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Muse: Book 1 [Song of the Beginning]

Chapter Text

What do you desire?

 

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Money and wealth?

 

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Honor and pride?

 

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Authority and power?

 

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Revenge?

 

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Or…

 

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Something that transcends all these?

 

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Whatever you desire

 

I̶s̶ ̶h̶e̶r̶e̶

 

Shall I grant it to you?

 

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The beloved child of the Tower

 

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Who bears both a curse and a blessing

 

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Fate...?

 

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"That doesn't mean a thing in my presence."

 

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The will of the Tower itself

 

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A new King candidate

 

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"Become the King, and everything shall be yours."

 

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The rightful Crown of the King

 

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"If you wish it to be… then I'll alter the course of Fate itself, my King."


Back in the olden days at an unknown location in the Tower, a lone woman was walking. Her hair a shade of light lavender, amaranthine eyes burning with vengeance that'll be passed down through the history of time. Despite how she's been walking on for an eternity, body battered and bruised while her mind gone from rage and sorrow.

"I'll bring this all to an end, Jahad… No matter what it costs."

¸¸♬·¯·♩¸¸♪·¯·♫¸¸¸♬·¯·♩¸¸♪·¯·♫¸¸


In the past not far from the beginning of their climb, another girl with the same light lavender huddled at a dark corner while curling into herself. The white dress she was wearing was stained with fresh blood, a few signs that it was stabbed with a knife of some sort, though the girl herself had no more wounds as of now. Her eyes were those of blue-violet, seemingly dead to all without any kind of shine in it. The ghosting whispers ate away at her consciousness even if she tried to block it out. Tears were cascading down, though the girl didn't seem to realize it in the slightest bit. She didn't have the power to change fate. She just wanted all of it to be over and rest peacefully.

She wouldn't have guessed how her encounter with a certain brunette would change her drastically nor the adventure that awaited her in the future. The string of new meetings that would come right after along with a particular bluenette and newfound feelings as she faced the upcoming challenges and the remnants of her past. A duty and promise she needed to fulfill.

"Your name… will be Evolet. Evolet Euterpe."

 

"Evolet…?"

 

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Now, climb to the top. I'll be waiting, my Eve.

Chapter Text

Name: Evolet Euterpe

Nickname: Eve

Position: Wave Controller (support type), Anima

Birthday: 24th February

Age: Unknown

Gender: Female

Height: 165

Weight: Classified :p (she’s light though)

Body Type/Build: Ectomorph

Hair Color: Lavender shade (like det :3)

Lavender shade flower (but not lavender)

Hair Type/Style: Straight, luxuriant, sleek, mid-thigh length (:v... but with the color from the flower before, I'm sorry, I can't draw)

Imagine it with the lavender shade color pic :v

Eye Color: Blue-violet

Race: Human (?)

Birthplace: Unknown (for the moment :D)

Traits: Self-sacrificing (she’d rather be the one who gets hurt rather than her friends), random hugs giver, kind of innocent, dense when it comes to romance (she won’t notice anything unless you say it straight to her face), gentle, extreme blood-lust when angered

Strengths: Loyal, careful, kind, determined, intuitive, defense-focused

Weaknesses: Overprotective (at times), kind of low self-esteem (not really prominent but there’s some moments)

Bad Habits: Overeating sweets, hiding pain and secrets

Fears: Ghosts, losing the people she cherishes, unable to protect

Talents: Cooking, baking, singing, dancing, a way with animals, high pain resistance

Likes: Sweets, her friends, animals, flowers, nature, hugs, head-pats, patting heads 

Dislikes: Rachel; anyone who hurts her friends; sour, spicy, and bitter food/drinks; lies; the cold

Favorite Color(s): Black, white, gold, purple, blue

Favorite Food(s): Sweets :3

Favorite Drink(s): Hot chocolate, lavender tea

Favorite Quote(s):

“Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love” – Morihei Ueshiba

“For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, self-sacrifice – no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the real gold of service” – John Burroughs

As for her clothes in Book 1:

:v different shoes

(Different shoes, the shoes are this one)

Chapter Text

It was another lonely day in the cave. Bam was sitting silently, waiting for Rachel to come visit him again. But who knows when she will visit again. Her visits have steadily decreased over time. And so Bam was left to just stare at the nothingness while waiting for her. Or at least that was what’s supposed to happen today. But it appears fate had a change of mind when a voice rang out in the silent cave.

“Hello…? Is anyone in there?”

Bam snapped his head up, reacting toward the source of the sound which was the entrance of the cave. “Is it Rachel?” he thought. He was quickly proven wrong as something… scratch that, it’s someone who fell down with a scream. He went over to check on it and found a girl that roughly looked the same age as him with lavender shade hair dressed in all white from head to toe. Her eyes were closed in pain and she was whimpering, softly rubbing her head as if to get rid of the pain. Bam just stared at her as she did that. But when she opened her eyes and spoke… Bam was lost, captivated. Her eyes had the color of blue-violet and it was so reflective that Bam could see his own reflection down to the detail as he stared into it and felt as if he was seeing himself for what he truly is, baring all the secrets he could ever possibly have. And her voice was smooth with a hint of kindness and worry as she asked Bam “Who are you? Why are you here alone? Are you hurt anywhere?”

When Bam didn’t answer and just continued staring at her, albeit with curiosity now; the girl started to panic. She got up and immediately circled Bam, scanning for any possible injuries. When she found none, she sighed in relief and crouched in front of the sitting Bam, looking at him with kindness in her eyes as she softly asked who he was once again. This time, she was rewarded with an answer as Bam meekly answered “I’m the 25th Bam… Who are you?”

The girl let out a serene smile as her blue-violet eyes met with golden ones and answered “My name is Evolet. Evolet Euterpe. But you can call me Eve. It’s a pleasure to meet you Bam.”

Bam radiated awe as they both stared into each other’s eyes. The silence was broken as Evolet asked “What… are you doing in this lonely place alone Bam?”

“I’m waiting for Rachel…"

“She must be important to you if you’re saying her name with such emotion.”

Bam perked up hearing that and nodded his head excitedly, eyes glimmering when he did so. Evolet chuckled at the sight, a melody to Bam’s ears despite not knowing why.

“Then, would you be my friend too Bam?”

Needless to say, that was the happiest Bam’s been all day long. Contrary to Rachel, Evolet visited Bam on a near-daily basis; only missing whenever Rachel visits instead. Whenever Evolet visits, she always brings homemade food and other things with her. Bam’s world had expanded when he met Evolet. She taught her about many things, books, legends, games, common sense, survival tips, and everything that was basic to others. She even brought him clothes weekly and cut his hair. And while Rachel was puzzled at the new additions and changes in the cave, she never cared enough to ask. Once, Bam had asked Evolet if she knew about the stars. Evolet only gave a melancholic smile before she proceeded to tell Bam about the legend of the Tower and what’s on top of the Tower.

“Oh… Do you want to go up the Tower, Eve?” Bam asked curiously

He got a slight shake of her head and a chuckle as an answer. “Why? You don’t want anything Eve?”

She got up from her spot in front of Bam and went to sit behind him before she took him in her arms, hugging him tenderly from behind. Silence filled the cave for a while before she answered “You’re more than enough Bam. I don’t need anything from the Tower. And… Never mind. Can we just stay like this for a while…?”

Sensing that she wouldn’t give any more answers than that, Bam just put his hands on top of hers and stayed silent. After a while, Evolet finally let go of him; not knowing how Bam wished they had stayed like that for a while more. Evolet had seemed so far away at the time that Bam unconsciously gripped the sleeves of her dress as she was about to leave. It was only a simple sentence, muttered softly in the dark. But it did its job well, making Evolet hesitant to leave Bam.

“Don’t leave Eve…”

Evolet made the mistake of turning around, and by the time she saw Bam’s full force puppy eyes. It didn’t even take 3 seconds for Evolet to admit defeat. In the end, she sighed exasperatedly and sat against a wall. Bam looked at her quizzically. Nothing mattered anymore once Evolet started to sing though.

Loo-li, loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay
Loo-li, loo-li, loo-li lai-lay
Lay down your head and I'll sing you a lullaby

Evolet patted her lap, motioning for Bam to come and lay down his head. Bam happily complied. Evolet let out a smile as she covered Bam with a blanket she had brought a while back.

Back to the years of loo-li lai-lay
And I'll sing you to sleep and I'll sing you tomorrow

As Evolet kept running her hands through Bam’s fluffy hair, he felt like he was drifting and peaceful… safe.

Bless you with love for the road that you go
May you sail far to the far fields of fortune
With diamonds and pearls at your head and your feet
And may you need never to banish misfortune
May you find kindness in all that you meet
 
As Bam was steadily becoming drowsier, he didn't even seem to register that an aurora had appeared inside the cave, its light illuminating the dark cave gently.

May there always be angels to watch over you
To guide you each step of the way
To guard you and keep you safe from all harm
Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay
May you bring love and may you bring happiness
Be loved in return to the end of your days
Now fall off to sleep, I'm not meaning to keep you

No one noticed how Evolet was adorning a melancholic regretful look on her face.

I'll just sit for a while and sing loo-li, lai-lay
May there always be angels to watch over you
To guide you each step of the way
To guard you and keep you safe from all harm
Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay, loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay
Loo-li, loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay
Loo-li, loo-li, loo-li lai-lay
Loo-li, loo-li, loo-li lai-lay
Loo-li, loo-li, loo-li lai-lay
Loo-li, lai-lay

Evolet was staring at Bam with a tender gaze, yet a hidden remorsefulness was present in her gaze. She truly didn’t want to leave. But she knew it was going to happen soon. That girl… Rachel was going to the Tower and she was planning to leave Bam. Bam will chase her and Evolet would undoubtedly follow Bam. But if she goes into the Tower, that person will be aware of her presence. She won’t be able to stay by Bam’s side. It was bound to happen sooner or later. The promise would have to be fulfilled, the cost being she had to leave the side of the boy she’s grown extremely fond of. She leaned down a bit to touch Bam’s forehead with hers.
 
“Sweet dreams Bam. I’ll still be here tomorrow. I’ll stay for as long as I can before the inevitable happens…”

Chapter Text

“Wait Rachel! There’s still someone I want you to meet!” Bam had screamed out those words desperately, but to no avail with Rachel vanishing into the Tower now. He was gasping for breath now, on the edge of having a panic attack if it wasn’t for Evolet suddenly calling out his name from afar. Bam tried to focus on Evolet’s rapidly approaching figure. Evolet was now gripping his shoulders, saying something over and over again. What is she saying…? Oh right, breathe.

“Breathe Bam, breathe. Slowly, take deep breaths. Focus on my voice Bam. Okay? You’re fine. You’ll be fine. Listen to the numbers and breathe. One, I’m still here. Two, you don’t need to worry. Three, it’s okay. Four…” and it continued until Bam’s breathing eventually evened out. Bam was leaning on Evolet’s shoulder, calming himself down, breathing in the soothing lavender aroma that Evolet always seems to emit. Still positioned like that, Evolet started speaking; “Bam… You’re going to chase Rachel aren’t you?”

Bam only nodded into her shoulder and hugged her. Already expecting the answer, Evolet sighed and started explaining about the Tower. “Bam, I’m going to briefly explain about the Tower, and then we’ll also go in okay?”

Bam listened attentively as Evolet explained the floors, tests, sections, shinsu, administrators, and regulars. She also mentioned the irregulars but didn’t go into a detailed explanation about it. He was warned of what may occur in the Tower as they climb up. The Tower was a complicated existence that many people seek out. Their only goal to reach the top, a place where any wish can be granted. There are rules that must be followed and trials that must be conquered for anyone hoping to attain their greatest desires. The Tower is a cruel place where you mustn’t hesitate to hurt people, lest you’ll be hurt yourself. Where betrayal is normal, to kill or to be killed. He can’t believe what she had told him. Rachel had told him that betrayal is something that he should never do, especially to girls. Was the Tower really a place of such? She tells him not to worry and trust her, that she’ll protect him no matter what happens. The door to the Tower opened once more for them. As the blinding light surrounds them, he asks what is her wish. He tried to read her lips, to catch what she said as the door pulled them in and their consciousness faded away.

“What I want is—”

to stay by your side.


When Evolet opened her eyes, she was greeted by the sight of Headon. Deciding to ignore the humanoid rabbit in front of her for a moment, she opted to look around for Bam. Thankfully Bam wasn’t far from her although he was still unconscious. Evolet let out a sigh in relief and shook Bam lightly to wake him up. Bam slightly groaned before he fluttered his eyes open. Seeing the sight of Evolet’s smiling face upon waking up, he blushed before immediately sitting up. Now that Bam’s woken up, Evolet switched her attention to Headon who was waiting patiently. With Evolet’s attention on him, Headon started speaking.

“It’s been a while since a visitor has opened the gate by themselves. Not to mention two together… Welcome to the tower young man and… young lady. My name is Headon. I’m the guardian of the first floor of the Tower. What are your names, young man and young lady?” Headon asked while twirling his staff.

Evolet had answered first since she saw Bam was still processing the newfound information “It’s nice to meet you Headon-san. My name is Evolet, Evolet Euterpe. Though in all honesty, I doubt you don’t know my name…”

Headon only gave a hum in response to her “And what about you young man?”

Bam finally snapped out of it and introduced himself “My name is… “the 25th Bam.” It’s the day I was born.”

Headon pondered over the introduction “What a difficult name to say. Well then, I will call you Bam, boy. And I will call the young lady over there Evolet. So, how did you two end up here?”

When Headon had said that, Bam finally remembered why in the first place he came here “OH…!! I followed a girl here! Didn’t a girl with blonde hair go past here?!” he asked, half shouting.

Evolet tuned out the rest of the conversation, already knowing where this is going. Instead, she turned her back to Bam and tested her shinsu a bit in preparation for the upcoming test. Seeing the shinsu floating calmly around her hands, she nodded assuredly before turning back to Bam after being called by Headon for the test. Bam looked into Evolet’s eyes, worry apparent in his. Evolet only let out a soft grin before she took Bam’s hand and followed Headon.

“Look. This is the test of the first floor.” Headon tapped the wall behind him with his rod. The wall dispersed, revealing the cage containing white armored eel, surrounded by shinsu. The white armored eel was looming in the cage with a menacing aura. Headon revealed that the name of the test was “The Ball”.

Bam looked confused “What… What is the ball? And… What is that huge monster?!”

“The “Ball” is a simple test. The “Ball” is that round human-sized sphere. It is designed to pop when hit hard enough. To pass the test, the rules are simple. You need to go inside the bars and pop that ball. Do that, and you pass the test.”

“Could it be… That the monster… Is that thing over there?!”

“Correct! That’s the monster. He is a “White Armored Eel”. He is a big fish that lives in the shinsu flowing through the tower. Usually, he has a very mild temperament… But this time of the year is his spawning season, and he hasn’t eaten anything for a few months… So he is very aggressive at the moment. Are you afraid of him…?”

Bam stayed silent for a moment and Headon had thought that he was indeed scared of the white armored eel. As if smirking with his non-existent mouth, Headon continued “Too bad. If you are afraid of that fish, how can you pass the test? How can you go on? If you’re afraid, you’ll never find the girl you’re looking for.”

That shook Bam out of his silent thoughts. Evolet was only watching from the sideline, not uttering a word. She knew Headon was testing Bam. Bam needed to show that he has the will to climb the tower at any price, like they all did. “A girl alone in this tower… It sure makes me worry. Maybe she’s already been eaten by a hungry eel… or been kidnapped by bad people… But Mr. Bam, Ms. Evolet, think calmly.”

‘Oh, now you include me to the conversation’, she thought .

“It is almost impossible for you to pop that ball. Taking this test is suicidal.”

At this point, anything that Headon is saying won’t get through Bam. One look is enough. Evolet could clearly see the apparent determination on Bam’s face. She could only let out a soft smile.

I’ll help you. I’ll stay as long as I can. I’ll give you all of my strength. Whatever it is you’ve decided, I’ll follow all the way through.

“The eel is very fast and agile in the shinsu, and you won’t be fast enough to escape. You will end up as eel food. Rather than committing suicide-”

Bam threw a look at Evolet’s way and with one look he understands. She’s prepared for this, long before he did. That warm gaze Evolet gave was a method of letting him know that she’ll follow him. And so without even waiting for Headon to finish, Bam started running. It took Headon by surprise for a moment. But he snickered, more so seeing Evolet following close behind him.

‘The boy doesn’t know who she is. The monster had come to the tower, bringing the promised one with him without a clue of what’s going to happen.’ Headon thought.

“Welcome to the Tower, Mr. Bam. And welcome back, Ms. Evolet.”

The cool scenario was cut off by a shout and a foot to Bam’s face… And that just registered to Evolet’s mind.

“Bam!!?”

Evolet rushed to check Bam and saw that there was a footprint on his face as he lay dazedly there. Sighing, she drew some shinsu and enveloped the palms of her hands with it before covering Bam’s face. In a few moments, Bam’s face was void of any footprint. With that taken care of, Evolet diverted her attention to the person who kicked Bam. They stared at each other, eyes full of curiosity. As Evolet blinked, the staring match broke and the raven-haired woman started speaking.

Evolet and Bam stayed silent, not really knowing what to answer to the woman who hasn’t even introduced herself and was speaking in a language they don’t know.

Evolet tried to ask who she was, but it didn’t seem like the woman could understand her. But that had proven the woman’s suspicion as she turned to Headon. “Hey, Headon, don’t tell me you didn’t even give them their pockets yet.”

“Oh! Come to think of it, I forgot to give them their pockets.”

“You forgot? You’re the oldest guardian in the tower, aren’t you? I think it was on purpose.”

“No way. I too, make mistakes sometimes.”

Amidst the dark look the woman was giving out and Headon’s nonchalant answers, Evolet and Bam were just sitting and seeing things unfold without even understanding what was happening. It appears the woman had called someone since a silver-haired man who was… quite short jumped and landed near her. The man offered two spheres to Bam and Evolet, urging them to touch it. Now that the language barrier was out of the way with the help of the pockets, Bam and Evolet could finally understand what the people were saying. Introductions were made along with the pocket’s invisible mode and some thank you’s.

Yuri obviously had doubts about whether Bam and Evolet could pass the test or not, considering that this test is more suited for the 20th floor or above. But she didn’t notice how neither Bam nor Evolet asked what irregulars were. She just kept pointing out how weak Bam looked like. And now she was pointing at Evolet, about to say the same things about her. But when she saw Evolet’s eyes, not even bothering the sadness behind them, she hesitated. Evolet’s head drooped further down, relenting herself to hear what Yuri had to say. That did the job, Yuri couldn’t bear the guilt.

“Ugh… She-sh-she… Argh, nevermind”

Hearing how Yuri stopped, Evolet perked up and went to hug Yuri. Yuri sighed in defeat and patted Evolet’s head, not minding Evan’s deadpan look. Headon had also relented with all the stuff that Yuri spoke and agreed to change the rules a bit so that Yuri could lend them the Black March. Yuri was clearly hesitant since there would be consequences if the news that she lent it got out. But after asking for Bam’s and Evolet’s names, she decided to give Black March to Bam with his show of determination. Now Yuri was looking at Evolet who was standing near Bam, silently asking about her. She got a smile in return along with an answer “I’ll be fine Yuri-san. Thank you for lending your weapon to Bam. I won’t be needing a weapon.”

Bam nodded and also said “Thank you, Yuri-san. I promise to give this back.”

Evan’s outrageous shouts were ignored in the background. As Bam and Evolet were walking towards the cage, Evolet asked Bam “Bam, do you trust me?”

Bam’s smile was still as bright as the sun. “With my life Eve!”

Evolet’s smile was no less than that in its own way though. While her smile might not be as bright as the sun, it still gives you a soft and calming presence like the moonlight. “Then, can you close your eyes and cover your ears as soon as we go in the cage? And no opening it until I help you with it.”

The confusion was evident in Bam's expression. But regardless of that, he nodded his head and trusted her. Without caring about the white armored eel at a distance in front of him, he did what she told her to do.


Evolet’s POV

As Bam did what I told, Yuri shouted relentlessly outside the cage, and Evan was donning a face of disbelief. I just flashed them a smile and mouthed an “It’s okay” before I stepped in front of Bam and looked at the white armored eel. I don’t need to say anything. I put my arms out, gesturing for the white armored eel to come to me. At first, he didn’t move, but eventually, he swam slowly and headed towards me. When it stopped in front of me, I patted his head gently to assure that I don’t mean any harm. As I sensed his malice and tension fading away, I put my forehead on his and closed my eyes. The Shinsu around us weaving themselves into invisible strings, bounding the contract.

Under the name of the contract, I shall name thee. Thy name is Amos.


3rd Person POV

When she opened her eyes, the white armored eel’s figure was nowhere to be seen in the cage. But she could feel the white armored eel as the Shinsu strings from their contract sways around her, unseen by anyone else. She smiled; she just got a new comrade after all. She noticed how Yuri’s shouts had receded so she turned around and saw how Yuri was now donning the same look of disbelief with Evan. Headon was humming. Then Evolet took off Bam’s hands that were covering his ears and told him to open his eyes. He glanced around here and there, searching for the white armored eel that was nowhere to be seen. Innocent golden eyes locked with kind blue-violet ones, having a silent conversation only through their gazes.

Meanwhile outside the cage,Yuri was also having a conversation with Evan albeit with hushed whispers only. “Oi Evan… I wasn’t seeing things right? That eel glowed and then disappeared right? Right??!” she asked with a hint of excitement in her tone.

“Ah… Yes, I think so Princess.”

Headon let out a muffled laugh “But of course. She is an exceptional Anima after all. Mr. Bam doesn’t seem to know about it though. Not that Ms. Evolet seems to have any intention of telling him either at the moment.”

On the other hand, the silent conversation in the cage seemed to be over and now the duo was getting ready to pop the ball. Or more specifically, Bam is; since Evolet doesn’t have a weapon to pop the ball with after all. But once Bam struck the ball with Black March, nothing happened. This of course shocked Yuri, Evan, and Bam. Evolet was frowning at Headon. She should’ve guessed it; Headon is overly mischievous after all. Yuri was complaining to Headon how atrocious this is. Bam was frozen in place. Evan decided to take a bet and told Bam to ignite the weapon. Which Bam did and in turn let Yuri know that Black March doesn’t want to ignite for her simply because she prefers male. As the ball distorted, teleporting Bam and Evolet to the next floor in an overly ominous way that made Yuri worried; Evolet noticed how Headon was staring at her.

I know Headon , I know. That person is already waiting for me… But let me stay just for a while longer by his side… Just a little while more.

Chapter Text

Evolet’s POV

When I came to, Bam wasn’t anywhere near me and I was laying on what seemed to be a cliff. The announcement of the test started and I was worried. Bam could get hurt. I need to find him fast. Just as I stood up, I was immediately alerted of the presence of a sniper not so far from me. His bullet missed the mark a bit too close for comfort. I don’t need to draw attention to myself here; that would only prove to be troublesome later on. With that in mind, I rushed towards the sniper who clearly wasn’t expecting that but quickly overcame his shock and readied his aim once more. Wrong decision.


3rd Person POV

As he shot, Evolet murmured something under her breath. You could hear the sound of the bullet colliding with something before it ricocheted; along with a soft groan as the sniper went unconscious from a chop to the back of his neck, courtesy of Evolet. If he was still conscious now, he would’ve seen angel-like wings on Evolet’s back. The lavender shade wings were floating behind her, not quite attached to her back. The wings showed no sign of damage despite how it just blocked a bullet. Sighing in relief, Evolet retracted her wings. She went back to her original place on the cliff, hoping to be able to pinpoint Bam from a higher point of view. Despite that, she still couldn’t find him. But she couldn’t just go off and blindly search for him either, not with how big this place is. Just as she was thinking what to do, a… crocodile-like man had walked up and stood beside her; although he didn’t seem to be aware of her presence. Deciding she really needed some help if she wanted to find Bam, she spoke out to the crocodile-man.

“Uhm… Excuse me!”

That got his attention. The crocodile-like man looked down and what he saw was a girl with lavender shade hair with the most mesmerizing yet innocent blue-violet eyes that he ever saw. The man’s instinct immediately registered the girl wasn’t a threat, nor was she a prey. Then it clicked to the man’s mind.

This turtle needs to be protected.

“What is it, purple turtle?”

Evolet wasn’t bothered by the way the man had called her and instead just asked “Crocodile-san, have you seen a boy around my height with black hair and golden eyes?”

“None that I know of purple turtle.”

Seeing how the girl seemed down and worried after he said that, the man continued “But you can count on me, the great Rak Wraithraiser to find him for you purple turtle!”

Evolet perked up on that and they went on their merry way to find Bam after Evolet introduced herself to Rak, not that Rak called her by name after that. Needless to say, they found Bam soon enough. Not wasting any time, Evolet immediately jumped off Rak and went over to hug Bam. “Are you okay Bam??! I’m sorry I couldn’t come faster; it took some time to find you. You’re not hurt are you?”

Bam nodded, relieved at the sight of Evolet. She finally realized the presence of the two other people in the field and she bowed politely to them, saying thank you for not hurting Bam. The blue haired boy raised an eyebrow in fascination before coming over to Bam and Evolet and slung his arms over their shoulder.

“Woah, a talking alligator; I wonder how much that’d be worth.”

Bam was startled by this action and hastily slipped away, taking a battle stance that was sloppy at best. Evolet made no move to get away from the bluenette but made a mental note to teach Bam self-defense later. “Isn’t this your pet?”

Rak was irked by this and he stomped his foot, making the three ‘turtles’ momentarily float. Rak took this chance to once again put Evolet on his shoulder while the other two fell down on the ground. And he kept stomping while shouting, quite angrily.

“I’m not an alligator. I am Rak Wraithraiser!”

“You can even introduce yourself?” the blue haired boy asked playfully while half laying on the ground.

“Um, this person isn’t-”

The bluenette cut off Bam before he could even finish the sentence. “I know”

Rak brought down his spear threateningly in front of them. “Blue turtle! I have no business with you!”

They stood up and a question was asked. “What are you planning to do with him?”

“Hunt him”

“Hunt…?”

“I become stronger by hunting!”

Honestly, the boy wasn’t impressed by that. After all he could see that the crocodile-man was yet another one who blindly follows the Tower’s rules. As Rak struck with his spear, the bluenette jumped up to avoid it then landed before casually saying “Well, I’m going now.”

As Bam took a sloppy stance, Evolet leaped off Rak’s shoulder once more and stood protectively in front of Bam with a frown. “I won’t allow you to hurt Bam, Rak-san. If you still insist to do so then I will be your opponent.”

Despite how Rak acts sometimes, the one thing that he always nails is gauging someone’s strength. Right now, the ‘turtle’ that he thought he needed to protect is standing in front of his prey. And while she doesn’t look threatening, Rak knew better. He could see the danger lurking behind that childish frown. She’s hiding her powers. Rak was cut off of his musings when his cape covered his vision and he fell down from a sweep kick. Not wanting to lose his prey, Rak hastily fixed the cape and gave chase to where he thought the ‘turtles’ escaped. As he went out of view, the other three emerged from their hiding spot behind the Da-an. The Da-an left soon after Khun explained how mild the Da-an tribe are regardless of the situation.

“Thank you for saving us, Blue-san.” Evolet thanked the boy, and Bam nodded along.

Said boy raised an eyebrow out of amusement from how she called him. “My name’s Khun, not Blue.”

Bam stuttered out. “I-I’m Bam.”

“And I’m Evolet. But feel free to call me Eve instead. I’m sorry for calling you Blue earlier; I didn’t know your name.”

Khun had extended his hand, silently asking for a handshake. Blinking confusedly for a moment, Evolet took his hand with some hesitation. Khun gripped her hand firmly but gently, and he let out a smirk. Evolet was pondering what the smirk meant, but she didn’t have much time to think before Khun tugged on her hand and pulled her closer to him, looping his free arm around her waist as he stared into her eyes. The distances between them were so close that he could smell the fragrance of lavender coming from her. Their eyes locked, and blue-violet peered into cobalt blue ones. Both were staring with fascination. One with how unflustered the other was despite the lack of distance between them; the other with curiosity, not quite understanding what was happening.

The silent moment was broken when Evolet was suddenly pulled away by Bam. Bam had a dark look on his face as he embraced Evolet tightly from behind, not letting go. Puzzled by Bam’s action, Evolet softly asked, “Bam..?”

That seemed to do the trick, snapping Bam back to reality. He saw Evolet’s worried face directed at him and realized how he was still hugging her. Blushing, he immediately let go of her and apologized. Khun grinned at the display.

This is getting interesting

“So Bam, where did you acquire the Black March? The weapon is granted only to the princesses chosen by Jahad, the king of this tower. How could someone who just entered the Tower, much less a man, have it? Not to mention you and Eve seemed to know each other; which theoretically shouldn’t be possible because acquaintances can’t take the same test together.”

Surprised by the turn of events, Bam and Evolet were avoiding Khun’s gaze. It was after a while that Bam finally answered albeit reluctantly. Wrapping up their brief explanation regarding their circumstances without disclosing the fact they’re irregulars, they’re now waiting for the thinning to end behind a boulder. Khun’s pocket revealed the numbers of the remaining contestants were only 268. “Just a few more.”

Khun’s pocket went back to invisible mode and he focused his attention on Bam who had just revealed he knew next to nothing about his past except for what Rachel and Evolet taught him. Khun raised an eyebrow at the new name.

“Rachel?”

“The person I want to see.”

Khun just assumed “Your girlfriend?”

Bam answered without hesitation that he belonged to her, surprising Khun with his answer. As Bam continued his answer, Khun looked over to Evolet who was sitting beside Bam. If she was bothered by it, then she must be an expert at hiding her emotions since she had a solid poker face on. But while it didn’t show on her face, Khun could see that she was gripping the sleeves of her dress as she attempted to curl herself into a ball. In the end he didn’t mention how he noticed her actions and instead just reacted to Bam’s answer.

“I get it now. She’s your rule.”

“Rule?”

Bam looked at Khun’s now outstretched hand quizzically. “Bam, let’s shake hands to cement our alliance. When I heard the rules of the test, I decided that rather than killing 200, I would find allies among the 200 who survived.”

“Those certainly would be strong and interesting people.” Bam shook Khun’s hand, sealing the alliance. With a casual look on his face, Khun explained how it’s more important to him that his allies are not to be controlled by their rules rather they should make their own rules.

Besides, a Princess of Jahad expressed interest in him. It wouldn’t hurt to work wi-

Khun was cut off from his inner monologue as Evolet abruptly stood up from where she was sitting with eyes trained on the distant. She narrowed her eyes slightly, the aura behind her gaze changing. For a second, Khun had felt bloodlust coming from the girl. But it had disappeared no sooner than when it surfaced without a trace that you would think you only imagined it.

“Ah, it’s Rak-san who’s heading here.”

True to her words, no sooner both boys could see the Rak rushing their way while shouting about turtles. But their attention was diverted to the announcement coming from the lighthouse. The test was over, but the next test was starting immediately; the test being making a team of three or four. They already had three people so it didn’t pose any problem. Or at least that’s how it was originally. The plan was thwarted once Bam and Evolet decided Rak should be added to the team. And that’s the reason why… this is happening right now with only one minute left before the team-making test is over. Now, let’s rewind a bit how this occurred. Just a few moments earlier…

“I told you no! That black turtle is my prey and I’m not going to team up with him! Now move aside Purple Turtle!”

“And I’m telling you; you cannot hunt Bam, Rak-san! You’ll have to get past me first to do that! Bam isn’t going to be anyone’s prey under my watch!”

Khun sighed as he watched the events unfold. The shouting banter has been going on for a while now, both sides unrelenting. Rak’s patience finally ran out and he just charged straight at Bam. That didn’t work out so well when Evolet stopped him, jumping on his back and hugged or rather choked his neck before she literally pulled. Rak made a startled choking sound and… The situation basically became a bronc riding rodeo with Rak as the bucking horse and Evolet as the rider. It was a hilarious sight with Evolet holding on Rak’s neck for dear life while Rak was trying to throw her off. Evolet was sputtering, trying to get Rak to stop and not hunt Bam.

Deciding that this has gone long enough with the time running out, Khun told Bam that they needed to “catch” the Rak too since Evolet already has. And so when the bell signaling the end of the test rang, the four of them were a team. As they were teleported to the next test location, you could hear Rak screaming, “You damn turtles!!!


Bonus scene that didn’t happen in actuality:

After Bam released Evolet from his hug, Khun had a playful grin adorning his face. He was fully intent on teasing Bam about Evolet. “Oho~, is that a blush I see on your face Bam?”

Flustered, Bam turned his back to the other two trying to hide his full on blushing face. “Y-you must’ve seen wrong Khun-san.”

A devilish glint on Khun’s eyes could be seen as he stood behind Evolet then rested his head on her shoulder, slightly humming as he did so. Which made Bam twitch when he heard it. He proceeded to wrap his arms around her waist and pulled her close for a front-to-back hug. Evolet looked confused, lost on what was happening but didn’t show any reaction. Khun silently sighed in his mind at the lack of fluster from Evolet. Bam was gripping the handle of Black March like a lifeline, trying to not respond to Khun’s teasing despite how much he wanted to protest.

Evolet’s worry was steadily increasing over time with Bam’s silence. Eventually, she softly smiled at Khun, saying sorry before she called out Bam’s name. The instant Bam turned around; Evolet ran to him and promptly gave him a hug. Bam almost stumbled from the sudden impact but somehow managed to keep his balance and hugged Evolet back. Evolet looked up at Bam’s eyes before she gave him a loving grin and said, “I love hugging you, Bam.”

Bam.exe has stopped working

You could see the steam coming out of Bam as his face became as red as a tomato. Not aware of what she had just done, she let go of Bam before treading over to Khun and also hugged him. She buried herself in his chest, softly whispering “Thank you for the hug earlier, Khun-san. It was brief but very comfy. I'd also love to hug you again.”

It took a moment before it registered Khun's mind. Then…

Khun.exe has also stopped working

And while Khun didn’t blush heavily, you could see the light dusting on his cheeks as he tried to get a grip. Meanwhile, Evolet was just looking around for a place to wait out the test, unaware of everything.

Chapter Text

Now they were in Evankhell’s mothership, waiting for the next test to start. Once they had been teleported there, Evolet promptly fell from Rak, spiral eyes indicating the dizziness she’s experiencing along with incoherent mumbles.

When she came to, she was still dazed and she could only make out the sensation of someone running their hand through her hair. She could hear some shouting in the background, but she ignored it and tried to focus her vision instead. As her sight became clear, she realized that it was Bam who was running his hand through her hair and she was lying on his lap; although his attention seems to be elsewhere. She smiled before taking Bam’s hand, turning his attention on her. Seeing how he noticed her now, she grinned and whispered, “Good morning sunshine.”

Bam doesn’t know why his heart is beating so hard as Evolet looked at him with that gentle, loving gaze. He was saved from further embarrassment when Khun and Rak came to his save. “Oh, Eve; you’re awake?” Khun asked

Evolet nodded and stood up herself before she pulled up Bam who was still trying to calm himself down. “I heard shouting. Did something happen?”

A scoff could be heard from Rak before he said, “Just two stupid turtles fighting.”

Before Evolet could ask anything else, the announcement for the next test had started. “I will explain the next round! Before that, to give you brief information about myself. I’m your test administrator, Ranker Lero ro!”

Lero ro gave a smile when he said “Nice to meet chu!”

Chu…?

The regulars didn’t seem impressed with his introduction, but he didn’t seem to mind it and just continued on. “Now that you’ve had some time to rest, let’s move on to the next test! But before that, there will be a little pretest. Fyi, those who don’t pass this pretest cannot take the next test.”

That caught the regulars’ attention. They didn’t expect there would be another elimination test. No one believed Lero Ro who said it’s only going to be a simple pretest. Lero Ro put out his hand, forming a single Baang. As Evolet realized what he was about to do, she silently prepared to jump behind as silently as possible when he flooded the room with Shinsu. It went as well as it could, the regulars didn’t notice she had slid back intentionally.

But Lero Ro noticed it. Admittedly, he wasn’t a ranker for nothing and this intrigued him. After all, why would a regular deliberately try to hide their potential? The question plagued his mind as he continued explaining the rules.

Then Bam had spoken out, asking what he should do since he didn’t get blown away by the Shinsu, standing at the same spot where Evolet was beside him before. For a moment Lero Ro glared at him and pondered if the girl would’ve been standing beside him like before if she didn’t try to hide her powers. Seeing Lero Ro’s glare that didn’t lighten up, Bam considered the worst and stuttered as he was about to go to the other side of the Shinsu wall. Lero Ro stopped him before he managed to do that, saying that he had passed the pretest and that it was also part of his luck. And while the other regulars were saying he’s got the whole luck of the world, Lero Ro and Evolet know.

A monster has arrived. Or perhaps is it two?

Sighing in relief to not at least not be caught by the other regulars, even though Lero Ro wasn’t fooled the slightest bit; Evolet was now staring at the wall of Shinsu not far from her. She kept her ears open, listening to Khun’s plan to observe what the others would do first. While her ears were listening to Khun and Rak’s conversation, she kept her eyes pried on the duo on the other side of the Shinsu wall. Not a moment later, she gave a cryptic smile and told Khun that she will be going first.

Ignoring Khun’s soft objection and Rak’s protests, Evolet stood in front of the Shinsu wall for a moment and gave a nod to Bam as a signal. Then she walked through it with no apparent struggle; her mid-thigh length hair flowing behind her. The regulars' eyes were on her since she was the first one to pass the Shinsu wall after the blunder from earlier, not to mention she made it look effortless. Not giving a mind to the others’ stares, Evolet instead offered Lero Ro a polite smile when he narrowed his eyes on her before she made her way to Bam; softly chuckling when he gave her a look of admiration. She sat down beside Bam, urging him to continue his conversation with Lero Ro while she watched the others try to do the same as her. Some did it with ease, some struggled but passed, and some were exerting all of their efforts trying but not succeeding. Seeing the girl wasn't about to say anything else, Lero Ro sighed and resumed his prior conversation.

Lero Ro had chosen the green girl. Bam would've done the same too if Evolet hadn't given that signal. In the end Bam chose to trust Evolet like he always did, and it paid off. "Right… Mr. Bam, since I lost I will answer your questions."

That got Bam excited, he might get some clues on where Rachel is. "Did a girl with light blond hair and freckles pass by here?"

Lero Ro thought about it for a while, making a thinking gesture with his index finger on his chin "Light blond hair… Freckles… I don't think I saw her in any of the tests I was in charge of."

Bam sighed disappointedly at the revelation, only muttering a soft "I see…" in response. Lero Ro promised that he'd also ask the other administrators about the girl Bam was looking for and inquired if Bam had any other questions he wanted to ask. Bam hesitated for a while before he decided to ask Lero Ro's view about irregulars. Evolet glanced at them, eyes full of curiosity and caution. The conversation had gone fairly well, giving Bam a clearer perspective of how the irregulars were viewed in the Tower. Or at least it went well until one of the regular was suicidal enough to object about the test, unsatisfied of how he can't seem to pass while some others did all the while claiming he was one of the strongest regular... dumb move. He even dared to mock Bam, saying that he was only a weak little boy that passed the test by chance. To top it off he even insulted Lero Ro who went to deal with this situation the regular was rousing.

Evolet went silent for a while before she aimed a glare packed with intense bloodlust at the guy who had dared to mock Bam. He froze when he noticed the killing intent directed at him, unable to do anything from the fear gripping him. The glare only lasted for a few seconds, disappearing before anyone can pinpoint the source. Lero Ro raised an eyebrow, looking behind in suspicion. He didn't find anything concrete, but he had his doubts on Evolet.

After giving the arrogant regular a taste of defeat with the 30th floor Shinsu concentration, Lero Ro went back to his original spot; all the while ignoring the regular's desperate shouts of how unfair it was. Evolet just looked to the side while Bam stared at the man.

"Isn't God cruel?" Lero Ro started.

He isn't. But the world is.

"When God first shows you the world, it might seem like you can have anything in this limitless world. But one day God appears again… and tells you "This is your limit." although there are so many things that you still want to have."

Desires never end. It will always keep coming, no satisfaction in sight.

Bam pondered about it for a moment, curling into himself. And he reluctantly asked "Mr. Lero Ro, do I… deserve to go up the tower?"

You do, much more than she does. She's the one who's trying to take everything for herself, her selfishness and greed that knows no boundary when the Tower didn't even choose her. But that's exactly why I need to protect you… For as long as I can stay before they discover me at least. It doesn’t mean I can’t protect you from afar though.

Lero Ro also contemplated for a moment before he answered. "Well… I wouldn't know. But I'm sure there will be a time when you also have to stop. And I just hope that you find what you're looking for wherever that is. Hopefully without losing sight of what's truly important to you."

Evolet stared at Lero Ro for his hidden implication. Bam went silent. Evolet patted his head with a soft hum and Bam leaned on her, making her crack a soft smile. Not long after, Khun and Rak also went through the Shinsu wall. Khun waved his hand casually, calling for Evolet and Bam. Noticing them, Bam stood up followed by Evolet; both ready to go to their side.

"Mr. Lero Ro, we should go now." Bam said politely.

"Ok. I hope to see you after the test, Mr. Bam."

Just as Bam was about to step away, he added "And Mr. Bam, I recommend that you don't become too close to your teammate, Mr. Khun. He's from a dangerous family. Be careful. And do keep an eye on your surroundings. You never know when you might lose something."

As he said that, he looked over at Evolet who had gone silent. Bam only nodded before he went off. Evolet stayed for a moment, staring at Lero Ro before she closed her eyes and let out a soft sad smile. "Thank you for the warning Lero Ro-san. Unfortunately I'm afraid it won't apply to Bam. He has something far more… important that he wants to chase rather than me after all…"

A bitter tone could be heard from what she said. Lero Ro decided to not comment on that. And so like that, the allotted time for the pretest had ended. "Those of you who passed the test, make a line! The next test will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Hi! I'm the test guide Yellowy. The test will be conducted one team after another. For the remaining teams please wait and follow the guide robot's instructions. Well, the test will begin. The first team may enter now."

The quartet sat as they waited for their turn. Khun was sighing, having nothing to do while they waited. Bam was glancing here and there at the ceiling, Evolet watching over his actions with a slight curiosity. Eventually, Khun also noticed what he was doing and asked Bam, "What's so interesting Bam?"

Bam stuttered for a moment, a bit shocked from Khun's sudden question. "Huh? N-no… It's just I've never been in such a bright place…"

‘He's never been in a bright place…?’ Khun thought.

"U-uhm, Eve, Mr. Khun…"

Evolet hummed in reply while Khun had said "Yes?"

Gazing up at the ceiling, Bam continued. "That blue thing… Is that what's called the "sky"?"

Evolet smiled softly before answering. "Yeah, it's the sky, Bam. It's beautiful isn't it? Even though it's a fake made out of Shinsu."

"Then if you keep going up the sky you can get to the bright stars right??!"

Khun raised an eyebrow at this, clearly skeptical. "What are you talking about, Bam? Stars are just a legend. Even if you go up the only thing you'll reach is this floor's roof. The blue sky is created by Shinsu like Eve said, and the bright thing at night is just a light ball. I heard there are stars in the outside world. But they don't exist, at least not here in the tower."

Downcasted, Bam could only reply with a hesitant "I see…"

"Don't worry Bam, I'm sure the stars exist on top of the Tower. Headon did say everything could be found up there." Evolet hugged Bam from behind, smiling reassuringly when she did so and patted his head. Rak and Khun just watched as Bam's face became painted with a soft blush once more. Rak mumbled something along the lines of turtles mating season while Khun had an expressionless look on. There was something nagging at the back of his heart, an unsettling feeling.

And suddenly a scream was heard from the examination room. "What… was that noise?"

As the regulars' alertness spiked up and they started wondering what caused the scream, the test guide let out a sinister grin that didn't pass some attentive regulars' field of vision. They were now aware that this test was going to be yet another dangerous one. No sooner, Yellowy had spoken out, allowing the next team to go in. Whispers and murmurs were traded in panic between the regulars. The quartet were also staring at the door with mixed expressions. Khun started turning the gears, trying to figure out what was happening behind the closed door from the screams that could be heard and the intervals.

In the middle of that, a weird man had come. He was wearing a neon yellow balloon suit, his head also shaped like a balloon in the color pink with holes as his eyes and mouth. He was casually putting his hands on Khun and Evolet's shoulder. Evolet was still hugging Bam, but stared doubtfully at the new company.

"Hey, pals. Why the long faces?" The newcomer asked.

Of course Khun retaliated sharply. "Who are you? What do you want?"

"Don't glare at me like that! We're all in the same boat! I came here… to give you a huge hint about the test."

Hearing that, Bam lifted up Evolet's arms and stood in front of the man; asking if it was true. Clearly unconvinced, Khun slapped away the man's hands that were on his and Evolet's shoulder.

"A hint? How would you know?"

Almost arrogantly, the man had answered it was his deduction; saying that he was chosen because of his intelligence. Evolet was half hearing what the man was talking about, but she was more focused on staring at him, trying to find what was it that nagged in the back of her mind about this man.

"We've got no clues at all… What could be the basis of your deduction?"

With a smug look on his face, the balloon man made a no-no gesture with his index finger; scoffing as he did. "What do you mean, no clues? The biggest clue is given during each test! It is the time!"

"...time?!"

"Think! The teams that didn't scream all passed the test in four to five minutes. But the teams that exceeded five minutes all screamed."

Taking account of what he said, Khun once again thought it thoroughly. "Hm… I think you're right on that point."

"You see? And the testing room is completely blocked off here. It doesn't make sense that no sounds are heard except the screaming. Which means that the administrators are intentionally letting us hear the screams. They are giving us a hint with each scream. They are telling us no matter what test is in there… It should be completed in five minutes."

Ah, that's what it is. This man wasn't there during the pretest.

Khun pushed the man away when he got too close, saying "Well, that does make sense. But we'll have to see if that hint is useful when we get on there."

Bam, being the nice and innocent person he is, he thanked the man. "Thank you, Mr. Neon Plastic Bag! So nice of you to tell us what you know."

Neon… plastic… bag?

Evolet chuckled lightly at that. Khun wasn't quite amused though. "No need to thank him, Bam. He just wants to see if his hypothesis is right by using us.  You're telling us to test your hypothesis aren't you? If we, who heard your hypothesis, pass the test in five minutes, you will take the test using the clue. And if we don't, you'll find another way, won't you?"

The man grinned "Over cautiousness is a double edged blade, abandoned son of the Khun family. It's not as if I can't blame you though, after experiencing such a cruel betrayal."

Khun's eyes widened, taking a knife he tackled the man to the floor; knife on his neck. Bam and Evolet tried to stop him from doing anything rash. Rak was already preparing to join the fight, clearly excited.

Evolet frowned, the test administrator must have a twisted sense of humor. Another scream rang out, signalling their turn to go in. Khun got up, telling the man to get lost. The balloon man waved them off with a shout of good luck as they went in.

When they went in, they were greeted by the view of 12 red doors in a dark room. A blond haired man was sitting elegantly in the middle of the room, wearing a traditional Korean outfit with his hair up in a bun.

"Nice to meet you regulars. My name is Hansung Yu and I'm the administrator of your next test."


Hansung explained the rules of the test as simple and straightforward as it could be. Opening the real door between the 12 red doors within 10 minutes and not getting it wrong. Otherwise, they die. Registering the revelation that the screams they heard were those of death, Khun hurriedly asked for the secret to finding the real door; asking for the hints. But Hansung only smiled, stating that there weren't any more hints. The boys became frustrated by that. Uncaringly, Hansung just started the test and Khun once more started thinking. As Khun looked up behind him and found a clock, Evolet stared at Hansung; thinking he truly has a twisted humor.

Smiling, Hansung met her gaze and invited her to come over. So she did, albeit hesitantly. She sat silently in front of him for a moment before saying "Uhm… I don't drink coffee…" when she saw him brewing something for her.

Hansung chuckled knowingly. "Don't worry, Ms. Euterpe. It's not coffee."

A few moments later, Evolet has a steaming cup of a brown drink in front of her. Seeing Hansung was looking expectantly at her, she took a little sip. And when she did, she knew that she'd been discovered. The taste was overly familiar to her. Her favorite instant hot chocolate that ‘he’ always sends to her. She gazed at the man once more and looked at his eyes. The look in his eyes was amusement that came from watching others' suffering. He smiled, closing his eyes when he did.

"You're welcome to take the drink with you, Ms. Euterpe. Please do keep in mind he is waiting."

Evolet nodded stiffly before getting up, her thoughts whirling as she slowly realized that she needed to leave soon. She knew it was going to happen but still… Looking at Bam who was trying to calm Rak's tantrum, she thought that the world is truly cruel. She doesn’t want to leave him; them just yet.

Then Khun suddenly shouted out "Stop it!" and Evolet knew she should wrap this up soon. This mind game is turning out good for anyone except Hansung's entertainment. She strolled over to Rak and Bam, telling him to pick a random door and open it soon; patting Bam's head with a guilty smile that made him confused. Then she headed to Khun and tapped his shoulder. It didn't work, Khun was too absorbed in his own thoughts. Frowning in worry, she put a hand on Khun's cheek; softly calling his name once more. The frown melted into a relieved smile as Khun's focus slowly started coming back. Still smiling, she let down her hand and pulled Khun into a hug instead; her right hand guiding his head to her shoulder while her left was hugging him awkwardly.

"Khun-san… I don't know what hardships you've gone through, nor the pain you've experienced up until now. And it's very selfish of me to say this but… Would you please believe in me just this once?"

Khun didn't answer. But by that time, Rak had knocked down a door. The doors turned green and the timer stopped, only 1 second before 5 minutes. Khun snapped up his bead at the voice, already shouting at Rak for his supposed recklessness. He was stopped by Evolet who grabbed his hand. "I told Rak-san to do that.”

And Khun quieted down, asking her. "Why?"

Evolet didn't have any chance to answer as Hansung's claps sounded. "Congratulations. You passed the test."

Khun stepped up to Hansung, still not believing. "Passed?! What do you mean…?!"

"To pass this test you just had to open any door within five minutes. You opened a door within five minutes so you passed, obviously."

"You gave us no clues and you say opening the door in five minutes is the way to pass the test? What can you evaluate in a test like this!?"

"They did give us hints, Khun-san." This time Evolet had spoken up instead.

Khun looked at her skeptically before she continued "The balloon man from earlier wasn't a regular. He was someone sent to us deliberately to tell the hints. Hansung-san most likely wanted to see how each group reacted to the hints."

Hansung's grin turned into a mocking one "As Ms. Euterpe has said, we did give you hints. It's just that you didn't trust them. Were the wounds you got from the Princess that deep? You-"

"Let's stop around there shall we, Hansung-san. I'm sure this mind game of yours has gone long enough." Evolet interrupted, a glare evident on her face.

Hansung only chuckled playfully. "My, my, how threatening you look. Remember Mr. Khun, the world never waits for you to choose an answer. These numerous doors which are all correct will turn into doors of death after mere seconds. You need team-mates around you who can sometimes open doors without hesitation. You have good teammates to go up with."

Pausing for a moment, he continued once more. "And besides, don't you want to protect those eyes that know no doubt?" motioning toward Bam who was standing on the doorway.

The tension in Khun's shoulder receded and Hansung sighed. Rak was calling for them, impatient to wait any longer.

"Let's go, Eve, Bam." Khun said, putting his hand in his pocket.

"And one more thing Mr. Khun. Your bag looks heavy, huh?" Hansung said knowingly. Khun narrowed his eyes, not liking this test administrator at all.

As Evolet started walking toward the others, Hansung added. "Enjoy your remaining time, Ms. Euterpe."

She gave him an uncomfortable glance before she hurriedly walked away. 'Truly, things are about to get interesting.' was the only thought running through Hansung's mind as he called in the next team.

Chapter Text

"I hope you get to see the stars with Rachel." was what Khun said to Bam. Both Bam and Evolet smiled at that, grateful for Khun's wish. But then Bam went ahead while Khun stopped, asking a question that made Evolet freeze at her spot.

"What did Hansung mean by "enjoy your remaining time", Eve?"

Evolet could only summon the courage to look down and meekly answer "I'll tell you later…", hoping that he wouldn't pry further. Thankfully enough, even though he stared at her for a while; he backed up in the end and just grabbed her hand, tugging her to the next test spot. Relieved, she whispered thank you to Khun and stayed silent for the rest of the way with a small smile on her face. Khun knew he'd done the right thing by not asking further when he saw it.

They were now in the middle of a break, no test administrator in sight as the regulars relaxed for a bit; doing their own things. Khun had excused himself earlier, saying he had to go to the toilet. Bam, Rak, and Evolet were sitting; not knowing what to do while they waited. Then a tracksuit guy visited them. He introduced himself as Shibisu and congratulated them for passing the test once more. Naturally the three of them also introduced themselves. They had spoken for a bit, mostly Shibisu, Bam, and Evolet since Rak opted to stay silent. The conversation had ended with a friendly wish of good luck from Shibisu before he went off to his own team. Khun also came back at the same time. And with great timing, Lero Ro made his entrance to the room accompanied by the test guide from earlier named Yellowy.

He said he had come bearing great news, informing the regulars of a bonus game. The regulars weren't pleased of course. They've had enough tests. But then Lero Ro dropped the bomb, making an offer they simply cannot refuse. "But the winner of this bonus game… gets to pass the final test of this floor. They get the right to go straight to the next floor."

That had caught the regulars attention. It was too good to be true. So Khun asked, just to make sure. "The right to go to the next floor? Then what about the remaining tests?"

Lero Ro's answer was as simple and as straightforward it can get. "They don't have to take them."

Hook, line, and sinker. The regulars had taken the bait. Lero Ro told them that only one team can proceed, the winner of the game. None of them were deterred. It only spurred them on. After all, when else would you get a chance like this? One of them asked, what is the bonus game.

"This game is called "The Crown Game". I will explain the details to you when we get to the game spot."

And so here they were, each team in a cube waiting room surrounding a circular literal throne room with Lero Ro explaining the details and rules about the game. However, near the end he mentioned a team from another test spot participating; summing it up to "it's a long story". Telling the regulars to check the other details in the instruction book next to the buzzer, Lero Ro then started the countdown for the game to start as he observed from inside his lighthouse in the safety of the heights.

Only two groups were brave or maybe reckless enough to push the buzzer. Shibisu's team was one of them. To top it off, the lizard girl provoked the other team by saying that she alone was enough to face them. How true that sentence was. It was an instant defeat for the other team. So the other team changed their strategy, aiming for the crown instead. Sadly, it failed miserably with their lack of speed compared to the lizard girl named Anaak. In the end they only got more injuries as they were thrown to the walls from the impact of Anaak's attack while Anaak herself sat on the throne, donning the crown.

The round was over and Anaak didn't want to move from the throne, annoying Shibisu since it was clearly a disadvantage for she was the strongest in their team while Shibisu was the weakest. Khun breathed a sigh of relief, explaining to Bam how this turn of situation was good for them. Rak and Evolet had stayed silent during that time. Rak because he knew the lizard was strong from the first time he saw her on that test field. Evolet because she was observing the weapon Anaak was holding. Evolet knew a trouble was brewing the moment she recognized it was the Green April that Anaak was using.

The second round had started and two other teams participated. One of the teams was swiftly obliterated by Hatz before he moved on to helping Shibisu with the other team. Hatz had mocked one of the opposing team members, feeling insulted with how he was only sleeping snugly with his blanket and pillow while his teammates were fighting them. Throwing his sword, Hatz threatened the man to open his eyes and fight if he didn't want to die. So Laure opened his eyes… and prepared for a counterattack with Shinsu. Hatz somehow managed to shout out a warning to Anaak in time. She was able to dodge, but was immediately ambushed by the other two teammates. Both Shibisu and Hatz hurried to help her, but she was once again attacked by Laure with shinsu.

"Give us the crown. I can attack you from anywhere." Laure said with a menacing tone. The aftermath from the attack had revealed that Anaak was in fact, just fine. The only thing that snapped was her temper from Laure's threat. She was livid. With a shout of "Ignition!", she ignited the Green April. The weapon's hook grew in size, and Anaak wielded it expertly; filled with killing intent. She whipped it around to match Laure's movement that kept dodging even when the Green April split into pieces then grew larger and wilder; almost like a wild walking vines if you will.

Meanwhile in the quartet's waiting room, the Black March is starting to respond to Green April's ignition, trying to break free from the bandage's restraint. Bam was trying to calm the weapon down to no avail. Evolet looked at Bam and Black March before she switched to Anaak. Green April was also reacting to Black March's presence. Anaak will undoubtedly notice them soon. As Khun asks what's wrong with Bam and Anaak turns her gaze on their waiting room, Evolet could only think ‘Oh no…’.

She puts up a Shinsu wall just in time as Anaak strikes, trying to break into their cube. Evolet has never been so glad that she managed to put up that Shinsu wall in time. Anaak scowled at Evolet, irked that she was being blocked by the Shinsu wall Evolet conjured. Evolet only gave a stern unmoving glare at Anaak in response.

"Give me that weapon."

Khun wasn't having any of this. "What the hell are you doing? You're not allowed to bust into other teams' rooms during the game!" He shouted ferociously, but got ignored by Anaak who instead asked Bam.

"Hey, you, black hair. Where did you get that weapon?"

Anaak was pointing at Black March. Bam was clueless on what she was talking about until she specified the needle. When Bam asked why, she countered, saying that he shouldn't have that weapon. Soon enough, Shibisu came running; angry that they list the game because Anaak got off the throne. Anaak ignored Shibisu, instead telling Bam to give her the weapon. When Shibisu got even more irritated, shouting to Anaak for leaving the throne solely for a stupid weapon; he quickly got reprimanded by her.

"Stupid weapon? It's one of Master Ashul Edwaru's 13 month series weapons. And you call the Black March a stupid weapon? Are you nuts?" She asked Shibisu, gripping his finger tight until it became red and swollen.

Tears in his eyes, Shibisu asked. "The Black March? Isn't that one of the 13 month series weapons by Ashul Edwaru… That was given by the king of the tower to his daughters? THE BLACK MARCH???"

He paused for a bit before continuing. "Why is it in his hands? And how did you know that?"

With a serious look on her face, Anaak replied with "Because I'm a daughter of Jahad." Which obviously shocked Shibisu. She continued, saying that her weapon was the Green April of the same 13 month series as Black March and that the weapons would begin to resonate when it's close to another of the series.

‘That's why she noticed the Black March… But something is odd… Something's off. What could it be?’ Khun thought to himself.

Anaak banged on the shinsu wall that separated them, demanding Bam for the Black March when he refused to do so; insisting that he needs to return it to Yuri when he meets her. Anaak brandished her weapon, preparing for an attack. "I explained everything to you but you still don't get it?"

Evolet's shinsu wall rippled, ready to change to attack mode if needed. Khun and Rak also readied their weapons just in case. Anaak showed no sign of stopping. "The ones who fail to know their place die young."

But just as she was about to attack, she found that she couldn't move her weapon at all. When she turned her gaze backwards, Lero Ro was there, holding her weapon in place to prevent any attack. "I think you are the one who failed to know their place... Anaak Jahad. You left the throne, so your team lost this game. Go back to your room, Anaak Jahad. I won't let you behave like this anymore." Lero Ro said before releasing his hold on the Green April.

Anaak stared at him for a moment before asking him to add another rule to the game since he was the test administrator. She had proposed a blockbuster event, with Green April and Black March as the prize. Lero Ro grinned. "That… sounds interesting."

Anaak turned to Bam. "Bam… was that your name? Let's play a game."

"A game?" Bam asked with hesitancy.

"Yeah, I'll bet my Green April. You bet the Black March. If you win I will give the Green April to you. The game is simple. Your team joins the game starting the next round and wins all of the rounds. If your team wins, I will give you the Green April, and I won't attack you before this test ends. But if your team doesn't win you give me the Black March."

Bam frowned, no intention of going along with this. "I don't want to. Why do I have to play such a game?"

Anaak gave him a threatening look before saying "Because when the game is over I wouldn't mind killing you to get the Black March."

Evolet swiftly reacted to that threat. Less than a second, a part of the shinsu wall had spiked and stopped just before Anaak's neck; drawing a thin line of blood. She was staring at Anaak with a murderous glint. "It would be wise of you to proceed with caution. I don't appreciate anyone threatening my teammates and I would gladly retaliate before you can even move a finger to do so."

Anaak gulped, slightly intimidated from the killing intent radiating from Evolet. But she couldn't back down now, not when she still needed to achieve her revenge. "What are you thinking? You're not sure if you'll win the game, right? Well, I understand. It won't be easy to win with those weak teammates."

Bam was only thinking about the team's safety if they played the game; but that had struck Khun and Rak's nerves. Evolet's eyebrow twitched, she knew where this was going with Anaak's obvious provocation. With a sigh, Evolet retreated the Shinsu spike but didn't let up on the wall. She didn't need to wait long, Khun immediately responded to Anaak's taunting. "What are you waiting for, Bam?! Of course you'll do this. We accept your terms!"

"Mr. Khun!" Bam interjected.

Khun dismissed Bam's worries. "It's fine. We were going to join the next round anyway! Your name was… Anaak Jahad? Extras like you don't really know what's up. The main characters like us go out last. That's why we were waiting for so long, right…? CROCODILE?"

"OF COOOOURSE!!!" Rak replied instantly.

Their determination was fine and all but Evolet was rather thinking of how impulsive they are and worrying if this will work out in the end or not. Rak was still shouting. "THE GAME WITHOUT ME!!! DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING!!!"

… I resign. I'll just protect them to the best of my abilities at the moment.

Rak glimpsed at Anaak. "Don't back out, you little lizard."

Anaak only smirked in response. As she went away, Evolet kept glaring at her, full of bloodlust with the intention to at least make Anaak feel uncomfortable. It was only after Anaak went into their own waiting room that Evolet put back her smile in place along with the shinsu wall and faced the others. Khun made a mental note to not piss Evolet off if he didn't want to be on the receiving end of that intense bloodlust. And so here they were, preparing to go out on the next round.

"I'm sorry… Because of me the three of you are in danger and I can't really do much…" Bam apologized with his head downcast.

With an air of confidence, Khun responded. "Don't worry, Bam. Thanks to you, that lizard got out of the chair. But, Bam. I think you're pretty amazing."

"Huh?" Bam was puzzled at that.

"You kept the Black March from Jahad's daughter. Frankly speaking, I'm surprised."

"There's nothing to be amazed at. I only could do it because I had you three. Besides… I got help from the Black March once. I don't want to betray her. That's what I learned. Betraying a girl will make the world's roof fall on me."

Khun contemplated before looking at Evolet for affirmation about what Bam just said. Evolet looked away for a second before she mouthed, "Rachel taught him that."

She certainly didn't seem happy about that fact. Khun started saying a lot of things. Bam had the decency to at least look guilty. "But it doesn't change the fact that you don't have enough power to protect the Black March, Bam. Which means, what you did was pure bluff. Hearing you say that makes me wonder why I did it. Get stupid crocodile it's not that useful compared to his body size, right?”

Khun paused for a moment. "But you are… still amazing."

That got Bam saying another confused "Huh?".

"You're not strong and you've got no skills to rely on. But you try to protect the people who trust you. I could never do that." Khun finished with a smile.

As Lero Ro started announcing the beginning of the third round and they walked out, Evolet grabbed Bam's hand when she noticed she was still nervous. Bam looked at her with a mix of curiosity and worry. She smiled the same reliable smile that always reassures Bam every time he felt unsafe. "Don't worry. I'll protect all of you."

Bam doesn't doubt her.

Chapter Text

The third round will now begin!

"All right! Let's go, triple turtles!"

The other teams were oozing with confidence. Each team had a representative that was confident in their particular ability now that it's only a speed contest to get the crown... Or at least that's what they think.

I have a wand that controls Shinsu

-a rubbery body

-super fast jumps

The three regulars thought to themselves. Just when they thought they had this battle and started to launch their attacks, a strong gust of wind blocked their way along with their vision. The wind soon dissipated, revealing Khun in front of the throne with the crown in his hand. He was wearing a confident smirk, his clothes still slightly ruffling from the wind.

He positioned the crown on top of his head, almost wearing it as he said "Okay, game over... But that wouldn't be interesting~" he finished with a teasing tone before putting the crown into his bag.

"What's that dumb turtle talking about?" Rak asked Bam and Evolet while pointing at Khun.

Both of them sweatdropped, not really knowing what to answer so they just replied, "Who knows?"

Khun flaunted his knife, daring the other teams to attack him for the crown. "Come on. If you beat me, I'll give you the crown."

In that instant, the three regulars from earlier thought of the same thing. 'Jerk! Kill him! I'll beat you into shape!'

They all started attacking one by one. The one with a rubbery body straightforwardly rushed to Khun but was blocked with his briefcase. Bearing the wand, the girl launched a Shinsu attack on Khun. He only turned, opening his bag and letting the Shinsu get sucked into it. The littlest regular with fast jumps tried to assault Khun's leg. Khun dodged with ease, doing a jump flip and landing gracefully on the floor. As soon as he did, he took out a crown from his briefcase and threw it while saying, "This is too much work. Here!"

The crown flipped a few times before it landed on the floor and Khun sat down on the throne. The regulars' attention was already on the crown as Khun said, "Fight among yourselves." with a relaxed tone.

‘Has Khun... always been like this?’ The rest of his teammates thought while watching this unfold with a dumbfounded expression. They could see small devil horns on Khun's head as he smirked nonchalantly, clearly amused yet uncaring of the scenario he caused. However, as the others were fighting; Evolet's expression also changed into that of a smirk. She tugged Bam along with her to the throne where Khun was already waiting for them. When they arrived and Bam had safely taken his seat on the throne, Khun laughed at the regulars that were still fighting mindlessly amongst themselves.

"Oi, oi, you still haven't noticed?"

The others' attention was back on them. The sight they were greeted by was Bam sitting on the throne with Evolet standing behind him and Khun on their left, the crown in his hand. Stares were on the crown in his hand, as the regulars tried to figure out how.

"Blue turtle, you're having all the fun! I'm bored!"

Ah, Rak didn't want to be left out from the fun. Khun only apologized half-heartedly to him before turning back to the regulars. In Shibisu's team's room, Shibisu himself was watching the game with fascination. He started breaking down Khun's plans, explaining it to the other two in the room that weren't really listening to him, the tension still heavy from what had occurred earlier. Khun threw the crown to Bam who fumbled over it before it ended up in Evolet's hand who just shook her head in fondness over Bam's clumsiness. Khun opened his bag and flipped it, countless duplicates of the crown falling from the upside down briefcase.

"Abracadabra, it's the fun and amazing duplicating magic bag."

The regulars could only stare in wonder, not able to comprehend what was happening. It was only after there was a pile of crowns in front of Khun, that the bag stopped duplicating it. Khun shook the briefcase for good measure before holding it at his side, a hand on his waist with a relaxed posture. The fake crowns crumbled into dust before their own eyes. The others' protests were ignored as Khun climbed up to sit on the large throne's armrest. In rage, the regulars teamed up for the moment to charge at Khun. They were pushed back by the laughing crocodile-man who was happy to finally get some action as he screamed out "Don't touch my prey!"

Rak threw his spear toward the regulars with amazing speed and power, leaving a trail of wind and dust when it pushed the regulars away. The spear embedded itself deep into the wall, making a crack. All of the opposing teams were on the floor, unable to fight anymore.

"Stupid turtles." Rak said with a finality in his words.

Khun nodded to Evolet and she repeated the action before she proceeded to crown Bam. Bam looked up to Evolet who was grinning.

"That's one victory, my king." She had said it half-jokingly, half-serious. Bam hurriedly hunched his head, trying to hide his full on blushing face. Khun was staring at Evolet with an unidentifiable look on his face. Bam scooted over, making some space for Evolet to sit so that she was sitting between Bam and Khun. Then Evolet moved her gaze to Khun, suddenly saying that she will take care of the next round herself. All three boys were against it for different reasons.

Hands making a surrendering pose, Evolet tried to convince them. "It's okay. I won't even move from this spot, I promise. Besides, I can't use this skill in the 5th round... So I'd rather use it now than let it go to waste."

Khun raised an eyebrow, tempted to ask why. He didn't need to. Evolet already started explaining it. "It's a... large scale skill. But it's not really fit for situations with a closed area full of people because it can lack mobility at times. Or rather it's more of lack of discrimination honestly..."

Khun stopped her before she could ramble on any further. He took into account what she promised, smirking as he closed his eyes laid down his head on her lap. Like he expected, Evolet didn't show any signs of blush or fluster; only confusion evident on her face. Khun let out an exasperated sigh. "Just to ensure that you keep your promise of not moving."

Hearing that, Evolet only nodded cheerfully since it means Khun allowed her to take care of this round. Rak was protesting at how unfair that only the purple turtle gets to do the action this time all the while munching on the chocolate bars Khun gave him. Bam tried to calm him down, saying that he'll also be able to do so in the last round, all the while keeping an eye on Evolet and Khun.

"Hey, blue turtle. So that bag isn't an infinite chocolate bar dispenser?" Rak asked curiously.

"What kind of limited functionality is that?" Khun retorted, unimpressed.

Bam joined in the conversation. "But a bag that can copy anything is amazing."

"You mean a bag that can also copy." Khun corrected Bam.

Finished eating the chocolate bars and with the next round coming up, Rak stood up and stretched. "You know, you're a real brat, blue turtle."

"What?"

"You really wanted to show off that bag, didn't you?"

"No, idiot. I just wanted to tell that lizard not to underestimate us."

Bam was touched by what Khun said. It was only a moment after that Lero Ro announced the start of the fourth round. Evolet stiffened, eyes already darting around to see how many teams were participating. Only two teams were out of their room. Evolet breathed a sigh of relief since it was only two teams. Bam was watching in worry. Khun was just waiting to see what Evolet would do. Rak was antsy, raring to get some action.

As one team was trying to make an alliance with the other team to beat them, Evolet closed her eyes in concentration before snapping it open and she looked up. Seeing that, Khun also moved his attention in the same direction. What he saw was a single Baang, albeit bigger than normal and it seemed unsteady. He didn't have any time to register how, as Shinsu rushed out of the baang and flooded the room. The teams that went out were having difficulties to move in the dense Shinsu, trying to swim but to no avail. Their own team was safe, inside a dome Evolet made beforehand so that they didn't get flooded by the Shinsu. The three of them were impressed, they didn't know Evolet was capable of this. But she wasn't done just yet.

She raised up her hand to the front, as if holding something up; then she muttered it faintly that only Khun and Bam could hear it.

Come, Amos.

The space distorted in front of them. A white armored eel slowly swam out of the distorted space, making the regulars widen their eyes out of shock. They know they were doomed. Inside his lighthouse, Lero Ro stood up abruptly and banged the keyboard with his hands. He hadn't expected an Anima to show up, and how was she able to control a white armored eel when she's still an F level regular? Questions were swirling through Lero Ro's and the regulars' head; with the exception of the two teams that are currently screaming for all they're worth. Evolet cracked a smile, joyful to meet Amos once more. Amos also seemed happy to be able to swim in Shinsu. Sighing at the regulars' scream, Evolet asked if Amos would be willing to deliver them back to their rooms.

"Amos, would you be kind enough to send them back to their respective team rooms?"

Amos nodded, maneuvering through the Shinsu expertly as he whipped the regulars back to their cubes with his tail. After that was done, Evolet praised him and the Shinsu in the room slowly receded as Amos disappeared back to the distorted space without a trace. The regulars were still staring in shock, the teams from earlier probably traumatized. Bam was the first one to break the silence, saying how amazing Evolet was. Rak also reacted after that, insisting that he needed to fight against Amos. His request was promptly refused by Evolet who didn't want Amos to get hurt. Khun smirked, this was getting so interesting. What other secrets are they hiding, what else are they capable of? He definitely picked the right people to go up the Tower with.

Getting up from Evolet's lap, he took out the handkerchief that had previously slipped through his hair and changed his hairstyle to that of a ponytail. He was going to reveal his trump card in the last round, he wants to go up the Tower with this team. And soon enough, the fifth round started. The first move was made by a girl wearing a unitard and a mask. She skillfully handled her dual-bladed gold long staff, getting rid of the other teams near her efficiently. Khun's trump card, or rather the team he made a deal with put up a good fight but... So much for his trump card. Now only three teams were left standing; Bam's team, the team from the other location, and the unitard girl's team. Holding her bloodied staff, the girl looked at Bam's team. Khun and Rak readied themselves.

"It's coming, Gator!"

"I know!!!"

Rak didn't need to be told. Letting out a battle cry, he parried the attacks from the girl. It didn't even last long as the girl maneuvered cleverly, almost hitting Rak on the head if it wasn't for Evolet's Shinsu shield made just in the nick of time. But the girl managed to get past Rak, heading towards the throne where Bam was sitting with Evolet standing protectively in front of him while conjuring up shields here and there to cover Rak and Khun. Evolet clicked her tongue when she saw the girl heading their way. She wasn't the best at combat but... Desperate time calls for desperate measures. Evolet tried her best to evade and block the girl's attack, all the while still maintaining the shields since Rak and Khun were also up against their own opponents. But as the girl's swings became faster and heavier, Evolet was eventually caught off guard. There was an opening near her leg area since she was more focused on her upper body's defense. The girl didn't waste the chance and assaulted Evolet's left calf with a solid swing.

The girl expected Evolet to falter, and she did. What she didn't include into her calculations was that Evolet only faltered for a moment but she didn't fall. Evolet immediately launched a counterattack, making a Baang and propelling the girl with a stream of Shinsu. The girl had also managed to deliver a final attack to Evolet's right shoulder in the nick of time as she was pushed away to a distance but not reaching the wall, skidding to a stop soon enough. Bam was staring at Evolet with worry, Black March in his hands but not knowing what he could do to help without dragging Evolet down. Evolet wasn't minding any of her injuries almost as if they weren't there, still in a stance for attack. The girl once more rushed back to her, but to Evolet's surprise; a cloaked girl from the unknown location team repelled the attack and fended off the girl. Her cloak had fallen off in the process, revealing a short brown haired girl with striking yellow eyes.

After that the teammates of the brunette also went to the throne, both standing near it yet not showing any intentions of stealing the crown. One of them even stated it explicitly. Bam raised up a bit from his spot behind Evolet when he heard the cloaked member talking, familiar with the voice.

"Rachel?" He asked hopefully.

No reply. Bam was about to ask again, but his view was blocked by the bigger team member that was standing between them menacingly. Meanwhile, Khun and Rak were having a conversation in the midst of their battle; coming to a conclusion that the other team wasn't interested in the crown to say the least.

Evolet's attention was averted to the unitard girl once more as she heard a scream from the brunette whose shoe heel just broke. The girl was heading their way. Evolet readied a rather decent sized shield with the intent of protecting Bam fully without moving from her spot. But to her shock, the girl switched directions abruptly and aimed for the cloaked member. Widening her eyes, Evolet tried to cast a shield. The girl was faster, the gold staff hitting the cloaked girl's head; making the hood fall and revealing that it was indeed Rachel.

As the girl prepared to strike again, Bam leapt off of the throne; frantic to reach Rachel and protect her. Khun and Rak watched in horror of what Bam just did, shouts of don't. Evolet couldn't reach far enough when Bam's sleeves slipped out of her range. She wasn't fast enough to conjure another shield with how this was going and as her panic rate shot up; mouthing a desperate NO when Bam jumped between the firing line and the Shinsu inside him was going rampant. It all happened so suddenly; but when one end of the staff connected with Bam's head, something inside the both of them snapped. The Shinsu inside Bam raged, going out of control as it attacked the girl who injured Rachel; blinding the participants momentarily with its light. Still, Evolet always knows where Bam is. So she reaches out to him, suppressing his Shinsu down and making a temporary seal on it, with all her might despite how she was also trying to restrain the bloodlust inside her. She couldn't go out of control here, not when Bam was already doing that.

When the light died down, Evolet was cradling Bam to her chest; both unconscious on the floor. The unitard girl's mask broke, revealing wavy red hair and an injured eye from the Shinsu outburst as she screamed in pain. The crown had crumbled away from the same Shinsu outburst. And the Crown Game ended without a winner. Only one question went through everyone's mind.

What... did they do?

Chapter Text

With the game over, the exhausted regulars were given three days of break. During those three days, Khun was the one who watched over Evolet and Bam, switching rooms every few hours to take care of them. Evolet was the first to awaken. She regained her consciousness on the second day; instantly greeted by Khun who was glad at the sight. Khun explained what had happened after the game briefly before asking if she was still hurting anywhere. Evolet, being the high pain resistant girl she is, didn't even hesitate to answer with a no. Although in reality the bruises from the staff's impacts were still there and probably aren't disappearing anytime soon, not that it will bother her. With that out of the way, Evolet quickly inquired about Bam's condition.

Hearing that Bam was still unconscious, Evolet requested Khun to take her to where he is. At first Khun was reluctant, but he eventually caved in since Evolet's room wasn't that far from Bam's. Evolet looked at Bam who was lying on his bed, head bandaged. She bit her lip, feeling guilty that she couldn't protect him; that is was her fault he ended up like this, because she was still too incompetent. Khun sighed seeing the look on Evolet's face, telling her not to blame herself and that Bam wouldn't blame her either. Doubt was clear on her face, but she nodded anyway. What kind of person would she be if she made Khun worry too.

Evolet stood beside the bed, her hands grasping Bam's. Then suddenly she told Khun that she was the reason Bam hasn't woken up yet; because she placed a temporary seal on Bam's Shinsu to lessen the damage. "I'm going to lift the seal now. The Shinsu overflow also needs to be dealt with… I'll make something out of it."

Khun nodded and watched in interest. He didn't know that someone's Shinsu could be sealed even if only temporarily. He'll have to ask further about this later. Evolet had closed her eyes in concentration, slowly lifting the seal she had placed on Bam and at the same time drawing his Shinsu overflow to her instead so he wouldn't be overwhelmed later. When she opened her eyes, the blue-violet color seemed glazed; out of focus from the amount of Shinsu inside her that she's restraining. Evolet snapped back to focus when Khun called her name. She gave him a reassuring smile before getting to work with the large quantity Shinsu and starting a light conversation with Khun.

"Khun-san, you're curious about the Shinsu seal aren't you?" She asked with a knowing childish smile.

Khun replied with a smirk, getting to the point. "Yeah. I never knew that was possible."

A giggle from Evolet. "It isn't the easiest thing to do so I doubt a lot of people know it."

It’s not a lie, but it’s not the truth either.

A Baang was steadily forming in Evolet's hand as she threw a gaze at Khun who was waiting for her to continue. "While making a Shinsu seal does require expertise in the field; it's rather the condition needed to do so that people typically cannot fulfill."

"Condition?"

"Trust, or connection if you would."

She’s making this up at the spot. It’s true that there’s a certain condition that needs to be fulfilled. And a connection is no doubt similar to it, but not in the way she was explaining it. Seeing that Khun had gone silent, Evolet just continued. "Shinsu is… essentially life. So if I were to manipulate someone's Shinsu to that extent without causing everlasting damage on both sides, they would need to trust me with their life."

"Isn't that similar to permission?" Khun narrowed his eyes.

Evolet shook her head, the Baang in her hands compressing itself as it changed its Shinsu quality. "I don't need their permission to manipulate their Shinsu as long as the trust is established beforehand. Permission can be tricky to get in spontaneous situations like… what happened in the Crown Game."

She paused for a moment before adding. "Ah, but it's rare in the Tower itself. Trust isn't exactly something common around here. Not to mention there aren't that many people that have the capability to control Shinsu in such a complicated way."

Khun stared at her silently. "Then you're saying that Bam trusts his life to you?"

Evolet seemed to falter a bit before she answered hesitantly. "I… think so?"

But then her expression changed into that of a cheerful smile. "But I trust my life with him too. And with you too Khun-san."

Khun wasn't expecting that. He felt his mouth dry out, how could she abruptly say she trusts him so easily when they haven't even known each other for long? And that time with that door test. He found himself asking, "Why?"

Evolet didn't hesitate with her answer, letting out a gentle smile with dazed eyes. "Because Khun-san is kind."

And it was true, she mused as she glanced at the Shinsu strings around him. His Shinsu felt kind, calming, strong and reliable, once broken but fixed. Khun's eyes were wide open from disbelief. Kind wasn't a word that he would associate with himself or anyone from his family. But she had said that before. For a moment instead of Evolet, he saw Maria instead in front of him. He froze before he shook his head.  It was only that one time that…

His train of thoughts cut off. He didn't need another flashback. He stared at Evolet who was inspecting the Baang she just made. She appeared to be happy with the result, nodding on satisfaction at the white reflective Baang she just made. Unaware of Khun's inner turmoil, Evolet turned to him to show the Baang she just made.

"Look, Khun-san! The Baang looks nice doesn't it? It's made from a combination of Bam's Shinsu and mine. Although since I was the one who made it, it took on my Shinsu quality which is… more focused on defense. I still don't know the reason why it's white or why it looks reflective, but maybe I'll figure it out someday!"

Khun thought back to the few days he spent with Evolet. She had shown many contradictory characteristics; bloodlust, childish, serious, knowing, dense,  gentle, caring, random, etc. Right now the girl was showcasing her childish qualities, blabbering about the Baang with childish wonder in her eyes. He sighed. What was he thinking about? Evolet and Maria are two different people. Khun wasn't aware that Evolet had stopped speaking and was instead watching Khun with a worried gaze since he seemed to be out of it. Evolet had to call Khun several times before he finally snapped out of it and… promptly blushed from Evolet's close proximity. At least she immediately pulled back when she saw that he was back to normal.

Relieved, Khun let out a sigh again. But as he slowly regained his focus, it clicked in his mind. Evolet just made a Baang. And she used Shinsu during the Crown Game.

When did she make the contract with the administrator?

He voiced the question. Eve froze. She certainly didn't make any contract with the administrator, nor does she have any intention to do so. But she can't possibly say that to Khun, that would be the same as screaming out the fact that she's not a regular. Almost conveniently, there was a knock on the door. Both Khun and Evolet's attention switched to it, eyeing the monitor to see who knocked at the door. The monitor flashed on, showing Rachel's face. Evolet's pose stiffened, taking a deep breath and putting the Baang she made earlier on the table. She let an impassive look take over her before she went to open the door.

That was when Evolet and Rachel first met each other officially. Standing in the doorway with Evolet staring down at Rachel, Evolet wearing a blank look on her face with disdain carefully concealed beneath a mask. Before Rachel got a chance to say anything, Evolet had spoken first.

"Rachel-san… Right?"

Surprised, Rachel could only nod. Evolet's expression remained the same. "Please do come in."

Evolet was standing near the edge of the bed, leaning against the wall. She was avoiding to meet eyes with Rachel, looking anywhere but her who was standing beside Bam while caressing his cheek with concern in her eyes. Evolet inwardly let out a scoff. And so just like that, Rachel started telling her story. Evolet didn't listen; she already knew. Rachel was stating about how she can't stay beside Bam, how they'll only be a burden to each other. While Evolet was willing to pay any price to stay beside Bam and protect him; but she just couldn't. For once, or rather as always; she wishes she was the one who found Bam first.

Not soon enough, Rachel finally finished talking. Rachel's gaze travelled to the table, hand reaching out to the Baang Evolet had made; drawn by the power it radiated. Evolet's voice thundered, a silent threat of or else lingering. "Don't touch it."

Rachel's hand withdrew, but her gaze was still fixated at the sphere.

Don’t be greedy for power that isn't yours.

"Please refrain from touching it. Or asking about it for that matter. I was the one who made it and I don't appreciate anyone else except for the intended recipient to prod about it."

Rachel was about to ask something, clearly unaware of her boundaries. Evolet gave her a glare that shut her up before she could say anything. Instead, Rachel turned to Khun and asked if she could have the chocolate bars that were beside the Baang. Khun's mind was wondering why Evolet seemed to be unfriendly, perhaps more toward Rachel; but he allowed Rachel to take the chocolate bars nonetheless since it would be rude to refuse. When Rachel was about to exit the room, Evolet said; "I hope whatever is on top of the Tower is much more worthy than Bam."

It will never be. Not for me at least. Let's see how long your patience can hold on before your jealousy and greed takes over.

The door closed without a reply from Rachel. Evolet's posture relaxed a bit although her expression clearly says she didn't enjoy the visit. Khun eyed Evolet. "You don't seem to like Rachel, Eve."

That would be an understatement.

Evolet looked at Khun in the eye, blue-violet orbs showing a storm of emotions that he couldn't quite grasp. "Do you still remember what Hansung-san said to me that time, Khun-san?"

Half of him was wondering where she was taking this conversation, since he had indirectly asked Rachel. But he wasn't going to complain. He was also curious about what Hansung had said before. " 'Please enjoy your remaining time' was it?"

She nodded, pausing to take the Baang from earlier and holding it close to her chest with both hands. "Long ago, Bam asked me whether I wanted to climb the Tower or not. … I answered no."

Khun couldn't hide the surprise in his eyes. It wasn't every day that you hear someone doesn't want to climb the Tower. "Don't you have anything that you wish for on top of the Tower?"

Evolet shook her head with a fond smile. "At that time, staying by Bam's side was more than enough for me. Although now… I suppose that has changed a bit." she chuckled as a certain blue-head and crocodile popped into her mind.

He was tempted to ask what had changed, but he pushed it down and instead said, "You started climbing the Tower because of Bam didn't you?"

"... Yes. Bam wanted to follow Rachel so… I don't really have any other choice than to follow him. I can't really let him go alone when I've decided to be his shield. …"

Evolet started hesitating near the end, as if she wanted to say something more. And Khun wasn't about to let it slide, not when he could sense there was still something lingering behind those sentences. "That's not all isn't it, Eve?"

.

.

.

"The reason that I didn't want to climb the Tower is because I'll have to leave him if I do."

There was something amiss in her tone and body language as she said that. It clicked in Khun's head. "You haven't told Bam about it have you?"

Evolet stiffened, Khun's answer had hit the nail. But contrary to what Khun thought Evolet would do, she only sighed. "I don't think it would change a thing… He puts Rachel first and foremost so I doubt he'll mind about my reason or me disappearing."

Did she seriously just- Does she actually think that???

Unaware of Khun's perplexion, Evolet continued. "I made a promise with someone, that when I enter the Tower I would assist that person with something. In truth I should've gone immediately to them but… I suppose they already discovered me first."

"And… you're just going to go like that?"

"Yes… I did make the promise to do so. They've been kind enough to not pick me up immediately too so I can't ask for much more. Otherwise Bam would be in danger… Not to mention they've taken care of me and been a great help."

"You're not going to tell Bam about this?"

Evolet shook her head. "No. I don't need to burden him further. Besides… Rachel wants to go up the Tower. Bam will find out the truth sooner or later even if she tells us to lie to him. He'll take her to the top no matter what it takes. … And perhaps that's also the reason I'm jealous of her. Bam treasures her so much, she's his priority and yet she would rather choose to leave him rather than staying by his side…"

Letting out a resigned smile, she continued. "Oftentimes, I wish that I met him first. It makes me wonder if anything would change if I did. I'm sorry, Khun-san… It's cruel of me to ask you to keep another secret from everyone else."

Khun just stared at her. He can't grasp what's going through her mind and yet at the same time he understands, it's so confusing. "Hey, Eve…"

"What is it, Khun-san?" Evolet asks, puzzled.

"How do you feel about Bam? What is he to you?"

Evolet was taken by surprise for a moment. Her mind wandered to the memories she made with Bam throughout the years, a smile evident on her face. As she opened her mouth, about to answer; her breath hitched.

A mere item shouldn't have emotions. More so a cursed one.

She felt like choking. Khun noticed that she had gone pale, her hands trembling. He asked what was wrong, only to be replied with a shaky "A-ah, I'm sorry Khun-san; I need to go-" while Evolet was rushing to the door, banging it open and rushing to who knows where; unaware of Rak who shouted in surprise when she did so.

Evolet kept walking in the empty hallway. Voices ringing in her head as she did so, repeating the same word over and over again.

C̴u̶r̶s̶e̸d̷

C̴̦̑u̵̻̿r̶̩̓S̶͓̓ë̴͎́D̴͉̓

͓Ç̵͚̻̍̄u̶̝̬͉̒́R̷̢͇̥͒̏s̸̟̘E̷͎͍̿͑̕D̸̢̘̗̄̚

C̵̖̿U̶̧͚͐͐̈̕̕ř̵͖̺̣̜̭s̷̼̪͕͐̍̌̂̈Ë̶͕̦͎̫̌͘D̵̯̎͒̎̈́͠

Ç̷̦̰͉͉̗̤̖͂͋̽͋̽ų̵̡̨̠̼̖͓͖͚̱̽͑͆̽͑̈́͑̅̇͘̕͠Ṛ̶̱͚̺̳̫͇̫̤͓̏̍̌̂͂̄̑͑̾̿͘͘͜͜ͅŠ̶̨̨̨͙͎̗͙͚̭̻̝̂́ͅË̵̢̘̮̤́͊d̵̡̡̤̣̻̲͌̓̕ͅ

C̸̨̡̞̞̹̮̙̺͈͙͇̙̗̄̀͜Ṵ̶̯͚̟̼̲͋̽̏͊̑̔̕͠r̶̢̟͙̥͚̭̯̖̦̠̜̠̜͕̻͍̖͓͖͍͉̈́̔͒̎̐̀̋̓͛͋̑͘͘͜Ş̸̧̟̭̝̗̬̩̮̜͇̟̅͋͒͊̒̏̒̈́̊̔̔͂̌̒͝͝E̷̢̛͎͉̰̳̫̺̟͕̥͕̙͊͛̊͊͋̐̽̌͗̕͜͝͠͝d̶̢̧̛̥̘̤̣̟͈̹̺͕̎̆̄̊̉̍͊͜

Ç̵̨̦̭̯̘̝͇̼̭̞̝̙̤̫̙̭͇͙͍͙̯̋͆̄̉̐̈́̇̈́͛̆̕͜ͅU̷̡̢̙̞̯̖̰͔̯̭̓͛̈́̓̃͋̾̒̆̓̓̿͒͌͛̆̅̕͝R̷̮̒̒̽͐͗̊͗͐̿͆͒̔̏͘͝Ṡ̷̢̱͉͈͉̹͙̬̪̺̦̪̳̅̈̎͑̒̉́͛ͅȩ̷̡̢͎̹̰̬͔̯̲͒̈̌̂̀͗̑̚͝D̶̨̨̖̭̖̪̟͍͈͖̝̖̤͖͉̽̀̊̽́̆̈́̆̄̑̈̃̓̈́͑̍͌̽̋̓̊̈̃͘͝͝͝

Ĉ̶̢̛̭͕͚̥̲̬̠̲̘̘̝͈̙̥̻̝͉͈̼͒̓̋̌̅̊̾̉͋́̑̾͑̊̈̍̈́͛̑̃̌̈́̚̕̚͜͝Ų̴̧̧̨͈̪̫̭͓̹̳̫̟̑̇͐͂́̌͋̍͘̚ͅͅR̴̡̢̧̭͉̞̥͚̞̗̮̬̲̺̮̱̘̠̜͚̠̲̥̝̝̞̪̞͛͆̽̓̔̉͐̍̿͆͑̃̽̎̑̚͜͝͝͝ͅͅS̴̨̧̡̨̻͔̟̬͈̹̞̭̥̗͇̫̅͆̌̓̑̈́̅͑̀̀̋̃̓͘͘Ȩ̴̨̡̛̜̦͕͚̱̯̳̭͌̀̈̏̌͆̽̎͂̊̂̊̽̉̎̍̈́̒̓̄̆͘̚͘͝͠D̸̝̜̬̫̠̞̗̥̩̹̜̣̲̫͚̗͙̺̞͙̼̃͛̐̃͑̍̄̉̅̈̊̆́̾̾͑͋͜͜͠

₵̷̡̨̥̫̗̹̘͈͙̎́̎̑͊͆̋̈̐̍̆̍̎̐̀̔̄̂̎̉̈́̐͒͌̊̈́̒͛͘͝͝͝͝ͅɄ̸̢̻̱͚̞̭̣͚̟͙̮̮̠̱̩̩̰͇̼͇͓̯͙̱̦̼͎̘̩͔̫̞̲̩̯̅̈́̋̏̽͒̑̎̿͋̎́̋͂͌͌̽́̌̽͑̃̔̾̿̓̒̈́̉͐͋͂̐̏͌̓̆̋̒͒͌̍͗̍͋́̿̀͛̍͊́̏̒͒̓͆̈̓̋̃̍̈́̔͌̂͗̍͘͘̕͘̚̚͘̕͝͠͝͝͠͝͠Ɽ̸̛̛̛̖̗̺̫̪̬̼̲̜̼̅͌̃̀̉͛̌̃̿̽̆͊̍́̊̑̊͌̓̽́͗̈̌̄͑̄̔͂͐̉̓̅͗̉̆̑̆̀̽̌̿̍̒̅̆͊́̄̑͆̉̅͋̋̒̄͊̑̏̃̍͛̿́͛͆́͆̾̎̆̌̏̌͊̑̅̍̑̓̓͂͋͒͆͋̈́͘͘͘̚̚͝͝͝₴̴̢̢̨̡̨̡̡̢̛̠̻̠̭̦̖̼͈̟͎̘̦̮̟̘͚̘̗̘͓̣̣̦̥̙͔̖̘͕̟̻͉͓͓̥͉̯̗͚̬͕̭͙̬͈̙͕͙̣̲̥̱̮̮̬̩̰͓̯̬͓̱͓̞̣̦̜̮̲͖̻̞̱̼̩̙̫̮̰̪̘̣̤͈͓̭̺̠̦͇̠̩̭͓̺͍̗͔̳̔͗̽͒͐̆͜͜͝ͅͅͅɆ̷̡̧̢̨̡̛̛̛̛̛͓̖̝̩̘̮̤̳̼̮͚͙̼̣̘͇͎̪̼͖̤̱͍̳̞̲̦̮̘̺̲̻̻̜̱̝̟͔̼̰͉̼̺̳̮͂͒̈̈́̍̈̅͑͐͌̔͋͒́͆̇͑͂̏̄͌̀͋̊͊̆̄̈̅̽̏͒͐̄̃̔̈́̽̌̇̄͛̉͌͑̋̅̾͑͗̉̍̊̂͆̒̎̈̓̎̓̈̾̄̿̓̋̀̈́̍͛̔͐̈́̈́́̑̌͐͌͑̿̎̍̃͌̈́͛̈́̾͂͛̈́́̔͛̊̃̈̋̚̚͘̕͘͜͝͝͝͝͝͝Đ̵̡̢̧̧̧̢̡̨̧̧̛̛̛̛̞̙͙̘̣̞͉̗̺͎͉̯̮̹̘͔͚͕̟̪͚̼͔̙̪͉̖͓̱͔̪̠̳̟̝͕̪̯̝̳͖̜̘͕͚̼͕̮̜̪͚̞̟̩̹̤̣͇͎̹͖̘̤̟̳̲͎̼͙̺̘̬̰̩̜̹̫̟͎̮̙̱̙̺͓͇̖̻̬̰͉͚̟̠͍̹̣̭̮̟̟̝̩̠̂̒͆̀͗̂̈́͑͗̇̈͗̈́̏͛͛͊̒͑̎̈́͆̽͂͂̀̍̒̿̍͋̅̏̒̍̒̔̇̅̾̏̄̏̍̏̑̃̆͌̂̾͐̽̓̿͊̎̽̌̓̇̕͘͘̚͘̚̚͜͝͝͠ͅͅͅ






























Stop.

Evolet breathed in heavily, pupils dilated. She stilled in the hallway, taking deep breaths as she calmed down slowly. Letting out a wry laugh, she thought 'how pathetic' as she stood in the silence.

Khun took slow strides to the door after Evolet left. She didn't answer two of his questions, but he doubts she's capable of answering it in her state. Worry was clouding his mind, unknowing of what had caused her to go into a panic mode. He found Rak standing in front of the door, staring at the direction where Evolet took off with a confused expression. Rak's piercing red eyes met Khun's and the first sentence he said was "Blue turtle, what did you do to the Purple turtle?"

Khun sighed. He'd answer Rak's question if he knew the answer. "Just get in, Gator."

The Baang from earlier was left forgotten on the table. Rak was screaming profanities, shouting at Bam in hopes he will wake up; threats mixed in his shouts. His attention didn't last long enough as soon as he noticed his chocolate bars were gone. Khun could only pinch the bridge of his nose in an attempt to lessen the headache from Rak's shouts. "What's this? Is this food?"

Khun snapped his head to Rak's direction, eyes widening in horror when he saw Eve's Baang in Rak's hands. "Don't, Gator!!!"

Khun tackled Rak to stop him. Hell broke loose.

Chapter Text

Bam was still unconscious when the regulars were gathered up for the next test's announcement. Khun was slightly worried that Bam would fail the test, but Evolet looked nonchalant as she told Khun to not worry. She said Bam's luck would prevail, not that Khun knew what it meant, not until later at least. Lero Ro entered the room and soon enough started explaining about the next test. He started with a small talk, the regulars didn't really pay much attention to it until he got to the point.

"Well, I will explain to you the test that will begin now." That was the cue the regulars were waiting for.

"The test you're taking this time is the "Positioning Test"!"

"Positioning… test? Which means?" Shibisu asked

"Yeah. I think a lot of you have noticed this already. As you know, the fighting in the Tower it's usually done in teams. The position is in the role that you'll play during these battles. There are a lot of different positions, but basically there is…"

The Fisherman who disarms the anime by using the reel inventory. Thus, they are always at the heart of battle. They can also carry out individual activities.

The Spear Bearer who uses spears to target enemies from behind or finish off what the Fisherman started.

The Light Bearer who lights up the dark Tower, collects battle data, and sends it to the Scout.

The Scout who observes the enemy's movements at the forefront using the observer and helps the Fisherman when they charge.

The Wave Controller who controls Shinsu to assist in battle or overpowers an opponent. They are known to dominate the battlefield.

"Of caske there are more positions beyond these five, such as the "Guide", but it doesn't have much to do with you. The only… special position included this time is an Anima."

Anima is a special position and refers to someone who subjugates and controls Shinheuh and other creatures to do their bidding.

"An Anima is quite rare, even among Rankers. Imagine the surprise that came when an Anima suddenly revealed herself, wielding a white armored eel of all things." Lero Ro said pointedly at Evolet who only offered him a polite smile.

Lero Ro put one of his Lighthouse in visible mode. "Beginning now, you will be assigned to one of these five positions. And you will be trained in that position for a month and only the regulars with the highest results get the right to take the next test."

The yellow Lighthouse was enlarged, showing a table of the regulars' positions. "Now, look. This table shows your position according to the results of the previous tests."

Evolet scanned briefly through the list, quickly locking on her name and the positions granted. Wave Controller and Anima, it's more or less what she expected. She doesn't know what's the Best Seed written beside her name was. Different thoughts were going through the regulars' mind. But one of them had asked something that a few, if not all, regulars have noticed. "Sir! What's that "Best Seed" written beside the names?"

"Best seed? People with the title "Best seed" are the ones who did well in the previous tests. One person was chosen per test and they get a bonus point in the final positioning."

The regulars were in an uproar. One was complaining about how they didn't tell that beforehand. One was shouting how one of them got the title. The other was stupidly enough saying how he doesn't understand why he got the title. And yet another one chimed into the mess, saying that the other person was chosen so he shouldn't ask himself. Lero Ro laughed, amused by the situation. "The Best seed tag is given fairly, and after a thorough evaluation." He said with a hint of laughter in his voice.

The amusement quickly morphed into a glare as he said, "I've got a lot to do. So stop asking small things, ok?"

The regulars shut their mouths. Although, Khun was daring enough to ask another question. "Hey, Administrator Lero Ro. There are many injured candidates here. How can they take the test?"

"When they are cured, more or less they have to start to take the class. But the positioning class keeps attendance records, so it is a disadvantage if you miss class."

"I think that's unfair. The injured will obviously miss some of the class." Khun objected calmly.

Evolet let out a smile at Khun's caring intentions. Well she did tell Khun to not worry but it's understandable that he would still protest since she didn't offer any solid proof. It was all a hunch after all. But still, she grinned as she watched all of this unfold. Lero Ro was countering Khun's objections with ease. "Of course. But it is his fault for getting injured. It's obvious that people pay for their mistakes isn't it?"

That had stung Evolet a bit. She thinks it was her fault that Bam got hurt, because she wasn't competent enough. Khun also can't protest anymore, unless he wants to anger Lero Ro. With Khun finally quieting down, Lero Ro wrapped up his announcement. "Well, that's it for today. The position teachers will explain the detailed schedule for the test later. So please follow the guide and go to where your position teachers are."

Lero Ro shrunk his Lighthouse before adding, "Oh, and in case of Wave Controllers; the teacher has a problem so he will arrive a bit late. He says he'll start class three days late. Ok, everyone, go to your teachers."

That registered in Khun's mind immediately. 'Wave Controller? It's Bam's position! If it starts after three days… He can make it! Wait, Eve-'

He turned to Evolet who still had a grin on her face that was practically saying to Khun 'I told you so'. He sighed, admitting his defeat this time. As told before, each regular went to their position teacher. Hence why Evolet is currently sitting in front of Hansung who was her Anima teacher. Evolet wondered what kind of wonderful luck she has to end up in this scenario. She was enjoying another cup of hot chocolate that Hansung graciously offered. The room was filled with awkward silence as Evolet waited for Hansung to start the conversation. At last, Hansung finally put his cup of coffee down.

"I suppose you are already aware of that matter, Miss Euterpe."

Evolet nodded hesitantly. Hansung proceeded to open another packet of instant coffee as he resumed. "First of all, I welcome you back into the Tower. FUG has been waiting for your arrival."

The word caught Evolet's attention. "FUG? I see they have a name now."

"Yes, and he seemed really excited for you to arrive. Those boxes of instant hot chocolate packages are all from him."

Looking to the direction Hansung pointed at, Evolet let out a wry awkward laugh when she saw the stacked boxes. She didn't need that much when she's only staying for a while here. Hansung put his cup down, hiding a smirk behind his sleeves. "But still though, are you sure you won't regret it? You seem… attached to that boy."

Evolet was slightly taken aback by the question, but she won't be deterred by something like that. "Yes. I have a promise to keep and I don't intend to break it. As it stands right now, I have nowhere enough strength to protect Bam. That's why I need to get stronger. Besides… there's something I want to find out."

Wistfulness could be found in Evolet’s eyes as an image of Bam and Rachel flashed in her mind. She just… Wants to confirm something. Hansung noticed the look in her eyes, redirecting the conversation. "Now, let us get straight to the point. Compared to the other positioning class, the Anima class will only last for two days. Three, if you include today. And the class only consists of one test which will give you an early qualification if you succeed."

"Which is…?"

A sadistic glint was apparent in Hansung’s eyes. "Subjugate the Raijuu in two days."

"Raijuu?"

"Body of lightning and with the form of a white and blue wolf or dog. It may also fly about as a ball of lightning. Its cry sounds like thunder. While the beast is generally calm and harmless, during thunderstorms it becomes agitated, and leaps about in trees, fields, and even buildings." He explained, sipping his coffee calmly.

Needless to say, Evolet accepted the test. Not that she has any other option. Hansung sure looks like he found an extremely interesting toy to play with. The Wave Controller class only lets two people pass. Laure is guaranteed to pass, he is from the Eurasia family after all. Which means Evolet needs to pass the Anima class instead of the Wave Controller class so Bam can also proceed. Knowing Hansung, the test probably has a catch but… Evolet only let out a sigh in resignation. Honestly, the things she would do for Bam… But first-

“Hansung-san, correct me if I’m wrong but… By any chance, did you make a deal with Rachel?” Bloodlust was oozing out of Evolet, her eyes were those of a predator. The threat in her words was loud and clear. Hansung couldn’t suppress the shivers that went through his hands.

Somehow managing to tone down the chill he felt, Hansung provided her with a response. “Of course not, Ms. Euterpe.”

Doubt was written all over Evolet’s face, but she pulled back the bloodlust and let the room’s atmosphere return to normal. In the end she went out of the room without saying another word. Hansung let out a breath in relief, an amused smirk broke out. What he felt was real, that was the Muse’s Curse. He finds this all too entertaining. Downing the coffee in one go, he set down the cup only to find that it was cracked all over because of the pressure from his own hands that were still trembling with excitement.

Evolet didn’t waste anymore time. She dashed to her room, only packing lightly without any intention to rest along the way. She recon she wouldn't have any time for rest if she actually wants to return on time. The paper containing the Raijuu's possible location in her hands. She noted that the location is most likely far-off since it was Hansung who gave it. Regardless of that, she moved on and headed to Bam's room next. Like she expected, Khun was present there to take care of Bam. Briefing him about her situation, she left him in charge of Bam's well-being and left with a promise to return as soon as possible.

As it turned out, Hansung did give her the correct location… Not exactly, it was slightly off but at least it gave Evolet a general idea of where it might be. Shaking her head at the raging storm looming before her, she headed to the eye of the storm in search of the Raijuu; disregarding the harsh wind and cold water droplets as she did.

.

.

.

How long has she been walking? This test was testing her perseverance and stamina rather than her abilities as an Anima. By now her dress was thoroughly drenched by the relentless rain, the chill soaking to her bones. Her breaths were getting shallower, body shivering from the lack of heat. She knows her steps are getting sloppier by the second, slipping every now and then. The strong winds prevented her from drawing out her wings in fear that she wouldn't be able to fight against it. Her vision was getting woozy and for a moment she thought she was starting to hallucinate when she saw a spark in the distance. She stopped, squinting her eyes to confirm what she saw wasn't an illusion. When she saw another spark from the same direction, her eyes widened and she ran off with newfound strength.

She stared at the beast she needed to subjugate. She doesn't feel like it's a beast. Sparks of lightning were crackling near the Raijuu, yet Evolet was more fixated on its luscious fur. It must be satisfying to pet it… and it's fur must be warm. The Raijuu doesn't seem like it's about to cooperate nicely though. Evolet reached out to the Raijuu, intending to coax it into a contract. Her step faltered halfway, the world spinning as she collapsed to the wet ground. The last thing she saw was the Raijuu approaching her.

As Evolet laid unconscious on the ground, the curious Raijuu experimentally nudged her with its paw. Seeing how she didn't react, the Raijuu retracted its lightning and picked her up with its mouth; taking care not to bite her. The storm subsided with its will, and the Raijuu went off to bring the human to its shelter.

The next time Evolet regained her consciousness, her vision was still a tad bit blurry. But it wasn't as bad as before. She felt something move around her, enveloping her with warmth and lulling her to sleep. She was extremely tempted to close her eyes again, in fact already doing it. Her mind wouldn't let her do so, conjuring up a picture of Bam and reminding her that he was waiting. That she needed to pass the test in order to let him pass too. She forced herself to open her eyes, groaning as she did.

There was movement, her mind supplied. She turned her head to the right gingerly, and was met with a pair of cobalt blue eyes. In reflex, she flinched back but was blocked with something soft. Taking a better look of the owner of those cobalt blue eyes. To her pleasant surprise, it was the Raijuu she's been looking for.

She realized that she was actually leaning on the Raijuu's stomach, and its tail was loosely wrapped around her. The tension seeped away from her, and before she knew it; the Raijuu was nuzzling up against her. It also gave occasional licks, making her giggle at the affection it was showing. She grabbed a hold of its head gently, and scratched under its chin as she stared at the Raijuu contemplatively.

The Raijuu gave a content purr, akin to a large cat that doesn't pose any danger. Despite that, Evolet knows better. The Raijuu can retaliate anytime and she's only safe because of her capabilities as an Anima. She wondered what it was that felt familiar from the Raijuu that was completely tame with her. She kept staring, before it finally clicked in her mind. A series of laughter tumbled out of Evolet. It was those cobalt blue eyes that were strikingly similar to Khun's. She ceased her scratching, the Raijuu looking at her with curiosity. All the while smiling, she put their forehead together and closed her eyes.

Under the name of the contract, I shall name thee. Thy name is Raiden.

The Shinsu heeded her call, tangling their strings together and forming a contract. When her eyes snapped open, the contract was in place and she gained another comrade. Raiden was on all fours in front of her. She smiled, petting him shortly before saying, "Now, let's go back before time runs out."

Evolet enjoyed the ride back, since the storm was nowhere in sight thanks to Raiden's ability. Though she is aware that she was running low on time. So she tells Raiden to hurry, allowing him usage of his lightning for speed. She could feel the slight static, her hair also reacting to it. But right now she could care less. She just needs to make it on time, check on Bam, then sleep. Staying up straight for two days does wonders for her eye bags.

She arrived before the deadline. Safe and sound, but definitely not clean. Her hair was frizzy in some places, her clothes that were already dry by now, along with eye bags to complete the look. With a sigh, she went to Hansung's office to inform her success. He wasn't the least surprised, saying that it was to be expected from her. As she was about to leave, he gave her a box.

"What's inside?"

"You'll have to find out by yourself. It's from him."

She was too tired to deal with Hansung. The unopened box was safely hidden in her room before she went straight to Bam's room. She doesn't know if she should sigh in relief because she got back before Bam woke up or if she should frown since Bam hasn't woken up.

She didn't have time to think as Khun's face scrunched up when he saw her. He quickly stood up and ushered her to clean up first before daring to even go near him and Bam. Evolet chuckled in response but took a shower regardless. The shower was refreshing but it didn't help her with her eye bags. She didn't take any rest of some sort, excluding the unexpected blackout so that she could make it back as soon as possible. Hence why as soon as she sat, half leaning on the bed; she fell asleep after Bam's hand was safe in her grasp. Khun could only sigh, letting her be after putting a blanket on her.

Khun was standing beside her. A part of him was contemplating about Evolet. Her dedication to Bam was almost the same as his past self yet different in its own way. He wondered what Bam's reaction would be when she leaves. He has no doubt that it will have an impact on him, unlike what she presumed. Even he can't calculate what kind of reaction Bam will show. Will he chase her like he did for Rachel? Or will he just let her go over time? Khun stared at Evolet who was sleeping soundly. There's still so much questions and mysteries surrounding these two. His attention was diverted when he heard Evolet mumbling in her sleep. He leaned down a little to hear it clearer.

"Hm… Thank you… Khun-san"

He doesn't know what he's doing or the reason behind it, but his hand tentatively moved to Evolet's head; and before he knew it he was running his hand through her hair. Evolet smiled ever so slightly in her sleep. Rak entered the room shortly after that, all the while screaming. He was instantly silenced by Khun who bribed him with a banana. They were both sitting quietly, not having anything else to do while waiting for Bam to wake up.


Bam was on the verge of consciousness while muttering about Rachel, begging her to not leave. Khun was quick to react. He was already standing by Bam's side, asking if he was awake. Bam groaned but woke up nonetheless.

"Mr. Khun…? Where am I?"

"We're still on the test floor."

Bam sat up after hearing that, clutching his head that was still pounding. His eyes travelled to Evolet who was still asleep all the while holding his hand. "How long have I been like this?"

"You've been unconscious for five days. The Gator thought you were dead."

To say Bam was shocked was an understatement. "What? Five days?! Then Mr. Khun! What about the test…?" He asked worriedly.

Khun closed his eyes, acting as if he was feeling regretful and pity for Bam. "The test… already began two days ago."

"ALREADY?! Then… Did I…? Did I fail?"

Khun stayed silent. "Mr. Khun!"

With a downcast look, Khun started. Suspense was building up with every word he uttered. "Bam… to tell you the truth… you're…"

"You didn't fail yet, turtle." Rak chimed in suddenly.

Bam's expression was a mix of confusion and relief. Khun was annoyed, complaining at Rak who didn't play along. Still puzzled, Bam asked "What happened? How come I haven't failed yet, even though the test started?"

Calm and ambient, Khun considered his words carefully. "Oh, that's… How should I word this… As Eve said, you were lucky."

Khun was reminded of the Positioning Test announcement. He still hasn't figured out how Evolet knew beforehand. "So, this is what happened. You start the test three days later than other positions. The class of the Wave Controllers starts tomorrow. You were very lucky. Other positions already had two classes. If you missed that, you might have lost a lot of points."

"That's a relief but… Uhm-" Bam said reluctantly, pointing at Eve who was still fast asleep. She doesn't seem like she's going to let go of Bam's hand anytime soon.

"Ah- Eve is taking two classes; Anima and Wave Controller. The Anima class had a test that grants early qualification so she took it. She went out for two days and subjugated a Raijuu without rest, stubbornly saying that she needed to get back to you as soon as possible. She's probably tired, eye bags being evidence and all. You're lucky to have her Bam."

Bam's eyes softened, his hand reaching out to brush away the hair covering Evolet's face so he could see her better. "Yes… I truly am lucky to have her."

Something didn't settle well with Khun as he watched Bam do that. One thing that he was sure of was that, there's no way Bam was going to let Evolet disappear without a proper explanation. Oblivious of Khun's thoughts, Bam asked him about Rachel. That snapped Khun out of his thinking, answering that the girl Bam saved was okay but she wasn't the Rachel he was searching for.

Soon enough, Rak ran out of bananas and demanded Khun for chocolate bars instead. Evolet stirred from her sleep because of the noise. She sat up, making incoherent noises as she wiped her eyes in an attempt to erase the grogginess. As Rak and Khun were still bickering, Evolet's eyes wandered to Bam. She was still drowsy and it wasn't properly registering in her head that Bam was finally awake. Bam waited patiently for Evolet to properly wake up whilst staring in adoration. It seems like the fact finally processed in Evolet's mind as she stood up abruptly, engulfing Bam in a hug with a shout of "Bam! You're awake!"

Bam hugged her back, blushing as he did. Evolet had buried her head in his shoulder, going silent after that shout that had garnered Khun and Rak's attention. Or at least Bam thought she had gone silent. It wasn't long after that Bam caught her whispers. She was repeating apologies to him; for not being able to protect him properly when she promised so; for not being able to heal him. He pulled her away from the hug and looked at her face properly. She wasn't crying, but guilt was written all over her sleep deprived face. Cupping her face in his hands, he gently put his forehead on hers.

Blazing golden eyes peered into blue-violet ones, trying to get his point across that he was fine and none of this was her fault. She was about to protest, but was silenced with a finger pressing on her lips. Bam wasn't having any of her self-induced guilt. After a bit of convincing from Bam's side, Evolet finally relented. Not before giving him the Baang she had made beforehand, prior to Rachel's visit; saying that it will protect him. When he asked what it was, Evolet only responded with "You'll learn about it tomorrow in class", and a teasing smile.

Rak who had gone quiet earlier, suddenly started shouting. He was asking about the Baang, and demanding Evolet fight him. Evolet refused with a smile, insisting that she was only suited for defense and not offense. Khun was staring at Bam and Evolet, a certain question nagging in the back of his mind. If Bam had to choose between Evolet and Rachel,

Who would he choose?

Chapter Text

Why…?


Bam doesn't understand. He knows that girl was Rachel. She's trying to go up the Tower without him; trying to reach the sky and the stars. But he still doesn't get it. He doesn't care about the beautiful sky and the stars, the freedom. He cares more about Rachel than all of those stupid things.

"Shall we go to class, Bam?"

Bam nodded at Evolet. Walking to class, a thought crossed Bam's mind. She's always been by her side, excluding the days Rachel was there. He wonders how such a coincidence happen. Rachel was his star. What does Evolet mean to him? Evolet smiled at him, and he stopped pondering about it. She's still by his side, and that's enough. He thinks he truly is lucky to have her beside him.

The teacher of the Wave Controller class was named Yuga. He started his class, explaining the basics of Shinsu as the regulars listened attentively.

Shinsu is the world itself. Shinsu helps us breathe and live life. Also, it is the core of all energy. We can't do anything without Shinsu. Shinsu can be water, fire, or light. It can change in infinite ways. There is no word that can perfectly describe this fantastic element. It is like the blessings of God. Controlling Shinsu is like interrupting the role of God. Because it is so powerful, it is very dangerous to control the Shinsu.

"I can kill all the regulars here within five seconds. Isn't that scary?" The teacher said jokingly.

The regulars kept a mental note to keep their guard around this teacher.

As controlling Shinsu is so dangerous, in order to use it without any special item, you need to get permission from the floor's Administrator. You can already use the items without permission because they were already permitted by the Administrators at the Workshop after they were made. But if you're using more than a specific amount of Shinsu, it's a different story. You should get permission from the Administrator. This is generally called "The Contract with the Administrator". This contract must be done in the same way on every floor. Or else, you'll be restricted when controlling the Shinsu.

"Mr. Laure and Ms. Evolet. You both already contracted with the Floor Administrator, didn't you?"

Laure spoke the truth when he answered "... Well, yes." Evolet uttered a lie with a straight face when she replied, "Of course, Yuga-sensei."

"I guess you're the type who reads Shinsu while sleeping." That was directed to Laure who was cocooned in his blanket comfortably, his pillow never far from him.

"Oh… I just love sleeping…" And he went right back to sleep.

"Well, ok. I guess there isn't anyone else who has made a contract with the Administrator, so let's learn how to contract with the Administrator. First, close your eyes."

The regulars did so, with the exception of Laure and Evolet. "And change the Pocket into visible mode. The E-grade pocket that was given when you entered the inner Tower allows you to make a contract with Administrators of the floors up to 40th. In order to contract with Administrators above the 40th floor, you need to buy a higher rank Pocket. And now, say to the Pocket, "contract with the Administrator".”

While the other regulars were meeting with the Administrator in their consciousness and Laure was sleeping, Yuga struck up a conversation with Evolet.

"Ms. Evolet, from what I saw during the Crown Game; you are a support type Wave Controller aren't you?"

"Yes, my Shinsu isn't really suitable for offense but its strong point is in defense and support."

"Very well, I'll keep that in mind during class training."

"Ah, one more thing, Yuga-sensei. I've passed through the Anima class so please keep the two spots open for the others."

"Anima class… So it will be then." Yuga replied. He certainly seems entertained by the fact that she had passed through the Anima class. He was curious what kind of Shinheuh she controls, would she be a good opponent? But he was here on a mission. His curiosity will have to wait for another day.

One by one, the regulars completed their contract. Evolet frowned as she realized that Bam was the remaining regular, yet to complete his contract. Her worries were needless. Bam snapped open his eyes soon enough, panting from exhaustion. The lesson ended there for the day, since the regulars were tired from making the contract.

That didn't apply to Bam. Evolet knows in the little time she has left, she needs to support Bam with all that she has. Hence why both of them are in Bam's room right now. Evolet told him that she was going to teach him about Baang. She told him to take out the sphere she gave him yesterday, and explained to him how to make one. They were sitting cross legged, facing each other.

"Bam, hold out your hands."

Bam offered his hands without any hesitation, and Evolet placed her hands under his palms.

"Since it's your first time making a Baang, I'll support you. Listen Bam, just like what Yuga-sensei said; Shinsu is the world itself. Imagine, the whole world has gathered to become a circle in your hands."

The whole world… gathered in my hand to create a circle…?

Shinsu started gathering in Bam's hands, slowly but surely forming a sphere. Evolet smiled, she knew Bam had the potential for this. The Baang was still small, but that was fixed by Evolet who transferred more Shinsu into the Baang and enlarged it. Bam felt a pleasant shiver up his back when Evolet did that.

"I added some of my Shinsu and enlarged it. This is the size of a typical Baang."

This is Eve's Shinsu? It felt warm and… protective? Almost as if… nothing can hurt me.

The Shinsu swirling in their hand, and they both appreciated the silent moment. Evolet smiled mischievously when she saw that Bam was still in awe at the Baang. She'll let him enjoy it first before she moves on to the next topic. After a good amount of time, Evolet decided it's time to talk about the Baang she gave Bam yesterday.

"So… What is this Eve?"

"It's a Baang that I made. Or at least it's something resembling a Baang. You can use it normally… but not for attacks. Only use it for support and defense techniques okay, Bam?"

Bam never questions what Evolet tells him. He always accepts it unconditionally, trusting her with all he has. So he nodded, taking what she said to heart. The lesson continued; concentration training, basic attacks, reading Shinsu flow, and meditating. They stopped an hour before dinner. Bam was tired no doubt, panting and sweating on the floor. Evolet chuckled at the sight, proud of him. She patted his head and helped him sit properly. She asked for his hands, caressing them lightly and giving a boost of Shinsu that refreshed Bam instantly. Bam thinks he can never cease to be amazed at Evolet for every new thing she shows him. She tells him to take a rest and prepare for dinner, going back to her room with a promise of seeing him again during dinner. Bam couldn't be happier with all his new friends. But it still lingers in his mind, if only Rachel was there too.

The next day, Bam displayed marvelous results in class; the basics he needed to learn already taught by Evolet who was smiling with satisfaction as she watched him. He's not aware, but she feels the jealousy rising from a horned regular. He must be jealous, she thinks. A class with only two slots to pass. A member from the 10 Great Family guaranteed to pass and another regular that showcased amazing abilities that was sure to take the remaining spot. It must feel so unfair to him. She tries to keep him away from Bam, hoping to shield him from experiencing a betrayal this soon. Bam was too kind and friendly… He gets acquainted with the horned regular named Hoh soon enough even with Evolet's subtle precautions.

Evolet could only sigh. If it comes down to it, can she protect him? She thought no, for she has little time left with him, with them; her new friends. She hopes the Baang she gave Bam was enough to keep him safe and for him to protect what he cherishes.

On the third day, the three of them were in Bam's room. Rak had apparently "went back to the wild" from what Khun had said, so it was only the three of them. They were telling how their day went, taking the time to relax. They were interrupted by a knock on the door. When they opened the door, Shibisu and Hatz were standing in the hallway. Inviting them in, it was revealed that they came here to be friends. Or rather, they needed people to sign on their friend list for the Scout class' assignment.

"Make ten friends in a week? Scouts get weird homework, huh?" Khun said, briefly looking at the paper before he continued.

"So… You're asking me to be friends with you? I don't want to."

In a nutshell, Shibisu was desperate. "Hey! Why not?! I heard that you love making friends."

"Who said that?" Khun asked, unimpressed.

"The Crocodile!"

"That jerk… But first of all, you're on the team with the Lizard who took the Black March from Bam! Do you think we'll help you?"

This time Hatz was the one who spoke. "I also believe that it conflicted with the spirit of swordsmanship. I'll apologize on her behalf. And the teams were disbanded after the crown game, so she has nothing to do with me anymore."

But of course Khun always finds something to retaliate with. "Now that she's not on your team, you'll have nothing to do with her; huh? Is that your spirit of swordsmanship? To throw away someone who was once your teammate? That's evil."

"I'm just talkin about the right path of a swordsman. And by the way, you're narrow-minded."

Sparks were flying around Khun and Hatz. "Yes, yes. Let's stop around there shall we? Khun-san, don't provoke them. Shibisu-san and Hatz-san, please don't respond to his provocation either. Let's talk about this civilly over a cup of lavender tea shall we?"

True to her words, Evolet was holding a tray of tea cups and teapot. Khun looked over to Bam only to find that he was sitting on a chair, sipping a cup of said tea with a blissful face. Shibisu was dragging Hatz to the table, and Khun wasn't going to dispute with Evolet over a trivial matter so he followed suit.

"First things first, why don't we get to know each other?"

Khun took the initiative to introduce himself, slightly flaunting his family status in the process which… of course didn't sit well with Hatz. Hatz countered, saying the information about Khun's family was as useless as his earrings. Shibisu had to restrain Khun so that he doesn't lunge at Hatz. And when Hatz introduced himself, the reverse of earlier happened. Khun mocked Hatz's talk about spirits and seppuku. At this point Evolet deemed it too troublesome to deal with them and went over to Bam, patting his head to relax herself. Bam wasn't about to complain, and instead he indulged in it. Shibisu swears he could see the background behind Khun and Hatz turn into storm and lightning.

Deciding the squabble had gone long enough, Bam decided to step in and introduced himself while Evolet went to look over the window. As Bam's short life story managed to get the boys' to cooperate and sign the friend list, Evolet was… failing to comprehend why Rak was dangling on a rope. Or was he climbing??? In the end Evolet opted to leave him be and signed the friend list too. When they asked her to introduce herself, all they got was a polite secretive smile and her full name. They didn't push further, seeing that she already signed the list and it would be rude. After some small talks and squabbles, they went to their respective room to get some rest.

Staring at the fake full moon in the sky, Evolet was reminded of the box she got from Hansung. Said box was now in her hand, still closed. Nothing comes to mind when she tries to guess the contents of the box. But knowing that it's from that person… She opened it anyway. Evolet's eyes widened when she saw what was inside. A single Suspendium rock was inside, glowing lightly in the darkness of the room. A letter card accompanied the Suspendium rock.

The card was crumpled in an instant. She hated this feeling of helplessness. With a sigh, she decided that she should think of what she can craft from the Suspendium rather than worrying about it.

Bam's abilities were growing at a rapid rate and Evolet was convinced he would pass without any problem. Well, any problem except Hoh if he interrupts. But judging by the look on Hoh's face as he stormed off earlier… Evolet wasn't hoping much for that.

During the break time, Khun came to the Wave Controller's class; bearing some news for Bam and Evolet. Apparently Endorsi and Anaak fought in the Fisherman's class, resulting in a possibility that the both of them might fail the test from the lack of points. During their talk, Shibisu had suddenly come out of nowhere. He had suddenly latched onto Bam, earning a deadpan stare from Evolet; especially with what he's talking about. Khun immediately caught up to Shibisu's implications.

"Is your friend-making not going well?"

Shibisu showed his friend list, revealing that he only needed two more signs; same with Hatz. Khun didn't see any problem with it. "You're almost there."

But with a pitiful look, Shibisu said "The deadline is today! There's no time left!"

And he promptly hugged Bam, whining; or is it wailing? Which irked Evolet as she gripped Shibisu's neck collar, tugging him away from Bam. Hatz cutted in, claiming that it was his fault the friend making wasn't going well. Shibisu, who was in Evolet's grip; rebutted. "Don't be so standoffish! We're friends, aren't we?"

Khun was sipping his canned coffee without a care in the world as this all occurred. He only started paying attention again when Bam asked him if there was anything that can be done regarding the situation. Looking at the three expectant faces of Bam, Hatz and Shibisu; Khun sighed. He tried to deter Bam to no avail, giving in at the end. "Let's go, guys."

The confused boys could only let out a synchronized "Huh?"

With a sigh, Evolet let go of Shibisu. She wondered if she could get away from being involved with what Khun had planned. Khun smirked, "It's showtime."

Evolet would be forever thankful that she didn't have to do the acting the boys had done from Khun's plan. She could only let out a dry laugh at Hatz's acting, amused that he wasn't found out by Endorsi immediately. Both Khun and Evolet were waiting outside of Anaak's room as the trio executed Khun's plan. The results were spectacular. Khun even managed to tease Hatz and get a thank you out of him. Evolet watched them interact with a smile as she patted Bam's head, congratulating him for a job well done.

The remaining days passed by quickly. Endorsi and Anaak who got injured during the Fisherman class were healing up nicely. Their friend circle was also expanding, Bam's a ball of sunshine after all. Evolet wouldn't have minded going up the Tower with this group if she didn't have a promise to keep. But she'll cherish these memories.


On that fateful day, Evolet was taking a casual stroll after class; not expecting… that would happen to her. She had bumped into Endorsi during her walk. While it was unexpected, it wasn't something that she didn't welcome. She greeted Endorsi briefly, planning to straight to her own room afterwards; only to be stopped by Endorsi. Evolet stayed silent albeit confused as Endorsi stared at her. She felt… a bit uncomfortable and for some reason her instinct told her she needed to run away ASAP. When she was about to bid Endorsi goodbye, Endorsi grabbed her wrist, pulling her along as Endorsi asked for her time without confirmation.

Right now, Evolet was sitting in Endorsi's room; clearly wondering about what was going on. Endorsi was rummaging through her closet, throwing clothes here and there as she muttered variations of "No, this isn't it…", although there were some instances where she nodded to herself as she put a few sets of clothes aside. The foreboding feeling was growing in Evolet's heart, but she didn't dare to exit the room lest Endorsi will get mad at her. On one hand, Evolet was amazed by the amount of outfits Endorsi has at her disposal. On the other hand, Evolet was evidently getting more confused since Endorsi hasn't uttered a single word to her after she dragged Evolet into her room. Soon enough, Endorsi's closet has been emptied out; its contents split into two stacks… or rather two mountains. If Evolet knew what was going to happen after this, she would've chosen to dash out of the room without remorse.

Endorsi randomly picked a set of clothes from the stack she had deemed "fit" for Evolet. She grinned widely as she approached Evolet who was still sitting there without any idea of what's about to transpire. "Now, Eve-chan~"

That moment, alarms were blaring in Evolet's mind as Endorsi rapidly approached with a weird glint in her eyes. Evolet's face rapidly paled, and she made an instant decision to run away. She didn't even manage to reach the door before being stopped by Endorsi. "Don't run away. Let's get this started, shall we? I bet a lot of styles will fit you! We'll try all of them, one by one."

Evolet was sweating bullets, but she couldn't see any way out. She laughed awkwardly as Endorsi brought up the set of clothes to her face. Needless to say, her screams didn't went unheard as she was subjugated to this "torture". And while some regulars who passed the door wondered what was happening beyond the door, they didn't dare to ask since Endorsi's nameplate was on the door. Endorsi didn't relent one bit as she made Evolet try on every set of outfits she had chosen. Endorsi seemed to enjoy the time spent, giving out reactions and comments with every clothes Evolet tried.

It was only hours later that Evolet was able to escape from Endorsi's room, running away as if her life depended on it. She was running away with tremendous speed, not paying attention on her path which resulted in a crash with Anaak. Both girls fell to the floor from the impact, groaning from the pain. Evolet was the first to stand up, already apologizing to Anaak over and over. Anaak was about to snap at her, but when she looked at Evolet; she instead became a bit confused. The confusion was swiftly cleared up when Evolet told her the reason behind her desperate run from Endorsi, or "the witch" as Anaak dubbed her. Anaak didn't pester her any further, and was about to walk away. She stopped in her tracks when Evolet suddenly apologized once more to her. This time for her attitude during the Crown Game. "Anaak-san! Uh… I'm sorry for what happened during the Crown Game… My temper got the best of me because I was too focused on Bam during that time… And I kind of snapped when you threatened him… I'm sorry for the injury I caused too…"

Anaak actually wasn't bothered about it at all. She even attained Black March in the end, although the weapon was still being difficult. She doesn't understand why Evolet was apologizing. "Aren't you mad that I got the Black March?" Anaak asked from curiosity.

Evolet blinked, not really getting why she had asked that. "No? A bet was a bet… And the reason we lost the Black March was because we didn't manage to win. It was simply because my powers are inadequate."

Anaak didn't miss how Evolet had said it was her own powers that were lacking. Regardless of that, Anaak scoffed and thought that maybe Evolet wasn't that bad. "Come on long-hair, the Witch is probably searching for you. We've gotta go before she appears."

Evolet didn't know why Anaak would help her, but she gave a smile as she took Anaak's hand in stride as she walked away. Anaak didn't complain a word. The both of them ended up meeting with Khun and Shibisu who were conversing in the hallway. Evolet called out to them, waving energetically as she did. The two boys froze at the sight of Evolet.

"Uhh… Eve, what are you wearing?" Shibisu was the first to ask.

At first Evolet was puzzled, unknowing to what he meant. Only when she looked at herself that she realized that she was still wearing the last outfit Endorsi managed to coerce her to wear. It was… undoubtedly different than her usual outfit. At the moment she was wearing an oversized white off-shoulder sweater and black knife-pleated mini skirt. Her lavender hair was styled into one big side braid, swaying gently as Evolet moved. Her boots stayed the same as previously. But perhaps what caught the boys' attention was that her typical white leggings were missing thanks to Endorsi and they were staring shamelessly at Evolet's legs. Evolet wasn't aware of this fact at all and just answered Shibisu's question. "Ahaha… Endorsi uh… insisted I try on some new clothing and wouldn't let me go for a few hours. I still need to take back my clothes later… without meeting her."

When Shibisu didn't answer because he was still distracted by the sight, an angry tick mark could be seen on Anaak's head as she kneed Shibisu. Which in turn snapped Khun out of it when he heard Shibisu groaning from the pain. He gulped, silently thankful that Anaak had targeted Shibisu first. Anaak dragged Shibisu away, but not before giving Khun a warning glare. Evolet could only sweatdrop and waved them goodbye, still oblivious of why it happened.

In the end, Khun accompanied Evolet to Endorsi's room and took her original clothes back. While Evolet was beaming with happiness from getting her clothes back, Endorsi proudly grinned at Khun; mouthing "Be grateful to me". Khun's eyebrow twitched as he mouthed back a decisive "No". Sparks were crackling between them, Evolet was still blissfully unaware. Afterwards, Khun walked Evolet back to her room. He planned to leave immediately after doing so, or at least that was his intention before Evolet said that she needed to talk to him and invited him in.

Evolet brewed some lavender tea for Khun before showing him a box containing Suspendium. Khun was observing the Suspendium Evolet had shown him. "This is… Suspendium. A high purity one at that."

"Yes, Khun-san. I was planning to make a Lighthouse for you. Since I already gave Bam a Baang so I thought a Lighthouse would do you good."

"You know how to make a Lighthouse?!" Khun asked, a little surprised since it wasn't a common knowledge.

"It's not impossible to craft, if you're willing enough to lend a bit of your Shinsu so I can make a customized one. Please consider it a… thank you gift."

Khun caught up to her implication. "You're leaving soon aren't you?"

"... In 2 days…"

"You're just going to disappear during the Positioning test?"

Evolet nodded, emotions not really showing in her face which made it hard for Khun to read her expressions. Nonetheless, Evolet still made him that Lighthouse in the end. One with special attributes and functions. Khun would be lying if he said he wasn't curious with all the things that don't add up about Evolet.

Chapter Text

3rd Person POV

I have to kill Bam.

Rachel has no other choice but to do so if she wants to climb the Tower. And so she distances herself and waits for an opportunity. Or at least that was what she intended. Her body wouldn't listen to her. She worries. What if she can't kill Bam? She can't climb the Tower with the points at her disposal now. She asks, "Why?". Bam keeps getting everything she wants. "It's always Bam." she thinks to herself. But she can't kill him, can she? So she finds an excuse.

It's a valid excuse she considers, since it wasn't fully a lie. The girl who was always near Bam. Evolet never provided an opportunity for Rachel to try and kill Bam. She seems to be always alert with Rachel, protecting Bam like a loyal shield. Rachel thinks back to the girl and the sphere she found during her visit to Bam that time. Evolet was pretty, beautiful in elegance. She had power from what Rachel saw during the Crown Game. But once again, she was on Bam's side, she was Bam's. The sphere she made radiated power, one that Rachel wants so badly. It wasn't hers, why couldn't it become hers? Why is it always Bam? It's just another reason for Rachel to get more jealous.

"At this rate, you'll never climb the Tower. Or have you already given up?" Hwaryun asked Rachel at the corridor, frankly bored of her excuses and acts.

"Of course not!"

She can't back down. Not now, not when the opportunity is right in front of her.

"Then make use of everything you can. The Shield will be out of the scenario soon. Go along with the disturbance that's about to occur. Create a situation that will allow you to stick close to Bam during the next test."

Rachel was puzzled. "Create? What am I supposed to do?"

Despite that, Hwaryun won't explain further. Rachel isn't the one that she's supposed to guide after all. So she leaves after uttering one last sentence. "When the time comes to choose, you'll understand as long as you don't misread the signs."


Currently Evolet was sitting with Rak and another regular that had passed the test beforehand, not paying attention to the briefing for the other regulars. The Joint Position Test was about to take place, but Evolet was more concerned about the fact that she was leaving. She knows her teammates aren't weak but… She can't help but worry that something might happen, especially if Hansung is the one who's in charge of the test. When the announcement of the teams and rules were done, Evolet walked over to Bam. Before he could say anything, she hugged him tight; not wanting to let go. The what if's were going through her mind, worrying about Bam. Bam hugged her back, albeit a bit puzzled. She separated them, smiling at Bam as if nothing was wrong; when she feels like she wants to stay and break her promise instead. "Good luck on the test, Bam. … I'm sorry."

ᵢ'ₘ ₛₒᵣᵣy for not being strong enough to protect you.
ᵢ'ₘ ₛₒᵣᵣy for not being strong enough to stay by your side.
ᵢ'ₘ ₛₒᵣᵣy for not telling you anything.
ᵢ'ₘ ₛₒᵣᵣy for leaving.
ᵢ'ₘ ₛₒᵣᵣy-


Evolet caressed Bam's cheeks, tiptoeing to reach his height. And she kissed Bam tenderly on the forehead, silently praying to the Tower that he would be safe. He didn't get a chance to react or say anything as he was dragged away by his teammates, Evolet waving him off with a smile so soft. Bam just can't help but feel that something was wrong. As the others were fading out of sight, Evolet turned her attention to Khun who had remained.

"You're just going to go without telling him anything?" He asked without hesitation, gazing at the path Bam just took.

Evolet showed a resigned smile that made her look tired. She was looking down, not having the courage to look at Khun properly. "If I do that… my resolution will crumble instantly."

Khun walked toward Evolet and stopped right in front of her. He seemed to be pondering about something, before he took Evolet in a hug. Confused, Evolet could only stutter out "H-huh? Khun-san?"

Khun was looking afar. "Eve… I'll track you down if you don't come back."

Evolet widened her eyes, surprised by what he said. But like what he had expected, the surprise only lasted a moment before she laughed; in relief, his mind supplied. And she hugged him back like a lifeline. "I don't know when I'll be back though, Khun-san."

Evolet was the one who separated the hug first. But instead of stepping away, she grabbed Khun's hands. Khun looked at her with curiosity as she matched their palms and intertwined their fingers. She closed her eyes, muttering something under her breath that Khun couldn't catch. And their hands started glowing ever so slightly. It was a weird sensation, Khun thought. But he doesn't mind doing it again, a small smile on his face. The glow slowly faded, and Evolet also took a step back. "It's a good luck charm. I'll find all of you again, when I'm strong enough."

Humming in confirmation, Khun took out the blue bandanna that had his family logo out of his hair and tied it on Evolet's left wrist. "A good luck charm."

Evolet showed Khun the most sincere smile she could muster. Giving him a peck on the cheek before going off without a word. If she had glanced back, she wouldn't have missed how Khun's face turned bright red as he covered the cheek Evolet just kissed with his hand. Khun decides, just once; it's fine to believe.

Evolet went back to where Rak was, and asked him to watch over the others while she was gone. Rak's suspicious glint at Khun's bandanna tied to her wrist says otherwise, but he responds with a yes as the "leader". When she was about to exit the room, she stopped shortly before the door. Hansung was staring at her and she glanced at him briefly before she "disappeared" from the floor of tests.


Evolet's POV

As soon as I was outside Evankhell's mothership, I summoned Raiden. When he materialized, he looked at me weirdly before he nuzzled into the crook of my neck. I let out an involuntary regretful smile. To think that he was able to notice my emotions when I tried to hide it… I must be doing a terrible job at masking it. I petted his head, eventually stopping as tears started streaming down of their own accord and I slumped down to the ground.

"Let's go, Raiden."

As I rode Raiden to my destination, I had a passing thought that Hansung deliberately tasked me to find the Raijuu just so that I could travel faster. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. My mind was wandering everywhere as the rocky terrain blurs from the speed we're going at.. I wondered if the others passed the test safely. Khun probably has a plan for that. Hoh… hopefully he doesn't do anything too drastic. Rachel should stay away from Bam as much as possible but… That's just wishful thinking on my part. Bam's reason for living is practically Rachel after all. For a moment I pondered over what would be Bam's reaction when he knew I left. But I quickly shook it off my mind. There's no point thinking about it now. Khun and Rak will take care of Bam. And Bam still has Rachel… as much as I hate to admit it. Besides… in the end this is also for his sake. Like that letter said…

It'll do you well to make a farewell gift from the Suspendium. Go to the place specified on the map behind on the day of the joint position test. That is, if you know what's best for that golden-eyed boy. A silver dwarf guide will be waiting for you there.

True to the letter, there was a map inscribed at the back of the card and a marked location. This is for the best. I need to become stronger, fast. Strong enough to protect Bam from everything that might come his way. Before I realized it, we had arrived at the destination. Jumping off Raiden, I thanked him and let him go back. A few steps forward, and I was greeted by the sight of a lone sliver dwarf. His sharp eyes met mine, he didn't waste any time. "Ms. Evolet. I'll be your guide for today."

Wait for me, Bam.


3rd Person POV

The test was long over, team A lost on purpose from Khun's plan and team B won; although at the cost of many betrayals. Hoh from team B was dead, and Rachel was injured. Bam could only see powerlessly as Rachel was ushered to the treatment room. He couldn't fathom why everything was turning out like this. It seems like it wasn't enough. When Khun and Rak showed up without Evolet, he asked.

"Where is Evolet?"

Khun looked Bam straight in the eye. "She's gone, Bam."


Rachel was unconscious on the bed, the treatment done but the doctors said she wouldn't be able to walk anymore. Bam could only stare helplessly at Rachel's sleeping face. Everything felt overwhelming for him currently. Rachel got injured in the test, he was unable to protect her. And Evolet was gone without a trace during the test. What had gone wrong? How did it go wrong? How did it end up like this? Rachel entered the Tower in search for the stars. And he chased after her, stringing Evolet along. He racked his memories, searching for anything that might be of help.

At that time, he was the one who asked that question. “Do you want to go up the Tower, Eve?”

He got a slight shake of her head and a chuckle as an answer. So he prodded more, curious of her answer. “Why? You don’t want anything Eve?”

Evolet got up from her spot in front of him and went to sit behind him before she took him in her arms, hugging him tenderly from behind.

The hug that made him all warm on the inside and safe. A feeling that he doubts can be replicated by anyone else, not even Rachel. He misses her hugs and head pats. The soothing lavender scent and the serenity her presence provided.

Silence filled the cave for a while before Evolet answered, “You’re more than enough Bam. I don’t need anything from the Tower. And… Never mind. Can we just stay like this for a while…?”

Why did she sound so sad? It doesn't fit her. She should be smiling, that's when she looks the best to him. A thought crossed his mind, that maybe all of it was a lie. But Evolet wouldn't lie to him, would she? She's never lied to him, preferring to keep quiet rather than lying. So he went through his memories once more. He reminisced when they were about to enter the Tower.

She told him not to worry and just trust her, that she’ll protect him no matter what happens. But she's not by his side now, where is she? The door to the Tower opened and made way for them. As the blinding light surrounds them, he asks what is her wish. He tried to read her lips, to catch what she said as the door pulled them in and their consciousness faded away.

“What I want is—”

What did she want to say? What is her wish? Did she leave to fulfill that wish, just like Rachel did?

A part of him felt empty, betrayed. Yet at the same time he can't bear to hate Evolet or anything of the sort. He still doesn't know why she went away without a word. Before the test he had known, perhaps that was what the feeling he felt as he was dragged away by his teammates to the waiting room. Evolet looked as if there was something more she wanted to say, and he felt like she was going faraway. His feeling was spot on, but he didn't know until it was too late. But there must be a reason, he'll just have to search for the answer.

"Eve…"


At some point, during Bam's brainstorming session; Rachel had woken up. Bam was too absorbed in his thoughts to notice it. Seeing how he didn't notice, she partially closed her eyes. Trying to catch a glimpse of what Bam was doing. She can't read his mind, but his expression had the word 'troubled' written all over it. It was only when he uttered out her name, that she understood what got him deep in thoughts. She internally scoffed, a part of her denying how Evolet was better than her; showcasing her jealousy in her inner thoughts. At this point, she thinks it was always someone else instead of her. But by the end of the day, she was still his brightest star. She felt none of the pain, all of her injuries were transferred to Ghost per her agreement with Headon.

She hears Bam mutter Evolet's name, so she pretends. She scrunched up her face, making it seem as if she was in pain. And she called out Bam's name through the pain she's faking. He falls for it anyway, just like he always does. Getting up from the chair, he rushed to her side and held her hand in worry. Everything was laid out in his expression that Rachel could see from squinted eyes. She relaxed when he held her hand, as if his presence soothed her when in reality it just makes her more jealous. She notices how Bam made a decision in that split moment, reluctantly letting go of her hand before going off somewhere. She got up after he left, stretching her body and fisting her hands. She'll reach the stars no matter what.


Khun told Rak that it would be a fifty-fifty situation. Bam might just stay with Rachel and not climb the Tower. Or he might keep climbing in order to find Evolet this time. Khun prefers the latter, but it all depends on Bam's decision. He still can't help but feel something was off with Rachel. Bam risked his life, all to stay by her side. And yet she told him to lie to Bam, that they would only be a burden to each other. All when it was only her thinking like that. Rak also agrees with the second option, as long as his 'prey' kept climbing then he could care less. Just like on cue, Bam bursts into the room. Rak already started his speech on how Bam should keep moving up the Tower, but he didn't even make it to the second sentence.

"I'll be Rachel's legs!" Bam shouted with conviction.

"... What?" Rak and Khun weren't expecting that. They look stupified by what Bam said.

"I'll be Rachel's legs and help her go up the Tower. I… don't really care what is up in the Tower. I don't look forward to seeing the stars. But if I'm going up there is what Rachel wants, then I want to make it happen. I don't mind if it's hard or dangerous. I'll keep climbing. And…"

Bam stopped for a moment to summon the Baang Evolet gave to him. He gripped it tightly. "Eve must be somewhere in the Tower. If I bring Rachel up the Tower, I'm sure I'll find Eve too."

Bam seemed reluctant of his following sentences. "Um… I know this is too much to ask, but I'm not as strong or you smart...as you are… So I want to ask you if… you will join me? I don't know how you'll take this, but you are my cherished friends. I… want to go up with you two."

Rak didn't think twice before answering. "Ok, turtle! If you're asking then I'm in-!!!"

He didn't get to finish his sentence when Khun shoved him off the bed to present his own answer. "Well, difficulty is my specialty. I will escort you to the top of the Tower in the most evil and sneaky way possible. Be prepared. Once we start, no matter how rough it gets, you won't be able to get out."

Half of it wasn't the answer Khun expected, but he accepts it for the time being since Bam will keep climbing anyway. For a moment an image of the Lighthouse Evolet crafted flashed in his mind. He still had that, but not yet. He's not going to tell anyone about it just yet.

Bam was overjoyed by Khun's answer. "Mr. Khun… Thank you!!! I mean it!"

"Don't thank me."

… Rak was still lying on the floor after being shoved off, unable to get up by himself because of his compressed body.


Endorsi was watching Bam who was in the process of gathering teammates to bring Rachel up the Tower. She sipped her drink, enjoying the show unfolding in front of her. Her curiosity just wouldn't let her be, especially when there's a "cute boy" standing there. So she approached him. "You're working hard, Bam."

Bam turned his attention to Endorsi. "Hey! Ms. Endorsi."

"I heard that you're trying to persuade the others to team up with you and Rachel. Look no matter what you do, no one will join you. They made it all the way to this point. But you want them to take the last test with a cripple? Who would do such a crazy thing?"

"They will." There's no shred of doubt in his answer.

"Let me ask you again. Why are you so obsessed with her? When I first saw her, I felt there was something odd about her. She was like a stranger from another world wandering somewhere unknown. Well, it turns out she's just an ordinary girl. … What happened between you and Rachel, Bam?"

Bam was silent for a moment, staring at Endorsi's eyes. He started to answer. "I wasn't born in a very dark and lonely place. I didn't know who I was, where I was, or why I was there. All I knew was that there was light above. I built a tower of rubble to go beyond the light. But when I reached it, I finally realized that I would never get out of here; and that someone beyond the light had locked me in that deep and lonely darkness. I cried. Realizing I was alone was even more painful than dropping a rock on my foot while building the tower. But then, the ceiling moved… and a miracle happened. That's when I realized that it was beautiful to be a living human. Rachel was the first person who came down to me from the light. So wherever she goes, I will follow her."

Endorsi narrowed her eyes before staring at her feet as if the floor was more interesting. The drink was sloshing inside the cup when she shook it lightly. "What about Eve?"

Bam froze. Endorsi didn't seem to mind it and continued. "I'm not exaggerating when I say Eve is like your shield. Quite literally too from what happened in the Crown Game. From what I can see she would do anything for you, just like you would for Rachel. Although the latter doesn't seem to feel the same."

Bam didn't take that well. "That's not-! Rachel is kind! Rachel would…"

But he also couldn't say that Rachel would do that. Endorsi scoffed inwardly. "Bam, are you going to chase Eve?"

"Of course I will!"

"While bringing Rachel up the Tower?"

"Yes, of course."

"Then what if Eve is going on another path different than Rachel? What if their paths are the opposites of one another? Even so will you still chase after her?"

Bam's face showed his wavering emotions. He couldn't answer that. Rachel was the first but Eve was… That scene popped up in his mind, the bits of his conversation with Khun.

"You're lucky to have her Bam."

"Yes… I truly am lucky to have her."

He couldn't choose. Both were just as important to him. Or at least that's what he's trying to make himself believe. Endorsi had expected this. The best she can do is give advice to him and hope he picks the best for him. Well, second best. Since she was the best option. Maybe trying to get him while Evolet was gone wouldn't be such a bad idea. Though she knows she's going to fail that anyway. "You should think about it carefully, Bam. There will be a time where you need to make that decision."

If he had known what Eve's existence meant to him that time, would she still leave? Would he chase her instead?

Endorsi exited the room, leaving Bam to think for himself. Little did she know- Bam will inevitably make his decision too late in the future.


In an attempt to let Rachel who had failed because she was injured pass the test; Bam revealed the fact that he was an irregular and opted to take the Administrator's test. The others also followed suit, convinced by Khun's acting to trick them. In theory, the test should've gone well. Or at least it would've if there wasn't any interference. As if one interference wasn't enough, there had to be two. Yuga, an assassin from Jahad's Royal Enforcement Division or RED who infiltrated as the Wave Controller teacher and Princess Yuri Jahad along with her team. Fortunately, Yuri's motive for coming to Evankhell's floor was to only search for Bam and Evolet along with retrieving her Black March. She even had one of her team members eliminate Yuga whose objective was to kill the fake Princess, Anaak Jahad. Seeing that the nuisance was taken care of, Yuri was about to leave. But in his last moments, Yuga had spoken out something that made Yuri stop in her tracks.

"The person that you're looking for, is it Bam, the irregular? I sent the Bull."

Everyone present there was shocked by that news. "Sorry, it's a waste of his talents… but we can't let the irregular stay alive… hehehe. That boy… will not be able to come back alive, Princess. Even killing me won't stop it. You might have noticed this is one of the skins that I use… my real body is already far away. Hehehe- see you again…"

Yuri contemplated for a bit and decided she finds this too annoying to her taste. "Evan. I can't stand this anymore. I'll finish this absurd game. I'll rip this whole stage apart."

Evan was frantic to stop her. "Princess!! S-stop it, Princess!"

"Stop what? This test didn't make sense from the beginning. I'll blow the whole thing up and bring Bam and Eve back."

"Princess, please!!!"

"That's enough… Princess. Any more interference, and he automatically fails the test. And I'm sorry to say this but, Ms. Euterpe is no longer here."

Unexpectedly, Hansung jumped into the conversation which Evan didn't expect. His last sentence also made Yuri narrow her eyes. "So you're the director of this test? What… do you mean by Eve is no longer here?"

Yuri's question sounded more of a threat. Even Hansung was miffed by it, for once. "It's just as I said, Princess. Ms. Euterpe left of her own accord."

That wasn't believed by Yuri in the least. "Evan-"

Evan didn't let Yuri finish her sentence and cutted in. "No, Princess. I cannot see Evolet's path so I cannot guide you to her. And the director is right, Princess. The test is being carried out as the guardian planned. That twisted assassin and our intervention is all part of the test. Our role in the test ended when the furball died. We're done. At this point it's up to Bam. It's his job to finish the test. Trust him, milady. So that he can pass the test by himself!"

Still not fully convinced, Yuri turned to Endorsi and asked her. "Hey, sister. Do you think Bam can pass the test?"

With a cheeky grin on her face, Endorsi answered Yuri.. "Bam… will survive. Because I told him that I'd date him if he comes back alive."

Yuri couldn't hold her laughter at that. "Think twice, sister. You'll have to get through Eve first to do that."

Endorsi huffed indignantly at that response. Turning to Shibisu, Yuri threw him a badge from the Wolhaiksong. "Hey, sweatsuit. Take this. When Bam comes back, give this to him and tell him to come to the 77th floor when he becomes a Ranker. Tell him Urek Mazino is waiting. Did you hear that?"

The shocked Shibisu could only stutter out, "H-huh?! Yes!"

Yuri also took the liberty to "hold on" to the Green April, telling Anaak that it was too heavy to carry for her at the moment and that she'll return it once Anaak was ready. "Evan! Guide the way! We still need to search for Eve!!"

Anaak's shouts of "No" were ignored by Yuri. And despite the splitting headache Evan got from Yuri's attitude, he still answered her with an affirmative to her order.

Meanwhile, in the bubble. Bam had successfully defeated the bull with little to no wounds on him; courtesy of Evolet's gift that somehow acted like an automated defense system. Bam almost felt like Evolet was there, by his side; almost. But it just wasn't the same. Her Baang went invisible again as soon as the battle was over, and he was tired from using too much Shinsu during the battle. The exit was in sight, and Bam was elated. Rachel was here. He'll focus on Rachel first and bring her up the Tower. With his own hands- like how he caught the light.

"Rachel, let's go together."

"Bam?"

"Wherever you wanna go… I'll take you."

Rachel stared at Bam's outstretched hand. Her expression seemed like she was touched by what Bam said, and her own hand was reaching out towards Bam's. Except…

ᵢₜ wₐₛ ₐₗₗ ₐ ₗᵢₑ

Rachel had truly come to realize. After seeing Bam taking down the bull; she knew.

ₛ̶ₕ̶ₑ̶ ̶c̶ₐ̶ₙ̶'̶ₜ̶ ̶b̶ₑ̶c̶ₒ̶ₘ̶ₑ̶ ̶ₜ̶ₕ̶ₑ̶ ̶ₛ̶ₜ̶ₐ̶ᵣ̶ ̶ᵢ̶f̶ ̶B̶ₐ̶ₘ̶ ̶ᵢ̶ₛ̶ ̶ₜ̶ₕ̶ₑ̶ᵣ̶ₑ̶

 

T̷̰̝̖̤͕͍̦̤̱̙͋̾̒͊̂̚h̵̹̹̪͌̃͆̓̒̈͑͝a̸̢̦̣̎̇̐̔̒̑͌̏̅ţ̵̰̩̘̺̞̘̒́̌̑͐̒̿͝͝'̵̰̩͗s̷̢̢̨̘̦͓̼̯̻̝̉̅ ̵̭̉͊̐̂̆̇̓͒̈́̚w̴̧̩̙̙̖̩̗̯̭͓͊h̴͇̒̀y̸̲̘̗̼̤̍

 

Bam's eyes widened from shock and disbelief. Instead of taking his outstretched hand, Rachel had stood up on her "injured" legs. And she reached farther than the palm of his hand, pushing him into the deep abyss below.

W̶H̶Y̶?̶

Bam couldn't comprehend why. He could only stare at Rachel as he sank deeper in the water; eyes flashing hurt from the unexpected betrayal. As Bam started to disappear out of Rachel's view, Evolet's Baang had come to live once more. It cocooned Bam in a Shinsu capsule in an attempt to protect him. His eyes started to close, unable to take the exhaustion from the battle added with the shock of betrayal. Strangely enough for him, the only thing that came into his mind as his consciousness faded away was Evolet's voice calling out to him.

Chapter Text

Meanwhile, somewhere else when Bam got pushed by Rachel; Evolet who had been training stopped in her tracks. At that moment she felt as if something had gone terribly wrong. Fear gripped her heart as she frowned, hating this feeling. She unintentionally dropped her guard and focus at that moment, her conjured Shinsu shields disappearing in a flash. Her practice opponent didn't realize it until too late, and their Shinsu attack had already been launched to Evolet who was still out of it. No sooner, the compressed Shinsu crashed to her and knocked her to the stone wall. That effectively snapped Evolet out of her stupor.

Coughing from the impact and dust, Evolet slowly got up; unmindful of her injuries that honestly doesn't hurt as much as it's supposed to be. Her practice opponent had rushed out of the room in a hurry, most likely off to call him. But Evolet was fixated on the stone ceiling. That feeling was still gnawing at her, unrelenting. Her mind was in panic along with her heart. Something happened to Bam. Evolet fully intends to leave, worried for Bam. However, the exit was blocked. Eyes narrowed, Evolet glared at the familiar light blue haired person. Regardless of the fact that he's her benefactor and Guardian, Bam is still her first and foremost priority.

"Yunuen-san, please move aside."

Yunuen sighed, his teal eyes showing a tint of exasperation. He should've known this was going to happen when Hansung told him about the plan. "Calm yourself down, Eve. Your training is nowhere sufficient to hold up against rankers at the moment. Not to mention your offensive prowess is practically non-existent."

Not able to protest against that, Evolet calmed down rather quickly although the frown was still prominent on her face for a different reason. She was chewing her lips, thinking what she could do. Technically speaking, Bam should be safe since the Baang she gave has an automatic defense function. That Baang was practically the essence of all her defense techniques, it was only one notch below Evolet's own capabilities. It dampened her worries a bit, but that doesn't mean she can't sulk. Yunuen chuckled when he saw her sulking, finding it adorable. He motioned her to follow him. Evolet didn't speak a word and followed him silently.

He had led her to the kitchen, telling her to sit and wait. The puzzled girl could only stare confusedly as Yunuen maneuvered swiftly around the kitchen, seemingly trying to do something. Somewhere around 35-45 minutes later, Evolet was staring at the Tiramisu cup Yunuen served to her. She blinked at it curiously, not knowing what it was. He gave her a spoon. Evolet took it with hesitancy, before she scooped up some of the cup's content and tried it. Her eyes lit up with glee, a pleasant surprise as the delicious Tiramisu melted in her mouth. Soon enough she was spurting a content smile and you could almost see a joyful soft pink background behind her as she continued eating the Tiramisu. Yunuen couldn't suppress his smile, taking delight in the sight of Evolet enjoying the Tiramisu he made. He made a mental note to spoil the little one with more sweets later, and maybe teach her how to bake too. But for now, he needs to distract her so that she doesn't realize Hansung's scheme.


Bam was lying dazedly on the ground, his mind still cannot wrap around the fact that Rachel had pushed him down the abyss. It was only when he heard someone speak, that he slowly gathered himself.

"You look awful."

Bam tilted his head to the source of the voice, finding Hwaryun standing there. Seeing she got his attention, she resumed speaking. "How does it feel to be betrayed?"

"I… don't know… I don't know what this feeling inside my heart is… I don't know… I should know why…! Why… Eve left me! And why Rachel… betrayed me!"

Bam was huffing, his hand clutching his chest in an attempt to dissipate the painful feeling. Hwaryun stretched her hand to him. "Follow me. I'll tell you. Let's go up the Tower. What we all want… is waiting up there."

The hand offered wasn't taken, but Bam had gotten up by himself and his eyes were burning with an intensity that informed Hwaryun of his choice. Grinning lightly, Hwaryun led the path; Bam following closely behind. "Let us go meet your Svalinn first. So that you won't get burnt."


It's been a few days since then. And Yunuen utterly failed at distracting Evolet. Though to be fair, it wasn't his fault. The Baang Evolet given to Bam was forcefully deactivated by Jinsung and Evolet herself doesn't know about this fact. Hence why right now she's in the process of panicking while training. Due to the circumstances, Yunuen hasn't filled in Evolet regarding Hansung's plan. He could only watch, and hope that Evolet's temper will hold out until Hansung decides the time is right for her to meet Bam again.

During the practice sessions, Evolet's emotions fluctuate occasionally. Her shields were getting stronger without a doubt, but there were also times where she couldn't suppress her worries and her shields crumbled like dust. Evolet took the damage every time without a protest, only having herself to blame for her worries. Yunuen was absolutely sure that the reason Evolet hadn't tried to break out to search for Bam was simply because her offensive powers were inadequate to rebel against the FUG personnels. As Yunuen looked at the eyebags Evolet had from her lack of sleep because of worries, he considered if he should murder Hansung. Elsewhere, Hansung suddenly shivered as he felt a chill up his spine.

He dismissed that thought quickly, remembering that Evankhell wouldn't find it amusing if he killed Hansung. Instead he glanced at Evolet to confirm that she was still training, before withdrawing from the room silently. Without wasting any time, Yunuen headed to where Jinsung is. Knowing that he was in charge of training the boy that Evolet had grown fond of. Coincidentally, Jinsung was right outside Bam's training room which gave Yunuen the opportunity to have a nice talk with him. From that point… FUG honestly regretted letting those two meet. The headaches they will cause in the future for the sake of their pupils weren't in their calculations.


She was in the middle of her training when Yunuen just came in unannounced and declared her practice finished for the day. The instructor scrambled out of the room with haste and Evolet took a breather before asking Yunuen what he needed. She wasn't expecting what Yunuen informed her next.

Bam is in FUG's clutches. Yunuen just stood by as he examined the clashing emotions in Evolet's eyes. Disbelief, sadness, anger, pain, confusion, understanding, and most prominently; guilt. Yunuen took her to Bam's training room. She was clearly reluctant, she did leave without a word to Bam after all. Evolet sighed, too late to regret it.

A raven haired man greeted them in front of the entrance, introducing himself as Jinsung Ha and Bam's martial arts instructor. After introducing himself, he walked over to Evolet and leaned down, making her stagger back a step out of surprise. He stayed like that for a moment, before hauling himself up; seemingly content with whatever he saw in Evolet. Casually, he just dropped a box of medical supplies in Evolet's hands. She didn't need to be told before she rushed into the room in a hurry.

Jinsung and Yunuen saw her off at the entrance, closing the entrance afterwards but not leaving. "You really think this is the right thing to do?" Jinsung asked Yunuen.

Yunuen hummed in consideration. "We'll just have to see how it goes. The little one's bound to collapse sooner or later if I didn't do anything about it. She worries too much."

"She's the perfect match for Viole." Jinsung scoffed in amusement.


The sight made Evolet's blood run cold. Bam was lying unconscious on the floor, wounds all over him. Beside him was a heap of destroyed Golem parts, presumably from his practice earlier. She didn't waste anymore time, treating Bam's injuries first. Her thoughts were swirling like a storm. There were a lot of questions that she wanted to ask. But one thing is for sure. And that was, this is for the best. If Bam kept going up the Tower with his irregular status revealed… There's a possibility that Jahad would move. Bam doesn't have the power to go up against him or his army now. FUG will protect him for the time being. The only thing that Evolet needs to think of now is how she can further ensure Bam's safety. Granted, some of FUG's members won't be elated with Bam joining FUG.

Evolet sighed in relief after Bam's wounds were all bandaged. She scanned the room briefly, finding annoyance at the fact that the Baang she gave Bam was deactivated forcefully and inconspicuously sitting at the corner of the room. That thing caused her to lose a few days worth of sleep. Evolet glared at the Baang before giving a soft sigh. She lifted Bam up and went closer to the wall before she sat down and gingerly laid Bam's head on her lap. Conjuring up some Shinsu, she skillfully manipulated them to soothe Bam's wounds. It's a pity she currently doesn't have any healing skills at her disposal.

While waiting for Bam to wake, Evolet hummed a random song to pass the time as her mind thought up a few scenarios to deal with FUG's elders later. Time passed by, and Evolet's mind eventually wandered off; reminiscing about the time she spent with Bam in the cave. She unknowingly let out a soft smile. Those memories were priceless for her. She started stroking Bam's head.

"Would it be selfish of me if I asked him to stay that time?"

Evolet laughed after she said that. Shaking her head, she reprimanded herself for harboring such thoughts. Albeit short, she certainly was glad she got to meet Khun, Rak and the others. Though… She'd be much more glad if Bam was with them, exploring the Tower as he likes, safe from Jahad and Rachel; if that was possible.

She peered down, staring at Bam's peaceful sleeping face. Letting out a sigh as she waited for him to wake up. A crooked smile made its way to her face, reminiscing of the times she spent with Bam in that cave. She still remembers how he asked her to stay, and so she did. She lulled him to sleep, promising to stay by his side for as long as she could. Never would've she thought that they'd be reunited again so soon, moreover in this situation. She closed her eyes, letting her memories take the flow as a song poured out.

Falling fast asleep
May this little boy find blissful dreams

Among the ash
And the flames that light up the night sky
One by one
Falling softly

With your silhouette
Casting shadows of your lovely face
I watch the sky as a million dreams are shining
Little dreams, little dreamer

Within the tender night, your golden eyes were trembling
That moment you shined pure, born anew into this world
Across a million years, time has brought us here
Our prayers burn into the earth
Back where they shall return to time

I will never stop this prayer leaving my lips
Someone please show this child what love is
Take those tiny hands and leave a kiss

Falling fast asleep
May this little boy find blissful dreams

Among the ash
And the flames that light up the night sky
One by one
Falling softly

With your silhouette
Casting shadows of your lovely face
I watch the sky as a million dreams are shining
Little dreams, little dreamer

Within the tender night, your golden eyes were trembling
That moment you shined pure, born anew into this world
Across a million years, time has brought us here
Our prayers burn into the earth
Back where they shall return to time

I will never stop this prayer leaving my lips
Someone please show this child what love is
Take those tiny hands and leave a kiss


Bam felt like he was floating. His consciousness was still muddled, but he could faintly hear someone singing. A voice that was overly familiar to him, that always brought comfort and radiated safety. Someone that he missed dearly. He struggled to open his eyes, but it was worth it. He was greeted by the sight of Evolet whose eyes were closed as she kept singing without realizing that Bam was already awake in her lap. He didn't mind it one bit though, taking in the sight of Evolet who was singing with abandon. Momentarily, he forgot about the fact that Evolet disappeared without explanation and yet she was with him now.

Soon enough, the song came to an end. Evolet opened her eyes and Bam was mesmerized with her striking eyes once more from his point of view. She smiled in satisfaction, before she looked down and found that Bam was awake. He didn't give her a chance to say anything and pulled her into a hug. That caught her in a surprise, the words she prepared to say were gone in the wind. And… this was a very uncomfortable position for a hug. They stayed silent for a moment. Evolet was pondering if she should speak first. But Bam beat her to it.

Evolet's eyes widened as she heard Bam spoke, "Don't leave. Don't leave me, Eve. Please-"

The way Bam uttered those words with desperation, pleading for her to not leave. It struck in Evolet's heart, leaving a bitter taste. But—

"Bam… Do you still want to chase Rachel?"

Bam paused, contemplating about it. There was a sliver of hope that Evolet held onto, silently wishing that Bam would stop chasing Rachel. She stayed still in the awkwardly positioned hug, waiting for Bam to answer.

.

.

.

"Yes."

It was only one word. Yet, somehow Evolet feels like the world dimmed a bit, or was it only her imagination? She took a shaky breath, asking herself why does it feel so hard to breathe. Her heart hurts so much like it's being ripped apart forcefully.

Again. Again, he'll pick Rachel over and over. I know. I knew that this would be the outcome without even trying to test- to find out about it. What was I hoping for? Nothing has changed- and it never will. In the end… He will still choose Rachel, not me.

She broke out of Bam's hug with little effort. Bam eyes were filled with determination and a flash of regret or was it guilt? She helped him sit properly, so that he wasn't lying on her lap anymore. The emotions she felt earlier hidden neatly under a smiling mask.

It hurts...

She wonders how he reacted when she disappeared. Did he want to chase her at all costs, like he did for Rachel? Or did he just solely focus on Rachel alone? Nevertheless she smiles, taking Bam's hand and placing it on her cheek as she leaned into his hand; finding that comfort that always reassured her in the warmth of his hand. She pressed the index finger of her other free hand to Bam's lips, preventing him from speaking a word.

"Bam. I can't promise that I won't leave your side. The path you chose… to chase after Rachel is a dangerous one. There's a lot of challenges and enemies along the way. That's why—"

That's why— I wished that you wouldn't choose it. That you wouldn't choose her again this time.

"That's why— the both of us need to become stronger. Bam, whatever path you choose; I will also walk on the same path. Even if I leave you momentarily, I will always come back to you. I also need to get stronger on my own. Strong enough to stand beside you."

Strong enough to protect you from everything that comes in your way.

"That's why, don't worry, Bam. I promise that no matter what path you choose, I’ll always come back to you as long as you need me."

Evolet lifted his hand that she held in place on her cheek, bringing it to her lips as she kissed his fingertips tenderly. "I'll always protect you, my king."

Bam was stunned into silence. Shooting him one last smile, Evolet got up. "Make sure to get a lot of rest okay? I'll try to negotiate with FUG to see if I can partner up with you."

He was unwilling to let her leave, something was telling him that he shouldn't— couldn't let her leave like this. As if she would go away again if he didn’t speak up, just like last time. But he couldn't find the courage to say anything to her. She already exited the room before he could speak.

When Evolet went out, she found that Jinsung and Yunuen were eavesdropping. She looked at Yunuen. He seemed like he wanted to say something, but Evolet cut him off. "It's fine, Yunuen-san. I understand that this is the best course for him. Jinsung-san, please take care of Bam. And Yunuen-san, please contact Luslec-san and see if it's possible for me to pair up with Bam. As for my code name…

Eve.” She’ll pick something that can be nicknamed Eve...

“Make it Yvette."

She was about to step away, but stopped when Jinsung spoke. "Yvette... was it?"

Evolet nodded, not answering further. Jinsung continued, "His new name is Jue Viole Grace. Protect Viole, would you?"

When Evolet turned around, Jinsung saw a smile that screams undying dedication and a pair of striking blue-violet orbs steeled with resolution despite the now underlying emptiness in her eyes. Jinsung knows he can trust her with Bam. "That's always been my intention, Jinsung-san. I'll protect him, no matter the cost."

And she walked away, a constant sting in her heart; leaving the two men alone. As her figure eventually disappeared in the distance, Jinsung lit up a cigarette. Inhaling the smoke before giving out a deep sigh. "She's got it hard."

Yunuen could only give a solemn nod as he stared at the hallway Evolet walked through. Though… He's also going to have a hard time contacting Luslec… Let's get to work.


Bonus part! (Or rather a part from this chapter that I couldn't slip in :v… cus it would kinda ruin the atmosphere… Took place when Eve was singing and Jinsung along with Yunuen were eavesdropping)

"She's got a good voice."

"You mean an amazing voice. No; extraordinary, marvelous, stunning, astounding, astonishing, bewildering, sensational, remarkable, spectacular, wonderful, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, phenomenal, legendary—"

Jinsung could feel the headache spurring on as Yunuen listed off synonyms for amazing. "Let's stop there. Have you thought about Evolet's Sponsor? You know FUG's always insistent with money and all."

"Not yet. Things were a bit hectic lately." Yunuen shook his head as an image of Evolet with her eyebags just days ago popped into his mind.

"How about a singing career for her?"

Yunuen turned mechanically to him, the thought processing in his mind. An imaginary lightbulb lit up. "Genius!"

Already the gears were turning is Yunuen's mind as he started constructing a solid career plan for Evolet. He's bent on making Evolet's name known throughout the Tower. Jinsung stared at the madman, already regretting his decision of even speaking up that idea.

Chapter Text

The white Lighthouse was floating, giving out a dim light in the dark room Khun was residing in. A memory was playing in his mind as he stared at the unique Lighthouse Evolet made.

"This Lighthouse has a few unique functions other than your typical Lighthouse uses. The first one is it can be upgraded. I guess you could say the rank of the Lighthouse is unknown, but it can withstand technique upgrades for any rank. There should be a few shops that sell Lighthouse techniques, legal or illegally. Secondly, this Lighthouse is more suitable for defensive and support purposes. Most likely because it took on my defensive Shinsu quality since it's my custom Lighthouse... And lastly the third one is-"

"I'll track you down, Eve. For sure." Khun lifted his hand, reaching toward the Lighthouse and fisting it.

"The Lighthouse is connected to me with a Shinsu string. The Lighthouse won't break down from any attack unless I die, think of it as a lifesign . As long as I'm still alive this Lighthouse is practically invincible. And if you find a Guide or a Shinsu string user, you'll be able to track me down with this Lighthouse. Though... I doubt you'll be able to find any Shinsu string user."


After the somewhat bittersweet reunion with Bam, Evolet retreated to her own room. As soon as the door was closed, she leaned against it and eventually slid down to the floor. Her legs didn't have the strength to hold her up. No tears streamed down this time, unlike the time she left him- them on Evankhell's floor. It hurts in a different way that she couldn't explain. She doesn't know why it hurts when she's not supposed to have these feelings. Hugging her knees, she curled into herself and closed her eyes.

When she opened her eyes again, the previous striking blue-violet orbs had lost a bit of its luster and looked dimmer than usual. She didn't waste any time to figure out her feelings from earlier. Her feelings shouldn't matter, it doesn't. Evolet took a deep breath and proceeded to think up her next moves. She just needs to keep moving on forward. Protecting Bam is her priority, no matter what it always comes first... That was her sole purpose created, nothing else.

When Evolet went out of her room to find Yunuen, he informed her that Luslec agreed to her request quite readily. Although he did also warn that there might be some or many elders that opposed the decision. Evolet only gave a slight nod of affirmation, this was included in her calculations. She doesn't notice how Yunuen looked at her with a mix of worry and pity. He didn't say anything and acted as if everything was normal.

"Tell the elders that I'm willing to cooperate with the other slayers if needed. However, under no circumstances should they mess with Bam- I mean Viole, or anything that he's related to. If they do... Don't say I didn't warn them beforehand."

Yunuen gave her an awkward laugh in resignation. Evolet was a bit tense, there's a mountain of stuff that she needs to so if she's dealing with FUG. But first-

"Yunuen-san, which of the remaining 8 is sealed here?"

Yunuen didn't answer immediately, serving a plate of creme brulee for Evolet instead. She stiffened for a moment before going lax, offering him a sincere grateful smile and a thank you as she ate the delicious treat slowly. Yunuen looked at her, a fond smile on his face. "Urania's item is sealed nearby, in the Temple of Beginning."

Evolet slowed down her bites as she recalled the information about Urania's item. "Urania... Which means it should be the Guiding Lantern. I can use it to locate the other items. Okay, Yunuen-san; please take me to the Temple of Beginning."

Yunuen could only give an overly fond, exasperated smile as he agreed. She was his responsibility after all. He has his job as her Guardian. In a few hours, they arrived at the Greek-style temple. They stood in front of the temple, sizing it up.

"I can only accompany you until here. Good luck, little one." Yunuen said, ruffling Evolet's hair to encourage her. The hand was gently swatted away by Evolet who flashed him a smile before going into the temple. The cella of the temple housed a lone stone chest. Evolet eyed the rune circle carved on the floor as she stepped into it.

"Welcome, pitiful child."

Evolet lifted her head up, making eye contact with the spirit hovering over the stone box. She stared at the spirit with waryness. She had the characteristics of someone from the Khun lineage, except she's wearing a Greek goddess attire. Evolet was momentarily reminded of Khun, but quickly shook the image out of her mind. The spirit strided closer to her, eyes observing Evolet. "You look similar to her. Lavender strands, piercing blue-violet orbs, the swirling Shinsu all around joyful of your presence."

"I'm not her." Evolet said with disdain, bitterness in her tone. The spirit was merely amused by the answer, backing off from Evolet.

"I never said you were. But it's an undeniable fact that your root originated from her."

Pursing her lips, Evolet stood her ground and asked the spirit, "Do you... bear a grudge against her?"

Shock was evident in the spirit's eyes. It only lasted for a moment before she laughed at the sheer absurdity of the question. "Don't worry, I don't hate her for what she did."

The sentence was said lightly, but soon enough her eyes took a sharp glint as she continued. "Who knows what the other spirits might feel though. I have no doubt some of them will hold grudges, misdirected at you instead of her. Pitiful child indeed."

Evolet's stance relaxed a little, eyes contradictory to it. The spirit lifted an eyebrow, arrogance and amusement apparent on her expression. "All misdirected animosity aside, you seem to be faring well with the curse. As I would expect from someone blessed by the Tower. Although you did have that breakdown during the talk with that blue-head."

"It won't happen again. That breakdown was... just a little unprecedented. It was a mistake on my part, I'll make sure to suppress my... feelings."

The spirit scoffed, hovering near Evolet and casually draped herself over Evolet from the back. "I'm sure you have no reason to come here except for my Lantern, so I'm not going to ask about that. But I can't deny I'm curious... Why that boy?"

"Bam is... The first one that asked me to stay."

The memory of their reunion was still fresh in her mind, the invisible scars remaining as it is. But she couldn't shake off that image when Bam gripped her sleeves in the cave, asking her to not leave with pleading eyes. To be quite frank, she didn't expect to meet him again this soon. Though silently she wished that he went up the Tower with the others instead of getting involved with FUG. But now that he's here, she'll make sure to protect him no matter what. She couldn't suppress the crooked smile as she thought how foolish all of this may seem. The spirit suddenly lost interest, hovering back to the stone chest as she checked her nails. "You seem very easy to please. And what about the other boy? The Khun family kid."

"Khun-san is... different." Evolet paused for a moment. For once she looks troubled, pursing her lips as she struggles to find the right words.

"For me... If Bam is the sunshine then Khun would be the moonlight. Bam just radiates this... happy, joyful aura that makes you feel all warm and giddy inside. While Khun-san... He gives off this calm confidence that makes me feel protected when I'm near him... And I feel safe enough that I don't hesitate to speak to him."

The spirit watched Evolet as she uttered those sentences, observing the changes in her eyes. If her eyes were any indication to go with, she is willing to bet everything that Evolet fell for those two boys. Though the girl doesn't seem like she realizes it. Or to be exact, she doesn't acknowledge it. The poor child probably thinks she doesn't deserve to feel such things. While the spirit doesn't know if the other 7 also observes Evolet or no, she can make a few points from her observation. And one of them was, for some u̶n̶k̶n̶o̶w̶n̶ reason the girl seems to think she's not supposed to have those kinds of feelings. Yet at the same time she moves because of those feelings. "Child, who would you choose out of the two?"

The questioned girl didn't hesitate to answer, "I won't. I'll protect the both of them."

The spirit went silent, giving an unimpressed look at her which Evolet doesn't perceive. Within a moment, she wasn't hovering anymore and instead was standing on the floor. She stumbled to the nearest pillar, a dark cloud looming over her. Evolet's hopelessly dense, the spirit thought. She asked the question in a different context and Evolet didn't catch up to it at all. She laughed maniacally in her mind and she would've banged her head against the wall if only she didn't have the dignity of a goddess, or rather former goddess.

Hundreds of thoughts were running through her mind. One thing she's sure of, Evolet is never going to confess first. NEVER. She furrowed her eyebrows as her mind conjured up various scenes of this Bam kid.

.

.

.

In the same instant, she decided the boy doesn't look like the type to confess first, judging from how he can't figure out his own feelings. He seems too busy chasing whoever that girl called Rachel was. The spirit silently sneered, deciding the boy was blind if he couldn't see little Evolet. She snapped her head to Evolet's direction, eyes scanning her appearance briefly before nodding in approval. There's no way a sane, not blind person would choose that Rachel girl over Evolet. Hence the Bam boy is blind, such was her conclusion. The Khun kid looks slightly more reliable, but he's not here... Hm? Wait- "How are you going to protect the Khun boy anyway? He doesn't seem to be affiliated with FUG."

A broad playful smile took over Evolet's face as she stepped up to open up the stone chest. She leaned down to grab the staff lantern that laid dormant within the chest before straightening up. With the same playful grin, Evolet replied to the spirit. "Maybe not now, but there will be a time we meet Khun-san again. Without a doubt."

F̶a̶t̶e̶ I will ensure that we meet again.

Evolet's playful grin looked highly similar to the Cheshire cat's, sobering the spirit immediately. She doesn't know which is the real Evolet. "I'm looking forward to the fate you're weaving."

A polite smile was all she got for a response. Done with her business there, Evolet headed back to the only entrance and exit. As she stared at Evolet's departing back, the spirit decided to give a warning. "Be careful. The Svalinn burnt out in the end."

Evolet stopped in her tracks for a moment, turning back to the spirit's floating form as she retorted with stifled laughter. "Please don't worry, I know that fact better than anyone. Burning out another once or twice won't matter for me. If I break, I'll just fix myself. Over and over again. As it's always been."

With a deep sigh, the spirit started fading away as Evolet exits the temple. "Just call my name should you need help."

She doesn't miss how Evolet stopped for a moment, an appreciative smile etched on her face. "Thank you, Urania-san."


"Little one, while you are mainly a support type Wave Controller; you can consider yourself as a Defender. Now here's a question. What is important for a Defender?" Yunuen asked in their lesson.

Evolet listed off the things that came into her mind. "Uhm... Abilities, fast reflexes, fearlessness, preparation, attentiveness, and... I don't know anymore...?"

"Hm, none of them are wrong. But in your case it's a bit different."

She thought of the difference he was speaking about. "Because I'm defending a Wave Controller?"

Yunuen nodded in agreement. "Exactly. You'll be right in the heart of the battle, which means some people will see you as a weak link to shatter the defense."

"So I'll have to fend them off somehow."

"No, just pummel whoever dares to try it to the ground. Here's a task for you. Think of a weapon that suits you." Evolet awkwardly laughed at the first sentence.

Evolet sighed at the memory, even if Yunuen said to pick a weapon... What kind of weapon would suit her? She was made to be centered around defense, not offense after all. Evolet's chin was resting on her hand as she stared at the paper, scribbling away on a paper. Only the sound of Evolet writing was heard in the otherwise silent room.

Muse Series:
Calliope
Clio
Erato
E̶u̶t̶e̶r̶p̶e̶
Melpomene
Polymnia
Terpsichore
Thalia
U̶r̶a̶n̶i̶a̶

She stared at the paper after writing it, tapping on the table with a pen. A sigh escaped Evolet's lips as an overly familiar topic ran through her mind.

Muse Series... Nine items that carry the weight of the Tower's forgotten legend. Slumbering in wait for their rightful owner to claim them and crown the fated king.

Evolet was too absorbed in her thoughts that she didn't notice Yunuen entering the room. Yunuen approached Evolet who was sitting, leaning in from the back and rested his weight on her as he propped his head on top of hers. Effectively snapping Evolet out of it.

When she saw that it was Yunuen, she smiled at his impeccable timing. "Great timing, Yunuen-san. How long will it take for Bam to finish his basic training?"

"From what I can see it'll take about one year." Yunuen answered nonchalantly, still leaning on Evolet.

Evolet didn't utter any words of protest, used to his presence. "In the span of one year... No, 10 months. In ten months, how many floors can I climb?"

Upon hearing that, Yunuen's attitude became serious as he took a seat in front of Evolet insead of casually leaning on her. "For a normal F rank regular... I'd assume about 4 floors. But-"

Yunuen paused, giving a confident smirk as the tension built up. "If it's you, 8 floors isn't an impossible feat. Maximum 10 floors if you want to cut it close."

Evolet hummed as she considered it. Euterpe and Urania's items were both with her. The remaining seven items were scattered throughout the Tower. What she's currently aiming for is Terpsichore's Folding Fan. Out of the nine, it was the only one that somewhat can be considered as an offense item. And that's what she needs desperately at this moment, just like what Yunuen said. While she knows that her offensive powers have a limit that she's bound to, but she needs to at least try. There must be a reason why there's a lone offense item out of the nine when the rest are either support or defense items. "Yunuen-san... What are the chances that I'll actually find Terpsichore's Folding Fans by the 10th floor?"

A smirk was apparent on his expression, exuding confidence. "Have you forgotten Little One? The Tower's blessings are with you, whatever it is you want then you'll find."

Evolet showed him a smile, but it was full of doubt, guilt, and sadness. As if she was thinking it wasn't true, that she doesn't deserve his words. She stands up anyway, telling Yunuen to pack up immediately and accompany her through the floors as her Guardian and surveillance from FUG. Yunuen agreed to it without a fuss, but he asked her. "Are you going to leave now? Without saying anything to that Bam kid?"

Those two sentences were familiar. Almost no difference to what Khun had asked her before she left. Her mouth felt dry, but her mind kept rewinding her reunion with Bam not long ago. She could only let out a soft "I'll leave a letter..." as she avoided Yunuen's stare. She thinks all her courage accumulated from a lifetime won't be enough to face Bam again anytime soon anyway.


Bonus scene:

Urania's Guiding Lantern was held gingerly in Evolet's hands as she looked at it with inhibition. Surely she can't bring it around in this form? The length of the staff lantern wasn't that long, only about the length of a hook. But there was no way she could carry it in broad daylight without people thinking she was scheming something or about to attack someone. She pondered over it, trying to devise a solution. Her mind wandered off to the Lighthouse she made for Khun. Looks like she'll have no choice but to make more of those, this time for herself.

.

.

.

She'll have to ask Yunuen to teach her how to use a Lighthouse later. And for the Suspendium stones she needs to craft them... Maybe some more cakes too while she's at it. She smiled softly, already searching for Yunuen.

Chapter Text

True to her words, Evolet only wrote a letter before departing to the upper floors. In the letter she promised to go back before his basic training finished and accompany him climbing the Tower after that. Bam couldn’t decide if he should be upset, depressed, or guilty. He stared at the letter whenever he wasn’t training. Jinsung only sighed whenever he saw him doing that, rather feeling pity for Evolet for having to deal with his oblivious student.

Meanwhile, Evolet was going up the Tower ferociously. Yunuen wasn't a regular so he watched from the sidelines as Evolet passed the tests with little to no effort with her Anima abilities. Most of the regulars couldn't lift a finger against the Raijuu and the White Armored Eel. Yet Yunuen can’t help but frown as he sees her advance with a sense of obligation and clashing emotions in her eyes.

They stopped on each floor for a minimum amount of time, to take the test and to check if the Astrolabe Lantern could detect another Muse Series item on that floor. If no reaction pops up, then they move to the next floor with breathtaking records. Evolet makes a name for herself, the regulars spread the word to be cautious when they see distinct lavender hair and piercing blue-violet eyes.

It's been nearly nine and a half months since they departed. They need to start heading back soon if they want to make it on time. "One more floor. If I can't find anything on the 9th floor then we'll go back."

Evolet clears the 8th floor's test with flying colors, proceeding to the 9th floor with haste. This was as far as they could go in the span of nine and a half months. The two were in Evolet's room, preparing to either go search for the folding fan, or to pack up and leave. Her grip on the Guiding Lantern tightened, for if this search still doesn't bear any fruit then her journey this time round was all for naught.

She closed her eyes, channeling Shinsu into the item and hoped for the best. Astonishment flooded her as the lantern finally showed the reaction she's been waiting for, showing trails of blue mist as the lantern gave out an eerie blue glow in the dark. Both Evolet and Yunuen couldn't be more satisfied with the result. Finally, she sighed in relief. The gamble paid off and the hunt was about to begin.

Led by the wisps of blue mist, Evolet and Yunuen made their way through the woods in the comforting darkness of night. No doubt they would've gotten lost if it wasn't for the lantern's guidance. After an hour or so of walking, they found themselves at a clearing. In the middle of it was a lake surrounded by lily of the valleys. The duo stopped in their tracks, the lantern telling them that this is where the item is supposed to be. Evolet deactivated the lantern since she was also getting tired from the amount of Shinsu needed to maintain the trail.

"Yunuen-san… shouldn't there be a temple or something?"

They stared at the view before them, finding it beautiful. But it wasn't what they're looking for. The lantern directed them here so it shouldn't be wrong. Yunuen gave a smirk, pointing to the lake.

"Remember, Little One. Things may not always be what they seem to be."

Evolet took steps to the lake and leaned down to see into the water. True to Yunuen's words, there was a whole temple submerged in the lake. She wasn't amused by the turn of events, not expecting having to dive for the item. Seeing the exasperated expression on Evolet's face, Yunuen chuckled.

"Should I teach you how to make a Shinsu bubble, Little One?"

"... Yes, please."


Evolet was secure in the bubble, already floating on the water surface. She took a moment, appreciating the moonlight before she pulled the invisible Shinsu strings and manipulated them so that she could sink further down. It was dark in the lake, she mused. She remembers hearing Bam took the Administrator's test on Evankhell's floor for… her, Rachel’s sake. With a heavy heart she wonders if the view she's gazing at right now was the same as what Bam saw during his test.

After taking a closer look, she could see the temple encased in a bubble, keeping it suspended in place without sinking to the unseen bottom. Evolet stopped near the temple and observed it first instead of charging headfirst into the bubble. This time it was a round hypaethral, and the pillars were modelled after the nine Muse. She entered the bubble with ease, silently thinking that it was always so easy. There was never any interference whenever she tries to retrieve the items, and there will never be. Because she’s the only one alive allowed to enter the temples, such is the rule made by the Tower. The steps she took resounded loud and clear, the sound of water nowhere to be heard.

The cella looked exactly the same as the previous temple, except in place of the stone chest was a museum display case. And in the case were two plain black folding fans, each on their stand holder. As always, a spirit materialized when she stepped into the rune circle. Though she certainly didn't expect what occured next…

Silver eyes locked on her, widening slightly. There was a gust of wind and the next thing Evolet knows, she was met with an impact she hadn’t braced for. She didn’t get a chance to register what had happened before hands were all over her face, and the spirit was staring at her in fascination. It wasn’t even a moment later that said spirit squealed and hugged her. Evolet was taken aback, utterly confused at the turn of events.

“You look just like the small version of Euterpe! It’s so cute~ It reminds me of the old days! Come, come, Little Dancer! I’ll make you the best dancer the Tower’s ever seen after me! But let’s fix the look in your eyes first, shall we?”

While she wasn’t able to comprehend what the spirit speedily said, Evolet’s eyebrow twitched as she noticed the word ‘little’ in her words. It seems like people consider her to be a child which… Technically isn’t wrong considering their age gap, but still! Evolet huffed, forcefully getting the spirit off of her. "What kind of look in my eyes? I'm not that little… or a dancer for that matter."

Terpsichore's spirit, clad in white with white hair and silver eyes; too much white to her liking. As if reading her mind, Terpsichore frowned and flicked her forehead. Evolet's hands moved to cover her forehead, rubbing away at the pain. "You will be a dancer soon enough now that you've come to take my fans."

You ignored my first two sentences…

The display case opened at the flick of Terpsichore's hand. The two folding fans shut themselves before hovering over to Evolet and plopped to her hands. Evolet looked at the fans in her hands quizzically. That’s it? Can she go now? She looked at Terpsichore who seemed to be in thinking mode, scanning Evolet from head to feet. “Hm… This won’t work.” Terpsichore decided, all the while staring at Evolet’s eyes.

Another snap of her fingers and tea table set appeared with an assortment of sweets. Evolet contemplated if what was shown here is fake and if she should just leave. That thought was quickly casted away when Terpsichore threatened her to sit with a glare. Though then again, her reluctance melted away when she tasted the cake and got hooked on it.

By now she was munching on the sweets with a blissful and ignorant expression, not reacting much when Terpsichore cheerfully asked if she could style Evolet’s hair. The only warning she gave to Terpsichore was to not cut her hair short. The fluffy hairpins were switched out for a simpler pair, and her tresses were thinned out; making it flow better. Evolet stared at the mirror Terpsichore had kindly summoned.

Placing her palm on the mirror, she stared at her image. Only then did she understand why Terpsichore said about the look in her eyes. She released a heavy sigh, realizing that she hasn’t looked properly at her reflection for a while now. She diverted her view from the mirror, directing it to the new hair pins instead.

"Butterflies… again. They really seem to like this symbol, don't they?"

Evolet couldn't suppress the sigh. Her eyes followed Terpsichore’s movements as she sat down in front of her. "Terpsichore-san, if possible I’d like to go back soon. I promised Bam that I’ll return by the time his basic martial arts training is done.”

Narrowing her eyes, Terpsichore frowned at Evolet. Controlling the atmosphere with a simple sip of tea and staring at her reflection in the liquid. "You know, Little Eve… Aren't you tired? The boy's eyes are on that girl, not you. I'm sure you're aware of it."

"...yes."

"Then, let me ask you this. Are you only staying by that boy's side because you chose him as your King, or is it because you love him?

Evolet wouldn't admit that her breathing hitched at that moment. A sense of unease started seeping into her. There was a part of her that insisted that it was out of the question. It's undeniable that she cares for Bam, that she'll sacrifice anything for him as long as he's safe, that she'll do anything to make him smile, she'll take down Jahad if it's what Bam wants. She pursed her lips, confused at her own thoughts.

"My feelings… are all deprived out of Euterpe-san's memories. Is it even possible for me to learn a new feeling all on my own? What is love supposed to feel like anyway? AAAAH!"

Out of frustration, Evolet banged her head on the table. The concept of it was unfamiliar to her. She doesn't understand what it means to love. Even her feelings for Bam could be considered illogical at this point.

"In the first place, I am an item. I'm not a human, I wasn't supposed to have feelings. Euterpe-san… said so. And she can't be wrong…"

"Not supposed, or not allowed? There's a difference between the two."

"I…"

Chills ran down her back as she paused speaking. Her eyes widened, body frozen stiff and fear gripped her heart. She momentarily choked when she felt the ghosting of hands on her shoulder. A familiar voice whispering to her the warnings she had to heed. She shouldn’t– can’t break the rules set upon her by Euterpe.

You haven't forgotten my words, have you?

A mere item shouldn't have emotions.

"I– I shouldn't. An item isn't supposed to feel, nor is it allowed to feel."

Terpsichore stood up abruptly at those words. Just for a second, a glimpse of the ghost of her past looming behind Evolet. Illusion or not, she could see the psychotic grin and amaranthine eyes filled with madness. Terpsichore reached her hands out, but whatever it is that she just witnessed vanished as soon as she made eye contact with it. Evolet didn't notice a thing, trembling hands gripping the hem of her skirt like a vice as shuddering breath wrecked her petite body.

The whispers haunting her wouldn’t stop–

 

You're just an item

 

Who do you think you are

 

You have no such rights

 

Have you forgotten your purpose

 

Emotions aren't necessary

 

They'll get in your way

All you need to do

 

Simply heed my words




 

StopStopStopStopSToPsTOpStOp– PLeAsE–

A single loud clap resounded clearly in the cella, snapping Evolet back to reality. She looked forward, staring at Terpsichore who still had her hands clasped in front of Evolet’s face. Seeing that she was somewhat fine now, Terpsichore ruffled Evolet’s hair before softly slapping her cheeks a few times for good measure. The dumbfounded Evolet could only caress her cheeks lightly, still confused as to what’s happening.

“Don’t listen to her. You have a bona fide right to feel emotions and make your own decisions regardless of your duties.”

Evolet clearly wasn’t convinced if the anxious look on her face was anything to go with. But she thanked the spirit anyway, eyes turning into crescents as she showed a mellow smile. "Thank you, Terpsichore-san. I feel better after talking about it to you."

Terpsichore could practically hear her mind cracking at the fluffy image. She gave two thumbs up in approval inside her mind. "Little Eve, don't worry! This goddess will always support you and teach you the way of fan-dancing and war fan."

The confused Evolet could only reply with a stutter. "E-eh? Uh… Thank you?"

Afterwards, Terpsichore quickly straightened herself, clapping her hands twice as she said, "I'll make you the most elegant fan dancer the Tower's ever seen. Now, let's get started with the basic fan war katas first. After you get down the basics then we'll move on to the temple lifting ceremony dance so you can get back to that boy."

.

.

.

Hm? There was something odd in Terpsichore's words. It took a few moments before Evolet's mind processed it. "Terpsichore-san, what do you mean by temple lifting ceremony?"

"Ah~ You don't know Little Eve? That's weird… It should've been in Euterpe's memories. But either way, there are a few temples that have certain conditions to go out. For mine, since the temple is restrained underwater; you'll need to drag it up to the surface otherwise you won't be able to go out."

Various codes were running through Evolet's mind as her smile froze over before slowly morphing into a glare. "𝕎𝕙𝕒𝕥… Dᵢd yₒᵤ ₛₐy?"

Under the intensity of the glare, beads of sweat surfaced on Terpsichore's panicked face as she tried to tone down Evolet's anger. "Well– Don't worry too much, Little Eve. It's not that hard to do…? You'll do fine within a month."

Apparently that was the wrong thing to say. Bloodlust started oozing out of Evolet, her eyes sharpening killing intent. Terpsichore let out a small squeak, already terrified at the contrasting image that was a far cry from Evolet’s persona before. In a split second, the table was split into two with a slash of Evolet's Shinsu. And Terpsichore could confidently claim that she would've died at the spot if she hadn't died already. The room went silent, Terpsichore not daring to say a thing. Then Evolet lowered her head and mumbled something in a low voice.

"Come again…?" Terpsichore meekly asked.

"ₒₙₑ wₑₑₖ."

Evolet lifted up her head, blue-violet orbs showing a mix of annoyance and determination. "ONE. WEEK. I don't care if I don't take any break or sleep. Just get THIS done within ONE WEEK."

"Y-yes!"

Terpsichore supposed at the very least, Evolet seemed to have forgotten the little fiasco momentarily. She made a mental note to not bring the topic up anymore. It was quite reckless of Evolet to attempt said feat. While sheer will kept her going through the week, there were times she just couldn't contain the pangs of hunger and the sleepiness so in the end she still had to take short breaks every once in a while. Terpsichore had to applaud Evolet's perseverance though. She was a fast learner. And despite how tired she must be, she didn't lose focus during the training and kept going on. By the end of the week, Evolet somehow managed to learn the basic katas and the dance for the ceremony. And somewhere along the line a thought crossed her mind that eye bags must really love her.

"Now all that's left is your clothes!"

Why does she feel as if people kept fussing over her clothes over and over again… But really, she just wants to escape this instant and return to Bam… Hopefully the remaining temples' requirements won't involve anything tedious like this.

Chapter Text

"Are you ready, Little Eve?"

Evolet's response to that question was a raised eyebrow as she motioned to the dangling bells on both of her ankles. She was wearing a simple knee length off shoulder white chiffon dress, with flared sleeves and gold accents. The usual boots she wore was gone, and she was barefooted with the exception of the anklet bells she's wearing. With every step she took, the bells resounded loud and clear. Evolet grumbled, yawning every once in a while from the lack of sleep. She was chugging down a glass of black coffee rather than her daily sustenance of hot chocolate. Terpsichore could only laugh heartily at the display, finding that it was cute.

"Right, so I'll take that as an affirmative. It's the perfect time for the ceremony, the full moon is out. You still remember my instructions right, Little Eve?"

Evolet straightened herself, traces of her exhausted hidden away as she nodded resolutely. "Halfway through the dance, strengthen the fans with Shinsu. Make sure to keep my balance when the temple surfaces. I still don't understand what you mean by enjoying the dance though..."

Terpsichore showed a soft smile at Evolet's answer, slowly fading back into the folding fans as her words lingered. "You'll understand it soon enough. I leave the rest up to you."

Gripping the fans with a conviction, Evolet stepped into the center of the empty cella and shut her eyes. She evened out her breath, letting her body go lax and started taking light steps. The ringing bells served as her guidance and rhythm, her sleeves and skirt fluttering with each turn. The delicate hold of the fans never faltered, moved around skillfully with elegance. A soothing feeling was flowing around her, surrounded by the darkness in the depths of the water, dancing alone and pouring her feelings out. Her body felt light, her movements crisp and graceful as she performed the war fan katas turned into a dance with smooth transitions and turns.

She could feel the Shinsu flow around her in the form of strings, just like how she always viewed it. A million thoughts should've been running through her mind, especially with how things have been going lately. But that wasn't the case at all. The Shinsu strings reaching out to her were clearer than ever. Her feet could feel the vibrations as the temple started moving upwards. She fortified the pair of fans with her Shinsu, unknowing of how the fans turned jet black and took on a reflective sheen like metal.

There was a lurch as the temple surfaced, but she kept her balance with the help of the Shinsu strings around her. Splashes of water were everywhere and she opened her eyes mid-turn, catching a glance of her reflection in one of the fan's surfaces along with the gleaming moonlight.

What her reflection showed came as a surprise for her. Her eyes were sharp and calm, no shred of doubt or worry in her eyes. But her mouth contradicted her eyes, showing a big grin that caught her off guard. In that split second, time seemed to flow slower and she caught a good look on her reflection; burning the image into her mind. Her mind's never been so clear, she's never enjoyed anything more, everything felt natural. The sensation that was like no other, a feeling so joyous as if she was made for this.

She's never felt more alive than this before. With that knowledge, her grin got wider and she picked up her pace. The jingling bells were more frantic, but they didn't stray off the tempo. Her grin only grew as she speeded up her spins more and more. Lavender shade hair was swaying wildly in the wind, but never getting in her vision. Shinsu strings started glowing, manifesting out of thin air for the naked eyes too see. The moonlight gave its ethereal glow in agreement, the lilies of the valley basking in the soft glow. Evolet was having the time of her life, all of the exhaustion forgotten and casted aside.

The fans were shut with a resolute snap by the end of the dance. Evolet was panting from exhaustion, but sprouting the biggest smile on her face. She'll be glad enough to dance more to relive this exhilarating feeling. The adrenaline rush was still present when she caught sight of Yunuen, patiently waiting at the edge of the lake. The Shinsu strings served as small stepping platforms for her to walk on.

"I'm sorry, Yunuen-san; things took a bit longer than I expected. Now, let's go ba-"

Her words started slurring halfway, eyes out of focus with the adrenaline rush disappearing. The familiar feeling of the world spinning around and muddled noises. The last thing she heard was Yunuen's panicked shout as she fell into the water with a splash.

Yunuen hastily jumped in to drag her back to solid ground. It went without a hitch, though by the end of it he was sputtering water. Evolet was laying on the grass now, drenched all over but fast asleep. That was the first time Yunuen saw her asleep with a serene expression. The dance was a wonderful sight to behold, the surrounding environment only provided support to make Evolet's dance seem much more beautiful than it already was. He quirked up a smile, remembering Evolet's excited grin when she danced full of life. The smile from earlier still evident in her expression, and Yunuen can't help but think that this whole trip truly paid off. Now all they need to do is go back to the third floor. ... He'll have to carry her since she's still asleep. Since he doubts Evolet will be happy if their departure got delayed, regardless of her passing out or not.


The nightmares never left her alone, not for a single night, not for a single sleep. She could always hear the voices, calling her cursed like how she always was. She couldn't deny anything they said when it was true. But overtime she's learnt to ignore it. And she was mostly successful for most of the part as long as nobody pushed the trigger button like Khun did unknowingly. Darkness surrounded her in the dream, red silhouettes with the outline of the figures all around her. She just curled into herself, closing her eyes and shutting out the voices. The darkness was comforting even in this situation for her.

She was faintly aware that she was moving. Opening her eyes, she was met by the sight of Yunuen at a weird angle beside her. It was only when she looked down did she understand that he was piggybacking her, and that he was slightly running instead of walking. He didn't stop when he knew she'd come to, keeping his eyes on the road. Instead he asked her, "Still with the nightmares?"

Evolet nodded against Yunuen's shoulder, nuzzling deeper to the crook of his neck as she released a sigh. "It's just the usual dream. As long as it doesn't show on my emotions then it's fine. I'm used to it. More importantly, where are we right now?"

"We're somewhere on the 7th floor, you've been asleep for two days so I started the descent." Yunuen answered calmly, all the while keeping up his speed. Evolet asked him to stop, voice still soft from waking up. Noticing how she still sounds sleepy, Yunuen skidded to a stop but didn't let her down. She didn't say anything about the matter, instead yawning as she stretched out a hand to the side.

Come, Raiden.

Raiden appeared with crackles of lightning as soon as he was summoned. It took a frown from Evolet before he toned down the lightning, fur looking as fluffy as it always was. Evolet patted the beast's head, smiling fondly from the purrs she elicited from Raiden. Yunuen helped her to climb up on Raiden, keeping her steady and letting her lean on him as they sat. Evolet patted Raiden's head, signalling him to run. The wind rustled as he did, running at a pace much faster than Yunuen.

Another yawn escaped Evolet as she rubbed her eyes sleepily. "Can we stop by whichever floor Khun-san is on?"

"If you want it, then so will it be, Little One. But for now, go back to sleep." Evolet could only manage a small hum before drifting back to sleep.


They made a brief stop on the 6th floor, Evolet following the Shinsu strings that led her to the Lighthouse she gave to Khun. Yunuen had told her beforehand how Khun split up with the others and made his own team in order to bring Rachel up the Tower for Bam. She had gone "visit" him the day before, though it was rather more of an observation from afar. Other than Khun and Rachel, there were two other members. One of them was a fisherman that seemed to be Khun's relative judging from the same cobalt blue eyes. Evolet still thinks Khun's eyes look far brighter and mesmerizing. The other one was a lightbearer, doubling as a scout. But it was a face she's seen before in FUG's database. Evolet's eyebrows furrowed in displeasure, making a note to speak about this with Hansung should they meet again. She learns Khun's cousin is called Ran while the scout lightbearer is Apple. For now she'll settle with an inconspicuous warning for Khun to be cautious with his new team member.

Originally she only planned to give Khun a gift. But after seeing his newly made team, she just got this urge to give something to Ran too, just to spite Rachel and Apple. With the idea in mind, she rummaged through her Lighthouse in search of a particular blue hook that had lightning affinity. She found it rather quickly, pulling it out along with a gift box and some spare wrapping paper. After making sure it's neatly wrapped, Evolet asked Yunuen to deliver the package in a disguise while she watched the events unfold; sitting on her Lighthouse up in the sky. A fond and amused smile formed on her expression as she heard the exact words they were speaking with the help of the Shinsu strings. It's honestly an extremely versatile ability and she's never been so glad the skill was hers.

Yunuen rang the doorbell, teal eyes hidden under a cap. The door opened and Ran stared at Yunuen who was in a delivery outfit, he wasn't expecting any delivery; nor did the team for that matter. He stayed silent for a while, just staring before he asked Yunuen, "What do you need?"

Half of his face still hidden beneath the cap, Yunuen gave a mysterious smile before handing the package to Ran. "It's a delivery to Khun-san."

Yunuen didn't say anything more than that, instead going off immediately. Leaving Ran confused at the package and the delivered, muttering a small "Weirdo..." as he stood in the doorway. In the end, because Ran took too long responding to the doorbell; Khun came out to check on him.

"What was the doorbell earlier about, Ran?"

Ran looked back to Khun, handing him the wrapped package. "It's a package. The delivery guy said it's for Khun-san, so I don't know which one of us he's referring to. You know something about it, A.A.?"

Khun's eyes widened ever so slightly. He knew there was only one person that called him with the suffix '-san', and that was-

Not wasting any time, Khun took the package to his room; ignoring the questioning look on Rachel's face as he hurried past her. Ran only shrugged at the look, following Khun closely before shutting the door so Rachel can't see anything. Khun has seen Evolet's handwriting once before, when she signed the Shibisu and Hatz's friend making list for Scout class. Seeing his name written on the package's wrapping, he's sure that it was from Evolet. He opened the package, finding two boxes inside along with a letter. Although one box looked considerably much smaller than the other one. He picked up the letter first, reading the content silently with Ran peeking behind him.

Khun-san, happy belated birthday! I hope you don't mind that I took the liberty of searching up your birth date... Inside the little box is my birthday gift for you.

Pausing his read for a moment, Khun took out the little box and opened it. Inside was a cobalt blue flash drive; just like his eyes, he mused. He flipped the flash drive, discovering the little label on the back that wrote "It doesn't do your eye color justice though." along with a little smiley face. Khun's face flushed a bit as he laughed, oblivious to Ran's face of disbelief and disgust behind him when he saw Khun laughing.

The flash drive contains a few skill sets for Lighthouses; mainly teleportation. Which you can use once you get three E rank Lighthouses, but you can just get another two since the unranked one I gave you would also suffice for executing the move. Other than that there's also a fortified shield skill in it, so use that to your advantage. Things are moving on rather well on my side, and hopefully I'll be able to see everyone again soon. I've heard of your uhh... separation with Isu -san and the others, also of your new team. Some of them seem to be very good team members. As a commemoration for it, I've sent a gift to Ran-san. Perhaps partly because I wanted to spite Rachel too while I'm at it.

Khun handed Ran the bigger box, watching as he opened it skeptically. The content was a simple yet sturdy looking blue hook. Ran took it in his hands, already in the process of testing it out. Letting him do the testing, Khun got back to the letter's continuation.

It's an unnamed blue hook, but it should be around rank D in terms of abilities. So it should last quite long. Please, exert caution around Rachel. I also know the issue regarding... Bam. Please rest assured Khun-san, I'll be sure to tell you the truth when we meet again. Until then, please be careful. May the Tower's blessings be with you.

Evolet knows about Bam, the fact made Khun's blood run cold. Khun lifted the remains of the wrapping paper up, searching for an address or anything that would let him locate Evolet or at least send her a reply letter. He found nothing and gritted his teeth in slight frustration. Already, his mind started up the gears and overthink. Though he didn't manage to think about much before a crash was heard behind him. Whipping his head towards the source, he found his bed was cleanly split in half and beside it was Ran with his poor attempt to hide the blue hook behind him as he kept a stoic face. Khun threw him out of the room and confiscated Ran's monthly yogurt stock. Khun was already sighing by the time he closed the door, grabbing the flash drive that laid on the floor before plopping onto his bed. Only to fall because he forgot Ran just broke his bed. Right... Buying a new bed would come first before overthinking.

He doesn't know how Evolet's amused laughter rang through the sky as the Shinsu strings informed her of what happened. Her business on the 6th floor was done, now to continue her trip back to the 3rd floor. Off to where Bam is waiting.

Chapter Text

With a huff, Jinsung extinguished his cigarette before entering the training room. Bam was still fighting with the manmade golem although he visibly improved leaps and bounds judging by how easy he looks like while beating the golem. Jinsung nodded his head in satisfaction, Bam was ready to tackle the floors. His training regimen will just get more difficult as they progress through the floors, and Jinsung still needs to see how pairing up with Evolet will affect his fighting style. His chemistry with Evolet, as Jinsung said. A part of him wonders if he’ll ever get a grandchild from the two. It seems like Bam finally noticed his arrival. “Master? Is something the matter?”

“Viole, you can take a break for the rest of today.”

He was about to ask the reason, only to be immediately cut off by Jinsung. Though… That one sentence was sufficient to make him dash out of the room. “Eve just returned earlier.”

Jinsung could only sigh at the trail of dust indicating Viole’s sudden run. He lit up another cigarette before walking leisurely to search for Bam. Not even a few minutes later, Jinsung found Yunuen instead who was just leaning against the wall, waiting with an impassive look. Instantly, he knew the same thing had happened on Yunuen's side. "She's gone?"

Yunuen just raised an eyebrow, unimpressed with the question before proceeding to stare at the empty hallway again. In the end, Jinsung just joined him because he had nothing to do and he couldn't find Bam. Yunuen gave him a look before pulling out a small chessboard. The FUG personnels only looked at the duo playing chess in the middle of the hallway weirdly as they passed, but didn't dare to say a thing.

Meanwhile, Bam ran blindly. Not knowing where to go without directions but hoping to meet Evolet by chance anyway. Which is why currently he’s lost in the maze of confusing hallways. The sudden realization that he should’ve properly asked Jinsung for directions started seeping into Bam’s mind. His steps slowed down as he walked aimlessly. It wasn't quite for a while before Bam stopped, seeing something from the corner of his eyes. A thin golden string that vanished as soon as he tried to reach it. Bam stared at his hand quizzically, confused as to what that was. He heard a soft laughter behind that he would recognize anywhere.

"Did you get lost, Bam?" The question was asked in an overly fond tone, almost teasing in a way.

Bam turned back, and as he expected, standing there was Evolet who's been gone for a year. Momentarily, his breath hitched, looking at Evolet who was smiling softly and waiting for him to say something. Bam's eyes were fixated on Evolet, studying the changes in her appearance while Evolet also did the same to him. Both Evolet and Bam’s hair were longer than before. Bam’s hair already reached his shoulders, tied in a ponytail. While Evolet’s hair already reached past knee-length, nearing calf length. Bam decided the look in her eyes hadn't changed much. Still showing that kind gaze, a tender affection, blue-violet orbs brighter and even more alive than he's seen it before. Bam ran to Evolet, pulling her in an embrace and unwilling to let go. One arm wrapped around her waist while the other snaked to her shoulder as Bam nuzzled into the crook of Evolet's neck. He could feel the vibrations from her laugh. She hugged him back and Bam missed this comforting feeling so badly before.

"I promised you I'll always be back, didn't I?" Bam's response to that was tightening the hug and a nod. He’s never been so glad Evolet kept her promise and came back to his side.

.

.

.

"Uhh… Bam? Can you… let go soon? We've been in this position for 10 minutes already." Evolet patted his back, trying to get him to loosen the hug.

"... Don't wanna." Evolet could feel Bam breathing down her neck as he said it, and the ticklish sensation as his side bangs brushed against her neck occasionally. She shivered at the feeling, laughing awkwardly at the predicament she found herself in.

"Bam… we can't stay like this for the whole day."

It was clear that Bam didn't like what Evolet suggested, only resulting in the hug tightening even more. Evolet let out a sigh at that, but allowed him to indulge nonetheless. Smirking mischievously, Evolet scooped him up in a bridal carry. Of course Bam was startled, letting out a surprised shout but still hanging on for dear life with arms looping around Evolet's neck. His mind went haywire as heat rushed to his face. Muttering incomprehensible words at Evolet's confident and playful smirk, a hint of mirth in her mesmerizing blue-violet eyes. He opted to hide his face in her shoulder, trying to not die from embarrassment. Evolet chuckled at the action. "Comfy?"

Bam let out a small mumble of affirmation at that, ears reddening when Evolet leaned down a bit to kiss the tip of his ears. He's definitely going to die of embarrassment first. "Let's get going now, shall we?"

He could only manage a weak nod as Evolet started walking to who knows where while still carrying him. Soon enough Bam found out that Evolet brought him to his own room and she just moved to sit on the bed, Bam still on her lap although she doesn't seem to mind it one bit. Making her white lighthouses visible, Evolet started taking out various bottles and packets of hair care products. Nodding in satisfaction when she saw the assortment lined up accordingly, she started giving instructions to Bam on how to use it before ushering him to go take a shower.

While she waited, Evolet's gaze roamed all over the room. The room was simple, with little to no decorations in it and only the basics. She frowned at the revelation, wondering what Bam did for a whole year except his training. A piece of paper on the table caught her attention. She strided over to the table, staring at the piece of paper that turned out to be the friend list from the second floor. Evolet was perturbed, unlike her, Bam was forced to join under FUG’s threat. Putting the paper back with dark eyes, the gears in Evolet’s mind already started working. Now that she’s gotten Terpsichore’s folding fans, she needs training and a higher standing in FUG and outside. Something that would let her go head to head with the FUG elders if needed in the future, that would guarantee Bam’s safety. Her own status right now wouldn’t do, it wasn’t as if she could run away if she tried to mess with the upper ones.

She could already feel the stress piling up, her body moving of its own accord to dance in an attempt to relieve her. Humming all the while she did, without noticing Bam finished his shower and was watching her with interest. Soft claps snapped Evolet out of her little daydream, eyes softening at the sight of Bam. The earlier thoughts were kept at the back of her mind, now focusing on Bam first. Evolet told him to sit, another set of hair care products prepared. Bam just relaxed as Evolet took care of his hair with the necessary procedures, intent on making his hair as fluffy as before. Which became their routine later on as they climbed the Tower. Though Evolet was glad that Bam seemed to enjoy it, slightly dozing off as he did.

With a sleepy voice, Bam asked her, "Eve, what were you doing earlier?"

Evolet hummed softly as she answered, "You mean dancing?"

Bam tilted his head up, facing Evolet with curiosity apparent in golden orbs. "Is it called dancing?"

She nodded, smiling fondly as she inquired if he wanted to try it out with her. It's always worth it if she could see the shine in Bam's eyes as he agreed instantly. Evolet took a step back as Bam turned to her. She bowed down slightly, extending her hand. "Would you grant me the honor of dancing with you, my king?"

Truly, what wouldn't she do to ensure Bam's happiness. She couldn't ask for more when Bam took her hand with a joyful laugh. Evolet started singing with a mellow voice, her tune soft and rhythm deliberately slow.

Remember when I told you
“No matter where I go
I’ll never leave your side
You will never be alone”
Even when we go through changes
Even when we’re old
Remember that I told you
I’ll find my way back home

Since Bam didn't know anything about dancing beforehand, Evolet was the one who took the lead. Whisking him into the dance with light steps, only twirling around and moving playfully.

I could never let you go
Couldn’t run away if I tried
‘Cause even when I’m all alone
You still got a hold of my mind
And I’ll always let you know
That I’m always gonna hold on

Bam would be a little clumsy at times, occasionally tripping but Evolet would pull him into another move before he could fall. The two relished in the tranquil moment.

And I told you right from the start
You just say the word and I’ll go
No, it doesn’t matter how far
‘Cause your love is all that I know
Baby you just stay where you are
And you know I won’t be too long
Hold on
Hold on

Even if Bam didn’t know, Evolet meant every single word she sang. There wasn't a word of lie in them.

Remember when I told you
“No matter where I go
I’ll never leave you side
You will never be alone”
Even when we go through changes
Even when we’re old
Remember that I told you
I’ll find my way back home

Bam let out a series of giggles, clearly enjoying their activity even as the song came to an end. It was a peaceful day off and they wouldn't have it any other way.


Evolet was supposed to be working on her business plans finalization. The keyword being "supposed to". To be fair Evolet was working earlier. She just didn't expect what had occurred next.

White Lighthouses were floating around her, showing various documents she typed in beforehand. On the table in front of her were stacks of papers. She was weighing her options, the risks and the benefits that would come with it, how much money she would need to start the business, etc. To be honest there were countless options she could do. At that moment, she didn't know the knocks on the door signalled her ruin of the day. She looked up from her papers and Lighthouses, eyes trained on the door as she let out a soft "Come in".

Her eyebrows furrowed ever so slightly when Evolet recognized it was Yunuen who came in. "Yunuen-san...? Is something the matter?"

A mischievous smile was present on Yunuen's expression, making Evolet wary. Things never ended well for her when he had that smile on. "Little One~"

The sing-song tone he used made Evolet shiver. Something was about to not end well, and she knows she's not going to like it. Yunuen didn't say a thing after that, instead going over to Evolet's seat before picking her up by her armpits and holding her up.

.

.

.

"Eh?"

Astonishment and shock took over Evolet briefly. But it quickly disappeared as the situation sank in and the veins on her forehead bulged irritably. Yunuen broke into a dash just like that, stringing Evolet along in a ridiculous way. She felt like a manhandled cat as the wind brushed against her. She felt like a cat, so that's exactly what she did. Evolet threw a hissy fit, struggling to get out of his hold. Though it didn't deter Yunuen the slightest bit. Jinsung stopped in his tracks as he saw Yunuen's crazy feat, only huffing out smoke before he continued to walk and chose to not get involved from the sheer ridiculousness he saw. By the end of it, all that Yunuen got was a harsh kick to his solar plexus and a pissed off Evolet. They were in a boutique, presumably owned by a FUG member; Evolet thought.

"Sheesh… You could've just honestly said that I needed to do a fitting for the new outfit. Look where that got you."

Evolet noted how Yunuen was sulking at a corner, a tint of guilt apparent in his eyes. At least the new outfit certainly fitted her, and it suited the new hairpins she got from Terpsichore not long ago. Though as expected of FUG… The clothes are intricate and gaudy. The knee length dress was mainly purple, with layers of black and cursive lines of silver surrounding the mandarin neckline. Evolet lifted up her hands and moved it around to see the movement from the ruffled loose sleeves. Purple FUG symbols circled the skirt’s black fabric and white butterflies were etched on some places of the purple fabric.

Humming in satisfaction, she attached her folding fan to the custom belt; silently grateful for the extra extension on her folding fan to make it more convenient. Black knee high combat heels completed the look. The doorbell rang, signalling another customer's arrival. Hansung’s figure emerged from the door. Hansung and Evolet locked eyes, the latter with a deadpan expression while the first was sipping his coffee calmly without a care in the world. Evolet glanced at Yunuen from the corner of her eyes, he was whistling innocently and avoiding to meet her stare. Giving an exasperated sigh, she could vaguely guess what’s going on.

“Hansung-san… Did you get roped into this by Yunuen-san?”

Hansung sipped his instant coffee before answering, “The deal was to take care of the company’s ledgers and all.”

“You mean I will have to manage it, don’t you?” Evolet asked unimpressed, knowing that Yunuen is terrible at managing money and accounting.

“Split ratio?” It’s just curiosity. Maybe she’ll accept the deal if the ratio was good enough. She needs the money anyway.

“30:70. The 70 being yours.”

“... Are you trying to give away your company for free?” Evolet asked skeptically at the seemingly perfect deal. The only thing she needed to do was basically overseeing his company, if you can even call it that. Hansung’s instant coffee brand is spread throughout the Tower after all. Well, Hansung also had it easy, but this is too good of a chance to pass up. So she agreed instantly, making her worst decision of the day. Just as soon as she voiced her decision, Hansung’s lips curled into a smile and Yunuen perked up. Was there something that she missed…?

As if on cue, the curtains near her all opened and displayed endless varieties of clothes. Hansung had sneaked up behind Evolet while she was still in the middle of being shocked, pushing her towards said racks of clothes. The color in Evolet's face drained quickly.

"Wha?! Wait!!! What part of the deal is this?!" Evolet asked in full blown panic.

Hansung didn't mind it and just kept pushing her, a few of the shop's employees already on standby. "Why, you're going to be an idol, Ms. Euterpe. That was the deal that Yunuen striked with me after all."

Let that be a lesson for Evolet to always consider there's a catch behind every deal with Hansung. She really should've asked for the deal's details first before deciding anything no matter how tempting that sum of money was…

Evolet could only gulp and preserve through this whole thing. Though she doubts she'll be sane by the end of all of this concept building and disguise.


Bonus scene:

Evolet was tapping her feet impatiently on the floor. Yunuen had cold sweat running down his brow, avoiding to meet Evolet's gaze that was staring down at him. He was kneeling on the floor, already for quite a while now but not daring to stand up in fear of infuriating Evolet further.

"Yunuen-san… Pray tell, what made you think that it was a good idea to sign me up for… that?"

His hands were making gestures, moving on its own from panic as he attempted to explain with stutters. "Ahaha– You see Eve dear– It was just a spur of the moment and –"

He froze when Shinsu slashed the spot just beside him, grazing his cheek slightly as blood traced out. Taking a big gulp, he dared himself to glance at Evolet. He found her staring at him impassively with cold eyes as if he was the most pathetic being in the Tower. "... I dare you to say that again."

"I meant– It was a waste of your innate talent…?"

A Shinsu blade was materializing in Evolet's hands, and alarms were blaring in Yunuen's mind. He needed to say something reasonable soon. Before he died.

"I-It'll be useful in the future! Especially on the 33rd floor!"

Evolet kept her stare on him for a few more moments before letting out an exasperated sigh as she willed the Shinsu away. "I'll take your word on that."

She just left the boutique after that, leaving Yunuen heaving a relieved breath. He was brought back to reality when he heard Hansung's particularly loud sip with his instant coffee. Groaning as he realized that he took all the blame on himself while Hansung was completely unaffected despite being the mastermind who planned half of the deal. Today was definitely not his day.

Chapter Text

"What color do you want your hair to be?"

"I think she'll look great with black hair! Imagine the cool flair~"

"White is also nice! Don't you think she'll seem mysterious?"

"Nonono, classic blonde is the way to go!"

Hansung calmly drank his instant coffee, never away from it and always a backup ready, unaffected by the noisy environment. Evolet ignored the commotion the stylists were making, arguing over her hair color of all things. She opted to look around the various hair samples instead. In truth, Evolet would've gone with her original hair color if it wasn't for hiding her identity from the Khun and the others. Her eyes were scanning through the selection of colors they provided, but she found herself frowning. And before she knew it, she was thinking out loud and the words she uttered were heard loud and clear. "Why aren't there any blue ones…"

Swiftly, the stylists sprung into action and the display was changed to a variety of blue wigs. Evolet admits she was a tad bit unnerved with their speed. Instantly, she was drawn to a particular shade. The sky blue that always reminded her of Khun. She took out the bandanna Khun gave her, asking one of the stylists to make up a style that would go with the cobalt blue bandanna. She thinks it's a color scheme revolving around Khun, but she doesn't mind it at all. The bright smile on her face was enough to get the stylists moving with every intention to make her look the best.

A few hours later, Evolet's hair was dyed the same shade as Khun's and curled a bit on the edges. The blue bandanna secured the headband braid in place, showing off the Khun family logo proudly. It felt a little odd for Evolet, considering that she wasn’t from the Khun family or directly related to them for that matter. She stared at her image in the mirror. Evolet was wearing a cornflower blue top with handkerchief sleeves and keyhole neckline, hugging her slim waistline and showing off her figure. The layered skirt has various shades of blue mixed in, royal blue, navy blue, cobalt blue, the shades getting lighter as it went down to her knees. Occasional small silver and purple flower motifs decorated the outfit, giving off an air of elegance. And the best part was that Evolet had no problems walking in the navy blue ankle strap heels.

Evolet went over to Hansung as she left the stylists to their own devices and chose several sets for her to wear later on along with a wig for conventional uses. The paperworks for his company’s ownership was passed on to her and Evolet couldn’t help but let out a sigh, reprimanding herself for not asking the deal’s terms beforehand. She saved the papers in her Lighthouse for safekeeping.

Evolet didn't fail to notice how Hansung still had a few papers that he was looking over. Though the contents of it wasn't something she was particularly fond of. By the end of it, assassination and killing are the norm in FUG. Evolet also had her fair share of killing during her time climbing the Tower up until the 9th floor as Yvette, a few of assassination orders along the way.

Noticing her stare, Hansung gave his trademark smirk. "These assassination orders are for Viole."

Blue-violet eyes darkened at the mention, already extending a hand toward Hansung. "Transfer all of the order to me, I'll do them instead. Viole should just focus on climbing the floors faster."

They both know it's a lie. Evolet was only trying to prolong what was inevitable. The Tower was a kill or be killed world, getting blood on your hands every once in a while during the tests wouldn't be weird. That doesn't mean Evolet won't try to shield Bam from it. It amused Hansung anyway, so he hands Evolet the stacks of paper filled with the targets’ information.

"Is there anything you wouldn't do for his sake?"

"Nothing." Evolet answered resolutely without a moment's delay.


The first time Evolet discovered the training rings for the regulars when they started climbing again was purely by accident. Bam was training with Jinsung at their rented house which she fortified beforehand to lessen the damage from their intense training. While the teacher student duo was training, Evolet was doing a grocery run with Yunuen and the big platform written "REGULARS TRAINING RING" caught her eyes. Blinking in confusion, she asked Yunuen to take a little detour so she could check out the place. The both of them hadn't registered as a competitor. Since Yunuen was incapable of participating with his High Ranker status while Evolet simply wanted to scout their competition out of curiosity.

It served her objective well, at least until a regular mocked her. Calling her a little kid, that she was only a girl that didn't belong here and should just sell off her looks instead. Evolet stared at her offender with an impassive look, but Yunuen's eyes spelled murder at the insult so she stands up to the challenge before said regular gets killed by him. The registration didn't take long and as soon as Evolet was given the membership card, she was standing in front of a staged cage. Most likely to ensure there weren't any casualties from the viewers in case the fight gets too intense.

Evolet ignored the weird stares as she took off her shoes and replaced it with the bell anklets she got from Terpsichore. She stepped into the cage, the sounds of jingling bells accompanying her every step. It was obvious to anyone that her opponent didn't think of her as a threat, especially when Evolet only took out her folding fans rather than a threatening looking weapon. None of their insults registered in Evolet's mind as she opted to close her eyes and let the Shinsu strings spread around her, invisible to the other regulars' eyes. The bell rang, signalling the start of their match. And needless to say, the F rank regulars have never seen such a one-sided fight with that kind of elegance.

Even with her eyes closed, Evolet could feel everything crystal clear around her. Strengthening the fans and her own body with Shinsu, Evolet could be seen 'nearly' dancing around on the stage. Light movements that carried more weight than it seems whenever a kick connected with each body part of her opponent and the loud jingling of bells. She avoided every attack with grace, her opponent unable to catch up with her speed despite the sounds she gave off from the bell anklets. Retaliating with sharp edges of her steel black fans, small spurts of blood coming out whenever it grazed her competitor.

It was a good opportunity to test out the fighting style Yunuen taught her. Her Shinsu strengthening made up for her severe lack of strength. Especially when her Shinsu strengthening was top notch, being a support skill and all. Yunuen suggested her to utilize her legs in her fighting smile and not only her fans. More skills at her disposal was always good for battles. The bells were merely an addition she thought up to test her limits. Can her opponent catch up to her speed if they follow the sounds? She wouldn't use it in an actual fight, but this was merely a spar. She’d love to test her limits someday. Though she doubted there would be anyone capable of making her take off these anklet bells in the Regulars Training Ring.

Yunuen told her to sense her enemies' moves instead of seeing them with her eyes. Evolet does exactly that with the help of Shinsu strings. It lets her move faster than her opponent could see. By the end of the fight, the regular was lying on the floor out cold. There wasn't any everlasting damage or heavy wounds for that matter, Evolet made sure to restrain herself after all. She only struck at pressure points that would immobilize her opponent.

The crowd broke out in cheers for her. Evolet didn't accept any more challenges for the day, opting to go home instead. Bam would finish his training soon, and she was in charge of dinner today. But her eyes didn't fail to notice the weaponry shop near the exit, and her lips curled into a smile as another plan formulated in her mind. Both the shops and regulars would welcome the new strengthened weapons of various ranks that Evolet sold with Yunuen's help as it became the new hot topic in the Tower soon enough.

On their way back, Yunuen stopped at a certain poster showing the new rising idol that was yet another hot topic with the F rank regulars. The word ‘Muse’ was boldly written on it. His eyes went to the corner of said poster, catching the most beautiful F regulars ranking. Yunuen's laughter could be heard all over the floor when he realized that both names that hold the first and second ranking were in fact the same person in reality. Blue-violet eyes held the truth, but no one noticed the similarity between the two personas.


Bam learned a lot of things as he climbed the Tower. Nightmares were something constant in Bam’s life as he climbed the Tower. He would wake up covered in cold sweat and gasping for breath, the scenes of his friends' dead bodies still fresh in his mind. It served as a reminder for him that he couldn't fail the tests. But he learned that every time he went out of his room for fresh air after his nightmares, Evolet would always be ready with a cup of warm lavender tea. She never asked him of his nightmares, and they always drank the tea in comfortable silence. He wonders how she knew, but she didn't ask so neither did he. He always falls back to sleep before he knows it. A lingering promise that the nightmares won't haunt him again for the rest of the night as the soothing scent of lavender lulled him to sleep.

The first time Evolet collapsed was completely unprecedented. They just finished a floor test not long ago, and Evolet was stabbed through her stomach. She just bandaged it and told Bam that it wasn't serious. Bam believed her and they proceeded to the next floor's test within the same week. The test relied heavily on speed, and Evolet played a major part in it only to collapse due to blood loss and reopened wounds as soon as they passed. Bam learned that it wasn't that Evolet didn't feel the pain or heal quickly. Rather, she just ignored it until it either healed or her body couldn't take it anymore and collapsed. He paid attention to her wounds more after that.

Both of them had a day off from training at the time, so they went to resupply their food stock. Bam noticed how Evolet was adding supplies he didn't recognize in their usual recipes. When he asked her what she was planning on making, she gave him a blinding mischievous smile and told him she's going to bake something since it's a day off. That was the day Bam learned Evolet was not only a good cook, but also a fantastic baker. Even when he bought other sweets from various shops afterwards, he found that he still liked Evolet's Mont Blanc the best.

The two of them have danced with each other before, the first time being the one Evolet initiated when she returned after his basic training. After that, there have also been some occasions where Evolet just pulled Bam along for a dance. He never refused the opportunities, finding the activity fun. But he never learned how beautiful dancing could be. At least not until Bam saw Evolet completely absorbed in her own dance during practice with eyes shining bright and a matching grin. Bam could feel his breath hitch and throat parched as he engraved the moment in his mind. He wished no one else could see her dance, but he doesn’t know the reason why.

Another thing that Bam learned was that Evolet would gladly give him a hug whenever he asked for it. He started asking for more hugs after that. It wasn’t until much later that Bam noticed how it was always Evolet who hugged him instead of him hugging her. He tried it once out of curiosity, hugging her from behind without any warning. Evolet looked at him with confusion at first, but it quickly changed into a soft smile. His hands on his waist tightened more at the sight, and he can’t help but admire how Evolet seemed to fit perfectly in his hold. Though Bam can't seem to figure out why he was the one who's blushing rather than Evolet.

Afterwards, both Jinsung and Yunuen could see how it was Bam who always hugged Evolet first rather than her hugging him now. Granted, Yunuen wasn’t the least happy about it but he didn’t dare to say a thing when he could see Evolet smiling with every hug. He settled for sulking in the corner of the house instead.

It was one time that Bam accidentally hugged Evolet to sleep after an exhausting day with the floor’s test. By morning he discovered that he didn’t have nightmares when Evolet accompanied him to sleep, and watching Evolet’s peaceful sleeping face became his new favorite pastime in the morning. Their room arrangements changed after that, bringing endless amusement for Jinsung who agreed to it rather easily. Yunuen actually threw a fit when that occurred, although he couldn’t lift a finger when Evolet proceeded to ignore him and even went as far to not cook his portion of food. Jinsung and Bam threw him pitiful stares at the man. Yunuen promptly stopped out of shame when Bam was the one giving him food from sympathy.

They were nearing the 20th floor when Hwaryun visited them out of the blue. She came at the break of dawn, and Evolet was the one who answered the door. She was greeted by the sight of red hair and red eyes, confused as to why the red witch from FUG was here. Evolet invited her in for breakfast anyway. Bam woke up to the comical sight of Yunuen scrambling around to pack up his belongings while Jinsung walked around leisurely with a cup of black coffee in one hand and a large bag in the other. Needless to say, Bam was thoroughly confused as to why Hwaryun was casually drinking tea at their rented house but he ate breakfast anyway. They were suddenly notified that both teachers will leave them as of today because they still had other responsibilities. Evolet had no doubt that it was Yunuen who’s been putting off his duties. In about 10 minutes, all of them were on the front door to see the teachers and Hwaryun off. Yunuen was knocked out and slung over Jinsung’s shoulder so that he wouldn’t make a fuss on the way back. Hwaryun was staring intently at Evolet, perhaps trying to get a read on her path. Noticing the stare, Evolet smiled mysteriously at her.

“Are you still unable to see my path, Red Guide?”

As if in resignation, Hwaryun closed her eyes before turning around and walking off. “We’ll meet again later, Svalinn. Please take care of my God.”

Bam and Evolet stared at the trio as they departed. Evolet’s gaze was cold as she contemplated Hwaryun’s words. Even when the trio disappeared from their sight, Evolet kept her eyes trained on the path.

“Bam.”

Hearing his name, Bam turned to Evolet and found blue-violet eyes showing an emotion he couldn’t comprehend. She continued speaking, “Bam, promise me. Promise that whatever anyone might call you, be it a God, be it a monster, be it any name they might give you; promise that you’ll never forget that you’re Bam. Only simply the 25th Bam at the core and nothing else. The Bam that I’ve come to know and spent time with.”

I wish that you’ll never have to carry the burden of a God, that you’ll stay the way you are.

She looked at him with desperation in her eyes, and he couldn’t find it in him to disagree despite not quite understanding what she meant at the time. Instead, he asked her in return.

“Then promise me that you’ll stay by my side.”

Evolet seemed to be taken aback by the question, obviously not expecting Bam to suddenly ask that from her. The surprise melted into the softest of smiles, which brought about flutters in Bam’s chest. “That goes without saying, Bam. I’ll stay by your side, as long as you want me to.”

“Then you’ll have to stay by my side forever, because I’ll always want you by my side.” Bam’s smile is as bright as the sun, radiating warmth that Evolet couldn’t put in words. She didn't answer this time, opting to hug him instead. Already distracted by the pure joy from the hug, Bam didn’t notice how there wasn’t a reply from Evolet.


The room was dark, only dimly lit by the light of the Lighthouses’ screens. Two princesses of Jahad were having a conversation regarding a certain pair of individuals. Though Yuri’s conversation partner, namely Princess Repellista Jahad, seemed to be paying more attention to her Lighthouses’ screen.

“I got a favor to ask.” 

“What favor?” Repellista asked, a knowing smirk etched on her face as she stretched her hand to take another potato chip. She didn’t wait for Yuri to finish her words before continuing on as if she never asked a thing.

“Is it to find the boy irregular and his… friend that you were personally looking for? The pair that came into the Tower five years ago, but one disappeared while the other died on the Floor of Tests?”

Annoyed, Yuri couldn’t suppress the scowl that was already forming. Repellista gingerly laughed at the sight, not even bothering to turn and face Yuri as she replied. “If you know, don’t ask.”

“But he’s dead!”

Yuri wouldn’t accept a simple answer like that. She’s come this far to search for the both of them after all. She wouldn’t have either of them dying just yet. “... No. He wouldn’t just die like that. And you didn’t say anything about the girl so she must be alive somewhere. Please, I beg you!! I’m sure you can find them. I really want to find them. That boy… That boy! IS! SUPER HANDSOME!!!”

Repellista was exasperated by the response, for once even turning around to properly see Yuri’s reaction to her own words. Offering a pack of tissues for her self-induced nosebleed.“Oi, oi, go see a doctor. And what about the girl?”

That sobered up Yuri, eyes blinking to erase the traces of her earlier swooning for Bam. Now, the red eyes were burning intensely as she fisted her hands energetically. “Endorsi already dolled her once on the Floor of Tests! I’m not going down before I dress her up at least once! … Possibly more.”

Elsewhere, Evolet’s spine shuddered violently as her face paled without knowing the reason. Bam looked at her skeptically as he asked if she caught a cold. For once, she was reluctant to answer no at the implication. The previous look on Yuri’s face was now replaced with a serious one. “And I can’t deny that I’m curious. Something felt oddly off about the girl, and Evan couldn’t even see the outline of her path no matter how hard he tried.”

Repellista’s hold on her game console stilled, muttering something under her breath that was nearly inaudible by Yuri if it wasn’t for her advanced senses. “That’s a given. A mere guide wouldn't be able to read the path of that kind of existence.

Yuri didn’t inquire further about it, but archived it in her mind for future purposes. Repellista’s hands started moving again, controlling the console with expertise while she agreed to Yuri’s request. “Fine. If you insist, I’ll give it a try.”

A large-scale celebration was happening in Yuri’s mind, although it was cut short when Repellista resumed her talk. “But I also have a favor to ask.”

“A favor…?”

“I also have something I want so much. You should get it for me. How’s that? Sounds fair?”

No choice left, Yuri agreed to her yet unknown request. She was highly suspicious when Repellista cheered as if she literally hooked a big fish. Repellista’s guide and butler called for Yuri, telling her that the hot chocolate was ready in the dining room. The door closed shut after Yuri left the room, Repellista grinning wildly as her Opera Lighthouse lit up and showed various scenes in the Tower.

“This is where the real story begins. The boring times are over. Now… It’s time for them to appear. Soon, the Prince of Jahad will return.” She couldn’t stop her squeals and laughter. Words can’t do justice to the excitement she’s feeling right now. Her laughter abruptly stopped when she spotted distinct lavender hair in one of the screens. Resting her chin on her hand as she watched the girl chatting away with the irregular boy Yuri was head over heels earlier.

“But still though… To think the crown finally emerged and that old legend was actually true...

Chapter Text

Always, he's had that dream since he was little every day without fail. A vast lavender field and a girl overly familiar to him. It was his solace, an irreplaceable sense of safety and warmth that would accompany him whenever he spent time with the girl. His memory would be too hazy to remember the girl in his dreams, but a sense of longing filled him whenever he was on the verge of remembering her name.

"My name is Bam. Who are you?"

"I am… ______"


"–Rachel! Why can't I go with you?!"

"I told you Bam, Tower University isn't a place you can just apply to without thinking twice. I'm going there so I can chase the stars! You need to continue your studies here."

She just pushed him away, swiftly getting into the car. Bam ran as fast as he could, screaming at the top of his lungs while desperately chasing after the car. Soon enough he ran out of energy, collapsing on the deserted road. Panting from exhaustion, he doesn't understand why Rachel would leave him for the stars. But he'll get into Tower University no matter what it takes.

Bam considered himself lucky when he encountered Yuri and Evan who were kind enough to help him submit his application in the nick of time. The entrance exam consisted of several parts. In the first test area, he encountered Headon and another irregular participant like him. An overwhelming sense of deja vu crashed down at him when the aroma of lavender invaded his nostrils. A girl with flowing knee length pale lavender hair and reflective blue-violet eyes that stared into the very core of his soul.

“My name is Bam. Who are you?”

“I am… Evolet.”

 

“Will you become my friend?”

“Of course, Bam. Anything for you.”


It was supposed to be their first meeting, but it feels as if they've known each other for years. The way they work together flawlessly as if capable of reading each other's minds. Their first and third tests relied heavily on teamwork, which the students found quite odd but had no choice either than complying. They met Khun and Rak in the second test, forming a balanced team which allowed them to pass the third test with ease. A short break was provided just before the fourth test, and the team found themselves in a short conversation.

They discovered that Rak was here because he overheard the university was highly competitive and often participated in sports tournaments. Khun's reason for applying here was apparently because he wanted to spite his father by taking a completely different major than his family and proving his worth. Bam took the enrollment tests in order to chase Rachel, and Khun concluded that she was his rule. They turned to Evolet, asking her the reason behind her enrollment. Evolet's lips curled up into a smile.

"I'm looking for someone, a boy to be exact."

"Really? Have you found him yet?"

"I suppose you could say that."

 

"I found him, but it seems I'm too late again."

 

"Why are you searching for him?"

"He's… the most important person in my life."

 

"Who am I to you?"

"Hm? What are you saying, Bam? You are yourself, simply the 25th Bam. The most important person in my life."

 

Bam could feel his stomach churning when Evolet uttered those words with pure adoration in her eyes and tender smile. It didn't sit quite right with him, not knowing who that person was. He encountered Rachel once more in the fourth test. But she kept silent, hiding her appearance beneath a cloak as her team helped Bam’s team. All he could do was stare, unable to move from his spot lest he wanted his team to fail. Rachel got injured and everything went downhill quickly. The sight of blood was enough to get Bam to leap from his designated place, and he threw himself in the firing line to protect his brightest star. As his consciousness began to fade away, he remembered hearing Evolet’s alarmed shouts and gentle arms cradling him close to warmth.

He was running through the lavender field, heading to the clearing where he knew she would be waiting. The girl was lying down on the grassy ground, gazing at the sky with a peaceful expression. Bam waved his hand, excitedly shouted his greetings as the girl smiled softly at the sight of him. As he was nearing, he tackled the girl who was now standing into a hug, earning bouts of melodious laughter. They stayed in the hug for a few moments before separating, and the girl frowned at the sight of wounds on Bam. Already expecting this to happen, the girl whipped up a first aid kit and started patching him up. She grumbled, reprimanding him for getting injured most of the time when he came here and that he should stop getting hurt so much. Bam’s head drooped down guiltily at that. But he inwardly smiled, aware that the girl would always be ready to heal him. The warmth of her touch soothed his pain, and he thinks he wouldn’t mind getting hurt as long as she’s there.

When Bam opened his eyes, he was greeted by the sight of Evolet holding onto his hand gingerly as she slept awkwardly on a chair beside him. Khun explained the situation, briefing him about the events that had occurred after he passed out. Bam was told how Evolet stayed by his side the whole time until he woke up, a sense of warmth and safety blossoming in his chest as a smile spread itself on his face. Since there wasn’t a clear winner in the fourth test, they will organize a special training before moving onto the final test. Khun told him that he was mistaken, that the girl he protected wasn’t the Rachel he was searching for. Bam noticed the lie, yet he can’t figure out why Khun would lie to him except if Rachel asked him to do so. He pushed the thought to the back of his mind temporarily, opting to focus on the special training instead.

Evolet proved to be a great tutor during the training period. Ensuring Bam was well versed in the basics and quickly raising his rank while also securing a safe place for herself in a different course. During the span of the special training, Bam started gathering friends almost naturally and they found themselves having their own large group of friends despite the competition and varying courses. Rak, Evolet, and another applicant successfully got their immediate qualification and earned their rightful place in Tower University. Evolet could only watch worriedly from the sidelines as the others undertook the fifth test. It didn’t come as a surprise when the test quickly went haywire, especially when nearly no one in the second team was willing to cooperate with each other. Both Bam and Rachel were in that team, and Evolet can’t help it as a bittersweet smile made itself apparent on her face when Bam discovered it was truly Rachel.

 

“Bam, who is ------?”

 

He perked up at the mention of her name, eagerly telling her stories of ------. There was a momentary flash of hurt in her eyes, disappearing as soon as it appeared. He didn’t spot it, simply continuing his stories with awe. She didn’t regret asking about her, but at the same time she did.

The problematic test came to a resolute end after many mishaps, and they proceeded on. Despite the difference in majors, the team unexpectedly stuck together with Bam’s innocent charm. They would often meet from time to time, checking whenever the others would be free. Out of all of them, Evolet was the one who spent the most time with Bam. She had quite a few classes lined up together with Bam, and she would often help him study in some lessons. If you ask the team, they would no doubt say that those two were the closest out of all of them. Most of the time they would be seen together. By time people would just search Bam if they wanted to find Evolet, and vice versa. And even when they're not together, the other would always know where their pair went.

Though people seemed to be aware that Evolet was absolutely smitten with Bam, said male was utterly unaware of it. At first, they all found it to be quite entertaining. Evolet was the one who acted like a gentleman, subtly flirting with Bam who was unaware of her advances. Sudden hugs, a kiss on the cheek or the forehead, homemade cooking, cuddling, holding hands, visiting places together, ordering each other's favorite food, the list went on and on. He would always welcome the actions and reciprocate them, as if it was natural for the both of them to do. Then there was that one time…

Evolet was running late to her meeting with Bam, held up by Hansung who cashed in a favor and made her help with his paperwork of all things. Then midway as she was heading to Bam, she was stopped by an underclassman who asked a bit of her time. Sure enough, she turned him down because she was already late. But he didn't want to back down, insisting that it was only for a little while. Evolet reluctantly agreed, telling him to state his business swiftly. She hadn't been aware that Bam was not far behind her along with Khun, worried because she didn't send any message to inform them. The underclassman hadn't even started speaking before Bam was standing right behind her, hands looping around Evolet's waist and neckline. Possessive in every way possible when he nearly let out a feral growl with dark eyes.

"Back off, she's mine."

The underclassman shrieked, not needing a second warning as he dashed off. Bam didn't notice how Evolet's face flushed a brilliant shade of red to the tip of her ears, slightly steaming. Nobody protested when Khun clicked the shutter on his phone, nodding in approval with a grin worthy of Cheshire Cat. It was the best picture he took all year long, he said. She smiled softly as she went home later on, heart fluttering at the slightest ray of hope that Bam might actually return her feelings this time round. Would it be fine if she hoped for a little while?

On the other hand, Rachel was the one who spent the least time with Bam. She didn't have a single class together with Bam, and would blatantly avoid them even during break hours. The most they see her would be in the hallways, or when Bam personally invited her to a gathering. That certainly didn't deter Bam though. If Rachel didn't seek him out, then he would be the one doing it. Whenever he had free time, he would rush to search for Rachel. He couldn't see the burning hatred and jealousy behind her forced fake smiles. How she would glare at him behind his back. His friends noticed them, but he didn't listen till the very end.

It was one of the rare holidays, and Bam had invited her for an excursion. Evolet didn't think twice before accepting, grabbing a jacket before heading to the park. She was walking leisurely, knowing that Bam wouldn't be there yet since she had departed early so that she had time to spare. A certain shop caught Evolet's eyes, and she stopped in her tracks. Her legs voluntarily brought her to the shop, doorbell chiming as she opened the door and the owner greeted her.

"Excuse me, can I request a bouquet…?"

"Of course, is there any flower you want in particular? Or any message you want to convey in the bouquet?"

"Lavender… yellow tulips, jonquils, bellflowers, and geranium… please."

The florist wrapped everything neatly, adding final touches to the bouquet that contained variations of yellow and purple flowers. Evolet paid the florist, bouquet held gingerly in her arms.

"I hope everything goes well and your affection gets returned." Evolet was taken aback with the comment, but gave a blinding sincere smile in return. She was grateful for the encouragement, properly saying her gratitude before exiting the shop.

The bouquet wasn't a large one, so she hid it behind her back as she approached Bam who was already waiting for her.

""Bam/Eve, I have something to say!""

They laughed at the rushed sentences, apparently both of them had news they couldn't wait to say. Evolet let Bam go first, and she couldn't be more relieved that she did that.

"I think– I'm in love with Rachel."

Her shoulders slumped down and her legs went lax. Evolet's breath hitched, mouth going dry as her thoughts started blanking out. The bouquet hidden behind her back was gripped tight as she forced the words out while stuttering.

"T-that's good!"

She couldn't register anything that Bam was saying. Her heart clenched at the thought, something was constricting her lungs and she felt like choking at first thought. That sentence sent her world crashing down, shattering it to pieces. She wanted nothing more to cry. How naive had she been? Hoping that Bam would finally return her feelings this time round, when she knew his eyes were in Rachel the whole time. Evolet hadn't noticed how she was spacing out until Bam was waving his hands in front of her, asking what she had wanted to tell him before. Evolet could see the joy in Bam's eyes, and she wasn't about to ruin it by selfishly confessing to him. So the bouquet was kept hidden as she forced a smile, hiding the hurt in her eyes by closing them.

"Ah, I just wanted to tell you that something came up and I can't go with you today. I'm really sorry, Bam. I'll make it up to you later okay?!" She didn't wait for his reply before dashing off. It was foolish of her to even have the slightest hope because of a single action. Bam doesn't know why he stretched his hands, trying to reach out to Evolet as she left abruptly. But he didn't chase her, rooted still to his spot as a sense of foreboding and regret bloomed in his heart.

That day, Evolet curled up against the door as violent coughs wrecked her body. The bouquet was long forgotten on her table, but she sobbed in anguish as history repeated itself once more. She held her neck as the relentless coughs and the itch from the petals gnawed on her. Whispering Bam's name over and over again desperately like a prayer. Her hands clasped a single yellow daffodil petal, hoping for an impossible wish to come true.

The girl was weaving a flower crown out of lavender when Bam visited her this time. As always, they both smiled at the sight of each other. Bam sat down as the girl stood up and caringly placed the finished lavender crown flower on his head. She placed her hands on his cheeks, leaning down to kiss his forehead tenderly. Bam brought a hand up to his forehead, touching the place where she kissed him. It took a moment to register before he blushed fervently, heart melting at the sight of the girl smiling lovingly at him. If it was possible, he wanted to stare at that smile forever. Time always felt too fast whenever he spent time with her. But he stood up anyway, preparing to go back lest he gets scolded for returning late. Before he went, the girl asked him a question.

 

"Bam, do you love ------...?"

"With all of my heart." He answered resolutely.


The girl froze for a moment before her expression was taken over by something indescribable to Bam. Her eyes took on a glassy sheen as she forced a smile that spoke of resignation. There was a melancholic tone in her voice as she spoke her farewell to Bam. He didn’t notice the tears streaming down her face and the choked sobs as he walked away, still donning the lavender flower crown. But he could’ve sworn he saw a lone yellow petal fluttering in the wind on his way back home. The oddity in the lavender field brought upon unease to him, as if a bad omen was approaching.

That was the last dream Bam had of the girl. The next morning, his confession was somehow accepted by Rachel as if it was a miracle. When the dreams stopped the same day as Rachel accepted his confession, he took it as a sign that he finally found the girl in his dreams. A part of him wondered why it was a field of lavender instead of a yellow flower. The news of Bam and Rachel dating spread like wildfire. Most of the reaction consisted of surprise that it was Rachel instead of Evolet that Bam was dating. When they asked Evolet about it, she only showed them what was clearly a fake smile as she replied that it was impossible from the start. They didn’t dare to prod further when they could clearly see the sad resignation in her eyes.

The boy hasn’t returned to the lavender field for quite some time now, and the girl hoped he won’t come back. Her coughs were relentless, keeping her up throughout the long nights. Daffodil petals and its flowers scattered around her, each and every one of them coated in blood without fail. Her surroundings a bright yellow from the daffodils that contrasted the calming purple of the lavender field. She laid down at the daffodil covered ground, curling into herself as she longed for the suffering to end.

Khun was the first one who noticed the abnormalities happening. He watched with narrowed eyes as Bam spent more time with Rachel instead of Evolet and she was left alone without a single word. The time Bam spent with his group quickly dwindled when he opted to stick with Rachel more as her new boyfriend. Rather than the normal pairing, Evolet could be seen walking around the hallways by herself now. It was obvious to Khun that Evolet was the most affected by the change. He noticed how the eyebags on her eyes became more prominent, she seemed to be less attentive, her face became paler by each passing day and her strength diminished overtime, the wracking coughs that became more frequent and how she hid her palms every time after she coughed.

Khun didn’t expect it to come to this point. Evolet had a group work appointment with him today, and she didn’t give him any call or message of the sort that informed him of her absence. He sighed as his feet brought him to Evolet’s apartment, just a few floors above his own apartment room. Even if she was down because of Bam dating Rachel, he still expected her to take care of herself better and take her studies seriously. He knocked, calling out her name and waited for a few moments. When she didn’t answer after several times he knocked, he was too impatient as he dashed out a lockpick and made his way in. He shouted her name to no avail, there wasn’t any reply even when he shouted around the rooms and searched for Evolet. He stopped in front of her bedroom, silently weighing his options before knocking and letting himself in. What he saw made him freeze at the doorstep.

On the floor was an unconscious Evolet, curling into herself with pain etched on her expression. He would’ve been worried enough with only that. As if it wasn't enough, bloodied daffodils were strewn out around the girl. Some of them were still petals while some were intact flowers albeit covered in blood. Khun screamed out her name in panic, harshly shaking the girl to wake her up. He’s never been more grateful when Evolet groaned weakly and cracked her blue-violet eyes open. The previously shining blue-violet orbs were now dim, the owner coughing again as soon as she regained her consciousness. Khun grabbed a glass of water nearby, giving it to Evolet who accepted it graciously after she hacked up another bloodstained flower. She finally realized the situation she was in when Khun glared at her, a hidden worried look in his cobalt blue eyes. Evolet dared to grin sheepishly at him with her death pale complexion.

“I guess you found out…?”

A vein visibly bulged on Khun’s forehead, his hand already moving to bonk Evolet on the head. She whimpered as she caressed the sore spot on her head where Khun hit her. He helped her up to the bed before he gathered up the bloody daffodils and threw them to the trash can. It was painstakingly obvious that Evolet’s affection was undoubtedly for Bam.

“Do you even understand the severity of the condition you’re in? You–” He was cut off by Evolet before he could finish his words.

“I’m dying, yes. I’m fully aware of that, Khun-san.”

Evolet uttered those words with a knowing smile, and Khun could see that she meant those words. As if she wasn’t afraid of death and was already resigned to her fate. Khun’s eyes were staring straight at her, a sense of anger growing inside of him when she just continued on with her words as if everything was fine.

“I’m sorry about our appointment Khun-san, I’ll make sure to finish my part and send it to you later. I didn’t expect to collapse that fast… Please tell the professors that I’m sick and wouldn’t be able to attend for some time. I’ll put in a letter informing of my drop out to the school sometime soon. Ah, please keep this a secret from the others, especially Bam. If he asks my whereabouts, please tell him I accepted the offer to go abroad that I got back in the days and I wouldn’t be able to get in touch with him very often.” The pent up rage inside him blew up, his hands formed a fist as he punched the wall beside Evolet. She stopped speaking but the nonchalant look on her face remained. She was so calm about all of this, and it infuriated him to no end.

“YOU’RE DYING FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!! AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN THINK TO TELL US!”

Cobalt blue eyes burned intensely as he shouted out what’s been on his mind since she started speaking. Evolet’s shoulder slumped down, the nonchalant look crumbling into a guilty frown. Khun took a deep breath at the sight, lowering his hands as Evolet averted his gaze.

“I didn’t want to make anyone worried...”

“Well congratulations, you’ve already failed spectacularly at that.”

.

.

.

“I’m taking you to the doctor, bundle up.” Evolet didn’t protest any further when Khun threatened to carry her if she didn't move.


"Khun-san… I can go in by myself."

"And then you're going to lie about the results so as to not make us worry?" She looked away awkwardly from the sentence, knowing it would be useless to protest since that was what she had originally planned.

It was to be expected that her lungs were nearly filled with daffodils. Vines wrapping around her lungs dangerously, threatening to choke her. The doctor said it'll be a miracle if she could live for another week. She knew the options left were either death or taking the surgery. If she took the surgery, then her feelings for Bam would be removed completely and she would have to take the risk of forgetting all of her memories of him. Reciprocation of her feelings would be impossible and she understood it well. But he seemed to be happy with Rachel anyway, was there anything to worry about?

"I'll take the surgery."

Khun snapped his head towards Evolet, a rare expression of surprise written all over his face. True, it wasn't an option that she would've chosen voluntarily or by force on that matter. But the least she could do was alleviate their worries.

"You would've forced me to either way wouldn't you, Khun-san…?" He found himself nodding out of impulse.

"Then, I'll schedule the surgery in 2 days if that's fine with you."

"Yes, that'll do."

She lied.


Bam was unaware of the things happening to Evolet, attention solely focused on Rachel who demanded it constantly. It's not as if he didn't like pampering her, on the contrary Bam loved to do it. But it was taking a toll on his studies and the time he could spend with his friends. His grades were slowly, but surely dropping. He would often have to pull up all nighters just to keep his grades barely in place. After that incident in the park, Bam never saw Evolet too often anymore. It was technically his fault, considering that he would be too distracted in the lessons and would be gone by the end of it to rush to Rachel's side. That didn't stop his gaze from lingering on Evolet as she walked away from the class, her calm outgoing demeanour replaced with a silent dejected one.

There were many things that didn't sit well with him while he dated Rachel. Rachel was always stiff and didn't fit perfectly in his hold like Evolet did when he hugged her, as if she was out of place. A kiss on the cheek or the forehead never felt right when it wasn't Evolet. Rachel wouldn't hold his hands for long, always finding an excuse to get out of it while Evolet would gladly hold his hands with a fond smile until he was satisfied. They would go to places together, but she never seemed to enjoy it either. Everything felt forced and it was taxing him. He just missed Evolet, wanted to see her again. The regretful feeling in the park struck him once more, and he wondered if he made the wrong decision.

Bam decided he truly picked the wrong decision when he overheard Rachel's conversation that day. It was a coincidence. Rachel had forgotten the gift he gave her at the restaurant, and Bam delivered it to her dorm. He was just about to knock on the door when he heard his name in a conversation.

"It's so hard to keep a relationship with Bam… He's so clingy, plus annoying. Yura, if I wasn't doing this for you then I would've just avoided him completely you know. It took a lot of work just to get away from him in the first place. And even then he chased me to Tower University! Talk about creepy… But he always finds a way around it. Look at him with all of his friends! Happily spending his day around like it's nothing and still getting good grades. That was supposed to be me."

Bam froze behind the door, listening intently with a somber look on his face. All of it was a lie. He didn't want to believe it, but the proof was right in front of him. That was unmistakably Rachel's voice.

"Now, now– At least now that you're fake dating him, his grades are going down steadily. And as expected, that Evolet girl didn't seem to take it well either. Have you seen her lately? It's almost like she's about to drop dead any day now. She didn't even enter class today, that Khun guy went to search for her after the lesson. Don't know what happened in the end though. We killed two birds with one stone."

"Serves her right–"

Bam gritted his teeth, he's had quite enough of this. He just barged into their room, a fierce intimidating glare fixed in place. "What is the meaning of this, Rachel?"

The two girls were evidently surprised at the intrusion, but quickly composed themselves. Yura was the one who stood up first, irritation and exasperation clear in her eyes. “Why are you so persistent! You were the one who followed Rachel here when she didn't want to see you!! You sure are obsessive!!”

“Stay out of this. It doesn’t involve you.” Bam replied with a cold tone. He directed his glare to Rachel who was staring at him with envy and animosity. She sneered at him, not bothering to hide anything since it seemed like he already heard it anyway.

"I don’t understand, Rachel.”

“That’s right!! You would never be able to understand me. You have EVERYTHING!!! Good grades, a strong body and mind, friends surrounding you, someone who cherishes you deeply! That’s why– you’re different from me! You’ll never, ever understand me! We’re all competitors here anyway, it’s only obvious that somebody has to lessen the competition somehow. Tower University isn’t someplace where you can just have fun with your friends without worrying about your achievements, grades, and reputation. And yet you… Ugh–!!! JUST GO AWAY!!!”

Bam stood still in the doorway, still taken aback from the words Rachel said. He didn’t understand what was there to be jealous about. He was the same as everyone else. He properly took the entrance tests and earned his spot. Countless nights were spent studying with Evolet till the break of dawn when there were particularly intense exams. It wasn’t as if Rachel didn’t have friends from what Bam could see. He told every single one of his opinions to Rachel. Just to make it clear rather than for anything else, since Rachel was looking exceedingly fuming with each word he uttered. Just as he was about to voice his last remark, he paused. Does he cherish Rachel more than… anyone else? He hesitated slightly at the last thought, the mention of Evolet earlier plaguing his mind. Would he be lying if he said he still thinks of Rachel as his most precious person? He couldn’t shake off the crestfallen look Evolet had at the park, how his hands reached out to her but his feet couldn’t muster the strength to move. All of the sudden he had this urge to see Evolet at once, as if he wanted to confirm something. Something told him he would regret it dearly if he didn’t go now. And that’s exactly what he did. He ran out of the room at full speed, ignoring Rachel’s enraged shouts from the room he just left.

He sprinted to Evolet’s apartment, the distance quite close from where the university was. It didn’t even take 10 minutes for him to arrive. All the while panting, Bam called out Evolet’s name in hope that she’ll open the door and greet him like usual. He could feel his heart drop to his stomach from dread when the door didn’t open no matter how long he waited. He speeded downstairs in a hurry, this time heading to Khun’s apartment room. He heaved a sigh in relief when Khun opened the door rather quickly. Though Bam didn’t miss how Khun’s eyes sharpened at the sight of him before it was concealed by the usual friendly casual look he had. He couldn’t blame him either, considering how he’s been busy with Rachel and he’s been practically ignoring them for her sake.

"Bam? Why are you here? What about Rachel?"

He looked away from Khun, laughing awkwardly as he informed him that they broke up for various reasons. Eyebrows raised, Khun was just about to invite him when he refused. Rather inquiring about Evolet's whereabouts. At the question, Khun seemed to contemplate for a moment before he grabbed a navy blue jacket before telling Bam he came at the right time since he was just about to visit Evolet. Bam stared at the jacket quizzically, wondering where Evolet would be if Khun needed to wear a jacket before going.

They took a cab, Khun telling the driver to head to Shinsu hospital. No matter how much Bam would pester him to answer why they're heading to the hospital, Khun wouldn't answer and told him to wait. Bam looked around the lobby restlessly, somewhat concerned they were in the hospital when Khun told him they were going to visit Evolet. He glanced at Khun, noting how he appeared to be rather alarmed about something. Frowning at his frazzled state, Bam walked over to him and attempted to figure out the reason. He caught bits and pieces of the conversation as he drew nearer. The receptionist was trying to explain to Khun about something.

“Ms. Evolet cancelled her Hanahaki surgery appointment the same day as she booked it.”

Bam came to a full stop at the word, freezing in his spot as realization dawned upon him. He’s heard that word somewhere before. An image of a single yellow petal floating in the air flashed in his mind. Out of reflex, Bam clutched his head and his brows furrowed as he forced himself to remember. There was something lingering at the back of his mind, uneasiness started creeping upon him.

Daffodils.” someone uttered it out. He didn’t react when Khun tugged him along, sprinting towards the nearest cab and telling the driver to rush to Evolet’s apartment. He stilled during the short ride, staying silent as memories started rushing into his mind like a broken dam. Khun was too worried to even notice how Bam’s eyes started widening in horror as he began to remember. He’s made a terrible mistake. History was repeating itself again, fate sprouting a cruel grin as it watched everything unfold yet again.

He knew who was standing in the lavender field. Tears welled up on the corners of his eyes, rolling down in big fat drops. His solace, the irreplaceable sense of safety and warmth that would accompany him whenever he spent time with her. The warm loving smile that spoke of the endless volumes of her affection and the soft blue-violet eyes which held nothing but adoration from the first time they met.

 

"My name is Bam. Who are you?"

"I am… Evolet."

 

“Will you become my friend?”

“Of course, Bam. Anything for you.”


It was never Rachel, never has been from the very beginning. But he didn’t realize, again. She was right in front of his eyes the whole time, standing beside him and never out of reach. He was the one who pushed her away under his own volition– That foreboding feeling, he could feel his stomach churning. Everything was exactly the same as it was all before.

 

"Who am I to you?"

"Hm? What are you saying, Bam? You are yourself, simply the 25th Bam. The most important person in my life."


Bam was sure he realized all of it unconsciously. He still made the wrong choice, and he dreaded the possibility of regretting the worst decision he’s made yet again. He was running through the lavender field, heading to the clearing where he knew she would be waiting. Evolet was lying down on the grassy ground, gazing at the sky with a peaceful expression. Bam waved his hand, excitedly shouted his greetings as she smiled softly at the sight of him, as she’s always done. As he was nearing, he tackled the girl who was now standing into a hug, earning bouts of melodious laughter. That’s why the hugs never felt wrong with her, those were the hugs he’s used to after all this time. They stayed in the hug for a few moments before separating, and the girl frowned at the sight of wounds on Bam. Already expecting this to happen, the girl whipped up a first aid kit and started patching him up. She grumbled, reprimanding him for getting injured most of the time when he came here and that he should stop getting hurt so much. Bam’s head drooped down guiltily at that. But he inwardly smiled, aware that the girl would always be ready to heal him. The warmth of her touch soothed his pain, and he thinks he wouldn’t mind getting hurt as long as she’s there. But she wasn’t, and it was all going to be all his fault all over again.

 

“Bam, who is Rachel?”


He perked up at the mention of her name, eagerly telling Evolet stories of Rachel. There was a momentary flash of hurt in her eyes, disappearing as soon as it appeared. He noticed it all, the way her smile became shaky at the mention and how she wished all of it would stop. In the past, he didn’t pick up on it and he hurt her unknowingly.

She was weaving a flower crown out of lavender when Bam visited her this time. As always, they both smiled at the sight of each other. Bam sat down as the girl stood up and caringly placed the finished lavender crown flower on his head. She placed her hands on his cheeks, leaning down to kiss his forehead tenderly. Bam brought a hand up to his forehead, touching the place where she kissed him. He recognized that feeling, it never changed no matter how much time passed. All of Evolet’s affectionate gestures were one and the same, be it the past or the present. It took a moment to register before he blushed fervently, heart melting at the sight of Evolet smiling lovingly at him. If it was possible, he wanted to stare at that smile forever. He didn’t get any flower crown this time round. Time always felt too fast whenever he spent time with her. But he stood up anyway, preparing to go back lest he gets scolded for returning late. Bam remembers the question. The very same question that brought their ruin. Except this time she didn’t ask. He was the one who had foolishly gave an answer before she even asked the question, and they were going to pay the price once more.

 

"Bam, do you love Rachel…?"

"With all of my heart." He had answered resolutely.


Evolet froze for a moment before her expression was taken over by something indescribable to the past Bam. Her eyes took on a glossy sheen as she forced a smile that spoke of resignation. There was a melancholic tone in her voice as she spoke her farewell to Bam. He knows that expression, seen it once again in this life with the words he said on his own. He noticed the tears streaming down her face and the choked sobs as he walked away, still donning the lavender flower crown. He didn’t have the flower crown in this lifetime, but he recognized how she was the one to walk away this time when he pushed her away unknowingly. Fate was running its course once more despite how some things had changed. He knows of the lone yellow petal fluttering in the wind on his way back home. The oddity in the lavender field brought upon unease to him, as if a bad omen was approaching. Those dreams stopping wasn’t a sign of him choosing the right decision. It was fate cutting their strings with a cruel grin.

They were walking on the very same path that led to their doom. He could only watch on as the past him in the memories returned to the lavender field with desperate shouts, calling out for the girl he’d come to love all of his life. How he ran without caring for the aching pain from his legs. Running out of breaths from the falls when he tripped, but getting right back up as he continued to sprint endlessly toward their rendezvous place. Be it the past him or the present him, they were both crying with cracked voices as soon as they saw the sight.

The cab came to a screeching stop and Khun paid the driver in a hurry before the duo ran to Evolet's apartment. Perhaps it was due to the fact that they finally arrived, but Bam could feel his breaths coming in shorter as they neared Evolet's room and his heart would stop pounding from the fear. Fear that everything would be the same as it was previously. He watched with bated breath as Khun picked the lock easily within seconds and Bam was the first one to rush to Evolet's room. The door slammed open, and Bam dreadfully knows of the same exact reenactment of the past.

The contrasting view of yellow daffodils surrounding her instead of the purple lavender. A breathless body that’s gone still and cold, clutching a single perfect unblemished yellow daffodil dearly to her chest with the last of her strength. Bam held Evolet’s unmoving corpse close to his chest, weeping and screaming as he asked for her to come back in anguish. Evolet was completely unaware of it in her eternal sleep, a wistful smile forever etched on her expression. Had it been the Bam in the past, he wouldn’t have known the reason behind Evolet’s apparent death. But he is properly aware of the reason.

Bam’s blood ran cold at the sight, it was a repeat all over again and he hated it to no end. Catching the sight of a withered bouquet at the table as he rushed to Evolet who was once more surrounded by yellow daffodils, all of them fully intact and mostly perfect save the bloodstains on a few of them. His body was tense. Nearly hyperventilating as he cradled Evolet close to his chest and begged for her to open her eyes, to show him the mesmerizing blue-violet orbs that he cherished deeply. As if the Gods were finally showing them mercy, Evolet’s eyes cracked open slightly. Pale, trembling features as she tried to focus her gaze on Bam. He could feel himself choking at the sight, beads of tears streaming down and dropping right on Evolet who attempted to bring herself closer to Bam’s chest. He welcomed it, hugging her closer and leaning her ear against his heart so she could hear his heartbeats. Evolet appreciated the sentiment, humming lightly before she started closing her eyes again.

“Would you finally love me in our next life…?”

“Yes… yes. That’s why… Please, smile for me again, love?”

.

.

.

Bam’s sobs filled the otherwise silent room, holding Evolet’s still body to his chest. There was no response to his plea. Those were Evolet’s last words that he couldn’t hear in their past life. His thoughts went back to the very beginning when he met her in this lifetime. Brought together again by coincidence, or was it fate that wanted them to suffer once more? He now knows she remembered. Evolet’s memories remained, every single part of it. She was searching for him. They both found each other and gravitated towards one another. One with her memories intact, while the other was missing his. But Bam found himself beside her anyway despite his lack of memories. Except in this lifetime, he repeated the same mistake again. He wondered why he went away from her side despite the hollowness he felt as they distanced from each other.

I love you.” Bam repeated the words over and over again like a broken record, trembling with each heart-wrenching sob that wracked his body.

Won’t you please open your eyes again one more time, Eve?

He coughs up lavender with a regretful smile, but he welcomes the solace of death all the same.

Chapter Text

This is… getting ridiculous.

But Evolet wasn't going to complain about it, at least it was amusing to watch. She was sitting down beside Bam, watching the unfolding scenes every time the blond Regular stood up with each Regulars' arrival. He was all fired up to take someone out of the competition, only to back off from attacking repeatedly with various excuses. Although he did snap on the little girl sitting beside her sister. The elevator opened again, revealing another regular participating in this test. It was a silver haired man with golden eyes who had an ominous aura surrounding him. Which came as a surprise when he proposed a truce first before the blond Regular could say anything.

Though clearly his words had a catch. The man swiftly suggested voting out two people instead of fighting. He voted for the youngest girl in the room before prompting the blond Regular to cast his vote next. Said girl's older sister didn't take it lying down, already shouting out words of protest. And while Bam wasn't voicing it out, Evolet could see that he disliked the way this conversation is heading to. Apparently the blond Regular was having none of it either, voting for the silver haired man in order to eliminate the stronger candidates rather than the weaker ones. The man just raised up his hands in resignation from the blond's words.

A large brunette man wearing a brown coat casted his vote next, choosing everyone in the room. Coincidentally it seemed to be Bam's breaking point too. Seeing how he abruptly stood up, albeit slowly to gather their attention on him.

"There's no reason to vote. Because you will all fail the test because of me."

Knowing the situation was down the drain, Evolet conjured a small Baang hidden in the safety of her oversized sleeves while keeping her eyes trained on Bam's soon to be opponents. The silver haired man already took his weapon out, a lance striped in black and white. Brandishing his weapon by Bam's neck as he asked if Bam was truly serious. Bam didn't answer the question, opting to push the lance away gently before switching to offense and forcing the man to retreat within a few moves. The coat brunette attempted to stop Bam, warning him that it would only be wasteful of his energy. That didn't succeed the least, Bam unwilling to back down even as the man readied his fist.

A blast of Shinsu was fired off from the lance, heading straight to the two brunettes. Only to disperse when it hit a Shinsu shield Evolet casted silently. The silver man who fired the attack narrowed his eyes at the failure, saying that it was simply an accidental mistake. Bam didn't waste the opening, already attacking the large brunette with well aimed kicks. Sharp golden eyes scanned the room briefly, as if searching for something before the owner aimed another shot with his lance. It was easily deflected with yet another Shinsu shield. The larger brunette actually stopped his counter attacks with the silver regular's shot, unappreciative of how he attempted to shoot the both of them twice now.

Instead of paying attention to the oncoming fist from the coated brunette, golden eyes locked on to Evolet's small figure. The silver haired Regular leapt off, dodging a fist as he strengthened his lance with Shinsu and making a beeline towards Evolet. She quirked up a small smile at the attempt, not moving an inch even as the man neared her with high speed. Shinsu started manifesting in front of Evolet, forming a shield in the nick of time just as the Shinsu crackled when the lance came in contact with it.

"As I thought… You were the one conjuring the shields."

The man was still trying to break the shield, forcing his lance to break through with no avail. Perhaps it would've worked with the man's strength if he was up against a normal F rank regular. A pity the shield he's trying to break wasn't that of a normal regulars' capability. Evolet smirked lightly at the man, still sitting calmly as if there's no one attacking her.

"I wasn't trying to hide it in particular but… Are you sure you should be attacking me… when he is still behind you?"

Coming into realization, the man hurriedly turned around. He found a hand to his face, Bam's golden eyes hidden behind his bangs as a burst of midnight blue Shinsu blasted out from his palms and hit the man squarely on the face. Evolet was unaffected despite being in the line of attack, unscathed behind her shield.

She could never fathom why Bam always seemed to be agitated whenever someone tries to attack her. It wasn't as if she was weak enough to get hurt by that. Or at least, when she's not off guard. There wasn't going to be a reenactment of the 14th floor incident if she could help it. The memories of Yunuen's overprotective tendencies and Bam clinging the whole time to her until she healed sent shudders down her spine. Well the Bam part was nice, but she wasn't having Yunuen doing that again.

The elevator dinged again, signalling the arrival of another regular. Evolet silently worded her condolences for the oblivious regular, already unconscious from Bam's Shinsu fist the moment he stepped out of the elevator. Bam was already engaging in the fight with the two men from earlier, completely disregarding their attacks and leaving his defense to Evolet. She could only smile fondly at the action. Wondering how many people would actually find it terrifying how Bam could trust her fully with his defense, knowing the unspoken consequences if her shields faltered or she decided to betray Bam. Though betrayal was out of the question since the start. Not when Evolet would rather die first before betraying Bam.

Although she was finding the spectacle in front of her quite amusing. The blond regular was running away from Bam, circling the room over and over as he kept throwing Shinsu bombs at Bam, all of them easily taken care of with Evolet's spontaneous shields. He ran out of Shinsu bombs with 50 seconds left on the clock. But he'll be fine, Evolet thought silently with a hunch. Though Evolet can't say the same about his wallet… Judging from all of the bombs he's used so far, and still counting, that were all useless in the face of Evolet's shields. How much money was he wasting with each throw?

They reached an anticlimactic end when the announcement sounded. At least no one was seriously injured, with the exception of that random Regular from earlier. Bam automatically stopped his attacks as soon as the announcement came, already walking towards Evolet and offering a hand to help her up. Lips curling up into a smile, Evolet accepted the extended hand and held it gingerly as they headed to the elevator. As expected, the others were too wary to ride in an elevator with them.

As soon as the elevator's doors closed, Bam was already searching for comfort from Evolet. Hands already encircling her waist as he pulled her into a hug and buried his head in the crook of her neck. Bam inhaled the soothing lavender scent, eyes closed relaxedly as the tension from the fight melted away. There was a ticklish sensation when Evolet felt Bam breathing down her neck, but she didn’t mind it at all. It brought about a round of stifled laughter from Evolet who was patting Bam's head to soothe him. Bam let out a perfectly content sigh, thinking that he'll never get tired of this.


The Regulars from each test area were now gathered in the hall, paying attention to the Test Administrator on the stage. There was an arcade punch machine with Quant’s face on it, the words “SHINSU CONTEST” written boldly on the stage.

“Congratulations to all of you for passing the first test. The 20th floor’s test consists of three parts, including the final exam. You just passed the first test. This is the second test. Your ability to reinforce your body will be tested using this Shinsu measuring device.”

Evolet’s eyes roamed over the room, gauging the Shinsu of each regular. At that point she already knew that Bam was going to come out on top, and there’s a big chance that Evolet herself will take the second spot. She could never win against Bam strength-wise though. Evolet was dead sure that even her full strength doubled with Shinsu strengthening wouldn’t be able to match Bam’s raw power. The blond Regular from earlier chimed in, voicing their thoughts on how the device strangely looked like an arcade punching machine.

“Well, it’s similar to that. Once you’ve reinforced your body with Shinsu and hit the machine, your score will pop up on the board and your rank will be shown. Nine Regulars will be selected after this test for the next exam. And now… Let’s begin the test. Please come up in the order shown on the board.”

A few Regulars could be seen panicking as their names were pushed out of the top nine. Evolet took the chance to memorize the Regulars’ names. The blond Regular from earlier was Wangnan, the young girl was Miseng and her older sister was Goseng while the silver haired was Arkraptor. A Regular with dark purple hair was kicking up a fuss, acting all mighty befitting his rich kid look.

"Ah~ This is boring. I thought there'd be something special on the 20th floor, like this is just a game for kids. This level is so lame. Are there only losers here?"

Granted, no one was exactly happy about his arrogant exclamation. The Yeon family girl beside him didn't seem comfortable either with his arm slinging around her shoulder. Evolet found herself unconsciously watching the scene, used to observing her surroundings for more information. She regretted keeping her eyes on said commotion this time. The rich boy's eyes met Evolet's observant ones before trailing to Bam standing beside her, trouble already brewing in his mind.

"Why don't we play a game?"

"Why not. But what game…?"

With a smirk, the guy walked towards Bam. Evolet truly lamented the fact that she actually paid attention earlier.

"Hey, ponytail guy. Let's make a bet. If I win against you, then give me that girl."

Evolet glared viciously at the offending finger pointing at her. She was about to speak up against it, mouth already open before promptly closing when Bam decided to cut in first with words coming out nearly as a growl.

"She's not an object to be bet or owned. LAY. YOUR. HANDS. OFF. OF. HER."

Mine.

That… might have been the first time Evolet saw Bam glare with that kind of intensity and a dark look in his eyes. The Shinsu around him was fluctuating in black, showcasing his surge of anger as he gripped the boy's finger and stood in front of her protectively. Every Regular in the room could feel the rising tension, some even gripping their weapon out of instinct from the sheer pressure. It was a miracle that Bam didn't break his finger on the spot, and Evolet needed to stop him before he did.

"Viole–"

Calling his new name worked like a charm. Her hands held Bam's wrist gently, the dark look in golden orbs disappearing instantly as if snapping out of a trance. Blue-violet eyes and golden ones having a silent conversation as she coaxed him to let go of the boy. The finger was let go, the boy running instantly as he shouted some profanities that went unheard by the duo who were focused on each other. Bam's head was tilted down, eyes showing signs of guilt. But Evolet was having none of that, lacing their fingers to tell him that everything was okay. Channeling her Shinsu while she's at it, knowing that it's a sure way to calm Bam down. True to her words, the Shinsu around Bam went back to it's tranquil state along with the tension in the room. She could still feel the traces of anger lingering around, so she just kept their hands like that.

They carried on the test as if nothing happened earlier. The regulars haven't forgotten what had just occurred earlier though. The large brunette from their test area in particular, said a few words of lecture to the boy. Sure enough, the boy disregarded it completely. He punched the machine, the score of 6350 as the name "Horyang" showed up on the ranking list. He sauntered to the boy once more, staring down at him.

"Your mom never taught you manners, huh? Brat."

It didn't deter the boy at all, letting out an unimpressed laugh. "You're better than I expected. This… won't be as boring as I thought."

The boy flicked his fingers, a signal for the notorious regular beside him to stand forward in his stead. Eyes that spoke of death with its black iris and yellow pupil. "Hey, Pal. Have you ever seen the devil? I'll show you."

His right hand morphed, the regulars saying that it was the Hand of the Devil as the arm transformed in a mix of black and cyan. The punch connected soundly, revealing a score of 11988 for Rapdevil. The boy clapped, claiming that Rapdevil was worth every penny he recruited him for. An arrogant look etched on his face as he turned to Horyang.

"What's this? I think you're the one who has to stop here… teddy bear?"

The next regular to go up was the Yeon family girl, putting on a clumsy display as she tripped but somehow managed to get a score of 22k, the name Yeon Yihwa written on the board. That stunned the rich boy momentarily, Yihwa already thinking that she was free of her debts now. The thought didn't last long when the boy, Prince was his name, broke the record with 25k. Yihwa asked for a retry to redeem herself, which was denied by the test administrator. She could only grit her teeth and accept her defeat against Prince– for now.

"Give up and just come back to me!" Prince said, arms open wide to welcome Yihwa back. She could only stare at him with displeasure.

Arkraptor could only laugh at the display, catching the squabbling duo's attention. Not getting what was so funny, Prince asked him, "Hey, baldy. What's so funny?"

He stopped laughing for a moment, staring straight at Prince. "Everything. You are all losers and you don't even know it."

"... What?"

That brought on narrowed eyes from some regulars. Their eyes followed Arkraptor's gaze which landed on Bam. "Look at him. He's the strongest regular here."

Evolet was already up the stage, fist drawn back and strengthened with Shinsu. The punch resounded throughout the hall, parts of the machine cracking although unbroken. She looked up at the scoreboard as the numbers travelled higher until it stopped at 87k, the name Yvette taking the top spot for the moment. Evolet’s lips curled up into a knowing smile, aware that in a few minutes the spot will be replaced by Bam's alias. The regulars gaped at the number.

"Stronger than that…?" Yihwa asked hesitantly to Arkraptor who just grinned.

"Stronger than that." Arkraptor said resolutely.

Instead of punching the machine with his whole strength, Bam just laid his palm on the measuring device and used the technique Jinsung taught him.

Floral butterfly piercing technique

The back of the machine broke instantly, enlarging the cracks from Evolet's punch earlier before shattering to pieces. Both the regulars and the Test Administrator were taken aback for different reasons. The numbers went higher, stopping at 134k and leaving Viole as the strongest regular in the room. Bam wasn't affected by their stares, already walking back to Evolet who was smiling proudly at him. It seems like a few people have finally noticed the symbols on their clothes, that FUG was among them.

"The test is over now. All the Regulars, please step forward. First place, Viole. Please come up here."

Some of the Regulars started crying, frustrated at the fact that they didn't succeed. It was understandable though, Evolet thought. They're desperate to climb the Tower. Everyone is climbing because they have something they desire. Well, almost everyone, that is.

"Ok, now. Viole, what you should do is choose eight teammates to take the test with."

Undoubtedly, the remaining top nine wasn't satisfied by the turn of events. Mostly Prince rather than the rest to be honest. "What the–!! Then what was the test all about?!"

"It was to choose the strongest of you."

"What?! You said you'd choose the top nine!"

"Shut up, I'm the administrator. Then, Mr. Viole. Choose eight Regulars."

Bam stayed silent for a while, eyes trailing to Evolet who was still smiling at him. The Test Administrator called out his name when he didn't speak up, urging him to pick eight teammates. He was just about to say his answer when Wangnan tried to make an appeal to be picked. The other Regulars followed suit, some of them going up the stage and nearly begged Bam to pick them with their own reasons. Evolet's smile started fading, knowing the discomfort Bam was feeling with the Regulars' pleas and their despair. Miseng even opted to hug Bam, which Evolet took no offense to since she was still a kid.

And then Yihwa walked in, trying to convince Bam that she'd be perfect with her strength as a Fisherman and a member of the Yeon family. Wangnan spilled the beans that she actually burned her previous teammates during a test. Evolet could understand where that reasoning came from, especially with the rampant flow of Shinsu in Yihwa’s body. But she definitely couldn't understand when Yihwa suddenly said that Bam should choose her because she had bigger breasts… And Wangnan was trying to redeem himself by showing his thing… That was thankfully stopped by everyone else. Evolet can feel the headache spurring on.

All of them went oddly silent after that, nervous for Bam's final decision. Said person took advantage of the atmosphere, going down the stage with deliberate slow steps and stopping right in front of Evolet.

"I only need Yvette by my side. The both of us will be enough. I won't choose any other teammates, Administrator. Let them all go home, please."

"The exam is for teams only. You must choose seven more members other than Ms. Yvette." The Administrator replied, burrows creased with Bam's answer.

"There is nobody else here who can be my teammate. I don't want to choose unqualified teammates."

Offended by his words, Yihwa stepped up to the challenge with her own words. "Wait. What do you mean?! Nobody else can be your teammate except that girl? Aren't you full of yourself?!!"

Evolet blinked at the pointing finger, and made confused noises. She doesn't quite understand the reason why she'd be dragged into this when she's sure they wouldn't have complained considering how she scored nearly quadrupled their score. Yihwa continued on with her protest without caring. "Oh yeah! The big gangster with the symbol of the FUG! How can you eliminate people who might pass with you?! How can you be proud with that fake symbol?! You should be embarrassed!!"

.

.

.

"It's not fake."/"It's not fake though…?" Bam and Evolet seemingly said at the same time, the latter sounding more a question.

"I'm Jue Viole Grace, a nominee for FUG slayer. Yvette is my one and only partner. We live to kill Jahad and his family."

"You… are you two really?"

"... You can't be my teammate. I'm your enemy."

Silence reigned the room once more, the Regulars processing the information in their mind. The Administrator coughed, bringing them back to reality.

"I understand you, Mr. Viole. But whoever you are, the rules of the exam can't be changed. It's the absolute rule of the Tower. And most of the Regulars here would be willing to make a deal with the devil to pass the test."

No one could argue with what he spoke. They all acknowledged that some of them were desperate enough to strike a deal and offer their soul for a chance. "So how about this? You and I… will play a game. If you win, I'll let you take the test with only Ms. Yvette."

Without any other option in sight, Bam reluctantly accepted his suggestion. A door opened up, leading to the dorm prepared by the Test Administrator. Those who wanted to participate in the game were told to take a break first while the Administrator prepped for the game he proposed.

"Oh…"

Bam and Evolet hadn't expected that the rooms were already predetermined. And they certainly hadn't expected to be put in different rooms. The Administrator was already gone so they couldn't ask for a change of rooms either. Most of the regulars were already in their respective rooms with their paired roommate by now. Bam was roommates with Yeon while Evolet had a room all to herself.

"Uh… I guess I'll be going to my room now?"

She was just about to step away, but Bam was faster and took hold of her oversized sleeve. It was a repeat all over again. Fully knowing what was happening, Evolet steeled herself and miserably tried her best to not look at Bam while she tried to tug free her sleeve. Which… Sure enough didn’t work, considering the result from the “Strongest Regular Test” not long ago. Already half resigned, Evolet risked a glimpse at him. Bam purposefully set aside his bangs, showing the pure and innocent golden eyes Evolet could never refuse. She already knew she lost.

That's against the rules!!!

"...stay?"

Evolet should've known she didn't stand a chance from the start. Words were stuck in her throat, so she just opted to give a small nod in resignation. Bam's grin was as wide as it could be and Evolet could only let out a soft incoherent mumble as Bam pulled her along to her room instead of his room where Yihwa was.

Those big doey eyes should be illegal… He knows I’m powerless whenever he uses those eyes, it’s CHEATING!

Not to mention she'll have to persuade Bam later to actually meet his new roommate for the time being. She slightly wondered why the Administrator didn't room her with a girl instead though. Technically speaking from genders, Bam should've had the room to himself while she should be paired with the Yeon girl. But… she can leave that part of the investigation for later.

Chapter Text

Sinking into the lukewarm water, Yihwa let out a pleased sigh as she felt the fatigue from the test melting away. Temporarily closing her eyes and relaxing. She relished in the silence, being the only one in the large bath. The sound of footsteps could be heard and Yihwa opened her eyes to catch a glimpse of the new presence.

She hadn’t meant to blush, but her face was flushed in hues of red anyway as she involuntarily stared at Evolet who just walked in clad in only a towel and hair secured in a bun. Evolet took notice of her quickly, offering a polite smile and a greeting before she proceeded to wash herself before relaxing in the bath not too far away from YIhwa herself. Yihwa found herself couldn't help but stare at Evolet who was slightly dozing off, clearly enjoying the relaxing occasion. Her eyes were trailing all over Evolet, admiring the girl with a slight blush still apparent on YIhwa’s face. Of course, her stare didn't go unnoticed soon enough.

"Uhm… Are you okay, Yeon-san? You seem to be overheating a little."

Evolet had no hidden intention when she asked the question, simply worried for the raven haired girl. Leaning in to check her temperature. Though that just made things worse for Yeon who tried to sink farther out of mortification. Her blush intensified, stutters accompanying her words as she spoke up.

“It-s… nothing. I just thought that you had a very good figure build...”

“I think that Yeon-san is more beautiful though.” Evolet said sincerely, a kind gaze accompanying the sentence that made Yihwa’s face steam as it heated up and dyed in red. Already in the process of drowning herself, Yihwa let out a huff that just came out as bubbles since her face was already half submerged in the water.

Evolet backed down after that, sitting considerably closer to Yihwa now. Yihwa glanced at Evolet discreetly again, thinking that what she said wasn’t exactly untrue. While she does believe that she also had an exceptional figure and looks, she would admit that Evolet was just as attractive or more than her. She was just watching Evolet, blowing bubbles in the water as she did.

“Uhm… Would you like me to wash your hair, Yeon-san?”

The offer was quite sudden, but Yihwa accepted anyway. Soon enough, she decided that she made the right decision as Evolet massaged her scalp with care and she was already dozing off from the action. Although she can’t help but think how could such a person be affiliated with FUG. Personality wise, Yihwa didn’t notice anything off for now. Though that kind of power was to be expected of FUG. What kind of relation does she have with Viole? They’d have to be close to be partners right?

Yvette, if you don’t mind me asking… What kind of person is Viole?”

Evolet hummed softly, fingers not stopping their movements as she questioned Yihwa back. "What kind of person do you think he is, Yeon-san?"

The question got her thinking for a moment. Face scrunching up as she tried to make out his personality from what she had seen earlier. The unpleasant memory soured her expression and the next thing she knew, words were out her lips before she could stop them. "He looks like a jerk."

Immediately noticing her mistake, Yihwa froze up and awaited Evolet's response. She tensed up, expecting a bad reaction coming from the girl. Evolet bursted out in laughter hearing it, trying to suppress the giggles miserably. She managed to do so eventually, a soft grin on her expression.

"It's his looks isn't it? I told him the bangs weren't a good idea but he kept it anyway. Despite how he looks, Viole is actually very kind though. He's one of the most caring people I've met in my life. His… loyalty and dedication is also second to none. Always so reckless and never able to take care of himself properly… Putting others before him. Stubborn at times, and desperate to protect everything dear to him. A lonely boy who just wants to climb with his friends without hurting others. If you get to know him… You'll see the brightest golden hued eyes that radiate warmth like the sun."

Staring at the mirror, Yihwa was completely taken aback by Evolet's small speech. One thing was for sure, and that was Viole did not sound like anything she just heard. It just made her more skeptical. There were a few possibilities that would make what she said seem plausible though.

"If you don't mind me asking… Are you in a relationship with Viole?"

Evolet's hands stilled, freezing for a moment before turning on the shower and washing Yihwa’s hair as she spoke up with a soft tone. "I'm merely his partner, nothing more. He– Viole is… already climbing to chase his most precious person after all."

As dense as she could be, Yihwa could clearly read the mood Evolet was in after she inquired that question earlier. Turning off the shower, Evolet got up and went back to the bath, completely submerging herself and staying under for as long as her breath would let her. Yihwa wisely chose to stay silent after that.


It wasn't long after the bath that Yeon met Evolet again. She had knocked on Yihwa's room, taking her completely by surprise while Bam seemed to be expecting it.

"Then, we'll meet again later, Yeon-san."

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.

.

"This is what you meant by that earlier???" Yihwa asked Evolet as the girl blinked confusedly. Evolet nodded with an uncertain smile before going back to brushing Bam's hair. Yihwa didn't understand a thing of what's happening. Why was Yvette here and brushing Viole's hair? … And she brought dinner too, which Yihwa was grateful for. That Naengmyeon was to die for. But as she watched Viole just lying down on Yvette's lap casually while she read a book and ran her fingers through his hair, Yeon can't help but get perplexed. There was definitely no way Yvette wasn't in a relationship with Viole, she was dead sure of it. That must've been why Viole rejected her offer earlier. Nodding confidently, she approved of her own conclusion.


The game's start was announced out of the blue, taking the sleeping regulars by surprise including Evolet. The only thing that differentiated Evolet's current situation from the others was the absence of the remote and connector in her room. Nearly everything was ransacked, but she still couldn't see any signs of the two items. Frustration clear on her face, Evolet considered to just break down the door for convenience's sake. She couldn't let Bam wait all night long when he's in the game while she's just stuck here. A Baang was already swirling in her hand, Shinsu eager to lash out at the door. The Shinsu thinned out, compressing itself before sending a few large slashes at the door. It did nothing, the door still as sturdy as it was.

She let out a sigh, already preparing to summon a few more Baangs. Evolet stopped abruptly, the Shinsu dispersing as she schooled her expression. The presence behind her made itself known, revealing an extremely pale-skinned man with curly white hair and strange coloured eyes, his sclera mostly red and his irises an eerie shade of yellow.

"You could've just invited me to have a talk like a proper civilized person, Augusgus. No wonder the room felt off. All regulars' rooms should've had a twin bed with basic needs only instead of this Shinsu proofed luxury room."

"I couldn't afford to treat a business partner like that. Not to mention Yunuen will murder me if I dared to how less hospitality for the Goddess."

"Though… I certainly didn't expect the hospitality to be unable to participate in the game." Evolet stared at him with cold and calculating eyes, implying her dissatisfaction with the current predicament.

"Please rest assured, this is merely a little test for our God. Some of the elders were getting… impatient with your interference."

“I bet all of this was Hansung’s scheme all over again… The Red District Prince would’ve gone up just well even if he didn’t do this.”

Augusgus stood silent at the claim, keeping his mouth zipped for confidentiality though Evolet was the least amused about it. Eventually a smirk took over Evolet’s expression as a mischievous idea popped in her mind. “Don’t hold this against me Augusgus… Perhaps Hansung will cover the expenses if he’s kind enough. I'm not quite patient enough to stick to the rules if this is how you want to play it.”

Raiden

The summoned Raijuu made its entrance with an explosion of thunder, destroying the door and chunks of wall surrounding it. Evolet's lips curled up into a confident smirk as she cocked her eyebrows, standing in the midst of rubble and smoke. She was clearly entertained by the turn of situation, beaming at the costs of reparations that Augusgus would have to cover later on.

"What can I say? I prefer my King to be himself rather than a wish granting God for FUG."

Augusgus was unperturbed, simply relenting the room's connector with a passive face as he backed away. Still with a smirk, Evolet raised her hand and Raiden reacted to it without delay. Snatching Evolet and throwing her on his back then dashing as soon as Evolet gripped his fur firmly. Augusgus was left standing in the room alone, mulling over the cost of damage Evolet deliberately caused after he uttered out that sentence. Maybe intentionally trying to provoke her wasn't the best idea he had, even if Hansung was the one who planned it. His pocket was in visible mode, connecting Augusgus to the “Deep-Sea Fish”.

“You’ll-”

“Try to ask Yunuen instead.” The other side just cut off their connection, leaving Augusgus hanging as the beeping sound filled the otherwise silent room full of rubble. Looks like it’s decided that he’ll pay the expenses by himself. After all, reporting this incident to Yunuen when it involved Evolet would be the same as signing up a death wish.


"Say, Little Eve… Why did you join FUG even after all those… things that they did to you?"

Yunuen had asked that question during their training. Eyebrows furrowed, Evolet parried his attacks while trying to focus on the matter of hands. It was probably one of Yunuen's attempts to catch her off guard, but she answered anyway.

"I made a promise to you didn't I? That I would join whatever side you were on since you've already helped me out a lot. And I wasn't in the shape to take on the whole Tower either. I needed to get stronger to protect him, as simple as that."

"That was before, wasn't it? Don't you have another reason to remain here now that he's joined?"

Evolet only showed the slightest hesitation when he prodded the topic. Yunuen swiftly sent her crashing to the wall with a kick when he saw the opening. Already deep in thought, she didn't bother to get up and just laid down amidst the debris. "FUG wants him to be one of their Gods."

"Of course, he's the only shot they've got to defeat the King. A little unsuspecting irregular who entered the Tower to blindly chase the brightest star in his life, a moldable masterpiece."

"If I had known things would've turned out like this, would I have prevented him from entering the Tower? Forbid him to chase her, who shone the brightest in his life? Obstruct him from his destiny, even if it came at the cost of him hating me? Becoming a God just for others' selfish wishes… Bam shouldn't bear that kind of burden. That's why–"

She'll ensure he doesn't become one, no matter what it takes. Destiny and people's wishes be damned, Evolet will even overthrow Jahad by herself if that's what it takes for Bam to keep being himself. If FUG wants to eliminate her from the scenario, then she'll just have to play along and pull some strings behind the screen.


With the connector safely plugged in Miseng and Goseng's remote, Evolet breathed in a sigh of relief. With this she should be safe for the time being. The occupants of the room stared at her with suspicions.

"Still though, you would've expected the partner to be exempted from the game."

Evolet glanced at Arkraptor who brought on the topic. What he said wasn't wrong, and Evolet knows that fact. The other regulars seemed to have caught up with the situation too. "What can I say, FUG also has their internal affair problems. Don't tell Viole about a thing that happened here. He already has enough on his plate."

"One more thing, why did you choose us?" It was Goseng who spoke up this time.

Picking up the remote and pressing the button to open the door, Evolet threw the remote to Arkraptor who caught it swiftly. "Because I know that all of you will be Viole's new teammates."

As soon as Evolet went out and headed towards Bam, Arkraptor pushed the button to close the door. All three of them stared at the door for a while, slightly miffed by the turns of situations.

"Goseng, how do you think Yvette knew?" Miseng asked her out of curiosity.

"Who knows… She seemed confident about it though."

"It's fine for now. She said she'll help us anyway." The two girls could only nod dumbfounded at Arkraptor's words.


When she finally arrived on the scene, Yihwa was coughing on the floor while Prince’s former subordinate named Lurker was shouting at Rapdevil to steal the remote now. Evolet’s eyes darted to the room he shouted at, noting how Horyang was standing in front of said room. Horyang caught sight of her, instantly realizing her plan as he backed away from the door and shouted at Prince, “Hey brat! Get away from the door if you don’t wanna die!!”

Utilizing the speed she built up from running since earlier, Evolet focused her Shinsu strengthening on her leg before kicking the door with full force. Even when the door was strengthened by Shinsu beforehand by the Administrators, it unhinged completely upon impact. Tearing parts of the wall along with it as the door went crashing to the other side of the wall. “Take it away, Horyang-san.”

That was the least she could do for Augusgus in return for the little stunt he pulled earlier. Breaking doors down was much easier than waiting for someone to open it with a remote. It wasn't as if there was any rule stating about breaking down doors. Horyang took care of Rapdevil and saved Prince while he’s at it. Bam and Wangnan were wrapping up loose ends with Lurker in Yihwa’s room. Exhaling a sigh, Evolet carried Yihwa who had passed out earlier and headed to Yihwa’s room.

‘’The exam is now over. The winner of the exam is Jue Viole Grace, Yvette, Wangnan Ja, Goseng Yeo, Miseng Yeo, Horyang Kang, Arkraptor Hon, Prince, and Yihwa Yeon. Nine people passed the exam. Congratulations.”

Lips quirked up into a relieved smile, Evolet exhaled a sigh as things settled down. It seems like the days ahead will be hectic with such a boisterous team. But maybe it’ll bring back some fond reminiscence for Bam, tending to the spirited team doesn’t seem like a bad deal for Bam’s happiness. Surely with a bit of training and patching up everything should be fine… right?


Bam and Evolet were standing on the balcony, enjoying the night view of the fake Shinsu sky. The rest of the newfound team were partying inside the room, celebrating their success in the game. Evolet sighed fondly at the sight, it reminded her of the time she spent on the Floor of Tests.

"Eve… you knew about it right?"

"Would you be mad if I said yes?"

He went silent at the question, both of them already know the answer to that. As if reading his mind, Evolet smiled tenderly and leaned on the railing. "It's fine isn't it? There are some floors that have minimal teammates quota, and they're much better than whoever FUG might send. Besides… you deserve at least this much."

They stayed quiet after that, simply taking the time to relax. Wangnan, who had come out to take a breather, quickly realized they were both on the balcony too and greeted them. He was probably still nervous from the game earlier, stuttering as he apologized for tricking Bam.

"Why… did you forgive him?" Bam asked him, curious and hopeful.

"Because I also want to be forgiven by others. To go up the Tower, I ignored people in need, tricked others, and killed some of them. I realized I wasn't so different from him. I may end up killing more people than he does. Who knows? So… well–" He bowed, asking Bam to consider taking him up as his new team.

"What do you want to change about the Tower so desperately?"

"Well, nothing that great. It's just so frustrating. This Tower creates walls between people. I just want to make a place where everybody can smile under the same roof. I want a wider sky."

Yeah… She picked the right teammates for Bam.


Somewhere on the 25th Floor, Khun was having a conversation with Shibisu through his pocket. The news of the new slayer nominee defeating a ranker have spread out to the upper floors.

"Apparently the slayer nominee has a partner. A girl with light lavender hair and blue-violet eyes."

Just like her.

The tea was long forgotten, an image of the girl he met on the Floor of Test replaying in his mind. "I see… I'll look into it later then."

She's not involved with FUG, is she?

Chapter Text

The team was in awe at the house Evolet rented for them. Usually she would've picked a small house just enough to accommodate herself and Bam. But since the team had 9 members, she had to rent a house bigger than normal. With all of them seated in the living room, Evolet started giving out her instructions.

"Listen well. I'll take care of the team's expenses but that doesn't mean all of this is for free. We will be participating in mock events for both training purposes and get extra Points. I expect all of you to train properly with the training regimen I will design later. Chores will be distributed among the members and you can pick which chore you want on the board over there. And before we start, I want to ask who's confident in their cooking?"

For a moment no one dared to raise their hands, some of them even looked away. Evolet immediately marked the ones that avoided her gaze as kitchen disasters. Goseng and Horyang hesitantly raised their hands, claiming they weren't good but quite decent at it. Exhaling a sigh, Evolet  smiled playfully and thanked them for their truthfulness.

"Then… Viole and I will cook. We'll take turns for breakfast and dinner per week. As for lunch we'll just cook together or order takeaway." Seeing how no one was against the decision, Evolet showed a satisfactory nod before resuming.

"Now let's get to room arrangements. There are five bedrooms so one person will have the privilege of having a room all to themselves. Miseng and Goseng will be in one room, is that fine with you?"

Evolet glanced over at the sister pair, asking for confirmation which they gave immediately. Humming lightly, she continued to list off the room pairings. Wangnan was with Arkraptor while Horyang was paired with Prince. At that moment, they all thought that Evolet was going to be rooming with Yihwa while Bam would get a room all to himself. They were totally wrong.

"–And Yeon-san will be roomed alone. Are there any objections?"

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.

.

It took a while to register in everyone's minds, but once it did they all shouted a collective "HA?!"

"What do you mean Eve?! We're both girls so shouldn't room together? And Viole's a boy for Jahad sake!" Yihwa protested to her, against the room arrangements.

… "Yes? We've always slept together though…?"


They were sure their souls flew out of their body with that revelation. And that was only the start. It gradually came to light that the two FUG members weren't quite dating, but they unknowingly act like it. Meaning, the team was completely and utterly exasperated with their domestic fluff and they were about to go crazy from watching the pair. That room arrangement was the beginning of everything.

The mornings with team Sweet and Sour typically leaned more towards the peaceful side, but with subtle chaos mixed in since most of them were still sleepy. Bam and Evolet would take turns cooking, one week it would be Evolet cooking breakfast while Bam cooked dinner and vice versa. One thing the team quickly noticed was that whenever Bam would cook breakfast, Evolet would still be fast asleep in their shared room. And when Evolet was cooking breakfast, a sleepy Bam could be seen latching to her back. The first few days they saw the scene, it threw everyone for a loop. Wangnan, Yihwa, and Prince could be seen hiding behind the counter while they stared suspiciously at the duo.

"Are you sure you two aren't going out?" Wangnan asked bluntly, finally sick of seeing the pair's morning routine of some sort.

Evolet who was cooking at the time could only tilt her head in perplexion, clearly not catching Wangnan's implication. "What do you mean Wangnan-san? It's breakfast so of course we're staying inside."

That… was another discovery they had at some point during their observation. The two are utterly, devastatingly clueless despite how much… "flirting" they do with each other, if it can be called that. Or as Yihwa would say, they're dancing around each other without being aware of it. Wangnan face-palmed, motioning for the other two to help him. Yihwa and Prince looked at each other, nodding in agreement and they promptly ran off leaving Wangnan alone. Blinking confusedly at the odd display, Evolet only shrugged it off before going back to cooking.

Sighing in annoyance, Wangnan decided to give up for the time being and opted to sit near the counter instead. He watched how Evolet seemed to move swiftly even with Bam hugging her all the time, and he slightly wondered how she did that.

Wangnan listed off the occasions he witnessed nearly daily now. Whenever it's dessert after dinnertime, Evolet would always give Bam more share of the dessert and vice versa.


How they would more often cuddle on the sofa if the team was having a movie time– (or rather how movie time gets cancelled all the time)

The team could testify that it was indeed supposed to be movie time. The keyword being "supposed". The film was playing on the screen, but none of the members dared to approach the couch. They were hiding behind the kitchen counter, directing their stares at the occupied couch and the reason they couldn't get near. Despite it being movie time, Evolet was fast asleep on the couch beforehand and Bam being the person he was, took it upon himself to lay her down properly before taking his place beside her. Evolet didn't even need to be told before reacting to the new source of warmth and snuggled closer with a pleased sigh.

At this point the team wasn't freaked out anymore whenever Bam made a soft expression, a smile curling up on his lips as his fingers ran through Evolet's silky locks. The team could've sworn they heard Evolet purr in her sleep as he did that. Miseng was too busy taking pictures of the pair while Goseng only stared at her little sister, not quite knowing what to say in this situation.

Yihwa would be screaming until her voice went hoarse if it wasn't for Wangnan and Prince holding her back while muffling her screams. They don't want to imagine what Bam would do to them if they accidentally woke Evolet up. The more grown up members, or rather Horyang and Arkraptor chose to not get involved at all while they drank their coffee peacefully. Movie time was out of the question whenever this happened.


How Evolet would end up wearing Bam's clothing at times or how their eyes would trail each other when they're in sight–

The team was utterly dumbfounded by the duo's actions. One would wonder how it was exactly that they hadn't confessed to one another. Evolet just came out of the room clad in Bam's oversized sweater of all things with a bed head, rubbing her eyes sleepily as she sauntered wobbly to the bathroom. And Bam who was cooking breakfast tripped over nothing as soon as he saw Evolet, falling to the floor with a crash along with a few cooking utensils.

'What the… Is that a freaking boyfriend shirt!???'

Wangnan would feel himself choking on thin air before he heard a crash and stared unimpressed at the Slayer Nominee that was lying on the floor with a spatula still in his hands. Miseng was still kind enough to help him up, asking if he was okay to which Bam wasn't coherent enough to answer.

There was also that time when Bam was just walking by while Evolet was teaching the team about strategy. Her gaze shifted to Bam as soon as he entered her visual field. Bam also did the same out of habit, eyes trailing to Evolet from the corner of his eyes. There wasn't anyone in the team who was dumb enough to not notice the little exchange. Prince groaned exasperatedly at their action. The team wasn't surprised when Yihwa slammed her forehead to the table but still went unnoticed by Evolet.


The random hugs that Bam would give or how Evolet would occasionally string him into a slow dance–

It was an often and a completely normal occurrence for the team whenever Bam would suddenly hug Evolet. Just like now, Evolet was in the middle of chatting with Wangnan about various ways to utilize his Shinsu bombs when Bam suddenly came into the living room and went straight up to Evolet before hugging her from behind. Evolet didn't show any reaction, letting Bam's hands circle around her waist and hold her tight while he buried his face on her shoulder.

He stayed there silently for a while, waiting for the conversation to end. But after a few minutes, it was evident that his patience was running out. Bam lifted his head up slightly, mustering the best threatening glare he could from the annoyance and directing it to Wangnan. The effect could be seen instantly. Wangnan fidgeted in his place, face taking on a pale sheen that showed his uncomfortableness at Bam's unrelenting glare. Evolet was completely unaware of what's happening, simply speaking with more ideas.

The others sent a pitying gaze at him for being stuck in that position. Imagine Evolet's confusion when Wangnan suddenly excused himself with a stutter and rushed away without a proper explanation. Then Prince came along, all too eager with papers in his hand with a new Lighthouse technique he just came up with. He was just about to show it to Evolet, that was before he saw the ominous glare those dark golden eyes were showing. Granted, he didn't think twice before running off with a 'manly' scream.

Evolet was puzzled beyond words, not understanding what just took place. The team members shook their head and sighed exasperatedly, knowing it was their usual shenanigan. Still perplexed, she tilted her head to look at Bam who was smiling 'innocently' from her shoulder. In the end she chucked it off to the boys having a bad day. Bam nuzzled to her contentedly, quite pleased with how there were no more interruptions for the remainder of the day.

Another common occasion would be when they were just done eating dinner and the members were just relaxing, off doing their own preferred activities though most of them would be in the living room. Evolet who was outside at the backyard would suddenly come in, her gaze wandering all over the room before finally locking on Bam.

She rushed over to him and grabbed his hand, pulling him along to the backyard with a prominent smile that Bam could never refuse. There wasn't any music, but Evolet didn't seem to mind it as she took the lead of the slow paced dance with the whole backyard as their little stage as the pair danced under the starry sky with matching smiles adorning their faces.

Every time that happened, the team would huddle at the patio door to watch the duo. Miseng would already have her phone ready, recording the slow dance without fail each time. Goseng stared at the patio door worriedly, afraid that it would break with how hard Yihwa was gripping it with flaming eyes as she watched the pair in the backyard.

Their little dance came to an end but neither side was letting go of each other, Bam kissing Evolet's forehead tenderly as she giggled. As if that wasn't enough, he brought their forehead together and stayed in that position for a while as they stared into each other's eyes. Noses touching and lips a little too close to one another yet completely clueless.

The glass patio door cracked under Yihwa's hold along with Wangnan's poor little heart. Yihwa was screeching inside her mind, desperately wanting to rip the doors out of their hinges and throw them at the pair who was still utterly unaware of the position they were in. Meanwhile, Wangnan huddled in a corner and drew circles over and over after his 'single' heart shattered to pieces. He gritted his teeth, sulking with a gloomy aura surrounding him. The team could clearly hear what he was repeatedly saying.

"I'm single damnit… Get a freaking room would ya… Getting a room isn't as hard as finding a girlfriend is it?!!!!"

The remaining male trio threw pitiful glances at him, patting his back in compassion and understanding. Though they all know it wasn't going to stop anytime soon. Goseng was rather more focused on the broken patio door, sighing mournfully as she added it to the lists of items that Yihwa destroyed out of frustration from watching Bam and Evolet. A thought passed Arkraptor's mind, pondering if the FUG duo was actually doing this on purpose to drive the team insane.

The answer to that question would be a "No".


How they've completely memorized each other's habits and preferences. Or how they always seem to know what each other was thinking in a battle despite not saying a word–

The list goes on and on. They were all intent on making the two a couple officially. It wasn't an exaggeration when they said they tried their best and used everything in their disposal. The team thought up countless ways to get them together but both of them were completely and utterly clueless to their dismay. There have been a few scenarios that they set up in an attempt to make them realize their feelings of some sort, and none of them have worked so far. The reason for that would be because they… were already used to it, nothing was different from their usual routine and the team wanted to bang their heads on the wall for not recognizing it beforehand.

There were also a few cases where they just broke through with brute force. Like that time when Prince locked them in a room and fortified the door with Shinsu in hopes of getting them to confess or anything. Both of them just spent the day in the room as they usually would before Evolet had to cook dinner which resulted in a forcefully unhinged door so she could exit. The Shinsu did absolutely nothing against her.

Wangnan actually looked lost like a soulless person when he gave up on the plan, Yihwa’s screams of frustration rang throughout the house that day. She screamed her head off, hands about to rip her hair off from stress as she kept shouting "OH FOR JAHAD'S SAKE JUST DATE ALREADY!!!" over and over again that it was a wonder the pair still didn't understand the meaning.


An afterword from Horyang:

"You know… I wouldn't be surprised if they were actually already married and we just didn't know about the wedding."

The other team members' eyes were locked at him as they simultaneously thought that said reasoning was absolutely plausible, in fact it made the most sense. Evolet was staring at them with an impassive look, knowing whatever they were thinking spelt trouble from the looks on their face.

"... Whatever you're thinking, no."

"Eh…"

Chapter Text

They were walking back home with groceries in tow when that incident occurred. Wangnan and Yihwa had accompanied Evolet on her late night grocery run because they ran out of some ingredients. About halfway back, a man stopped them in their tracks, blocking the way. But before they could say anything, the man had beaten them to it.

"Ms. Yvette, please go out with me!!!"

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Wangnan stepped forward first, about to pummel the man with the little strength he had. Before he could attempt to do so, Yihwa restrained him. Evolet looked at them quizzically, but decided to deal with the man first.

"Maybe... you should introduce yourself first?"

"Ah, pardon me. My name is Faux, pleased to make your acquaintance Ms. Yvette."

Very briefly, you could see a glint in Evolet's eyes as her lips twitched, suppressing a smile. It passed too quickly to be noticed. "And go out where exactly do you mean?"

The man didn't look like he expected the reaction. Most likely thinking that Evolet had accepted his offer. The duo behind Evolet knew better. Shaking their head sympathetically for the man, fully aware that Evolet simply didn't understand his implication of dating and thought it was an invitation for an outing. "How about the Shinheuh Aquarium tomorrow?"

"I suppose I do have time tomorrow... I'll meet you at the entrance at lunch time then. I reckon you'll buy me lunch while you're at it?"

The man nodded energetically and left in a hurry after that, looking considerably happier than someone who just passed a floor test. Maybe there's a part of Yihwa that was wondering if Evolet actually knew that she was asked to go on a date. As the situation finally sank to his mind, Wangnan forced Yihwa to let go of him.

"Oi, Flamethrower! What are we gonna do about this?!" Wangnan asked her in a shout whisper.

"Simple, we drag Viole along with us to spy her tomorrow. That way we can see his reaction and we can also interfere in case anything happens."

... "What if we get killed by him?"

"He won't do that... Probably."

"... We're gonna die aren't we?"


Not long after Evolet set out the next day, Wangnan and Yihwa dragged Bam along with them to tail Evolet on her little "outing". Evolet was absolutely aware that they were trailing her, especially when they were utterly failing at hiding their presence. Bam on the other hand, was asserting his presence instead for some reason, which made Evolet extremely self-conscious throughout the day.

The man had kindly ordered an extravagant lunch beforehand before their planned aquarium tour. So far lunch was going quite well with some pleasant conversations Faux sparked. Evolet spaced out a little during their chat, looking dazed.

"Are you okay, Ms. Yvette?"

That seemed to snap Evolet out of it, blinking to get rid of the slight dizziness. She smiled lightly with a mischievous edge to it as her gaze was fixed at the plate of food served in front of her. "Yes... I'm quite fine. I suppose the food was just too delicious."

The man merely replied in kind with an overjoyed smile as lunch carried on without any more incident before they set off on their little tour. He had planned nearly everything beforehand, guiding Evolet through the various events hosted today. Evolet thoroughly enjoyed the trip, eyes lighting up with curiosity and wonder whenever Faux would tell her facts about the Shinheuh.

Meanwhile, the duo was reconsidering their decision to bring Bam along, slightly terrified at the dark aura he was emitting. Burning golden eyes were hidden in the safety of his bangs, but anyone could feel the piercing glare and the anger oozing out of Bam. The unsuspecting Regulars who caught sight of him would shriek or scream as they hurriedly ran for their life. Bam didn't bother to glance twice at them, eyes solely focused on Evolet's figure and the man beside her. Wangnan could've sworn he heard a literal growl from Bam at some point along with the cracking of a wall under Bam's grip. He just wanted to run away like all the other Regulars did. He regretted going along with Yihwa's plan.

Three hours passed quickly, Evolet and Faux were walking leisurely to the last section they've yet to visit. The trio was still close to them, keeping just the right distance as to not be seen. Just as they turned around the corner, Evolet purposefully slowed down her step. Blue-violet orbs locking with golden ones, Evolet brought a finger up to her lips as a notion to stay silent. That stopped Bam from following them around the corner and pulled back the other two before they did. Ignoring the protests from the pair, Bam just held them in place and waited for Evolet's return though he was clearly unhappy about it by the dark look on his expression. At this point, Wangnan could only hope he won't die by the end of the day.

On the other side, Evolet and Faux were standing in front of a big tank. Two large Shinheuh were swimming around. That section was nearly deserted save for the two, the lighting a dim blue that provided a calming atmosphere regardless of the highly dangerous Shinheuhs in the tank.

"Thank you for today, Ms. Yvette." Faux seemingly said sincerely with a beaming smile.

Evolet didn't reply to his smile, eyes taking on a sharp glint as she grinned like the Cheshire Cat. "No, no. It was a pleasure to meet you, though I certainly did not appreciate you trying to poison me."

As if on cue, the fake smile he showed dropped entirely. Evolet didn't mind him and just continued while watching the Shinheuh in the tank. "You'd think FUG would know better than presenting poison in that manner to me. Or at least they could've used a much more potent one after all they've done in the past. Moreover... it's blatantly obvious, introducing yourself as Faux, meaning a fake. I'm a bit offended that FUG didn't send someone more intelligent. Though then again... I wasn't expecting them to move this fast. I actually thought it would be silent until the 24th or 25th floor."

In that instant, he took out a dagger and swung it at Evolet. She didn't need to move, a Shinsu shield already in place. Turning around with the Chesire grin, she whispered.

Eat up, Amos.

The man didn't even have time to register what was happening before Amos chomped him in one bite. The one-sided fight was over in a blink, or rather a bite. Evolet didn't show any emotion as she heard the cracking bones and the screams as Amos chewed down on the man. Evolet's gaze was locked on the tank, seeing the two Shinheuh approach the glass as she gently put her hand on it. She frowned lightly, burrows creased as she felt the bitterness and burn lingering on her tongue. It brought on an unwanted memory in her mind, her frown deepening as a heavy feeling settled in her chest. She'll have to take measures to keep FUG at bay. Amos nudged her gently, looking worried for the Anima.

"I'm sorry, Amos... it seems like I got a little carried away." She smiled reassuringly at the Shinheuh, patting its head to show that she was fine. Releasing her summon on Amos, Evolet pondered if she should get another Shinheuh soon as she walked away with her light lavender hair swaying gently around her knees. While the duo had run off somewhere, Bam was still standing in the same hallway, waiting for her. She showed a sincere smile at the sight, running over to Bam who promptly hugged her and told her to never do that again.

"If you say so then I won't. It's not as if dealing with some FUG personnels is hard though..."

Somewhere in his mind, Bam could only sigh as Evolet completely misunderstood what he said. He didn't like what he felt earlier. Almost as if he was annoyed but on a larger scale, wanting to just go out and grab Evolet away. A burning pit in his stomach that just burned more intense every time he saw the man eliciting laughter from Evolet. There was a feral growl threatening to tear its way out of his throat, a part of him that demanded she was his and should be beside him only at all times. He didn't know what the feeling was named, but he loathed it. As if reading his mind, Evolet grabbed his hand and conjured up two movie tickets out of nowhere.

"Goseng-san gave them to me yesterday. She was supposed to go with Miseng but they cancelled the plan for some reason. Do you want to go now?"

Bam was more than happy to oblige, the previous feeling forgotten for the time being. They had bought some popcorn first before going in. Not even one minute in, Evolet regretted her decision to not ask Goseng the reason she cancelled her plan. She didn't know that they were horror movie tickets. Evolet took a glimpse at Bam who seemed to be completely fine with the movie. Gripping the armrests, Evolet steeled herself to last for the whole movie hopefully...

.

.

.

That idea went down the drain. Evolet's face took on a pale sheen, anxious for the next jumpscare. It's a miracle that the armrests haven't broken yet with how hard she's gripping it. She did try to close her eyes, but the sudden sounds from the jumpscare would only make it worse even when she already anticipated it. So she did the opposite, trying to keep her eyes on the screen and seeing any kind of signs or cues for the jumpscare only to fail miserably. She definitely can't take this for much longer, they're not even halfway through the movie. She was getting light-headed and it was slowly getting harder to breathe properly. A thought passed her mind if she could just pass out from the shock and just wake up after the movie's over.

Bam, on the other hand, was wondering why Evolet seemed so silent. When he knew it was a horror movie, he was actually expecting Evolet to perhaps act a little scared or maybe hold his hands throughout the movie. So he was kind of disappointed to say the least, when Evolet did none of it. Bam glanced at her just as another jumpscare popped up on the screen and Evolet paled even further, her breath coming off in short gasp as her pupils dilated. His eyes widened the slightest bit in worry at the sight of Evolet with tears dripping down her face with a steady pace. Before he could process the information, his hands already reached out to wipe the flowing waterworks. That successfully made Evolet turn towards him, diverting her attention from the movie as her breathing steadied momentarily.

"Bam...?"

It was only then that Evolet noticed the tears streaming down her face. She hurriedly tried to wipe off the continuous tears with her sleeves furiously. On the other hand, Bam's brain was in the middle of a short-circuit. He could feel his breath hitch at the way Evolet called his name with a soft tone that had a hint of fragility behind it. This was a far cry from the usual Evolet who wouldn't show her weakness. His throat suddenly felt dry, the urge to do something that he doesn't know bubbling up at the back of his throat. Not quite knowing what it was, Bam's hands hurriedly reached out to her before he did anything that he would regret. He pulled her close, bringing her to his chest as he embraced her dearly.

His face was burning up, flushed in hues of red and pink. Evolet responded in kind, hugging him back and gripping the back of his shirt lightly as she muttered out a small meaningful thank you against his chest. It was different from what Bam originally envisioned, but he didn't mind it either way. This show of vulnerability wasn't doing Bam any good, the blush wasn't disappearing anytime soon. He could feel his face flaming up even further as Evolet snuggled against his chest, and he felt his stomach jolting as his breath hitched for an unknown reason. A part of him wished they could stay like this forever. They just stayed like that for the remainder of the movie.


There's a perfectly good reason behind her fear. Or rather, a perfectly reasonable culprit that initiated all of this. Let us rewind a little, shall we?

"Little One... Do you know? The locals said this mansion is haunted!"

The confused Evolet blinked at his excited exclamation, not quite understanding why it was so interesting. "I don't see anything wrong with it, Yunuen-san. Ghosts aren't real anyway, and I doubt they're anything I can't ward off with my shields."

Yunuen simply smirked at that, the gears already turning in his mind. He shook his head teasingly, almost as if saying Evolet's words were naive. From the quizzical expression she had, it was clear she didn't know what he meant.

"That's where you're wrong, Eve. Ghosts... are undoubtedly real. After all, I've met them before."

That caught Evolet's attention instantly. It was a known fact that Evolet typically believed whatever Yunuen said, because he's her mentor of some sort and partly because she's gullible when it comes to him. Yunuen was lying with a straight face, but Evolet didn't need to know that.

"You've seen...ghosts?"

"Yes... It was a truly terrifying experience that it's a miracle I'm even alive right now..."

"Ha..."

Her brows furrowed, skeptical of his exaggerated claim since she was aware of his strength. Inwardly, Yunuen sprouted a mad grin because he already prepared a proper explanation beforehand.

"It was truly frightening... I couldn't lift a hand because the Shinsu would only pass through them and physical attacks have no effect either. They on the other hand... can land blows on us as long as they're touching us. An enemy you're utterly helpless against... At that time I could only keep running until dawn broke..."

Evolet was contemplating the situation. She wanted to believe Yunuen, but the notion of ghost itself was ridiculous to her. And she certainly didn't believe an enemy can't be attacked. Every single being would have their own weak point, ghost included if they exist.

"Yunuen-san... are you lying to me?"

He looked offended by that, offering a sharp gasp at the accusation but swiftly defended himself. "Of course not, Little One! I'd never lie to you. There are also plenty of witnesses too. Exorcists who specialize in ghost exorcisms are the most common example throughout the Tower. But the most prominent one would be... horror movies."

.

.

.

"Why horror movies?"

"Listen well Little One... Horror movies... are real life documentaries. People without a doubt die in horror movies for real. At first, it was discovered by chance that a group made their stop at an abandoned house. They had registered for the floor test beforehand, but no matter how long the Test Administrator waited, the team never came."

His teal eyes trailed over to Evolet who was paying rapt attention at his story. Her body posture was tense and he could tell she was taking his story to heart cautiously. Maybe he should feel guilty for making up this lie... That's if the results he wanted didn't come out. He faked a shudder as he resumed his story.

"When they decided to check on them, the sole survivor was a heavily wounded Lightbearer who's gone insane from the haunting in that house. His friends were killed one by one as sacrifices for the others each time they got caught. By morning, only the Lightbearer remained after running with all of his might. The recording was intact in his Lighthouse, so the upper ups opted to show it to the public as a warning. That was how the first horror movie came to be. Well, exorcism was also discovered in a somewhat similar fashion though more survivors were there because of the exorcism tools they brought along."

Evolet gulped as the story ended, still a little perplexed but more anxious. Finding her courage, she asked him a question that's been plaguing her mind.

"Then what about horror movies nowadays...? Do they..."

Yunuen's eyes took on a hard sheen as he avoided eye contact and pursed his lips. Almost solemnly, he said, "They... are professionals who risk their life for the sole sake of telling those stories to other people. The moment they sign up for it, they are fully aware that they might as well lose their life. Such is their dedication."

He could see that Evolet was contemplating about it for real, judging by her blatant expression. Disregarding his serious expression upfront, Yunuen was actually cooing at how cute and gullible Evolet was inside his mind. A smirk formed in his inner thoughts as he stepped to the door and suddenly said "Ah, by the way Little one, I'll be stepping out for a while for a mission okay? Bye!"

Evolet stared at the door with a troubled expression. After hearing Yunuen's story she felt as if there were several more presences around her although extremely faint. Frowning lightly, her steps led back to her room as her gaze travelled all around out of paranoia. Ghosts aren't real... right?

She was proven to be utterly wrong when midnight came. Honestly, it was her fault for not sleeping early but Yunuen's words kept her up all night. In the end she decided to grab a cup of hot cocoa before taking a walk. Or at least that was her plan.

On her way to the kitchen, Evolet kept rubbing her hands from the unnatural chill in the hallways as her eyes darted everywhere anxiously. The story from earlier was still haunting her mind relentlessly. She was on caution that her senses were in overdrive, her ears picked up another set of footsteps that weren't supposed to be there. Yunuen was outside so she was the only one left at the house.

Gulping nervously, Evolet moved around stiffly as she made the hot chocolate with paranoia all around. The house was eerily silent save for those footsteps that were nearing her and the creaking of windows. Just as she was stirring her cup, a shiver went down her spine as the footsteps stopped right behind her. She gripped the spoon and the steaming cup tighter as she felt the chilling air. A freezing hand tapped her shoulder lightly and stayed there, making Evolet's mind stop right in its tracks.

She laughed awkwardly and closed her eyes in an attempt to calm herself, not daring to turn around and face the owner of said hand. When she opened her eyes again, a pitch black yet translucent hand covering hers that was gripping the handle of the cup. Robotically, she turned her neck around to see the person's hand only to come face to face to a disfigured face. Her breath hitched and she knew her heart stopped for a moment as the face broke out into an eerie grin.

"#@_$-&+-/*;'@)"&$!"(#™¢×¥°¢}~™¶©=£™!!!!!!!"

Face as pale as death and terrified out of her mind, Evolet's first instinct was to shove the cup of steaming hot chocolate right at the ghost's face as she screamed her head off. To her horror the glass and its content just passed right through it and crashed to the wall. Her mind went back to what Yunuen said to her earlier.

'An enemy you're utterly helpless against... At that time I could only keep running until dawn broke...'

.

.

.

"Oh Jahad..." Now that the important piece of information was firmly lodged in her mind, Evolet wasted no time to escape from the ghost's hold forcefully and ran for her life. Her face was rapidly paling further as she conjured up various shields to stall for time but the ghost just passed through them with ease as if the shields didn't exist. Her legs brought her all over the mansion in a hurry to avoid the ghost.

Short of breath and panting from terror, Evolet headed to the door to leave only to find that there was another ghost there. Its long hair reached the floor and went straight through it, eye sockets empty and oozing blood with its mouth stitched but open. The sight made Evolet's blood run cold, but she fired a Baang that was clearly unstable just to test the waters. As she expected, the attack simply went through it as if there was only air. So instead she made a sharp turn in the nick of time, rushing anywhere that could be a safe haven for her. Breath coming out in short puffs, Evolet maximized her Shinsu strengthening output on her legs as she pushed herself to shake off the ghosts off of her trail so that she could find refuge in Yunuen's room.

Heaving a heavy sigh, Evolet slid down the door and caught her breath while keeping an eye for any signs of the ghosts. Everything was still for a while until she started hearing screams, pleading for help and to release them from their suffering. She stayed still in her spot, not daring to move and only keeping her presence as unnoticeable as possible. There was still 4 more hours before sunrise.

She honestly thought she'd be fine since there hasn't been anything for nearly two hours now. Her breathing was back to normal, no signs of fright as she brought her knees closer to lean her head on it. Sleepiness was enticing her, but there was also no way she'll be able to sleep in this situation. Still on caution, her ears picked up another unsettling noise of freaking wood as something pounded against it repeatedly. It was rather small at first, gradually getting louder and much closer. Her hand snaked up to the door knob, ready to bolt again at any given time. The sounds were getting nearer, sourcing from the wooden ceilings that began to creak louder with each passing second. She could hear the voice clearly now.

"All of it... IS YOUR FAULT!!!"

She didn't push the doorknob quickly enough, mind going blank in shock and dread as a set of overly familiar amaranthine eyes rushed towards her with a bloodied face. Everything went black around her.

On the other hand, Yunuen who was sitting calmly in the attic finally decided to check up on Evolet now that it was near sunrise. He did consider the possibility of her hiding somewhere curling into herself as she waited for all of this to be over, maybe sleeping while she's at it. Wisp of mist trailed off from his palms before he dismissed it. His abilities were quite useful for these types of things, though he did make sure to not go overboard since he didn't want to scare Evolet too much. So it came as a surprise when he found Evolet, unconscious on the floor and blocking the door.

There weren't any apparent wounds, which brought a sense of relief to Yunuen. He didn't waste any time to lift her off the floor, ignoring her groan as she shifted in his hold and opened her blue-violet eyes. He wondered what she was going to say to him, only to be taken aback once more as she suddenly hugged him tight. Trembling hands gripped the back of his shirt as she buried herself to his chest to hide her muffled sobs.

Yunuen panicked momentarily at the unexpected turn of events, but swiftly attempted to soothe Evolet. His mind trailed off to the ghost illusion he summoned. There wasn't anything wrong with them since he particularly made the less frightening ones to avoid scaring Evolet too much. But nonetheless the girl was crying, shivering as if she's terrified out of her mind. Yunuen's brows furrowed deeply, bringing Evolet closer to him and whispering reassurances as Evolet slowly fell into a fitful sleep. Her vice grip didn't loosen in her rest, and neither did he stop stroking her head to calm her down. He had conjured up two ghostly illusions, one to chase her around from that time in the kitchen and the other to guard the door. Both were instructed to not hurt Evolet nor terrorize her too much, so it brought upon a question to him. What had actually happened that he missed? He doesn't know the answer.

He wasn't about to complain when Evolet slept through the day, hands gripping Yunuen's shirt lightly as she snuggled closer to his chest. Needless to say, Yunuen threw thinking out of the window and simply enjoyed the rare occasion with a content smile on his face. A pity his phone memory wasn't enough to store all of the pictures he took while Evolet was fast asleep, lips slightly open with a peaceful expression. Yunuen would've squealed if it wasn't for the fear of waking Evolet up.

Chapter Text

Another not so peaceful day has started in the residence of Sweet and Sour team. The next floor test was nearing and Evolet decided it was time for them to step up their gear. Which is why all of the members of Sweet and Sour are lined up in the backyard first thing in the morning after breakfast. A few of them were still yawning, wanting to go back inside and just relax some more. Evolet didn't seem to notice their actions though, solely focused on the oversized Baang in her outstretched hands.

It took a while before she stopped, hands now motioning the Baang to spread out into a vast sphere and maintaining its shape instead of bursting since they didn't have a room to contain the Shinsu in, like they did during the Crown Game. She nodded in approval, thinking the size of the Shinsu sphere would be enough now. Turning back facing the other team members, she flashed them a smile and said, "You know what to do."

The team members sighed mournfully for the lack of a peaceful morning, but headed inside the condensed Shinsu sphere with difficulties nonetheless. Evolet took note of the order they went in, discerning how Yihwa was the first to enter with Horyang following a close second. While Miseng was the last with Wangnan going in shortly before she did.

Her gaze wandered over to the kitchen's window, knowing that Bam was probably in the middle of making some refreshments for post-training. The others were trying their best to move as fast as they could in the Shinsu sphere, preparing themselves for what’s about to come. Evolet also went into the sphere soon enough, moving with particular ease compared to the others. They were all on full caution, ready to bolt at the first sight of that thing. With a crescent smirk on her face, Evolet hummed lightly as she spoke.

It’s time to play, Amos.

The downsized White Armored Eel opened his eyes, turning to Evolet who lightly patted his head tenderly with a fond smile. As soon as she stopped the action, Amos showed a sinister toothy grin before flexing his tail in one smooth motion and swam towards the Sweet and Sour team members with full speed. Evolet was floating calmly near the edge of the sphere, taking in the sight of the others either running or swimming away from Amos. Screams and gurgles could be heard all over the place as the little “Game of Tag” Evolet devised with Amos took place. Yep, it was a rather soothing day for Evolet.

It wasn’t until a few hours later that Evolet finally released her summon and let them out of the Shinsu sphere. All of the members laid on the ground panting, exhausted out of their mind from the constant run lest they wanted to be manhandled by Amos. Shaking her head fondly at them, Evolet went to the kitchen for some refreshments while they rested. As to be expected by the team, Bam also went out this time and helped Evolet bring some cold juice. Now that the tag game was over, all of them looked expectantly at Evolet, wondering who will be called first for the one on one training.

“Yeon-san!” Said girl smirked smugly at the others when her name was called first. Wangnan and Prince glared at her, fully knowing how the orders were decided. Depending on the type of training, Evolet would silently assess their performance and rank them in her head. The one on one training that followed right after was decided by the ranking that Evolet d̶i̶d̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ make, and whoever was called first was the one who showed the best result of the day. Or at least, that was the theory made by the team’s self-proclaimed genius, Wangnan. Up till this date, there was still no one who could prove the credibility of said theory. They play along with it anyway and now it's become a competition between them of some sort.

While they waited for their turn to be called, the members would typically just doze off while watching the one on one training. Though some of them did opt for doing something else to pass the time. Take Prince and Miseng for example, they were playing games in the house while waiting. Goseng was also inside, presumably to accompany Miseng or just taking a break. The remaining members, Wangnan, Horyang, Arkraptor, and Bam were outside watching Evolet guiding Yihwa through her flames. Their eyes were peeled on both girls, finding it fascinating how Evolet was rather guiding Yihwa something along the lines of dancing but noted how it seemed to be quite effective since she was able to hit quite a few targets compared to her usual self.

Evolet had said something about sole focus and awareness during dancing, implementing bits and parts of it to Yihwa’s regimen to help with her aim. The fireballs that missed their target were swiftly put out with Evolet’s Shinsu before it could do any damage. And she also put up a barrier during their practice, just in case anything happened.

Unconsciously, Wangnan's gaze trailed over to Bam who was watching Evolet intently. Bam never trained together with them, and neither did Evolet. The most she'll do is train them, but never a full on training session together. Although Wangnan doubted it would affect their performance either way. No matter how many times he saw them on the mock event battles, he would still be awestruck by their trust display. Wangnan doubts there was any other pair that could trust themselves completely with the other like they did. Was there anyone who would utterly ignore any incoming attacks, believing that their partner would never fail protecting them?

Even when the team has seen Evolet's defense first hand, they would flinch or be surprised whenever an attack hits the shield. Granted, the shield never broke but it was in their instinct to try to dodge or cower away from an attack. Bam would never show any reaction, simply forging his way forward and putting all of his trust in Evolet.

He recognized how each time a Regular dared to try their luck and break their core defense by attacking Evolet, she would let them be and concentrated on the shields knowing that Bam would always get there to eliminate them. Though then again Wangnan couldn't help but shudder at the attacks Bam would send to those Regulars. Trying to attack Evolet in their tests was a foolproof way to get an enraged FUG Slayer Nominee hot on their heels.

Though, he had to admit there was something more unsettling from Evolet when provoked compared to Bam. He was sure that Evolet's offensive capabilities should be rather low from Bam's level, although higher than theirs. It wasn't anything concrete to be honest, since they rarely see Evolet properly fighting. But there was one time when he had seen her… provoked, to put it mildly. The cause was a group of Regulars who mocked Bam in the middle of their battle.

He still remembers that incident vividly. The chilling glare from the overshadowed blue-violet eyes. Slow deliberate steps that spoke of dominance. The rampant Shinsu trailing everywhere around her. And most importantly, something that he can't quite wrap around his head. He knew that was what differentiated Evolet between Bam when angered. Something so feral, as if a dangerous beast was slumbering inside Evolet and should never be woken up.

His instincts had told him to run as far as he could at the time, but he couldn't even move from the fear despite being her ally. It applied all the same to the opposing Regulars who were pummeled one sidedly by Evolet within seconds. While he couldn't pinpoint what that something was, he knew he needed to avoid at all costs.


Evolet declared training to be over two days before the floor test started, instructing the team to get proper rest so as to be in their best condition for the floor test. It was a much appreciated rest after the rigorous training. And they were completely banned from training until the test, since Evolet wanted them well rested. As for Evolet herself, there was a particular activity that she will always do before floor tests. After lunch, Evolet was already outside with all the things she needed and dressed in casual clothes.

Come out, Raiden.

Crackles of lightning vanished as soon as it appeared, in place of it was Raiden who was wagging his tail excitedly. It brought about a round of laughter from Evolet when he nuzzled against her with some occasional licks to the face. The Raijuu purred contentedly when Evolet scratched under his chin, gradually relaxing as she coaxed him to lay down on the grassy field.

Tail swishing relaxedly behind, the beast closed his eyes and dozed off while Evolet brushed the Raijuu's fur gently. It was one of the activities that she enjoyed the most, a calming way to spend her day and deepening her bond with her Shinheuhs. The small breeze from the wind and rustling of grass created a peaceful atmosphere. There were some noises from the house, most likely her teammates doing something ridiculous again. It was a reassuring sound, though mostly covered by Evolet's humming as she continued to brush away.

Most of the time, stray animals would huddle around her as she was brushing Raiden's fur. Though it usually only happened when they rented a house near the forest. This floor was one of said occasions. Her lips would curl up into a soft smile as she took a small break to pet the animals before going back to brushing Raiden's fur. Somewhere along the lines, she would start yawning and rubbing her eyes. Trying her best to not fall asleep, though by the end of it she was already half dozing off.

By now there were already a group of stray animals around her, ranging from chipmunks, squirrels, foxes, rabbits, and other small animals. Evolet stood up wobbly, brush put aside after she finished grooming Raiden. Just as she was about to take a step forward, Raiden's tail wrapped around her and pulled Evolet down. She landed on Raiden's stomach, eyes too sleepy to do anything. So instead she curled up against Raiden, his large fluffy tail covering Evolet as her breath evened out and slowly drifted to sleep. The other small animals didn't pass up the chance, some of them perching on Raiden while a few attempted to squeeze in beneath his tail to get to Evolet. The beast let out an indignant huff, but didn't do anything to the animals.

Later on in the evening, Bam would come out from the house while bringing a blanket. Smiling fondly at the sight of Evolet asleep while curled up with many animals. He already expected this to happen again since there was already an incident akin to this before. These weren’t the only times when animals would approach Evolet voluntarily. Oftentimes when they were walking, there would be stray cats or dogs walking up to her and nuzzled against her leg. Whenever it happened Evolet would lean down to pet them, offering some treats that she always brought around.

There were also times when they would find injured animals, and Evolet would always bring them home to treat them lovingly. She would reluctantly pass them on to either the vet or an animal shelter when it was time to take the floor test, though Bam could see she didn’t want to part with them at all and it never failed to bring a fond smile to his expression. He completely adored that side of Evolet. Though… it certainly wasn't limited to only animals that she brought back, Bam thought back sourly.

The other animals scurried away back to the forest when he appeared, Raiden opening his cobalt blue eyes in recognition as Bam covered Evolet in the blanket and carrying her back to the house in a bridal style carry. She only gave out a small mumble, shifting in his hold to lean her head on his chest before she sighed contentedly as she fell asleep once more. Her actions elicited soft laughter from Bam, holding her a little tighter with a tender smile before he headed back with Raiden following close behind.


All the while fuming, Yihwa walked down the regulars residential area under the guidance of her pocket. She still couldn’t believe how the others seemed to trust Viole, letting him go out on his own without supervision. With gritted teeth, she silently admitted that it might be true that Viole’s cooking was far better than hers. That still didn’t mean the others should side with him. The other regulars beside her tried to scoot away as far as possible from the flaring girl. Her pocket whirred in visible mode beside her, the tracking device she planted in Viole’s pocket working perfectly. Though she couldn’t plant one in Yvette’s pocket, the girl was too adamant on not having it. She had to relent under her glare and threats in the end.

A part of her was wondering where the lavender haired girl was, since she didn’t see her with Viole currently. She would’ve thought they went out together when the team said both of them were out. She shrugged it off momentarily, tailing Viole to a karaoke place. Staying hidden while observing his movements. Just as he was going down the stairs, a scream rang out from the staircase and he speeded up inside. Yihwa stopped for a moment, wondering what that was all about and contemplating whether she should go in or not. Her line of thought was suddenly broken by screams far louder than before, a few people running up the stairs in panic and screaming their heads off in a hurry to get away. Brows furrowed in anger, Yihwa didn’t wait a moment longer before rushing into the karaoke place.

Viole!! What have you done?!”

He glanced her way with surprise written on his face, clearly not expecting her to follow him. Yihwa’s gaze wandered over to the red haired girl who didn’t seem to be shaken up by her arrival, instead greeted her expectantly. Pink eyes narrowing the slightest bit as Yihwa pondered who the girl was. Just as she was thinking, she felt another presence behind her. Turning around quickly, there was a tall brunette man standing before her. Jinsung examined her carefully before he whipped his head towards Bam, a scandalous look on his face.

“Are you cheating on Eve, Viole?”

Bam spluttered indignantly at the implication, choking on thin air. His teacher just arrived and that was the first question he asked?!! The Slayer Nominee was flustered, waving his hands around frantically while denying Jinsung’s thoughts. Yihwa didn’t seem to mind a thing, still in detective mode as she suddenly exclaimed that they were FUG. That got Jinsung’s attention on her as his gaze turned into something more dangerous. He was staring intently at the hairpin she was wearing currently, black eyes showing a glint of red momentarily. “By the way, lady… I’ve seen that hairpin before. Isn’t that the crest of the Yeon family? Are you their spy?”

He stepped closer to her, full of animosity and ready to strike despite his relaxed posture. Bam immediately took notice of that, telling him to stop before anything happened. Yihwa was staring at him warily, body rigid in anticipation for a sudden attack. Once Bam had revealed she was his teammate, Jinsung’s pointed glare turned to a beaming smile as he apologized profusely at his accusation. It would’ve ended there if only Yihwa didn’t let her pride get the best of her and protested fervently.

“Who’s your teammate? Don’t lie! You fooled your teammates by coming here secretly to meet with the FUG! What are you planning with then, huh??? You trick us like this and you call us teammates?! How ridiculous!!! You’re worse than dirt! You pretended you were so nice and…!!!”

Bam could only watch on as she continued her ramble. She didn't notice how Jinsung’s eyes darkened more with each word she uttered out. While Bam didn’t mind any of her insults, Jinsung wasn’t about to take it lying down. After all, she was insulting his precious pupil. The jacket on his shoulder flapped down to the ground as a glare showed on his expression.

“Hey, girl. Isn’t that enough?”

She didn’t back down, standing tall as she stated that it was none of his business. Bam told her to stop, revealing to her that Jinsung was a High Ranker and she shouldn’t incur his anger any further. Almost stubbornly, she stepped up with a shaky voice as she shouted that she wouldn’t be afraid just because of a mere High Ranker. Worried for her recklessness, Bam’s palm was enveloped in Shinsu as he delivered a light chop to Yihwa’s neck. She plopped to the ground gracelessly without another word, consciousness lost as she laid on the ceramic floor. Bam went silent before directing his attention to Jinsung who was staring at Yihwa on the ground pitifully.

“That’s enough. I knocked her out.”

“You’re harsh with girls...”

.

.

.

“That’s not true. I’m gentle with Eve.” Jinsung stared at him unimpressed with Bam's reply.

"Eve is the only exception, so she doesn’t count. But what will you do with her? You can't just leave her here."

With that cue, Hwaryun suddenly spoke up. "How about we go to Viole's house together? It's quiet there and we can take her home."

Jinsung immediately perked up at the suggestion, looking like a child as he raised a hand up in approval and spoke up with a monotonous cheerful tone. "Oh! I'm in! Good idea!"

"...That's…!"

"Now, now, it's fine isn't it? I haven't seen Eve in a while anyway. Can't leave without seeing her can I? You shouldn't keep her all to yourself, even if she is your partner. Let this old man see his future daughter-in-law every once in a while. She should be with Yunuen about now, we can just wait at your house until they come back!"

"Master?!!"

Bam's face flushed in a shade of red, dumbfounded and embarrassed by his teacher's words. He was clearly still hesitant, but the other two didn't seem to mind as they made their way out and chatted about what they should bring as a housewarming gift. Glancing at Yihwa who was still passed out on the floor, Bam exhaled a resigned sigh before picking her up with one hand and catched up with the two. Jinsung shook his head exasperatedly at the way Bam carried the girl, shrugging his shoulder but not saying a thing.

Chapter Text

In another part of the residential area, Evolet could be seen walking with Yunuen on their way back from the Regulars Training Ring. Her Lighthouse was in visible mode, since Yunuen kept buying her stuff here and there so she had to constantly put them into her Lighthouse unless she was going to bring them by hand. She stopped him eventually when she realized the weirded out stares of the Regulars, reprimanding him for splurging too much and attracting attention.

Yunuen could only laugh heartily at her intervention, mentally glaring and cursing at every Regular’s stares he could find directed at Evolet who realized none of their intentions. Though he quickly settled down momentarily as he observed the girl who was glancing around here and there in search of her yearly gift to Khun. His thoughts began to drift off as he nodded proudly at the girl beside him, pleased with her achievements and how she asserted her own standing at FUG within a short amount of time. He would've never imagined that she would change so much since the first time he unofficially met her in that forsaken place. A part of it was undoubtedly thanks to Bam, which Yunuen was eternally grateful for. While Bam doesn't know how Evolet had been in the past, it didn't change the fact that she was able to stand like this because of Bam.

But if Yunuen had to admit, there was still a lingering fear in the depths of his heart. He was deathly terrified of the possibility that Evolet might become like that once more. He knew what she had been subjected to from the very beginning and stood by her through it all, cherishing her like no other did. He was aware of the nightmares haunting her, the relentless attempts to break Evolet. Despite that she kept forging on as if there wasn't anything bothering her. Perhaps it was the fact that Evolet was strong in her own way, but Yunuen deeply adored and respected her for that. And he couldn't bear the thought of her returning to her former state and the precious smile she was wearing right now gone without a trace.

"Little One..."

"Hm? What is it, Yunuen-san?" Evolet asked him serenely, seemingly without a worry in the world.

"You won't break your promise, right?"

She had blinked in confusion for a moment before the question sunk into her mind. Her smile morphed into something more knowing, as if trying to reassure him. "Don't worry, Yunuen-san. I won't break my promise. I don't think I can afford that now, especially if I want to keep FUG at bay. Besides… I don't know how I can explain it to Bam if that happens."

Almost on impulse, Yunuen breathed a sigh of relief at her assurance. If she said so then he’ll believe it. As long as that smile of her remained, like a beacon of light that he can’t help but gravitate towards. He’ll do anything to protect her, as long as she’s happy. She was his lighthouse, leading him in the dark so he won’t lose his path. Losing her would mean him plunging into the cold darkness again, and he wanted to avoid that at all costs.

“By the way, Little One. Slayer Karaka is also on this floor. He insisted on following Jinsung no matter what.”

Evolet’s eyes narrowed the slightest bit at the newfound information, contemplating how she should move about with this situation. "The Elders haven't taken it out have they?"

Yunuen shook his head at the question, confirming that the Elders haven't made any big moves against her. Though if they did, Yunuen would be the first one to strike before they can even a single hair on her. She considerably settled down at the confirmation, deeming that she won't need to pull any strings if Karaka only came by himself without the backing of an Elder. If Karaka didn't make a move then she'll also stay put, as simple as that. Evolet could only smile warmly at Yunuen as he kept buying things on his own accord for her, though if he kept that up then her Lighthouse would be filled to the brim in no time at all. A thought that she's been thinking of lately suddenly popped into her mind.

"Ah, Yunuen-san. I've been meaning to ask but… is there a double meaning in "going out"?"

As if that very sentence was a trigger, Yunuen laughed awkwardly as he froze in his spot. His teal eyes started glancing everywhere, avoiding Evolet's curious gaze as he asked her, "Why do you ask?"

"Sometimes there are people who ask me about it and I can’t help but feel exasperated… or maybe disappointed at the answer I gave them so I was just thinking…”

In all honesty, Evolet was expecting Yunuen to suddenly tell her that there was actually a hidden meaning behind it or another explanation. Contrary to her expectations, he suddenly broke out in laughter before ruffling her hair slightly. “Nope, you don’t need to worry about it. There’s no hidden meaning or anything to it. Maybe you’re just thinking too much, hm?”

Although there was still a part of her that was still curious, she heeded his words anyway and pushed the thought to the back of her mind. She surely didn’t notice how Yunuen was hiding his expression from her, a smirk etched on his face as an imaginary pair of devil horns sprouted in the midst of his light blue hair. While he did say that the current Evolet was because of Bam, it didn’t mean that he was going to give sweet, pure, innocent Little Eve away so easily. He cackled like a maniac inside his train of thoughts, nodding proudly at his feat. Seeing how Evolet was still somewhat reluctant about it, Yunuen gave one last push.

"Little One, how would you like some hot chocolate?"

The girl blinked up at him, most likely taken aback by the sudden invitation. "But you already bought me so much stuff today… I don't think–"

Yunuen cut her words off, a finger swishing in the air playfully as if telling her she was wrong. "You deserve every single bit of it, okay?"

She had a troubled look on her face, lips pursed lightly that clearly showed her confusion. But it was erased soon enough, melting into a soft smile that reached to the very bottom of Yunuen's heart.

"At the cafe-resto?"

"Yep, they keep complaining lately because they miss you. You know how to deal with them the best, not me." Yunuen answered playfully.

Soft giggles spilled out of Evolet at his declaration, knowing how the employees could get a little out of hand. It has been quite a while since she visited them, she supposed. Inwardly, Yunuen was grinning wickedly with the successful diversion.


When Evolet arrived back home, she was greeted by the sight of Jinsung and Hwaryun sitting on the sofa while telling stories about Bam. She smiled amusedly at the sight, guessing that Wangnan and the others must’ve been sitting there for hours since it was Jinsung who was storytelling. Wangnan screamed out her name as if she was their saviour, catching the room’s occupants’ attention.

Jinsung was the first one to react after Wangnan’s scream, lifting Evolet from her waist as he twirled her around in greeting before putting her down. She only laughed at the sudden greeting, returning the action rather calmly by giving him a box of pocky and reprimanding him to stop smoking. Wincing a little, Jinsung tried to play it off by offering a packet of cookies he specifically bought for these occasions. As per usual, Evolet's blue-violet eyes lit up in wonder as she took the cookies happily.

'Ah, he's bribing her.' Wangnan thought, dumbfounded by the situation as his eyebrow twitched in disbelief.

Said girl didn't realize it at all, already munching on a cookie slowly like a hamster. Jinsung had the audacity to pat her head while she ate the cookie, a flowery aura behind him as he enjoyed the adorable display. It stopped when Evolet's eyes roamed around the room, head tilting up as she asked Jinsung about Bam's whereabouts. It was only then that Jinsung realized that Bam was nowhere to be seen. He should've noticed earlier to be honest, since there was no way he wouldn't be interrupted after greeting Evolet in that manner. Bam was quite a jealous person after all, even if the person himself didn't realize it. Hwaryun told them that Bam had sneaked out since Jinsung kept telling “stupid things”. Goseng had told him that Bam would usually be at the roof.

“All right! Then I’ll go see Viole. You coming, Eve?”

“I’ll be there in a moment. I need to put some stuff in the room first. Yunuen-san went overboard with his shopping… again.”

Jinsung could only shake his head exasperatedly at that, watching as Evolet retreated to her and Bam’s room before he headed to the roof. Evolet narrowed her eyes the slightest bit after storing all of the excess items Yunuen bought. Closing the door securely, she headed to the kitchen where she knew Yihwa was conversing with Arkraptor. The groceries she brought along earlier were put into the fridge before she sat down beside Arkraptor, staring straight at Yihwa with a sharp glint.

“Yeon-san, I’d very much appreciate it if you don’t think too lowly of Viole nor insult him.” Yihwa stiffened at the accusation, her gaze meeting cold blue-violet ones that seemed to glow red ever so slightly with blatant rage. Before she had the chance to say anything, Evolet continued speaking.

“I am perfectly aware of what you spoke about with that woman you met up with today along with how you spoke of Viole in the karaoke place, and I can’t say I am pleased with how you spoke of the team. I could care less if you were from the Yeon family or no. Status aside, currently you are a part of the team by your own choice and I’d rather like it if you act like a respectable team member instead of talking lowly of us behind our back. You are free to leave the team if you are so confident about it as how you told that woman.”

Hands gripped tight, Yihwa didn’t dare to say a thing towards Evolet who was staring down at her. There was a suffocating tension in the kitchen that sourced from Evolet, frowning deeply with eyes that screamed of distaste to say the least. The air in the room was tense, as if the Shinsu was steadily getting denser. Arkraptor who wasn’t a target of the confrontation also froze up and didn’t dare to make a sound at the deafening silence.

It reminded him of that mock test incident where the opposite team had angered her by insulting Viole. Being one of the unfortunate people who witnessed the event first-hand, he knew that the current pressure was considerably much less than what she displayed during the battle and there wasn’t any bloodlust. That didn’t mean that it wasn’t threatening either, it was evident from Yihwa and Arkraptor’s tense posture at the moment.

It was a wrong move from Yihwa’s part. Simply because the typical Evolet was gentle and caring of them, it didn’t mean they were exempted from her wrath if they incur it. Evolet was the last person Yihwa wanted to catch wind of her conversation, because she was the one in charge of Yihwa’s flame training which was slowly getting better under her guidance. She could potentially lose the only clue to her flame control if Evolet chose to kick her out of the team.

“Please think over what you’ve done today. I expect no repeat of this incident and a change of attitude. Keep this in your mind, Yeon-san. All of us are climbing the Tower for something and undoubtedly hurt some people along the way. Don’t act as if you are a saint alone in the team members. We all have our reasons for climbing, and that applies for Viole too. You don’t know a thing about his suffering.”

The Shinsu condensation went down drastically as Evolet stood up and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Yihwa and Arkraptor alone. To Yihwa’s immense relief, Evolet didn’t mention anything about expulsion from the team or stopping her training, The two occupants of the kitchen gradually relaxed, the tension in their body melting away with time. Yihwa was still considerably shaken up, breathing irregularly as she attempted to calm her nerves. She should tone herself down for a while, just to be safe.

Meanwhile, Jinsung had wasted no time to head upstairs. Just as Goseng informed, Bam was indeed at the roof staring dazedly at the sky. A gust of wind blew their way, momentarily uncovering the golden orbs hidden behind locks of hair. Who knows what he might be thinking of while gazing at the blue horizon like that. Bam turned around at the call of his name, those brilliant eyes covered once more.

“Your new teammates seem fun, congratulations. I’ll talk to Mirchea. There might be some complaints, but they won’t be able to do anything much with Eve around. It might sound weird, but I’ve wished for you to be happy since the first time I met you six years ago. I don’t know what you think of me saying that… considering I’m the one forcing you to live a life that you don’t want. But be happy, as Viole.”

Bam couldn’t say anything to that, opting to stay silent for a while until the door opened signalling Evolet's presence. Almost immediately, Bam perked up at her arrival and already rushed towards her to hug her. Evolet automatically welcomed the hug with open arms, fully expecting it since it's become their habit of some sort where Bam would always hug her upon return even though she wasn't gone for long and vice versa. Inhaling the sweet intoxicating scent of lavender, Bam could feel himself relax as he sagged his body and let Evolet support his weight. Jinsung sighed fondly at the sight, all the while shaking his head slightly out of exasperation.


The deafening silence enveloped the proximity of the house, the fake Shinsu night sky providing its comfort is darkness. Evolet's footsteps resounded clearly as she went up the stairs and opened the roof door. Jinsung was leaning on the railings, huffing out some smoke from his cigarette. Instinctively, Evolet scrunched up her nose at that until Jinsung sheepishly put out his smoke.

"Viole is already asleep?"

"Yeah, he looked a little… happier after that talk with Wangnan-san and Yeon-san earlier."

"... You picked a good team for him, didn't you?" Jinsung seemed to be grateful about it.

But Evolet could only shake her head on that. "I didn't do anything. It was already set in stone from the very start. I simply went along with it."

"You're doing a great job protecting him. They're getting annoyed with all of your interferences stacking up against them."

Jinsung gave a fond smile, ruffling her hair affectionately. The Anima could only smile softly, rather amused by his words as she nodded appreciatively.

"Still, they're making trouble for you aren't they? You'll be in danger if they decided to take the big guns out."

Evolet's smile turned into a frown at his spot-on perception. She was also aware of it. While none of the Slayers have made a move against her at this moment, the Elders have slowly started testing the waters. She won't do anything… yet. But the moment they dare to make a move against Bam…

Jinsung chuckled shakily at the toe curling smirk Evolet was showing, no doubt already devising a few plans to "mess" with the Elders if they crossed the line. At the very least he didn't need to worry too much at the moment. He has no doubt that it will spell trouble for Evolet if the Elders decided to just throw everything down the drain and use that as a leverage, but he's rather more terrified for the Elders currently if that Cheshire grin was anything to go by.

"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned… was it?"

"Did you say something, Jinsung-san?"

"... No, not a thing."

Chapter Text

Usually Evolet would've enjoyed a trip to the open sea. But not when it was supposed to be a normal floor test they should've passed with ease. The Test Administrator was leading them around as if they had no clue of what's about to take place. Evolet's gaze travelled to the others who seemed to be enjoying the occasion without a care in the world including Bam. Well, maybe it's fine to let them indulge every once in a while. She still exhaled a sigh, knowing that if the test they were about to take was the same exact one she had in mind… Yihwa is not going to like the outcome of it. Though then again it was something she should discover sooner or later, what use would it be to delay the inevitable?

There was still an underlying unease in her heart for some reason. She could feel the Shinsu strings tighten and loosen uncontrollably before some of them knotted themselves. A storm was brewing and she was sure she wouldn't like it. As if on cue, the ship started shaking as a presence of a Shinheuh surfaced. The test was to go into the Shinheuh called Zygaena and retrieve the Zygaena’s jewel that grows on the Zygaena flower. Too many Zygaenas, people need to be more creative with names.

Every 30 minutes the Zygaena would flip around, and they had a two and a half hours time limit before the Zygaena submerged. With that in mind, they split into two groups and each would go into a Zygaena blowhole. Wangnan, Arkraptor, Goseng, and Miseng had gone up first to enter from the back blowhole. The other team consisted of Bam, Evolet, Yihwa, Horyang, and Prince to enter from the belly blowhole after the Zygaena flips in a moment.

She should've known they weren't off to a good start since the beginning. The current situation on Evolet's side was a non-functional motor boat when the Zygaena was about to flip soon. Pushing Prince aside, Yihwa tried to fix the motor but lost control of her emotions and set the motor on fire. They could only watch speechless as it exploded and the fire burnt the motor to a black crisp within a few seconds. Almost robotically, Yihwa turned to the others with an embarrassed smile.

"Now that it's a black motor, it'll be twice as fast."

"Is this a Go-kart?!" Prince cried out in panic.

"ARGH!! You're an arsonist!!"

"Hey… calm down please…?"

"It's not only food that you burn!"

"W-why would you talk about food now!!!"

"Darn!!! He's going to flip!"

"Run! Run, black motor!"

"Stop obsessing over the black motor!!!"

The shouting match was a mess in the evident panic. Yihwa was still banging the motor desperately as the water around them started lurching. It was already too late when the Zygaena rumbled and turned itself around with a splash that sent crashing waves towards the team. The whole boat was flipped and they were submerged in water within seconds.

Water pushed down from all sides as Evolet stilled for a moment from the sudden shock of being submerged. It was a feeling similar to dense Shinsu, but slightly different as she moved sluggishly through the pressure. The sudden surge of coldness that enveloped her made Evolet snap open her eyes. She held her breath, eyes trailing around until she found Bam and the others.

Not wasting a moment more, Evolet pushed the Shinsu around her and formed it into a bubble as how Yunuen taught her on the 9th floor. With nimble fingers, she manipulated the Shinsu strings expertly in order to move the bubble towards the others and pulled them in. She raised an eyebrow at Yihwa's absence from the ones she pulled in, before she caught the sight of Yihwa swimming further away from them. Exhaling an exasperated sigh, she opted to pull them to the surface instead since Yihwa seemed fine on her own.

Since they were on a time limit, Bam remained on his own to wait for Yihwa to resurface. Evolet had frowned at that, clearly reluctant at the idea of leaving Bam alone. She wanted to stay with Bam, but sure enough Horyang wouldn't take any of it as he dragged her in the blowhole. She walked all the while pouting lightly, the foreboding feeling in her chest getting worse as time passed. The Shinsu strings around her were also restless, spinning around and tangling itself from frantic movements. Prince’s purple Lighthouses lit up the darkness as they explored the insides of the Zygaena.

Prince suggested to stop for a while to search their surroundings, which both Evolet and Horyang swiftly agreed on. Just as Evolet scouting the proximity, she stopped still on her tracks as he gaze snapped to Prince whose Lighthouse was blinking and warning of an incoming attack. As he looked upwards, a Zygaena parasite fell from the ceiling and headed towards him. Horyang quickly took action, directing Prince to support him with his Lighthouses as he delivered a fatal blow to the large sized parasite.

Evolet hadn’t moved a single step during that time, blue-violet eyes sharpening as she focused on distance far from the parasite. She was sure that was the cause of her unease. There was a man not far from them, emitting an extremely strong Shinsu flow that usual Rankers wouldn’t even stand a chance against him. The strength of someone on the upper ranks in the Tower.

Evolet unconsciously gulped, posture relaxing but firm as she prepared for the possibility of a fight with the man who was sitting on top of the dead parasites’ carcasses. Horyang glanced at her, seeing how she was tense as she now stepped towards them. Her folding fans were out in the open as she gripped it firmly and four Baangs floating around her. The pristine white fans turned black steel as she channeled Shinsu into them.

“Run, both of you. Search for Viole and don’t let him come over. I’ll see what I can do to stall him here.”

Both males were obviously hesitant to do so, knowing that in front of them was the team’s Defender who they’ve never seen fighting on the battlefield that much. But Horyang recognized the Shinsu flow of the man and how the Shinsu around Evolet were responding in kind as it condensed around her. He was suddenly reminded of how she scored the second highest after Viole in the Strongest Regular Test.

It might be true that she has the upper hand compared to the both of them combined with her shields, he’ll just have to trust her and search for Viole. After all, he doubted they would be of any help against the man and would only weigh Evolet down if she had to protect them too. So Horyang grabbed Prince, uncaring of his protests as he started stepping backwards.

In that instant, the man had lifted his hand and sent barrages of Shinsu blasts to them. The Baangs around Evolet swiftly morphed into a barrier, somehow managing to withstand the Shinsu blasts around them and protecting the trio safely. The Shinsu blasts burst upon impact and emitted smoke, hindering their field vision. In the distance, the man seemed to be taken aback for a moment before his lips quirked up into a small grin. In the midst of the smoke around them, Evolet once again shouted at the duo to run immediately which they did without hesitation this time.

Almost with a grin, the man launched another strike towards the running Horyang and Prince. Evolet clicked her tongue, throwing herself in the firing line as she summoned a shield and stood her ground against the attack while the two continued their retreat. The man didn’t attack after that, letting the two males escape successfully. Evolet lowered her Shinsu shield cautiously, still on her guard in case of another attack.

“I’d appreciate it if you don’t attack my teammates without any apparent reason… Especially when you’re a Ranker and we’re just Regulars.”

That considerably surprised the man. He hadn’t expected them to be Regulars. His eyes narrowed the slightest bit at Evolet, a little suspicious at her claim. “Ah, my apologies, Lady. I clearly thought you were a Ranker. The Rankers kept interrupting me when I only came to get a flower of Zygaena. They were annoying, so I killed them all and I’ve done the same to all the incoming Rankers. I found the flower, but it’s not time for me to leave yet. So, I was killing time with all those Rankers. They sent you in here because all the Rankers who came in have died. The exam is just an excuse for that. Has your group done anything bad to the supervisor, Lady?”

Evolet sighed at that, posture relaxing a little as she stood more upright. "Who knows… I certainly can think of a few reasons they want to fail us here. People tend to not be friendly with you when you're in a group with FUG's Slayer Nominee and his partner."

'A Slayer Nominee…?'

Red eyes gleamed in the unlit interior of the Zygaena as the owner peered her way. Since the man wasn't attacking anymore at the moment, Evolet stepped closer to take a better look at him. Inwardly, Evolet was already sighing ruefully because she recognized the features of the man. She already knew that Yunuen would be enraged at her for going against the rank 4th in the Tower. Well, most likely livid at both her and the Test Administrator for sending her in. At the very least that'll take one task off her list, she mused.

"Do those Rankers even know who they were up against? I doubt you'll be beaten even if they send in thousands of Rankers… Urek Mazino."

A grin was apparent on Urek's expression when his identity was found out by the girl in front of him. She didn't seem nervous anymore, rather exasperated would fit it. "If you know who I am then you should give up on the flower, Baby. Just forget all of this happened and quit the exam. I'd rather not hurt a cute little Lady after all."

Urek honestly thought that she would stop at his subtle threat. Blue-violet eyes closed themselves as Evolet exhaled a sigh in resignation and steeled her resolution. Unfortunately, she– both Bam and her weren't in the position to fail a floor test regardless of the situation. She was aware of the price Bam would pay if they failed the floor test.

When her eyes opened again, the Baangs around her shone brighter than before as their shape morphed into something more flexible and ready to shape a shield at any given time.

"Are you really going to fight like that? Without using whatever is inside of you?" Urek narrowed his eyes at her, sensing a strange force swirling in the small figure who was smirking lightly at him though it seemed rather strained.

"It's not as if I'm expecting to win or kill you. That's far off my capability as I am right now. Unfortunately… I can't leave without getting a Zygaena flower, nor can I let you leave here when you're a threat to the team's safety either. Usually I'd wait for my partner… but I'd rather not get him hurt. So I'll have to make due with how things are."

Urek raised an eyebrow at her words, particularly at the word "partner". He wondered if she was the Slayer Nominee's partner, since said Slayer Nominee was male while his partner was rumored to be female. "It's a pity… I prefer not to hurt a Lady but…"

Evolet stood still, observing his Shinsu flow and movements with laser focus. Urek was the first to make a move, simply flicking his wrist and sending a concentrated Shinsu burst her way. The Shinsu floating around her swiftly made a three layered shield, the barriers breaking upon impact. Clicking her tongue, she barely managed to redirect his aim with her folding fans. She kept calm as she watched the Shinsu glide smoothly on the surface of the fans before bouncing away and hitting the wall. Evolet laughed dryly at that, knowing a normal Regular would've died instantly. She understood that she couldn’t cut corners with this one, her Shinsu output needed to be maximized even more.

Urek had the audacity to whistle at her, a tad bit impressed with how she stood her ground as a Regular. He didn't waste another moment before launching a continuous Shinsu wave, stronger than before.

Evolet conjured up more layers, the last layer being the strongest. The shield didn't break but she started skidding due to the relentless Shinsu wave, before losing her foothold and flying to the walls. Gritting her teeth, she used the Shinsu strings to change her directions mid-air. She flipped herself with the grace of a cat, using the Zygaena's wall as a foothold before she strengthened her legs using Shinsu and propelled herself towards Urek.

She could feel the Shinheuhs protesting inside her, asking to be let out so they could aid her. She told them to quiet down instead, not wanting to make any pointless sacrifice. With practiced expertise, she conjured up a number of platforms around the area as footing so that she could maneuver easily. What she didn't expect was for Urek to suddenly charge towards her, fist at the ready. She didn't think twice before using one of the platforms to launch herself up, suspended in air momentarily as she channelled a fair amount of Shinsu into her folding fans. Locking her aim at Urek, Evolet started spinning to gain momentum before she flung herself downwards at high speed with her fans at the ready to strike.

Her fans soundly connected to Urek's arms, leaving a gash as Urek looked at her in surprise. She landed on her feet and made a big dent on the ground, a resounding crash that was heard quite a few distance. Before Urek could even deliver a solid attack to her, she was already being pulled backwards to the wall with the help of her Shinsu strings. That… was her fatal mistake.

Originally she had wanted to do so for the sake of gaining distance from Urek, thinking that if she abruptly pulled away with a sharp tug from the strings then she might have a chance to get away. Clearly that was an error from her part, knowing that Urek would've most likely reacted instantly chased her. All with a grin on his expression, he already had his fist at ready with Shinsu. Evolet was dead sure her Shinsu shield wouldn't be able to hold it back, especially when she was still in mid-motion with fast speed.

So the Shinsu swirled around her, lashing out on its own as she created the sturdiest shield she could at the moment while also generating restraints around Urek in an attempt to slow him down. As to be expected, the restraints didn't even hold for a mere second. The shields cracked and shattered in a single moment, forcing Evolet to gather as much Shinsu as she could and make a pinpoint strengthening on her body to lessen the damage.

She manipulated the Shinsu flow at the same time, trying to give a push to redirect Urek's hand's trajectory along with the help of her folding fans up till the last second. Trembling hands gripped the unbending folding fans, unaware of Urek's stunned expression. The clenched fist still connected soundly either way, Evolet wincing at the impact at her left side even though it’s mostly been diverted and it was far off from the original course.

Evolet let out a choked whine as her small body was thrown back farther from the impact, eyes closed shut from the intense pain. She had expected to crash into a wall, only to stand up again in a few moments after clearing the fuzziness she was feeling. Instead of the wall, there was something– someone who caught her. Steady arms wrapped around Evolet’s figure, bringing her into their gentle hold. She could faintly hear someone calling her name repeatedly alongside the insistent ringing in her head.

Lidded blue-violet eyes struggled to open, coming into sight with distressed golden orbs. In her dazed state, Evolet wondered if she was too disoriented to not even notice Bam’s presence earlier. His words didn’t register properly in her mind, but she could see the blaring anger in his eyes. She could hear her ragged breathing loud and clear but everything else was hazy. Did she mess up earlier? She could've sworn she redirected that hit so that it wouldn't be fatal.

The air burned in her lungs and breathing simply hurts. There was a faint rustling as she felt Bam settle her down against the wall before he went to Urek with rage rolling off of him. She knew it was to be expected from the 4th strongest man in the Tower, though she did think she could last for a while since the man wasn't even using a smidgen of his power.

She kept her gaze on Bam as her consciousness started fading away. Sometimes she wished she was stronger than this. So that she would be able to stand by Bam's side as an equal while staying as she was right now, as Eve. A part of her mind insisted that she would never be able to do that no matter what she did, a wistful wish that'll never come true. All she remembered before passing out was the comforting black and Bam's Shinsu flaring up.

Chapter Text

Sweet and Sour: (thinking what if Eve and Viole are actually dating but kept it a secret to mess with them)
Eve: ... Whatever you're thinking, N O

Sweet and Sour: Are you sure... The two of you aren't dating...?
Eve: (wearing Viole's oversized sweater, Viole still hugging her wherever she goes)
Viole: (gives Eve a quick peck on her lips)
Eve: Of course we're not. What makes you think that?
Sweet and Sour: uhuh...

Yunuen: One... Two... Three... Four... (Counting the Sweet and Sour male members, excluding Viole)
Eve: What are you doing, Yunuen-san?
Yunuen: Oh nothing... Just adding some unfortunate souls to my hit list

Eve: (eating a cinnamon roll)
Yunuen: (le gasp)
Yunuen: Cannibalism!!!
Eve: (confused chewing noises)
Yunuen: Seconds?
Eve: (muffled) yesh please
Yunuen: I can die happy now

Random guy: Would you go on a date with me?
Eve: Today is (insert today's date)
Random guy: ._. nonono, I meant–

Random guy: Did it hurt?
Eve: ?
Random guy: When you fell from heaven
Eve: I... Am not satan...?

Someone: (takes 2 pieces of bread and slaps it onto Eve's cheeks)
Someone: What are you?
Eve: (sullen look with tears pooling at the corner of her eyes)
Eve: I'm an idiot sandwich that doesn't deserve to live...
Viole, Khun, Jinsung, Yunuen: Who do I need to kill???????

Eve: (・・)
Random guy: I can't believe we're stuck in this room toge–
Khun: (picks the lock, throw the man out, lock the door, swallow the key)
Eve: (^^;)
Khun: I can't believe we're stuck in this room together (ʃƪ¬‿¬)

Eve: (brings a box with a kitten in it, looking at Khun with quivering lips and puppy eyes)
Khun: ...just once

Eve: Appreciate the little things in life
Khun: (hugs her)
Eve: I'm not that small...
Khun: (whispering) yes, you are~

Eve: (fell asleep on the couch)
Khun: (sighs as he tries to wake her up)
Eve: (pulls Khun down and cuddle with him without even knowing it)
Khun: (red as a tomato and freezes)
Yihwa: Ah... Yeah, she does that all the time

Endorsi and Yuri: Oh Eve~ Come out, come out wherever you are~!
Eve: (running for her life while repeatedly saying "NONONONONONONO" in her heart)

Jinsung: Eve why don't you just marry Viole?
Eve: ... What's marry?
Jinsung: Well, marriage is–
Yunuen: (kicking Jinsung away brutally while screeching and covering Eve's ears)
Eve: (? ω ?)

Eve: Viole and I–
Jinsung: (hands her a wedding dress)
Jinsung: The venue is right over there, we'll start the wedding as soon as you're done
Eve: ...are going to go grocery shopping... Do you have anything you need?
Jinsung: ... Cigarettes please

Eve: Viole and I–
Yihwa: Are getting married?
Eve: How did you–
Wangnan: (takes out a stack of binders) Sit down, we already planned the whole thing

Yihwa: Have you ever looked at two people and wonder why they haven't married each other yet?
Wangnan: Every damn day
Viole and Eve: Why are you looking at us like that?

Yihwa: Eve, what do bees make?
Eve: Honey?
Viole: Yes love?
Eve and Yihwa: ...

Wangnan: Truth or dare
Eve: Truth
Khun: How many hours have you slept?
Eve: –dare
Viole: I dare you to sleep–
Eve: I don't like this–
Viole: –with me
Everyone: (choke on air)
Eve: We already do that every night though?

Eve: I like your hoodie
Viole: Thanks, they were 50% off
Eve: I'd like them 100% off (looking at Viole expectantly)
Viole: (sighs as he takes out another hoodie and give it to Eve)
Viole: There goes another one of my hoodies...
Wangnan: ... What did I just witness?
Viole: Just a hoodie robbery as usual
Wangnan: (mumbles) She might as well just steal your last name now...

Eve: How do you like you coffee?
Viole: As dark and bitter as my soul
Eve: (gives a glass of milk while smiling fondly)
Eve: Would you like some honey to go along with it?
Viole: ...yes please

Bam: How's the world's most BEAUTIFUL person is doing today?
Eve: (smiles teasingly) I don't know, how are you doing today Bam?
Bam: (blushes as he hugs Eve while trying to hide in her shoulder)

Bam: The doctor told me all my bleeding was internal. That's where the blood's supposed to be
Eve: And I'm telling you if you're not going to rest properly on the bed like you're supposed to then no cuddling for the rest of the year
Bam: ... Yes ma'am

Flirting With Bam
Bam: I can fit the whole world in my hands!
Eve: (smiles softly and kisses his cheek) If it's Bam then I believe in you
Bam: (blushing as he splutters incoherently)
Flirting attempt #1 failed

Flirting With Bam Re-take!
Bam: I can fit the whole world in my hands!
Eve: That's physically impossible–
Bam: (cups Eve's face, smiling like a fool in love) Are you sure?
Eve: (starts crying while trying to wipe her tears uncontrollably) L-liar!
Bam: (trying to calm her down, doesn't know she called him a liar because she knows there was still R(o)achel in the world)
Flirting attempt #2... Failed

Flirting With Khun
Khun: I bet I can fit the whole world in my hands
Eve: That's physically impossible though, Khun-san...?
Khun: (cups Eve's face, a dangerous smirk on his face, leaning close) Are you sure~?
Eve: (blushes as her knees go weak and hugs Khun while saying he's unfair)
Khun: (laughs teasingly)

Version #1
Viole: If I run and leap at Eve, she will most certainly catch me in her arms–
Eve: (already sweeping him into a bridal carry) You don't even need to run at me and I'll catch you anytime
Yihwa: Can somebody get them a room?

Version #2
Bam: If I run and leap at Eve, she will most certainly catch me in her arms
Bam: Comin' in!!!
Eve: Wha– wait, Bam! I'm holding a cake–
Eve: (catches him anyway while sighing)
Bam: ... The cake is floating
Eve: Well I wasn't about to let either of you fall

Take #1
Eve: Kiss me if I'm wrong but–
Viole: You're wrong
Eve: But–
Viole: (leaning closer) You. Are. Wrong.
Eve: (incoherent embarrassed mumbles)

Take #2
Eve: Kiss me if I'm–
Khun: (doesn't even wait to kiss her)
Eve: (mumbling while hiding in his chest) that's not how it goes Khun-san...
Khun: Hm~ I make my own rules

Chapter Text

To say Bam was angry was an understatement, though you could certainly say he was livid. Rage was rolling off of him in waves, directed at the man who had dared to hurt Evolet. With just one look, Bam understood that the man was stronger than him by leaps and bounds. But he also knew why Evolet had stood up against the man, they had something on the line and they couldn’t afford to lose.

He was irked that Evolet had told Horyang and Arkraptor to not let him come, his gaze trailing over to Evolet who still had difficulties breathing and pain apparent on her pale complexion. If only he didn't leave her alone, if only he didn't let her go with the others and instead made her wait for Yihwa with him. She was a Defender in his book, someone who wasn't meant to fight but to protect. He was supposed to be the one fighting, not her. She wasn't supposed to get hurt. His fists clenched as the Shinsu heeded his command with gritted teeth. Anger clouded his mind but he couldn't find it in him to care.

Urek stared at him with interest. Raising an eyebrow at the long locks that covered the brunette's face, though he could feel the animosity behind those bangs. His eyes wandered to the girl he defeated earlier, connecting the dots in his mind.

"Are you really going to challenge me? Despite how your partner just lost to me, Slayer Nominee? If you won't give up then you'll die."

"I have things that I fear more than death." Bam answered, moving his hand lightly as he gathered the Shinsu around him.

Urek narrowed his eyes, sending a small gust of wind to sweep Bam's bangs so that he could see his eyes. With one look, he could see that the boy was trying his best to keep himself composed. "Your hair is unkempt, but aside from the burning rage, your eyes are alright. Fine, I'll play with you, little boy. Let's begin the second round."


The baby Zygaena wriggled in Urek's hold, trying to escape to no avail. Urek stared at the unexpected gift, contemplating the oddity of the turn of events though it was certainly a good thing. Turning to the Regulars who were frozen from fear, he motioned to the other Zygaena flower. “Hey, babes. Take this flower.”

Ignoring the flabbergasted shout of ‘what’ and the stammers of ‘why’, Urek continued to speak. “Now that this little one’s been born, I don’t need that flower anymore. I’ll just give it to you. Take it. And tell them when they wake up, it’s a reward for their hard work and courage. That is, the courage to challenge and protect their teammates while facing the strongest man.”

They could only stare dumbfoundedly at the man who was walking away with the baby Zygaena in tow. Almost hesitantly, Wangnan asked his team, “What the heck is he all about…?”

It was Horyang who realized the identity of said man, telling his team to read the name on his back. They all knew that name tattooed on his back, trembling in fear and relief as the realization kicked in. It’s been quite a storm for them, but they didn’t quite have the leisure to relax just yet since two of their members were injured heavily.

Bam opened his eyes in a dazed state, the shouts of his teammates muddled in his ears. He couldn’t completely process what happened, though he understood that they all survived. Despite the haziness, his gaze wandered around in search of Evolet. His back burned from the sheer pain, but he pushed himself up while ignoring the panicked shouts and his throbbing back when he couldn’t find Evolet. Still gasping for air and vision clouded by his own blood, Bam mouthed out Evolet’s name. Yihwa quickly caught on to the cause of his stubbornness, calling out Arkraptor to bring Evolet over to Bam.

He could feel his consciousness swaying, breathing a relieved sigh as Arkraptor carried Evolet’s unconscious body over to him and gently knelt down so Bam could see her. Evolet’s breathing was ragged just like his, burrows creased in pain as a sheen of cold sweat covered her pale complexion. Despite her condition, her presence still provided him a sense of comfort as his mind finally relented its hold on his lingering wake.

That was all he needed, his hand reaching out towards her. It was something almost like magic, he thought in his deliriousness. How Evolet's presence never failed to make him feel as if everything will always be fine as a sense of warmth flooded his entire being. Despite how he was badly injured, he still let out a small smile when her hand was in his. His surroundings faded to black, but he promised to himself that he would never let go of her hand.


Evolet woke up in the deafening silence of night, striking blue-violet eyes fluttering open as she noticed the additional weight beside her that radiated comfort. Tilting her head, she was greeted by the sight of a fast asleep Bam who was holding her tight and she took note of how she was buried in his chest with his head on top of her.

She frowned as she saw the bandages peeking out from his shirt, his face contorted in slight discomfort. She turned in his embrace, trying to sit up and get her arm out of his hold. There was a sharp jab at her left side, a heaviness while she breathed that made her want to gasp sharply along with a lingering lightness threatening to make her pass out again. She pushed through all of it, instead focusing on sitting up as she took short breaths.

Somewhat succeeding in her action, she carefully put her hand on Bam’s back. She let a fair amount of Shinsu cover her hand as she rubbed circles on Bam’s back while channeling some of her own Shinsu into him. The effect was instantaneous as Bam slightly loosened his hold on her and took on a peaceful expression, the pain melting away. Although she nodded in approval at herself, Evolet didn’t stop her actions and instead kept repeating it to lessen as much burden as possible.

"He latched on to you and wouldn’t let go even when he was unconscious. None of us could pry him off no matter what we did."

Turning to the new voice, she found Jinsung was huffing out smoke from his cigarette as he sat not far from them. Evolet stared at him with creased burrows, reprimanding him to put out the cigarette which he complied to with a sigh. Her gaze trailed again to Bam, lips curling up into a smile as she patted his head and watched how he snuggled to her in response.

“You shouldn’t use your Shinsu too much just yet. The doctor said you need at least 6 weeks to recover fully. Three broken ribs, you shouldn’t even be sitting up right now.”

Evolet let out a soft scoff at that, a pained knowing smirk etched on her expression. “That’s by normal people’s standards isn’t it? This kind of pain… it doesn’t even compare to a tenth of what they’ve put me through.”

She could feel that Jinsung was staring at her with a slightly troubled look, most likely not knowing what to say to her. Her hand hadn't stopped moving as she kept running her hand through Bam’s long hair, but she had a contemplating look on.

"Where's Yunuen-san…?"

Evolet would've thought that he would already be here by the time she woke up, knowing how worried he would be. He might be on his merry way to "take care" of the Test Administrators that suggested the change of test, but that would usually only take about a day or so and yet he still wasn't here. Jinsung was avoiding her gaze for some reason, eyebrows twitching as he rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly.

"Well… I did try to stop him…"

Meanwhile, a certain bluenette was roaming around the Tower with a maniacal smile and a target in mind. The Test Administrators that had messed things up were already dealt with, now all he had to do was to chase after the other perpetrator who dared to harm his charge. Ranked 4th in the Tower or no, he won't escape from Yunuen's wrath.

In another place, Urek shivered violently as a chill went down his spine. He looked around suspiciously, swearing that he heard a crazed laugh from an unknown origin. Yuje raised an eyebrow questioningly, wondering what had gotten into their resident simp.

Now, back to the conversation with Jinsung and Evolet. The previous fight was replaying in her mind, a certain question plaguing her mind as guilt crashed down on her. She did a terrible job as the team's Defender if she had let Bam get hurt. Knowing that she could've done better, Evolet found herself asking Jinsung a certain question.

"Jinsung-san… Do you think I'm selfish?"

He was slightly taken aback by the sudden question, raising an eyebrow slightly as he waited for her to continue. Her fingertips gently untangled some knots she found in Bam’s hair, taking on a guilty expression as he shifted uncomfortably in his sleep. She poured more of her Shinsu to Bam, lips pursed as he grabbed around for her hand in his sleep before sighing contentedly once it was in his hold.

"I could've protected him if I used that. But I didn't.”

“Don’t worry about it too much. You’ll get stronger as you continue to climb. You’re staying by his side as Eve, aren’t you?”

Almost reluctantly, Evolet’s hand pulled away from Bam’s hair. She had a bitter smile on her face, locking her gaze on Bam with a painful look in her eyes. “Will that even matter once he meets her again?”

Jinsung strided over to her with a sigh, ruffling Evolet's light lavender hair and told her to take more rest. She went silent, unresponsive to his actions which he responded by messing up her hair more before going out of the room. She let out a sigh, somewhat relieved that they somehow passed the test after the unforeseen incident but a lingering thought in her mind that she needed to get stronger still if she wanted to protect Bam.

Beside her, Bam was shifting, nuzzling deeper into her hand which she could only sigh ruefully at. The thoughts still lingered in her mind, wondering what would’ve happened if she met Bam first instead of Rachel. Even now the anxiety and doubt were still gnawing at her. What would happen once they met Rachel again? Evolet felt as if she was being spoiled, being able to stay by Bam’s side like this and spend time with him. She didn't feel like she deserved this. It felt like the calm before the storm, and she was terrified of what the storm would be.

She still vividly remembered her first meeting with Bam. Falling down that hole and tumbling down a mountain of stones, which admittedly hurt. When she opened her eyes, she was greeted by shades of the most vibrant gold that had innocence written all over it. Pure golden eyes that didn’t know of what she was, completely clueless and unjudging. He held no harm, nor malice or greed. And for the first time in her life, Evolet felt utterly captivated by the sheer naivety he had.

At the time Bam continued to stare at her, not speaking a word for quite long that it had her worried. She wondered if she had injured the boy somehow during her fall, and kept asking him if he was hurt. When he didn’t respond, Evolet went into full-blown panic mode as she checked him for any wounds. She breathed a sigh of relief when she found there were no signs of injuries on him. This time, she crouched down as she stared directly into his golden eyes with a sense of gentleness as she inquired his name. He answered with a soft voice, a tone of kindness and uncertainty. Evolet wasn’t lying when she thought it was the most calming voice in the world for a moment.

That was the happiest she’s been for… quite a long time now, if she was even happy before. She cherished Bam for all he was, growing more fond of him as she spent more time alongside. But she was painstakingly aware of Rachel, and she understood well she would never be able to take her place. Nor does she want to, especially if her presence was important to Bam. As much as she enjoyed his company, she was steadily growing scared.

Her thoughts haunted her, imagining what kind of reaction Bam would show if he realized her true identity. She was desperate to hide it, because he knew her as Eve and she didn’t want his view on herself to change. Just as Rachel was his first star, Bam was Evolet’s first light. Although unlike Bam, Evolet was well conscious of the fact that Bam would leave her to chase Rachel. She was afraid of it, of being left alone and broken again. Yet she chose to foolishly stay by his side, hoping for something impossible while fully understanding the risk that she might be broken worse than before and unable to pick her pieces up again.

She froze up as she felt Bam tossing around in his sleep, his hands grabbing around everywhere to search for the warmth he was used to. Somewhat glad he didn’t notice her overthinking, Evolet playfully placed her a hand near him. She watched amusingly as Bam’s hands ended up in hers, letting out a small wheeze as he abruptly pulled her down and hugged her like a teddy bear. She sweatdropped at his action, but curled up to him nonetheless. She could feel herself being lulled to sleep by Bam’s steady heartbeat, letting out an inaudible whisper that went unheard to anyone other than her.

Please… don’t leave me...


Bam woke up the next day to a pleasant surprise of Evolet wide awake and running her hand through his fluffy hair. Despite the slight daze and a subtle sting on his back, he blushed beet red first thing in the morning at Evolet’s soft smile. She only laughed gingerly at his reaction and greeted him softly. Seeing how he was still flushed red and stuttering, Evolet tried to lift herself up into a sitting position while completely forgetting that Bam's hands were still looped around her waist. His eyebrows creased at the attempt, quickly pulling her back down to the bed which softly knocked the wind out of her.

"Bam… I'm fine so can you let me up?"

Even with molten golden eyes covered by his bangs, Evolet could tell he was frowning at her. "No. I know you’re hurt."

"I… heal faster than people…?" Evolet attempted to reason weakly.

Bam’s eyes darkened as he recalled the memory, seeing Evolet hurt. He barely caught her as she almost crashed into the wall. Even then she was already delirious and wasn’t even breathing properly. What would’ve happened if he didn’t arrive in time, if he didn’t catch her? An unsettling feeling stirred in the back of his mind at the possibility of losing Evolet. She didn’t show any particular reaction to that, because she knew while he didn’t. And he didn’t need to, not until she couldn’t hide it anymore. She smiled softly at him instead, caressing his cheek tenderly. “It’s fine isn’t it? You caught me properly, I’m still alive and doing well”

It’s not fine. It’s not because you’re hurt.

He desperately wanted to say it out loud, that it wasn’t fine because she still got hurt but she’s brushing it off as if nothing happened at all. It frustrated him to no ends, he wanted to groan exasperatedly but couldn’t find it in him to do so. To put it mildly, Bam disliked this side of Evolet that acted nonchalantly about her life as if it wasn’t important. Just like whenever she would throw herself in the firing line, what if something unexpected happened like her Shinsu reservoir was running low and she couldn’t generate a shield? Bam thought that she was too reckless for her own good, even though he wasn’t exactly in the place to say it either.

You’re not allowed to do that again, Eve. You have to stay by my side, always.” His voice unexpectedly came out an octave lower than usual, taking on a husky tone close to a devilish whisper as he held her hand that was still on his cheek. He propped himself up single-handedly, golden eyes blazing with a dark sheen from a mix of frustration and worry as he locked gaze with Evolet.

She only blinked confusedly at him, his action having no effect whatsoever on her even after a few moments. Seeing that, he plopped himself down on top of her sulkily. Careful to avoid her injured ribs as his arms snaked around her and he buried his head in the crook of her neck while grumbling. Bam wasn’t lying when he felt somewhat disappointed. He has absolutely no idea how to deal with this.

Puzzled as to why he was acting like that, Evolet could only pat his head softly as she tried to coax him to let go of her so that she could check on his injuries and treat him. Bam grumbled at that, hugging her tighter in response as he buried himself deeper in her shoulder. He had absolutely no intention of letting her go. Evolet stayed still, not quite knowing what to do especially with how his breath was tickling her neck. Their small moment was abruptly cut off when the door banged open, revealing Yihwa who seemed fired up for some reason.

She blinked confusedly for a moment, before she shouted for the others as the fact that both of them were awake registered in her mind. Their team members came rushing, Arkraptor and Horyang pulling Bam off of her while mumbling something about finally and proper treatment. Bam looked like a soaked puppy with his long locks all over the place and covering his face.

They carried him away from Evolet, as he grumbled with dark Shinsu surrounding him though he stayed still otherwise. The door closed shut as the boys were out of the room, and Evolet was left with the girls who were fussing over her recovery. Needless to say, her words didn’t get through them since before Jinsung left, he strictly reminded the team to not let her do anything reckless and focus on recovering for 6 weeks straight. She wasn’t amused to say the least.

Miseng remained by her side for the whole day because she was supposedly given the task of watching over Evolet so she wouldn't get out of bed while the others weren’t by her side. The injured girl laughed awkwardly at the claim, fully knowing that was what she had planned to do. Miseng had kindly stacked some pillows for her to lean against so she could sit, letting Miseng braid her luscious light lavender hair to pass the time.

"Eve…"

"Hm? What is it, Miseng-chan?"

The younger girl seemed to be blushing slightly, cheeks dusted in pink as she avoided Evolet's gaze. "What… does love feel like?"

Contrary to what Miseng originally expected, Evolet didn't stammer or blush like she had envisioned. Rather, she blinked confusedly and pursed her lips. "By love you mean romantic love?"

Miseng nodded her head shyly. Evolet's lips parted slightly, not quite knowing what she should say in this case. It wasn't a topic she was well-versed in. "I guess you could say it differs from person to person…? It's a mysterious thing to be honest. Let's see… if I were to say it in my words..."

Her lips took on a gentle smile as the look in Evolet's blue-violet orbs softened. Miseng knew it was by far, the most serene expression she's ever seen on Evolet. The Anima held out her hands, translucent lavender colored Shinsu swirling around placidly under her command. It took on various shapes as she continued to explain, shining softly as it morphed from shape to shape according to her will. Almost as if a story was unfolding in front of her, Miseng found herself utterly captivated and unable to look away. The gentle Shinsu flow floating around Evolet’s hand as if expressing something akin to adoration for her, someone beloved by the Shinsu.

Then maybe it's how you look at someone as if they're your whole world.

Someone who feels like home, who you always look forward to returning to.

Maybe they'll make you feel like there are butterflies in your stomach fluttering about.

But then there's a whole rollercoaster of emotion that you discover with them in a bumpy ride along the way. 

Someone who you always miss and never can get enough of, even when they've always been by your side.

You keep thinking about them and can't stand the thought of them getting hurt at all.

Someone who can make you smile without effort on the worst of days.

Or perhaps someone who unknowingly brings a smile to your face at the littlest thing they do like chatting you.

Daydreams of how a future with them would look like and… 

That one single moment when you look at them, and it finally clicks with you.

That they're the one for you .


The Shinsu swirled around Miseng, booping her on the nose as she giggled before it went back around Evolet's arms. And just like that, the Shinsu in Evolet's hands disperses into thin air as if it was never there. Miseng's breath hitched, the look on her face clearly claiming that she was completely in awe. There was still a loving smile on Evolet's expression, blue-violet eyes holding the most tender of looks as if the perfect picture of serenity.

Just in time, Miseng's small hands finally finished decorating Evolet's braid with the geranium flowers Goseng had bought earlier. Her hands scrambled to take a picture of the figurative tranquility. It was only afterwards that Evolet realized what Miseng did, though she didn't say anything about it and opted to pat the younger girl's head gently instead as she thanked her for braiding her hair.

"But even if I say that, it's only my definition. Each person has their own meaning of love, so it's better for you to discover it on your own when you get older."

Miseng nodded cheerfully at her advice. She gripped her phone lightly, opening her mouth and about to ask if Evolet had anyone she was in love with. She didn't get a chance to do so when Evolet looked at her with curiosity and inquired, "Why did you ask about it though? And to me nonetheless… wouldn't Goseng-san be a better choice?"

She had asked her completely on impulse, but there was indeed a trigger to the question. The younger girl grinned, opening a certain application in her phone and showing it to Evolet. She took the phone gingerly, wondering what this whole "Emily" was all about. She could see Miseng's last conversation in the app where she was asked about love. Evolet got the gist of how it works now, and she'd be lying if she wasn't intrigued. Almost conveniently, Miseng had another Emily Device laying around and was more than happy to give it to her before she got called by Goseng and left. Curious as to what it was, Evolet logged in under the name Crown and interacted with the so-called Emily. It was quite the perfect timing since she was curious about how he was doing.

'Hi Friend!'

'Hello, Emily.'


'Ask Emily if you have any questions!'

'Khun Aguero Agnis'


'He's scolding his teammate.'

Not expecting the answer, Evolet broke out in bouts of laughter. That truly sounded like something Khun would do. It brought another smile to her face.

'Can Emily ask Crown a question?'

'Sure, feel free to ask since you answered my question.'


'Who is Crown?'

Evolet stared at the screen with an unreadable look before her lips curled up into a mischievous smile as she responded to Emily.

'Hm… Good question. If I had to say then… Crown is someone who’s not supposed to exist.'


‘?’

The Cheshire grin remained on her expression when she saw the question mark. She turned the device off, not answering any further to Emily’s question. Instead, she put her Pocket on visible mode to dial a certain blond.

"Call– Coffee Addict."

The Pocket whirred for a while before it connected to the other recipient. Befitting to the name Evolet put in her Pocket, the first sound she could pick up was the sound of coffee brewing. She dismissed it with a knowing sigh, continuing on with her request.

"The new application, Emily. I need more information about it."

Even if he didn't answer, Evolet could already imagine the sly smirk adorning his expression. Though at the very least Evolet knew he'll do his job properly given their little business relationship. She could feel the Shinsu strings moving excitedly around her, reminding her of the shift that was about to happen. Blue-violet eyes took on a sharp gleam while staring at the Emily Device. Soon enough, a long awaited reunion will finally take place.


Bonus Scene (Another way it went in the Author's imagination):

You’re not allowed to do that again, Eve. You have to stay by my side, always.” His voice unexpectedly came out an octave lower than usual, taking on a husky tone close to a devilish whisper as he held her hand that was still on his cheek. He propped himself up single-handedly, golden eyes blazing with a dark sheen from a mix of frustration and worry as he locked gaze with Evolet.

It took a moment to register in her mind before she had a full on blush across her face, painting it in hues of pink and red that contrasted against her knee length light lavender hair that was splayed out on the bed. Her lips were slightly agape, trying to form words to no avail as she kept stammering. Bam could feel the corner of his lips curling up into a dangerous confident smile that sent pleasant shivers down her spine. Evolet blushed harder under him but otherwise showed no reaction to move away.

He let go of her hand, opting to lightly brush her plump pink lips that were enticing him with his thumb. His gaze was still trained on her lips, licking his own lips teasingly as he started lowering himself. He inched closer slowly, reducing the distance between them.

And the door banged open, startling the two occupants. It snapped Evolet out of whatever trance she was in as she hurriedly covered her face from embarrassment and looked away from Bam, attempting to make herself seem as small as possible while mumbling incoherently in a fast pace. He could only laugh softly at the sight of an embarrassed Evolet who covered her face yet her neck was also red, flushed from sheer embarrassment. The opened door revealed Yihwa who froze awkwardly once she saw the situation in the room and the position Bam and Eve were in.

"Ahaha… sorry for interrupting, I'll be going now, please feel free to continue your activities–" and she promptly shut the door close.

Evolet was still covering her face, unintelligible mumbles escaping from her lips. But Bam was rather staring at her exposed neck, her hair brushed aside when she turned abruptly in order to hide her blushing face. All the while thinking how it was cute that her blush didn't recede one bit, he leaned down to give an experimental lick to her neck. She shrieked in surprise, revealing a completely disoriented Evolet whose face was still flushed in hues of red. Bam didn't let her go as she tried to escape, pressing a gentle kiss to the back of her neck as she shivered in his hold.

"Shall we continue where we left off, hm~?" He asked teasingly, purposefully staring at Evolet's lips. His golden eyes shone with dark mischievous gleam. Evolet unknowingly gulped at the display.

"B-bam? We're still injured you know–"

Evolet tried to make up an excuse. It didn't have any effect on Bam who hummed lightly at her reasoning, gaze unmoving from its spot. There was no such thing as stopping him when he already made up his mind.

When Evolet showed up in the kitchen the next day, no one dared to comment on how she looked. Lips still slightly swollen and a blatantly obvious hickey that Bam deliberately put on her neck to show the others. She kept pouting all day long, not able to hide said hickey because Bam had cleverly confiscated all of her turtleneck sweaters and any article of clothing of hers that had a high collar. The male who caused it showed no remorse. Humming delightfully, a possessively pleasant feeling in his chest every time he saw his mark on her as she walked around the house and the agape mouths of their teammates from the sheer shock.

Chapter Text

'Hi, this is Emily.'

'Ask Emily if you have any doubts!!!'

Khun didn't know what he was doing, hoping for something from baseless rumors of the other Regulars. But his hands moved to enter the familiar name anyway.

'The 25th Bam'


'He's alive'

Cobalt blue eyes were fixed on the screen, wide open in disbelief at the unreliable information. He didn't waste a single second to ask again.

'Where?'


'I don't know.'

He considerably slumped down at that, expectations burnt to ashes at the response. By the end of it he was asking the question to a mere device that had no proven credibility after all. It was to be expected. But he found himself still curious, prodding around the topic for a little while.

'Who told you he's alive?


'Do you wonder?'

'Yes.'


'That'll cost one dollar!'

Khun could feel the veins in his forehead bulging annoyedly at the response. He was extremely tempted to drive a knife to the small device, but decided against it and put it on the table. He tapped the device repeatedly, pondering who would make such an idiotic joke. He was aware that Shibisu’s team wouldn’t do anything akin to that. That brought up the question of who knew about Bam other than them. His keen gaze was trained on the screen, seemingly contemplating about something as his fingers nimbly moved to type.

‘Evolet Euterpe’


System Database: E̶m̶p̶t̶y̶

❒︎❒︎□︎❒︎: Existence–

The screen started glitching, a flickering error as the colors in between kept switching and showing various codes before it ultimately shut down. Khun didn't seem to be surprised by it, eyes narrowing at the somewhat familiar incident. He had attempted to search up Evolet's information during his climb only to come up with blanks as his Lighthouse screen glitched, not a single data about the girl. As if it was either her data didn't exist or was kept under tight wraps.

An exhausted sigh escaped his lips as he slicked his hair back. Top that off with the Slayer Nominee Partner that Shibisu told him who sounded all too similar with the girl he met on the Floor of Tests, you have an extremely curious Khun Aguero Agnis who was questioning Evolet's true identity.

He remembers the girl vividly, the sweet relaxing scent of lavender and mesmerizing blue-violet eyes that stared into the very being of himself with a piercing curious gaze. There was no animosity that he was used to from others. Not even a single ounce of wariness towards him, simply an innocent gaze that was too trusting of him.

But as he stared deeper into those very same eyes, he saw himself reflected. The looks of someone who had been broken and pieced together. Yet at the same time he could see the overly familiar gaze of Maria in her. The eyes that screamed of innocence, care, and gentle love who was accepting of the world. His interest was already piqued when he first peered into her eyes that reflected both his and Maria's personality.

And then there was Bam who Evolet seemed to cherish deeply but was chasing Rachel instead. The boy who Princess Yuri lent her Black March to. Someone who didn't look like he could snag a rabbit yet somehow proved to be strong in his own way. Bam reminded him of the past, back when he was fully dedicated to making Maria a princess. The golden eyes that knew no doubt. He recognized that look in Evolet's eyes when he said Rachel was Bam's rules. The same expression he had when he was abandoned by Maria and exiled from his house.

There were many things that didn't add up with Evolet, he discovered along the way. Like she managed to be in the same testing area with Bam when they knew each other. Or how Bam was rather clueless of the Tower's basic information, yet Evolet was well-versed in it. He recalled that moment when she coaxed him to snap out of his overthinking in the middle of the test with a calming tone that soothed him.

She was observant, noticing the smallest details around her surroundings well and kept information in her mind which was something Khun appreciated deeply. Khun didn't know for sure what kind of connection she had with Hansung, but he doubted it was a pleasant one either. Nevertheless it didn't change the fact that she had a questionable network. Khun didn't know who else she had connections with.

He wasn’t fond of Hansung, and would rather avoid mingling with him. You would think two intelligent minds would get along nicely with each other. Despite their somewhat similar view on life, Khun despised him with a passion because Hansung antagonized him. Or rather, he simply loathes him because of how easy Hansung seems to see through his life. The sly blond had asked him if he wanted to protect those eyes that knew no doubt while motioning towards Bam.

It was a fair point that he made. While he didn't know for sure if he wanted to protect those eyes, he didn't want anyone else to go through the same pain that he did. Then his gaze had wandered to Evolet’s blue-violet orbs, eyeing the very same innocence that Bam had yet outlined with hurt and anguish that were carefully masked with a caring gaze that knew too much of everything. Yet it was exactly because she was aware that it pained her more.

He's seen how she treated and looked at Bam as if he was her whole world, cherishing him to no ends. It was quite obvious that she'll go to any lengths just to protect Bam, especially with such intense bloodlust she showed to Anaak when she threatened Bam. Evolet was powerful for a Regular in the Floor of Tests. With fast reflexes, she would put up those shields that couldn't be broken by normal Regulars and protect them from any incoming danger. All in all she was a capable support. And it made him curious about her background. After all, a strong Regular wouldn't just pop up out of nowhere do they?

Then Khun witnessed first-hand how she controlled the Shinsu density with ease, summoning a Shinheuh that took out their opponents in one sweep. Anima was a rare talent in the Tower, decided solely by their natural affinity and couldn't be trained. It sent shivers down his spine, excited of the possibilities that she could attain in the future. The perfect definition of an interesting and powerful ally to climb the Tower with, his mind supplied. But then he reminisced how he laid his head on her lap during that very same test. His pride was slightly injured when she showed a lack of reaction he was hoping for.

He hasn't forgotten the look of pure terror she displayed when Bam leapt off the throne to protect Rachel instead. The Shinsu lashed out of Bam in a vibrant golden color, as if he was Shinsu itself. It spoke of power, leaving a deep gash on the staff wielder's eyes who attacked them. Yet Evolet didn't hesitate the slightest bit before jumping into that light. He recognized how the Shinsu dwindled as she leapt in, gradually reducing itself and revealing Bam safe in her arms with both of them unconscious. He wondered why she had leapt into that Shinsu without thinking twice for her safety and how she did it.

While she was unconscious, he was the one who watched over her. Pondering over who she could be as she slept soundly and recovered soothly. He was fascinated by the both of them, his interests piqued even further as he came to know them better. When she woke up, he could see that Bam was still her priority from how she inquired about his condition with a worried look on her face. It didn’t escape his notice how she felt guilty and blamed herself for not being able to protect Bam properly. So he sighed, telling her to not mind it too much without even knowing why he did so.

She revealed the fact that she had sealed Bam’s Shinsu, even if temporarily. It interested him, not knowing that it was possible to seal someone’s Shinsu in actuality. Though there were a few requirements to be met for it to happen from what she had explained. The action seemed to take a toll on her, noting how the brilliant blue-violet orbs were glazed over and unfocused afterwards. He had to call her name a few times before she finally regained her focus.

He was simply prodding around the topic, somewhat interrogating her about said requirements for the seal. He asked her if Bam trusted him with her life from the conditions she put up. She had answered his query hesitantly. But then she suddenly drops it on him that she would trust her life with both Bam and him.

Khun had thought it was foolish originally. They haven’t known each other for long, yet she gave her trust to him so easily. He wasn’t someone to be trusted, and he was aware of that. After all, what kind of Regular would offer their trust to a Khun so blindly? They had their reputation for being cold-hearted schemers for a reason. He could feel his throat parching from her reply, not understanding how she could give such an answer to him. He found himself asking Why, for a reason behind her faith in him.

And she told him that he was kind, a gentle smile directed to him with dazed eyes. His breath hitched as he stared at her with pure disbelief. Kind was by no means a word he would associate with anyone from his family. Yet this girl sitting in front of him told otherwise without a second thought, just as Maria did to him.

She had stated it so confidently, as if it was the only obvious truth. He found himself conflicted from her reply, not sure how he should react to it as his mind insistently reminded him of the past with Maria. Evolet turned to him, eyes filled with childish wonder as she spoke about the Baang she just made. She was painfully and strikingly similar to Maria yet so different from her.

He didn't notice when his thoughts drifted off or how Evolet watched him with a worried gaze. She called him several times before he finally snapped out of it and… promptly blushed from Evolet's close proximity. At least she immediately pulled back when she saw that he was back to normal. The more he stuck by her side, the more curious he became. Just like now, he pondered when she had made a contract with the Administrator. There were still many things surrounding her that remained as a mystery to Khun and he wanted to figure it all out.

It was evident that Evolet didn't like Rachel to say the least. She didn't bother to listen to their conversation, looking rather agitated at the new arrival. He noticed how Rachel's eyes wandered to the Baang Evolet crafted earlier, marveling over the power it radiated. It was only after a glare from Evolet that Rachel finally backed off from the sphere, opting to ask for the chocolate bars by its side. The blonde was a greedy one, Khun presumed.

His mind was wondering why Evolet seemed to be unfriendly, perhaps more toward Rachel; but he allowed Rachel to take the chocolate bars nonetheless since it would be rude to refuse. When Rachel was about to exit the room, Evolet said; "I hope whatever is on top of the Tower is much more worthy than Bam." The blonde stiffened up at that, scurrying out of the room without a single word.

Evolet revealed to him that she hadn't wanted to climb the Tower, how she would have to leave Bam's side if she did. A promise that she had to fulfill no matter what. She said that it was enough to stay by Bam's side before, though something had changed. It only struck up more questions within himself. What promise was it that she couldn't afford to break, where was she going, who did she promise to, what had changed. The barrages of questions wouldn't stop but he pushed down the urge to ask her.

She told him that nothing would change even if she left. Because Bam would always put Rachel first and foremost. He inwardly didn't agree with her, thinking that it would have quite an impact on Bam from what he witnessed first-hand during the time they spent.

She asked him to keep it a secret from Bam, telling him that she didn't want to burden Bam with the information. Her feelings were told to him, how she was somewhat jealous of how Bam thought of Rachel and she wished that she had met Bam first. He just stared at her. He couldn’t grasp what's going through her mind and yet at the same time he understands, it's so confusing. When he inquired her feelings for Bam, she had frozen with a look of someone who's seen a ghost. Worry clouded his mind as she rushed out of the room, his questions left unanswered.

Khun realized how Evolet somehow knew of many things. A knowing smile or a mischievous grin as she spoke of what others wouldn't know until the moment it finally clicks. All of it was fascinating to him and he was slowly being pulled to her without being aware of it.

She was beautiful, he admitted to himself when he saw her dressed up by Endorsi. He could see she wasn't the type to enjoy shopping or dressing up excessively, going by how she avoided Endorsi like a plague whenever she tried to doll her up. And he silently thought it was somewhat adorable. He was still grateful Anaak had kneed Shibisu first instead of him.

Crafting a Lighthouse was no easy feat, yet she did it without any apparent difficulties to his surprise. He received the gift of a Lighthouse, white in color and much advanced than the basic ones Lero Ro gave out. A farewell gift, a promise to come back, a reminder of her and a method to track her should it come to it. She was amazing, capable, talented, and he wouldn't have it any other way. He attempted every possible method he could think of to find her, but it was as if she never existed in the first place because he couldn't find a single data about her. By the end of it, he still couldn't find a Shinsu string user no matter how hard he searched along his climb during those years.

Still, she was fully intent on leaving. A farewell with a kiss full of prayers on Bam's forehead as she saw him walk away unknowing of what's about to happen. Khun approached her, who was smiling so soft and waving Bam off. Her smile became resigned when he asked if she was going to leave Bam without a single word. He thought that expression didn't suit her, stepping up to give her a hug of comfort that he had no idea how to do.

Physical affection wasn't a concept he grew up with. Living in the Khun family meant he couldn't show any weaknesses lest he wanted to be found dead the next morning. There wasn't such a thing as a normal physical affection in their so-called family. Each gesture would have their hidden meaning. A pat on the shoulder was a reminder of responsibilities and the consequences if he failed to do so. Brief hugs that held no affection but instead a knife to his back.

Even how Maria caressed his cheek so "lovingly" meant that she was counting on him. He was still undeniably naive back then, swayed by a little show of fake affectionate gestures. But this was the first time he initiated anything of his own and he admitted it wasn't suffocating like it usually would be. There weren't any expectations or hidden meanings, only gratefulness from Evolet that had brought about a warmth in his chest that he couldn't comprehend.

He focused his gaze on afar, telling her that he would track her down if she didn't return. Because that's what he would've done if he was in Bam's shoes. Blue-violet orbs widened in surprise, but it morphed into a relieved laugh soon enough. It sounded soothing to him, a voice he could seemingly listen to forever. She hugged him back so tenderly, for a moment he wondered which of them was comforting the other even with her gripping the back of his shirt like a lifeline. She separated the hug, looking better than before as if some of her burden lessened.

He looked at her with curiosity as she matched their palms and intertwined their fingers. She closed her eyes, muttering something under her breath that Khun couldn't catch. And their hands started glowing ever so slightly. It was a weird sensation, he thought. Oddly enough making him warm in the core, a soothing sensation that he wouldn't mind doing again as a small sincere smile etched itself on his face. The glow slowly faded, and Evolet also took a step back.

She told him that it was a good luck charm. Humming in confirmation, Khun took out the blue bandanna that had his family logo out of his hair and tied it on Evolet's left wrist. It was by no means a real good luck charm, but he supposed it would serve well for a good luck wish instead. Her lips curled up into a soft smile, and he abruptly froze up as she pecked his cheek before going off without a word.

He could feel his cheeks heating up, hands moving to touch the spot Evolet just kissed. There was a pleasant feeling in his chest that he didn't know of. Cobalt blue eyes were locked at her departing back, still so many mysteries with her left unsolved to Khun. But just this once, he decided it would be fine to believe in Evolet until she returned. No one noticed the loss of his blue bandanna, nor did they ask.

He told Bam of the news after the test, watching from the sidelines as Bam mulled over it brokenhearted. He was curious about his decision, thinking that he would've chosen to chase Evolet like what Khun had thought instead of what Evolet had said. Because he's seen how Bam looked at Evolet and how he admitted that he was truly fortunate to have the girl by his side.

When Bam came and decided that he would take Rachel up the Tower, Khun silently thought how Evolet's assumption had been spot on. Because Bam did choose Rachel first and foremost instead of her. It seems like her little hunch was right yet again. His hatred for Rachel intensified even more after that.

He wordlessly mused that if he was Bam, he would've picked Evolet over and over again no matter how many times. But regardless of Bam's decision, he'll support the brunette up the Tower if he wished so, as long as those eyes stayed the same way without doubt. He wanted to protect what he had lost but Bam still had. The white Lighthouse she gave floated beside him in invisible mode as he glanced at it. Perhaps he'll tell Bam he had a way to track Evolet down in the far future.

Yet he failed to protect those innocent golden eyes. It was truly an ironic thing, he contemplated as he eyed Rachel with animosity swirling in sharp cobalt blue eyes. Bam chased after her which made him lose Evolet, and in return Rachel had pushed him down an abyss. The blonde spoke of lies, keeping up a facade of someone who lost a dear friend.

She was the girl who caused him to lose two of his precious friends. One gone, dead, never to be found again while the other missing because of a promise she made should she go into the Tower. The murderer of his best friend. And he was bringing up that very same girl to push down at the very end of their climb, a job befitting him as the cruelest. For once, Khun deemed that Evolet was wrong. Because he wasn’t kind at all. Otherwise he couldn’t have taken on the role of the cruelest.

His mind couldn't help but think where Evolet was, what she was doing and how much stronger she's grown. By the time he met her again, both will have already spent time without each other. Had she changed a lot or was she still the same? He was still curious about her. The very same Lighthouse was still beside him, as trusty as it could be for an item. Letters were stacked up on his table, all accompanied by gifts from Evolet who's never missed a single year. Khun let out a sigh at the enigma called Evolet who he was still unable to figure out fully. He stared at the device’s screen that lit up once more, functioning normally as if the glitch earlier didn’t occur.

Blue-violet eyes and the scent of lavender haunted his thoughts, eager to meet the girl once more. Little did he know, the Shinsu strings around him were already shifting, intertwining their paths to meet again in the near future in the most unexpected way for him. He silently promised to himself. That if he found her this time, he would properly protect those blue-violet eyes so he wouldn't lose them as he did those golden ones no matter what the cost.

Chapter Text

Evolet sighed blissfully as she ate a bag of cookies from the Floor Advancement Test's rewards. Bam was sitting beside her, occasionally feeding his share of the snack to Evolet who seemed to enjoy every moment of it. Of course, the other team members stayed far away from them since they knew better than to disturb them unless they wanted Bam’s signature glare on them. The other team members were off doing their own thing nearby, some of them still finishing off the snack while chatting or other activities.

Goseng had been looking around The Box for more information when she suddenly called everyone over to look at a certain post she found. They huddled around Goseng, marvelling at the post she found. Evolet hummed lightly as she peered at the post from Goseng's back while she kept eating her cookies.

"I found this on The Box. Doesn't he look similar to Horyang?" Goseng said excitedly.

"He's got wings and he also has a cape around him."

"No way. He's a lot more handsome than the Teddy Bear."

"Shut up. Mr. Devil is cute enough."

Curious of what the commotion was all about, Horyang went over to them to see the Lighthouse. His eyes widened in surprise, completely taken aback by the figure in the picture.

"Cassano…?"

"W-what… Do you really know him?"

"Cassano Beniamino. He's the Devil's Right Arm."


"You called me out later than I thought you would, Horyang-san."

The brunette stared impassively at Evolet who seemed to have predicted he would have a talk with her. She kept calm, showing him a smile that was no less gentle than usual as she showed to the team. Though the knowing gaze in her blue-violet eyes said otherwise.

"You didn't seem surprised when I told the team about my past."

Evolet exhaled lightly as she made a small Shinsu platform, lifting herself up to sit on it as she prepared herself for the conversation. "Let's just say I'm rather well-versed in FUG affairs, unlike Viole. Things can get quite troublesome when you're dealing with FUG without knowing the bare minimum."

She could see how he fisted his hands and trembled in anger from the newfound information. It was to be expected, he had a right to know the truth after all. His eyes were shadowed with his bangs, voice full of frustration.

"So FUG is behind those experiments. Eve… let me ask you this. Were you involved with the experiments?" She couldn't say that she wasn't the slightest bit offended when he asked if she was involved. But it was something to be expected since she did say she somewhat implied it.

"Even before Viole and I began to climb the Tower, those experiments were already in progress long before. They're still in development even now to be honest… Most of the FUG members welcomed it with open arms after all."

His gaze sharpened to a point, and Evolet could read the flow of Shinsu around his right arm in slight disarray. He was holding back so he wouldn't attack her, that was something she appreciated. She could see that despite the slight hesitation, his mind was already set on leaving. A small sigh escaped her lips as Horyang turned around.

"There's a big possibility that this is a trap since Cassano is affiliated with FUG. Are you still going while knowing that?"

"I… want to confirm the truth with my own eyes. Please tell the others they're like my family. I was really happy with this team. Every time I saw you guys in the morning, I feel like I did when I saw my first snow. I knew I would have to leave one day, but I made excuses to delay my departure. But… winter is over now. Please take care of the others Eve, they can be a little reckless at times."

Evolet stared thoughtfully at the small Floating Ship that was going away. The Workshop has always been like that, whether it's inside or outside. She's never been the one who would willingly involve herself with the Workshop, it brought about… unpleasant memories of the past that she'd rather not remember. Sometimes she wondered why most of her teammates were too stubborn and reckless for their own good. Not to mention they tend to disregard warnings and such. Though then again she already signed up to this. Soft footsteps could be heard as Bam approached her and gazed at the distance with worry filled eyes.

"Is it really okay to let Mr. Horyang go alone?"

Her silent sigh morphed into a soft reluctant smile, she could see the Shinsu strings telling her of an unfolding chapter. She already knew what to do. "Should we go back first and tell the others before going after him?"

Bam considerably perked up at that, nodding gladly at the fact that Evolet always had some sort of plan. She grabbed his hand gently, leading him back to their rented house. And Bam couldn’t help but stare at the smaller hand holding his hand in a firm yet tender grip. He could feel the slightest bit of Evolet’s Shinsu coursing through his hand as a sign of reassurance. The warmth it radiated was the same as the first time he experienced it. As if there was nothing that could hurt him, an irreplaceable sense of safety that brought solace to him.

It feels like home by her side

A smile unknowingly found its way to his expression. Evolet was always by his side, supporting him in any way she could and lighting up his path in the dark just like the moonlight. He wondered what he did to have someone as wonderful as her by his side, of how fortunate he’s been.

She suddenly turned around with the same loving smile that would never fail to take his breath away. Sweeping him off his feet in one smooth motion, carrying him with care as lavender wings spread out behind her and she took flight back. He couldn’t say a single thing as she carried him gently in a bridal carry. Brain malfunctioning as he laid his head against Evolet’s chest and listened to her calming heartbeat. While it was true that he couldn’t fly like she did, he was capable of using the Blue Oar as an alternative. Yet Evolet decided to throw that out of the window and just lifted him like he weighed nothing.

To put it simply, he was reduced to a blushing, spluttering mess as he tried to hide further in the crook of Evolet’s neck with little success. She’s done this too often for his liking, as if she doesn’t even need to try to make Bam flustered. Evolet seemed a little too nonchalant about it, simply humming softly as usual. If Bam was brave enough, he’d want their positions to be reversed and see a much flustered Evolet instead. But seeing how Evolet was gazing at him tenderly with those playful blue-violet eyes, he’ll have to gather his courage some other day.


As much as Evolet didn't mind playing along with people's schemes every now and then, there's always something unnerving when you walk into a trap willingly. She stared suspiciously at the hooded informant sitting in front of her. Considering the sign up front had Xiaxia written on it, that should be her name. She didn't recognize her, so that should mean the girl isn't in FUG's database. Though Evolet can't seem to shake off the odd feeling, especially with how the Shinsu strings were telling her to be cautious. As she transferred the payment from her Pocket, Evolet couldn't help but feel that things are starting to take an unwanted turn.

Just as an explosion rang out in the distance and Bam speeded up, her blue-violet eyes widened slightly in surprise as she caught sight of a certain Shinsu string she was all too familiar with. While she did expect them to reunite soon, she didn’t know it was going to be in this kind of place. She should’ve heeded her feelings earlier, worry starting to build up as she accelerated.

She could hear the calls from Xiaxia, telling the both of them to slow down slightly. Though none of them actually had time for that, especially when that explosion might have something to do with Horyang. They promised to bring him back safe and sound after all. She didn’t miss the small movement from Xiaxia, most likely meant to be inconspicuous despite the trap it triggered.

A giant stone hand rose out of the ground, ready to strike Xiaxia who pointed the trap out. The FUG pair didn't waste any time, Evolet picked Xiaxia with ease before rushing to the Hand of Arlene and Bam was close behind her after destroying the trap with a solid Shinsu punch.

Evolet glanced at the younger girl in her arms, giving out directions as she held onto Evolet's shoulders so she didn't fall down because of the speed. Her gaze trailed to Xiaxia's bunny ears, her thoughts split between wanting to pet the fluffy looking ears and the suspicious actions she did earlier. She knew about the Rabbit Ear race, they care about their members though at times it might not seem like it because they're always motivated by money. It's not surprising when you take their situation into account.

They stopped at the entrance, frozen by the sight that greeted them once they arrived. Horyang was laying on the ground, a gaping hole on his side that was steadily pooling blood beneath. Evolet could already feel the rage building up in Bam as he spoke with a chilling tone.

“You… What have you done… to Mr. Horyang?”

She recognized the two male that were standing nearby Horyang. Ran and Novick from Khun's team which could only mean this was a trap from FUG, and Cassano was somewhere nearby. She could hear the small movements and a shallow breathing with the help of the Shinsu strings. She predicted they would make a move soon, but certainly not in this situation with this type of method. Their little compromise wasn't exactly a good one in her books. And while she's discussed it with several others on her side to dish up a plan, she'd much prefer it if FUG actually went about things with less… threatening and blood-spilling ways.

As if that wasn’t enough, Xiaxia suddenly said Horyang was dead and accused the two Regulars in front of them of the deed. They couldn’t even deny it because they did attack him, but the one who delivered the fatal blow was gone. Bam didn’t hesitate to immediately launch an attack when Novick admitted that they killed Horyang. Just as Novick skidded back from the punch’s impact, Bam was already prepared to strike again with three Baangs at the ready while Ran’s fist crackled with lightning.

Evolet didn’t think twice before leaping in between, both hands outstretched with Shinsu shields as she fended off the assault. The shields smoked lightly as an aftereffect from her actions, although Evolet herself was unscratched. She breathed in a sigh of relief as they stopped momentarily and eyed her. If she let them get hurt then what was she supposed to tell Khun?

The shields dispersed back into water Shinsu as she turned to Novick, a reprimanding frown etched on her expression. "Please don't say things that will cause a misunderstanding, especially if you didn't do it. Besides…"

Completely ignoring Xiaxia's enraged shouts of accusations in the background, Evolet looked over Horyang's figure for a moment. She pursed her lips in slight guilt before turning to Bam. He was watching her with stormy eyes that held worry and anxiety despite the lingering anger. "Horyang-san is still alive. If I apply proper first aid then rush him to the hospital then it should be–"

Evolet stopped speaking abruptly. Her gaze snapped to the entrance just in time as a certain bluenette arrived, shouting out his two team members' names. Just for a split second, blue-violet eyes met with cobalt blue ones as she ran to Bam while putting up her cloak. She tried to make herself as small as possible, hiding behind Bam's back.

Khun was standing at the entrance, a confused gaze raking over his teammates who seemed relatively unharmed. Though said teammates were staring at the hiding Evolet confusedly. He was huffing out of breath from all the running he did, silently questioning the other presences in his mind. It seems like Xiaxia was already at the end of her wits Khun's arrival after being ignored by the rest of them.

"WAAAAAAAAIT!!" She took out a switch, bringing it up to the air with an extremely annoyed look on her face.

"DON'T TAKE ANOTHER STEP OR EVERYONE HERE DIES!!"

All of them looked at the girl quizzically, not quite understanding how the situation came to this. Bam was all too puzzled with all the misunderstandings, Khun's appearance and now Xiaxia's threat. He only came here to take Horyang back home, because they were his family now. But what Bam found was a critically injured Horyang instead, two strangers standing beside him as they claimed they were the one who did it.

Evolet shielded them, telling the red eyed brunette to not cause misunderstandings that didn't happen and that Horyang was still alive. Of course Bam trusted her words over Xiaxia's shouts, because she's always been with him and he's never once seen her wrong. That being said, it did bring some relief to him but he didn't fully relax. After all, even if the two didn't kill Horyang, they did fight with him.

Then Khun came running in and Bam couldn't process what was happening anymore. He wasn't allowed to see his old teammates. An image of Hansung flashed in his mind, threats lingering in his thoughts despite the happy memories that he recalled along with it. He couldn't meet him no matter how much he wanted to do so. Not with FUG breathing down his neck, not when his friends' lives were on the line.

“I installed a bomb inside the Hand of Arlene. If I press the button, the Hand will be blown up and we’ll die. So don’t move unless you want to die.”

Bam whipped his head, staring at Xiaxia with all the intention to ask about the turn of events. Said girl’s red Lighthouse lit up beside him and Evolet, a clear message for them to stay still lest they want everyone to die. Evolet wasn’t amused to say the least. The message just confirmed her suspicions and she was quite eager to deal with this predicament and go home.

She was sleep deprived and her annoyance meter was going up because she knew how much paperwork would swamp on her after this incident that FUG caused. None of this was going well. Cassano emerged from the stack of rubble when Xiaxia called him out, hoisting Horyang on his shoulder. Both Evolet and Bam’s focus were on Xiaxia’s Lighthouse, keeping their eyes peeled at the new incoming messages.

She could hear Bam gritting his teeth as Khun demanded for answers which Xiaxia gave to him gladly, telling him of the FUG’s Slayer Nominee and his partner. She informed them of how an anonymous man came to her and said that the FUG pair will visit soon, promised her if she helped them then she would receive wealth and honor. An utterly fake story, crafted by FUG in the image of their God.

“The God has come here to kill you himself! Khun Aguero Agnis! That’s why we sent a spy to your team and how we succeeded in bringing you here! Everything was planned to make you come here! Khun Aguero Agnis!!”

It was clear that Khun was taken aback, Evolet could see that much from her spot behind Bam. His hand grasped hers behind his back, trying to find consolation and the courage to act the part he hated with a burning passion. Evolet could only grip his hand to show reassurance as her eyes trailed over to Khun’s teammates.

"Yes, what she said is true, son of Khun. I tried to kill you. That's why I laid this trap and waited for you. But I've changed my mind after seeing you. I seek to be the embodiment of your biggest fear. I would enjoy seeing you run in fear more. I will be more merciful this time and let you go for my amusement. Run away… Khun Aguero Agnis. And wish that… we will never cross paths again."

Admittedly, Bam has never been a good actor. Normally, Evolet would've stepped up and put up a facade of the FUG member. But there was no way she could do that unless she wanted to be found out instantly by Khun. As to be expected, Khun saw through Bam's mask immediately.

"Hey, Slayer Nominee. I don't know where you're from, but you should practice more to seem like an evil king. Your evil act is like right out of a lame novel. It's too obvious that you're acting. What was that? Your acting made me cringe. You're trying to let me go on purpose aren't you? Why? Tell me honestly, don't beat around the bush."

Bam was internally smiling, taking comfort that Khun hadn't changed much if he could see through his lame acting. He still couldn't say a thing, instead telling Khun that he meant what he said. He was about to turn around, walk away from all of this. And yet Khun smirked, a sly confidence portrayed in his expression.

"Sorry to disappoint you, but I can't leave either way since I have some business to take care of with your partner. Isn't that right, Miss Slayer Nominee's partner? Or should I say, Eve?"

Evolet could practically hear the smirk in his tone. Sometimes she wondered about her own actions. Like how she only changed her name to something similar in FUG or how she didn't bother to get a disguise. She wished Khun wasn't so observant at these times.

.

.

.

She was legitimately screwed.

Chapter Text

Evolet could feel the pointed stares from Ran and Novick prickling at her side. Maybe choosing the name Yvette for nickname convenience wasn’t the best decision she’s made. She really wished she could become smaller so she could hide in Bam’s cloak or something. Her gaze was locked on the interesting ground as she tried to scoot even closer to Bam, back to back. Tugging his cloak softly as a silent plea to go away. She was inwardly reprimanding herself for her slip-up, a small frown evident on her expression. As much as she would love to meet with Khun again, she wasn’t going to risk it under FUG’s surveillance. Bam stared at her, unsure of what to do before he relented and turned around to lead her out.

Khun had gone silent when Evolet didn’t answer his question, an eyebrow raised at her quietness and cobalt blue eyes that were too calculative and observant for their own good. Both Novick and Ran recognized the name he called out. For seven years straight, they’ve seen Khun eagerly waiting for the packages sent under the name Eve. It was always interesting to watch him, especially when he would show a rare smile whenever the package came or how he would pace around irritably whenever it arrived late. But why would someone from FUG send those gifts to Khun and his team members? Both of them were incredibly curious about this so-called sender.

As the FUG pair started walking away, Novick looked at Ran from the corner of his eyes. Motioning towards Xiaxia and signalling the bluenette. In response Ran rolled his eyes with an annoyed expression, although he pointed a small spark at Xiaxia’s hand which successfully made her release the detonator as she gasped sharply. Novick didn’t miss the opening, already moving to grab said item. A light smirk was apparent on Khun’s face, relieved that the results of their training somewhat paid off.

Golden eyes widened slightly as the action took place, Bam’s hands already moving to gather Shinsu as he controlled Xiaxia's Lighthouses to use Fast Skip on Novick to stop his movements. Khun was all too familiar with that skill, a part of him recalling the golden eyed Irregular from the Floor of Tests he had failed to protect and missed dearly. Whose last wish he was carrying out despite bringing along the murderer of his own friend.

Khun's teammates watched Bam cautiously for any next move, but the brunette disregarded it completely. He glanced worriedly at Evolet who was frowning with her eyebrows furrowed, undoubtedly perturbed by the whole situation. He could read that her posture was rigid, eager to get away from this place. So he didn't waste anymore time, ordering Xiaxia to stop messing around and if she plays around with his friends' lives then he'll kill her. His words sent chills down her spine, befitting of the God she was searching for.

The look in her eyes went wild as Xiaxia dashed out another detonator from her robe. A crazed gaze as she screamed out fake words that spoke of FUG's so-called God's will.

"My Lord Jue Viole Grace said that ‘he wanted to be nice and let you go, but you’re ruining it with your own hands!! I’m furious now and I shall give you death!! Apologize with your death fools!'”

Both Evolet and Bam abruptly turned around at that, a horrified look on their face as the Hand of Arlene began to crumble down. Explosions ran all over the place as Bam shouted desperately for Khun to run away from this trap. Hoping in anguish that one of his cherished friends that he worked so hard to protect wouldn’t die.

"NO…!!! MR. KHUN!! Run away, Mr. Khun!!! It's a trap!! RUN AWAY, NOW!!!"

Evolet's eyes went blank as she saw Khun standing there as the rubble was about to fall on him, feeling a sharp jab in her chest like a terrible foreboding. She could hear something audibly snap in her, a dangerous switch flipped on. Bam didn’t notice it happening, but the next thing he knew there was a small crater where Evolet stood previously and he watched dreadfully as he noticed her zooming towards Khun with high speeds. All he could hear was a large crash as they were both buried under the wreckage.

Khun stared at the Slayer Nominee from a distance, the voice calling out to him and an all too familiar suffix. Emily’s message replayed in his mind. The 25th Bam was alive. Explosions rang around him as pieces of the Hand of Arlene started to fall, but he found himself not caring about it as he focused dumbfoundedly at the figure screaming out his name. He could feel some rubbles crashing around him, then he saw her.

Evolet’s cloak drooped down as she leapt, revealing the light lavender hair and blue-violet eyes that he remembers vividly. They haunted him in his thoughts, as she headed him towards her with an alarmed expression. The last thing he recalled was an impact to his head and a warm embrace that oddly enough made him feel safe despite the danger around him.

Bam’s knees went weak, letting him fall to the floor with a grief-stricken scream. He wanted to curse everything. What was it that he ever did wrong to them to deserve this? His heart felt like it was being ripped to pieces, stabbed over and over again as if the torment he's been through wasn't enough. As if the Tower itself was enjoying the spectacle of taking all of his precious things away from him as he suffered through it all.

Ran’s eyes narrowed in disbelief, gaze peeled at the mountain of rubble that buried the two. He could hear the Slayer Nominee’s screams, both in anger and sorrow of loss. Although he didn’t know if it was for Khun or for the girl who jumped in at the last moment. A few minutes already passed since then, and Ran was looking for any kind of sign that Khun was still alive. It was faint at first, but he could feel the ground trembling and a few pebbles falling from the pile of rubble. Cracks started appearing as the tremors steadily got worse.

Their focus was now directed to the wreckage as it shook violently. It went on for a few seconds before it abruptly blasted, revealing a dome shaped barrier that was quickly expanding while pushing away the ruins. Just as it was nearing Ran and Novick, it stopped in place before disappearing like it was never there. Ran didn't react to any of it, his stare trained on the person who was standing in the middle of the commotion.

It was harder to see at the higher angle where Bam was, but Ran could see it clear as day. Evolet stood silently there, Khun safe and sound in her arms as she held him close gently. Her eyes weren't those of blue-violet anymore, replaced with a deadly amaranthine shade that oozed intense bloodlust. The Shinsu was lashing out ferociously around her, responding to her blaring anger as dark purple strings sliced around without restraint. She lifted her head up slightly and Ran accidentally met her gaze.

Her gaze sent chilling shivers all over his body, as if he was a prey that had no chance against a beast. All of his senses were telling him to run, to never cross path with her lest he wanted to be killed when she had such killing intent in those amaranthine eyes. He knew in that instant, that she was much stronger than him.

Raiden

Evolet summoned the Raijuu out, crackles of lightning sparking all over the place. The Shinheuh sensed another source of lightning near him, his cobalt blue eyes trailed over to a certain blue-haired Regular with lightning attribute. Ran stiffened up slightly, taking a stance as he heard Raiden let out a low growl.

Down boy

Raiden's ears picked the sound loud and clear, settling down immediately. Once he took a glance at his mistress, Raiden understood it straight away. He could see the swirling rage in her eyes, she had snapped. He was smart enough to know that he shouldn't interfere unless he wanted to die. Toning down his lightning, he set himself on the ground and let Evolet lay Khun on top of him before she walked towards the others with resolute steps.

Evolet was walking to Bam with a steady pace as she ignored the cautious stares from Ran and Novick. Once she was near the Floating Ship made out of soil dolls that FUG prepared, she leapt with a light step that you think she wouldn't have been able to reach the ship's height. Though contrary to how it looks, she landed gracefully on the platform without any problem.

Bam froze as she stood in front of him, light lavender bangs covering her eyes. He knew it wasn't an illusion, but it can't seem to sink in his mind that both Evolet and Khun were safe. He couldn't tear his gaze away, solely focused on her as he slowly let the situation sink into his mind. Evolet brought up her hand, snapping her fingers once.

Dark purple Shinsu rose around Bam when she did, slowly forming an opaque barrier. He kept his golden eyes on Evolet still as the barrier blocked the sight and sound, not bothering to protest against it since he trusted Evolet fully. He wished she would finish whatever she planned. He just needed her in his hold, to feel her warmth and affirm what he saw was indeed her. Losing her was more terrifying than what he imagined.

Once Bam was safe in her barrier, she looked over to the other two FUG members. With another snap of her fingers, the same barrier materialized surrounding Cassano and Horyang. Though unlike Bam's case, Shinsu strings made themselves apparent as they acted as a restraint for him. He was shouting all over the place, trying to break out to no avail as the strings dug deeper and drew blood the more he struggled. Evolet ignored him fully, knowing the sounds would be automatically blocked out once the barrier closed. She wasn't fond of that technique since it used up a lot of Shinsu when the opponent continuously tried to break out, but she supposed it'll be fine for today.

Xiaxia's posture went rigid as Evolet's gaze landed on her. Her previous tender blue-violet gaze was nowhere to be found, replaced with cold amaranthine eyes that looked like they were plotting the cruelest method to kill her. She took a step back instinctively out of fear as Evolet approached her slowly. She stared down at the smaller informant in front of her, grasping her rabbit ears tightly before she lifted her up by her ears. Xiaxia struggled a bit in her hold, but promptly stopped when she saw those amaranthine eyes narrowed in a glare.

“Xiaxia… was it?” Evolet spoke up in an impassive tone, clearly disinterested despite the sharpness in those amaranthine eyes. She didn't bother to use any suffix nor honorifics, still burning with anger.

“If you didn’t have these rabbit ears… I would’ve killed you on the spot with the most excruciating way possible for hurting him.”

Her expression quickly changed once Xiaxia froze up in fear and nodded frightfully when she released her ears from her tight hold. A bloodthirsty Cheshire grin could be seen on her expression. Eyes narrowed into slits as a smoky hum escaped her lips. “Now… Let’s begin the negotiations shall we?”

Though to be exact, it was a one-sided negotiation since Evolet wouldn't be giving Xiaxia another option, unless she wanted to die. She wasn't in the mood to overly spare someone. "If FUG promised you with wealth and honor, then I'll do the same. How much?"

"...eh?" Xiaxia looked at Evolet confusedly, surprised by her question.

"How much did they offer to you?"

To her annoyance, Xiaxia was too hesitant to answer and opted to fidget nervously in her spot while avoiding her gaze. With an exasperated sigh, Evolet put her Pocket in visible mode. When Xiaxia’s Pocket beeped and revealed itself in visible mode, her eyes bulged in surprise at the sheer amount of Points Evolet just transferred to her. FUG only promised her 1 million points for this whole fiasco. And while that was a lot from a normal Regular's point of view, Evolet just transferred her 10 million points in one go. She paid her decuplet of what FUG offered her. But she wasn't done just yet.

With an apparent smirk on her expression and a playful gleam in amaranthine orbs, Evolet continued. "Consider that… an upfront payment. I assume you're here because FUG wants Viole to participate in the Workshop Battle with their team. So, strike a deal with me. Accompany him during his stay at the Workshop and keep him safe for me without getting discovered."

That oddity of that sentence raised a question in Xiaxia. Her ears perked up slightly, voicing her thoughts aloud. "Aren't you going with him to the Workshop Battle?"

"No… I have… something else I need to do." Evolet frowned, narrowing her eyes as she averted her gaze. She certainly wasn't pleased about it. To be technically speaking, it wasn't as if she wasn't going. But she'll be put in a difficult position and she wouldn't be able to stay by Bam's side constantly during their stay.

Releasing another sigh, she resumed speaking. "If you succeed in doing so then I'll give you another 40 million Points. Though it's not as if you have any other choice. Know that if you refuse then I'll kill you off right now so you won't prove to be an obstacle later on. Probably I'll kill that Cassano too and just deal with FUG face on like I should've done from the start."

Her eyes trailed to Xiaxia's, glowing slightly with her words. Xiaxia involuntarily shuddered at the look of it, chills travelling down her spine at the danger. Evolet raised an eyebrow at her, awaiting for an answer. It was an undeniably fantastic deal. With 50 million Points she could live a decent life in the Middle Area without worrying a thing. All she had to do was keep the Slayer Nominee safe and pretend that she was still siding with FUG. Not to mention, it's the only obvious way out rather than getting killed by the Anima in front of her. Just as she was about to speak up her decision, Evolet suddenly cut her off.

"I'll even hire you with a monthly wage of 5 million Points after this whole Workshop Battle is done."

5 million Points… 20 months means 100 million Points. 100 million Points means she's filthy rich. Enough for her to live off her whole life luxury without lifting a finger. And that's only in less than 2 years.

Without even thinking anymore, Xiaxia grasped Evolet's hands in excitement. Her eyes had dollar signs on them, money written all over her thoughts. "I'll follow you anywhere, Big Sis!!!"

Evolet seemed to be taken aback, before an amused giggle escaped her lips as it turned into a full-blown laughter. She closed her eyes momentarily, opening it only to reveal they've gone back to the original blue-violet color she had. There was a playful smirk on her expression as she gently took one of Xiaxia's hands, pressing a tender kiss to the back of her palm.

.

.

.

"W-wha–!!!" Blushing various shades of red, Xiaxia quickly pulled her hand back in embarrassment. Evolet chuckled softly at the display, motioning Xiaxia to look at her hand. Still stuttering and flustered, she took a glimpse at the back of her palm. She stared puzzled at her hand, seeing some sort of symbol glowing softly in white. Blinking once to make sure she didn't see wrong and to confirm the symbol, she found out the symbol was gone as if it was never there. But there was undoubtedly a lingering feeling of warmth.

Looking over to Evolet for answers, all she received was a sly smile. "With that the contract is established."

With Xiaxia on her side now, Evolet was somewhat slightly relieved now. With a snap of her fingers, the barrier containing Cassano and Horyang opened up. Cassano looked rather disheveled, blood dripping here and there with how much he struggled inside the barrier. Of course Horyang was fine, she did make sure to control her Shinsu properly after all. Evolet didn't bother to spare Cassano a second glance before she went in the other barrier.

Bam waited patiently inside the barrier, hugging his knees close to his chest while trying to curl into himself. He knew that Evolet was strong, that when it comes to protecting then she was the best he could ever ask for. But the sight of her jumping headfirst into danger nonchalantly was something he could never get used to. It brought about a stabbing feeling in his chest that burns, how his stomach churned dreadfully whenever he thought he might lose her. The single possibility of losing her terrified him to no ends.

Evolet passed through the opaque purple barrier like it was nothing, her knee-length light lavender hair swaying delicately. Bam didn't even wait for her to enter the barrier fully before throwing his arms around her, hugging her tightly with a sense of tenderness. She almost fell from the impact, but it was something she's already used to. The warmth of her in his hold was real as they leaned slightly on the barrier's wall so they wouldn't fall.

It was always a reassuring thing to hug Evolet, a way for Bam to confirm that she was still by his side. He took in shaky breaths, gradually calming down with Evolet's soothing scent of lavender. He could vividly feel Evolet's fingers drawing circles on his back to comfort him, a strong and steady presence that never failed to make him feel alive. She was his lifeline, the pillar of his life that supported him. He doesn't think anyone can replicate this feeling whenever he hugged her, the way she fits perfectly in his hold as if she was made for him.

"I promised didn't I? I'll stay by your side, for as long as you want me to." Evolet said it with a soft tone, a reminder that she truly did promise Bam to do so and she wouldn't leave him otherwise.

It was silent for a while before she spoke up again with a smile. “Don’t worry, Bam. Everything will be okay. And if it isn’t, then I’ll always make sure everything will work out.”

He released a breath he didn't know he was holding when he saw her smile, going lax in her hold as her promise registered in his mind and chased all his worries away. It felt unfair he thought, how Evolet could do that with only a smile and he was already left speechless. Bam opted to nod into the crook of her neck instead. He doesn't feel like letting go of the hug.

"Listen, Bam… FUG's aim is probably to get you to participate in the Workshop Battle. I can't join the Workshop Battle–"

Bam's eyes snapped up at that, clearly in panic that she'd leave him. His grip unconsciously tightened around her. Evolet winced the slightest bit as she continued to speak out while running her fingers through his hair in an attempt to calm him down.

"–but I promise I'll be on the Archimedes, okay? Can you promise me that you'll play along with whatever they're planning for now?"

All she got in a response was a whine. Bam wasn't even willing to look at her, opting to nuzzle deeper in her shoulder as he avoided to answer. Shifting him a little so that she could get a proper look at his face, she saw some tears on the corner of his eyes that were already threatening to spill out.

With a small sigh, her lips curled up into a small reassuring smile. She cupped his cheeks, making sure he was looking at her directly before she leaned in to kiss away the pooling tears. Bam let out a small yelp at the action, face quickly heating up as his eyes turned into spirals from the sudden gesture. Evolet laughed lightly at that, uncaring as she continued to pepper small kisses everywhere on his face except his lips.

The brunette was long K.O.-ed, hands grasping her shoulder as he kept his head down to hide his utterly red flustered expression. Evolet took no notice of it, instead bringing him closer and burying her face in his fluffy hair as she continued the conversation from earlier.

"Do you trust me, Bam?"

"Yes…" He muttered out in a small voice, still embarrassed.

"Then, you'll be just fine. Don't worry… there'll be plenty of people who'll help you along the way. You're not alone. That's why, stay strong okay? I'll be right by your side again after the Workshop Battle is over. And… You can always ask for more kisses after I come back, okay?"

Planting a kiss on the crown of his head, Evolet didn't see how Bam's face lit up even further. Red painting the tip of his ears as steam came out of it. He covered his face with his hands, stammering unintelligible words. The 25th Bam officially overheated from embarrassment.

The barrier dissipated into thin air as they exited. Contrary to what the others expected of a Slayer Nominee, Bam was covering his mouth with one palm. There were still traces of the blush all over his face as he looked away from Evolet. He doubted that blush was going to disappear anytime soon. Inwardly, Bam was grumbling because he was going alone to the Workshop Battle without her. He understood what she meant but he just wanted– needed her by his side always.

He feels like sulking and he was fully intent on doing so. He might as well make it more difficult for FUG now that he had to do it, especially knowing that now that Khun was with Evolet then he was where it would be safest. There was an unknown feeling nagging in the back of his mind, at the thought of leaving Evolet with Khun alone while he was going to the competition without her. He didn't want to leave her at all.

Though quite obviously, Evolet was utterly unaware of his thoughts. She walked towards Ran and Novick who were still rather on caution with her although they didn't pull out any weapon. Ran stared at her curiously, still wondering when Khun called her by the name Eve. She smiled kindly at him, taking out his favorite brand of yogurt from her light Lighthouse before giving it to him. He blinked confusedly at the action, watching her suspiciously. Her gaze trailed to Bam, still with a smile on her face.

"Would you please keep him safe in my stead for a while? Don't worry about Khun-san. I promise I'll protect him no matter what."

That had confirmed his suspicions. Khun said it himself back then, that no one else ever used the suffix "-san" with him. She was the one who's been sending those packages, who's been putting Khun in his rare good moods where he would just smile for the whole day and Ran found it to be unnerving each time. Though it was more bothersome when he would pace around relentlessly whenever the package arrived late. He just kept his gaze on her, silence being his answer. But she seemed to take it as an affirmation, patting his head gingerly in a way that he didn't exactly hate.

"I'm glad to see the Blue Hook seem to be of use to you."

She offered a polite nod to Novick before walking away and they kept their eyes on her. Ran thinks she was slightly bothersome, but he could see why Khun likes her. The brief warmth of her hand lingered on his head, a feeling too humane and kind than what he's used to. He peered at the cup of yogurt in his hands, thinking he wouldn't mind her to do that again. If Khun trusted her then he didn't see too much reason to doubt her.

The Floating Ship went away, leaving Evolet with an unconscious Khun at the ruins. Raiden settled down on the ground, providing leverage for Evolet to lean on as she waited for the team to come pick her up. She laid Khun's head softly on her lap, covering him with a blanket from her Lighthouse. She was sitting against Raiden relaxedly, closing her eyes to get some shut-eye before the others came.

That plan was quickly thrown out of the window when she suddenly lurched forward. Grabbing her head in pain as she felt a pounding headache, almost as if her head was being split apart. Her eyes flashed between blue-violet and amaranthine uncontrollably, bloodlust oozing on and off as her eyes kept changing colors like an error. She tensed up, leaning against Raiden as she gasped for breath while trying to take control. Her hand moved to cover her eyes, keeping still for a few minutes until her breathing subsided to its normal pace.

Raiden nudged her gently in worry, watching as his mistress opened her eyes reluctantly with a displeased frown. She didn't even open her blue-violet eyes fully before it fluttered shut again as if the light burned her eyes. But she patted the Raijuu to reassure him despite the heavy sigh that she let out. She really needed to restrain herself more before she found herself on a killing spree just because her curse was triggered.

Chapter Text

Evolet let out a heavy sigh at her team members sitting in front of her with expectant stares directed at her. Now that it’s come to this, she had some things to explain to them about the situation. Only Wangnan and Yihwa were absent to take care of Khun in a guestroom.

FUG was making everything difficult for her and she still had too many things to deal with added with what just happened at the Hand of Arlene which resulted in a mountain of work for her to take care of. She hasn't even taken care of the previous paperworks that were piling up because of the wager they suggested. Truth to be told, she just wanted to take a short nap before dealing with the turn of events since she could already feel her eyes drooping. Though she doubted the team would even let her do that. So she kept things short and explained it briefly.

Viole was going to participate in the Workshop Battle with the team FUG made for him and Evolet had let Horyang be taken since she couldn’t guarantee proper treatment for him compared to the Workshop. They learnt that the bluenette she brought back was Khun and he was her old teammate along with Viole’s, though she didn’t explain it fully in detail. Before this Wangnan already told them about the Workshop Battle, which was the reason why they kept pushing until the 29th floor without much of a break.

“But… aren’t you also going to participate in the Workshop Battle, Eve?”

“No… To be exact, I can’t.”

“Why?!” Surprise was evident on their expressions, they could see the displeasure she expressed. But they couldn’t back down without a proper reason from her.

“It’s not as if I won’t be on the Archimedes, I’ll just be there for different reasons and I can’t take part in the competition.”

They had a sullen look on their face, knowing that three of their most reliable forces on the team won’t be able to help them in the battle. Evolet shook her head fondly at them as she exhaled a small sigh. “Don’t worry so much. Both Viole and Horyang-san will be just fine. I’ll make sure everything goes well, I promise. I’m sure you’re all tired after today’s events. Worrying won’t be any of use anyway so go take proper rest okay? I’ll check on Khun-san first now.”

That’s what she said, but the team wasn’t insensitive enough to notice that she was the most worried out of all of them. She was after all the team’s Defender, and took it upon herself to ensure the team’s safety in many aspects and prided herself on it. They all nodded to each other, knowing they had to help her if Viole wasn’t here.


Khun was lost in his thoughts while drifting between his consciousness, trying to find a connection between all the things he discovered about Bam's death. The gears in his brain turned to a particular memory of how Emily told him that the 25th Bam was alive. Just as he was about to grasp the answer, his concentration was shattered by a scream as he was pulled back to the land of the living.

Cobalt blue eyes opened abruptly, greeted by the sight of a certain blond Regular in a panicked screaming match against a brunette. His eyes drifted down to the flaming acupuncture needle on him, hand reaching out subtly to put the fire out so the bickering duo wouldn't notice his movements just yet. Khun’s never been the one to waste opportunities, especially when he's in full caution against people who he had no clue of. The acupuncture needle was more than enough as an emergency makeshift weapon for him. He quickly jolted up, grabbing the nearest blond and pressing the needle to his neck with a threatening glare.

"Who are you?"

Both Wangnan and Yihwa screamed at the sudden threat, flustered by Khun's sudden wake and his apprehension against them. With a sharp needle held against his neck, Wangnan had all the right to be alarmed.

"Eve! Do something about your friend and his threat?!" Yihwa shouted out.

Khun was suddenly much aware of something– someone shifting at the other side of the bed, sleepy mumbles as the light lavender hair that was splayed on the bed cascaded down as the owner sat up properly while rubbing her eyes sleepily.

"He's not a threat, Yeon-san...." It was clear that she was still disoriented from sleep if her dazed tone was anything to go by. She only asked for a few hours of sleep, how hard was that?

.

.

.

"Eve?"

Uncertainty and disbelief laced his husky tone as he called out her name, slightly hoarse from when he passed out. He froze, taking in the sight of the light lavender haired girl. Khun was sure that he already prepared various speeches beforehand just in case he met her again in an unexpected place, but it seems like his brain finally decided to take a break in said unexpected situation. Was she even the same girl he met on the Floor of Test then disappeared? The events from the Hand of Arlene came rushing back in his mind. A glance of the same shade of blue-violet eyes that he was familiar with. If she was the Slayer Nominee's partner, then was she with FUG? Was his theory about the Slayer Nominee and Bam correct?

Concerned that Khun spent the past few minutes only staring without a word, Evolet stood up from her chair as she leaned closer to him. Her hand was warm against his forehead, a gentle gesture to check his temperature. The needle clattered to the floor as he moved to grab the hand on his forehead, giving her wrist tug as he pulled her close and looped his free arm around her waist just like their little first encounter.

Cobalt blue eyes peered into blue-violet ones with an observant gaze. They still shone like polished jewels, Khun thought. Almost the exact shade as a purple labradorite that was polished flawlessly and angled with light through its many layers to perfection, an ethereal flash of violet and cobalt blue. Khun saw the exact same gaze from the Floor of Tests. Eyes that radiated nothing but kindness and warmth, but as he ventured deeper he could see the various emotions she held back to refrain from showing her weaknesses. As if Evolet was barely holding herself together by pretending everything was fine, to stand strong so she could protect others. It was still the look he found so mesmerizing and wanted to protect. Khun could never mistake those eyes.

Evolet's posture was still relaxed in his hold despite how his sudden action might have come off as odd. She showed no signs of caution to him, on the contrary of how anyone else would've reacted in her position. She acted as if her trust in him and the way she was in his hold right now was perfectly natural. Even though they were just a breadth apart and he could just lean in to–

"Are you okay, Khun-san…?"

Khun was promptly cut off from his musings when she asked that with a worried look. It was only then that he noticed the awkward position Evolet was in. She was half leaning on the bed with one knee while one foot was lightly hovering off the floor uncomfortably, one hand held by Khun while the other supporting her weight on the bed. His arm gripped tighter around her waist, exerting little strength to pull her up to his lap fully while his other hand that held her wrist was lowered. She settled nicely on his lap, not a single word of protest as she tilted her head slightly in curiosity.

Staring at the wrist that was still in his hand, he loosened his hold before pressing his lips tenderly to her wrist. Evolet’s blue-violet eyes widened at that, but she made no move to take her hand away as she remained still on his lap. With a child-like curiosity, his hand moved from her wrist to intertwine their fingers instead. He could feel the reassuring squeeze from her smaller hand. Shinsu coursing from her palm to his, still so protective and gentle in nature as it brought about the pleasant feeling in his chest that he felt when she did this before her disappearance. He still had a stack of questions in his mind, lining up and waiting to be asked to the girl in his hold. But just this once–

Eve.” He called out her name more confidently now, mouthing it glazed eyes as if he couldn’t believe the sight in front of him now. He just needed some sort of confirmation from her, that she was truly Evolet. And he got it. His eyes widened dumbfounded as she smiled lovingly, all too warm and gentle just like how he first met her in that grassy field. Voice still sweet and alluring as before, only a sense of kindness and care in its fullness that soothed him as she spoke out.

I’m back, Khun-san.

It finally struck Khun, the realization that she was truly real instead of the ghosting illusion that haunted him for the past few years. Head buried on her shoulder, he closed his eyes as he inhaled the sweet intoxicating scent of lavender. Khun’s arms snaked around Evolet, embracing her in a firm hold as he sunk deeper to her shoulder and let go of his worries momentarily. Evolet didn’t comment how he was slightly trembling, instead wrapping an arm around his bare shoulders while a hand ran her fingers through his sky blue hair soothingly.

Her fingers brushed his back in a way that sent pleasant shivers down his spine, all the while doing it unknowingly. It felt so right to Khun as if she was meant to be by his side, in his hold and it low-key terrified him because she didn’t even need to try to get through the walls he's built up. There was still the same sensation he felt during their hug before the Hide-and-Seek test that made him just want to melt into her comforting hold. He felt as if he was being spoiled and he didn’t want to let go at all.

It’s true that he still had too many questions left unanswered, and all the answers might be in the hand of Evolet whom he was still hugging desperately. But he’s been searching her for years with every possible method he could think of to no avail, as if she vanished into thin air and never existed in the first place. Yet that very same girl he’s been looking for was in his arms now. So he pushed away all the questions to the back of his mind with a sigh of relief, simply savoring the moment he felt.

The jewel he lost was back and he’ll be damned if he ever lost her again. He wanted to hide her away just like he did to all the jewels he treasured. So that the others couldn’t get to her, even if it meant the same to him. Except he couldn’t do it. Hiding her was impossible because he knew she could disappear at any given time like before, she might not come back the next time. And her presence was all too addicting to him and he couldn’t let her go at all. He was playing a dangerous game with her, and he was determined to win this at all costs. He’ll never let her go.

Wangnan and Yihwa were standing on the sidelines, trying to figure out what exactly they are currently witnessing. They were sure Evolet said the blue-haired man was her friend. Although they were starting to doubt that with the scene that just unfolded in front of them. Evolet was the first one who separated the hug, releasing Khun reluctantly although the bluenette himself didn’t let go. There was a slight flush on her face, painting it a soft pink as she looked away from Khun.

“Uhm… Khun-san…”

Still, Khun didn’t take notice of that and remained comfortably in her shoulder with closed eyes as he let out a small hum of confirmation to her words. She shifted uncomfortably in his hold, trying to get out which only resulted in Khun tightening the hug even more. As if it was possible, Evolet blushed furiously in a deep red from the embarrassment. She started stammering as she hid her beet red face in Khun’s silky hair.

“K-Khun-san, please wear some clothes first...”

It was only then that Khun understood why she was stuttering. He tilted his head lazily, cobalt blue eyes fluttering open and meeting the sight of Evolet’s adorably flustered expression. The poor girl averted her gaze, looking everywhere but Khun who smirked teasingly at the display. He was going to enjoy this so much. He started loosening his hold on her, lifting his head up halfway to her ear before he blew on it softly.

As he expected, Evolet reacted to the action. She let out a small yelp, startled by Khun’s playful move. He didn’t miss the opportune moment, using the chance to swiftly secure her in another embrace and plant a brief kiss on her exposed neck. As he did that, Evolet promptly froze up before her whole face heated up and she mumbled incoherently while covering her blushing face in her hands. Khun could see that the tip of her ears and her neck were red to the tips along the slight steam coming from her ears. It didn’t take any longer before she overheated, going lax on Khun’s lap as her eyes turned into spiral from the dizziness.

Both members from Sweet and Sour looked as if they were thunderstruck from the sheer horror, before snapping their gaze to each other. Never during their climb have they seen the Defender blush even the slightest bit during the time she spent with Viole. Both of them came to the same exact conclusion. Whoever this bluenette was must be Viole’s love rival. And they had no intentions of making it easy for him.

After all that time they spent trying to get Viole and Yvette together, they weren’t having him stopping the ship from sailing. Though… Wangnan glanced at Khun who was smirking smugly at Evolet who already long collapsed on the bluenette’s lap and Yihwa who was trying to carry her away. His mind recalled the glare and threat directed at him, the chill of the needle’s cold metal lingering in his mind. How were they even supposed to stop someone like that?

His eyebrows scrunched up at the thought of Viole and the bluenette, remembering how Viole would react whenever he was jealous. They had the same exact glare, although Khun's was rather more suppressed and cold while Viole's was more intense and threatening. Wangnan slightly wondered why it was that Yvette seemed to attract more dangerous men rather than anything.

Chapter Text

Khun Aguero Agnis wasn’t one to celebrate his own birthday. He simply thought of it as another day in his life and certainly one day closer to death. Which is why typically it’s up to the others to make sure he celebrates it properly. And that is also the reason why Evolet was already up at dawn earlier, laser focused on making the best cake she possibly could for Khun and nodding proudly at her work as she hid it carefully in the fridge.

She purposefully turned off Khun’s alarm beforehand to let him sleep in and so that he wouldn't find the surprise. She hummed happily as she was reminded of the gift she picked for him. The gift was safely tucked in her Lighthouse and she was proud to say she's picked yet another great gift for him this year even if it was somewhat different than what she usually gave him.

Knowing that Khun was probably going to wake up soon, she started the coffee machine while prepping a few ingredients for brunch. She was sure to make all of his favorite foods today, humming absent-mindedly as she maneuvered around the kitchen with practiced ease and a skip in her steps. Just as she was about to turn on the stove, she heard a whisper close to her ear.

Good morning, Eve~

Needless to say, Evolet was surprised enough to jump slightly. Turning to the side as she covered her ear that was the same shade as her blushing face, she found Khun smiling mischievously at her. Content that Evolet was properly looking at him now, Khun let out a low hum as he kissed her forehead. If it was possible, Evolet’s face reddened up even more as it was painted in red hues with slight steam coming from her ears.

Khun smirked confidently at her as he peppered soft kisses all over Evolet’s face, uncaring of her flustered state. By the time Khun finally decided to stop, Evolet’s mind was already long gone and not functioning anymore. The bluenette was fully enjoying the spectacle he caused, chuckling as Evolet buried her face in his chest in an attempt to hide her blushing face.

"Khun-san, stop that… I need to cook..." Her voice had come off more akin to a whine, a small pout on her blushing face as she mumbled into his chest instead of speaking clearly. The bluenette caught her words either way, smirking as he leaned down to her ear.

"Can’t I eat you instead hm~?"

Khun bit her earlobe lightly, licking the bite mark playfully to convey his point properly. Evolet shakily backed a step away from him, steam erupting from her face as she stuttered incoherently. Processing his words actions, her knees went weak as she collapsed to the floor in a heap of utter embarrassment. Khun could still see the continuous steam coming out of her red ears as he chuckled at the adorable sight and didn't waste any time to literally sweep her up in a bridal carry.

"Khun-san!!! Oh Jahad… I can't–" The purplette let out small whines and mumbles in her flustered state. Even when she struggled lightly in his hold, Khun still didn’t let her down. In the end she just settled to cover her face with both hands as she stayed still in his arms.

“Khun-san… please let me down, I need to cook for real...” Hearing Evolet speaking weakly as a last attempt, Khun finally set her down with a soft chuckle and one last kiss on her cheek. There was still a faint blush on her expression as she poured his coffee and told him to wait.

Khun had offered to help her make breakfast, but she only glanced at him unconvinced before promptly telling him to stay out of the kitchen. The reason is either because she was still flustered or she just didn’t want to see his horrific cooking skills so early in the morning, he mused.

He still enjoyed watching her maneuver around the kitchen gracefully, movements so familiar that she didn’t even look twice before putting anything in. Sipping his coffee, he found himself humming delightfully at the familiar taste to perfection. It was always a good way to start his day.

Soon enough, Khun found out that today’s brunch was practically all of his favorite items. Evolet only smiled tenderly at the look of curiosity he was giving her as she refilled his coffee. The suspicion was long gone once he started to eat without a care in the world. Khun didn’t even notice the absence of the usual loud shouts of the team members from their typical shenanigans.

Around 2 hours later, the pair could be seen walking in the wintery landscape of the town while chatting nonchalantly about random topics. Both of them were clad in simple winter attire. Khun was wearing a suave pair of black cords, coupled with a classic black wool-blend peacoat and a sapphire blue scarf. The bluenette glanced worriedly at Evolet who was wearing a simple knee-length white woolen coat dress and her typical white leggings, knowing that she was rather weak to the cold.

Evolet just smiled at him once she noticed his stare, telling him that she was fine before changing the topic smoothly. Occasionally a rare smile would grace Khun's features along with small laughs at whatever Evolet said. If Ran was there, he would probably shake his head exasperatedly at his older sibling for being out of character.

Khun asked her where she was taking him from time to time, but Evolet would only shake her head as a response before intertwining their hands before she pulled him along with an underlying playfulness. And honestly, who was Khun to deny her loving gestures.

He did find out their destination sooner or later, already having a place in mind from the guesses he took while observing the path they took. They stopped in front of a frozen lake, appreciating the panoramic view for a while. Evolet knelt down on the snow as she knocked lightly on the ice with a look of awe. Khun couldn't stop the smile forming on his delicate features, borderline thinking that he might be smiling all day long if Evolet kept being like that. Shibisu probably would never believe that the Khun standing beside Evolet right now was the same as the Khun he knew.

"So, why did you bring me here?" Khun asked with a faint smirk on his expression.

Evolet perked up at the question, tugging his hand gently to lead him to the only long bench near the lake. She dashed out two pairs of ice skates from her Lighthouse and handed one of them to Khun with an expectant look. Khun relented with an amused expression, gladly humoring whatever she was planning as he sat down and put on the pair of ice skates. He stood up with little difficulties, glancing at Evolet before raising an eyebrow in amusement. She looked completely lost on how to wear the ice skates properly.

Chuckling lightly at the confusion she was showing, the bluenette scooted over and took the pair of ice skates from her hands. He wasted no time to kneel down, weaving his way through the knots of the ice skates with practiced expertise. Evolet was taken aback for a moment before the softest of smiles spread across her expression along with a scarlet hue decorating her warming cheeks.

"Endorsi-san recommended this place to me. She said there was a frozen lake on the 31st Floor and that the location is less known to the other Regulars so I should bring you to check it out!"

"And she was also the one who suggested bringing the ice skates, I'm guessing?" Evolet nodded gingerly at him, and Khun made a mental note to actually thank Endorsi instead for once.

“Have you ever done this before, Eve?” Khun could safely assume that she’s never actually tried ice skating before since she didn’t seem to be overly familiar with the ice skates. Well, it was either that or she also had someone else to help her put it on. And Khun preferred to think it was the first than the latter.

“No… Endorsi-san told me it'll be fun, but I’ve never actually done this before.”

Contrary to Evolet’s somewhat sullen expression, a smirk was slowly forming on Khun’s expression. The Lightbearer stood up, offering a hand to the Anima. “Then I’ll just have to teach you, won’t I?”

There wasn’t an ounce of hesitation when Evolet gingerly placed her hands in his and Khun pulled her up then guided her to the frozen surface. He could see a small pout on her face as she struggled to keep steady on her wobbly feet while holding on his hands. It was almost as if he was watching a kitten attempting to stand on their front legs for the first time. His lips curled up into a soft smile, one that no doubt would’ve made Ran gag at how utterly smitten he was.

He urged her to slide slowly as he glided backwards in the same pace. Her movements were undeniably rigid as she tried to skate forward. There was a look of concentration on her as she focused all her attention to get the hang of it. Which she did in a short amount of time, thanks to her sense of balance and experience from dancing.

Truth to be told, if Khun was teaching anyone else then he would’ve let go of their hand and let them try a few moves on their own by now. Except the bluenette absolutely did not want to do that and instead he just hid it all behind a smile while pretending it was totally normal to keep holding someone’s hand while teaching them how to ice skate.

It wasn’t as if Evolet ever had anyone tutoring her on ice skating either, so she wouldn't know. True to his musing, Evolet was more than happy to keep holding his hands as they continued their little lesson without even realizing the bluenette’s thoughts.

Evolet had no idea what she was being led into, but enjoyed it nonetheless. Khun began to instruct her on how to execute basic figures and side-by-side free-skating moves, guiding her along the way carefully while making sure their hands never separated.

And soon enough they were lost in their own little world with the whole lake as their stage in perfect unison. Though as time passed, they were treating it more as a dance rather than ice skating. At some point, Khun’s right circled around her waist while Evolet’s left hand was on his shoulder. Their other two hands were clasped together as their movements flowed into a slow waltz on ice.

The bluenette leaned down slightly to whisper in her ear, something that he did fairly often ever since he found out it was one of her weak spots. “Does this remind you of the time we danced on the Archimedes?”

That seemed to have amused the Anima as she tried to hold in her laughter while answering him. “I still prefer this Khun-san rather than Mask-san though.”

"Well I'm glad to hear that then. I also prefer this Eve than Muse."

Both of them laughed from the small revelation, their dance slowly coming to an end. There was an evident smirk on the bluenette's expression as he spun her around once before his right hand trailed from her waist to her back instead. As if reading his mind, Evolet only smiled as Khun gently lowered her backwards into a dip.

“You don’t seem surprised.” Khun said, delight and amusement swirling in those mischievous cobalt blue gaze.

“You were the one who gave me the sign, Khun-san. Besides, something like this is nothing compared to the Floor Test last time. I trust Khun-san after all.”

Laughter escaped the bluenette’s lips as he pulled Evolet up straight into a hug. The smaller girl looked at him curiously as he buried his head in her shoulder comfortably. She was somewhat confused at the randomness. But she didn't waste any time to hug him back while drawing small circles on his back with a low content hun. Khun's arms wrapped tighter around her shoulder.

It was (un)fortunate that Evolet couldn't see his face right now. Otherwise she would've been greeted by the sight of Khun blushing furiously as he covered his mouth with his palm. As Ran would say, he was a lost case when it came to her.

When they got off from the frozen lake to the snowy ground, Khun could see how Evolet was slightly shivering as she released a frosty breath when a cold breeze passed them. Shoulders slumped down as she weakly caressed the side of her arms to retain whatever heat she had.

Being the observant and considerate person he was, Khun took off his coat and draped it over Evolet's shoulder. The Anima blinked confusedly at his actions, even more so when he proceeded to wrap his scarf around her neck. Both of the clothing were still warm from his body heat. It was undoubtedly cozy. He was reprimanding her for not bundling up properly despite knowing that she couldn't stand the cold. Evolet had thought she'd be fine since the weather forecast said it wasn't going to snow today and the temperature would be less cold than yesterday, but apparently she still just can't stand it.

Despite how he was lightly scolding her, Evolet only smiled as she nodded along to his words dutifully. One glance was enough for him to confirm that Evolet wasn't even taking his little lecture seriously. So Khun sighed exasperatedly at her, taking out another set of coat and scarf from his own Lighthouse.

"Then, can I steal these from you?" She pointed to the coat and the scarf with a mischievous grin.

Khun rolled his eyes playfully, aware that Evolet will most likely never return it regardless of what he said. Quite a few sweaters have been taken hostage too, and might he say; he loves it when she does that. A few sweaters and coats are nothing compared to what she's stolen from him anyway. Maybe someday he'll have her steal his last name too? That seemed like an ingenious plan in his mind.

Their walk back to the house was supposed to be an uneventful one. The keyword being supposed to. Well, Evolet thought there was nothing out of the ordinary. Khun certainly did though. It was a miracle that Evolet didn't notice all the stares directed to her, Khun noted. Every so often, he could see some gazes of the Regulars straying to the purplette beside him. And it was getting too annoying for him to ignore.

A confident smirk on his face, he called out her name in a whisper. As he expected, Evolet stopped briefly and looked up at him in perplexion.

"Bandanna."

Albeit puzzled by his intentions, Evolet didn't hesitate to pull up her sleeves slightly to reveal Khun's bandanna tied on her left wrist. He untied it swiftly, kissing her cheek as his hand inserted the bandanna to her hair similarly to his hairstyle on the 2nd Floor in the same instant.

"Much better." He commented nonchalantly, both at the bandanna adorning her hair with his family logo and at Evolet who was blushing uncontrollably at his sudden action. She had completely frozen up, head downwards to avoid Khun's piercing gaze. While on the other hand, said Lightbearer used the opportunity to send glares to the staring Regulars. If the symbol on the bandanna, his signature sky blue hair and sharp cobalt blue eyes, along with the glare he was practically shooting off everywhere didn't get them to back off… Well he'll just have to resort to more drastic measures, won't he?

For safety measures, he snaked an arm around Evolet's waist and pulled her close. As if that wasn't quite enough, he leaned down and one of her eyes fluttered close as Khun pecked it lightly. Finally content with what he did, Khun chuckled at Evolet who was a stuttering mess in his hold.

He knew the only way to make her flustered like this was to catch her off guard. The moment she attained some sort of clue, then he won't be able to make her blush and so was the reverse. Luckily, he could be considered a master at surprising her with these small gestures. The fact that Evolet wasn't used to being showered in affection in that manner also certainly helped him too.

"Shall we go now?"

Still a tint of pink from the blush on her cheeks, Evolet somehow managed to calm herself down and nodded carefully. She didn't comment on how Khun's arm still wrapped around her waist loosely without any intentions of letting go. It was safe to say that no one else dared to stare too long at them.

He should’ve realized that something was off once they arrived home. But he was far too observed in their small conversation and Evolet herself didn’t show any sign of caution, hence why he didn’t mind a thing. Just as soon as the door opened though, Khun was baffled when he heard the popping sound of streamers and the team members crowding him.

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KHUN!”

All of them were lined up properly with Wangnan at the center, carrying a two layered cake that Evolet had made earlier this morning. Khun on the other hand, blinked confusedly at the sight in front of him. They were clearly expecting some sort of reaction from him. The bluenette stayed silent for a moment before he turned to Evolet who stood beside him. She was smiling innocently and he knew her job was to distract him while the others prepared this. Props to her for a job well done indeed for diverting his attention.

"Come on, come on! Hurry up and blow the candles! Eve purposefully woke up early this morning just to make the cake for you! And we're already hungry~!"

Her lips curled into a sheepish smile as she tiptoed slightly and brushed the remaining streamers that were on his head and shoulders. She pushed him forward, urging him to humor them.

Noticing the team’s stares at him, sighing as he blew out the candles and the team cheered loudly. They didn’t even wait any longer to rush to the dining room to cut the cake and start the feast while the birthday boy himself was left at the doorway. He could hear the ruckus they were causing in the dining room.

He was already used to the shenanigans, but he could still feel the headache coming on. Evolet giggled faintly at his exasperated look, grasping his hand and pulling him down briefly to whisper in his ear.

Happy birthday, Aguero.

She sneaked a soft kiss to his cheek while she’s at it, before pulling him gently to where the others were. Khun just let himself be dragged along, head in the clouds as he registered the fact that she just whispered a happy birthday before kissing his cheek. She just called him by his given name, without any suffix. Maybe it’s not such a terrible day after all. Khun found that he didn’t mind if Evolet celebrated his birthday again. Now, how can he get her to keep calling him Aguero instead of Khun...


Bonus scene (drunk Khun and his schemes):

Truth to be told, Evolet had expected this to happen. Nearly half of the team was knocked out from the alcohol, excluding Evolet and Goseng. They were all passed out on the table, utterly clueless on what’s happening as they slept soundly.

What she didn’t account for was that Khun would also be drunk after partaking in the little drinking contest that the team practically forced all of them into. She thought for sure that Khun would have a high alcohol tolerance, but she can scratch that out after seeing the aftermath of said competition. There wasn't even a clear winner in the end because Goseng stopped them from going any further.

She shook his shoulder lightly, calling out Khun's name to see if he was still somewhat coherent enough to walk to his room by himself. The drunk Lightbearer groaned as he rubbed his eyes in a confused manner, blue cobalt eyes fluttered open albeit clearly hazed.

"Eve~" The Anima could confidently claim that he was completely drunk. Khun didn't seem to notice what she was thinking, hiccuping from his slurred speech.

Taking away the bottle of sake that was tucked neatly in his arms, Evolet shook her head exasperatedly as she calmly spoke out. "Come on, Khun-san. I'll take you to your room."

A frown made itself apparent on Khun's face for a split second, but it was already gone by the time Evolet switched her attention back to him. He didn't hesitate to throw his arms around her as soon as she leaned down, looping them around her neck and teasingly pulled her down. Evolet wasn't affected by it at the least, instead leaning even further down to steady herself. Once she had a better balance, she heaved him up slightly. Expertly shifting her hands to support his back and the back of his knees before lifting him up.

Khun certainly didn't mind her actions, quickly snuggling to the crook of her neck with a satisfied sigh as he made himself comfortable in her hold. It was a new experience for her, seeing Khun in such a state. Normally he would never act so spoiled like this, though she did find it to be rather cute.

Evolet paused her steps when the bluenette wriggled around in her hold. Shifting so that he could lay his head on her shoulder, inhaling the sweet scent of lavender as he relaxed and closed his eyes. She could feel Khun breathing down her neck as shivers ran down her back. His lips were dangerously brushing against her neck, or rather he was practically mumbling on her skin.

Her face was slowly starting to heat up, hues of pink and scarlet painted across her cheeks as she stiffened up. If this was the same as usual, then she would've loved to just cover up her face with her hands. Except she's got her hands full carrying Khun and she couldn't do that now. All the while flustered and steam rising up from her ears, Evolet walked at a hurried pace in hopes of reaching Khun's room earlier so that he would stop his little unintentional ministrations.

"Eve~" His voice resembles more of a whine by now, hiccuping at the end of his sentence.

"Wha–what is it, Khun-san?"

One of his cobalt blue eyes blinked open, a visible frown on his expression as he pouted childishly. "...that. Stop that. Call me Aguero like you did earlier."

Evolet practically stumbled on her steps, regaining her balance clumsily as her blush became more prominent under the light. "A–aguero-san...?"

Still unsatisfied with her answer, he lifted his head up and stared directly at Evolet. A confident smirk could be seen on his expression, mirth glinting in his sharp cobalt blue eyes. "No, without the suffix. Just Aguero without the '–san'"

Much to Evolet's relief, she reached Khun's room just in time as he said that. She opened the door and seated him on the bed in a split second, offering a glass of water as she told him to sleep in hopes of changing the topic.

To her defeat, Khun pouted at the glass of water handed to him without making any moves to actually drink it. He even dared to actually whine at her, childishly crossing his arms.

"If you don't call me Aguero then I won't drink the water or sleep."

And to think Evolet thought she'd never see the day when the usually mature, proud, intelligent, Khun Aguero Agnis acts like a child. Except she was the one who's the most troubled currently at his attitude. She doesn't know if Khun was the type to forget after his hangover passes or is he the type to remember the night before.

If he remembered then that would mean Evolet would have to keep calling him Aguero, which… wasn't a bad thing except then she would be too embarrassed to even look at him straight in the eyes. On the other hand, the bluenette sitting in front of her seemed to have no intentions of giving up either. So like any logical person, Evolet chose the most obvious option– run.

Not that it would work on Khun who's learned to read people's body language from a young age. She didn't even reach the door before Khun tugged her hand and pulled her down to the bed before pinning her down to block any way out. If she survived this, she'll make sure to always monitor the team's alcohol intake instead of letting them run loose. That is, if she actually survived this.

Khun was staring down at her, the smirk never leaving his lips. One would think he wasn't actually drunk if they saw the clear yet amused gaze in those cobalt blue orbs. Evolet was far too gone to notice the clarity and coherence he had over the situation though.

"A-gu-e-ro." He mouthed out the syllables of his name teasingly, utterly enjoying how things were turning out right now while Evolet was steadily getting more confused.

Evolet could only stutter unintelligibly, lost on what's happening and unable to reply properly. Khun just urged her to say his given name in the midst of her mind's chaos. Her palm automatically covered her lips as she looked away, still stammering as she called out his name reluctantly.

"Aguero…?"

.

.

.

Khun's eyes were wide open, undeniably blown speechless from the sight below him. If people saw them right now, they would've guessed that Evolet was the drunk one from how red her face was. Her blue-violet eyes shimmered under the bedroom's lighting, a bright scarlet dusted over her cheeks that showed no signs of disappearing anytime soon. Evolet was still avoiding his gaze, unaware of the shock in his cobalt blue eyes.

Her reaction just backfired to his little plan. Originally he thought he'd be able to handle it without any problems, but it looks like Khun overestimated himself for once. The Lightbearer's heart was pounding wildly, blush creeping up from his nape as he plopped himself on her and wrapped his arms around Evolet's petite figure. He was careful not to crush her, shifting their positions so that he was spooning her.

"Uh… uhm– Aguero?" She needed to stop calling him like that for now, otherwise who knows how Khun'll end up. He could feel blood rushing to his cheeks as he buried his head on Evolet's shoulder. She couldn't see his expression behind her and was left clueless as to how Khun was trying to regain his composure.

Since he hadn't moved for quite a while now, Evolet just assumed that he was already asleep. She started to calm down, relaxing in his hold as she caught her breath. She waited for a while before trying to pry his hands away from her waist only for it to have the opposite effect she was hoping for. In her attempt to loosen his hold, he instead pulled her even closer and nuzzled deeper to her shoulder. On reflex, Evolet shivered at the sensation of his breathing on her neck.

She tried a few times to get out of his hold after that to no avail. He would only respond by hugging her even tighter each time. Not wanting to risk him waking up with how he stirred in his sleep from her last attempt, Evolet opted to stay still instead. She was rather tired from all the activities today since she woke up early to bake the cake. But at least the team seemed to enjoy it fully.

It'll be fine if she just rested for a bit, wouldn't it? In five minutes or so she'll wake up and find a way to escape the hug again. For now, a little shut eye sounds nice…

Eyes drooping from today's exhaustion and sleepiness, the purplette was quickly being lulled to sleep by the gentle warmth enveloping her as her breath evened out. The gift she prepared for Khun was long forgotten in the safety of her Lighthouse, a pair of suspendium earrings with rather special functions left in a neatly wrapped box. But she'll eventually hand that to him someday.

A peaceful smile was spread across her face, hands unconsciously trailing up to grasp Khun's hands that were still hugging her. The owner of said hands who were hugging her was in fact, still awake, and perfectly sober even before his little scheme started. He hadn't been drunk since the very start and everything had played out accordingly to what his brain cooked up until the point where she called him Aguero. He didn't account for his brain to malfunction only from that and was soundly defeated unintentionally by Evolet. But…

At the very least he could clearly feel her warmth in his arms. He remembers her smiles and all the little moments, the new memories made today. He spent the whole day together with her and came back to a surprise party that she had sneakily planned. Here in this moment, she was very much alive by his side and they'll continue climbing the Tower together. He'll eventually figure out a way to make her his, step by step at a time. Khun was an excellent strategist after all, he should be able to manage a feat like that in no time at all. For now, he'll just relish in the fact that she was by his side and take solace in the gentle warmth of the soothing lavender scent.

The next morning– Evolet will wake up and stare dumbfounded at the bedroom ceiling while thinking how she's going to get out of the blanket burrito Khun wrapped the both of them in without waking him up.

Correction:
Bonus scene (d̶r̶u̶n̶k̶  Khun and his schemes)

Chapter Text

Khun stared at the monstrosity of a room, the word FUG painted with blood on the wall. Dan tied up and passed out on the floor while Gyetang was dead. The rest of his teammates were gone, he had let his guard down. Evolet didn't say anything as she entered the room along with the others though she narrowed her eyes at the bloodied wall. Leaning down beside Dan's unconscious body, she took a glance at the repetitive stab wounds on both of his legs before giving out instructions.

"Arkraptor-san, could you take him to another room and help me tend to his remaining wounds?. His legs should be fine, he just passed out because of the blood loss and energy needed to heal himself. As for Prince-san, please find a hospital and contact them. As for the rest of you... could you take care of…" Her words trailed off as she glanced at Gyetang's cold body with a guilty frown. The others seemed to understand the implication, moving on to do what was needed.


The team waited nervously in front of the door, anxious for the news from Khun as he exited with a solemn look on his face.

"How is he?!" They were all obviously concerned about Dan despite how  they were practically strangers.

"I think he'll survive. His legs are severely injured though…"

Wangnan was hesitant to say this out loud, not knowing how Khun would react to it. But he had to at least convince him that the FUG pair on their team had nothing to do with it. "...y–you know… I don't know anything about FUG and you might not believe me, but this has nothing to do with–!"

"I know." Khun had cut him off, not even bothering to listen to the rest of his sentence. He already had the culprit in mind, no one else other than Rachel could've done this. His eyes narrowed the slightest bit, an apparent cold gleam on those cobalt blue eyes before it vanished and replaced with a more relaxed expression as he continued speaking.

"I'm going to get some air. I want to clear my thoughts.”

Wangnan could only stutter out a short reply, confused as to why Khun said he knew but thankful nonetheless. Already a few steps away, Khun stopped walking before turning to the team members. His eyes raked over them, noting how Evolet wasn’t there before he asked her whereabouts.

“Ah… If you’re searching for Eve then she stepped out for a bit with Goseng to the supermarket." Khun raised an eyebrow at the statement, but closed his eyes momentarily as he released a sigh before heading to the roof.

He stared at the blue sky contemplating. He actually searched Evolet earlier because he wanted some clear answers to confirm his unbelievable theories. While in his mind it was already cemented that if Yvette was Evolet then Bam being Jue Viole Grace wasn't out of reach. It was rather hard to imagine Evolet partnering up with someone that wasn't Bam that easily. But he needed a concrete proof to complete his theory.

"Jue Viole Grace is the 25th Bam."

Snapping his head up at the arrival of a new voice, Khun found a person that he least expected. Hwaryun who failed the Floor of Tests was standing before him.

"You are?!"

"Long time no see, Khun Aguero Agnis."

"Hwaryun…? How… did you get here? I remember you failed on the Test Floor, so how did…?!" He asked confusedly, perplexed by the new presence.

"I can go anywhere. Because I'm a guide." She wasn't the least affected by his questions, answering them with a calm smile that you would expect from a Red Witch.

Khun on the other hand, was still trying to make sense of all of this while dashing out more questions. "A guide?! What do you mean…? You are–!"

"I took a test as a Regular because of my job. I'm helping FUG at the moment."

His cobalt blue eyes dilated slightly, focusing on the particular word and the Guide standing before him almost dangerously. "... FUG… Did… you plan all of this…?"

"Yes. It's exactly what you're thinking. FUG wanted the Irregular, the 25th Bam, to make the wish come true so they made it look as if he died on the test floor and changed his identity to Jue Viole Grace, the Slayer Nominee. And the Guide who took him on that path… was me."

That snapped the last string of his patience and rationality. Without even thinking twice, his body had moved to deliver a punch to the red haired girl. Hwaryun wasn't shaken at all by it, her golden staff shielded her from Khun's fist and blood slowly dripped down from his new wound.

"... Where did they take Bam…?!" He asked impatiently with a threatening tone. There was a cold glare on his expression, a prominent will to kill should it come to it.

Hwaryun sighed as she closed her eyes in exasperation. "This must be what they call favoritism. If Eve was the one who told you about this, you wouldn't have attacked her."

It was true, a part of Khun's mind thought. But Hwaryun wasn't Evolet and he had no patience left when he's been betrayed by the blonde he's been suspecting about Bam's apparent death. She lowered her staff, answering that she didn't know where Bam was. Clearly, it wasn't an answer Khun could accept easily.

"What?!!"

"I wasn't involved in this one. It was planned by FUG Elders and some Slayers who were interested in the politics and powers within FUG."

She might have stated it with a relaxed expression, but Khun was less impressed now. He knew what it meant. "So… you were also backstabbed."

"Yeah." She answered nonchalantly with a placid smile before continuing.

"They want to have Viole under their control. So that's why they want to put Viole in the team they made. Though of course that means Yvette is also another obstacle in their plans. Which is why they're desperately trying to keep her out of the picture with all their power. She's already taking precautions on her own, but the sooner we finish this the better. So, I have a favor to ask of you, Khun Aguero Agnis."

"...what?"

"Win the Workshop Battle… with Viole's teammates."

He's been saying too much "what" today, but he couldn't help but repeat it again. It was an outrageous idea, trying to win with a team he wasn't even familiar with out of nowhere. Not to mention they looked ordinary. He had too much doubt about their capabilities, even if Bam and Evolet were on a team with them.

"That's so sudden! You want me to enter the Workshop Battle with them?!"

"After the incident at the Hand of Arlene, they offered this wager. Whoever wins, between the team they chose and the original team, will get to be Viole's teammates. To be honest, the only reason Viole is able to get some freedom is because a High Ranker in FUG and Yvette's interventions."

That had caught Khun's attention. He understood how a High Ranker had a say in the decision, but he didn't see how Evolet could affect the matter herself. Though… His mind drifted to the first letter Evolet sent. She had known about Bam and told him to be cautious around Rachel. It wasn't much of a stretch to say she might know about the two other betrayers on his team, going with her letters he's accumulated over the years. Hwaryun paid no mind to his lack of attention, simply resuming her little speech.

"He's a monster, even Slayers will have a hard time fighting with him if fights seriously. Yvette is covering the rest of the matters within the political field. Despite how she might seem, she holds a considerable amount of power inside and outside FUG though she can't beat the Rankers in the term of firepower. The Elders in FUG hates her because she keeps interfering in Viole's matters. That's why they beat us to the punch but made a compromise like this. The problem is that most of those in FUG seem to consent to the wager. Yvette has been protesting fervently against the matter, but there's only so much she can do when they didn't make any direct moves."

"So you want me to take them and win the battle? No way!! What changes if I help you guys? You're also taking advantage of Bam!!"

Hwaryun raised an eyebrow unimpressed at his claims. "Us FUG aside, can you really say such a thing about her? Besides, you don't have much of a choice. What can you do at the moment? You've lost your team and you're the target of FUG. Are you planning to give up on everything and run away?"

Khun gritted his teeth, fully knowing that he'd run out of options. His bloodied fist was clenched, he needed to do something. The rooftop door suddenly banged open, Wangnan running with short gasping breaths as he informed Khun that Dan was awake. For now, he should go see him and think of a plan afterwards.


Meanwhile, Evolet and Goseng were at the nearest grocery store. Not long after Arkraptor helped Evolet tend to Dan, she suddenly said that she wanted to go to the supermarket and Goseng had kindly offered to go along with her. They were currently in the fruits and vegetables aisle, searching for the ingredients they needed to make dinner.

“Thank you for accompanying me, Goseng-san.”

“No, it’s no problem at all. You seem like you needed it so...” Goseng hesitantly said, pushing the cart forwards as Evolet added more vegetables. Evolet’s lips twitched slightly, releasing a silent sigh at Goseng’s words. She didn’t show any other reaction, simply walking on as she surveyed the aisle. Goseng stared at her with worry plaguing her mind as she contemplated to speak up her thoughts.

“Uhm– Eve!”

“Hm? What’s wrong, Goseng-san?” Evolet asked, a nonchalant tone in her voice as she continued on.

“You… shouldn’t blame yourself for all of this...” That got Evolet to stop in her tracks, blue-violet eyes narrowed slightly as she took the words into consideration. Maybe she was making it too obvious that she was feeling somewhat guilty over the whole incident. She already discussed this with Jinsung and Yunuen beforehand, so there was honestly nothing to worry about as long as Khun was willing to win with their team and she could take care of the things on her side on the Archimedes. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t worried about this whole fiasco. After all, it was Bam’s freedom that was on the line.

“I’m sure none of us think that you’re at fault. We all know that you cherish Viole too much for doing something like this. You told us that Horyang would be better off with them because we wouldn’t be able to provide the proper treatment for him. We all believe that you didn’t have a hand with what happened with Mr. Khun’s team either. And you said so yourself to us, a Defender’s job is to protect the team. That’s why, we trust you, Eve.”

Evolet turned backwards, rather taken aback by Goseng’s declaration. The Lightbearer blushed as Evolet stared at her, flustered by her own words as she saw Evolet let out a soft smile at her. “Thank you, Goseng-san. I’m sorry if I made you worried.”

“E-eh?! Oh, no– I mean– We were just concerned–” Evolet smiled amusedly at her slip ups, stifling her laughter with her palm as she watched Goseng trying to regain her composure.

Almost with a smirk, Evolet started throwing in various ingredients nonchalantly. Goseng struggled slightly to keep up with her pace, making sure none of the groceries dropped though there wasn't any need to worry about it.

"Is it... sweet and sour pork today?"

Evolet nodded lightly, humming with a soft tune as she did. "It'll help get their spirits up. They'll need it if Khun-san is going to take charge."

And it'll take my mind off things

The remaining sentence left unsaid, but they've been teammates for several years after all. Goseng could easily notice the hidden implication. She stepped up beside Evolet, checking the list for other ingredients they were missing. Though she knew Evolet was the team's Defender not only in battle but also many other aspects, it was in the nature of their team. She doesn't know what kind of support she can provide, but for now she'll just have to stay beside her and see.

"I'll help you cook tonight, Eve."

"That'll be nice… thank you, Goseng-san. But maybe you should put in soy sauce instead of curry roux…?"

Said brunette blinked once, glancing at the item in her hold and confirming that what she took was indeed curry roux which they didn't need in sweet and sour pork. Dumbfounded, Goseng could only say, "Oh…"

"Pft–" If anything else except her little blunder of ingredients, Goseng thought it was worth it since Evolet was laughing now.


They came back to Khun shouting out that he’ll make a team with them and enter the Workshop Battle, even telling them that he’ll be sure to win it. He introduced himself briefly to them, as the previous teammate of Bam– Viole. As usual, he was confident as always and Evolet truly wouldn’t have it any other way. It worked in their favor to boost up the team’s morale after all.

This was why she thought Khun as an all capable leader. She wasn’t surprised when the team was all in favor of his words. She’ll have a lot to prepare now that their goals were aligned. Her gaze met Hwaryun for a moment as the Guide nodded to her. They were on track to finally get Bam out of FUG. All that’s left to do is train the team and see if she can get help from a certain person.

“Eve, we need to talk.” She could feel Khun’s stare at her as she showed him a small reluctant smile. After all, she owed him a proper explanation for all the years. She wasn’t prepared for any of this, but she supposed she already put it off long enough. She’ll be fine. Khun was here and so was the team. He already agreed. They’ll save Bam without fail.

Chapter Text

"Good luck Svalinn, you'll need it."

Right after saying that, the Guide took the bags of groceries from Evolet's hands before practically shoving Khun and her into the nearest empty room. The door closed resoundingly, the duo left unknowing how Hwaryun smirked as she shut the door and went to distract the others. Evolet blinked confusedly at the shut door, wondering why Hwaryun had suddenly done that. Almost reluctantly, she turned to Khun who hasn't said a thing since they entered the room. He hadn't moved from the spot, staring at Evolet with a thinking look.

“Uhm… Are you… by any chance angry at me, Khun-san?”

Evolet began to assume the worst when Khun didn’t answer. Her mind was already conjuring up various reasons behind his presumed anger. It wasn’t anything surprising considering all she’s done… or rather not done during the long period they were separated. She didn't offer him any sort of detailed explanation behind her disappearance nor Bam’s apparent death. It didn’t help that she knew about the two hired Regulars in his team but didn’t say it outrightly and instead implied it in a roundabout way. She even tried to play it off when Khun called her out in the Hand of Arlene, look where that got them. She doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do if Khun suddenly said he hated her for it.

Her hand unconsciously gripped her forearm, starting to get anxious from a lack of answer. She didn’t dare to look at Khun anymore, keeping her head down as her thoughts swirled chaotically in her mind. There was a heavy feeling in her chest, the unease from the silence spiking drastically as her eyes zoned out gradually.

Contrary to whatever possible explanations that Evolet thought, Khun was rather thinking where she had gone earlier without telling him. While Arkraptor did inform him that she headed to the grocery store, Evolet herself just disappeared without saying a single thing to Khun. He couldn’t help but get somewhat edgy when she did that, especially after he just met her again after 7 years since their separation on the Floor of Tests.

He snapped out of his thoughts with a sigh, only realizing how Evolet had gone silent too. It didn’t take long for Khun to notice that Evolet had a terrifyingly blank look in her eyes, gripping her arm tight enough that it left a bruise. Evolet felt like her hearing was muddled momentarily, unable to comprehend how Khun was calling out her name while trying to loosen the hold on her forearm.

..ve- Eve!” Said girl slowly blinked into awareness, watching confusedly as Khun breathed a sigh of relief when those blue-violet regained their shine. She smiled apologetically at him, adorning a sheepish look as the anxiousness from earlier was hidden away.

"I'm sorry, Khun-san… I'm probably just a little tired, so please don't worry about it. FUG's internal affairs' been a mess lately and there were too many documents that needed revisions along with the replies for the report so I haven't been able to get a decent rest…" She answered meekly, releasing her grip on her forearm before trying to cover it up with her sleeves.

Khun frowned at the action, eyes raking over Evolet's small figure as he spotted the eyebags she had despite her otherwise pristine clothing. He caressed her cheek lightly, cobalt blue eyes narrowed as his thumb grazed the dark circles under her eyes. It reminded him all too well of Hwaryun's words.

“Eve, when was the last time you slept?” He asked suspiciously.

“What do you mean, Khun-san? I was sleeping when-”

“Let me rephrase that. How long have you not slept in a bed properly?”

.

.

.

The smile on her face turned awkward as she avoided his peering gaze. How was she even supposed to tell him that she's only been sleeping for a grand total of 30-ish minutes for the past four days. Aside from the appearance of the eyebags that she can't control, Evolet thought that she seemed like usual so she didn't find any trouble with it. She's had worse before anyway.

Undoubtedly, Khun wasn't the slightest bit satisfied with her lack of reply. The silence provided him a clear answer and he chided himself for not noticing her condition sooner. He ignored the small yelp of surprise coming from Evolet as her blue-violet eyes widened when Khun placed his arms around her back and knees before scooping her up. She spluttered at the actions, hiding her full on blushing face in her hands as she mumbled incoherently.

This was a point that Bam was yet to discover. It's actually a rather easy feat to make Evolet flustered. All you had to do was to show an affectionate gesture that she wouldn't expect. Why was there never such a scene with Bam, you ask? The answer to that would be because Evolet knew every crook and nook of how Bam functions, as such for Bam to surprise Evolet would be an impossible feat unless he adapted with a completely new way of thinking or he got a suggestion from someone else.

He laid Evolet gently on the bed, ignoring the half-hearted protests as he covered her eyes with his palm and told her to sleep. She struggled to take his hand off her eyes, trying to lift it to no avail since she didn't use any real force behind it. So instead she opted to lay still, though one of her hands rested on top of Khun's that was still covering her eyes. Khun couldn't help but let out a soft smirk when he saw the small pout on Evolet's lips, her cheeks still lightly dusted pink from when he carried her out of the blue.

"At least stay with me until I fall asleep then, Khun-san?"

"Sure."

It brought about a sense of satisfaction to him when her pout morphed into a smile from a single word he uttered. Putting one of her Lighthouses on visible mode, Evolet pulled out a flash disc after rummaging blindly for a while. Khun took it amusedly, seeing how Evolet was flashing him an expectant smile though he still couldn't see her eyes. He was pleasantly surprised and somewhat taken aback when he plugged the flash disc. It was a compilation of Sweet and Sour training data along with their stats with complete strength and weaknesses, even fields to be improved and its methods.

The data was a work of art for a Lightbearer like Khun who appreciated neatly organized information that was easy to digest. He let out a satisfied hum, nodding to himself before realizing Evolet couldn't see him doing that because he was still covering her eyes. There were still quite a few factors Khun needed to think about. He may have declared to the team that they'll win the Workshop Battle, but there was a slight hesitation lingering in him. After all, his pride aside, he was still dealing with FUG.

His usual team members weren't there either, and he'll have to hide from Shibisu's team if he decided to go. There were a lot of risks in his still yet formed plan, and Khun wasn't the one to roll with uncertainty. His gaze trailed to Evolet who laid still, chest rising up and down rhythmically in a calm manner as she slowly drifted to sleep.

"Eve… what are you going to do once we succeed winning the Workshop Battle and win Bam's freedom?"

He had asked it out of the blue, fully on impulse from his curiosity that sparked when he saw the file. Evolet was already half-asleep by the time he asked that, answering in a somewhat slurred voice as the lack of sleep finally crashed down on her.

"Need to… take care of promise with FUG…"

A part of him wondered if Evolet would accidentally spill her thoughts truthfully in her incoherent state as he continued speaking. "What exactly is your promise?"

To his dismay, Evolet grumbled and shifted slightly while somewhat attempting to take off his hand of her eyes. It was clear that she wasn't using her strength, but it was also a sign for Khun to back down from his probing question. Which he did with a small sigh as he replaced it with one last question.

"Then… what would you do if you didn't have that promise?"

At this point Evolet was already far gone in her fit of sleepiness, only managing a small mumble that left too big of an impact on Khun.

"Climb the Tower… with everyone…"

And all he could hear was the soft breathing of Evolet in the otherwise silent room. He retracted his palm from her eyes, seeing how she already fell asleep. All the while frowning, he brushed away Evolet's bangs tenderly as to not wake her up. She seemed to take to his presence, letting out a content sigh as she sought his hand and held it dearly once she found it. Khun could only find it as an odd thing, watching confusedly as Evolet snuggled to his hand.

It was debatable if he could even trust Evolet, considering that she was also in FUG. Yet her actions speak otherwise. He wouldn't be surprised if she told him that she's been staying up for a whole week with how easy she fell asleep. Someone from FUG wouldn't show such a vulnerable side to a member of the Ten Great Families anyway.

Nor could he imagine Bam as a FUG member either, remembering how innocent and caring the golden eyed boy was. Evolet as a FUG member was somehow more believable, seeing how she was perfectly capable of threatening without hesitation and her skilled moves even on the Floor or Tests. Though then again it was a rather common thing between the Regulars.

He already promised himself that he'll keep Evolet by his side no matter what this time. And now he's found another one of the jewels that he's lost because of the blonde traitor. He knew the two were a set that he shouldn't and couldn't separate, especially how Evolet was utterly adamant on protecting Bam regardless of the cost. Honestly, Rak would've been the one fit for the job to convince him to let go of his hesitations. The words Evolet mumbled out were wreaking havoc in his mind, a part of his conscience commanding him to find ways so that they could bring down FUG and let both Bam and Evolet climb the Tower freely.

From what Hwaryun had told him, Khun could safely assume that Evolet was already working hard to free Bam from FUG. Which meant he had to support her didn't he? And then after that he'll work out a way to bring Evolet with them away from FUG. Everything will be done step by step, just as patient as how he had planned to bring Rachel to the top then push her down. Except this time he couldn't allow his plans to be foiled because it involved two people who held much importance in his life. As if reading his mind unconsciously in her sleep, Evolet squeezed his hand gently which Khun could only shake his head at. His decision was set in stone now.

He'll make sure FUG regrets everything.

Khun took that sentence back soon enough. He was putting up a smile at the front, but inwardly he was lamenting his short visioned decision after seeing the team's prowess on his own. The data Evolet provided was accurate and he was grateful for it. That just made it worse since he only had too little of a time to make them top notch teammates by the end of this month.

He was massaging his forehead that was pounding from a headache, picking up the soothing cup of Evolet's signature lavender tea that Khun has become more or less addicted to during his stay. The Anima who brewed the tea was standing a distance away from him on the other side of the backyard, Shinsu floating around her as she taught Wangnan a new technique.

"Arkraptor… was it? What do you think of Eve?" Khun asked casually to the man standing beside him, curious of what the team thought of Evolet.

"Are you asking my opinion as a team member? Or is it as a man?" His cobalt blue eyes narrowed dangerously at Arkraptor who was still donning a nonchalant look, a silent threat that allowed Arkraptor to deduce the bluenette's feelings. It's been going on for days now. All of the members would try their best to not leave Evolet with Khun alone, though they always seem to fail somehow whenever Khun got sick of it and intervened. They were hellbent on shipping the purplette with Viole instead of Khun.

Arkraptor scoffed lightly, shaking his head to show Khun that he was only joking. Though Khun took it rather seriously. He coughed to shake off the awkwardness, answering Khun's question.

"Well… you're undoubtedly the better leader compared to Eve. Before you came, we functioned as a team without an apparent leader that centered around Viole and Eve. But… unlike you, she's the one who keeps the team in line. All of us know that she's the one to rely on and she keeps the group together. All of the plans were discussed with her, and she'll show us how we can improve it along with techniques that'll fit into the plan to make it better."

"Everything in the group goes through her and she takes care of it all. We're all aware she's crucial to the team, she said it was her job as the Defender. Not only to protect the team in battle, but also to ensure we're always safe regardless of the situation. She's in charge of more or less everything in the team."

Khun was still in the middle of processing the information he got from Arkraptor when a crash suddenly resounded. There was the swishing of wind as he blinked confusedly. The next thing he knew Evolet passed him in a hurry, gliding on the ground at high speed with the help of Shinsu coating her feet as she chased Wangnan who went over speed.

"WANGNAN-SAN!!! SHINSU! LOWER YOUR SHINSU OUTPUTTTTT!!!" The Defender screamed in panic, watching as Wangnan speeded up even more with a gleeful scream before he crashed to the wall. The team could only sigh simultaneously, used to these kinds of displays.

"Doesn't mean we always listen to her though." Arkraptor added helpfully to Khun. It only added to his list of headaches as the Lightbearer groaned.


Bonus scene (A few nights before the Hand of Arlene incident):

Bam stared disapprovingly at the enlarged white Lighthouse in their room, sulking at the fact that Evolet was still working endlessly inside her Lighthouse. All the while pouting, he entered the Lighthouse silently since Evolet had set her Lighthouses to give more or less full authority to him. The Anima didn’t even notice him, too engrossed on the screen and the stacks of papers around as her fingers continued to dance across the keyboard.

He came up behind her, casually dropping himself down and letting his full weight sunk on her back. Evolet made a surprised noise, turning her head backwards. She let out a small whine, one of her eyes fluttered close as Bam peppered small kisses all around it. She stopped typing momentarily, pressing a finger to Bam's lips to keep him in place as she smiled exasperatedly when she saw the grin on his expression.

"Bam… you can go ahead and sleep first if you're already tired. I have some urgent documents I have to take care of before I sleep."

Quite obviously, Bam wasn't the least happy about the news. The brunette frowned, leaning in closer to the screen to see the files she needed to work on. Codes, symbols, various signatures and too many complicated words. He couldn't understand a thing on the screen. And Evolet only laughed fondly at him, knowing him all too well that she could guess he didn't get anything from his observation.

Bam slumped down at that, pouting even harder when Evolet only released a fond sigh before going back to her work. He wasn't going to have none of it, not unless he was going to sleep with her by his side as usual. Plopping his chin on her head, Bam wrapped his arms around Evolet’s neck loosely. He had planned to help her finish up her work, but that plan has just been thrown out of the window once he figured he couldn’t understand a thing.

His golden gaze was trained on the screen, watching as Evolet smoothly typed whatever it is that she needed to do without a single delay that you’d expect her to be done in a jiffy. But Bam was all too familiar with this situation. When Evolet said “some” and “urgent documents” in the same sentence, he knew it wasn’t going to end well.

It wouldn’t be the first time she pulled an all nighter for it, and Bam doubted it’ll be the last. Sometimes he wondered why FUG had so many complicated procedures, but if he was the one who owned it then he would exempt Evolet from every single one of it and dump it on someone else just so that he can sleep in until late with her.

He released his hold around her, frowning when he still didn’t catch her attention even as he did. Bam was jealous of the Lighthouse screen that was hogging all her attention, that’s what. He wanted all of her attention only focused on him as selfish as that was of him.

So instead he plopped himself down on the makeshift Shinsu bench she was sitting on, shifting around until his head ended on her lap. He internally smiled, aware how she was staring at him questioningly now. He turned around, hiding a gleeful grin behind his pout as he pulled one of her hands down and placed it on his head.

And Bam could feel all his jealousness from earlier melting away when she smiled at him. Leaning down to place a gentle kiss on his forehead before he turned to her stomach instead in a desperate attempt to hide his furiously blushing face. If only she knew what her little actions do to him. She only let out a soft laugh, patting his head affectionately and eliciting a content purr out of him.

“The bed is comfier you know.” Bam would beg to differ with her statement if he wasn’t already too cozy in her lap with her fingers running through his hair. There was still a faint typing sound in the background, and Bam could tell that she was still working on the documents. He wanted to protest so that she’ll stop working and instead just sleep with him. But his eyes were already drooping, being lulled to sleep by the soft humming Evolet was doing and the feeling of her fingers threading through his brunette locks. He couldn’t even utter a single word before he fell asleep.

Evolet stifled a chuckle when she saw Bam was already fast asleep. Almost teasingly, she lifted her hand away from his head and watched amusedly as Bam frowned in his sleep, a hand grabbing around in the air mindlessly in search of the missing sensation of her fingers. She stared at Bam in mirth, smiling playfully as he immediately gripped her hand tightly once it was in his reach without any intention of letting go.

She stopped typing, the paperworks abandoned momentarily as she exited the Lighthouse. Carefully maneuvering her hands supporting his back and legs without releasing his grip, she carefully carried the sleeping brunette to the bed. Bam didn’t waste any time snuggling into the crook of her neck, letting go of her hand to instead snake his arms around Evolet’s neck instead. Making himself comfortable in her hold without a single shame in his sleep.

Evolet was now standing beside the bed, staring at it as a single question crossed her mind. How was she supposed to put Bam on the bed when he wasn’t even releasing his grip? She leaned down carefully, setting him on the edge of the bed as she kneeled awkwardly on the floor beside him. She waited for a while before trying to pry his hands around her neck only for it to have the opposite effect she was hoping for. In her attempt to loosen his hold, he instead pulled her even closer abruptly. Evolet’s balance slipped at the perfect time, falling to the bed and trajectory too close to Bam’s awaiting lips.

She quickly put a hand in the middle, as to prevent any u̶n̶wanted accident. Her palm was the only thing separating their lips, and she couldn’t find it in her to move from her spot. Bam was oblivious to all of this happening, already too deep in sleep. But if he was awake, then he would’ve seen Evolet’s face painted in a brilliant shade of red that made her look like a ripe tomato. Her knees already went lax long ago, the only thing supporting her was the bed frame otherwise she would’ve fallen to the floor.

Watching him carefully, Evolet slowly backed up as far as she could within his arms and lowered her palm. She pressed her forehead to his, releasing a shaky breath with a fully flustered expression. Granted, she knew that Bam didn’t do it on purpose. That doesn’t mean she was any less embarrassed though. In the end she couldn’t even get Bam off of her. Releasing a resigned sigh, Evolet carefully moved him closer to the center of the bed before climbing in and settling down in his hug. She’ll continue her work another day. FUG can always wait if Bam needs her anyway.

Chapter Text

"Khun-san... What exactly is that?" Evolet asked suspiciously while pointing at the monstrosity in the kitchen. A single white plate laid on the kitchen counter, a questionable black blob was on the plate. And Evolet could've sworn it was moving earlier. Was that a face she saw on it...?

"It's... roasted turkey...?"

If he said it was a Christmas pudding then it would've been more believable since... a ruined pudding would resemble a blob. She couldn't even see any traces of the turkey bones. She stared at the failed attempt of a turkey for a few more moments, eyebrows twitching as she realized it was actually moving and promptly threw it in the trashcan along with the plate. She clapped her hands once, smiling brightly as if nothing ever happened in the kitchen.

"Khun-san, can you help prep the vegetables instead?"

Not even a few seconds she took her attention off of him thinking that it was fine, she was swiftly proven wrong. Just when she was about to mix the dry ingredients for the pie dough, the whisk in her hand clattered to the floor as she jumped slightly from surprise when a loud chop resounded throughout the kitchen. Hesitantly, she turned to Khun to see what he did this time.

The knife was stuck to the cutting board after he practically slammed it down to cut a carrot. And he was currently trying to get the knife free from the cutting board. Evolet reached out her hand halfway, lips parted as if she wanted to say something before she sighed and walked over to him with a fond smile.

"That's not how you handle a knife in the kitchen, Khun-san."

Khun stiffened up when he felt her hand on top of his, not noticing how Evolet had gently pulled out the knife with ease. Letting his hand go as she replaced the cutting board and put a new carrot. Evolet stood behind him, placing her hands on top of his as she shifted them to show him the safe way to cut the carrots.

"First, you need to make a claw grip so that you won’t accidentally hurt yourself… Hold the knife like this… Then slice away from your hand and keep your fingers clear of the blade m’kay? Just do it slowly if you’re not used to it.”

Khun wasn’t listening to her explanation. Or rather, he wasn’t able to focus on a single word she was saying. He could faintly feel how her hands were guiding him to cut the vegetables properly and it certainly felt nice. But the reason his brain was currently malfunctioning was because she was practically pressed against him from behind.

He could feel the warmth she was radiating and how she was leaning from behind his shoulder since she was shorter than him. More importantly, she didn’t even realize how her breast was pressing against his back. All in all, it proved to be more of a distraction rather than a helpful guide.

His face was steadily heating up, blood rushing to his cheeks as it was painted in shades of red. His heart was beating so fast that he thought it was a miracle Evolet didn’t hear it. Not that Evolet realized the dilemma of the man in front of him as she continued to maneuver his hands. He doesn’t know if this should be classified into torture or a pleasurable experience.

“I’m home!” Both Evolet and Khun perked up at the voice, Bam was back from his grocery shopping.

“Khun-san, can you handle things here?” Khun nodded mutely at her question as she took off her hands from his and went to greet Bam. As soon as she exited the kitchen, Khun breathed a sigh of relief as he slumped down and covered his mouth with his palm. His face was thoroughly flushed, remembering how a few seconds ago Evolet was still pressed up against him. None of it was good for his heart.

More like, wasn’t the male who was supposed to take on that role in that type of situation? Khun felt like he just lost some dignity as a man and definitely a chance to make a move. Taking a few deep breaths to calm himself down, Khun regained his composure as he stood up and resumed chopping the vegetables correctly this time. He needed to think up a way to make her flustered later.

Meanwhile on the front door, Bam grinned happily when Evolet came out to welcome him home. He set down the groceries on the nearest table, walking up to Evolet leisurely and gingerly kissing her forehead before his arms snaked around her waist to hug her.

“Welcome back, Bam.” The brunette nodded on her shoulder, inhaling her ever-present soothing scent of lavender. Evolet hugged him back, patting his back gently. Bam tightened his hold momentarily before letting her go. He couldn't hold back the grin that immediately took over his expression as he saw the pink hue decorating the purplette's cheeks. Bam wanted to bang his head on the wall just to clear his mind and calm down.

"Where's Mr. Khun?"

Just as she was about to answer, there was a manly scream, no– shriek coming from the kitchen as Khun ran out in a hurry. A fast moving black blob was hot on his trails, screaming out silently as Khun kept throwing kitchen knives at it and all Evolet could say was–

"...what in the actual f*** is happening here–"

Bam whipped his head her way in shock, eyes bulging as he gasped from sheer shock. He has never ever heard Evolet cuss before. ...and he kind of wished he had the chance to record it. Pity Khun was still too busy running away from whatever monstrosity was chasing him as he screamed bloody murder. The black blob suddenly stopped when Khun jumped over the sofa to seek refuge, now directing its attention to the pair that were still standing near the doorway.

Evolet stared impassively at the failed attempt of a turkey that's somehow come to live and seemingly about to jump on them any moment now. It was promptly stopped before anything happened. A certain white siberian husky had suddenly swooped in, immediately biting the black glob and swinging it around as if it was a toy. Sighing exasperatedly, Evolet knelt down and stretched her hand towards the husky.

“Raiden, let go of it. I’ll give you some treats instead.”

At the mention of treats, Raiden immediately abandoned the blob and spat it out. Bam grimaced the slightest bit when he saw it was covered in drool, twitching ever so slightly with a silent pained expression. It's the weirdest thing he's seen all month. Not all year though, too many weird lineups happened within the year in their group.

Evolet proceeded to pick up the blob, face expressionless as she headed outside for a while. Khun had eventually come out from his hiding spot behind the sofa, now standing beside Bam as both male stared at the door. They could hear all sorts of noise outside, crashes, screams, screeches, etc.

The two of them visibly stiffened up once Evolet entered the house again, a small mischievous smile curling on her lips and the chaotic monstrosity nowhere in sight. With one glance from the corner of their eyes, both Bam and Khun immediately agreed to pretend nothing ever happened. Khun was banned from using any of the kitchen heating appliances.

But back on track– the work flowed smoothly after that without any incident and soon enough they had an array of cakes and chicken pot pies. A part of Khun was somewhat irritated that the Christmas party was at Shibisu’s house and it was going to be a hassle to bring so many cakes.

They were the one who d̶e̶m̶a̶n̶d̶e̶d̶ begged Evolet to make the cakes and Anaak threw in a request for a lot of chicken pot pies. To top it off, she told them that only Evolet should make it because she claimed that her chicken pot pies were better than Bam’s even though they used the exact same recipe. Nobody knows how she managed to do that.

Granted, their house was only a few blocks away from Shibisu’s because of too many reasons that Khun took into account when he chose this house. One of them was to stop Endorsi and Rak from coming over everyday, also a small mercy of peace from their daily shenanigans and fights. Oddly enough for Khun, despite Ran being practically neighbors with Shibisu, the younger bluenette was the one who visits the most to their house. He even visits more than Rak.

For half of the week, Ran could always be seen in their house. And irritatingly enough, the first person he sought out was always Evolet who’d always welcome him with a bright smile and give him cups of yogurt whenever he came over. He stays over most of the time and the guest room is practically reserved for him by now. Khun thinks his half-brother is a little imp who always scrunched his nose and showed an exasperated look whenever he saw the casual affection around the house.

Choosing who’s going to drive at their house was… somewhat of a childish chaotic attempt. They would play rock paper scissors and other small games to decide who’d get to drive. Because usually Evolet would sit at the front passenger seat, so they’d have little fights over the driver seat.

It typically ends up with either one of them winning while the other sulks on the back seat, Evolet being unimpressed and tell both of them to take the front seats instead while she enjoyed the spacious back seat alone, they both get pushed to the back seat while she drives alone, or very rarely– one of them would take the back seat with Evolet.

Typically whenever the last case scenario happened, Khun would always win their games by cheating subtly. And Bam would purposefully never drive smoothly while pouting, which worked out in Khun’s advantage whenever Evolet lost her balance and slid towards him. Coincidentally, he would be the one who slipped accidentally at times and he would end up on her lap with a Cheshire grin. Evolet would run her fingers through his silky hair whenever it occurs as if it was the most normal thing in the world. Bam ends up hogging Evolet for the remaining day as a petty revenge and Khun would only laugh teasingly at him.

Today however, seems to be… a bit different. Bam was the one on the back seat with Evolet today, looking as if he’s the happiest man in town with that beaming smile. The purplette was bundled up in a spare blanket they kept in the car, snoozing away peacefully as she laid on Bam's lap. This was one of the key points of winter travelling for Bam, the highlight of winter that Bam loves the most. A clingy and sleeping Evolet during their car rides when it's winter.

Grinning like an idiot, he poked Evolet’s cheek playfully. She let out a long whine in response, grumbling as she swatted his hand away sleepily. The brunette sighed contentedly as he patted Evolet's head and watched her nuzzle to his stomach and hugged his waist in her sleep. Khun showed a hint of smile as he saw the interaction from the rear view mirror.

"Bam, don't tease her too much or she'll wake up."

"It's fine, isn't it? We're about to arrive anyway."

Khun rolled his eyes playfully and Bam took that as a sign of consent without noticing that they've actually arrived at Shibisu's house. At this point, Khun was leaning lazily on the wheel as he stared amusedly at Bam who kept pking Evolet's cheek teasingly. Evolet frowned in her sleep, pulling up the blanket even farther. Both males chuckled at the sight.

Before Bam could try other methods to wake the purplette, the car door abruptly opened and he was promptly pulled out with a loud yelp before he could say anything. Nor did he notice how Khun was smirking smugly when the brunette was dragged away by Endorsi. Evolet let out a small whine, waking up disoriented as her lap pillow disappeared suddenly. She looked around, noticing Bam wasn't anywhere in sight anymore and the driver's seat was empty. In a split second decision, she opted to go back to sleep instead.

On the other hand, Khun was watching right beside her as she promptly went back to sleep with a smile, trying to stifle his laughter. He picked her up without her blanket, carrying her gently out of the car and headed to Shibisu's front door. He was greeted by the sight of mesmerizing blue-violet orbs staring sleepily at him when he looked down.

"It's snowing…" Evolet suddenly said, her gaze fixed at the sky in awe.

...or maybe not staring at him. True to her words, it was slowly snowing. A certain idea popped in the bluenette's intelligent mind. Cobalt blue eyes gleaming with mirth and mischief. Evolet was still staring at the sky in Khun's hold, enraptured with the serene sight of snowflakes falling from the sky like magic. It was truly a sight to behold, pure white dancing around in the air akin to winter fairies. She outstretched one of her hands curiously, feeling a slight chill as a single snowflake landed on her palm but smiled regardless at the feeling.

Khun was observing the purplette in his arms carefully, waiting for the perfect moment to execute his idea. A single snowflake fell on Evolet's rosy lips, sky blue hair entered her vision and the next thing she knew– there was something warm and soft on her lips.

The bluenette smiled into the kiss, always loving the sensation whenever he did this whether it's a small peck or a heated kiss. He was extremely tempted to bite her soft lips, but decided to go easy today. They stayed like that silently for a few seconds before Khun reluctantly parted his lips from hers, a cocky smirk gracing his features. Evolet's blue-violet eyes were wide open at this point, struggling to register what had just occurred as she remained still in Khun's arms. The mirth was all too evident in Khun's cobalt blue orbs as he waited patiently for her reaction.

Not a moment sooner, Evolet's face was painted in a scarlet blush. The confidence Khun had only grew, leaning down to her ear as he delivered the finishing blow.

"I must be a snowflake too, because I fell for you."

Evolet went completely rigid in his hold, embarrassment pushed to the max with Khun's words. Steam erupted from her bright red ears as she kept stammering, utterly flustered in the situation. Startled by the sudden proximity, she hastily struggled without thinking it through. Khun was also unprepared for her reaction, and Evolet unceremoniously dropped down to the snow.

.

.

.

But Evolet broke out in abrupt laughter, no longer flustered and instead amused by the turn of situation albeit covered in snow. Khun only let out a small fond sigh, offering a hand to help her up which Evolet took without hesitation. He dusted the snow off of her, cupping her cheeks as he pecked her forehead gently before bringing their forehead together and closed his eyes briefly. Evolet was slightly giggling, cheeks rosy from the affection Khun always generously showed her.

"Khun-san."

"Hm? What is it, Eve?"

"I love you."

And it was now Khun's turn to be flustered, cobalt blue eyes snapping open as he backed a step away. Blood rushing to his cheeks, face beet red and mouth agape for the not sly move Evolet pulled on him. He could see the ever loving smile on Evolet's expression, always so kind and gentle that it never fails to make him feel warm to the core. He stood rooted to his spot, eyes locked on Evolet and completely mesmerized. Still very much and utterly whipped.

The sound of intentional coughing snapped Khun out of his stupor. He grimaced when he saw the source of the coughing, while Evolet's expression brightened. Evan had been the one coughing, deliberately clearing his throat to distract the two while Yuri was too busy ogling them smugly with an eyebrow raised.

"Yuri-san! Evan-san!"

Yuri didn't even need to be told before she glomped Evolet in a tight hug, the purplette only smiling as she welcomed the warmth full hearted. Evolet could only babble wordlessly as Yuri pinched her cheeks while cooing, treating her like a child. Khun backed off somewhat irritatedly, not the single bit pleased that his moment was disturbed.

"Pwease les go of me, Yuri-shan." Evolet managed in a muffled voice, words mangled up with how Yuri still hasn't let go of her cheeks. The purplette rubbed her reddened cheeks gently once the older brunette let go, feeling the slight sting from all the pinching.

"Hngh, you really should come over to my house sometimes Eve! I'll buy you lots of cakes so please come over and stay sometime soon!"

"I'll...consider it…" She could feel her guilty conscience ringing out as Yuri looked at her with sparkling eyes full of excitement and expectations. She hadn't meant it for real, but it looks like she'll have to visit her either way if she didn't want to feel guilty.

Yuri didn't take any note of Evolet's somewhat dejected mood, grinning as she ushered her to the house. Both Khun and Evan could only sigh as they followed the girls in. As you would expect from Shibisu's house during Christmas, it was pure chaos. The first thing they saw when they entered the living room was a mess. The whole room was unrecognizable save for the sofa and the Christmas tree along with the array of gifts stacked beneath.

Rak was practically throwing things around, demanding for his choco bars and bananas. Anaak and Ran were in the middle of fighting, Shibisu already downed and knocked out on the floor. Endorsi was too busy trying to flirt with Bam who was trying to get up from the sofa in order to deal with the mess to no avail since Endorsi kept stopping him. And Hatz was nowhere to be seen. Yuri immediately caught sight of the stacks of gifts, rushing into the chaos to see if she could open one early before the party started. Evan followed suit in the same second, screaming exasperatedly as he attempted to stop her.

Khun doesn't know what to make out of this situation that was seemingly so normal to him at this point. What he did take note was that there wasn't any fire or electricity haywire yet, so this can be considered a tame fight between all that's happened. Evolet was also at a loss on what to do, wondering if she should just step in and stop the madness.

Before she could ponder about anything else, there was a cup of hot chocolate in front of her. Hatz had been the one to offer her the cup, uttering a small greeting almost abashedly. Never been the one to turn down hot chocolate, Evolet was about to take gratefully with a smile.

But Khun was faster, already grabbing her backwards protectively and taking the cup of hot chocolate while he's at it. The bluenette was smiling as he hid Evolet behind him, giving the cup oh so gently to her before turning back to Hatz with a chilling glare. Hatz didn't take to it kindly either, already sparks flying out disastrously as they exchanged insults.

Evolet only stared at them unimpressed, having expected this to happen either way. Though at the very least the hot chocolate was still in her hands. She left them to their own little scuffle, heading to the kitchen to prepare the food for the party. It isn't her house but… who's to say she couldn't take charge when the supposed host is out cold anyway.

Bam fully noticed how Evolet sauntered away. He hurriedly pushed Endorsi in order to chase the purplette and offer his help since he knew she was going to take over the preparations now that the house was in chaos. Just before he exited the room, Yuri quickly pulled him down by the back of his shirt collar. Bam groaned lightly when he ended up on the floor, feeling a small sting on his back.

Yuri was dangling a little present on top of him while keeping Evan at bay with one hand, donning a smile that meant a brilliantly mischievous idea. So Bam took the small box hesitantly, wondering what might be in it since they weren't allowed to open the gifts yet. She leaned down, whispering the content of the box and the idea she had in mind. Bam's golden eyes widened at her words, immediately shooting up from the floor and leaving for the kitchen without forgetting to say thank you to the elder brunette.

Once he left, Yuri hurriedly stopped all the arguments in the room and dragged them to the kitchen. Evan threw a piteous gaze to those who Yuri grabbed, dragging around on the floor while struggling and demanding to know what was happening only to be shut up by the red-eyed female.

"Princess, what exactly did you give him...?"

If the big grin on her face was anything to go with, Evan knew it was a bad premonition of chaos. "Oh, it's nothing much. We'll just get to see an interesting spectacle in the kitchen."

The lots of them were still grumbling as they were dragged to the kitchen, though all noises were gone once they heard Bam calling out a certain purplette's name.

"Eve!"

Evolet who had been heating up the chicken pot pies turned around, smiling when she saw Bam heading her way. "Hm? What is it, Bam?"

Giggling quietly like a madman, Yuri's phone was out in the open in order to record her ingenious idea. The others also quieted down, decency out of the window as they sneaked around to see what was about to occur. The only ones who still had some conscience were Evan and Khun who sighed at the others' shenanigans.

"I have a present for you!" Much to Evan's chagrin and exasperation, Khun suddenly hid behind the wall to see the two once he heard what Bam said.

"Bam… you do know that it's not the time to open presents yet right? I'm pretty sure you're not my secret santa either." Because Khun would probably pull out some kind of trick to become her secret santa, but she wasn't going to say that to n̶o̶t̶ ̶s̶o̶ pure and innocent Bam.

"But that's the group exchange one! I prepared another one for you."

"You didn't have to do that…" Regardless of what she said, it was clear that Evolet appreciated his sentiment with how bright her smile was. Yuri gave a silent thumbs up for the scene. Hatz straight up choked and ended up on the floor. Endorsi was… unsurprisingly staring at the two with fiery eyes along with Anaak.

Ran was tugging Khun's sleeves, pointing out that he should do something about the situation. Rak was practically cackling on the floor, saying how Blue Turtle was missing out on the action and how Black Turtle was much braver. Khun wasn't even paying attention, wracking his brain thinking up of an additional gift he could give Evolet as soon as possible. The box Yuri gave Bam earlier was now in Evolet's hands. She opened it curiously, noticing how Bam seemed a little too eager for her to figure out the content of the gift.

Evolet was puzzled once the gift was opened, staring at it confusedly while her mind processed what it was. Before she could think any further, Bam took the content and lifted it up over them with a proud playful smile.

Remember Bam, once she opens the box… you have to immediately lift the mistletoe up and dangle it above the both of you.

She's never seen it up close so she didn't realize it immediately. But once she knew what it was, Evolet was aware she'd been had.

"It's tradition to kiss under the mistletoe."

Glee could be seen clearly in Bam's golden eyes as he said so, more so when Evolet was speechless from his actions. He stared at her expectantly, and Evolet could easily see imaginary puppy ears and tail on him. Although somewhat hesitant and certainly embarrassed, Evolet stepped up and tiptoed a little to reach his height. It was only a brief peck, more of merely brushing their lips together and Bam could easily guess that she was too flustered to deliver a proper kiss.

True to his thoughts, he could see that Evolet was blushing furiously as she backed down a step and looked down to the floor. She didn't have the courage to face him. But Bam wasn't about to let her off that easily either. What she did barely counted as a kiss, or rather he just wanted more kiss and it was the perfect reason.

Licking his own lips tantalizingly, he could taste the slightest hint of chocolate. Always so sweet as he would expect from Evolet's kiss. Grinning to himself, Bam didn't wait anymore before pulling Evolet close by her waist. She let out a small yelp at the sudden action, and Bam didn't miss the chance to capture her lips with his.

Evolet didn't offer any resistance, practically melting into the kiss which Bam was more than happy about. Her knees already went lax long ago, gripping Bam's sweater and only standing from Bam's support and rather desperate from air. She greedily gasped for air once Bam separated from her, cheeks flushed red and blue-violet eyes glazed over with a sheen. Bam chuckled heartily as Evolet leaned on his shoulder and waited for her breathing to go back to normal, relishing in her adorable incoherent grumbles. The brunette made a mental note to thank Yuri again later.

Of course the two were unaware of the audience just behind the wall. Yuri was still madly giggling as she saved the video and Evan was already too tired to deal with her. Back in the living room, Khun who was extremely irritated when he saw the mistletoe is currently shaking Shibisu awake.

The bluenette demanded an explanation where that mistletoe came from when he explicitly ordered Shibisu to get rid of every mistletoe in his house if he wanted them to come to the party. The poor Shibisu was too confused to answer anything, coming up with a blank since he did exactly what Khun told. The fact that the idea came from Yuri after she caught Khun kissing Evolet was unknown to everyone except Yuri, Evan, and Bam.

 

 

 


Bonus Scene (The Secret Santa):

"Uhm… Rak-san… this is…"

"Hahahhahahha, it looks good on you, Purple Turtle!"

Evolet could only sweatdrop at the Christmas costume she got from Rak as her Secret Santa. She thought for sure Khun was her Secret Santa and he'd pulled some sort of trick in order to do so, but apparently she guessed wrong this time. So here she was, standing awkwardly in a festive santa dress and a matching hooded capelet. Rak even got her a reindeer headband to complete the set, though she wonders why isn't it a Santa hat instead.

“Uhm… can I change back to my sweater now…?”

NO!!!” The answers were resolute from a number of people in the room. Of course they’d answer no, most of them were too busy taking pictures or being knocked out cold on the floor. Speaking of which, Shibisu still hasn’t woken up since Khun demanded answers about the mistletoe earlier. Rak was nonchalantly eating his choco bars on the side, nodding proudly at his idea of giving her a Christmas costume for the gift exchange.

Khun had his hands full with cameras that he got from who knows where, taking shots relentlessly while Bam and Hatz were passed out on the cold floor. Yuri gave her a thumbs up, casually slinging an arm over Endorsi’s shoulder as the brunette kept grumbling. For once, Anaak and Ran weren’t fighting and instead were just staring at Evolet. Evan had enough of everything and just wants to take a proper rest.

Sighing ruefully, Evolet picked up the Rak’s gift box from earlier. She frowned slightly when she felt the extra weight in there, thinking that she already got all of the contents out. Was there still something else in the box? Surely not… the outfit was already festive enough as it is, what more did Rak need to add anyway. When she shook out the remaining contents though, Khun immediately stopped taking pictures and proceeded to freeze up instead.

“Ah, right. I also bought one for the Blue Turtle and Black Turtle.”

In her hands were two sets of the Santa outfit, this time the male version. Evolet swears she heard Yuri squeal at the new revelation. Burrows knitted and in a grumpy mood now, Khun was already off arguing with Rak. In no less than a few seconds, they could hear shouts and insults flowing everywhere. On the other hand, Bam had gotten up when he heard Rak saying his nickname. He was now conversing casually with Evolet as he took the costume in her hands carefully, already putting it on without a second thought.

Bam and Evolet were staring up at each other, a fluffy atmosphere surrounding them as they complimented the other endlessly. The brunette didn’t hesitate to reach out and caress her cheek lovingly, which Evolet responded by nuzzling to the palm of his hand. One way or another, Bam’s hands ended up circling around her waist as he held her tight, burying his face on her shoulder contentedly as she headed to Khun.

The bluenette considerably calmed down when he felt Evolet patting his head softly. The image somewhat reminded them of a feral cat turned docile at the hand of its owner. Once Evolet smoothed out his tousled hair, she put on the Santa hat designated for Khun.

“It’s fine, isn’t it, Khun-san? We’ll be matching if you wear it too.” His cobalt blue eyes trailed over her figure, pouting slightly at the ever present smile on her expression. He looked at Bam who was comfortably nestled on Evolet’s shoulder, his golden eyes staring straight at him. Grimacing at the hopeful look in those innocent golden spheres, he turned to Evolet who had the same exact look. Blue-violet and golden orbs were locked on him, their gaze pleading him to put on the matching costume with puppy eyes.

“Hhh… What am I supposed to do with you two...” Khun lost both the battle and the war before he even fought it, not that he ever intended to anyway. The grin on his expression told it all as he wore the Santa outfit, his hand subtly grasping Evolet’s which she acknowledged with a bright smile as the three of them posed to take a photo.

Overall, a very nice and festive Christmas.

Chapter Text

Most of the team was splayed on the ground, completely spent from the intense training Khun subjected them to. The initiator had dismissed them earlier, going off to who knows where and leaving the team to their own thoughts. Wangnan got up shakily, dragging himself to the door as he complained a little. Dan greeted him immediately, in the middle of tying his shoelaces and about to head to the backyard.

"Hey, Sweet and Sour! You finished early today!"

"Hey, Dan! Is it okay for you to move now?" The blond asked out of concern.

The scout grinned cheekily as he replied. "The doctor told me to get some rest, but I need to move at this point to heal faster. Besides, Eve promised that she'll teach me a technique to increase my speed today."

"Eve… did? We just finished training tho–…" Wangnan's words trailed off, remembering how the boulder shattered into smithereens once it came in contact with Evolet's shields. His mind couldn't conjure up a single incident when she had difficulties during the training sessions. On the contrary, she even still had more than enough energy to bring refreshments to them at the end of the day.

Dan could only laugh heartily at Wangnan's thinking face, clearly knowing what went through his little train of thoughts. Groaning pitifully at his previous sentence, Wangnan swiftly changed the topic. "Well, I won't hold you up anymore. Eve is probably already waiting outside anyway. Just don't push yourself."

"It's okay! Everyone's doing their best so, so I should too. I need to get used to my new legs too. Anyway, the test is tomorrow, right? Will it be okay with just the seven of you? If you fail tomorrow, you can't even go to the Workshop Battle." The notion itself was ridiculous enough to make Wangan break out in bouts of laughter, tumbling down the floor as he clutched his stomach. Dan could only sweatdrop at the sight, heading to the door silently as Wangnan wiped his fake tears and spoke up.

“To be honest… The fact that I’m taking the test without Viole and Horyang makes me nervous. Nobody’s really saying it outloud… but everyone must be feeling their absence. But… that’s exactly why. All of us as a team know that Eve and Viole are the inseparable pair in battle. If Eve isn’t saying anything about it and just keeps pushing on forward, then we all know best to support her. Besides… All of us, without an exception, trust Eve enough to know she’ll cover us without fail in the fight. The Workshop Battle will be a different story since both of them won’t be there… but we’ll figure something out. At that time, we’ll also be counting on you, Dan.”

A grin could be seen on Dan’s face as he turned the doorknob, replying with a reassuring “Likewise” before he headed out. When the backyard came to view, Dan found that Evolet was nowhere to be seen although Prince and Miseng were lying on the grassy ground. He could hear bits and pieces of their conversation as he approached them. Miseng stood up abruptly, small fists clenched and eyes shadowed by her bangs.

“Where are you going?” Prince asked curiously at the girl.

“To train.”

The answer was so simple and yet Prince was nonetheless surprised by it. “What?! Train?! Training is over today!”

“I want to see Viole and Teddy Bear. So… I’ll do my best to meet them… I don’t want to lose them again… Like my parents...” Miseng was sniffling, trying to hold back her tears miserably as she attempted to stay strong amidst all the stack of events.

Almost exasperatedly, Prince stood up with a sigh. How was he supposed to leave her alone when she said something like that. “How will you become a grown-up if you cry everyday looking for mom and dad in your dream? All right. I, a grown-up, will help you. I’ll find that jerk and the devil and your parents for you. So, don’t cry anymore. It’s annoying.”

Evolet had come in the middle of their conversation, listening intently as she brought a small bag from her little trip to the nearest tea shop right after the training. Raising an eyebrow at his words, Evolet flicked Prince’s forehead gently as the Lightbearer covered the sore spot in pain. Miseng blinked confusedly at her actions, taking the white handkerchief the Anima had offered with a kind smile.

“You shouldn’t say a girl is annoying, Prince. And no more training for today, remember the rules?”

Both Prince and Miseng looked down guilty, muttering the rule Evolet had set about absolutely no training the day before a test. Granted, Khun more or less already broke the rule but there wasn’t stopping Evolet to take control of the team once his training was over. She was well aware that they were rather pressured from Bam and Horyang’s absence, and it was part of her job to take care of the team’s well-being so she wasn’t having any of this self-induced guilt from the team.

“A grown-up would know when to stop training and rest properly, so just take a breather first. I’ll teach Dan-san a new trick for a moment then I’ll head inside and make some afternoon snacks so just wait a little okay?” The two nodded at that, running to the door as they greeted Dan briefly before rushing away in a hurry. Evolet shook her head fondly, knowing they were all too excited for the afternoon snack.

“Shall we start now, Dan-san?” The scout in question grinned, seemingly ready to tackle on whatever technique Evolet was willing to teach him. How was he supposed to know that he’ll pass out only 5 minutes in training because he went overspeed with the Shinsu platform he learned? Evolet wasn’t the slightest bit surprised by it, simply sighing as she picked him up singlehandedly and went in the house. All of her teammates seemed to have a tendency to go overboard whenever she showed them a speed related skill.

She simply deposited Dan on the sofa in the living room before heading to the kitchen where Prince and Miseng was already waiting. She couldn’t help but muffled a small laugh when she saw that they were wearing matching aprons, ready to help her bake. Though in her mind, Evolet knew that they were aiming for early spoils and perhaps to “sneakily” snatch some raw dough.

Still, she didn’t waste any time before taking an apron of her own and splitting the tasks so they can finish up faster. She was already in the middle of brewing her usual lavender tea, watching amusedly as Prince nipped on the lemon glaze he was making every so occasionally and Miseng who was laser focused on her task to zest the lemons.

They finished making the dough eventually, though the glaze was suspiciously much less than what the recipe called for. Still with an overly fond sigh and a knowing smile, Evolet dished out another bowl of glaze from the fridge. Prince froze when he saw the new batch of lemon glaze, sweating nervously before he promptly ran away still carrying the remaining glaze he made earlier.

Miseng blinked confusedly at the trail of dust he left while Evolet rolled her eyes playfully as she set the other bowl on the kitchen counter. Evolet patted Miseng’s head affectionately, telling her to keep an eye on the oven while she called everyone else to the dining room. The younger girl nodded eagerly, mock saluting to Evolet before she proceeded to sit in front of the oven and watch it intently.

She proceeded to wander around the house after that, in search for the rest of her teammates. The first one she encountered was Wangnan who didn't waste any time and already sprinted off to the dining room once Evolet uttered the words afternoon snack.

The next one was Goseng, eyebags prominent under her eyes as Evolet promised to make a chamomile lavender tea for her later tonight before the brunette also headed to where Wangnan was. Before she proceeded, Evolet put her Pocket in visible mode and messaged Prince if he didn't go to the dining room then he wouldn't get any of the lemon scones. She could faintly hear the hurried footsteps somewhere in the house, safely assuming that it was Prince's.

Yihwa was somewhat harder to call, especially when she was still insistently training. Worried that the oven timer will go off first, Evolet simply extinguished her flames in the training room before dragging her along. Arkraptor was easy enough to call, already sauntering towards the dining room with Yihwa who Evolet left with him once she found him.

Now she stood in front of Khun's office, calling his name out gently as she knocked three times precisely. Being the person he is, Khun was already aware of the presence in front of his door. His mind was currently in turmoil, rather stressed by the new team he was managing since their abilities were much lower than the teammates Khun usually associated himself with.

Evolet was another story and he could count on her to carry the team in the 29th Floor Test, but she wasn't going to participate in the Workshop Battle so he had to take further countermeasures. His eyebrows furrowed, realizing that he hadn't gotten around to why exactly she couldn't join them in the Workshop Battle even though she said she will be there.

For the time being he just casually told her to come in, arms still folded on the desk and he tilted his head lazily from its spot in the folds of his arms. Obviously, he had no intention of getting up from his spot.

"Khun-san, I already prepared the afternoon tea in the dining room. Everyone's already waiting there."

The bluenette only mumbled as he shifted lightly, motioning Evolet to come closer with his hands as a little mischievous scheme popped up in his so-called brilliant mind. Almost curiously, Evolet approached him without hesitation and leaned down slightly to hear him better. Khun lifted his head up a little, whispering directly to Evolet's ears with a teasing tone.

"If you kiss me then I'll wake up~"

To be fair, Khun had actually expected Evolet to be flustered or anything of the sort. He still vividly remembers Evolet blushing in his lap when he hugged her after regaining his consciousness, the stammers as she attempted to compose herself only for Khun to completely shatter said composure by blowing softly on her ear. He wanted to see that side of her again, just like how her face was flushed beet red when he suddenly scooped her up in his hold.

Imagine Khun's surprise when she smiled gently and leaned down even further to kiss him tenderly on the cheek, the same as she did on the Floor of Tests. She didn't stop there, tucking away a few stray strands of his sky blue hair behind his ear and whispered to his ear just as he did to her earlier.

Like that, Khun-san?

He was sure she meant it in another context, but it seems like Khun's brain decided to short circuit the moment she did that. He could feel her soft breath, her warmth too close and the intoxicating lavender scent she had. Evolet straightened up slowly, a kind smile still on her expression which explained her sincere tone from earlier. And Khun couldn't muster up a single word even after Evolet exited the room with a playful laugh.

The Lightbearer abruptly broke into a blush, slumping down fully to his desk as he tried to hide his beet red face. His hand found its way to his cheek, caressing the spot she kissed gingerly with a dazed expression. He could still feel the small pleasant shivers as her whisper lingered in his mind, a voice he wouldn't mind to listen to any time of the day. And the smile she showed him before exiting the room sealed the deal. It was his complete loss this time.

There was a hint of pink hue across his usual pale skin as Khun stood up and headed to the kitchen. He was trying to figure out more possible methods to make Evolet blush again, keeping in mind that next time he should immediately retaliate instead of freezing up like earlier so he wouldn't be the one all flustered. Not freezing up already seemed to be a hard task on its own, yet he just had to top it off with a comeback too.

When he passed the living room, he raised an eyebrow at Dan who was just looking around confusedly as if he didn't understand why he was there. Rolling his cobalt blue eyes exasperatedly, he didn't waste any time to tow him along since the others were already waiting.

He was greeted by a scene he thought he’d never see again since Bam’s death. Granted, it was much less tame than what he was used to on the 2nd Floor. But the joyous atmosphere of the team was all the same. It was different from his own team, where he had to constantly put on a mask and refrain from killing Rachel all the while pretending to be nice to her. The atmosphere was much more easy-going than his team, akin to when he was still with Shibisu’s team and Bam was there.

Excited chatters filled the room along with some chaotic activities, the team looking considerably more relaxed than earlier. Goseng was helping Evolet set the table, both of them carrying a big batch of lemon scones while chatting idly. Evolet took notice of Khun and Dan’s entrance soon enough, smiling brightly and motioning them to sit down since the snacks were ready. He would be lying if he said he didn’t want to see the team together again, this time complete with both Bam and Eve with them.

They passed the 29th Floor Test without much problem and everything went more or less as Khun expected so far. The invitation for the Workshop Battle was already delivered to his Lighthouse. And true to Evolet’s words, her name wasn’t written on the invitation. Hence why both of them were in his office right now, Evolet standing awkwardly near the table as Khun stared at her contemplatively while trying to figure her out.

She showed him a letter on her Lighthouse, though she didn’t allow him to open said letter for some reason. She’d be in trouble if Khun actually knew who invited her there. Well, she won’t be in trouble but she’d rather keep it under tight wraps to be safe. When Khun asked why she was invited and what she’ll be doing on the Archimedes, she simply flashed him a knowing smirk.

“If it’s Khun-san… I’m sure you’ll recognize me immediately.” Khun raised an eyebrow skeptically at the implication. Though judging from her unchanging expression, Khun was sure Evolet wasn’t about to tell him a thing.

Then Evolet suddenly brightened up, taking out something from her white Lighthouse that was still in visible mode before handing it to Khun. The Lightbearer stared at the object in his hand, a simple chain necklace with a hollow silver cube pendant and the smallest hint of blue-violet Shinsu swirling in it. Everything about it screamed of her characteristics. Particularly the Shinsu orb that highly resembled her eyes, Khun thought as he glanced at her blue-violet eyes.

The Anima blinked innocently at him, telling him to always wear the necklace on the Archimedes because it will help him for sure. He low-key wondered what she meant by that but went along with it either way, figuring it wouldn’t hurt since he could sense the Shinsu in it which meant Evolet had some kind of plan. Judging from past experience with her last gift, Khun predicted it’ll be helpful in some way at least. If it isn’t… well it still reminded him of her eyes so it wouldn’t hurt to bring it everywhere.

“...help me put it on.” Evolet was slightly taken aback, but she didn’t waste any time before taking the necklace he handed and stood behind him. Hands treading gently as she hummed a soft tune, Evolet made sure to brush the bluenette’s hair aside before clasping the necklace carefully and made sure his silky blue hair wasn’t tangled in it.

It was a weird sensation for Khun, considering that he usually never let anyone stand this close behind him nor let them touch his neck so easily. He felt somewhat vulnerable, fully knowing the variety of weak spots on a neck that could potentially kill someone. The weight of the necklace settled easily around his neck, an oddly warm feeling where the pendant rested lightly on his chest. He could feel the Shinsu more vividly now, no doubt it was Evolet’s Shinsu that he could never mistake with that protective warmth. Her hands retreated all too soon, Khun missing the feeling of it already.

“It looks good on you, Khun-san.”

He could only nod to her words. Grasping the pendant lightly and unable to come up with any sarcastic reply like he usually would to anyone else. He was feeling rather light-headed, borderline wondering if he's gotten a fever in so long because he could feel his cheek heating up again and the ghosting of her fingers that made him feel like his skin was on fire. Khun.exe has once more officially stopped working for the time being.

Chapter Text

"Khun-san can really do everything..."

Evolet stared at the mirror in slight awe, particularly at Khun's reflection that was still working magic with his hands. He was in the middle of styling her light lavender hair to a braided updo. Khun frowned slightly when she moved, telling her to stay still since he needed to put the finishing touches to which Evolet simply smiled at. There was a proud smirk on his face as he backed away, adoring how his blue bandanna was safely nestled in the braid and how Evolet practically wore it everywhere.

Standing upright, she twirled around once to check if she was wearing the kimono properly. Khun chuckled at her actions, gently placing a tender kiss on her cheek and smoothly complimented her.

“Don’t worry, you look beautiful no matter what.”

Not expecting the sudden compliment, a soft blush bloomed across her cheeks and painted it a vibrant pink. She tilted her head down, avoiding Khun’s piercing gaze that conveyed how he was relishing in her response. He outstretched a hand to her, telling her that Bam was already waiting downstairs so they should go soon. This time she met his eyes without hesitation, smiling with rosy cheeks as she took his hand and went downstairs.

Bam immediately perked up once he saw the both of them, running up excitedly without wasting any time to hug Evolet as always. The purplette welcomed him in open arms, hugging him back without restraint. With a fond sigh, Khun also joined in the hug, sandwiching Evolet between them. Evolet herself was more than glad to stay like that until she realized she couldn’t escape. The same instant she tried to move, Bam would only hug her even tighter.

“Both of you… if we don’t go soon then we’ll be late.” was what she wanted to say, but her voice ended up being muffled on Bam’s chest.

She could hear their chuckles at her attempt, swiftly understanding that they were doing this on purpose to tease her. Sighing playfully with exasperation from their daily teasing, Evolet pinched Bam’s back hard. As to be expected, the brunette immediately let go of her with a yelp although more playful than pained.

She looked upwards at Khun whose hands were still circling her waist without any intention of letting go. Judging from the glint in those sharp cobalt blue eyes, it was easy to see that Khun was having too much fun with this.

"Is there something on my face? You're staring quite intensely at me, Eve~" Said bluenette simply smiled at her as he asked that question. So she decided to play along with his scheme.

“Yes, there’s something on your face, Khun-san.” He actually looked taken aback for once, releasing Evolet and reaching out to his face to see if there was really anything. In the split moment, he didn’t notice how Evolet was grinning now. Before he could react, Evolet pulled him down by his collar and smoothly gave a peck on his cheek.

“It was me.” She said mischievously. He abruptly broke into a full on blush, realizing she just tricked him deviously. His face was beet red, stuttering while covering his cheek with his hand. Evolet kept smiling at him as she reached out to caress his cheek, hand overlapping with the one that he was covering his cheek with.

“You look handretty as always, Khun-san.” There goes his dignity and confidence. By now his face was completely steaming red. Throat parched suddenly and a flustered mess as he failed to form words. He knew handretty wasn’t even a proper word, but his mind just doesn’t want to work anymore after he heard those words from Evolet.

Now she could feel a soft tug on her sleeves, turning back to Bam who was now pouting at her from the lack of attention. Smiling ever so gently, she tugged his sleeves in return, asking him to lean down slightly. Bam instantly did, feeling inexplicably joyful with a grin so wide that was practically radiating light from his sheer happiness when he felt a gentle peck on his left cheek.

"Is that enough?" Evolet asked playfully, taking note of his happy mood.

At the question, Bam hummed deeply as he pretended to be in deep thoughts. The mischief swirling in his golden eyes said otherwise as he replied, "Hm~ Maybe one more?"

More than willing to comply, Evolet didn't waste any time to deliver a kiss to his other cheek. Bam could clearly feel some sort of fuzzy feeling in his chest, an everlasting warmth and gentleness he always felt whenever Evolet does… a lot of things really. His grin turned to a content smile, golden eyes somewhat lidded and gleaming as if he was staring at the most precious thing in the world.

Evolet tilted her head as if silently asking what's the matter. And Bam could only melt down at that, grasping her hand and intertwining their hands with a burst of courage. As he expected, Evolet replied with an overly familiar soft smile and a hint of blush bloomed across his cheeks with a simple gesture from her. Seeing that, Evolet squeezed his hand reassuringly before turning around and looked at Khun. Bam could hear she was struggling to stifle her laughter, though he could understand where she was coming from.

"Eve… I think you broke Mr. Khun." Said bluenette was still trying to recover from her critical blow earlier, frozen like a statue. Sighing fondly as she gingerly grabbed Khun's hand, she proceeded to string both males along out of the house since they were already late for their shrine visit.

The shrine was as crowded as they thought it'd be. People bustling around here and there, greeting friends and families, saying their wishes, buying good luck charms, etc. Evolet’s lips curled up into a tender smile when she felt Bam and Khun holding her hands tighter, both of them speaking out simultaneously.

""Eve, don't let go no matter what."" They broke out into soft laughter when they realized both male had said it at the same time. Still in the midst of giggling, Evolet promised she won't let go since she didn't want to get separated in this crowd either.

The bell rang with a sense of clarity as they shook it. Bowing respectfully twice and clapping their hands also twice, the trio made a silent prayer in their heart, their wishes somewhat similar to one another. Both Khun and Evolet opened their eyes at the same time, sharing a knowing smile when they saw Bam had a look of concentration and still praying earnestly.

When the brunette opened his eyes, he yelped in surprise, finding affectionate blue-violet and sharp cobalt blue orbs staring at him playfully. Khun chuckled in amusement at his response and Bam could only rub his neck sheepishly. Evolet shook her head from fond exasperation, pulling both of them away since there were still others lining up behind.

Khun didn't mind much about the fact that Shibisu and his group accidentally forgot to inform them when they did their shrine visit. He did slightly miss them, not that he'd ever admit it outloud. But it was all good since he could spend more time with Evolet and Bam alone. Or at least that's what he originally thought.

He just turned his back for a moment in order to buy some ema for the three of them. The next thing he knew once he turned around, Bam was chatting away happily with Jinsung. Evolet nonchalantly munching on a box of cookies that Yunuen gave her, surrounded by a serene aura as Yunuen patted her that made Khun unconsciously smile softly for a split second before he snapped out of it. He doesn't know when or from where they come.

When he does walk over though, Yunuen greeted him with a welcoming smile while Jinsung plainly scrutinized him for a while before stopping once Evolet glared viciously at him. Jinsung didn't waste any time before trying to convince Evolet he did nothing wrong and the only thing he got in return was an unamused stare. The father figure's head immediately drooped down, seemingly feeling guilty.

To make it worse, once Evolet turned around she found Yunuen looking contemplatively at Bam who was trying to look away awkwardly. The teal-eyed male ended up bowing apologetically to her as she lectured the both of them. Glancing at each other briefly, Bam and Khun found themselves shrugging nonchalantly. They were already used to this kind of scene where either Jinsung or Yunuen ends up getting a scolding from Evolet for whatever they did.

The lecture did end up finishing sooner or later, and now they were writing their wishes on the wooden plaque the bluenette bought earlier. Khun stole a glance at Evolet who was humming softly, a smile that was admittedly perhaps too tender for his reputation when he saw the doodle on her wooden plaque. Bam also noticed it eventually, golden eyes lighting up as he recognized that she drew the three of them holding hands together.

Once she finished hanging her wish, Bam and Khun were already by her side with their hands extended as a silent invitation. Evolet doesn't hesitate to take their hands with the brightest grin they've ever seen. Jinsung and Yunuen watched them fondly a few steps away, phones out as they captured the moment.

Evolet caught Bam staring at the variations of good luck charms being displayed at the shop, childish curiosity clear in his eyes. All the while smiling, she walked up beside him and asked, "Do you want to buy one?"

His stare lingered for a moment longer before he shook his head fervently, pulling out a certain good luck charm from his sleeves. He was still curious what exactly was inside the brocade bag, but Evolet would only smile mischievously at him whenever he asked before telling him to not open it.

"No, the one you gave is more than enough. I still don't know what's inside though…"

As he expected, a Cheshire grin showed up on her expression. Her blue-violet eyes narrowed playfully as she answered. "That's for me to know and you to find out someday."

Khun was already by her side the next thing she knew, an arm casually wrapping around her shoulder while he held up the exact same charm Evolet gave him. Khun's was blue while Bam's was golden. They had the same exact contents, though only Evolet knew that and she wasn't willing to tell them any time soon.

"When is that someday?" The bluenette asked, sure enough curious.

"Hm~ I'll tell the two of you when it's time."

They know better than to press on for answers. Not that it stops them from guessing randomly, taking turns as they throw up their guesses. She refused to give them a proper answer, shaking her head with an amused smile as they kept on guessing. They do stop after a while because they already ran out of ideas and their mind wouldn't conjure more.

So she watched fondly as they walked a few steps ahead of her unknowingly, too distracted as they thought of any remaining possibilities. Yunuen walked up beside her, a somewhat curious look on his face as he nonchalantly asked, "Are they rings?"

Yunuen didn't miss how Evolet's soft smile turned into something much mischievous and daring, blue-violet orbs gleaming sharply. He knew he had landed a correct guess. He could imagine how either Bam or Khun would propose first, maybe at the same time– and once Evolet tells them to open the charm, they'd be speechless after realizing how she'd overtaken them again. He didn't want to hand over Evolet to them so soon but he'd be lying if he said he didn't want to see their gobsmacked expression and Evolet's smug one.

"By the way, Yunuen-san, Jinsung-san, do you want to come over and eat some ozoni? We also have osechi."

Bam and Khun skidded to a stop once they heard her inviting the two older males, Bam's eyes reflecting the clear happiness he felt while Khun's radiated a sense of exasperation and slight panic. The bluenette didn't get a say in the matter as Yunuen and Jinsung answered yes in a heartbeat. He opted to facepalm instead. There goes his plan of a quiet new year.

Clearly, whatever force was out there decided that messing his plans to that extent wasn't quite enough. The group of five blinked confusedly once they arrived home. A certain Khun sibling was staring straight at them, one hand almost pressing the doorbell. Evolet moved first, most likely out of habit more than anything as she dashed out a cup of yogurt from her kimono sleeves like magic.

"Why are you here, Ran?" She asked curiously as she handed the cup of yogurt, there wasn't an ounce of hesitation as he took it.

"You promised me mochi." A round of soft laughter spilled from her lips as she patted Ran's head, the younger bluenette not even complaining the slightest bit.

"Of course, I suppose I did promise that."

Except they haven't made the mochi. Which was why they were currently out in the backyard, three sets of mochi making tools out though Khun wondered why they even had that many in the first place.

If this was their typical new year celebration between the three of them, then Bam and Khun would be the one pounding the mochi while Evolet makes the ozoni later on. With the new additions though… Khun thinks they're a little too eager to pair up with Evolet, especially Yunuen who was practically nagging her with sparkling eyes at the moment. And might he say, she's doing a wonderful job at ignoring the teal-eyed male.

All of them missed how Ran subtly tugged her kimono sleeves lightly and Evolet would glance at him for a split second, immediately understanding his intentions. In the next second, she clapped her hands twice to get all of their attention. Yunuen was promptly dragged over by Evolet as she handed him to Jinsung.

"Since we have 6 people, let's split into 3 teams."

Khun, being the voice of rationality in the whole bunch voiced out a logical question. "Do we actually need that much mochi?"

That did make them stop for a moment. Making three batches of mochi is nice and all, but who was going to eat them? There might be six of them here, but they're not exactly the most gluttonous of their group. Well Evolet might be able to finish half of it on her own– but neither Bam or Khun would let her do that.

"Maybe we can give some to Shibisu and the others?" Bam's suggestion was quickly agreed on. Rak would probably appreciate it the most, especially when no one in their team could cook decently other than Bam and Evolet. Hopefully they haven't burned the kitchen down or anything over there.

"That's a good idea Bam. Yunuen-san and Jinsung-san could also bring some with them. I'll save some for Hansung-san too so please pass that along with a few paperworks I need him to do, Yunuen-san."

Both Bam and Khun grimaced at her mention of Hansung's name, because he's still as passive aggressive as ever and Khun hates him with a burning passion. Yunuen was all too eager to shove some paperwork to the blond.

"Now… about the teams. Yunuen-san will pair with Jinsung-san." Instantly, the older bluenette crumpled to the ground with dramatic devastation in his teal eyes. No one paid attention to his gasps of why and Evolet simply continued on. Poor Jinsung was too busy dealing with Yunuen who was clinging to him now as he tried to shake him off.

"Khun-san will pair up with Bam… And I'll pair up with Ran. Is that fine?"

Khun raised an eyebrow amusedly at the arrangement and Bam gladly flashed him a beaming grin. They nod simultaneously with the same thoughts in mind as Bam voiced out their opinion. "Let's make this more interesting!"

"...how?" Surprisingly it was Ran who spoke up, hands tucked in his pockets neatly as he stood beside Evolet.

"Mochi making and cooking ozoni. The winners can ask one thing from the losers."

Evolet didn't exactly look impressed by Khun's answer, no doubt she already caught on to whatever they were planning. They've never seen Evolet pound mochi before, and Bam was confident he could make ozoni as well as she does. It's technically a savory dish and he was borderline sure he's better at savory dishes than Evolet.

"Hm… what do you want if you win, Ran?" Evolet glanced at the younger bluenette beside him, asking a what if question politely yet sounding as if they were going to win without a doubt. No one knows how she managed to sound like that.

"A whole year supply of yogurt." His answer came immediately, not a shred of hesitation in it.

Now their stares were directed at Jinsung as he sighed, realizing their attention on him. But it turned into a fond exasperated smile soon enough as he replied, "Sure, why not."

For some reason though, Yunuen quickly paled as if his soul just flew out of his body. The older bluenette was much aware they could never win against Evolet. Jinsung simply patted his back sympathetically, knowing what he was thinking about. They could only sigh, probably the other two weren't even aware of it. But there's no harm taking part in the competition at least, they'd still get delicious free ozoni at the end and they're more than willing to waste FUG's money on a yearlong supply of yogurt if to spite them and nothing else.

The mochi pounding went by rather smoothly for most of the part. There were plenty of occasions where Jinsung burnt his fingers from the steaming hot mochigome. Or Yunuen screaming for his life when Jinsung swings the mallet down a little too close to his fingers for comfort. Jinsung is definitely not doing it on purpose… probably.

To Bam and Khun's surprise but somewhat to be expected, Evolet was doing rather well with Ran. They have absolutely no idea how she could still swing the mallet elegantly with that kimono. Don't get them wrong, both Bam and Khun were doing rather well too. Just somewhat surprised since Evolet never took part in the mochi pounding and they thought they had a chance at it. Once their mochi was done though, they did stop to actually wonder. Was there anything Evolet couldn't do?

The question was plaguing Khun's mind as he waited at the table with Jinsung and Ran while the other three were cooking their ozoni in the kitchen. He actually questioned it out loud, chin propped on his hand contemplatively. Ran stopped eating his yogurt for once, freezing up as his mind tried to search for an answer. Jinsung was the first to respond.

"I mean… she can't stand horror movies… or the cold..."

And he promptly paused with a frown, before continuing with an unsure tone. "But that's a part of what makes her adorable…"

Khun wholeheartedly agreed to that statement, ignoring Ran's unimpressed look. Ran on the other hand, thought for a bit more as he stared into the half finished cup of yogurt before answering resolutely.

"Nothing." Jinsung couldn't exactly disagree with that from what he's seen Evolet do, and neither could Khun. Just to pass the time, Jinsung started throwing random guesses on the table while Khun nonchalantly answered them one by one as he reminisced.

There was that time he discovered Evolet couldn't ice skate, but he had been the one to fix that problem and she was a fast learner. She could do all the household chores perfectly, not that she lets them off the hook if they don't do their part. He's seen her attempting rather crazy things before and she nailed it without a problem. She was also well-versed in self-defense and in business administration. He could probably drop her at a stranded island for a week and she'd turn it to a personal resort. ...well either that or the island gets destroyed somehow.

"What are you talking about?" The three of them turned their attention to Evolet who emerged from the kitchen, carrying a tray filled with bowls of ozoni.

"Eve, just on time! Is there anything that you can't do?" Jinsung asked, rather curious about it.

"Uh… that's quite the sudden question…?" She replied awkwardly, not expecting that type of question as she served the ozoni to them. Seeing how they weren't about to back down, all three sets of eyes locking on her, Evolet sighed.

"There… are things that I can't do, of course."

"...for example?"

"That's something that you'll have to find out, Khun-san."

The bluenette huffed lightly, smiling knowingly as he did. If Evolet answered like that, no doubt he wasn't going to find out anytime soon. Though he supposed it's fine, he had all the time in the world to do so. They were staying together after all, and neither of them were willing to let her go.

The sharp gaze of his cobalt blue eyes softened, lips curling into a content grin as he watched Bam coming up from behind Evolet and hugged her. The purplette responded with a bright smile, eyes closed into crescents and cheeks tinted in a pink hue. She opened her eyes, blue-violet orbs twinkling with pure affection as she extended a hand to him and pulled Khun into their hug. The others didn't waste any time joining in, laughter filling up the room along with soft protests which sure enough came from Ran. Scoffing lightly, Khun made himself comfortable in Evolet's warm embrace. It wasn't the New Year celebration he planned for, but it'll be nice if they can stay like this forever, he thought.

 


Bonus scene (the aftermath of the competition):

Bam was currently questioning his own skills, staring at his hands shakily. Evolet patted his back sympathetically as both Yunuen and Jinsung shrugged. It turned out exactly the way they predicted it. The brunette wasn't sure how Evolet won by a landslide when they used the same recipe book. Not that he could complain a thing once he tasted her ozoni, practically melting into a happy puddle from the taste. Evolet and Ran won with unanimous votes.

Khun sighed as he handed one of his father's many credit cards to Ran, telling him to spend as much as possible for his yogurt. The younger bluenette stared at the card in his hand for a while before promptly extending his hand with an impassive look.

"Not enough." Khun could see how Evolet was trying to stifle her laughter as she saw all of this unfold. Yunuen wasn't even holding back as he cackled with Jinsung chuckling lightly. He borderline felt like he was being robbed blind by his half sibling. But then again the money wasn't his anyway, and it's not as if Eduan cared either. So he proceeded to dump a few more cards to Ran's awaiting hands. Yunuen sweatdropped as Ran turned towards him and Jinsung who was sighing. He was robbing people blind indeed.

Evolet shook her head fondly at their interaction. Her fingers were still nimbly running through Bam's hair as the brunette made himself comfortable in her lap. Having lost the competition, Bam was basically looking for comfort from Evolet. The purplette let out a small hum, seemingly pondering over something as she stared at Bam.

"Bam, what do you think I should ask for?"

The two losing pairs were rigid as they turned to her. Bam gulped, sweating profusely as he gathered up his courage and asked albeit stuttering. "W-what do you mean Eve?"

"Hm? My prize for winning, of course. After all, Ran isn't the only winner~ So tell me love, what should I ask for? Or would you be willing to enlighten me about exactly what you were planning to ask from me if you won with Khun?"

Khun makes it a point to never bet against Evolet anymore.

Chapter Text

Mornings with team Sweet and Sour weren’t usually this chaotic. But they were currently short on time and most of them haven’t even gotten ready for the day. One of them would be a certain blond named Wangnan who was still rolling around in his bed, drooling on his chin as he slept soundly. Alarms and shouts resounded all over the house while Khun banged on each door and urged them to hurry up. The bluenette was rather frustrated when he noticed that Wangnan’s door was locked and the occupant was still floating in dreamland.

“IF YOU DON’T WAKE UP, I’M NOT TAKING YOU TO THE WORKSHOP BATTLE!!” Wangnan snapped open his eyes at that, shocked by the threatening shout that Khun clearly meant. He didn’t waste any more time, grabbing the bags he packed last night and rushed to the floating ship Khun rented.

“Coming, coming!! I’m coming! Here I am!! How could you even think of leaving me?!” It didn’t take long for him to trip over thin air, stumbling to the ground as his bags flew to the air. Flawlessly, Evolet conjured up a Shinsu platform to catch said luggages in a neat stack. Miseng and Prince clapped for her, somewhat in awe for the little show while both Khun and Dan sighed at the display.

At least after that, things were considerably calmer even if Wangnan's excitement for the Workshop Battle shot up even more. He seemed to be the most excited for it, almost like a kid going on a field trip. Though he was looking forward to the other factors rather than the battle itself.

“I’m… finally going!! To the workshop battle! Will I be able to see the real Endorsi Jahad? Oh, my heart is pounding. And get an autograph maybe?”

Dan nodded along eagerly to Wangnan’s words, and Goseng was all too amused with their enthusiasm. Khun on the other hand, chose to state the facts although there was a hint of playfulness and amusement in his tone.

“We’re fighting against her.”

““No way! That’s impossible!””

“Well… It’s true that they are… quite troublesome enemies...” Khun had a nostalgic expression on, reminiscing the moments he experienced with the team until he separated from them and made his own team for the sake of helping Rachel climb the Tower while observing every possible movement she ever made after betraying Bam on the Floor of Tests. His words trailed off, but none of the team noticed it since it was covered with the small commotion the two men made since earlier.

“I can’t hit the princess! We’re enemies but in love!”

“Oh, I like that concept!!”

“Guys...”

“Oh! But if we’re talking about this year’s Workshop Battle, then the hottest topic must be that!”

“...that?”

Dan nodded excitedly, a dreamy look as he sighed in content. The rest of them stared incredulously, clueless of what he was talking about. Khun raised an eyebrow skeptically at the Scout, not a shred of hesitation as he asked for more details.

“There’s a rumor going around the Regulars, that the goddess will perform in this year's Workshop Battle!”

At the statement, Evolet who had stayed silent during the whole conversation beside Khun suddenly choked. The team glanced weirdly at the Anima who quickly composed herself, taking a sip from the lavender tea that she brought everywhere. She avoided their peering gaze, opting to stare out the blue sky as if she was simply enjoying the view and nothing else.

“So? What’s with this all ‘goddess’ business?” Khun asked him nonchalantly, all the while inquiring if Evolet was willing to share a cup of her lavender tea which she responded to kindly with a new cup.

“...YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT HER?!” Dan sounded so offended by the question, slamming his hands on the table. As if that wasn’t enough, Wangnan also faked a mock gasp at him. The annoyance was evident in Khun's expression, backing up to his seat as far as possible. Evolet could already guess that everything was going to go down terribly.

“Listen and LISTEN WELL! The goddess– my goddess– OUR goddess is–

“And– I’ll cut you off right there.” Evolet snapped her fingers, a single white Lighthouse hitting Dan fair on his head as he nursed the red bump on his head while sulking.

Sighing exasperatedly, Evolet enlarged her Lighthouse slightly and displayed a certain someone’s profile on it. “Uhm… To explain briefly, the person he was talking about is named Muse. She first made her debut around… 7 years ago and now she has a reputation as the most famous E-rank idol. There’s not really much known about her other than her... phenomenal concerts and her appearance that resembles the Khun family trait.”

Once Evolet had told him of the idol's name, he briefly remembered Shibisu's team speaking about her in a call. Not that he bothered to recall the contents of said conversation. Khun observed the picture on the Lighthouse carefully, noting how there was quite a lack of information despite the fact this Muse person was famous.

She indeed reminded him of the Khun family, especially the exact same shade of hair like his. He couldn’t fully see her figure, considering the picture mostly showed her side profile. She was looking back over her shoulder, lips curling up into an alluring smirk befitting of a Khun that made her look like a vixen. Though… if he had to admit, there was something rather off about her.

The bluenette leaned closer to the Lighthouse, squinting his cobalt blue eyes lightly. He couldn’t put his hands on it, but there was something overly familiar about the idol’s eyes. There was a suspicion at the back of his mind that bubbled to the surface the longer he stared at the picture. And just as he was about to grasp the thought, Evolet abruptly changed her Lighthouse into invisible mode as an announcement made itself known.

Access granted. Going up to the 30th Floor.」

They were greeted by the sight of the vibrant blue sky and an enormous floating ship a distance away from them. Khun instantly recognized the eye-catching design of the Archimedes. Looking at the team's excitement, he took it upon himself to give a brief explanation of the Archimedes.

Evolet's eyes zoomed on the ship's tail, a cold glare written on her expression as she remembered the contents of the attachment. Closing her eyes momentarily, Evolet released a sigh before her gaze trailed to Khun. She could barely see the outline of the pendant she gave, but it gave her a sense of assurance. It was an emergency one time use item only, but that should take care of their safety if it comes to the pinch.

As to be expected, when they landed safely the team began to argue who would get the ocean view room as they hurried to check in. Khun and Evolet stared at their departing backs apathetically. Already expecting this to happen, Khun made sure all of the rooms had a view. Evolet sighed exasperatedly at them beside Khun, somewhat offended that they didn't even say goodbye to her first.

"Well, Khun-san. I'll be going off on my own from here. Please keep an eye out at the Archimedes. I'm sure you'll find me one way or another. No matter what you do, please don't take the necklace off unless necessary and… I wish you luck for the Workshop Battle."

Khun thought she would immediately leave after that, but she just stood there as she stared at him with an expectant smile. Having no clue what she was expecting, he just stood there silently while racking his brain to think up any possibility. Seeing how he didn't move, Evolet's smile turned into a small pout as she mumbled out in a soft voice.

"You're not going to give me a hug like before…?"

And Khun suddenly understood what she wanted. A certain memory popped up in his mind, remembering how he hugged her on the Floor of Tests. So warm and soothing, fragile in his hold that he was afraid he'll break her. He wanted to treat her so lovingly as if the most precious jewel he'll ever come across, just to see her gentle smile shining brightly. Unlike last time, he didn't show any more hesitation. Khun already knew what to do, what he wanted to do for now.

One of his arms wrapped tightly around Evolet's waist, pulling her close while his free hand caressed her cheek softly. He could feel her warm body pressed against him as she tilted her head to lean further into his palm. Almost like a cat, his mind supplied as he smiled playfully. The Lightbearer pressed his cold lips to her forehead. Staying still for a good few seconds and enjoyed basking in her warmth for the time being before pulling away slowly. He sneaked a glance at her, catching sight of her cheeks dusted in a faint hue of pink before erupting in soft giggles that were overly pleasant to his ears.

She replied in kind as she told him to loosen his hold slightly, tiptoeing to deliver a soft kiss on his forehead. He felt like his world momentarily tipped over into water. Not dark or murky, instead so vivid and dazzling that made him feel a pleasant lightness. His arms unconsciously tightened around her, snaking around her waist as he leaned into her shoulder and let out a content sigh.

He could clearly smell the fragrance of lavender coming off of her as it coaxed him to relax. She was making it rather tempting for him to just stay in the hug for quite a while more. He was feeling rather selfish for once anyway, might as well stay as long as he'll get. Evolet also showed no signs of moving, perfectly satisfied as she kept smiling contentedly in Khun's hold. The little moment was suddenly disrupted with a collective scream from Sweet and Sour. Wangnan and Prince hurriedly pulled Khun away from her as Yihwa grabbed Evolet aside.

"Eve!!! Just because Viole isn't there doesn't mean you can do that to anyone else!!!" Yihwa was too busy screaming while shaking Evolet relentlessly. Evolet was struggling to process her words, blue-violet eyes turning into spirals from the sheer dizziness.

"I-it's just a hug Yeon-san!!" Yihwa stopped shaking Evolet at her words, mouth agape mindlessly as she released Evolet and the Anima stumbled around without balance before ultimately bumping into Goseng who helped her up.

"Oh Jahad… you, YOU!" And suddenly the raven-haired girl was pointing fingers at Khun who didn't seem amused at all, unhappy that his hug was interrupted.

"Yes, me." Everyone could hear that he was unimpressed by her.

"Besides, it's not just me." Khun continued without a shred of care, though there was a hint of displeasure in his tone.

True to his words, it was practically a hug fiesta with the team taking turns hugging Evolet without shame. Right now Prince was hugging Evolet who welcomed the gesture all the same, patting his head without a care in the world. When Yihwa glared at him, Prince replied abashedly to her.

"What? This is practically the only chance we'll get to hug her, otherwise Viole will kill us if he saw us like this." And Yihwa didn't waste any more time before jumping in the hug. Joyous laughter of the time chimed throughout the place, but Dan wisely chose to stay away as he averted his gaze away awkwardly.

Even if that Viole guy wasn't there and he had to admit he'd love a chance to hug Evolet, there was no way in hell he'd risk getting killed by Khun. Said Lightbearer wasn't showing anything outwardly on his expression, but the looming aura behind him said otherwise. The bluenette's thoughts were split in half. A part of him was rather elated that he was the only one she kissed o̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶e̶h̶e̶a̶d̶. Another part of him was still annoyed that not only his hug was interrupted, they were also hugging her with no remorse. He was already thinking up various ways to get back at the team and increase their training level, which they needed either way.

And Khun's gaze suddenly met Evolet, who stared at him for a moment before a mischievous grin took over her expression. She swiftly escaped from their group hug, heading towards Khun with light steps, pulling him down by the hand before whispering in his ear.

"This time, I'll be sure to come back early."

Voice so sweet and alluring, full of promises as if knowing what Khun had been thinking about. An equally sweet kiss to his cheek that was hidden from the others' view, taking his breath away without much effort before she practically ran away ignoring the resounding shouts of shock all over the place. And Khun was left absolutely speechless. He could only stand still, remaining in his slightly leaning down position as his mind stopped working and completely disregarding the team's attempts to pull him back to reality.

Meanwhile, Evolet was now in another hotel room quite a distance away from the team's hotel. The Anima was humming lightly, hands gloved as an assortment of hair dye tools laid down in front of her. Her fingers moved nimbly through the light lavender tresses that were slowly but surely being dyed another color meticulously.

The door creaked open hours later to reveal a woman with sky blue hair, no signs of the previously light lavender haired girl in the now empty room. Donning a headband braid that was held in place with a cobalt blue bandanna that had the Khun family logo etched in it. The woman walked leisurely in a simple cobalt blue dress that complimented her blue-violet eyes, uncaring of how people's eyes were fixed on her presence and the excited screams along with the shutters of cameras. She stopped at the port, gazing at the Archimedes expressionlessly before a man in suit greeted her.

"Ms. Muse! We've been waiting for your arrival! The opening game will be starting in a few hours so we'd appreciate it if we can depart soon…?"

Much to the man's relief, the bluenette– Evolet agreed to it without much of a fuss as she nodded. The man beamed at that, already walking a few steps away and chattering away proudly about the floating ship they prepared for her before he was abruptly stopped by her words.

“Quite unfortunately, I’ll have to turn down that offer.” When the man turned back, he saw one of Evolet’s white Lighthouses in visible mode and the user standing casually on top of it. The purplette turned bluenette was smirking, informing him that she’ll be heading first to the Archimedes before practically shooting off at a speed he didn’t know a single Lighthouse could achieve.

Her knee length hair was swaying rather wildly behind her, though Evolet didn’t seem to mind as she sat down nonchalantly and let her Lighthouse carry her to the Archimedes while she was lost in her thoughts. She somewhat pitied the man she just left behind, knowing that he’ll get questioned for letting her wander on her own without a proper bodyguard or anything of the sort since she was their esteemed guest and star for the show. But she wasn’t about to take her chances with the Workshop, she knew better than to trust them.

The invitation was already suspicious enough on its own, though she wasn’t exactly surprised considering a certain family head was the one who invited her. He was probably already racking up schemes on his own, and she wasn’t exactly the most excited to get involved with him. But she needed his help for now, and if it’s for Bam then there wasn’t a need for her to question her decision. She’ll do whatever it takes to win the bet with FUG if it means getting Bam more freedom.

Chapter Text

Bam was staring at the night sky, his thoughts haunting his mind. He hasn't seen Evolet for far too long now. A heavy sigh escaped his lips as he kept his gaze on the starry sky. It reminded him of Evolet's eyes. Bam has always thought it was an odd thing. His name was the one who meant the night. And yet whenever he saw the night sky, it was Evolet's blue-violet eyes that came into his mind first. His lips curled up into a brief smile, playfully thinking that maybe that was the reason why he was always so comfortable with her.

If anyone looked carefully at him, then they would've seen the subtle signs of eyebags that were hidden by his bangs. He was grateful that Evolet practically bribed Xiaxia to their side since it made things a lot easier on him, but he was still rather upset that Evolet herself wasn't by his side.

Don't get him wrong, the team was competent enough to cover up her spot in battles. But it felt so wrong that she wasn't the one fighting by his side and watching his back. It wasn't as if he needed the FUG team if she was with him anyway. He could just push on mindlessly and keep fighting if Evolet was there. He didn't need to worry about anyone being hurt if she was with him, except Evolet herself; but that's why Bam was the one who needed to look out for her.

Why would he need another Lightbearer? She was skilled enough in her Lighthouse control, and Bam didn't need her to be a leader when they understood each other without saying a word. Why would they need a Fisherman or a Spear-bearer? There won't be a problem as long as he beats all the enemies. And he kept conjuring up reasons why he didn't need anyone else if she was there, some valid while some rather invalid. Bam could feel the pout ever so present on his expression lately. His mood hasn't been the best since they split ways on the Hand of Arlene.

And most importantly, he was just missing her presence as a whole. The nightmares were haunting him again in his sleep, and Evolet wasn't there to chase it all away. Summoning his Pocket in visible mode, Bam poked at it sulkily a few times. Evolet gave her lavender tea recipe to him not long ago in hopes that it would help with his nightmares like it usually does. Bam thinks that it tasted all too different from the ones she brewed. He slept without her warmth in his hold and woke up without catching a glimpse at her peaceful sleeping face. Both of them weren't a fact he particularly liked.

She called him fairly often, but it was far too short for his liking because they couldn't be found out by FUG. And just yesterday she told him that they won't be able to call anymore until the Workshop Battle ends. His eyebrows furrowed even further at the memory, becoming increasingly displeased. He wanted to hear her soothing voice, see her gentle smiles, hug her and just stay like that for the whole day so he could relish in her calming presence. He slumped down and leaned on the balcony railings, staring intensely at his Pocket as if by some miracle Evolet would call him and let him hear her soothing voice.

His eyes wandered to the cityscape laid in front of him. A part of him wondering if his teammates, both old and new were there. Khun looked like he was doing rather well when he accidentally met the bluenette in the Hand of Arlene, with the exception of the whole FUG incident. It brought about a sense of reassurance to him. At least he knew his friends were fine. Though he didn’t know how he was supposed to deal with FUG if they took actions like that. He was sure Evolet had some kind of plan. She always did, telling him that everything will be okay and if it isn't then she'll make sure everything will work out. Not even once have those words been wrong.

Somewhat abruptly, his gaze snapped towards someone's frantic movements on the lonely street. He glanced at the running man confusedly, wondering why he was running before he caught sight of something chasing said man. And Bam didn't even think twice before jumping down to help the man.

Meanwhile, Evolet was also staring at the night sky aimlessly on the Archimedes. A sense of unease was bubbling in the back of her mind, and she was well aware of the cause.

"Ms. Muse, we apologize for making you wait. The head of the Workshop Battle is ready to see you now."

Speak of the devil…

One of the Workshop Personnels was standing right in front of her. And Evolet's blue-violet orbs narrowed slightly in distaste when she saw it was a Researcher that greeted her. The glint in her eyes vanished the same instant it appeared as Evolet schooled her expression to an alluring confident smirk befitting of the Khun family they all thought she was parading as despite the gnawing anxiety in her heart.

"Lead the way."

A malicious smirk was all too obvious on the Researcher's expression at her reply. And that was more than enough of a telltale for Evolet that someone was going to drop dead today. They’ve been walking through the deserted hallways for quite a while now. Evolet made sure to keep a small distance away from the man, a cold gaze wandering around the metal walls and the dim lighting.

The Researcher leading her way didn’t seem like he was going to stop any time soon, instead a widening grin on his face as the lights began to flicker the deeper they went into the halls. And Evolet stopped in her tracks soon enough with a fiery glare. The man did the same, turning around and tilting his head questioningly with an eerie grin.

"Oho~? Why did you stop Miss?"

"And where exactly do you think you're taking me?"

“To the lab of course! I thought it was rather a waste and of worry that you haven’t gotten any of your daily check ups since you entered the Tower! Especially since you massacred quite a few of our numbers outside.”

She'd been patient, knowing from the start that something like was bound to happen since it was the Workshop she's talking about. But that had been the last string of her patience. Eyes widening at the man's words, her hands automatically conjured up a single Baang that immediately shot off to the man.

There was the sound of the Baang hitting something and repelling, revealing the man completely fine. Her breathing had started to get irregular as she gritted her teeth, forcing out a reply.

"What… did you say?"

"The Workshop is waiting for you, little item~"

With a single leap, Evolet was already at the man's neck with the intention to kill. She practically shoved him down, sending both of them to the cold metal floor. A blade made out of Shinsu clashed with the man's spontaneous shield that resembled hers all too much. Her blue-violet eyes were flashing back and forth to amaranthine. Hands practically trembling as she attempted to break the shield by applying more pressure to the Shinsu blade, teeth gritted as her murderous intent oozed out uncontrollably.

"Right, right! Are you mad that I called you an item? Angered enough that you're beginning to show your cursed side??? To kill all of us again just like you did on that day?"

Amaranthine eyes bulging slightly, Evolet clenched her jaw and gripped the blade with a vice grip. Hoisting the blade again with dark purple Shinsu flaring up, she swung it down with an air of finality. The slash went through the man’s neck without any difficulties this time. Despite that, Evolet saw how the man had been grinning madly moments before.

The same exact moment, a cold hand was clasping her neck lightly and Evolet froze on her spot as her eyes dilated in shock. She could feel a chill down her spine, her heart sinking to her stomach. Evolet wasn't one to be afraid of killing or even lashing out in a massacre if needed. She wasn't one to mind the whispers and nightmares of the dead, nor did she regret what she'd done. Because she did it with a clear reason, simply returning in kind what they've done to her and no more.

What she was afraid of was the same light lavender locks as the haunting linger of cold hands pressed down on her neck until she couldn't breathe anymore. And the burning hate and murderous intent of amaranthine eyes staring down at her. She swiftly slapped the hand away before backing away, lips pressed tightly in pain as if the touch burned her. Stumbling in the haste while standing up, Evolet tripped over her own feet and crashed down to the floor.

She curled into herself, eyes squeezed shut as she tried to shut all the noise and the whispers out. The haunting voice was back in her mind again as she grasped her neck in pain. Gasping for air desperately as she tried to breathe in to no avail.

A few steps away from her, the man’s detached head shook wildly as crazed laughter escaped from it as if mocking the pained girl lying on the floor. Cogs and such coming out of the broken part. What laid on the floor was simply a well-crafted mechanical doll, another one of the Workshop’s schemes. It only reminded her of how much she detested the Workshop.

A certain hooded blond was roaming the other side of the hallway because he had sensed an odd Shinsu on the usually restricted passageway while he was wandering around. He could faintly hear the shouts of the Workshop personnels, frantically searching for their missing experiment who always took a stroll without permission.

Said living experiment was now standing in front of the connecting passage, staring at the unlit restricted section just ahead of him. His yellow eyes squinted under the bandages before he entered without much hesitation. There was someone in the restricted section, he was sure of it from the small sobs resounding in the silent hallways and the eerie laugh he heard earlier.

He found himself somewhat baffled at the sight he encountered after walking for a while. A blue haired girl was curling up on the floor, sobs wrecking her small body as she vainly tried to breathe properly. A strange chopped off mechanical head was lying near her, one that he recognized as one of the Workshop’s inventions.

Frowning under the bandages, the blond approached her casually to inquire her condition. As soon as his hand touched her trembling shoulder, Evolet’s eyes snapped open to reveal a blazing shade of glowing amaranthine. Immediately taking notice of the new presence, Evolet aimed a solid kick to his solar plexus in which the boy blocked it with his arms in a split second.

Clicking his tongue irritatedly, the blonde backed off a few steps and watched her moves for the time being. She didn't make any more moves after that, collapsing to the floor once more with eyes glazed over hazedly. Even from a few steps away, he could see that she was struggling to breathe. It wouldn't be weird if she lost consciousness if he let her be. The blond observed her cautiously, sighing irately as he approached the girl once more. He could guess that the Workshop caused her to be like this, so he'll help a bit at least.

This time he was well prepared, immediately grabbing both of her wrists in one hand as she lashed out to strike at him. The girl had struggled lightly in his hold, clearly trying to get away. Though it did no sort of damage to him and he noted how she was disoriented enough to be considerately weakened. He started to talk slowly in hopes of snapping her out of it, gradually getting irritated at how none of his methods were working and she was still in full-blown panic despite having no more strength. Already at the end of his wits dealing with the unexpected ordeal, he shouted at her without thinking it through.

"Nobody's gonna hurt you or anything, damnit!!!"

Surprisingly, out of all his many attempts and wasted time, that was the only one that worked. She momentarily tensed up before going lax in his hold. He could see her amaranthine eyes slowly regaining their focus, lips quivering as she continued to tremble albeit less than before. Sighing, he let go of her arms and watched as she rubbed her wrists gingerly. It was almost like he was dealing with a frightened child.

Both of them were sitting on the floor in the silence as he observed the girl in front of her. He could hear the small whispers counting from one to ten as she closed her eyes. He didn’t miss how when she opened her eyes, it wasn’t a bloody amaranthine shade anymore but instead a reflective blue-violet one. He found it to be weird, she seemed so weak but her Shinsu felt odd especially when her eyes were still amaranthine. He had no recollection of seeing any Workshop experiment that resembled her, though judging from the broken Workshop doll beside her… there was no doubt she had some sort of connection with them.

Back to a somewhat calm state, Evolet muttered a small thank you under her breath which the boy didn’t fail to catch. Taking a deep breath, the bluenette didn’t waste any time as she stood up on trembling legs. Not even two steps forward and she was already leaning against the wall heavily, her complexion as white as a sheet. The boy sighed exasperatedly at the girl, ruffling his blond hair roughly until his hood fell off.

“Oi, where are you going?”

Evolet stared at him, lips parting slightly as if she was about to say something before she closed it with a confused look. The Researcher hadn’t said a thing about where the head of the Workshop Battle was and she didn’t know if they were even on the right path earlier. At that point, the blond was already aware that she was lost. He considered just handing her to the Workshop and letting them take care of her. But that’d mean he’ll have to go back too and he still wanted to enjoy his small stroll.

She knew the head of the Workshop Battle was most likely in a VIP room, but which out of the many lineups? She just wanted to get away from here fast. Taking out the Guiding Lantern that she attained on the 3rd Floor, her white Lighthouse only appeared briefly before going into invisible mode again. Muttering some incomprehensible words, Evolet poured her Shinsu into the item as it glowed softly and a trail of blue mist materialized to show her the path. She seemed to be relieved by it, the boy noted from the softening look in her blue-violet eyes.

“Thank you for earlier. To answer your question… I’m heading to wherever this leads.” She replied with a nonchalant smile that contrasted with the otherwise deathly pale skin, pointing to the lantern in her hand.

“...for what?”

He was testing the waters. He didn't actually want to fight or anything, considering it would cause too much of a ruckus and the girl before him just looked so weak despite the oddity he felt. But he was curious of what business she had here since this passage was typically restricted save for the upper ups. If she shows the slightest sign of malice, then he'll just swiftly kill her and pretend nothing ever happened here.

"The head hired me to provide entertainment during the Winners' Party and distribute the prizes during the Awards Ceremony later on. I still haven't discussed the details with him but it seems like… the Workshop's humor is as dark as always..." She answered pointedly at the doll, laughing dryly in a knowing pain. If this was his way of warning her, then she didn't like it at all. Though as much as she hated to admit it, if that was his intention then it certainly worked.

"You're going in that condition?"

"I'm... fine."

Lies, he decided. It was a fake front if anything. He would've believed her words if it wasn't from the paleness and those legs shaking like a leaf. And he didn't know why but it was extremely frustrating to watch.

In the heat of the moment, the boy made an abrupt decision. Evolet stared at him questioningly as the blond closed their distance. She couldn't see his yellow eyes under the bandages, his eyebrows furrowed annoyed. The next thing she realized, he practically swept her off her feet and carried her. Evolet's eyes widened, mouth agape in surprise and shock. What was she supposed to respond to in this situation? She's never been carried by anyone else before save for Yunuen, though she's done plenty of carrying.

Yunuen did tell her to just kick– better yet, kill anyone who dared to do something akin to this without her own permission. Which she honestly didn’t understand up until today, why would she kill anyone for a trivial reason anyway. It wasn’t as if she didn’t do it often to others. She didn't sense any hostility from him either, so hypothetically speaking it should be fine, right? He did help her earlier anyway.

“Just follow the mist right?”

Evolet nodded, staying silent awkwardly in his hold as he walked without a care. She took the chance to examine the blond, quickly noticing how there were mixed presences that made up the man along with the power he had. She could make a fair guess that he was a Living Ignition Weapon, though she didn’t know why he was roaming about freely considering that this was the Workshop they’re talking about.

There were some instabilities judging from the Shinsu around him. She was suddenly reminded of the Emily device. Hansung had told her that he found something interesting about said device, and that he'll send the complete report to her soon enough. Though that was already last week. Maybe she should bribe him with coffee so he'll work faster for once?

The lantern in her hold suddenly began to shake a little, and Evolet directed her attention to the blue mist again. The trail led to a nearby room, a grandiose huge door that was decorated with golden linings and certainly out of place in the metal hallways. Both of them stopped in front of the door.

“Is that it?”

Before she could even answer him, the door slowly opened with a creak. The bluenette sighed heavily at the grand door. She tapped the boy’s shoulder twice, signalling him to let her down which he did without a fuss. He frowned as she forcefully steadied her trembling legs, taking deep breaths as if that'll let her pale complexion go back to normal. Rummaging around her pocket, she pulled out a small glass flask and handed it to the blond. He stared at the small gift skeptically, particularly at the contents that resembled small stars of various colors and the purple ribbon decorating the flask.

Konpeito. It’s a type of candy. As a thanks for bringing me here.”

She didn’t say anything more, simply smiling at him before entering the room and leaving him outside. The boy glanced at the door briefly before staring at the flask in his hand, opening it and taking a bite at one of the candies.

"It's sweet..." He frowned at the sweet taste of the candy. Despite what he said, he took another one of the candy and chewed on it mindlessly. He lingered at the door a moment too long for his liking before he walked away, the small glass flask of konpeito safely tucked in his pocket.

“Beta?!” His gaze snapped towards the voice from his left, seeing the Research Assistant named Sophia who's been taking care of him. The blond clicked his tongue in annoyance, knowing his free time was up. He glanced at Sophia who was all too concerned about him, no signs that she had caught a glimpse of Evolet earlier. So instead he just went back with them silently, not telling a single soul about the bluenette he saw. He realized he didn't know her name.

When Evolet stepped into the room, she deliberately stayed close to the shut door. She could see a certain brunette facing away from her as he stared outside from the glass walls. He was wearing a white tuxedo with black lapels, a dark grey shirt underneath and a black tie. There was an air of arrogance surrounding him as he continued to observe the situation outside without a shred of amusement.

Given a choice, she wouldn't have accepted his invitation. Especially when the place specified was the Workshop. She already tried to kill one of them earlier, who knows what she'll do if they continue provoking her like this. But she needed his help to win this wager, so here she was. By the end of it, she was only moving for Bam's sake.

"I see the Slayer Nominee is important enough to you that you've decided to accept my invitation and come here."

"And I see both yours and the Workshop's humor is still as senseless as ever."

"Are you intent on making him the new King Candidate?"

"...I think you're misunderstanding something. I haven't chosen him as my new King Candidate. And I won't unless he himself agrees to it."

"But you won't pick any other King either… I see that part of you hasn't changed at all, Eu."

Evolet was careful to keep her expression neutral as the man turned around but made no move to move from his spot near the window. She doesn't know why he was the head of the Workshop Battle this year instead of one of their Great Teachers, nor what kind of connections and methods he pulled to get this opportunity. And while it was beneficial for her at the moment, Evolet doesn't think she wants to know the reason why he called her here.

"It's been a while… No– It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance again, Gustang-san."

Chapter Text

"It's been a while… No… It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance again, Gustang-san."

Evolet paused for a while, frowning as she continued her words. "But, please don't mistake me for Euterpe-san. I am not her and I will never be. Besides, you were the one who invited me as Muse instead of Evolet or Yvette."

Gustang quirked up a small amused smile at that, and Evolet found anxiety bubbling inside of her. She didn't like dealing with him.

"I would've invited you using other methods if it was possible. Otherwise I wouldn't have gotten out of my way to call you here when I know of your history. Both Muse and Yvette are merely well-made fake identities. While Evolet Euterpe simply doesn't exist. Yet on the other hand you deny the fact that you are Euterpe. If so, then who are you?”

“You know best what I am, all of you do. Especially when he was the one to start all of this.” The bluenette narrowed her eyes, unwilling to back down under his scrutinizing gaze.

“Is that why you won’t crown him the true King?”

“I could ask the same to you. Scheme too much and he might run out of patience eventually.” Evolet shot back at him, glaring at the man as he proceeded to sit down and brew a cup of coffee. Somewhat reluctantly, she also sat down across him when he motioned her to. He didn’t seem to have any more intention of riling her up, so Evolet relaxed a little although she didn’t let her guard down.

“Tperie knows.”

Evolet was aware of that fact, showing no signs of surprise instead exhaling an exhausted sigh. It hasn’t even been an hour since she met Gustang and she was already tired out of her mind. Evolet was sure some of the best Lightbearers would’ve immediately noticed her entering the Tower. But there weren't many that knew of her existence and purpose.

The legend was long forgotten. There was no way the legend wasn’t hidden and sealed away so that the Regulars wouldn’t know. The greedy fake King of the Tower wouldn’t let the Crown slip out of his hands. He needed the Crown to become the true King of the Tower before someone else overthrows him. But Jahad wouldn’t know a single thing unless he saw her for himself. She’d be fine as long as she stayed hidden from Jahad, as long as she steered clear from him then it’ll work out just fine.

And she knew for a fact that Gustang would never inform Jahad about her. Her eyes wandered to the old radio in the corner of the room briefly, knowing that someone was listening in on their conversation. She reckoned it was someone on Gustang’s side, considering that the brunette didn’t hesitate to imply that he was scheming against Jahad. Yet another sigh escaped her lips, head pounding from the headache she felt.

A part of it was also Gustang’s fault. Though at the same time she couldn’t hold it against him either. He was the one who offered up the Thorn to FUG which triggered Karaka’s faction taking action. They were carrying out their plans step by step as if Evolet didn’t notice a single thing. As if she wouldn’t when it comes to Bam. They were idiots for thinking it’ll go as smooth as they planned it. And she was all to adamant on making them regret it.

Said mastermind who pulled the strings to make this possible was sitting right in front of her, a calm look on his expression as they held a bored staring match against her. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, the Thorn fragments will be a great help for Bam onwards as they continue to climb. That didn’t mean she preferred to use this method to give it to him. Though Gustang wouldn’t accept it any other way unless Bam proved his strength on his own.

So instead she settled for a one-chance interruption and a promise that he'd stop before anything got out of hand. In exchange she had to come here and meet him for who knows what reason. Evolet couldn’t pinpoint why he would even want to meet her anyway. And from what she could see, Gustang had no intentions of telling her either. Though if his purpose was to rile her up then he’s succeeded at that by inviting her to the Workshop.

“Your Slayer Nominee hasn’t made it up to the Archimedes.” Gustang had muttered it in a small unamused voice, but Evolet heard it clearly and let her gaze wander to the glass panels as she stared outside with an evident frown.

He will.” She is sure Bam will make it up here one way or another, but goodness knows what kind of trouble he found himself in again. On the other side, she also had no doubt that Khun was having a headache dealing with Sweet and Sour though he'll manage somehow. Evolet felt like she could sigh all day long. Things would've been much easier if she could accompany Bam, then she wouldn't have needed to worry about anything.

“It seems like he did make it here.” And Evolet smiled at Gustang’s words, faintly hearing the announcement of the first game ending. Then the next thing she knew there was a stack of papers in front of her and she skimmed through it briefly, noticing the contents was basically a rundown of her schedule for the upcoming days in the event.

She didn’t miss how despite the jam-packed schedule, Gustang deliberately left her an empty slot so that she could watch the competition with him. A thought passed her mind if he’ll finally reveal what he wanted during then, but she didn’t expect much anyway. She looked at the brunette once he stood up out of the blue, the coffee cup left empty on the table as she stared at him questioningly. An eyebrow raised, the High Ranker told her that he’ll walk her to her room. Completely dumbfounded by the unexpectedly kind offer, Evolet stayed silent for a whole minute before promptly saying,

“You… are Gustang-san… right?” The bulging veins on his forehead and the exasperated look he was donning conveyed the clear answer to Evolet. She didn’t waste any more time to stand up and follow him albeit skeptically.

He did keep his word to safely escort her to her room, although there was only awkward silence along the way. Though she certainly didn't rest in the room like he told her to after that. At first Evolet thought she'd just spend the night reviewing the details of the Workshop Battle's events. But that finished far sooner than she expected, so in the end she was out wandering on the Archimedes for a small midnight tour.

The deck was silent, completely void of the Regulars who've surely gone to sleep after the exhausting game. Evolet could sense that her quarters were deliberately placed the farthest from the Regulars' accommodations, most likely to prevent her meeting Bam or Khun and the team. Which was the right call, considering that Evolet would've visited Bam otherwise. She could faintly see the gold and blue strings swaying around her, as if tempting her to just follow them and see the two who were at the opposite side of the Archimedes.

Just as she was about to make her turn around the hallway, Evolet was suddenly greeted by the sight of someone or rather, a certain mini sized crocodile figure. Mini Rak was standing there in all his glory, red eyes darting around until they landed on Evolet's disguise. Somewhat surprised but didn't want her disguise to be found out yet, she opted to muster a small polite smile before going on her merry way to walk away.

She hadn't even gotten a few steps away before Rak called her out. “You! You’re the purple turtle aren’t you?!”

To be honest, Evolet was wondering if her disguise even had any meaning at this point. Her eyes wandered below, staring at her dyed hair while frowning. There wasn't a tint of its previous light lavender color, replaced by a sky blue shade that highly resembled those of the Khun family. How do people keep discovering her disguises on and on?

On second thought, maybe she should just run now–

The next thing she knew, there was a head crashing to her back that successfully knocked the wind out of her. Evolet staggered forward a few steps, slightly leaning on the wall.

Rak was pointing a finger at her, spouting more words that currently didn’t make any sense in Evolet’s mind such as how the purple turtle turned into a blue turtle instead.

The situation sank into her mind soon enough, and the first thing she did was break out in laughter. It was still so familiar with her, Rak’s loud voice and his shouts that she’s used to. Honestly, they never went along with her plans one way or another. But then again, she supposed she'll just have to improvise around it just like she always had. With Bam being an Irregular, things tend to derail ever the slightest bit anyway. So she might as well enjoy what's happening, shouldn't she? She missed them too.

Rak was taken aback by the sudden burst of laughter, watching dumbfoundedly as she continued to laugh without restraint before abruptly hugging him. Needless to say, Rak was puzzled with her actions but otherwise didn’t escape from her hold and instead hugged her back while laughing proudly and telling her of his greatness.

"Where have you been, purple turtle?! You just went missing without saying anything!"

It somewhat felt like Rak was reprimanding her, but Evolet still smiled as she answered, "Just a bit here and there, Rak-san. Thank you for taking care of Khun-san in my absence, Leader Rak."

He seemed to be appeased by her words, cackling to himself while claiming it was obvious that he'll do a great job taking care of his turtles since he was the best leader.

"Red turtle told me everything. Black turtle was with you all along, wasn't he?" His piercing red gaze was staring straight at her and Evolet couldn't help but let out a resigned sigh at his spot on intuition as she nodded.

"Yes. How did you know it was me though, Rak-san?"

"Leader Rak will always know which turtle is which!"

Rak exclaimed it without hesitation, huffing proudly as he did. Evolet's mouth was agape, confused as if she was about to say something before she ultimately decided to close her mouth shut with a sigh. Hwaryun was most likely the one who told him about her disguise too. While she couldn't say anything to his answer, she could certainly guess why he was here.

"Rak-san… You got lost while looking for Khun-san, didn't you?"

.

.

.

"A...AHAHAHA! The great leader Rak would never get lost, small turtle!"

The awkward laugh he let out was more than enough indication for Evolet that he was covering it up. She was absolutely sure he got lost while looking for Khun. Well, it would be either Khun or Bam. But it would make more sense for him to search for Khun first since the news of his death wasn't long ago.

"Hall number 3, room 24 A on the 6th floor. That's where Khun-san is. But… you're on the wrong side of the ship, Rak-san. Khun-san is on the west wing. This is the east wing and the Workshop Battle participants are forbidden to enter here."

Rak blinked incomprehensibly a few times, trying to process the information given to him before he stuttered out, "O-of course I knew that."

Evolet couldn't help but stifle the small giggles threatening to spill from her lips. It was painstakingly obvious from his expression. But then he stared up at her, a piercing red gaze as he asked an extremely important question.

"By the way, when are you going to let me go from your hug, purple turtle?"

At some point during the conversation, Evolet had even started patting his head without even realizing it. She didn't let him go after hearing his words, instead smiling brightly as she leisurely continued patting his rocky head without a care in the world.

"Rak-san… when you meet Bam later, please do give him a hug. I'm sure he'll be happy if you do that."

Taking a peek at Evolet's expression, Rak could only huff indignantly. "Purple turtle is stupid. Of course Leader Rak will do that without even being told! The great Rak always knows what's best for his turtles!!"

"Then, I'm counting on you, Rak-san. Win the Workshop Battle with Khun-san. And please tell Bam to sleep properly for me if you meet him."

"Yosh. You can count on me, purple turtle!"

Hearing the confidence in his answer, Evolet chuckled lightly as she finally released him from her hug and put him down. Rak observed the disguised Anima with a frown on his expression.

"Purple turtle, you're not planning to disappear again, are you?"

Evolet blinked confusedly for a moment, before a smile overtook her expression as she ushered him away while answering. "Of course not, Rak-san. I won't suddenly vanish again or anything. This time… I'll properly stay."

"Good." She could only laugh softly at his short answer, handing him to the security and telling them to escort him back to his room so he wouldn't get lost again. A simple smile was more than enough to make them move. Rushing away with a painted pink hue on their face while a few of them offered to walk her to her room, though Evolet promptly shut them down before leaving.

There was a small smirk on her expression as she walked away. She still had a promise to keep to Bam. She'll make sure everything works out just fine. Bam's been suffering enough in FUG, and an opportunity to free him like this won't come often. Even if it's harder to take care of FUG while dealing with the team's shenanigans, she'll just do whatever it takes to ensure her promise is kept and Bam is safe and happy.

Chapter Text

Evolet exhaled lightly. Thanking the staff with a bright smile at the end of rehearsal before going back to her room, utterly oblivious as to how their gazes were following her figure with hearts in their eyes. The Game of Plug was about to start and she had no doubt Gustang was already in the waiting room. Goodness knows what kind of scheme he was cooking up.

Rak should've met Khun by now if he didn't get lost again like yesterday. That should give Khun the last piece of reassurance he needed in order to tackle the Workshop Battle seriously. Now all that's left to do is to play her part correctly so that they can escape safe and sound. Faintly she wondered how it was going on Yunuen's side. He did say something about Wolhaiksong, but he hasn't contacted her in quite a while now. Though knowing Yunuen then he'll be fine.

Now clad in casual clothes, she hurriedly headed to the waiting room. Arriving just in time as the battle was about to start. Gustang only glanced at her briefly, motioning for her to sit down beside him with a cup of tea at the ready. She could hear the game starting, announcement and commentary booming along the hallways through the speaker.

Evolet's blue-violet orbs gleamed in joy when she saw Bam at the Grand Stadium. Indiscreetly, her fingertips moved nimbly every now and then as she listened to the information the Shinsu strings were relaying to her. She could hear the whispers and the murmurs of the Regulars below as she sipped her tea calmly.

Look! It’s Jue Viole Grace!!

 

I knew he’d join the battle

 

He’s smaller than I thought he would be

 

I heard he beat one of the top two E-rank teams by himself

 

Where’s his partner?

 

Partner? Ah, you mean Yvette right?

 

It’s weird to not see them together

 

Maybe she won’t be participating?

 

I mean, it is an individual battle and she’s just support isn’t she?

 

Oi, oi, watch your mouth or the Slayer Nominee will kill you


It didn’t come as a surprise that they would be a hot topic with the Regulars. She couldn’t deny that sometimes the rumors might be a tad bit exaggerated, but it does hold true to a certain degree. There were bound to be a few Regulars whose interests will be piqued by his status as a Slayer Nominee or…

A random participant ran up to Bam, clasping his hands with a hopeful gaze. The Regular started spouting off reasons and how he really wanted to meet Bam. Telling his sob story along with how his hopes of the Slayer Nominee would bring Jahad and the Ten Great Families to their knees. Some other Regulars also began shouting their approval and wishes to him.

or they’ll put their expectations on him to get their own revenge.

Displeased by the turn of events going on downstairs despite having expected it beforehand, Evolet frowned as she put her cup of tea down on the table. If she was beside Bam then she would’ve squeezed his hand reassuringly and told him there was no need for him to listen to them.

She could see the fatigue from his posture, no doubt burdened yet again by the hopes of others upon him. She wanted to hug him, show him that everything will be okay. That he didn't need to be anyone else but just the 25th Bam and it's completely fine. That she'll support him no matter what his decision is and she'll even destroy the Tower itself if that's what he wishes for. She wanted to stand by his side, just hold his hand and hug him to see his smile coming back whenever she promises him everything will be okay. Yet she could only watch with a heavy heart as Bam went to his individual waiting room.

“You still wear your emotions on your sleeves as always.”

Of course Gustang didn't miss the changes and the blatantly obvious expressions from her. Evolet wasn't flustered nor annoyed anymore by his little attempts to get a ruse out of her, being used to it after all that's happened yesterday.

"There's not really any need for me to hide my emotions. You already know how I am. Isn't it about time you tell me why did you call me here? If you have something you want then it's best to just ask me directly instead of beating around the bush."

"Let's have a bet."

"A bet…?" Evolet turned her attention to the man who was observing her from the corner of his eyes. It struck as odd that he offered her a bet. Gustang wasn't the type to casually start a bet unless it has some sort of catch.

She could clearly hear the Workshop Battle's opening being announced as ten new presences entered the room beside theirs. Her eyes trailed to a distinctive light blue string that signalled Khun's presence in the midst of it.

"Yes. I'm sure you've noticed the arrival of a few Regulars in the next room. They're the gamblers who will be the team leaders for the team tournament."

As if on cue, the two hosts of the Workshop Battle began to explain the gambling rules. The gamblers are the highest scoring Regulars from the One Shot One Opportunity game and they'll use the money given to them to bet who'll win the Individual Battle that's about to unfold. The six people who earn the most money will be the team leaders of the Team Tournament and they'll be able to buy teammates along with items from the money they attained.

"The rules are similar. Guess all the winners from each Individual Battle rounds correctly without a single miss. If you win then I'll agree to your request."

"And if I lose?"

Gustang didn't bother to give her any glance, simply adorning a small smirk as he stared into the cup of tea he was holding. "Will you though?"

From the very start, Evolet could never understand what was going through Gustang's mind. It was much easier to read Yurin or Blossom, maybe Eduan. What he was asking for is to affirm her weakness, if it even could be called one. A vulnerable state, though by no means was she defenseless by a Regulars' terms. Then again, she could never guess what was he's been planning. But if that was how he wanted to play it, then she'll be happy to oblige. Taking risks and being reckless were part of climbing the Tower after all. She couldn’t lose with an offer like that on the line.

"...no, I won't miss."

With this, at least she was aware that Gustang had no intention of harming her at the moment. He was more likely searching to test her instead, a reminisce and confirmation of old times if nothing else. Though it didn't necessarily mean he was an ally either considering the little Workshop fiasco she had yesterday. Better than having him as an enemy, she supposed.

Right off the bat, Evolet was already sighing as she watched the first round. While she knew the team was reliable to a certain degree, she was also very much aware of how chaotic they are at times. Never would've she guessed that Miseng and Prince would get caught up with one of Shibisu's team members and Miseng ended up getting controlled.

 

╔═══°∴,*⋅✲══〖✰〗══✲⋅*,∴°═══╗
Doll maker
Verdi
E-rank Regular
Main position: Anima
╚═══°∴,*⋅✲══〖✰〗══✲⋅*,∴°═══╝

 

She did her research beforehand since Verdi was on Shibisu's team and it never hurts to be cautious just in case FUG was looking for extra trouble. Not bothering to call out on how Gustang was staring at her amusedly, she proceeded to pick 3 Regulars from the batch while keeping her eyes peeled on the match.

Come to think of it, she never actually brushed up on her Anima abilities since the 2nd Floor did she? Back when she was separated from Bam for a year, she managed to get by with only Raiden and Amos so she hadn't put much thought about it. Even after she was reunited with Bam, she hadn't been using her Shinheuhs in many fights since she typically took on the Defender role. Not that there was much need to fight when Bam was around so she hasn't tapped in much into her Anima focused abilities.

Practicing with her folding fans was another matter since she participates in the Training Ring regularly, not to mention her daily dancing. On the other hand, she couldn't exactly release either Raiden or Amos carelessly unless they had enough movement space. In a lot of ways, it's probably better for an Anima to ascend the Tower either separately from a team or find a way to make it work amongst the team members.

She had absolutely no intention of doing so at the moment, not when she has her hands full with training the team and keeping them safe. Speaking of which… maybe she should up their training regiment more, going by how Prince got beaten up by Miseng when she was only borrowing power from Verdi. She certainly had to applaud him for the show of bravery at the last moment though, it was something she appreciated from him.

 

Group 1 Winners: Arkraptor Hon, Wangnan Ja, Prince

 

One round down… Twenty eight more to go. There was a small smile etched on her expression, musing how Khun was probably mulling over which Regular to bet on in the next room. At least she wasn’t the only one doing this albeit on a different scale. She’s accepted an unbelievable bet indeed. No doubt her head will be pounding so hard after this. Evolet sighed as she focused completely on the Shinsu strings instead of watching the match properly.

Gustang, on the other hand, was absorbed in monitoring Evolet. He could see how she went lax, eyes glazed over and empty despite the fact that she was in full focus. Head tilted slightly to the side, long light lavender hair swaying along softly as she sat like an unmoving doll on the chair. The shift in the room was instantaneous, he could feel the formless Shinsu around them morphing into strings even though he couldn’t see them. It was on a much lower scale than before, but this was the phenomena he still couldn’t figure out no matter how many millennials had passed.

He would've agreed to help her even if she lost the bet, but it seems like he didn't need to worry. Although he must admit, with the way she's doing it… This wasn't quite what Euterpe did back in the days. She wasn't reading the immediate future, no. What she did was read all of their strings and where it would lead to, matching the possibilities up as she did before putting the most plausible result together. She was doing it on a much larger scale. An inhumane feat by the book, but that's exactly why she couldn't be classified as a human.

His Shinsu reached out tentatively to her, burning with the thirst of knowledge and curiosity. He stopped millimeters away from her hair, a thin line of blood slowly trickling down his cheek as a string materialized. A telltale sign to not disturb her concentration. All the while sighing, he retracted his Shinsu as the small cut healed and propped his chin on his hands. She hasn't changed much since old times, that much he could see.

She was more small and petite from the last time he saw her. Less strength emanated from her, though he could sense both old and new powers swirling in her. Rather than the same exact person, she seemed like the Euterpe who hadn't completed her climb yet and someone new at the same time. The biggest oddity he could sense was the fact that she didn't seem to harbor much hate towards him– all of them. It was as if the one sitting beside him was the one he knew before the war broke out. She seemed like a different person but all the same as the long forgotten past if he left out the details of the vow of revenge Euterpe herself had taken on.

Evolet still sat unmoving, occasionally muttering names of the Regulars who would come up on the top with precision. Precisely why it wasn't hard to pinpoint how her demeanor changed drastically when Jue Viole Grace turned up on the stage. He could see the sharp twitch of her hand, eyebrows furrowed upon realizing the situation on Bam's side had gone slightly bitter. Some Regulars claimed to be FUG's believers, clearing up the way for him as they eliminated those who didn't dare to stand up against the name FUG. A one-sided massacre under the fake guise of FUG.

Bam didn't take it kindly, rejecting the title of a god they conveniently pushed to him as he ran loose from the anger he felt. A few familiar people watching from afar had different reactions to the scene, some taken aback, some skeptical, some exasperated, some found resemblance to a certain Regular that died on the 2nd Floor and suspicions were roused. Her eyes regained focus as it trailed to Bam's figure as he walked away, grumbling slightly at the fact that she couldn't even go and comfort him.

As both Bam and Xiaxia exited the arena, Novick and Ran greeted them for a job well done before they headed out for their own respective matches. Xiaxia kept complaining how she was tired after the match, telling Bam to never say that he won’t make their wishes come true before going to her room. On the other hand, Ran and Novick was listing reasons why the whole battle was odd in many aspects.

Just as Novick brushed the topic off since they’ll know FUG’s motives soon enough, Ran stopped in his tracks and kept his eyes on a passing figure. The bluenette could clearly feel the unsettling presence from the hooded figure walking away leisurely. And was that the sound of crunching candies that he heard?

“What’s wrong, Ran?”

“He’s… not a human.”

Meanwhile, Bam relished in the silence of his room. Sitting on the bed with a small smile etched on his expression despite what Xiaxia said. He could feel the ghosting of warmth on his back, knowing there was no need to worry about the brunette’s words. He was just the 25th Bam and that was enough, Evolet said so herself.

There was no need for him to mull over other’s wishes for a god that he wasn’t. He could imagine Evolet smiling at him and squeezing his hands gently to reassure him, he’ll be fine. In a moment’s decision, he opted to get some fresh air without knowing the surprise that awaits him once he came back.


Evolet released a shaky breath, naming the last batch of Regulars she was betting on as the headache crashed down on her for using her ability too long. Groaning from the nausea she felt, Evolet reached out blindly to the new cup of tea Gustang offered to her while he made arrangements with a random personnel to alter the second round.

The brunette turned back to her once he shooed the employee away, no hint of surprise on his expression. He didn’t have a shred of doubt that Evolet would guess correctly. She practically collapsed into the couch, squinting her eyes to see through the muddled haze. Gustang had kindly applied a wet towel to cover her face, which Evolet could only reply with a short mumble. They both know her condition after using that skill was incurable even with his advanced Shinsu knowledge. There was the sound of books being stacked on the table, and Evolet reluctantly lifted the towel a little to see what he did.

"A small gift for your hard work."

Grabbing one of the books mindlessly, she could see that each of them were either medical books or Shinsu healing techniques. A wide grin spread over Evolet’s lips, knowing how precious those books were since healing techniques were rather rare and cherished in the Tower. The kind of books that could never be bought and widely monopolized by none other than the brunette beside her. She didn’t hesitate to put in Gustang’s books in one of her Lighthouses.

“Think you’ll be fine by the cruise party?”

“Work is work, I’ll...manage somehow.”

“I’m looking forward to it then.”

Honestly, Evolet thought the conversation would've ended there since Gustang was a man of few words unless it was about something important. So she was rather surprised when he continued the conversation.

"How has it been, climbing the Tower again?" To top it off, the question was something like that. She considered staying silent, but she supposed it was rude since he was currently her employer despite the off-topic discussion.

"There's… been a lot of changes since then. Compared to the past, right now… I’m not even climbing because of my own wish or desire. I’m merely here to fulfill a duty, a promise.”

“You make it sound so burdening.”

.

.

.

“But, I’ve discovered a lot of new things too. I met a lot of people along the way, and I don’t want to leave their side. It’s not perfect... I have to deal with FUG and the whispers won’t stop haunting me. Even so, this time– I don’t want to lose any of them.”

It had sounded so childish that for a moment, Gustang couldn’t believe what he was hearing. But he reminded himself that she was still not Euterpe. Even if she was, she resembled the Euterpe that hadn’t been through everything yet. Still overly childish regardless of her feats, and all too loyal despite knowing how the outcome will be. It was so utterly foolish in his book. He couldn’t understand her line of thoughts.

So instead he sighed, already feeling the signs of a headache dealing with the purplette. He doesn’t know what kind of nonsense he was spouting under her influence. "You should stay true to your own feelings."

Evolet had the nerves to look at him skeptically. "That's unexpected, coming from you. Did falling in love transform you or something, Gustang-san?"

The brunette stared at her impassively, utterly unimpressed by her words. "I don’t want to hear that from you."

Chapter Text

Before Bam opened the door, he was already aware of the new presence in his waiting room. And it was one he was unfamiliar with. So he was on full caution as the door slid open, revealing a male wearing a red baseball hat sitting on his bed. At first Bam had only exerted caution, but his golden eyes quickly swirled into a chilling glare fitting of a Slayer Nominee.

"You– where did you get that." Bam was focused on the small glass flask in the stranger– Beta’s hold, he’d recognize it anywhere.

Beta raised an eyebrow at the menacing tone, briefly reminded of the bluenette he met yesterday. His gaze switching between the sweet treats in his hands and the Slayer Nominee before he broke out into a taunting grin.

“What does it have to do with you? Even if I killed someone and took this from them, what are you gonna do about it?”

His grin only widened as the brunette lunged at him, golden orbs burning with bloodlust as Beta narrowly dodged his punch packed with raging Shinsu. The blond laughed, dangling the small glass flask from the purple ribbon in front of the silently seething Bam.

“You don’t need to react like that. I got this from someone I helped yesterday. They seemed to be in trouble and gave me this in return for helping them, that’s all.” While that did lessen Bam’s hostility towards him somewhat, it didn’t stop him from narrowing his eyes.

Eve… in trouble?

It’s a possibility that he didn’t exactly want to consider, but they were dealing with FUG so he couldn’t rule it out either. He wanted to trust her that she’ll be able to take care of… whatever was happening without a hitch, but he couldn’t help but worry about her. He didn’t want to see her hurt, or worse. Not that he had any idea how much of a headache she was to the FUG elders on a near daily basis. But she told him to not contact her until the Workshop Battle ends… Too long, far too long, his mind supplied. What if something happened to her during that time and he didn’t know?

“But that aside, don’t you want to know who… or what I am?”

Then there was this blond in front of him, he wondered what kind of trouble Evolet was in that she needed this guy to help. He hasn’t been liking this whole Workshop Battle fiasco so far. Beta didn’t even wait for him to reply before continuing.

“I am– a Living Ignition Weapon.”

“A Living Ignition Weapon…? You...?” And he felt shock overcome him briefly as the new information settled in, feeling his throat drying out and his eyes widening. To be fair he'd briefly heard about it once from Evolet, when she talked with Horyang before he left. But that didn't make him any less surprised, especially when one of said experimentations was right in front of him now.

“Yes.”

A storm of emotions swirling in him, Bam could only stay silent while observing Beta. The blond took his silence as a sign of cluelessness, seemingly lacking knowledge about it. “What? You really don’t know anything? It’s kinda disappointing to see The Completed being like this.”

“The Completed…?” Bam frowned at the term he never heard of before.

“Well, you don’t seem to know how to wake the devil yet. But think carefully, why would have FUG brought you here? And why would they try to win this battle? The winning prize of the Workshop Battle is so special because it will belong to the winner forever. So what could this prize that they want to keep forever be?”

The taunting grin never left his face as he handed Bam an Emily device, relishing in the astonishment in those golden eyes as he left the room with an air of finality in his words. “Ask her… and she’ll tell you about it. Although you’ll also learn about the sin you’ll have to make up to us for. Then I’ll see you at the party… The Completed One.”

Left alone to his thoughts in the silent room, Bam clutched the device in his hands and stared at it for a while before typing in the dreaded question.

 

'The winning prize of this Workshop Battle is?'

 

'The winning prize of this Workshop Battle is the Ignition Weapon, "Jue Viole Grace".'

 

The resounding cheers and screams from the battle's finale were clear as day, but all he could hear was the clattering of the device as it fell to the ground. The answer was ringing in his mind, a heavy feeling settling in along with the chill of realization. In a moment of panic and lost, he did what seemed to be the most natural in his mind. His hands were already moving on autopilot, putting his Pocket in visible mode and calling Evolet.

Evolet went rigid as she felt the Pocket's notification, still in invisible mode. It was her usual Pocket, not the one specialized for her jobs which meant the one calling her was Bam. She had purposefully told him that they couldn't contact each other until the whole Workshop Battle was over so that they wouldn't get found out. If he called then there must be some reason behind it and she was tempted to answer but Gustang was still beside her.

"You're not going to answer the call? It's the Slayer Nominee, isn't it?"

Of course Gustang would figure it out from the Shinsu vibrations, just her luck to be in the same room with him when Bam called. She sighed, putting her Pocket in visible mode and giving Gustang a pointed look as she answered the call.

"What's wrong, Bam?" She didn't even care that Gustang was listening in by now. Her expression swiftly turned more caring as her tone softened when she answered the call. Gustang could tell it was a tone reserved for her precious ones. It felt somewhat ironic, considering that back then she used to speak like that all the time to them and now she was wary against them. Though it was better than seeing hate directed at them after all that's happened.

Bam heaved a sigh of relief once he heard her soothing voice, calming down as he gingerly held his Pocket. It's always a wonder how Evolet always managed to do that to him within a heartbeat without any effort. His lips parted, questions he wanted to ask but his voice just wouldn't come out.

"Bam…?" He could clearly imagine Evolet's worried look in front of him and a smile curved up on his lips.

His own thoughts were raging inside his mind, yet instead what he muttered out was something completely different. "I miss you, Eve…"

For a moment it went silent on Evolet's side and Bam wondered if he should've just said something else. He was rewarded with the melodious laughter that he missed dearly, already forgetting most of the stuff he wanted to speak about.

"Hn, I miss you too, Bam." If she was right in front of him then he would've pulled her into a hug and never let go, it felt like there were butterflies fluttering about in his stomach and wished she was by his side.

"...Eve, did you run into any troubles?" He didn't have the courage to ask it uprightly despite the lingering anxiousness. He was no doubt worried, for himself, for the 'viole'tte who was too reckless for her own good, for his friends' lives that were on the line, and other possible issues he had.

"Bam, what did I promise you?" There was a soft sigh accompanying that sentence and Bam felt like a child being scolded for some reason.

He scrambled to get his answer, telling whatever was on top of his head automatically. "To stay by my side…?"

The soft stifled laughter was crystal clear to his ears and he blushed a pretty shade of red, flustered at his own answer that he didn't think through. Evolet would've gladly made him even more embarrassed by peppering kisses all over his reddening face. He could almost hear Evolet's smile as she replied to him.

"Yes, I promised that too. And I also promised you that everything will be okay. And if it isn’t, then I’ll always make sure everything will work out. That's why, trust me on this. I'll come back to you safe and sound without a single wound on me, m'kay?"

He couldn't stop himself from letting out a small whine, displeased by the fact that she was still going to be away for him for a while. But he couldn't bring himself to say no either. She's asking him to trust her, and who was he to deny her of his full trust? So he nodded and let out a low hum to show his reluctant agreement despite how badly he wanted to ask where she was so that he could just whisk her away and never let her leave his side anymore.

"Wait for me, Bam. I'll be back soon." And the line simply cut off like that, her gentle tone lingering in his mind and repeating over and over.

Always, he wanted to answer. He'd say he'll always wait for her, but that would be a lie because he'd chase her first rather than waiting. "Soon" isn't fast enough for him. He's running far too low on his Eve reserves and he needed to recharge. It's been too long since he saw her, too long of not having her warmth in his hold, too long of being deprived from her loving smiles and touches.

But at least she promised to return, that she wasn't going to leave him and instead was doing this for his sake.  He laid down on his bed, staring at the ceiling and slowly drifting to a dreamless sleep all the while hoping she'll be right by his side again once he woke up.

The soft smile lingered around even after she closed the call, turning her Pocket into invisible mode again. Without wasting any time, she stood up and politely told Gustang that she had to prepare for the Winners' Party before exiting the room. And he simply let her go, saying that he's looking forward to her performance. He didn't miss the calm confidence oozing from her tone as she replied "of course" before the door shuts. Some things never change no matter how much time passes.


Music was booming throughout the party room, the party going on full throttle. A certain Khun was leaning against the bar counter, seemingly disinterested at whatever was going on. He was too absorbed in his own thoughts, racking up ways he could fix the situation that's gone awry from the competition.

Winning the Workshop Battle was a must for this team, and it was his job as their leader to figure out how. The gamblers were ordered to go to the living room later for further discussions, so most likely his only choice was to reason the hosts to deviate the rules slightly. They can't hold the second round with only two teams either way, so he'll take advantage of that opening.

Khun scoffed as he heard the commotion of the awed Regulars around him, their gaze focused on Endorsi who was finally entering the party. Though he supposed it was to be expected, she was a Jahad princess after all. There were various shouts as men asked her to dance with them, or some reporters asking for interviews, none which she replied to. He'd bet what was going through her mind as she ignored them was 'you losers' or something along that line.

Just when it finally quieted down and he thought the racket was over, the lights suddenly dimmed. Quite a few Regulars noticed this and a fuss was starting to kick up again. With a sigh, Khun glanced at the stage, waiting for some sort of sign that this was indeed a part of the entertainment.

"Ladies and gentlemen! Are you enjoying the party?!"

Just on cue, several spotlights centered on the stage lit up. He might as well observe what was going on, since he hasn't been called for the meeting yet. It was bound to be at least somewhat interesting, considering how the Regulars were whispering in excitement at the turn of events.

Maybe it was that idol that Dan had mentioned not long ago. If it was then maybe he'll stick around a bit longer and see what kind of Khun she was to have the courage to actually do this kind of thing. It'll do well to get to know her, more connections is never a bad thing for him. The prospect of being an idol simply seemed somewhat unexpected and… tame for someone from the Khun family.

"In this year's Workshop Battle… We have one more grand surprise for all of you!" That certainly caught everyone's attention, their eyes full of anticipation for whatever the Workshop has prepared for them.

Come to think of it, wasn't he about to notice something when Evolet showed him that profile?

"You may have heard rumors and such about this… So we officially present our highly renowned and beloved special guest– Top E-rank idol– MUSE!!!"

Chapter Text

The moment Khun laid his eyes on the bluenette on the stage, she instantly struck him as odd. Odd as in familiar, that is. The suspicion he had when Evolet showed him the profile came back rushing to his mind. He released a breath he didn't know he was holding, cobalt blue eyes widening as he focused solely on her.

Her blue-violet orbs twinkled like the Shinsu night sky, gaze raking over the crowd before settling at Khun and met his own cobalt blue eyes. Luscious pink lips curling into a knowing smile that Khun recognized all too well. As if Khun would ever mistake those eyes and smile of hers. That, without a doubt, was Evolet in disguise.

And apparently she also figured his position out in a glance. She always had some sort of ways around things, he thought. Similarly to how she knew Bam would be fine on the Floor of Tests or how she pinpointed him in the middle of this crowd even though he's undercover right now. If he didn't know any better, he would've chucked it up to fate or destiny.

He jolted in surprise when the Regulars let out the loudest cheers he's ever heard, bumping into the counter behind him and hissing from the pain. In the midst of the chaos in his mind, his thoughts were still going about on full speed. He would never mistake Evolet, so he was sure Muse was the same person.

Truth to be told, it was a completely groundless claim which was out of Khun’s character. Despite that he was confident in himself. He simply felt as if he’ll recognize Evolet no matter the circumstances. A soft scoff escaped his lips when he realized the sheer absurdity of his thoughts, but he didn’t comment further on it.

Though he was somewhat confused by the turn of events. They were dealing with FUG’s Slayer Nominee, Jue Viole Grace who turned out to be the 25th Bam who supposedly died on the Floor of Tests. His partner was Yvette who was actually Evolet who went missing on the same Floor of Tests. And now he discovered that Evolet was in truth Muse, the rumored top E-rank idol who was on the very same stage. Wasn’t there too many secret identities on the line? He couldn’t deny it was convenient, though he wondered if she had any more tricks up her sleeves.

There was a lingering unease in his mind, remembering how her name hadn’t been written on the Workshop Battle invitation and instead she participated as Muse. That would mean whoever invited her here was in the position to do so and knew of her real identity. He could think up quite a few people that fit that criteria, but he had no proof and he doubted Evolet would tell him either. Dangerous, his mind screamed. But it was a tempting danger he was well-versed in, and no doubt Evolet was too. She seemed to be doing well, so he could probably trust her on this. He’ll make a backup plan right after this, just in case.

The words Hwaryun said was ringing in his mind, how she told him that Evolet was taking care of the political matters in FUG instead of Bam. That was most likely the reason why she had a lot of connections, it wouldn’t be hard for her to sneak into these types of events though he wondered why an idol out of all things. It was because Yunuen thought of it from Jinsung’s nonchalant comment then Hansung and Jinsung just went on board with it, but Khun didn’t need to know that.

His eyebrows furrowed as he felt a stare at him, glancing at the source only to find Evolet exchanging pleasantries with the host and subtly glancing at him every once in a while with an underlying worry. Khun released a breath he didn't know he was holding when their eyes met, relaxing as he leaned back to the counter with a hint of a relieved smile behind his mask. He should save his worries for later. Regardless of the reason and method, Evolet was in front of him right now. He might as well enjoy the performance.

As if on cue, the host walked away and let her take control of the stage. The burning excitement of the silent crowd was obvious to Khun. Their eyes full of adoration as the music started and mouth shut as if it was a norm to stay silent. Shibisu had told him about this long ago after they attended one of her concerts; that once she starts to sing, you’ll be put under a spell stunned into silence. For once, Khun thinks Shibisu was right as Evolet began to sing and painted his world in vivid colors.

Chinmoku no yonagi ni
Tadayotta chiisana fune wa
Karadajuu kizu wo se otta
Tabibito noseta yurikago ni natta
Kanashige na sono negao wa
Mou dare mo yosetsukenai soburi
Koko ga ima doko ga shirazu ni
Kita kita e tada mukau

Evolet’s singing voice was soft, comforting and lulling as if coaxing him to tell all his problems. And Khun was already long entranced by it. If she was a siren and he was a sailor, Khun would gladly drown in the sea to meet her.

Tsunaida hazu no sono te ga
Hodokete iku
Kimi wa maru de hajime kara
"Aisareru koto" ga
Dekinai mitai da

He somewhat understood why Evolet chose this line of job for a disguise, the life in her blue-violet eyes and that bright smile were telltale signs of how much she enjoyed doing this. Granted, she didn't exactly resemble a Khun with those vivid expressions but it's another part that Khun loves about her.

Itsudatte tomadotte
Kaeru koto mo dekinakunatte
"Tasukete" tte
Sakenderu dake de
Todokanakute kanashikute
"Boku wa hitori da…"
Sonna koto
Mou iwasenai

Hibi yureru kokoro ni
Shimikonda yuube no ame ga
Kizuato no ue wo nagareru
Kako wo keshisaru youni

The bluenette on stage reached out her hand, a mischievous smirk as she snapped her fingers. And Khun was suddenly much aware of Shibisu’s passing comment in the past of how he felt he just witnessed a miracle.

Tsunaida hazu no ROOPU wa
Hodokete ita
Fune wa maru de hajime kara
Todomaru koto nante
Dekinai mitai da

With a snap of her fingers, a sea of starry night unfolded right in front of them and Khun has never seen anything like it. It was almost like the Shinsu night sky descended upon them. The whole party room was enveloped in a luminous wave, brushing against his legs but not quite with the lack of pressure and solidification. He’d say it’s an indescribably beautiful and realistic illusion, but the feeling on his hands said otherwise as a pleasant chill enveloped him when he ran his hands through the darkness of the night.

Itsudatte tomadotte
Kaeru koto mo dekinakunatte
"Mitsukete" tte
Sakebu koe wa mada
Todokanakute sabishikute
Hisa wo daite
Matteiru
"Boku wa hitori da..."

A single star floated towards him and Khun gingerly took it in his hands without knowing why. It was hovering silently in his hold, giving off a gentle luminescent shine and a calming warmth. Befitting of her character as a whole, Khun thought as he stared softly at Evolet who was still singing on the stage without restraint yet elegantly.

Itsudatte samayotte
Sakebu koto mo dekinakunatte
Yami no naka wo
Tada tada aruita
"Sou yatte ikitekita
Boku wa hitori da..."
Sonna koto
Mou iwasenai

It was similar to a story, he thought. She poured her heart out in this song, giving them a glimpse of her world. It was indescribably beautiful and Khun wanted to see more, he wished it wouldn't end.

Tsuyogari dake no ketsui ga
Minamo wo mau
Sore wa maru de hajime kara
Sora wo tobu koto ga
Dekiru mitai da

Itsudatte dare datte
Kaeru koto ga dekinakunatte
"Mitsukete" tte
Sakende miru kedo
Todokanakute sabishikute
Hisa wo daite
Matteiru
Minna hitori de

Their eyes met and Evolet gave him a big joyful grin that nearly blinded him, and it certainly wasn't good for his heart at all. If she was right in front of him then she would've noticed how Khun was blushing. His mask was doing a great job of hiding the scarlet hue decorating his cheeks. Though Evolet probably would’ve been much happier if she saw the rare tender smile he had behind his mask.

Itsudatte samayotte
Tadoru michi mo nai nami no ue
Fune wa susumu
Tada tadayoi nagara
Sou yatte ikite iku
Ima wa futari de
Ikusaki wa shiranai

Itsudatte soba ni ite
Koraekirezu nakidashitatte
Yami no naka wo
Kasuka ni terasu yo
Sou yatte ikite ita
Kimi no tame dake no
POLARIS ni naritai

Behind her was a star, shining much brighter than the small ones floating all over the place as it accentuated her figure. Not overly bearing and instead radiating a gentle light as if a constant guide, clearly representing the Polaris. Seven years of separation, pain, anger, and loneliness before he finally found his Polaris to guide him back home again along with a certain golden eyed brunette. He poured in all his efforts of trying to find a Guide or a Shinsu string user to chase her, yet they met by chance. Not by chance, more of FUG, but he shoved that to the back of his mind.

The silence from the crowd eventually morphed to a big round of applause and cheers, their breath taken from her performance. Khun also clapped appreciatively as he stared at Evolet and stepped forward, heading to her without hesitation. Just on cue, Evolet was also making her way down the stage. The Regulars cleared up a path for her in the midst of the luminous sea that was yet to disappear. Their eyes tinted with awe and some seemingly lovestruck but never quite daring to approach her even if some did ask her for a dance or an autograph.

So Evolet could only smile as she stopped in her tracks, eyes gleaming with blatant amusement as Khun outstretched a hand towards her and bowed. The star that floated to him earlier was still hovering in the hand he was extending, and Evolet was no doubt looking at it with fondness.

"May I have this dance, milady?" And he simply took his sweet time to observe her while waiting for an answer.

Knee-length sky blue hair curled slightly on the edges swaying elegantly and the blue bandanna securing her headband braid in place was proudly showing off the Khun family logo. The blue bandanna that he gave Evolet back on the Floor of Tests. He’ll tell her to keep it forever later. He eyed the earring she was wearing, noticing that it seemed to be the pairing with the necklace she gave him. No wonder she had said he would immediately recognize her with all of the hints stacking up.

She was wearing a midnight blue lace dress with halter neck, covered with subtle glitter and giving it the appearance of an evening night sky that matched her eyes perfectly. Small pieces of stars were scattered all over the folded lace skirt layers, the inner-portion of the skirt thigh length and revealing her legs. Couple that with a pair of midnight blue stiletto high heels with the same colored lace winding around her lower leg, you have someone who seemed to be quite literally draped in the starry night sky.

Soft laughter spilled from her lips, Khun raised an eyebrow ever so slightly when the star in his hand faded to dust. Instead in its place, Evolet placed her hand gingerly in his. Smirking behind his mask, Khun gently grasped her smaller hand that perfectly fit in his and relished in the warmth. And just like that, Khun simply whisked her to the dance floor while ignoring some Regulars' shouts of surprise and regret when she accepted his invitation.

With the ease of an expert, both Khun and Evolet didn’t waste any time to get into position gracefully. Khun’s right hand circled around her waist while Evolet’s left hand was on his shoulder. Their other two hands were clasped together and took their first step, movements flowing flawlessly as if they’ve practiced this countless times with each other before. Except they haven't. It was their first dance, and Khun found that Evolet was a superb dancer to his pleasant surprise.

So the curl of his lips stayed hidden behind his mask, but Evolet didn't miss how his cobalt blue eyes showed an underlying tone of fondness. Their dance was one of a silent conversation, from the flow of their movements. Steps that told of the joy of a long awaited reunion, how they were made to be together from the synchrony as if they've been partners for the longest of times and made for each other. They were completely immersed in their dance, closed off from the outside world. One who saw them would describe their dance as a picture perfect pair.

Khun twirled her once, handling her movements delicately as if she'll break at the lightest touch yet at the same time he was still respecting her capabilities. It was a gentleness Evolet wasn't used to, one that made her feel like there were butterflies fluttering about in her stomach.

They were standing here as Muse and Mr. Mask, not Evolet and Khun. They didn't know each other before this from others' viewpoint, as it should be. Words could be heard, but a silent conversation from their gaze could never be understood by strangers. They didn't need words to understand what was important. Just like their dance, the look in their eyes and the smallest of gestures were enough to understand each other.

Her gaze was mischievous, as if telling him "See, you recognized me immediately, Khun-san". The masked Lightbearer rolled his eyes playfully, because it was obvious to him. All she did was dye her hair and style it slightly differently. Though a part of him wondered why she picked his hair shade. It's not as if she wore a mask like he did either. It came as a surprise that Shibisu's team didn't see through her disguise despite going to one of her concerts before.

Seeing his reaction, she glanced at the Sweet and Sour team. Khun wanted to facepalm as he saw the majority of them were staring at him with burning jealousy and disbelief in their eyes, and he instantly knew they didn't recognize Evolet either. The bluenette shook her head fondly while Khun sighed at them, knowing they'll be pressing him for answers after this.

She tapped his shoulder twice, as if telling him to pay attention closely. Her gaze roamed across the party room, telling him who to be trusted and who to be wary of. The smallest detail on everything written on her expression left for Khun to decipher. He followed her gaze carefully and took note of it in his mind, never being the one to waste any kind of information. She most certainly lived up to his expectations of a partner if he ever had one.

Their dance was abruptly stopped when a blonde gambler approached them, telling Khun that the meeting was about to start. Evolet simply smiled as the taller woman glanced at her. Khun's eyebrows twitched slightly at the interruption, reluctantly letting go of Evolet. The blonde was an enemy, his mind supplied, remembering how Evolet had a look of distrust when her gaze landed on her during the dance.

Khun smirked, it was convenient when you have someone who can warn you beforehand. Most likely the blonde wasn't the only gambler FUG planted so he had to be careful, but it was better than not knowing at all. He can figure out the rest on his own.

With a reassuring squeeze, Evolet withdrew her hand. For once, Khun was contemplating his own decision for wearing a mask. It was a rather foolproof disguise, but he couldn't even kiss Evolet's hand like a gentleman as it stands. ...he was going to destroy this mask as soon as he's done with this.

As if reading his mind, Evolet took his hand again. Raising it up to her lips and giving a tender kiss as her eyes peered up at him mischievously all the while ignoring the collective shouts of surprise from the bystanders who were watching them. Know that Khun was blushing a pretty shade of scarlet under his mask, pupils dilated ever so slightly and mind unable to function. He wasn't prepared for that at all.

"It was a pleasure to dance with you, Mask-san." He could've sworn her tone was huskier than normal, almost coming out as a purr near the end. ...she was trying to murder Khun by having him overheat, wasn't she?

After sufficiently calming down, Khun finally went to the living room to discuss the competition. As soon as he did, the crowd wasted no time gathering around the female bluenette. Quite a lot of them were asking her for a dance, some asking for an interview and some even daring enough to offer her a drink. Closing her eyes, Evolet dodged to the side when someone tried to grab her. Eyes still closed, she maneuvered her way around the crowd with ease as if she was dancing.

The Regulars were thrown into pandemonium as they searched for her while Evolet watched the chaos unfolding near the exit with a fond smile. Her gaze swept over the room, noting that Bam was nowhere in sight before exiting. She was aware that Bam wasn't in any kind of danger, though she was somewhat worried. It was extremely tempting to just search for him, especially after he asked that question earlier.

Just as she was about to go search for him, a message popped up in her Pocket. She sighed at the content, it looks like she won't be able to look for Bam any time soon. Everything comes down to tomorrow and it was time to strike back now that they were prepared.

Chapter Text

The Son of Arlene and V probably didn’t realize what kind of legendary treasure he'd landed on, Gustang thought as he stared at Evolet. A large scale uprising was most certainly a possibility if the words of her worth were leaked, people would be scrambling to grab ahold of the trump card to change the tides. Though even if it did, then it will be in the far future since no sides were willing to disclose the old legend that Jahad erased from the Tower’s history.

Evolet was half paying attention to the live stream of the Growth Tournament on FUG and Sweet and Sour coverage while typing about on her Lighthouse, most likely cooking up some sort of scheme. No doubt Madoraco would be taking a hard hit from whatever she’s planned. Gustang wasn’t blind to what she’s been up to these few years since she entered the Tower. He was much aware of the connections she steadily built, of what she’s been doing behind FUG’s back with their ignorance. The minority who were informed of it was simply because they were on her side.

Gustang could tell what kind of price Evolet was paying to support Bam. As it stands with her recklessness, FUG would start moving against her to chain her down and control her movements. He was certain Evolet would never stand down should FUG attempt something, most likely she's to retaliate harder and at that point FUG wouldn't be able to handle her reins anymore like they did now. Believe Gustang when he says Evolet was dealing with FUG rather… "mildly" right now.

But should FUG take drastic measures, he was aware that Evolet would survive it either way. But that would also mean she'll change. She breaks but at the same time she didn't, just like before. Jahad won't miss the chance if that happens. It was better for him if the Son of Arlene managed to keep her by his side, but Gustang couldn’t be sure of that when Bam was climbing the Tower for such reasons. Which meant Gustang himself had to prevent Jahad from getting her no matter what. He was certain he wouldn’t be the only one either.

As he observed the movements of the FUG team and Mad Dog team, he briefly wondered when FUG would realize they're playing straight into her hands. He still remembered the abrupt call from Evolet last night, hurriedly asking him about the Living Ignition Weapon that's been let loose from the Workshop and figuring out details of her plan accordingly to the changes. They didn't stand a chance from the start, no matter what kind of card they pulled.

Gustang himself originally didn't have plans to interfere in this whole matter. After all he already got them to back off their hands on the Workshop Battle and all that's left to do was to see how Bam will overcome this, to see if he was truly fit for the Thorn. That plan was quickly thwarted when Evolet came into the picture. There was no way anything would go as planned with how hellbent she was on protecting the golden-eyed brunette. And Gustang didn't need her to do anything reckless that'll get her discovered this early.

Almost abruptly, the bluenette stopped typing as a dark glint swirled in her blue-violet eyes. Evolet frowned as she noticed how Bam's string flickered slightly. He was hurt. When she wasn't by his side, no less. Turning her usual Lighthouse back to invisible mode, she replaced it with a Compact Lighthouse that she specifically prepared for this occasion. Alarms rang as the prisoners in the Intruder Containment broke out along with the start of the battle's Semifinals. Her Pocket beeped, signalling a new message that made her smirk ominously. Without wasting any time, she quickly typed in a reply before turning to Gustang.

"Shall we go now, Gustang-san?"


Hwaryun was long involved with this plan. By no means was she a part of Evolet’s faction in FUG, whether officially or unofficially. She simply acted accordingly in the best interest of her god based on the paths she saw. And that coincidentally matched up with Evolet’s plan this time. Though she supposed if she had to say, their intentions and plans matched up for most of the time. The only difference was that Evolet prioritized Bam as himself while Hwaryun was viewing Viole as a god.

Khun might think they were taking a risky plan. But Hwaryun was confident it wouldn’t fail. Because she was aware of who was lurking around the Archimedes and getting a certain someone’s cooperation to foolproof the outcome. Not to mention the other one who was already heading here. Their victory was already guaranteed from the start, all they had to do was execute it. Which was why she was standing here disguised as Yuto, dealing with Reflejo.

“You suddenly disappeared without a word, but you came back of your own accord. What are you up to, Yuto?” The man himself didn’t look like he was over the moon, now clearly skeptical of “Yuto” who was supposed to be on FUG’s side.

“I wanted to talk to you for the last time.”

“...talk to me? Don’t try to pull anything sneaky. If you’re thinking of betraying us, give up. All the entrances have already been blocked off. There’s nothing you can do with them. I don’t understand why someone sent by the Elders is doing this. Especially at a time like this.”

A smile curled up on her lips, used to having knowledge that others don’t as a Guide. It was too late to give him a warning either way and she didn’t have any obligation to do so. “This plan of yours will lead to your downfall.”

Reflejo only scoffed, borderline seeming as if he wanted to break out in mocking laughter with that stoic mask of his. “Downfall? That’s funny. This is a revolution. Finally, we’ll obtain the power to beat Jahad and the Heads of the Ten Great Families. The experiment is already finished and no one can stop this plan.”

On cue to his little explanation, the “Angel” of Mad Dog– Ron Mei emerged from the shadows with her Lighthouses at the ready. “It’s too late to change your mind. Soon, the solution hotter than lava will pour down and melt Viole… creating a weapon infused with the power of an Irregular. The weapon will work as a catalyst to bring revolution to the Tower! And it won’t come about in the hands of some rookie Slayer Candidate, my great master Karaka will be the one to bring about the change!!”

“...Karaka… He’s only recently become a Slayer but has already plotted such a scheme...” Hwaryun’s words trailed off as a line of thought interrupted her, Reflejo looking somewhat confused from her words.

Such a pity. Svalinn probably will never help him now that he’s turned on my god once. That’s another King candidate off the list.

“Did he think himself a god just because he was called one? How foolish you are! Shadow of Karaka.”

Confusion turned into surprise as “Yuto” took off her mask, revealing the crimson red hair and a single scarlet eye courtesy of Bam from the Crown Game incident. The trademark features of a Red Witch Guide. “That red hair… You are- How did you get in here? You’re not Yuto…!”

“The “Yuto” you know completed her mission long before this tournament began. Her mission was to be chosen by the Elders and be replaced by me after delivering the fake Thorn. We knew from the start that your wager was just bait. We pretended to be lured by your plan.”

The gaze in her eyes sharpened, gaining a hostile glint to it as she continued. “I don’t think you get what I’m saying. Your plan had already failed the moment you trapped Viole in there. Why do you think we gave him the fake Thorn?”

“What…?”

“The fake Thorn in his body isn’t just a replica. It is a container to house the real Thorn. It should have begun to react to and be summoned by the Thorn by now. From the moment you trapped Viole in there… the owner of the Thorn was already decided. I told you. Your plan will lead to your downfall. If your plan fails and rumors of it spread… I wonder how the Elders, who have trusted you, will react.” The smirk on her lips more than enough to tell what’s to come.

“Damn it… How dare you…!! Stop her!!” Ron Mei quickly jumped into action, rushing with her Lighthouses. Without thinking twice, Hwaryun already jumped off the ledge with a knowing look.

“It looks like she killed herself…?” The blonde Lightbearer asked hesitantly as she stared down at the darkness.

Reflejo had started panicking, aware such a thing wasn’t possible. “She wouldn’t do that!! She’s a Guide! She wouldn’t kill herself!! What about the Thorn?!”

“Well… I can’t seem to reach them?”

“Crap! How did they get in?! Call in team Mad Dog! Don’t let them escape!!”


On the other hand, Bam watched in a mix of confusion and awe as the Thorn compressed in front of him. His restraints came loose, the compressed Thorn hovering beside him. Still somewhat lost, he stared at the new addition for a while longer before promptly snapping out of it once he heard shouting outside the door.

Bam didn’t waste any time getting up, jamming the key into the door as he summoned three Baangs with maximum output. Once the door cracked open, he immediately told Novick to move away. The Level 85 Patrol Blue Titan was blasted away in one go. Horyang and Novick approached him as the Blue Titan collapsed, sparking up questions to see if he was fine. Their attention shifted to the Thorn, still floating beside Bam.

"It's all wrapped up and doesn't look that special to me. Is it really that amazing?" Novick asked skeptically, tempted to just poke the Thorn.

"It is." A new voice replied from the entrance. Hwaryun was standing there, clad in black and carrying Yuto’s mask in her hands.

“It only looks like that in its container. But nobody knows what kind of power it’ll show once it turns into its real form.”

“Who are you?!” Their attention was completely focused on the redhead who disregarded Novick’s question as she resumed speaking.

“Although I’m not sure if our Rookie Slayer Nominee will be able to control it well.”

Bam, on the other hand, knew well who she was although he was no less dumbfounded. “Hwaryun…?! How did you…?”

Seeing their reactions, Hwaryun sighed as she put on the mask again. Realization quickly came to them as they exclaimed “Yuto”’s name. Though Hwaryun herself claimed that she simply walked Yuto’s path to give the Thorn to Bam. The brunette narrowed his golden eyes at the revelation, doubtful and suspicious.

“So...you knew everything from the beginning?”

“Yes. We knew everything from the beginning. Including what Karaka was planning with some of the Elders and what’s gonna happen to you in this tournament. I disguised myself as Yuto as part of the plan, waiting for the right time while staying by your side. Blame Svalinn for taking such a dangerous gamble just to get your freedom back.”

“Eve did…?” In an instant, the suspicion quickly faded away from Bam as he heard Hwaryun’s nickname for Evolet.

“You finally got the power. And now I think you’ve become a man… worthy to be my god.” Though the skepticism returned the moment the Guide said so. Of course, he thought. He should’ve expected that from Hwaryun.

“I’m not interested in becoming your god.” Bam answered as he walked away, tired of the expectations they had for him. He was no god, nor did he have any intention to become one. He briefly remembered how Evolet had told him to always remember who he was no matter what the others called him and pushed on him. That’s right, he was the 25th Bam. No more and no less.

Already knowing that was his answer from the start, the redhead shrugged it off. "Fine, now let's go back to your friends. Follow me. I'll show you the way. Your friends have probably already arrived near the Calling Center by now. I told them you got out. They'll summon you soon."

That completely took Bam by surprise. "Why would you…?!"

He was worried, anxious, terrified that FUG would only act harsher on this matter if he went back to his friends. He couldn't let all that years of suffering go to waste just because he wanted to go back. But Hwaryun only raised an eyebrow when she saw his reaction.

"Why do you look so surprised? Didn't Svalinn already promised to you?"

"No, she…" His words trailed off, remembering what Evolet said to him at the Hand of Arlene. Was this what she meant back then?

"Your enemies have already begun to move. They'll be the strongest you've ever fought and they'll try to stop you from returning at all costs. You need to win this tournament to go back. It'll be dangerous for both you and your friends. Do you still wanna go back?"

"I do." A determined answer from him. Hwaryun smiled slightly at that, although there was a hint of exasperation behind it.

"Even if things get difficult, I have people to be with. So no matter what comes my way, I'll go back to where I belong." He continued, golden orbs burning with a fiery resolution.

"Then there's no need to worry about anything. The path has been made, all you have to do is win your way out of this competition with all the allies gathered to support you."

"...I understand, please tell me the plan."

"Wise choice, my god."

The summoning was a rough ride, if nothing else. Bam was sent ahead first to the Well while Hwaryun, Novick, and Horyang stayed behind in order to stall the Mad Dog team who were in cahoots with FUG. Things had gone rather fine up until that point. Both Bam and Wangnan had arrived at the Well and the Store respectively, ready to summon Bam back. It started going downhill from there.

Reflejo hadn’t seen through their scheme immediately, but Beta did. And the blond arrived just in time to prevent Wangnan from summoning Bam by stabbing him. They did somehow manage to salvage the situation, thanks to Rak, Yihwa and Laure when they defeated the parasite spearhead Beta had. By now Shibisu had also somewhat figured out what was happening, giving out orders to his team to summon Endorsi while a few of them went to the Store to provide backup.

It was still far from the end though, especially when Beta has no intention to give up on his revenge. Laure could only grumble as he fended off Beta’s Partial Ignitions several times. It was obvious to the Wave Controller that the opponent he’s facing was not human and instead a monster created by the Workshop. Beta didn’t stop there, already on his next Partial Ignition and planning to blow up the whole Calling Center which made Khun endlessly frustrated and stressed out from the command center since they can only either choose to protect the Well, themselves, or give up the game.

“Poor Viole. You finally found your friends but you can’t do anything except watch. Wait for me. I’ll finish you off when I get there.” There was a crazed look in Beta’s eyes, one of them glowing an eerie red with vengefulness.

“...That’s enough…!” Behind the screen for the summoning, Bam could only grit his teeth at the threats Beta spouted to his friends, his eyes darting from the Well to Beta and urging the summoning to go faster so he could protect his friends.

Just as the blond grinned, about to shoot down on the Calling Center, the Workshop personnels came rushing in along with Sophia who was in charge of Beta’s experiment. She tried to stop him, not understanding the reason behind his violent actions. Khun might not know who she was, but he was grateful for the extra time at least.

“Beta...stop right there and return to the lab right now!! If you ever do this again, you…!!”

“Shut up. Don’t treat me like that anymore. Can’t you see? The monster you created? I’m not a human. I’m a weapon. She told me everything. The reason why I became a weapon is for revenge. So, with my own power, I’ll destroy Jue Viole Grace!! The reason why all of this started!!”

Khun clicked his tongue at the sheer craziness that was unfolding, furiously typing away and trying to find a way out of this. In the midst of it, he caught sight of the competition status on his monitor. His eyes widened, noting that he hadn't realized this was already the Semifinals because team Snake withdrew from the game since he turned off his communication. He hurriedly contacted Shibisu, telling him to forfeit the game immediately so that they could summon Bam without the load time.

Within the next moment, a big explosion resounded in the Store. Shibisu watched worriedly from afar, hoping that he made it in time to resign. Just on cue, a pillar of light shot up to the sky as Khun smirked.

Summoning of Jue Viole Grace… complete

Chapter Text

What… in the actual word in going on?

Wangnan Ja, who just transferred to Tower High School eight months ago, was currently staring at the class window in sheer disbelief of what just happened. As a transferee, Wangnan was well aware that Khun and Bam were the most popular boys in school who were always a hot topic.

He also knew of their unofficial girlfriend who was painstakingly oblivious(?) of their affection, and how everyone refused to believe they weren’t in a relationship. You’d think people would back off when they know the trio was practically smitten for each other, apparently looks triumph over all because that just boosted up their reputation.

Just earlier this morning, he entered the classroom that were swarming with girls trying to give chocolates to the two. There was Bam who just smiled brightly as always, thanking each and every one of them while Khun still had his trademark cold expression.

He had raised an eyebrow skeptical when he saw Evolet's desk was also buried in chocolate for some reason, finding it odd since it was typically girls who gave out the chocolates instead of receiving. The purplette who was always by Bam and Khun's side was nowhere to be found despite having always arrived early to school. Though he could somewhat understand why she wasn’t here with how the two were currently surrounded by fangirls. If that doesn’t get her jealous, he doesn’t know what will. It actually doesn’t and it's the other way around.

It only got weirder when Khun suddenly made the crowd disperse, telling them that he had something to do since Bam was too soft to even turn them away. He noticed how most of them glanced at the mountain of chocolate burying Evolet's desk before reluctantly exiting the classroom. Bam was the first one to sigh in relief, his shoulders slumping as he grabbed several folding bags that he got from who knows where before unceremoniously dumping in all the chocolates on Evolet’s desk in them.

Then Khun was looking at his wristwatch. Counting down from ten to one before Evolet entered the class casually like she hadn’t been almost late and instead was waiting in front of the door this whole time. The bell rang at the exact second she closed the door, as if everything was planned from the start.

It was even weirder when she switched seats with Khun so that she was sitting by the window. Despite being confused, he didn't ask a thing and reined in his curiosity since no one else paid attention to the sudden change. Looking back at it… he really should've asked her earlier.

The reason why he was still staring at the window incredulously was because of what happened once the school bell rang, signalling their break. He hadn't noticed how the majority of the class was focused on the purplette sitting in front of him instead of paying attention to the lesson.

But once the bell rang, all he remembered was the window opening and a stampede of footsteps as the classroom door slammed open. Then Evolet smiled teasingly before she jumped out of the window. Of course, he hurriedly looked outside the window to see if she was fine. But the purplette wasn't anywhere in sight and the other students who rushed here were more frustrated rather than concerned.

"SHE ESCAPED!"

"TEAM A HAS SPOTTED HER NEAR THE CAFETERIA!"

"WHAT?! TEAM C SAID SHE'S NEAR THE GYM!!!"

"SPLIT UP AND FIND HER! THIS YEAR!!! THIS YEAR WE'RE DEFINITELY GONNA CATCH HER!!!"

"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" They screamed out simultaneously, already running away and trying to cover all of the school ground.

“Do you think she’ll be okay, Mr. Khun?” Bam looked somewhat worried as he stared at the door that was still left open by the other students.

Khun sighed as he slicked back his hair, exasperated by the annual occasion that’s been going on for about 5 years now. “I’m sure she’ll manage somehow, Bam. But still… they sure are persistent as always this year. You’d think after 5 years they’d give up on their chase.”

Yeah, Wangnan definitely didn't understand what was going on at all. Bam, being the angel he is, realized the puzzlement on Wangnan’s expression. “Ah right, Mr. Wangnan just transferred here eight months ago so he doesn’t know what’s going on.”

The blond blinked confusedly at that, only nodding dumbfoundedly at his words and waited for some sort of explanation to which Bam only chuckled at before pointing to the speaker in the class. On cue to his action, the speaker turned on as the static buzzed for a short while.

“Good morning, my fellow students! Today is yet again another Valentine’s day at Tower High, which means… we all know what's going on. As per usual, this Valentine’s Special broadcast is brought to you by our school’s very own Broadcasting club or rather… Because I lost at rock paper scissors so I had to stay behind to give my commentary.” Wangnan’s eyebrows twitched at the borderline annoyed and rueful tone that the speaker gave off.

"But still… This year's chase is already in full blast again as you would expect. Though it looks like the ambush plan failed since Eve-senpai is already roaming around the school with the students hot on her track. And we’re even getting several sighting reports at the same time? At this point maybe we can consider that she’s a ninja instead?”

If Wangnan's blank stare on the speaker was anything to go with, then he didn't understand what they were talking about. Somebody, anyone, explain what this so-called chase business is all about.

"Uh… for those of you who don't know, let me explain briefly what this unofficial event is all about!"

Finally!!!

"Is there anyone who doesn't know about it though? I don't think I need to explain it right?" On second thought, Wangnan really wanted to murder whoever was behind this whole commentary. Bam sweatdropped at the visible annoyance across the blond’s face, making gestures to calm him down with his hands.

“Hahahhaha, I was just kidding. I’ll explain it now.” Wangnan was sure a vein bulged irritably on his forehead.

“Long story short, the start of this event was on Valentine's 6 years ago. Originally it all began when Eve-senpai was still in her first year of junior high school. As would you expect, she was already quite popular by that time and well uhm… Let’s say that people were literally fighting for chocolates. And one way or another that turned to this tag event after Eve-senpai promised she’ll give home-made chocolates per your request and one Valentine’s date to whoever can catch her. An extremely tempting offer if I do say so myself."

Wangnan could agree on that, though he was still confused on why Evolet made such an event in the first place. He glanced at Bam and Khun, wondering why they weren't participating with that kind of gift on the line. Not that they even need it probably. Wangnan has no doubt they'd have no trouble getting Evolet's Valentine homemade chocolates and a simple date. And that's absolutely incorrect.

"It’s been five years since she announced that and so far no one has ever caught her. Despite that the participants only keep adding every year and no one is quite willing to back off. And even more so when this is her last year in Tower High School! How should I say this… If you haven’t been charmed by her at least once then you’re just not doing it right with your school life. I’m not lying when I say at least half of every class is simping for her.”

Wangnan was at a loss of words when the people left in class only nodded along to it. More like, now that he noticed… There were only about 6 people left in the class including him, Bam, and Khun.

”This year the classes have formed teams in order to catch her, but it looks like they completely lost sight of her? Will she stay hidden for the whole day just like this?”

Khun who had been silent this whole time hummed, focused on the speaker. “That’s probably wrong. Eve isn’t the type to stay still and hide too long. But we’ll see, I also lost track of her.”

That caught Wangnan’s attention. What was ‘I lost track of her’ supposed to mean? The bluenette's been in the classroom the whole time, hasn’t he? Before he could think of anything else, he was distracted with the speaker again.

"Ah, she also left a message to the Broadcasting club for… Bam-senpai and Khun-senpai in the same class. Let’s see… Eve-senpai said if one of you can catch her then–"

Eyebrows were raised skeptically as the voice was abruptly cut off and the broadcast went silent. Meanwhile in the recording studio, the club member who just turned off the microphone was stuttering uncontrollably. A pair of arms encircled their shoulders, light lavender hair fluttering into view.

"Sorry, let me borrow this for a minute m'kay, kouhai-chan." Said underclassman was furiously blushing at the close proximity of the older female and the mischievous tone she used with them. Flustered to say anything, they could only nod shakily with awe.

A teasing smile curled on Evolet's lips, knowing that both Bam and Khun were in their classroom and listening to this. It was after all their last year of high school, she needed to spice things up a little so that they also participated. Otherwise for the past years they haven't taken part in the event at all.

"Bam and Aguero, please go out with me."

Wangnan choked when Evolet's voice suddenly came out of the speaker. He could already hear the other students practically yelling out her position to each other. Bam and Khun were currently frozen solid as they tried to process Evolet's words.

As if completely aware of what's going on, Evolet's smile widened like a cat who just got their paws on the finest jar of cream. "If that's a yes then I'll be waiting. Catch me if you can, love."

There was only silence in the classroom by the end of her words. The remaining students in class were wiggling their eyebrows as if to tease the two who just got confessed to. Bam was sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck, staring at the floor to hide how flustered he was as he laughed awkwardly.

"Looks like Eve outdid us again, Mr. Khun."

A heavy sigh escaped the intelligent bluenette's lips, fond in every way possible. "Yeah, she really likes to do that, doesn't she?"

Khun pulled out the earpiece that he's been wearing this whole time to give out commands to the small team he formed for the purposes of slowing the other participants down. Just because they never directly participated, that doesn't mean they never pulled some strings behind so that no one would win. Wangnan didn't even realize what Khun's been doing this whole time, but Bam knows. He was also in it after all, they moved together when it came to Evolet. A dangerous smirk was evident on Khun's expression.

"Change of plans. We're catching her." Bam nodded to Khun's decision, golden eyes gleaming in the dim lighting of the room. It was about time anyway, wasn't it?

“Thank you for lending me the mic, kouhai-chan. Here’s a little something to make up for it.” After turning off the mic, Evolet gave the club member a pack of bon bon chocolates she prepared beforehand. Homemade ones of course, she'd never get caught giving someone sweets that weren't homemade.

Evolet was just about to leave since the other students were getting closer, judging from their footsteps. But before she could do so, there was a small tug at the sleeves of her school blazer. The purplette turned around curiously, smiling softly at the sight of the club member meekly holding to the very edge of her school blazer sleeves.

"U-uh– I... Caught you?" That was rather smart of them, Evolet thought. But unfortunately, not quite enough. In one smooth movement, Evolet swiftly took off her blazer and smirked mischievously.

"Too bad, if you want to catch me then you have to hold me tightly so that I can't escape, hm? But... Since it was a cute attempt then I'll give you this at least." Evolet leaned down slightly, the glint in her blue-violet eyes all too mischievous as her luscious lips pressed against their forehead gently.

Instead of immediately standing upright, she deliberately lowered more to their ear and spoke in a husky tone. "And… I really liked your voice."

To top it off, she blew softly into their ear and chuckled. The poor broadcast member was frozen solid, unable to look straight at Evolet as they stammered in embarrassment. The purplette smirked as steam came out of their ears.

"I'd love to tease you some more but it looks like my time is up." As she said that, the door banged open with a few students who clearly looked tired but none of them had any intentions of giving up.

"Then, I'll see you sometime again, kouhai-chan." She was still smirking as she said this, confidence clear in her figure as she winked before running towards the window and jumping off again while ignoring the shouts of the others. Needless to say, the club member has fainted from over embarrassment.

Laughter could be heard from the purplette who was enjoying this chase to the fullest, all the while wondering what Bam and Khun were planning. She had no doubt they'd be able to catch her before anyone else did. They've done enough dancing around each other for five years, and if they weren't coming clear about their own feelings first then she'll just have to make them do so.

Evolet smiled as a tall male stood guard a distance away, bent on stopping her no doubt. She looked back at the group that was still chasing her, showing no signs of stopping. There wasn't quite anywhere else to run… but they shouldn't have put only one person if they truly wanted to stop her. Honestly, you'd think they'd stop underestimating her abilities after doing this for 5 years.

The male furrowed his eyebrows, putting his full focus on guard as Evolet ran towards him. Just as she came within his reach and he lunged forward, Evolet effortlessly somersaulted over him. The man was frozen in place. Hands still outstretched as he tried to process what just happened while the others were gaping in awe, the chase completely forgotten for a moment. When they realized it, she was nowhere in sight anymore.

The hallways were ringing with melodious laughter, an easy sign to follow if you're searching for Evolet. Which was exactly what Khun and his team did. Dan was hot on her track, running at an impressive speed to catch up to the purplette who was trying to lose him. As you would expect from the ace of the track club, she supposed. Originally she thought that Bam would be the one chasing her while Khun directed him, but she guessed wrong apparently.

She skidded abruptly, turning around the corner only to widen her eyes when Ran and Novick were both standing there to keep guard. One person aside, she wasn't quite confident to dodge two together especially when she knew of their abilities. It was Khun's doing no doubt. Evolet knew she was playing right into his hands, but that was exactly what she wanted.

She could just run straight ahead, though no doubt another or perhaps several others would be waiting to ambush her there per Khun's order. Running back also works, if she could throw Dan off her trail which is debatable. But what sealed the deal for her was the bored look on Ran's face as he motioned to the open window beside him. She caught a glimpse of the familiar sky blue hair, who also seemed to notice her gaze.

Khun smirked as he usually would whenever his plans worked out perfectly, staring up at her as he mouthed out "come here". She could just smirk back and ignore him, prolonging their chase even more. She could, but would she? It's not her aim to avoid them ever further, she was just initiating the final curtain call to their dance. It had been fun dancing around for five, nearly six years now, but she'd appreciate it if they just came clear to her with their feelings.

Neither Ran nor Novick looked like they were about to give her chase anyway. The bluenette was rolling his eyes while the ravenette was just pointing exasperatedly at their strategist. Evolet laughed briefly as she ran, thanking them for their hard work for the past years. Of course she'd know how Bam and Khun had been helping her secretly in the little Valentine's chase. And she added another count to her "jumping out of the window" today.

Did she immediately land into his arms? No.

Instead she was sitting at the edge, gaze soft albeit teasing as she stared at Khun. "Is this your way of saying yes to my confession, Aguero?"

"You told us to catch you for a yes, so we did." Khun had to admit how his "team" was just watching all of this unfold by the window like they were watching some sort of drama scene. Just look at them grinning like idiots with their phones collectively recording the moment. He was going to delete those videos as soon as he's done with this, and once he copied it.

"But you haven't caught me yet, have you?"

"I will if you come down here." Evolet knows from his eyes that he wasn't lying, though even without looking she was sure Khun would catch her anyway. She loved Khun for various reasons. He was undoubtedly handsome, beautiful, hot, cute, handretty, yes. But Evolet didn't love him solely for his looks. If she did then who knows how many times she'd fallen in love with how many Khun family members there are. Not that they can compare to Khun Aguero Agnis in her mind.

The confident cobalt blue eyes that she's always loved, the underlying gentleness beneath that smug smirk that gave her a sense of safety. How he's always so loyal and hellbent on keeping all of them protected. She loves how the look in his eyes would light up when he found an answer for difficult questions or when his strategies worked flawlessly. She loves how he reserved his soft side to his closest friends and how even softer he was with her and Bam.

How he always has advice and notices whenever any of them had a problem no matter how small it was. The skills and abilities he had to back up his cockiness. It's funny how he seems to think he's evil when she would say he was selfless and kind, too much for his own good really. She loves the way he would hug her without thinking while he would just blankly stare at others when they ask for a hug, she was selfish after all. The way he spoons her and how he hogs all the blankets only to wrap them in a blanket burrito that she escaped one way or another. How his cooking attempts ended up as a questionable biological weapon but he tries anyway for them.

She loves how he knows what he wants and works towards it endlessly, how he makes his own rules and standings. How he still stood strong even after his family kicked him out and left him to fend for himself. How he accepted her for who she was. Khun Aguero Agnis is strong, kind, soft, intelligent, handretty, perfect in every way possible and Evolet Euterpe loves every part of him even at his worst and no one can change her mind.

She doesn’t say it out loud, except she did. And it was captured perfectly on video as the grinning trio shot a teasing look towards Khun whose cheeks were painted in a bright crimson. The purplette who was responsible for it didn’t even realize what she just said, grinning gently as she stared down at Khun with nothing but pure affection. The bluenette was now looking anywhere except Evolet, steam coming off his ears.

The thing about Evolet is that she tends to say these things out of nowhere with the utmost sincerity as if it was perfectly natural. And Khun was not immune to her words at all. So here he was yet again, flustered like the teenager that he was and less of the khunning Khun that he was supposed to be. Evolet thinks it's cute how he was suddenly stuttering and blushing without any reason, all traces of his previous confidence gone like dust in the wind.

“Then, will you catch me if I jump off?”

"Of course, and I–we'll never let go once you're in our hold." At some point it's become so natural to say we instead of I when it came to their relationship with Evolet. They both knew what they needed to do so that she didn't go away again. He– both Bam and Khun weren't willing to let go of her, not now and not ever. Both of them had experienced it before, how easy Evolet actually slipped through their hold and the haunting fear that gave them numbing pain at the realization that they might have just lost the purplette they loved dearly.

He still remembers the countless apologies she whispered to him desperately in the aftermath of that incident. How he kept insistently trying to convince her that it wasn't her fault and it was by his own decision. Hadn't forgotten the pain and hesitancy in her night sky orbs when Bam visited nor how the brunette tenaciously poured all his effort little by little to mend their relationship afterwards. It had taken both of them a painstakingly long time, years even, to get her back to this state and they'd be damned if she lost her smile again.

"I'll hold the both of you up on that promise." And she smiled like the angel he thought she was, falling into his awaiting arms as Khun caught her effortlessly before bringing her close to him. Evolet chuckled heartily at the lack of escape attempt she was given, not that she needed it. She hugged him back with the gentleness that she always had, one hand snaking around his waist while the other ran her fingers through his silky smooth hair as he buried his face in her shoulder. His hold around her waist tightened even more when she kissed the crown of his head.

"I love you, Aguero. Now and forevermore for who you are. Happy Valentine's day, love."

Khun, utterly weak to her charms but somehow managing to hold his stand, chuckled lightly as he replied. "Love you too, Eve. Always and for an eternity."

"AH! That's unfair, Mr. Khun! I was stalling them and you stole a head start first!" Both Evolet and Khun laughed as Bam approached them, looking slightly out of breath. The brunette didn't hesitate to join the hug, grinning brightly as Evolet pressed a tender kiss to his forehead and he relaxed into her hold.

"I love you, Bam. For always being who you are, till the end of time."

"Love you too…" He nodded to her shoulder as he mumbled out his answer. Trying to hide how he flustered he was to no avail since both Khun and Evolet could see how the back of his neck and his ears were practically steaming. Evolet finds it too adorable to be true that she just had to kiss one of his ears just to tease him. If Bam malfunctions after that… then well, that's how it is.

Khun settled to hug her from behind instead, enjoying how she almost seemed ticklish whenever his breath fanned to her neck. And being the "slightly" jealous and somewhat possessive person he was, he frowned when he remembered the bags of chocolates in the classroom for her. Those people really need to back off if they know she was already taken. "But you're still not allowed to eat those chocolates."

"I was planning to use the chocolates to make some sweets for you two later–"

"Use other chocolates. I'll buy you some later." Evolet patted the bluenette's head, saying a nonchalant yes with a teasing tone. Well at least they both properly got their sweets later and cuddles with their now official girlfriend. The video absolutely did not get erased even though both Khun and Bam have their own copies now that Evolet was utterly clueless about. Wangnan still didn't understand what that was all about, really.

Chapter Text

Khun heaved a sigh of relief once he saw Bam was properly summoned, a gaping wound on his side but ready to fight. Beta gritted his teeth at the sight of the brunette, who was already asking Rak to take Wangnan to a safe area.

“You’re not going to run away this time, are you?” Rak asked as he picked up Wangnan.

The golden-eyed Wave Controller smiled as he answered Rak’s question, his tone unwavering and confident. “I won’t. See you later.”

Satisfied with the answer, Rak swiftly jumped away from the scene. Khun’s eyebrows were furrowed, noting that they managed to block the attack somehow but the Lighthouse is slightly damaged so it would be hard to hold on for long.

“Why did you... do such a thing?” Bam asked, standing firm as he faced Beta.

“I told you. It’s because I hate you. Anyway, did you crawl out of there to have a chat with me? Huh?” The brunette only stayed silent at Beta’s taunting grin, opting to take a battle stance with eyes blazing with an intensity to protect what was his. Bam’s answer was clear as day.

Beta grinned wildly at the response he got, Shinsu wings from his Partial Ignition flaring about as he dashed forward with crazed laughter. “That’s more like it!!

The fight had started with both sides exchanging blows, but it was evident that Bam still had hesitation to attack full force on the other. Beta took notice of that, his kick laced with Shinsu connecting soundly as Bam was blown away to the wall. Khun and Yihwa didn’t stay still either at the action. Yihwa was quite literally living up her title as the human flamethrower as her flames bursted as a momentary boundary between Bam and Beta while Khun also jumped down from the Observer Monitor.

The bluenette was rather pissed at the turn of events, his sharp cobalt blue orbs glaring coldly at their enemy. “hey, the game is over now. So why don’t you stop fooling around and go back home? Thanks to you, our long-awaited reunion turned into a mess… and I’m starting to get irritated.”

Beta only scoffed in response, uncaring of Khun’s opinion. “Stop acting cocky. Good for you, Viole. Although their lives are in danger because of you… your friends are still trying to protect you. I’ve lost everything because of you.

Bam had a questioning look, clueless at what the blond was saying but on caution regardless. “After enduring a series of experiments, only the five of us had survived. Should I call them friends… or family? And one day.. a researcher at the Workshop gathered us all together in one place and said…

Kill each other. Only the ones who survive will become the complete Living Ignition Weapon. The last survivor… will be granted freedom.

“That one word, drove us crazy. Kill. Kill. KiLL. KILL!! ...In the end, I killed everyone. And I was the only survivor. But eventually my body became unable to survive a single day without the Workshop’s medicine. Yes. Everything was a lie. A lie made up just for the experiment. I wasn’t allowed to make any friends or have freedom from the beginning. But you want to have everything? CUT THE CRAP-!!” His anger only fueled his power, swallowed by rage.

Bam was fast to act on that, leaping on the Blue Oar and telling Khun to take care of Yihwa. Which the Lightbearer responded to by putting up a barrier with his Lighthouses. Dust and debris flew everywhere as the battle unfolded. Both of them immersed in battle as Bam thought up various methods to counter Beta’s ferocious Shinsu attacks, dashing out moves after moves to break through the blond’s defenses.

“Why are you trying to put all the blame on me? You also know that it’s not true.”

That only made Beta even more frustrated, lashing out violently against the brunette. “What are you talking about?! Everything was done just to create you…!!”

But Bam wasn’t willing to back down either this time. He understood why Beta was thinking that, but he couldn’t accept it either. “I’m not a part of this. The whole thing was organized by FUG Slayers and the Workshop!! You also know that!! The real enemy is someone else.”

“So are you saying that you have nothing to do with this?!” He was losing whatever was left of his small rationality, faced with Bam’s calm and resolute words.

“Then, why did you attack my friends? They have nothing to do with you. You’re just a… cynical person.” And at that moment, the result of the battle was obvious.

Floral Butterfly Piercing Technique

Beta coughed up blood as the technique landed fairly on him, collapsing to the floor. Bam stared down at him, looking rather infuriated by all the things Beta had done. “You didn’t hate me because you wanted revenge. You just needed someone to hate.”

“...did you say… I just needed... someone to hate? Stop being so arrogant… Don’t talk down to me!!

His Partial Ignition lit up again, fists clenched tightly with hatred and denial. “I’ll kill you!! The completed one!!”

Bam stood still, not reacting as Khun’s Lighthouse barrier conjured up in front of him. Khun himself seemed to be tired of this too, seeing how it was futile. “Why don’t you just stop now?”

“Let’s stop here. Your body has already reached its limit. Continuing this fight will only bring misfortune to the both of us.”

Misfortune? Misfortune?! I don’t care!! As long as you experience the same misfortune!!” His powers spiked up in a fit of instantaneous anger even as Bam told him to stop. The brunette's eyebrows furrowed deeply, frustrated that his words hadn't gotten through. As he lifted a hand up to strike back and defend, the Thorn behind him responded to his will and the wrappings loosened slightly to enhance his Shinsu output. The Shinsu blast he put out was stronger than before. Beta grinned, laughed at the anger he was feeling and his powerlessness to get his revenge properly.

"Congratulations, Viole! Now you have it all! Friends! Strength! Freedom! Women! You are the best!! Congratulations!! You–!!" Beta had shouted everything in contempt, his tone one of that of resentment as he leaned forward to punch Bam straight on his cheek before grabbing his collar.

"What's so bad about me hating you? You have everything. And I had everything taken away by you!! You took it all!! My friends, strength, and freedom!! Everything you have was supposed to belong to us!!"

Bam who was silent up until this point closed his eyes, speaking with a calm rationality. "No. They are mine."

"What?"

"All the people that I met, the memories I shared with them, they are precious to me. I've tried so hard to protect them. They are mine. That's why, I will go home. Back to where my precious p̶e̶r̶s̶o̶n̶ people are waiting."

"You–!"

This time Sophia hurriedly stepped in, explaining that it wasn't Bam's fault and how Beta's experiment had nothing to do with the brunette. Disbelief and shock was painted across his face. That couldn't be true, he thought. It couldn't be that Emily had lied to him in order to use him, right…? He crumpled again to the floor, body long reaching its limit as he coughed up blood again.

The Workshop guards who accompanied her also stepped in, seeing how the battle was over. The audacity of them to point their guns at us once the danger passed, Khun thought. They only watched during the fight and only decided to step in now to get rid of Beta. Of course, there was no way Bam would stand down at that.

He was about to rush forward when the two guards pointing their guns at Beta were suddenly shot down, one with Shinsu and the other with fire. It turns out Arkraptor and Quaetro were the ones to do so, and the others also flooded in to help them. Rak, Shibisu, Hatz. The system had malfunctioned and they weren't eliminated because of that. Lero Ro was also unexpectedly there, saying he was here to help his students.

If Bam's death was something akin to a dream or a nightmare. This must be the moment they've woken up. It wasn't a perfect reunion, given the current situation and all. But all of them were alive and well, that was enough. Hatz and Shibisu had content smiles, happy that the strongest team was now reunited again. Yihwa sighed lightly as she watched them from a distance away. Arkraptor raised an eyebrow at that.

"Why are you sighing?"

"No, I just didn't know he could smile like that around others too. I thought he would only smile like that at Eve."

"I don't think it's quite the same. If you compare the look in his eyes, I mean." What he was implying to was the look of love, admiration, bliss and awe that Bam would always have whenever he looked at Evolet. There was no doubt the brunette was utterly smitten with her. His gaze now may have joy in it, but it was different from the mellow blissful look that he reserved solely for her. It was that obvious to Arkraptor.

"...come to think of it, where is Eve? She did say she was on the Archimedes, but we haven't actually seen her at all."

"If you're talking about Eve then I've seen her." Khun said as he approached them along with Bam.

Rak didn't waste time to follow suit, all the while shouting, "Leader Rak has also seen the purple blue turtle too!"

"Purple… blue turtle???"

Shibisu and Hatz overheard that, heading over with confused looks. "Wait, you mean Eve was with you guys the whole time?"

Bam nodded happily with a soft look, eyes slightly dazed as he did. Both Yihwa and Arkraptor stared at him blankly, knowing he's already lost in thought. Khun raised an eyebrow at Shibisu and Hatz, as if asking them "You didn't know?"

A vein bulged on Hatz's forehead as he stepped forward and glared at Khun. "How were we supposed to know that, ugly earrings?!"

Irritated by the insult, Khun snapped as always and was just about to retort back– until he remembered. Only Ran, Novick, Dan, and himself knew that Evolet had been sending him gifts. And that time when Shibisu informed him about Yvette, Khun didn't exactly respond back to him afterwards about the info he got… In conclusion, no one in Shibisu's team knows that Evolet was alive after her sudden disappearance.

Hatz seemed to have read his mind, the look in his eyes darkening. “Oi–”

The others wisely ignored the crackles of lightning as Khun and Hatz quarreled in the background. Bam was talking about Horyang and Wangnan's conditions with Arkraptor before he moved on to see Beta who collapsed. Yihwa went to speak with Rak about buying a new spear. As Shibisu approached Khun, he could see that the bluenette was deep in thoughts.

They weren't quite out of the woods yet. By the end of the day they were still Regulars and FUG’s Rankers were all over the ship. Not to mention they’ve made the Workshop into their enemy. Just about Shibisu was wondering about the tournament and the hosts who’ve gone back into the Archimedes, Lero Ro entered the Calling Center again and told them the tournament was postponed for the time being. He began explaining their plan to escape, how his “colleague” was reversing the summoning system to summon transport the others here. They were going to escape before the final began. He told them of the Wolhaiksong and how Urek wanted to meet Bam again.

Then Reflejo called and everything went down the drain. Hwaryun, Novick, and Horyang failed to escape and were taken as hostages. Of course, Bam being the person he is, decided he would go get them despite the others trying to convince him to escape. It was risky after all, no doubt a trap. Khun sighed, knowing there was no talking him out of this. The bluenette smiled internally, grateful that the brunette hadn’t changed since back then.

The three of us are going to rescue Hwaryun. You guys go get the other two.”

Disregarding the others’ protests, he turned to Lero Ro. “Mr. Ro, how much time do we have at the most?”

"I can't say for sure. You may have a 30 minute window at the most. It’s too dangerous if you stay longer."

“30 minutes… It’s a narrow window.” All the while completely disregarding their protests, Khun began to split the teams to search for all three hostages. Just in case, he also told Lero Ro to leave with the ones who made it in time if they didn’t arrive in 30 minutes. Shutting down Bam’s insistence on him going alone, he could hear the Calling Center become rowdy as a certain Jahad Princess was summoned. She’s as noisy as always, but he supposed it’ll up their fire power. Now, let’s start the rescue operation.

 


Evolet's eyebrows furrowed lightly, feeling a somewhat familiar presence lurking around. Though it went away soon enough that she briefly wondered if she was imagining things. She’ll have to look through it later, but right now she has something else to do. The bluenette hummed thoughtfully as she sent Horyang and Novick’s locations to Xiaxia, telling her to take care of things there.

“You are aware that you’re jumping right into wildfire, FUG won’t take your actions lightly.” Gustang pointed out, watching calmly as the Workshop hosts ran around like headless chickens to fix the chaos.

“I don't mind. It's bound to happen one way or another. There was no way they'll let me off even if I stayed silent.” Evolet answered back without much thought, knowing it was the truth as she fiddled with her earring. Gustang glanced at her for a split second, noting that she still didn't care much for the consequences that might endanger her life. Though he supposed at this point it didn't mean much to her. Nor could he include it as arrogance from her, since she was aware of how it would turn out at the end.

"Then, Gustang-san… I'll leave that side up to you." The brunette didn't say a word as he walked away towards Madoraco's room while Evolet opened the nearest emergency door and quite literally jumped off the Archimedes. Summoning a single white Lighthouse, she stepped on it and steadied herself. Gaze locked afar on the Underwater Arena where the others were and invisible Shinsu strings spread around the area.

As she connected the Shinsu strings to her other two Lighthouses, Evolet could see what's going on in the arena. Just like what Yunuen informed her, a Wolhaiksong floating ship was on standby nearby them. Disregarding the fact that Endorsi just threw the Mad Dog to the ground along with herself, Evolet could clearly see a FUG Ranker was preparing to pour down the Solution. Rather bold of them to make a move in public, but she supposed they’d be too antsy now that their plan's went down the drain.

Well, they were in for a surprise then. The bluenette took off her earring and it glowed softly and enlarged to the size of a rubix cube. There was a small static sound as the Shinsu in the cavern spiked up drastically. Her lips curled up into a smile, bordering a smirk as a giant transparent shield formed inside the cavern and contained the pouring solution as if it was a bowl. They were in for a surprise indeed.

“Wha-?!” It wasn’t only Reflejo that was surprised, but also the trio fighting against him. Khun was no less shocked when the necklace Evolet gave him practically shot out of his shirt forcibly and unfolded to an extra large Shinsu shield. Bam’s eyes were wide open as he stared up at it, recognizing Evolet’s handiwork.

Khun himself was also confused. While she did say that it’ll be useful, he did not expect the function to be like this. In the first place, how did she know they were in a dire situation? Evolet herself was maintaining her Shinsu output from the compact Lighthouse, all the while keeping a content devilish smile at a certain someone's arrival.

Just on time.

Thick mist started seeping in from the top of the cavern. The solution slowly started dissipating once it came to contact with the abundance of mist. There was also a loud boom as the cavern shook hard when the mist poured down. Rak fell from Khun's Lighthouse to the floor, taken aback by the sudden sound. Bam almost tripped on his own feet and Khun tried to balance himself in the middle of the tremors.

The surveillance cameras were blindsided with the thick mist surrounding the area. In the midst of it was a teal eyed man, his hair a shade darker than Khun's. He was hovering calmly in the midst of the foggy terrain, wearing a simple russian blue yukata with his long hair swaying gently.

"Mr. Yunuen?! What are you doing here!" The FUG Ranker was rigid at the unexpected new presence. Lero Ro shared the same sentiment, skeptical at the man who barged in during their fight and covered the area in mist with a single snap that shook the whole terrain. Though the bluenette himself didn't seem like he had any intention of attacking him either, Lero Ro thought.

"What else other than carrying out the Little One's order? But still… Poken is shortsighted as always. Only focused on his own plan and thinking everything will go smoothly without any interruption." Yunuen said, donning a somewhat pitying yet bored look that clearly thought of them as pathetic.

His Pocket rang, going into visible mode as Yunuen answered the call immediately when he saw it was Evolet calling him. His attitude turned 180 degrees, perking up like a child with an overly fond smile. "What is it, Little One? Did you need anything else? I'm almost done taking care of things here, just like you said!"

He could hear the soft laughter in her tone as she praised him, just like he wanted. "No, I'm just checking up on you, Yunuen-san. Though it seems like that wasn't needed. You're doing a great job, Yunuen-san. As expected, I can always rely on you."

"Of course, anything for my Little One."

"Endorsi-san will be there soon, so I'm hoping you can wrap things up? I'll catch up after I take care of the loose ends over here. Then, I'll leave the rest to you, Yunuen-san."

"Roger that~" No sooner when the call cut off, the FUG Ranker froze up with a terrified expression. Yunuen was wearing an ominous smirk, his teal eyes sharp and clearly without any intention to let him go.

"That being said, you caused a lot of troubles for the Little One didn't you…? You'll need to pay a fair price for that." A violent shiver ran down the Ranker's spine, his legs stiff but his mind screaming at him to run. Before he could though, Yunuen lifted a single finger up and the man was engulfed in a sphere of condensed fog. The bluenette watched blankly as he heard the resounding screams of the Ranker, full of terror and desperation as he begged for mercy to which Yunuen ignored completely.

It was when the screams completely died out that he dissipated the condensated fog. There was only a dehydrated corpse of the FUG Ranker, both his eyes and mouth agape as if he’d been screaming till his last moment. Which Yunuen was sure he did, but he could care less about that. With nothing to support him in air, the corpse rapidly fell down towards the ground and never to be seen again.

 

 

╔.▪️.══════════════════╗
High Ranker #Blue Hole
Yunuen
Sobriquet: Ghastly Fog; Anubis
Main Position: Wave Controller
╚══════════════════.▪️.╝


“Thank her for letting you off so easily with death, troublesome lots. Now…” His words trailed off as he turned back to Lero Ro who had been silently observing the bluenette and ready to attack at any time. After all, who wouldn’t be on edge to suddenly see a Ranker killed without any effort? Especially when said killer was saying something about letting them off easily with death.

“There’s no need to be that cautious. Grab the kids and get ready to leave, Eve will take care of the rest. She just sent me here as an urgent backup. You plan to escape before the final begins, don’t you? We’re running out of time.” At that, Lero Ro seemed to be taken aback slightly before he firmly nodded. Questions could wait. He wondered who Evolet really was, remembering when she hid her capabilities during the culling test.

Disappearing in the middle of a test and Hansung suddenly declaring that she’s already passed the whole Floor Advancement test but nowhere to be seen and most certainly not on the next Floor either. Then showing up as the Slayer Candidate’s partner, though thanks to that he discovered both of them were alive despite not knowing the reasons behind it. To order a person of such caliber and him saying that Evolet will take care of the rest. Which meant she was somewhere on the Archimedes, not as a tournament participant but instead lurking behind the scenes. And no doubt it was either she was powerful enough to pull the cards or someone was backing her up.

As he looked at his ‘students’ who were reunited safe and sound, particularly at Bam who looked cluelessly happy with his reunion, he couldn’t help but think that the brunette was in the dark as to what his partner was pulling. There were no FUG Rankers pursuing them, having long backed off at the upper ones’ order. At least she was adamant to support Bam it seems.

Now that the battle was over, Lero Ro thought that what they did was most definitely risky all the way through and he had no idea how they pulled it off either. Quant’s idiocy must’ve been influencing him. He blames Hachuling for coming up with that outrageous plan.

Chapter Text

"A petting zoo…? Sure! I've been wanting to go there." Evolet answered with a smile as she stared curiously at the two male standing in front of her. As much as Bam tried to hide it, the nervousness in his eyes were clear as day to Evolet who’s always been by his side. Khun looked much more calm compared to the brunette, but Evolet already had an idea what was going on.

Discreet the blunette may be, the rest of the team was too obvious when they asked her favorite flavor and tips for baking a cake. She briefly wondered why they didn’t just order one from a bakery, but she supposed the team was too sentimental for a store-bought cake. A heartfelt cake sounds nice, though she should probably prepare herself for a soapy cake since baking with floral flavors was… yeah. Let’s just think of it as drinking poison at worst.

Evolet found herself lost in thought the next day as they stood in front of a random Shinheuh feeding area with treats in their hands. She had her doubts of this being a normal petting zoo, but it wasn't as if she was going to complain with how cute these Shinheuhs were. They were more terrifying rather than cute for others honestly, but how could she find a big cat scary? They're just too adorable for her.

Come to think of it, who had told them about her birthday? Not even Bam knew about it since she never said it. The only person who does is– Ah, Yunuen must've done something then.

"What's wrong, Eve?" The purplette blinked once, snapping out of her thoughts as she turned to Khun who was looking curiously at her.

"It's nothing, Khun-san. Just a random thought." Seeing how Khun wasn’t exactly convinced with it, Evolet smiled brightly at him and wordlessly slipped her hand into his before intertwining their fingers. Khun didn’t have any more complaints now, the edge of his lips quirked up with contentment as he gently squeezed her hand.

The two smiled fondly at Bam who was trying to get one of the Shinheuh's attention, wanting to feed them but failing miserably as he was ignored. Evolet laughed amusedly at Bam's pouty expression while Khun shook his head playfully. Humming softly, Evolet took out the treats she bought at the entrance and offered it to the Shinheuh that was ignoring Bam. Not even one second later, the Shinheuh's ears perked up and approached her without hesitation.

A humongous two tailed cat-like Shinheuh was towering over the purplette, staring at her for a moment before leaning down and accepting the treats in her hand. The pamphlet said it was a Nekomata, a cat with two tails. Though honestly Khun didn’t know if it was supposed to be that big or not. Now the Shinheuh was just sitting in front of her, nudging her hand with their head as if trying to get her to pat them. The skilled Anima chuckled as she complied, happily patting the Shinheuh's head softly. The giant cat let out a content purr, practically melting into her touch.

That seemed to have caught the other Shinheuhs' attention, slitted eyes now focused on a certain purplette. Khun was also suddenly much aware of their gazes, mentally preparing himself of what's about to come because he knew it can't be stopped. Just as he thought that, the Shinheuhs in the area all rushed towards Evolet who was all too nonchalant about it.

Khun didn't even last for three seconds before he forcibly let go of her hand and was promptly thrown by the Shinheuhs crowding around her. The Lightbearer huffed irritatedly as he landed on the ground safely with the help of his Lighthouse. Evolet had shouted out an apology that