriously. “I’m asking you to create something for me. Just tell me if it’s enough, or if you need more for the materials or anything else.”

“I’m not an artist,” said Hongjoong, bewildered. “I’m just a guy, I can’t accept that much.”

Seonghwa looked at him, sighed, and then yanked his beanie down to cover his eyes.

“Hey!” said Hongjoong indignantly, pulling it back up and trying to fix his hair. “What was that for?”

“For saying dumb things,” said Seonghwa. “You’re getting that much. Tell me later if you need more.”

Hongjoong protested, but Seonghwa had his way. Hongjoong had never been too fond of the rich, but he decided if anyone deserved ridiculous amounts of money, it was Seonghwa.

They explored new places together, or checked out old spots. Sometimes they didn’t want anything but each other’s company, which was how Hongjoong found himself here, in the backseat of Seonghwa’s car, legs over Seonghwa’s lap while they kissed lazily. They were supposed to go see a musical, but the tickets remained in Seonghwa’s jacket pocket, long forgotten.

Seonghwa moved down to trail kisses down his neck, and Hongjoong took the chance to pull away for a moment. “Are you okay?” he asked. 

“Hmm? I’m fine,” said Seonghwa, lips feather-light on Hongjoong’s skin.

“You seem distracted,” said Hongjoong. 

Seonghwa straightened to meet his gaze. “Why would you say that?”

In response, Hongjoong pointed at Seonghwa’s left hand, which was sitting limp on Hongjoong’s thigh instead of snaking up his shirt to feel his bare skin.

Seonghwa sighed. “I’m sorry,” he said, moving his hand up to cup Hongjoong’s cheek. “I should be focusing on you.” He leaned forward to kiss Hongjoong again.

Hongjoong leaned back. “You should be telling me what’s bothering you,” he said. “What’s up?”

He hesitated, but in the end Seonghwa gave in. “I’ve told you about Yeosang,” he said.

“The one who has a blood bond with Wooyoung,” said Hongjoong. “Yeah.”

“Yeah,” said Seonghwa, looking a little surprised. He ran a hand through his hair. “He’s been distant recently. Wooyoung mentioned it to me and I tried to talk to him about it, but he brushed me off and said it was nothing. Now he’s not only avoiding Wooyoung, but me too. He won’t even stay inside the house.”

“Maybe he’s busy with something,” said Hongjoong.

“No, I don’t think so,” said Seonghwa. “He just doesn’t want to talk to me.”

He looked troubled, more than Hongjoong had ever seen him. He took Seonghwa’s hand in his. “Did anything happen?” he asked. “Like, why did he suddenly become distant?”

“I don’t think anything happened,” said Seonghwa. He chewed his lower lip. “I don’t know. I didn’t even notice.”

“He was trying to hide it,” said Hongjoong. “You can’t feel bad about that.”

“I guess,” said Seonghwa, settling into the seat. Hongjoong took his legs off him. “He behaved so normally before I asked him about it. In front of me, anyway. Wooyoung says he’s been closed off from him for some time.”

Hongjoong thought back to when he’d talked to Wooyoung in that diner, how he’d acted when the topic of blood bonds came up. “They’re close, aren’t they?” he asked. “Wooyoung and Yeosang.”

“Very,” said Seonghwa. “They’re like brothers.”

“They’re not,” said Hongjoong without thinking. 

Seonghwa frowned. “What?”

“I mean, they’re close, but they’re not like brothers,” said Hongjoong. He felt trapped under Seonghwa’s expression and added, “Wooyoung told me.”

“When did you talk to Wooyoung?” Seonghwa was confused. “And about—Yeosang?”

“Uh, some time ago,” said Hongjoong, suddenly embarrassed. “We… just talked. Yeosang came up. Anyway, the point is, I got the feeling Wooyoung didn’t see them as brothers. Not… like that, y’know.” 

“Oh,” said Seonghwa. He fell silent, lost in thought.

Hongjoong thought things over too. He remembered San’s reaction at that, how he’d immediately brought up the possibility of Wooyoung dating Yeosang. At that Hongjoong hadn’t given it much thought, but now it seemed significant. San never got jealous. He wondered if San really was jealous of Yeosang, or disliked him, or if Yeosang had caused any problems for him. He would’ve told Hongjoong about it if he had, wouldn’t he?

Hongjoong stopped. No, San probably wouldn’t. 

“I don’t know what to do,” said Seonghwa. “I think something happened between the two of them, but I asked Wooyoung and he has no idea. He just says Yeosang’s been acting different around him.”

“You need to corner him,” said Hongjoong. “I’ve never met Yeosang but he seems like the kind of guy who won’t let go of his problems without a hard push. You need to give that push.”

Seonghwa looked uncertain. “He doesn’t want to talk to me,” he said. “It would be better if he and Woo talked it out by themselves. I feel like an outsider butting in.”

“They’re your family, Seonghwa,” said Hongjoong. “How could you be an outsider?”

“When it comes to them, everyone is an outsider,” said Seonghwa simply. “Their bond is special.”

Hongjoong wanted to ask if it had been like that for Seonghwa, if he had loved his maker in such a special way that nobody else could compare, but held himself back. Now was not the time. He didn’t think it would ever be the time.

“If Wooyoung told you, it means he wants you to help out,” he said instead. “Corner Yeosang alone first, and if that doesn’t work, corner them both together. If Yeosang won’t talk, beat him up.”

Seonghwa laughed, and it was so good to see after seeing him so worried. “That’s what you do?” he asked. “When San and Yunho argue you just knock their heads together?”

“If I could reach, sure,” said Hongjoong, making Seonghwa laugh again.

“I guess I’ll try it,” said Seonghwa. “I’ve been trying not to be too pushy, but maybe now’s the time for a push.”

“It is,” said Hongjoong. “Whatever’s bothering him, it’ll be good to just get it out. He’ll thank you for it later.”

Seonghwa smiled. “Thank you,” he said. “I think I needed to get it out too.”

He leaned forward for a kiss, and this time Hongjoong did too. After they parted Seonghwa stayed close, eyes searching Hongjoong’s face.

“What?” said Hongjoong, with a small smile. “Anything you wanna say?”

For a moment it looked like Seonghwa would, but then he shook his head and just moved for another kiss. 

Hongjoong obliged, and then changed the subject to something lighter. “Guess what’s coming soon,” he said. 

“What?” asked Seonghwa, faint smile on his face. 

Hongjoong thought of making him guess, but he was too eager to say. He beamed. “My birthday.”

The smile dropped off Seonghwa’s face. “What?” He sat up straight. “When? Why didn’t you tell me?”

He looked so frazzled Hongjoong laughed. “It’s still some days away, don’t worry,” he said. “Just giving you a head’s up.”

“How many days?” asked Seonghwa seriously. When Hongjoong laughed again, he pouted. “I’m serious, Hongjoong! I need to prepare.”

“I’ve given you lots of time,” said Hongjoong, with a mischievous smirk. “I’m not giving you the exact date too.”

Seonghwa gave him a pained look, and Hongjoong burst into laughter and kissed him until he forgot his annoyance. Seonghwa reached for him, and Hongjoong accepted the unspoken request, swinging his legs over his lap once more. This time Seonghwa did slide his hand up his shirt.

When Hongjoong finally returned home, mood lifted and lips bruised, it was almost two in the morning and he was surprised to find San awake and in the living room.

“What are you doing up?” asked Hongjoong, kicking off his shoes. He imagined Seonghwa scolding him for leaving them on the floor, and picked them up and put them in the shoe rack.

San motioned to the notebooks scattered around him. “Dying.”

“Right,” said Hongjoong. His last exam was the next day. “Make sure you don’t stay up too late.”

“I’ll try,” said San. He laughed. “I’m almost nocturnal now, like you.” 

His late night dates with Wooyoung had had that effect on him. Hongjoong hesitated, and then asked, “How are things with Wooyoung?”

“Good,” said San. He didn’t look suspicious, which meant he’d either decided Hongjoong could be trusted with precious Wooyoung updates or he was that tired from studying. “We haven’t been able to meet up for awhile because of these stupid exams. I can’t wait until I’m done and I can cuddle him again.” He sighed wistfully.

“Okay, good,” said Hongjoong. “So everything cool with you guys? With him?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” said San. “Why?”

“No reason, just asking,” said Hongjoong. Which meant either Wooyoung hadn’t told San about whatever he was going through with Yeosang, or San wasn’t telling Hongjoong. Probably the latter. As far as anyone knew, he was an outsider.

He huffed as he pulled off his scarf. He was an outsider. He was just dating Seonghwa, that didn’t make him part of their family or coven or whatever they called it—

San screeched. 

Hongjoong whirled around. “What? What’s wrong?”

San pointed right at him, eyes wide. “Your neck!”

“What? What’s wrong with my neck?” asked Hongjoong, panic spiking. He rushed to the mirror hanging on the wall opposite. When he saw his reflection he stopped dead.

His neck was a map of shades of red and purple, stretching from his collarbone almost all the way up to behind his ear. Heat exploded in Hongjoong’s face and chest. Oh, he was going to kill Seonghwa. 

“He almost ate your neck,” said San. He was bouncing with excitement. “Are you dating a goddamn werewolf?”

“Sh—shut up,” said Hongjoong, trying to act unbothered. His face was on fire. “Go study.”

But San wouldn’t go study. “Oh, my god, hyung,” he cried. “You must be getting the best d—”

“Shut up,” yelled Hongjoong, already rushing out of the room. He heard San laugh hard as he fled. 

The next morning was even worse. He walked into the kitchen, trying to look dignified and unbothered, and sat at the table to have his breakfast. Yunho very pointedly looked at everything except Hongjoong. San grinned like the devil.

“So, hyung,” he said, in that fake innocent voice he did so well, “when can we meet your boyfriend?” 

“How are you even awake?” asked Hongjoong. “You were up until at least three.” He knew, because so was he, screaming at Seonghwa over text. 

“I’m used to it,” said San, brushing the question aside like a piece of lint. “Now, back to your boyfriend…” 

“You shouldn’t be,” said Hongjoong. “You’ve got classes and work during the day, you know.”

“Why are we talking about my sleep patterns?” asked San. He leaned forward over the table. “We should be talking about your boyfriend who literally almost ate you alive—”

Yunho choked on his cereal. Hongjoong half rose to thump him on the back but Yunho waved him away, face bright red. 

Even after almost killing Yunho, San wouldn’t relent. “He must be really good with his mouth,” he said, grinning from ear to ear.

Hongjoong stood up so quick his chair skidded across the floor. “You know what? I think I’m going to finish eating in my room.”

San cackled as Hongjoong made his escape. Yunho looked like he was one second away from combusting.

Fortunately for Hongjoong, San didn’t bug him for too long. The end of his exams and freedom to be with Wooyoung was enough to distract him, which was a blessing because San could be as relentless as a bloodhound when he wanted. 

Hongjoong considered asking him about Wooyoung, not only for Seonghwa’s sake but also because he didn’t dislike Wooyoung now that he thought about it, but decided against it in the end. He wasn’t supposed to know about Yeosang and the issues he was dealing with. He hadn’t even met Yeosang. 

He only hoped Yeosang and Wooyoung worked through whatever it was that was affecting them. It weighed on Seonghwa’s mind, and Hongjoong soon found out Seonghwa’s little family was very different from his own.

“I need to pick up Mingi’s blood,” said Seonghwa, one night after Hongjoong asked him where he was going after their date.

Hongjoong blinked at him, trying to compute.

“Mingi is kind of like a newborn,” said Seonghwa. They were in his car, and he kept his eyes on the road. “He can’t feed from humans, so we have an agreement with the club and they provide blood for us.”

“Oh,” said Hongjoong, because he didn’t know what else to say. He frowned, thinking about something Seonghwa had told him a long time ago. “I thought you met him five years ago? You’re… like that for so long?”

“Mingi’s a little different,” said Seonghwa tightly. It was obvious he didn’t want to talk about it, so Hongjoong didn’t ask any more. When they reached the corner Hongjoong kissed him longer than usual, and Seonghwa gave him a glowing smile.

Seonghwa obviously loved his family very much. Hongjoong couldn’t help but feel bitter that they didn’t seem to appreciate him enough in return. How could he feel like an outsider in his own family? Hongjoong didn’t give a damn about blood bonds if all they did was make Seonghwa unhappy.

Seonghwa deserved to be told by someone every day that he was precious and appreciated. Hongjoong found he was more than willing to be that person. 

And he kept falling.

One night they made plans to go somewhere different. Hongjoong wanted Seonghwa to let go for a night and forget everything else, and he needed a break too from all the work. Seonghwa jumped at the chance to take him to a club.

“I want to see you dance,” he said, and there was a desire in his dark eyes Hongjoong had never seen before.

The memory of that look was what made him pull out his tight dark jeans, the pair that had a slit cut in high on the thigh. Hongjoong gave himself a temporary tattoo right where his skin was exposed, grinning wildly as he imagined Seonghwa’s reaction. 

It was a little too cold for the sweater he picked, but sacrifices had to be made. It was black, with faint patterns of aurora green and purple, and when he raised his arms even slightly it rode up to reveal his bare middle. He styled his hair back like a white lion’s mane, put on some heavier makeup than usual. 

Hongjoong stepped back from the mirror, satisfied, until he glanced at the clock and saw he was already late. 

Yunho was in the living room as Hongjoong dashed out. San was out, thankfully, and Yunho only stared as Hongjoong hunted for shoes. 

“Uh,” he said finally. “So… when will you be home?” 

“I’ll call you,” said Hongjoong. He grinned at Yunho, saw his eyes go wide in bewilderment, and then laughed and left.

It was cold outside. Hongjoong tried to pretend like he wasn’t freezing his ass off. If Seonghwa noticed he’d nag at him to put on something warmer, and Hongjoong was not doing that. He saw the shiny black car parked as he approached the corner, a tall, lean figure leaning against it. Seonghwa was waiting for him.

“You’re late,” Seonghwa called out as he got closer. 

“I was getting ready,” said Hongjoong. 

Seonghwa smiled, a sharp contrast to his appearance. The black shirt he wore was so thin it was nearly transparent. Hongjoong could see every line and curve of his chest underneath, and he forced his gaze away. Seonghwa’s hair was parted on one side, ends of his bangs curling down to touch the edge of his eyes all lined with black. He was wearing a lace choker. It was red and black, sitting pretty against his neck, and Hongjoong was sure whatever neurons he’d had left in his brain all shut down. 

“You look good,” said Seonghwa. 

His voice snapped Hongjoong back to the present. “Thanks,” he said, twisting the ends of his hair. “You too.”

Seonghwa looked like he didn’t even hear. His eyes flicked down to Hongjoong’s waist, where the hem of his sweater had ridden up. 

He reached out, and Hongjoong laughed and grabbed his hand. “Come on,” he said. “I thought we were late?”

Seonghwa narrowed his eyes at him, and Hongjoong grinned in reply. They got into the car and set off.

During the entire drive Seonghwa glanced over at Hongjoong, eyes flicking from the road to Hongjoong’s face, or his waist, or his thighs. Hongjoong loved it. As far as he was concerned, Seonghwa deserved it for wearing that shirt. 

“You’re gonna crash the car and kill us,” said Hongjoong casually, and for extra impact he stretched his arms over his head as he said it.

“We won’t die,” said Seonghwa, trying very hard to focus on driving. 

Hongjoong hummed, not even bothering to hide the grin on his face. He picked at the rip in his jeans.

“Is that temporary?” asked Seonghwa, with the smallest motion towards his thigh.

“Drew it on tonight,” said Hongjoong.

“Ah.” Seonghwa’s eyes were still on the road ahead. “So if I put my mouth to it, it’d come off?”

Hongjoong choked on air. He saw the smirk on Seonghwa’s face and glared at him, pretending he wasn’t burning up with embarrassment. 

The club Seonghwa drove them to was nothing like the posh vibes he’d given off the first time Hongjoong had talked to him in that park. It was a lot like the vampire den where they’d first met, but in a busier, more vibrant part of the city, where people drank and danced and had fun even on weeknights. Upbeat music and red light spilled out of the front of the club. Hongjoong had never been here before, but he decided he liked it. 

Seonghwa took Hongjoong by the hand and led him forward, but just before they entered he pulled Hongjoong to the side and kissed him sweetly. Hongjoong slid a hand in his perfect hair and brought him closer, parting his lips for him, taking his tongue into his mouth. He kissed him until he needed to breathe, and then he broke away, panting. 

“Do humans get high off this?” asked Hongjoong.

“Off what?” Seonghwa’s eyes were hooded as he looked down at him. 

Hongjoong kissed him again, long and deep. “This,” he said, between heavy breaths. 

“I don’t think so,” murmured Seonghwa. 

Hongjoong hummed, watched one corner of Seonghwa’s lips rise in a half smile. Then he took Seonghwa’s hand in his again and entered the club with him.

Inside, it was warm and filled with people. Fewer than the packed heat of the vampire den, but more than Hongjoong had expected on a Wednesday night. Seonghwa navigated past bodies with ease, guiding Hongjoong to the bar. He ordered drinks for both of them. Hongjoong’s was sweet and fruity, with barely any kick in it. Good. He didn’t want to get drunk tonight. 

He tugged impatiently at Seonghwa’s tissue-thin sleeve once he’d knocked down his strawberry pink drink. Seonghwa smiled, more a smirk than anything else, and finished his own before following Hongjoong out to dance.

The beat was good and fast, and Hongjoong was still high from Seonghwa’s mouth on his. He lost himself to the music, letting it move his body. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d done this, allowed himself to let go of everything and just dance. It was freeing. 

He was brought back to the present by the weight of Seonghwa’s gaze on him. Hongjoong smiled at him, watched his tongue flick out to lick his lower lip. There were no other thoughts in Hongjoong’s mind as he slid his body against his and raised his head to kiss him.

Seonghwa tasted good, like the drink he’d had in his mouth just ten minutes ago, mint and orange and lime. His hands were at Hongjoong’s hips, gripping firmly as he worked his tongue inside his mouth, tasting every bit of him he could reach. It was a slow, long kiss, like he was trying to savor the taste of him, and Hongjoong kissed back the same, wanting it to never end. He pulled away, just a moment, just to gasp a breath, and then he was back where he belonged, his mouth attached to Seonghwa’s, his hands tangling in his hair.

Someone bumped into Hongjoong from behind, pushing him forward, and Seonghwa’s hand went from his hips to encircle his waist. He broke the kiss, but stayed close, close enough for Hongjoong to be able to count his lashes. “It’s crowded,” murmured Seonghwa. “Wanna get out of here?”

Hongjoong did.

The outside air was icy against Hongjoong’s skin. In comparison Seonghwa’s hand, on Hongjoong’s back under his thin sweater, was much warmer. His lips were warm too, probably from Hongjoong’s own. The thought was exhilarating. 

“You’re fucking gorgeous, you know that?” Seonghwa said against his lips.

Hongjoong gasped in faux outrage. “You swore.”

“Hmm?” Seonghwa was preoccupied, leaving lingering kisses at the corner of Hongjoong’s mouth.

“You said fucking,” said Hongjoong, grinning.

Seonghwa pulled away and gave him a look. “That’s not a swear.”

His response was so unexpected Hongjoong burst into laughter. Seonghwa smiled, and was about to move closer when he stopped abruptly. 

He pulled his phone out of his pocket—Hongjoong had no idea how it even fit in there, Seonghwa’s pants were so tight they might have been painted on—looked at the screen, and sighed. “Sorry, I need to take this,” he said.

He still waited until Hongjoong shrugged and said it was okay, and then Seonghwa picked up. He didn’t wander away to talk, instead keeping his arm around Hongjoong, fingers dancing across his skin. 

Hongjoong tuned out the words, uninterested. Seonghwa was probably dealing with rich people things. The conversation went on and on, and Hongjoong found himself getting bored. They’d been doing something very important before being interrupted. His eyes fell on the ruby red stud in Seonghwa’s ear. 

Hongjoong closed his teeth around his earlobe and yanked.

Seonghwa yelped. Hongjoong laughed gleefully, expecting him to push him away or at the least shoot him a look. Instead, Seonghwa entwined his fingers in Hongjoong’s hair and very firmly directed his mouth to his neck.

Hongjoong froze, taken aback by his boldness. Before he could react, Seonghwa sighed and lowered the phone from his ear. 

“I’m really sorry,” he said. “I need to go.”

“What?” Hongjoong’s face fell. “Go where?”

“I need to handle some stuff at the club,” said Seonghwa. He saw the look on Hongjoong’s face and continued, “The club where we get the blood for Mingi from. They have records and paperwork and all sorts of things.” He sighed again. “I need to talk to one of the owners, and he won’t be there after midnight. I’m really sorry, Hongjoong.”

“You really need to go?” asked Hongjoong, not moving away. 

Seonghwa nodded, mouth pulled down into a frown.

“Will it take a long time?” asked Hongjoong. He ran a hand through his hair. “Then, y’know, maybe I could go with you, and afterwards we could go somewhere else…?” 

For a moment Seonghwa just stared at him. And then he nodded quickly. 

They got back in Seonghwa’s car. He knew the way, and in a few minutes Hongjoong found himself in front of that dark, busy vampire den he hadn’t been to in so long. 

“Do you want to wait outside?” asked Seonghwa. 

“No, I’m not scared,” said Hongjoong, with a cheeky grin. Seonghwa smiled at that.

They entered the crush of people inside. Seonghwa kept a hand on Hongjoong’s back as they made their way to the back of the room and to that dimly lit hallway lined with doors he’d thought he’d never see again. Somehow Seonghwa knew which ones were occupied, because he opened the third one on the right and ushered Hongjoong inside.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” he said. 

Hongjoong nodded, and Seonghwa kissed his lips one last time before disappearing into the hallway.

This room was identical to the ones Hongjoong had been in before, and he sat down on the long seat attached to the wall. The last time he’d come had been when he’d tried to return the silver charm to Seonghwa. He chuckled as he remembered how that had turned out. 

The door clicked open, and Hongjoong straightened, smiling. “That was quick—” 

He stopped dead. It wasn’t Seonghwa. 

It was a young man. Not tall, but taller than Hongjoong, with hair that looked black in the dimly lit room. He was quite handsome, with large eyes and lips that curled upwards. Hongjoong had only seen that face once before, but he wouldn’t forget it.

It was him. The vampire that had attacked Hongjoong. 

He got to his feet, filled with a feeling he couldn’t describe. Outrage, maybe, that the vampire had come back to try him again, and anger. A lot of anger. Hongjoong had no idea how well he’d fare in a fight against a vampire but fuck it he was willing to try. 

And then he saw the look on the vampire’s face, and stopped. 

He was smiling.

“Shit, you’re actually here,” he said, voice high in excitement, as he entered the room and closed the door behind him. “Sooyoung-noona said she saw hyung come in with a guy but I didn’t think he’d really bring you here.”

Hongjoong fell back in doubt. Hyung?

“Right, sorry, I didn’t introduce myself,” said the vampire. He rubbed his hands together and held one out. “I’m Jongho.”

The words didn’t process in Hongjoong’s mind. He looked down at the offered hand, and then back up at the vampire.

“Jongho,” repeated the vampire. For a split second he looked nervous, and then it was gone. “I’m—I live with Seonghwa.”

Hongjoong stood like a statue. Jongho. Seonghwa’s Jongho. The boy he loved so much. The boy he used to watch for comets with, who helped him take care of his plants and balance books and keep the household running. The boy that, whenever Seonghwa talked about him he would glow with a kind of pride and adoration. 

Seonghwa’s Jongho. 

The vampire who had attacked him. 

“Do you know who I am?” asked Hongjoong quietly.

“Yeah, you’re Seonghwa-hyung’s boyfriend,” said Jongho, still smiling. 

He didn’t recognize Hongjoong. Of course, it had been one night so many nights ago, and Hongjoong’s hair had been red then instead of silver. 

He didn’t know what to say. Jongho was still standing in front of him, smiling like he was innocent. He looked like just a regular man, except he wasn’t, he was the vampire that had forced Hongjoong down and sunk his fangs into his throat. 

A click cut through the silence. Hongjoong turned to the door and locked gazes with Seonghwa.

Time stopped. Seonghwa stood frozen in the doorway, eyes wide. Hongjoong didn’t look away. He had no idea what Seonghwa saw in his eyes, but it had frozen him still, while Hongjoong stared back at him with no hesitation.

And then Seonghwa said, “Hongjoong, I can explain,” and the spell broke.

“Don’t bother,” spat Hongjoong. He pushed past a stunned Jongho and out the door. Seonghwa didn’t try to grab him, which was good. Hongjoong didn’t know what he’d have done if Seonghwa had grabbed him. 

Instead he followed him, down the hallway, into the crowd in the main area. Hongjoong roughly shoved people aside without a care. He needed to get out. He needed to never see Seonghwa’s face again. 

The air was cold outside, and Hongjoong inhaled deeply, wishing it would wash out everything in him. He started walking down the street, not caring which way he was going.

“Hongjoong, please,” said Seonghwa, following him. “Will you listen to me?”

Hongjoong whirled around. “Listen to you? Why the fuck should I?” he demanded. “Did you ever think about telling me?”

“I was going to,” said Seonghwa desperately. “I swear, I was, I just—I thought—”

“You thought what?” said Hongjoong. He balled his hands into fists, fighting the urge to push Seonghwa, get him out of his face. “You knew this entire time and you didn’t tell me. What the fuck were you thinking?”

“I promise I would’ve told you,” said Seonghwa, and he looked so upset. “I thought, later, when I could explain…” 

“I’m here now,” said Hongjoong, raising his arms. “Explain.”

Seonghwa chewed his lip. “He didn’t know…” 

“I don’t fucking care,” spat Hongjoong. “Explain why you lied to me all this time. You knew all this time. All those times you talked about how golden your brother was, you never mentioned he was the one who fucking bit me?” He laughed a bitter, mirthless laugh. “Though I guess I was the idiot, huh? I didn’t even think about how you could have found me the first time, my knight in shining armor.”

Seonghwa’s face twisted in hurt. “Hongjoong.”

“Whatever you have to say, I don’t wanna hear it,” said Hongjoong. “Goodbye, Seonghwa. Don’t talk to me again.”

He turned before he could be swayed by the pain on Seonghwa’s face and stalked down the street. This time, Seonghwa didn’t follow him.