It’s a beautiful, clear night, the moon just a sliver away from being bulbous and full, speckled stars stitched into a blanket of blue, twinkling, and San is irrevocably, infallibly bored.
This is all Wooyoung’s fault of course. Wooyoung, who’d left him, abandoned him, run off with the first man with thick thighs he’d met, left him to fend for himself in this run-down, dilapidated house with only Seonghwa’s admonishment and Yeosang’s judgement for company-
“Stop being such a dramatic bitch.” San glares at his phone screen, at the culprit in question, who’s smiling into the camera, skin flushed and sweaty like he’d just finished getting fucked within an inch of his life.
“I did, actually,” Wooyoung says proudly, angling the phone down to his naked body so that San can see the bruises on his hips and the colourful imprints of strong fingers on his thighs.
“What the fuck, I can’t believe you’re getting fucked without me. Whatever happened to what’s mine is yours? Bros share their hoes, Wooyoung,” he whines into the speaker, obnoxiously throwing himself around on the bed. On the screen, Mingi pops up behind Wooyoung looking even more fucked out, hair standing out at all ends, massive bite marks all over his neck. He smiles goofily at San, waving.
“I’m going to tear your dick off and swallow it, Mingi,” San says icily, in response to which Mingi nods, giving him a thumbs up.
“Have fun with that, bye!” Is all he says, leaving a kiss on Wooyoung’s exposed shoulder and walking off. Wooyoung stares after him with big, bambi eyes, a small, familiar smile on his face and San sighs because he recognises that smile. That’s Wooyoung’s “I-would-destroy-the-world-for-you” smile.
San slumps into the pillows, holding his plushie up to his chest and pouting, petulance petering out of his body slowly. Even though he misses having Wooyoung around the house, he’d been the one to encourage Wooyoung to chase after Mingi the first time Mingi and his sire, Hongjoong, had come to visit them for a day.
Hongjoong’s an elder, like Seonghwa, but even older, an air of regality around him, in his neatly styled silver hair and expensive jewellery. Mingi on the other hand, turned less than a decade ago, is a mere fledgeling, who’d come in bouncing behind Hongjoong excitedly, looking around Seonghwa’s estate in awe, eyes bugging out at every little thing he’d passed by. It had been strange to watch Wooyoung react so viscerally to someone else, despite the decades they’ve spent knowing each other inside out. But he’d seen the glances they’d exchanged, the shy, awkward fumbling, the sweet smile on Wooyoung’s lips when Mingi had hugged him in parting and knew how taken they were with each other.
“Is he treating you well at least?” San asks sullenly and Wooyoung gives him a love-sick, beaming smile in answer.
“He is. He’s so sweet and his dick is almost as big as my forearm and tomorrow, we’re going to go sightseeing! A special tour of Florence, courtesy of Hongjoong, of course. Did you know Hongjoong owns multiple art galleries here? Mingi’s so spoiled,” Wooyoung says, shaking his head and San scoffs.
“We are too, dumbass. Seonghwa owns, like, five estates. And a literal castle.”
“I mean yeah, but it’s worse with Mingi because he’s Hongjoong’s only childe. I have to share Seonghwa with you and Yeosang,” Wooyoung points out. “Anyways, why are you so bored? I’ve only been gone a few weeks.”
“Three weeks, Wooyoung. We’ve never been apart for more than a few days. I feel like I’m missing a limb,” San murmurs and Wooyoung frowns, squinting at him through the phone.
“Damn. What did you do without me for fifty years, hmm?”
“Get fucked by our sire regularly and pester Yeosang,” San answers automatically. “But with you around it’s just so much more fun.”
“Aww, you’re so cute, baby,” Wooyoung coos, giving the camera little smooshy kisses that San sniffs in disdain at.
“Well, why don’t you go bother Hwa now? Or Yeosang?”
San sighs dramatically again and turns over onto his stomach. “Seonghwa’s not home much anymore. I don’t know why, he’s not telling Yeosang and I anything but I’ll wheedle it out of them soon. And Yeosang’s streams skyrocketed practically overnight. They’re making a shit ton of money now and every time I bother them, they give me the eyes. You know I can’t annoy them when they look at me like that.”
Wooyoung hums in understanding, giggling when Mingi comes back into the frame and drapes himself over Wooyoung’s back, settling his head into the crook of his neck and dozing. They look sickeningly cute and San pouts again.
“Ugh. You two are too happy for me. I’m going to go,” he says and Wooyoung laughs, sending him another flying kiss.
“Okay, boo, don’t worry, we’ll come back soon. Maybe,” he muses and San blanches, opening his mouth to protest when Wooyoung gushes out a quick goodbye and hangs up the phone.
“Aghhh.” San throws his phone onto the bed, watching it bounce a few times. He huffs and curls himself up into a ball, stuffing the plushie into his face.
It’s not that he’s bored, really. Well, he is. But he’s also jealous, ridiculously, mammothly jealous that Wooyoung’s found someone like Mingi and is excited about things again. About life. San hasn’t felt excitement like that in so long, hasn’t met anyone who made him feel alive for years. He feels lonely really, even though he has his coven. Jaded and lethargic, itching for something new and enticing.
San peeks over his shoulder, at Seonghwa, who’s standing cautiously, leaning against the doorway, all black-coat clad, fluffy-haired and comfort shaped. Wordlessly, San reaches out to him, making grabby hands and Seonghwa smiles, walking into the room and taking off their coat, clambering up onto the bed and bundling San up to his chest. His sire always smells nice, no matter what time of night it is. He smells of something sweet and doughy, like freshly-baked bread pitted with cinnamon glazed raisins. It’s so comforting and will always remind San of the first time they met, a lifetime ago in a tiny bakery, when they’d been nothing but a mysterious stranger and him, the excitable, eager, baker’s boy.
“How’s Wooyoung doing?” Seonghwa asks carefully and San snorts. Of course, Seonghwa heard them speaking.
“He’s fine. He’s over the moon actually, and he’s probably getting railed over a hard surface right now and I’m not,” San says petulantly and Seonghwa chuckles, patting his back soothingly.
“Well, I would offer to help you out with that but that’s not what you’re really upset about, are you?”
San exhales, rubbing his nose against Seonghwa’s sternum. “I’m just- bored. I want to do something new. And it’s not like you or Yeosang are very good company right now,” he says, sulky and a little bit hurt. He wasn’t kidding when he told Wooyoung that Seonghwa hasn’t been home. He’s been secretive and dodgy for weeks, warning the two of them to avoid leaving the house as much as they can.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I promise it’s for a good reason though. Hongjoong and I are just trying to figure it out.”
San lifts himself up on Seonghwa’s chest and fixes them with a look.
“Hongjoong and I?”
Seonghwa blinks rapidly and San gapes. “Are y’all together?”
“N-no, of course not! Our relationship is strictly business, I assure you. I would tell the two of you if anything were to transpire.”
“Okay two questions. What business? And do you want something to transpire?”
Seonghwa licks his lips, frowning, and San waits, waits until Seonghwa cracks like they always do. This is exactly why bothering Seonghwa gets old so fast. He’s so easy, so indulgent, doesn’t even get angry at them.
“There have been… bodies.” San sits up, alert. He ignores the way Seonghwa’s so conveniently decided not to answer the second question but he’s not about to push. There’s something even more pressing to be curious about.
Seonghwa follows suit, sitting up straight, back settling against the bed frame. Playing with the hem of San’s sweater restlessly, they begin to explain.
“We’re keeping it out of the papers. But they found two bodies. The first one was two weeks ago and the second was two days ago. Both in the forest. Mauled viciously. At first we thought maybe it was an animal but Hongjoong saw the bodies. He said both were slashed clean at the throat. Too clean.”
San gasps, something strange buzzing under his skin. “A feral fledgling do you think?”
Seonghwa purses his lips. “Maybe. But how did they get here? And who could have sired them? Hongjoong and I are the only elders in this region. No one else has any claim here,” they ponder out loud and San lifts his hand up to smooth out the wrinkle that appears on his forehead.
“In any case, that’s why I’ve been so adamant on the two of you staying put here till we figure out what it is,” Seonghwa asserts, tightening his hands around San’s waist. San bristles.
“I can take care of myself. You know that better than anyone. And so can Yeosang.”
“Yes I know. I’m more worried about the fledgling. If they attack you they will try to kill you and you might be forced to injure them grievously. Without a sire, they will not recover from their injuries,” Seonghwa says intently and San fidgets, that same, electric buzzing under his skin, lighting him up from the inside. It feels an awful lot like excitement. “Promise me you will be careful, San?” Promise me you won’t go looking for trouble, is what they don't say but San hears it all the same.
And with a cherubic smile, San presses a soft, loving kiss to Seonghwa’s lips and says, “I promise.”
“We’re going out, you and I, come on,” San tells Yeosang the second he enters their room, already dressed in jeans and sturdy boots.
Seonghwa left shortly after their conversation, talking hurriedly on the phone to Hongjoong and rushing out in a flurry, muttering about some lead or the other. San had wasted no time, springing into action, getting dressed in a comfortable, warm jacket and stretchy jeans. He looks cute, he thinks, as he checks himself out in the full-length mirror- cute enough to track down a little fledgeling.
Yeosang glances up from their set-up, cream kitty headphones fixed in place over their long, silky hair, lifting an eyebrow, looking San up and down.
“And what’s the occasion?” They ask plainly, going back to their game like they’re not really interested in the answer. San rolls his eyes and walks up to them, gently lifting the headphones and leaning down to whisper in their ear.
“We’re going to find a rogue little fledgeling,” he croons and smiles when Yeosang stiffens, eyes widening in shock and not a tiny amount of curiosity.
“Mhm,” San nods, clapping them on the shoulder. “Seonghwa says there’s a fledgeling on the loose. And he told me to stay put so of course, I’m not staying put. We’re going to find them.”
“And then what? What do you wanna do with a fledgeling?” Yeosang’s swivelled over to face him, arms crossed. But San can see the light behind their eyes, the way their foot taps restlessly. They’re more than a little intrigued.
San shrugs, pushing his hair back. “I don’t know. I just want to find them first. We haven’t gone hunting in a long time, hmm? Don’t you miss it?”
And Yeosang leans forward, brows furrowed. Of course they miss it; Yeosang had been a toothy little fledgeling, Seonghwa’s first, with a penchant for hunting down unsuspecting humans. Until they’d all transitioned to blood bags and the occasional, organ heavy meal. San’s all for it, don’t get him wrong. He’d never been fond of killing humans but he can’t deny the rush the hunt gave him. The feeling of fulfillment, of euphoria. It’s better to hunt down a fledgeling that they can’t conceivably kill and play pretend at least.
“Seonghwa’ll be mad,” Yeosang mutters, reaching up to tie their hair into a messy ponytail. San rolls his eyes again and waves a hand, dismissively.
“They’ll get over it. Come on, Yeosang, I’ll buy you that pc build you were whining about!”
Yeosang mulls it over, scratching at their nose and then stands up and San whoops.
“I can buy my own pc build thank you very much,” they say snarkily, walking past San and into their closet to change.
They emerge wearing a comfy hoodie and jeans and wrap their arm around San, dragging him out of the room.
“Let’s get this over with before Seonghwa comes back.”
The forest lies right at the edge of Seonghwa’s property, vast and sprawling and disappearing into the next county over.
It’s not as familiar to San as he would have liked, but they haven’t been living here very long and San just hasn’t had time to explore as he normally would’ve. As they pass by looming ash trees and the occasional oak, the air echoing with the chittering of insects and the hooting of owls, San feels more at peace than he has in a while.
He’s always loved the night; the quiet and the eeriness. He feels right at home.
Next to him, Yeosang’s gaze darts around, already alert and hypervigilant, and San smiles fondly.
“Did Seonghwa give you any details?”
“Nope. Just said they found the bodies in the forest.” Yeosang hums, twitching when the distant sound of a crackling branch reaches them. Their senses are overly sensitive, much more so than the rest of the coven. San reaches up to massage between their shoulder blades reassuringly.
“Well, we can’t possibly trawl the entire forest. They might not even be here today, you said it was arbitrary, wasn’t-”
They cut themselves off so suddenly, San’s already taken a few steps ahead, passing them by. When he realises Yeosang’s frozen in place, he spins around and frowns at them, trying to pick up on whatever Yeosang’s so fixated on. But he can hear and smell nothing and he raises an eyebrow.
“What is it?”
Yeosang bites their lip, eyes flashing. “I hear laughter. And something else, a scent. It’s strange but it’s so pungent.”
San whirls around, fingers twitching. He’s about to insist that he can’t hear shit when finally, it reaches him too.
Loud laughter, high-pitched and dazed, like drunk teenagers wandering around. And the smell, so faint he needs to take a deep breath in to really pick up on it, is a strong, pungent scent just like Yeosang had said. It smells like the earth but stronger somehow. Like crumbling soil after rain.
“Shit, are those humans? What the fuck are they doing here? Even if there wasn’t a murderous fledgeling wandering around here, who thinks it’s a good fucking idea to go out into the woods at night like prey?”
Yeosang stares at him pointedly and then looks up at the sky. At the waxing moon, beaming down at them.
“Because it’s almost Samhain,” they whisper softly and San halts. Fuck. “This is the best time for young people to come here, the most inviting time.”
They look at each other for a moment and then run, sprinting towards the direction the laughter was coming from, trying to be as silent and discreet as possible, feet barely even grazing the ground. San lets his senses flood open, trying to get a location on the clearly inhuman scent but it seems scrambled. Like it’s not coming from one particular place, like it’s smeared all over.
Finally, they get close enough that they can hear the loud footsteps of humans and their giggling conversations. They’re young, practically children, and they reek of alcohol and loose inhibitions, sitting around in a circle next to a fallen tree and passing around a half-empty bottle.
They stay back, hidden in the shadows, and watch and wait. The scent isn’t getting any stronger but it’s still here all the same which means the fledgling is around here somewhere. They will probably be too young, too feral to place his and Yeosang’s scents but they will smell the humans, the blood coursing through their veins with a scary kind of precision. In their state of mind, they’re focusing on nothing but the kill, the thrill of drawing blood and satiating their hunger.
But nothing comes. San glances at Yeosang who looks equally as lost. In front of them, metres away, the humans continue to play around, unknowing and blind. Then suddenly, one of them stands up, announcing that he has to “take a piss” and walks off. San curses under his breath and gestures at Yeosang to stay here and keep an eye on the rest.
The boy walks far, clearly trying to find a place as far away as possible to relieve himself, traipsing around loudly in the forest and San wants to wring his skinny little neck for being so foolish. In his mind, Seonghwa’s voice murmurs that he’s mortal, he doesn’t know any better, but San dismisses it. Mortals are so arrogantly foolish.
Finally, he stops, far away from the rest of them, in a little clearing, and relieves himself against a tree. The moon is brighter here, shining down on the patch of grass like a beacon, and San stares up at it, at how large and haunting it looks, almost like its beckoning him, something molten sifting in his belly-
It happens so fast, San almost misses it.
One minute the boy is pissing loudly, finishing and zipping up his pants, and the next he’s on the ground, a curdling scream cut off in his throat. The scent of blood erupts in the air so intensely San falters, clapping a hand over his mouth and staring at the boy and the thing crouched over him.
Because it’s not a fledgeling. It doesn’t look human at all. Seonghwa and Hongjoong were wrong, this is an animal, something large and hulking, night-black fur glossy in the moonlight. Without wasting a moment more, San dashes towards the creature; he can hear the boy’s breathing, can taste the injury slashed into his stomach but he’s alive and he’ll survive if San can just get rid of this animal.
But when he comes up close to it, the thing lifts its head and suddenly, San sees it in its entirety. It’s large, bigger than the boy, bigger than San even, with sturdy hind legs, and claws and a long, dripping snout. It whips its head around and spots San, growling. The thing has bright, yellow eyes, and teeth that are longer, more vicious than any animal San has ever seen.
It’s lethal gaze is locked on San, the boy underneath squirming anxiously, forgotten. San glances at the boy, trying to wordlessly tell him to run and run now, and then back up at the creature. He takes a step backward and the creature growls. He takes a few more steps back and the creature gets off the boy, braced on all fours in front of San, back curved like it’s waiting to spring. The boy, not that foolish thank fuck, wiggles out and runs, stumbling over his own feet.
San raises both his hands, staring into the creature’s eyes. He has a good idea of what it could be but to know for sure he’s going to have to do something drastic. Something Yeosang would call idiotic and Wooyoung would call badass.
He turns tail and runs, grinning when the creature lunges after him, growling and gnashing its teeth.
The wind whips his face, sharp and stinging, and dirt flies up behind his feet, hopefully hitting the creature, San thinks gleefully. No matter how fast he runs, however, the creature’s still at his heels, snapping at them. He grits his teeth and pushes himself to go faster, grabbing onto a tree and hurling himself in the opposite direction, giggling when he hears the creature crash into the trunk.
It’s futile though because not even a moment later, the creature pounces, unnaturally fast, and a weight lands on San’s back, and he falls, jaw smashing against the ground hard. He groans, eyes squeezing shut as the pain lances through him but he barely has time to mull over his injuries before he’s savagely turned over and looking straight into an open maw, razor-sharp teeth angled over his face, ready to tear into him.
He doesn’t breathe, hands twitching by his sides, itching to wrestle this stupid creature off him when the thing above him makes a strange noise. It leans down, pushing it’s wet snout into San’s face, into his neck and San squeals when a warm tongue comes out to lick at his jaw, at the bruise blooming up on the skin.
The creature makes that high-pitched sound again, almost like it’s whining. San stares in awe as the creature snuffles against him like a dog, and seems to shrink in size, until there isn’t a tuft of fur pushing into San’s nose but sweaty hair, caked with mud.
“Fuck, I knew it,” San murmurs, taking in the large, naked, body above him, the arms anchoring his own down, the head pushed into the crook of San’s neck, the weight of strong thighs keeping San’s own trapped. The thing, the man, whines again and lifts his head, staring at San with wide, flashing eyes. There’s mud and dirt caked all over his face but San can still see the lines of his jaw, the pretty moue of his mouth, bitten red and raw. The man sniffs at him, nosing at his cheek and San scoffs.
“Seonghwa’s not going to believe this. A fucking werewolf terrorising their town,” he mutters and the werewolf makes a questioning noise, shifting over San and bearing down so that he’s even more pinned to the ground. His arm is beginning to hurt and San clicks his tongue, trying to catch the attention of the werewolf.
“You need to get off me, mutt, I’m not a fucking toy,” he murmurs and the wolf whimpers, tongue lapping at San’s jaw. San shivers and wiggles, managing to free his arms till he can bring one up to tug at the wolf’s hair, holding his face away from San. The wolf looks at him with crazed eyes and San sighs, glancing up at the moon, so close to being a full moon. Of course.
“Who turned you, pretty boy?” He coos at the wolf, wiping away a smear of dirt on the wolf’s forehead, taking in his high cheekbones, the flush on the apples of his cheeks. The wolf doesn’t seem to understand, whining softly at San, hands grabbing hold of San’s waist and squeezing so hard, San grimaces.
“You smell different.” The wolf sounds rough, voice raw and hoarse, but San’s going to take the fact that he can speak as a good sign.
“Do I?” The wolf nods, burrowing down into San’s neck again and sniffing, tongue darting out to lick at San’s skin, uncaring of the way San twitches and hisses.
“Smell good. Really good,” the wolf groans out and San’s confused for a moment before he finally notices the warm hardness digging into his thigh and yelps. He pushes the wolf off, struggling a little in a way he hasn’t for a long time, and scrambles backwards.
“Okay, no, no, absolutely not.” Now that San can see the wolf completely he almost groans himself because fuck, he really is so pretty. And very naked, he registers, trying to avoid looking any lower than the wolf's broad shoulders.
“Who are you? What are you doing to me?” The wolf croaks out, eyes wild and lost, arms coming up to wrap around his chest and San sighs, a softness blooming in his chest, overshadowing the inappropriate lust.
“I’m San. I smell different because I’m not human. I’m like you,” he explains and the wolf frowns, looking more and more cognisant by the second.
“You’re not like me though. You don’t turn into- into this,” he croaks out, pointing to himself.
“No, not exactly like you but similar,” San says and flashes him a smile, letting his fangs drop out and his eyes blacken. The wolf gasps and throws himself backwards, his back hitting the trunk of a tree hard enough that he whines in pain, still squinting up at San like he’s trying to make sure San doesn’t leave his sight.
San sighs and stands up slowly, dusting off his pants. The wolf stares at him with wide eyes, the yellow bleeding out into a soft, warm, brown. He looks terrified.
“Hey, I’m not going to hurt you I promise,” he assures him and then takes off his jacket, handing it to the wolf. “Here, take this. It’s kinda cold.”
The wolf doesn’t move for a moment, gaze locked on San. Then he shifts, standing up and stumbling over to him. He’s taller by a head almost; San just about reaches his chin. San’s jaw ticks. Werewolves are always so annoyingly large, every single wolf he’s met either towers over him or engulfs him in breadth, like a looming brickhouse.
The wolf takes the jacket gingerly and wraps it around his hips, awkwardly hiding his crotch from view. San almost mourns the loss.
“I can’t feel the cold anymore,” he mutters, jaw clenched. San wants to reach out, maybe pat his arm or something but he doesn’t know how well that would be received.
“Do you remember anything? Remember being turned?”
The wolf licks his lips, frowning like he’s trying his hardest to think.
“It’s fuzzy. I was- it was a few weeks ago, I think. I was out with a friend, right outside the forest. We got separated somehow and I went looking for her but-” He winces, and San reaches out to him then, tentatively laying a palm on his shoulder. He breathes heavily, trying to calm down.
“I just remember pain, being bitten by something. And then I woke up in the morning like-like this,” he says, forlorn. Then, he looks at San with something intent in his eyes. “This is the first time I’ve spoken to someone in a while. I haven’t been- I haven’t been able to turn back since then. It’s because of you,” he murmurs in awe and San hums. He hasn’t really heard of vampires taming wolves. It’s usually the opposite.
“Why would it be because of me?” The wolf steps closer then, one large hand coming up to cup San’s jaw, so slowly, so tenderly, San can do nothing but stand there, frozen. The wolf lifts San’s face up towards him, leaning down to rub his nose into his cheek, grazing his lips, going lower till he’s nuzzling at his neck, the patch of skin under his ear.
“You smell good. You smell like- calm. I feel calm around you,” he whispers into San’s skin, uncaring or unknowing of the way San trembles. The wolf smells good this close too. Like earth and wet soil, and the fresh scent of leaves swaying in the wind. He smells like something San wants to roll around in and burrow himself deep inside.
“Will you- please stay?” San’s heart almost crumbles into pieces. The pain, the want in the wolf’s voice makes him want to stay so badly.
“I can’t. I need to get back to my coven,” he says, rubbing the wolf’s hand cautiously. And then he stills as an idea strikes him.
“But wait, you- it’s the full moon tomorrow. You’ll turn again,” he says and the wolf sags.
“I’ll hurt someone again,” he says, voice small and pained. But San shakes his head, pulling back to look him in the face.
“Come home with me. I’ll make sure you don’t hurt anyone.” He has no clue how he’s going to convince his coven of this. But the longer he stares at the wolf’s big, puppy eyes, the stronger his resolve grows.
“Yeah, come on. I’m going to take you home,” he says and finally, the wolf gives him a small, hopeful smile.
Yeosang finds them before San can sneak the wolf into the estate. San huffs in frustration, frozen in the process of getting the wolf to climb over the fence. Yeosang stands still as a statue, staring at San’s scruffy clothes and muddy face and at the wolf’s even scruffier, mostly naked appearance.
“Sangie,” San starts, holding on to the wolf’s hand tight. Yeosang simply raises a palm, cutting him off.
“It’s bad enough that we went out looking for a fledgling but the fact that you found a werewolf instead? And decided to bring him home? Seonghwa’s not going to allow this, you know it.”
San stomps his foot indignantly on the ground. “He’s safer here than he is in the forest! He won’t turn with me around. This is the best place for him to be.”
Yeosang simply shakes their head and gives the wolf a scathing once over.
“Yeosang, please. Please. Help me out. I promise, I’ve thought this through,” he pleads, fixing Yeosang with the most sincere gaze he can muster. Yeosang winces, rolling their eyes and then sighs heavily.
“I’ll figure something out. Keep him in your room and don’t let him roam around. Seonghwa will be able to smell him the second he returns.”
San gives himself a metaphorical pat on the back and then pushes the wolf over the fence, jumping over easily on his own, and guides him to the main house.
The wolf stares around at the entryway almost comically, jaw hanging open.
“Yeah sorry, this place has belonged to my sire for hundreds of years. They have very… expensive taste,” San explains, staring around at the lavish, ebony carpentry, the large tapestries on the wall and the massive, ornate chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
“I can’t believe I’m actually in here,” The wolf murmurs, as if he’s standing inside the Sistine Chapel or something. Then he looks at San, bemused. “Your sire?”
“I’ll explain everything to you, now come on,” San promises, pushing him up the stairs and to his room, and straight towards the bathroom.
“Okay, you can go shower, I’ll get some clothes for you, I think I have some stuff lying-”
“Are you sure it’s okay for me to be here?” The wolf peers at him from the doorway of the bathroom, mouth downturned. He really is so cute, San thinks absently and then collects himself, nodding his head vigorously.
“Of course! Don’t worry, I’ll convince Seonghwa. He’s my sire, the one who turned me,” He adds when the wolf squints at him.
“You live with the one who turned you?” He sounds horrified and San wilts when that familiar stab of pity makes itself known in his gut again.
“I was turned willingly. I asked to be turned. I’m sorry you didn’t get the choice,” he mutters and the wolf studies San quietly, like he’s unsure why San would even ask to be turned. He says nothing though and simply nods his head, disappearing from view.
San exhales heavily and whirls around, trying to remember where some of his oversized sweatshirts are, when-
“San? My name is Yunho.” The wolf, Yunho, peeks around the doorway again and looks at San shyly. “Just- just wanted you to know. And thank you for, well, everything. Really.”
San’s grin stretches out so wide, his cheeks bunch up. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Yunho.”
Yunho smiles bashfully and then disappears once again, closing the door behind him. The rushing whoosh of the shower starts up and San giggles to himself, walking towards his closet to pick out clothes for Yunho.
When he comes back, Yunho’s standing awkwardly outside the bathroom door, a towel wrapped neatly around his waist, eyeing San’s bed like he wants to sit but is unsure if he can.
San tries his best not to crumple into a whining heap onto the floor because with all the mud and earth washed off him, Yunho is devastating. He’s lithe and his pale skin is blushed pink all over, muscles built but toned, supple, and San wonders if Yunho’s perhaps a dancer or a martial artist. The longer San stares at him, at his cherry red lips, his messy, wet hair and hesitant eyes, the more San wants to wrap him up in a blanket and hold him tight.
“Uh, sorry, I wasn’t sure where to- go,” Yunho sputters out when he sees San. San blinks and then realises he’s holding onto Yunho’s clothes and totters forward, handing them to him.
“Here you go. It’s just a sweatshirt and pants, I don’t think we have anything else that might fit you. You’re kind of taller than everyone here.”
“This is fine, thank you,” Yunho takes the clothes and walks back into the bathroom to change. He comes out not a moment later and for a few, awkward seconds, they just stand there, staring at each other, expectant.
Then the awkward, jittery feeling proves far too much for San and he shakes it off, pointing to the bed and gesturing at Yunho to sit down. He climbs on top of it comfortably and immediately stretches out, body strung out and achy after all the running he did today. Wooyoung’s right, he really should exercise more, he thinks, pouting. He used to be able to run kilometres, hours, without tiring.
“Can you- can you tell me what you are? And what am I?” Yunho’s sitting at the edge of the bed precariously. San sighs, sitting up on his elbows and gazing at Yunho, wondering where to start.
“They call my kind many words but the one you’d recognise best is probably, vampire. And you, my furry little friend, are a werewolf. A shifter. Hence, why you, well, shift into a beast at night.” Yunho’s turned an alarming shade of green.
“Is this permanent? I’m stuck like this? I can’t keep killing people, I can’t- I need to go home, my family, my job, fuck, my boss is going to fire me,” Yunho rambles on, voice rising in pitch, rubbing anxiously at his forehead. San shifts, stretching out and patting Yunho’s thigh.
“Hey! You can’t worry about that right now. You don’t have to kill people if you learn how to control yourself. Control the shift. I’ve seen shifters living ordinary lives, only changing under the light of the full moon but going about their day normally, like any other mundane person. You’ll be fine, I promise.”
Yunho gulps, chewing viciously at the inside of his cheek. “How can I learn?”
And San pauses. He hadn’t thought that far ahead. He thinks of the shifters he knows, the ones who might be able to help Yunho and the only one is Jongho, Seonghwa’s friend from the city. The last time he’d seen Jongho was a decade ago, though, he laments. He’s going to have to ask Seonghwa to contact him because there’s no better teacher than a shifter himself.
“My sire is friends with a shifter. He can help you, teach you. But till then, I can help you try and tamp down the bloodlust at least. I went through it when I was turned too,” he urges, nodding confidently at Yunho who still looks like the unwilling passenger on a flimsily-made boat caught in the swirl of a storm. San sits up on his haunches, shuffling towards Yunho, patting at the space in front of him and waiting till Yunho mirrors him, till they’re sitting face to face.
“Whenever you feel that rush, like that horrific need to kill something, you need to focus on something else, something powerful enough to drown it out,” he explains, gently taking Yunho’s palm in his and holding tight.
“For me, my love for my sire and eventually, the rest of my coven overshadowed the bloodlust. Anytime I felt that rage, I simply thought of them, focused on them, on a memory or an emotion, until it went away. Can you think of something that powerful? It doesn’t have to be a person, maybe just a moment in your life?”
Yunho squeezes his fingers, eyes fluttering shut, brows furrowed. He looks tortured but resolute.
“I think so?” he whispers and San beams. Then he tilts his head, considering.
“I’m going to try something, okay?” He shifts, leaning a little closer to Yunho and he can smell the sharp spike in Yunho’s scent. He stays put and holds his gaze.
“I saw my sire do this with Yeosang. They were far more feral than the rest of us, it took them a while to come out of it. But this worked for them, so can I?” Yunho nods, breathing deeply.
San leans closer, till he’s so close to Yunho’s face he can see the light smattering of freckles across Yunho’s nose, and hear the way Yunho’s heart thrums, quick and restless.
“I’m going to bite you.” He’s not sure why he whispers it but when Yunho jolts, he pitches his voice even softer. “Not deep enough to draw blood. But you’re a predator, like me. Being bitten is going to kickstart your instincts, and you’ll want to fight me, get angry. I want you to try and see if you can control them. Stay still for me,” he murmurs, and slowly, slow enough for Yunho to be aware of it, tilts his head to the side and rests his mouth against Yunho’s neck.
The artery running under the skin throbs and San’s teeth ache, the familiar pull, the call of blood swelling up in his stomach. He ignores it though and settles his mouth away, over the fleshy dip of Yunho’s shoulder, just behind his collarbone. Yunho’s stock still under him, so tense his neck twitches, stiffening.
San lets his fangs drop down and carefully grazes them against Yunho’s soft skin. When Yunho doesn’t seem like he’s about to tear San’s head off, he lets them sink in, just barely pushing into the skin, squeezing his eyes shut at the burst of taste on his tongue, the salty, dense tang of Yunho’s skin. It’s addictive and San doesn’t notice that he’s clamped down a little harder than he’d intended, and when the tinge of metallic blood reaches his tongue he groans, leaning heavily into Yunho, trying to get a taste for more, trying to dig into that delicious, mind numbing sharpness, something he can’t quite name but wants, wants so much that he feels dizzy with pleasure, he’s never felt like this before, so ravenous-
Before he can even blink, he’s pitched over and flat on his back, staring up at Yunho’s enraged face and his amber eyes, trembling when he realises Yunho’s growling, teeth bared. Yunho has his hands pinning down San’s, squeezing so tight, his skin hurts, his knees digging into San’s thighs, keeping him in place.
San gulps and licks his lips nervously. Yunho hones in on the movement and growls louder, jaw unhinging until his teeth are scarily close to San’s face, close enough that his canines lightly pierce San’s cheeks. And then suddenly, Yunho’s stumbling off him, off the bed and San startles when he sees Yeosang dragging Yunho savagely by the back of his neck.
Yeosang’s face is blank even as their grip tightens around Yunho’s neck, the wolf turning red in the face and struggling, writhing to break free. San jumps off the bed and runs to them, tugging at Yeosang’s hand.
“He didn’t do anything! It was me, I bit him, he was just scared! Leave him,” San yanks Yeosang’s hand away, pushing them away from Yunho who falls to the floor, gasping and clutching at his neck. Yeosang glances at San, and then keeps their eyes on Yunho, a familiar, vacant but piercing expression on their face.
“What the fuck are you doing San?” Yeosang growls out, jerking when Yunho stands up on shaky legs, ready to spring.
“I was just teaching him how to control himself! Like the way Seonghwa taught you,” San insists, tugging at Yeosang’s shirt insistently. Yeosang turns to him and gapes.
“You- It worked with me because Seonghwa is my sire. I trusted them wholeheartedly. You barely even know this shifter, he could have torn your throat out!”
“I wouldn’t- I’m so sorry, San but I promise I wouldn’t have hurt you. I was just- startled. But I wasn’t thinking of hurting you, I just- I wanted to hold you down, just to get you to stop,” Yunho croaks out behind them, and he sounds sincere but smells dismayed. San looks between Yeosang, who’s still glaring at Yunho like they want to inflict more damage on him, and Yunho, who looks like a kicked puppy.
He grits his teeth, and walks over to Yunho, reaching out to check his neck, at the bruises already fading away and the tiny pin prick bite that isn’t closing up as fast. He grimaces a little, thinking of how caught up, how dazed he’d been. Reckless.
“It’s okay, you didn’t hurt me. And I’m sorry, for-yeah,” he says awkwardly, gesturing to Yunho’s neck, biting his lip.
“Did you draw blood?” Yeosang sounds strange, their voice lilted oddly. San turns around and nods at them, watching as Yeosang walks up to Yunho and inspects the bite. The bite that still isn’t healing, San registers with increasing panic.
“Wait-Did I- fuck-” His lip trembles but Yeosang tuts, shaking their head.
“It’s not deep enough to be a turning bite,” they affirm, giving San an askance glance. “You got lucky. But I’m not sure why it’s not healing. For a newly turned shifter, he should be able to heal light years faster than us.”
Yunho’s eyes dart between the two of them, heart pounding away in a way that San's learned to recognise as panic.
“It’s probably because of what I am. Bites inflicted by a vampire won’t heal as fast,” San reassures him, giving him a cheeky little wink. Yeosang hums in agreement but still peers at San like they’re not entirely convinced.
They sigh and back off from Yunho, raising their eyebrows.
“Came here to tell you that Seonghwa’s staying at Hongjoong’s for the day. They’re working on tracking down our resident shifter here and I felt awful lying to him but I don’t know how hard they’re working over there, apparently I interrupted them playing chess,” Yeosang says, scoffing. “Anyways, you have until tomorrow to… figure him out.”
They give Yunho one last deadpan look and turn away, smoothing back San’s hair affectionately, walking out of the room.
“Uh, fuck, San, I’m so sorry,” Yunho murmurs, taking a step to him and then jerking, rooted in place, wringing his hands. San crosses the distance between them and slots his chin under Yunho’s head, headbutting him lightly.
“You’re fine, we’re fine. I was- I really should apologize, I don’t know what happened, I’m never like this. I just- I bit you and suddenly I felt so good like I-”
“Needed more,” Yunho murmurs into San’s hair, cutting him off. “I- you smell really good San, I don’t know why, it scares me a little, but you just- when I was pinning you down, the way you looked, the way you smelled. I didn’t want to hurt you but I- I wanted to do something, I felt almost mad with it.”
San looks up at Yunho, at the helpless glint in his eyes, the way he’s grasping San’s forearms, gentle but firm, the flush in his cheeks, and he shivers, spine crackling with a jolt of lightning. He’s suddenly viscerally aware of Yunho’s chest pressed against him, his heartbeat melting into San’s skin, the phantom sensation of his own long dead heart being revived, pumping in tandem with Yunho’s.
Suddenly, the world seems to brighten, warm, honeyed light pouring in through the open windows of his room. San staggers away from it a little, shocked that it’s already day.
“Jesus, the sun’s already up,” Yunho mutters, staring out of the window and San pulls away from him, reluctantly, going over to the panel on his wall and pressing a button to bring the shutters down over the windows. Yunho gives him a confused look and he smiles softly.
“I’m a vampire, Yunho, I sleep during the day.”
“Wait can you- can you not go out in the sun at all?”
“Oh, I can, but only for brief periods of time. It does burn our skin after a point,” he explains and then pauses, shifting on his feet.
“Um. If you’d like, you could share my bed? If you want to sleep, I mean! Or you can take one of the guest rooms, there’s no problem-”
“No, I’d love to, thank you. I need to stick next to you anyways,” Yunho says and San nods, not quite understanding where the sting of bitterness in his chest is coming from. Of course, Yunho’s right, he needs San right now in order to remain a functioning, human being. That’s all, nothing more.
He nods, and goes about getting ready for bed, taking a quick shower and changing into his comfiest pair of pyjamas, the ones he usually wears when he’s feeling a little sad, and gets into bed, Yunho taking the other side and lying down cautiously.
Turning the light off, he lays there, far too aware of Yunho just half an arm’s length away from him, equally as stiff and uncomfortable. He giggles, unbidden, laughing at himself and Yunho’s awkwardness and turns to Yunho, reaching out.
“Come here, let me cuddle you. There’s no need for us to be this stiff, I’ve seen your dick already,” he quips and giggles harder when he hears the skip in Yunho’s heartbeat, the warmth wafting off his body in embarrassment. But he shifts towards San, hugging him close, easy and affectionate, and scoffs.
“You don’t have to point that out, thank you very much,” he gripes and butts his chin against San’s forehead in admonishment.
“How do I-I don’t know what to do,” Yunho chokes out, scent souring with worry and sadness. San’s stomach flips and he presses in closer, winding his legs through Yunho’s and grasping Yunho’s hand, squeezing tight. It’s strange, he’s always been a tactile person but hugging and being affectionate with Yunho just feels right, pleasant in a way that makes something dizzying in the cavity of his chest settle down and fizzle out.
“I’ll help you. I promise. We’ll figure this out.” Yunho says nothing but he squeezes San’s hand back.
“Tell me about your job, your family. You’ll be able to get back to your life soon,” San assures and Yunho hums.
He begins speaking, halting and stuttering in places when the chalky panic in his scent rises but he pushes on, breathing into San’s hair until his body mellows out, relaxing. He tells San about his mom, a cook who owns the seafood restaurant near the pier, a local legend practically, and about his best friend Jiwoo, who he’s certain is an actual, real-life witch. When he talks about working at the sea rescue centre, regaling him with tales of finding injured seals and dolphins, going out drinking with his colleagues on friday nights, San feels a pang of longing and nostalgia for a life he’s never even imagined before, so intense it startles him. He can’t stop thinking of how it would be if he was like Yunho; if they’d met at Yunho’s mom’s restaurant, or in one of those bookshops in town that San’s been to only once. He yearns, so ardently, for simplicity like that.
“You-are you okay?” San doesn’t realise Yunho’s stopped speaking until a soft touch settles on the nape of his neck. He blinks, looks up at Yunho’s concerned face and sighs.
“I am, don’t worry. I’m just- your life sounds lovely. I almost wish I’d known you before. We’ve been here maybe, three years? And I’ve never really stepped out of this house much. I don’t know anything about the town, the locals,” he mutters despondently.
“San, oh my god,” Yunho snorts and San frowns. “Dude, how do you- did you not know that you’re like local legends? This house? I literally grew up hearing stories about how haunted it is. When y’all moved in, it was like the most sensational news ever, especially because no one ever saw y’all. That’s kinda why Jiwoo and I were in the forest that night, you know? We were drunk and being stupid and decided to go see the house up close.”
“What? We’re local legends? Are you saying people think I’m a cryptid?”
Yunho laughs heartily, his laughter jostling San until he feels compelled to join in.
“Yes, like, every small town has their little secret right? Well, the Park mansion is ours. I really thought you were part of a crime syndicate or something. Not actual, supernatural creatures. I would never have guessed that someone like you lived here.”
“Someone like me?” Yunho hums, the hand resting on San’s neck lazily playing with his hair, fingertips massaging into the base of his scalp.
“Yeah, someone like you. I don’t know how I’m going to figure this out but I’m glad I found you. You feel like a blessing. Thank you,” Yunho murmurs, voice catching a little at the end, hollowed in his chest. San burrows closer and rubs his face against Yunho’s chest reassuringly, hoping that conveys everything he’s feeling right now.
He brings their joined hands up to rest between their faces and before he knows it, drifts off to sleep, cocooned in the scent of earth and rain and comfort.
He wakes up sweltering, so blazing warm, he whines before he even opens his eyes, itching to get out of the uncomfortable heat. But the more he scrambles and wiggles, the harder it is to free himself from whatever has him well and truly trapped and his eyes shoot open, gaze landing on Yunho, who’s practically on top of him, sweatshirt soaked in sweat.
His skin is burning up with heat, like a vicious fever, sizzling up from his body and towards San’s. San frowns, maneuvering his hand out from under Yunho’s arm and placing it on Yunho’s head. It’s almost too hot to touch. He shakes Yunho, mustering up his strength and shoving him off and to the side.
The movement jerks him awake and his eyes wrench open, spinning around wildly till he seems to catch San’s scent, sniffing the air and zeroing in on San who’s sitting up next to him. He blinks, breathing heavily and San notes with growing alarm that his eyes look glazed over. Just like they were last night.
“Yunho?” Yunho grunts in response, mouth quivering, gaping like he’s trying to say something but can’t. San waits, watching keenly as Yunho takes deep, labouring breaths and seems to gather himself, gulping audibly, the haze in his eyes lifting.
“San, fuck. I feel sick,” he moans, turning onto his side and placing his head in his hands, palms digging into his forehead frantically. “Everything hurts.”
San twitches restlessly, unsure of what to do. He quickly gets up from the bed, flipping the button on the panel so that the windows open. The sky outside is a deep, aegean blue, the moon growing brighter and brighter. It’s terrifically large today; large and round and full of intent. Something feels powerful about tonight, as it always does on this day of the year. Like a veil has been lifted.
Yunho whimpers on the bed and San walks back to him, grateful for the cool air wafting in from the open windows. He reaches over to his bedside table and turns the air conditioning on as well. Yunho’s still sweating buckets, perspiration pearling on his neck and his upper lip, patches appearing on his shirt. San’s about to suggest that he change into something lighter when, with a groan of frustration, Yunho sits up and yanks the shirt off his head, whipping it away, stepping over to sit at the edge of the bed, holding onto to the bed frame laboriously, panting.
“San. San,” is all he spits out between gritted teeth and San shuffles off the bed, standing in front of him, scratching at the back of his palm nervously. Yunho’s eyes flit up towards him and San gasps. Yunho’s eyes are an enraged, sickening yellow.
“I feel- It feels like something’s calling to me,” he manages to say, shaking his head restlessly. “I can’t- it’s too strong.”
San smooths Yunho’s hair, pushing the wet locks out of his face, humming soothingly when Yunho pushes his head into his touch.
“It’s the full moon. The urge to shift is going to be very strong.”
But Yunho shakes his head, frowning so hard he squeezes his eyes shut. He shakes his head again, fingers digging into the bed frame.
“No, I can feel that too but this is different. This is- it’s violent. It feels like a person. He wants me to come to him and I can’t- can’t think,” Yunho heaves and San watches in horror as Yunho’s face seems to transform in front of him, eyes growing larger, more deep-set, and mouth widening until he’s staring at San with his fangs bared.
San barely has a split second to choke out a strangled, “Yunho!” when Yunho shoves him away with rough hands, bounds towards the window and leaps out in a single, agile motion. San shrieks, running towards the window, and gaping at the form of a large black wolf charging out into the gardens, over the fence and disappearing into the forest.
He doesn’t waste a moment.
Slipping on a pair of boots quickly, he runs outside, barrelling down the stairs blindly, and straight into a warm body, slamming into it with a yell.
He holds his nose tenderly and looks up to see Seonghwa. Who looks incredibly, exceptionally pissed off.
San,” he starts, tone acerbic. “Why do I smell a shifter in the house?”
San whines, cursing his stupid fucking luck, and tries to muster the most piteous, angelic pout he can.
“I brought him in, he’s the one in the forests, Hwa! It wasn’t a fledgeling, it was a wolf. He turned when I found him and he’s comfortable around me but he just jumped out of the fucking window and I need to find him so can I explain everything to you later-” He tries to sneak past Seonghwa hurriedly but yelps when an arm ropes itself around his waist and swings him backwards.
“What the fuck do you mean it wasn’t a fledgeling? Are you saying this shifter is responsible for the murders? And you brought him into our home?” Oh no. San recognises this voice. It’s Seonghwa’s, “I-am-this-close-to-pulverising-you-if-you-don’t-explain-yourself” voice.
He taps at Seonghwa’s iron hold around his waist frantically, huffing. “Seonghwa, please, I promise, he’s innocent. He was attacked and turned. He didn’t know what he was doing. I can help him, we can help him, he doesn’t want to kill people but if you don’t let me go now, there’s no knowing what he might do out there on his own,” San warns, glaring at Seonghwa. Seonghwa stares at him for a long moment, eyes searching, probably trying to gauge if San’s bluffing, and then they sigh.
“You’re not going alone though,” he concedes and San sighs in relief, watching as Seonghwa takes off his jacket and carefully places it near the mantle, tugging up their shirt sleeves and allowing them to bunch up above his elbows. They look down at their shiny, dress shoes in concern and pout at San.
“I don’t suppose you’d wait for me to change my shoes?”
San groans and drags Seonghwa out of the house, ignoring his spluttered protests.
“He said what?”
San leaps over a fallen branch and glances at Seonghwa who is annoyingly slower than him, clearly trying not to get his shoes too dirty.
“He said someone was calling to him? Said it felt violent. Can you please keep up, you old codger?” Seonghwa hisses at him but jogs faster.
“That would be his alpha then,” Seonghwa says and San nods. He’d thought as much.
“Yeah, that means the fucker knew what he was doing. Turning Yunho wasn’t an accident then,” he murmurs, anger swirling in his belly at the implications. He can smell Yunho everywhere but it’s hard to hone in on his location: the scent of the forest is overwhelming and Yunho’s scent is far too similar to it. Next to him, Seonghwa raises their face to the sky and San hopes he can pinpoint more than him.
“There are certain wolves like that, yes. Shifters who gain power and believe turning others, whether willing or unwilling, is their purpose. They’re drunk on the sensation, uncaring of the consequences. There have been cases like this before but I’m- I don’t like the fact that this alpha clearly slipped into our territory unnoticed,” Seonghwa grouses, speeding up a bit. Suddenly, he halts and pushes a hand out to grab San’s shoulder, causing him to stop as well.
“Wait,” they murmur, eyes darting around. The forest is alive with chattering sounds; the call of night birds, the cacophony of little animals, the soughing of the wind between the branches of tall trees. And buried within it all, distant but clear, is the sound of growling, the scent of petrichor and something else, something bitter and acidic.
“Is that him? There are a few different scents,” Seonghwa gleans and San turns to look at him, startled.
Seonghwa nods, gravely. “I think he may have turned others as well,” they say tightly, eyes hard. Then he clasps San’s hand, and gives him a careful look. “San, I’m not sure we’ll be able to do much. An alpha with the rest of his pack? No matter how much this shifter might have liked you, he won’t be able to resist the call of his leader. I don’t want you to get hurt,” they whisper, thumb rubbing circles into San’s knuckles.
“I promise I’ll do my best to rescue him and the rest. I’ll inform Hongjoong and we’ll recruit others, we’ll track them down and confront the alpha, we’ll-”
“Is he lost? Will he- won’t he recognise me?” San knows he sounds- foolish. Desperate. For a shifter he met barely a night ago. But he feels intensely drawn to Yunho, protective of him in a way he hasn’t ever felt for anyone. Not this quickly and not this profoundly.
Seonghwa says nothing, gazing at San in pity. San rambles, dread sinking into the well of his stomach heavily, “I just- Seonghwa, I can’t explain it. He felt different. I just felt so- it felt like I was destined to meet him,” he chokes out and bites his lip, trying to stop all the frantic emotions from spilling out.
“Sweethe-” Abruptly, The sky is cut open by a long, tortuous cry, drowning everything else out. It sounds an awful lot like a wolf howling mournfully. It chills San to his core, and he moves without thinking, muttering a small apology to Seonghwa and dashing blindly.
He runs so fast he staggers over the ground, almost crashing into trees, birds flying away from their nests in a flurry. The closer he gets, the stronger Yunho’s scent grows, and he follows it like a beacon until finally, he reaches a little, shallow creek and stops right at the banks, gaping at the other side where he spots Yunho’s wolf, slumped to the ground, a larger, grey wolf standing over him and growling.
The grey wolf freezes and lifts his head up to look at San and growls, a sound that’s so powerful, the very earth rumbles with it. San winces but stays where he is, eyes flitting around to take in the other wolves surrounding them. They look small and scared, rooted in place and anger surges up in him, broiling.
“Y-Yunho?” San ignores the louder growl the grey wolf lets out and focuses on the black wolf, who twitches, ears swivelling around towards the direction of San’s voice. A small, soft whimper echoes and San frowns. Why can’t Yunho move? He can’t smell any blood, nothing to indicate injury. San watches as the grey wolf gnashes his teeth near Yunho’s ear and it hits him.
The alpha’s immobilised him; he’s terrified to move.
San stands up and lets his own fangs slip out, lets his eyes hollow out into an empty, vacant black and lets intimidation bleed out of him in torrents. He looks daunting and he knows it, revels in it as he watches the alpha scramble backwards a little. Then the alpha seems to grow angrier, snapping and growling, springing back on his heels and pouncing.
San barely has a moment to crouch down and roll away from the outstretched claws, turning over onto his back and immediately grappling with the limber wolf, using all his strength to keep those fangs away from his neck. Pain blooms deep in his chest, and San absently registers the way the alpha’s slashing away at his shirt, claws leaving deep, gouged wounds. He grits his teeth and tries not to cry out in pain, arms shaking with the effort of holding the wolf’s jaw open. For a moment, he’s terrified. He’d underestimated the strength of an alpha and fear rises up in his throat, numbing the pain, his arms beginning to weaken.
Then, the alpha’s pushed off him and San scrambles, gaping as Seonghwa appears out of nowhere, holding the alpha down by his throat, growling viciously, tightening their hold when the wolf whines in pain. The wolf struggles for a moment and then sags, letting out a loud, grievous call that resonates around the clearing.
A chorus of answers echo from the opposite side and San whirls around, catching sight of Yunho who’s braced on all fours, yellow eyes piercing, the other wolves mirroring him. They’re responding to the alpha’s call, ready to help kill for him if need be. San staggers up to his feet and keeps his eyes on Yunho. Yunho, who isn’t even looking at him, is instead growling in Seonghwa’s direction.
“Yunho, hey. It’s me,” he calls out and smiles a little when Yunho seems to register his presence, glancing at him. But he looks dismissive, almost like he doesn’t recognise San. Behind him, the other wolves are making their way over, bounding towards them, snipping and growling. San stumbles back, and stands in front of Seonghwa, blocking them from view.
“Yunho, please, you know me,” he tries again, breath catching in his throat when Yunho leaps over, landing right in front of San. He’s flanked on either side by the rest of the pack and San’s stomach flips. They’ve cornered them, in every direction, just waiting to tear into them, waiting for their alpha’s command.
Beneath Seonghwa, the alpha lets out another urgent whimper and San grits his teeth, bracing himself. But instead of getting a faceful of fangs and claws, San watches in awe as Yunho shifts before his eyes, standing up on shaky legs and stumbling towards him. He comes up so close, San can see the way his jaw is clenched, his brows furrowed. He wants to reach out and touch but Yunho walks past him, towards Seonghwa and the alpha and drops to his knees.
San tenses, instinctively stepping towards Seonghwa but he freezes when Yunho snarls savagely, raises his clawed hand in the air, and swipes at the alpha’s exposed stomach, blood splattering everywhere. Seonghwa yelps and lets go and they can do nothing but stand back and watch as Yunho tears out the alpha’s throat and then slumps to the ground, panting heavily.
Around them, the wolves shift, sniffling and groaning in relief and something dark claws at San’s chest when he looks at them, at how young some of them are, scared and lost.
“San,” Seonghwa calls to him, standing up and rushing towards him, holding him tight. San lets him, knows how scared they must have been when he saw the alpha clawing deep marks into him. Seonghwa scowls, hands running over the gashes on San’s chest, the skin already stitching itself back up, and tuts, a shaky hand bringing San’s head down to his shoulder, cradling him.
“I want to say don’t do that again but who am I kidding,” they murmur sardonically and San snorts.
There’s shuffling in front of them and San pulls away, rushing towards Yunho who’s trying to get to his feet but failing, his body trembling wildly. San holds his arms, ignores the blood staining them all the way up to his elbows, and helps him stand, supporting his weight and peering up at him.
Yunho’s eyes are closed and he looks pained, hair sticking to his forehead. He thunks his head onto San’s shoulder and takes a deep, slow breath in.
“I’m sorry, I- I’m so sorry,” he murmurs, voice raspy and presses closer, slumping into San’s body, arms holding him so tight, San gasps. He doesn’t mind though, hugs back just as tight, nuzzling into Yunho’s neck. “I heard you, he- over everything else. It was like hearing your voice made me wake up,” Yunho whispers, shaking. “Like the alpha no longer had any power over me.”
“I wish, fuck, I really wish we’d met before too, San. I would have taken you to my mom’s, to a little cove on the beach that no one really knows about. I would have done everything right,” Yunho continues and San melts, throat tightening up with all the things he can’t say, all the things he can barely even name.
“You can do it now, we can do everything right, now. You’re okay, you did well, you did so well,” San breathes out, sniffing when Yunho seems to sob quietly, shoulders shaking. They stand there for what seems like forever, and the forest, everything, fades away. San rubs at Yunho’s back, lets him sob, and presses little kisses to his cheeks, reaching down to hold his hand.
Yunho lifts his head up and San swears he feels his dead heart pound. Yunho’s eyes are red: a stunning carmine, haunting and powerful.
“Oh, sweet boy,” San whispers and tilts his head up to finally, press a kiss to Yunho’s lips, grinning into it when Yunho groans and kisses him back harder, something unspoken, something fated, filling up the tiny space between them and tying them together.
There are so many pieces to pick up and tidy away.
Yunho’s disappearance hadn’t gone unnoticed by his family and neither had the rest of the packs’. Most of them weren’t even from this town; young adults, kids, from neighbouring towns, who’d seemingly disappeared into thin air, forced to follow a deranged shifter wherever he chose to go. Seonghwa, Hongjoong and their arsenal of underground connections take days to stifle nosy media outlets and clean up the trail of bodies the alpha left behind. Unfortunately, there’d been no way any of the shifters could go back, at least not yet. Newly shifted wolves are almost as volatile as fledgelings, if not more. Not until they receive the right kind of guidance and learn how to control their shifts.
Needless to say, Seonghwa’s manor sees a lot of empty rooms being filled, long-forgotten bedrooms left to collect dust cleaned out and made liveable again. There are five of them, the oldest is Yunho’s age, barely out of college and the youngest, Kai, still in his senior year of high school. They’re forces of nature, boisterous and excitable in the way only young boys can be and suddenly, the entire estate is alive with laughter and elation and soul. Much to San’s amusement, Seonghwa manages to look both delighted and pained with each new day. Yeosang on the other hand, holes themselves up in their room immediately, flustered by all the new people but a few days later, San catches them in the living room, sitting on the floor in front of Taehyun, a bright-eyed, kind boy, playing a game of go enthusiastically.
It’s strange, for so long, San’s only had his coven to rely on, to come home to. Each night that he wakes up to a home teeming with noise and affection, it feels like being cocooned in something warm like hearth and furs.
Most especially, Yunho, who slots himself into San’s life seamlessly, like a perfectly-shaped wedge in a rusty, old, clockwork machine.
He takes the whole “newly turned alpha” thing surprisingly well, his instincts probably understanding what had happened when he killed his own alpha. After the incident in the forest, he’d made sure to help Seonhgwa in any way possible, talking to the pack that’s now, rightfully, under his care, reassuring them that they’d be able to return as soon as they were no longer a danger to their loved ones.
As confident and caring as Yunho is around the others, San knows better. In the week after the forest, San finds him coming to his bedroom at night, despite being given his own now, and climbing into San’s lap like a full grown dog unwilling to believe he’s no longer a puppy, restless and scared, unsure of how to fix everything.
“They’re so young, I can’t- how am I supposed to take care of them, lead them, when I barely know anything myself?”
“With my help. With Seonghwa’s help, everyone around you. You’re not alone now, and you’re so much more capable than you think,” San tells him, whispers it into his hair, presses it into his warm skin with all his determination, holding him close.
On the following Monday, Choi Jongho arrives at the estate all the way from the city and laughs loudly when he sees the pack of wolves, living so easily with a bunch of centenarian vampires. He greets everyone and when he gets to Yunho, his eyes flash the same blood-red as Yunho’s and he grins.
“I killed my alpha too, he turned me unwillingly, just like yours. I can smell all the guilt sitting on your skin and I promise you, you did the right thing. There was no other way. I’ll teach you how to be an attentive and kind leader. You don’t have to be afraid,” he tells Yunho, clasping his shoulder and San practically sees the way Yunho’s entire body softens, the ever-present furrow on his forehead smoothing out.
Jongho trains them for almost a month straight, so rigorously, San only sees Yunho for brief snatches at a time. He feels irrationally jealous, bitter about the way Yunho hangs off of Jongho’s every word, the way he clearly looks up to him and respects him. It’s stupid, but he can’t help it, especially when Yunho exclaims Jongho’s virtues everytime he’s hanging out with San, rambling on about how controlled Jongho is, how much he knows about wolves and “Did you know we barely age either? Like, we do, but it’s so slow, Jongho says he’s met werewolves who are over five hundred years old and still look like they’re in their fifties? That’s insane!”
San smiles and oohs and ahs at the appropriate places but when Yunho’s away, he spends a disgusting amount of time curled up in his bed or Seonghwa’s, whining about how jealous he feels, usually with Wooyoung listening in over the phone.
“He’s just! I’m so happy for him but also, I wish it didn’t feel like he was forgetting about me,” San tells Wooyoung and suddenly, it hits him like a lightning bolt. “Fuck, when he’s learned everything there is to know, he’s going to leave. He’s- of course, he wouldn’t stay here, none of them will. They’ll go back to their homes,” he murmurs and thinks not only of Yunho’s cheery presence vanishing from this house but also Soobin’s quiet, soothing voice or Beomgyu’s chatter. In such a short while, San’s grown far too fond of all of them.
The worst part about it is that despite the fact that they’ve kissed, they haven’t really spoken about anything else. Haven’t shared more than a few, kittenish pecks in the last month. San’s unsure if Yunho even wants more than that, even wants a relationship the way San does.
“Oh no,” he mumbles, biting his lip and through the phone, Wooyoung makes a wounded noise. “He- what if he doesn’t want me at all, Woo? What if it was just a spur of the moment thing?”
Wooyoung hums, chewing at the inside of his cheek. “Did it feel like a spur of the moment kiss? Or like a, “I have so many feelings about you and this is the only way I know how to tell you” kiss?”
“I mean- is there a difference?”
“Of course, there’s a difference, dumbass!” Wooyoung cries out, shaking his head in disbelief. “Like, the way I kiss you or Seonghwa or Yeosang is different from the way I kiss Mingi. With you it’s like falling into a familiar, well-worn bed, like home. With Mingi, it’s- scarier, so much more intense, like I have too many emotions and if I don’t kiss him I might burst. Do you get it?”
San nods slowly and thinks about it. Kissing Yunho had felt like something finally slipping into place, like he’d been expecting it and yet, it had been as explosive, as urgent as a star collapsing. Gargantuan and devastating and filling him with so much colour, he really did feel like he might have burst.
“I-I feel like that with him. But I don’t know if he- like, feels the same way,” San laments, sniffing. And then holds the phone far away from his ear because Wooyoung lets out the loudest, most frustrated screech.
“Hello? Have we regressed to 1890? We talk about our feelings now, Choi San. So, talk to him, you’re a grown ass, 150 year old adult,” Wooyoung barks out and San groans. Being an adult is hard and San doesn’t think he’s going to get the hang of it no matter how many lifetimes he lives.
“Anyway, can we talk about me now if you’re done moping?”
“Well, are you planning on coming back anytime soon with your paramour?”
“Uh, we may have actually just booked tickets to Iceland.”
“I’m going to strangle you.”
It’s nearing midnight when San finishes talking to Wooyoung, allowing his best friend to muster up confidence in him. He lies flat on his bed for a moment and then jolts up and slips out of his room, padding to the kitchen downstairs and rifling through the freezer for a blood bag. The wolves are either in their rooms, playing around, or fast asleep. San can smell them upstairs, but there’s something that’s missing: Yunho’s soothing scent. He’s probably outside, still training, San muses. Which means there’s going to be no in-depth conversations about their feelings being had tonight.
San sighs and shoves the bag into the microwave, pouring the heated blood out into a little mason jar and sticking a straw in. He takes a big sip and smacks his lips, lets the meal warm up his insides and quell the growing anxiety. Moonlight pours in from the bay windows, bright and beaming and he realises that it’s almost been exactly a month since he met Yunho. The day before a full moon.
The pack’s been preparing for tomorrow resolutely, Jongho guiding them. From what Yunho's told him, they’re planning on going for what Jongho calls a “pack run” in the woods and shifting together, bonding under the light of the moon or something. S’probably why Yunho’s still up and training.
San slumps onto the kitchen counter for a moment and stares outside the window, up at the sky, clear and bright. Then he stands and makes his way outside, holding the jar in hand, walking out of the backdoor silently. It’s a little chilly, and even though San’s body no longer feels the cold, he still cups his own elbows out of some ingrained human habit. He’s only in his pyjamas, fluffy slippers pulled on hastily.
He ambles outside, taking the stone path, passing by Seonghwa’s carefully maintained rose garden and Wooyoung’s tiny greenhouse. Walks till he’s at the gazebo, right in the middle of the property, an elegant, white-panelled structure, weighed down by curling vines and wildflowers blooming all over the top, stray violet flowers from the looming wisteria over it, gliding down and covering the roof in a colourful blanket. A particularly stubborn trumpet creeper has wound its way up two columns, inching up onto the roof haphazardly, tangerine coloured flowers sprouting everywhere, falling in heaps on the ground.
It’s beautiful and isolated, like a blip in another universe. San’s favourite part of the entire estate.
Sitting down on the bench, he leans over the railing and lets his mind rest, periodically taking sips of his meal lazily. He doesn’t know how long he sits there, but soon his jar is empty and the moon is not as bright, covered by puffy dark clouds. He stands up, making to walk back to the house when a sudden wind picks up and a scent passes by him.
It’s one he knows, intimately, and he whirls around, looking for Yunho. But he can see nothing, no bumbling, smiling wolf coming running up to him. He squints. The scent is very strong, like Yunho’s close, barely a few feet away.
San snorts quietly, rolling his eyes when he realises what Yunho’s doing and braces himself. Sure enough, not even a moment later, a body comes barreling into him and he moves quickly, bending his back and flipping over until he’s sitting on a flustered Yunho’s stomach, holding him down by the throat.
Yunho blinks up at him and then smiles goofily and San relaxes his hold, shifting to sit more comfortably, in a way that won’t squash one of Yunho’s organs.
“You know you might be an alpha now but you’re still a puppy,” San teases him, flicking his forehead.
“I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try. I’ve been told vampires are notoriously hard to sneak up on. I can see why.”
San giggles, standing up and pulling Yunho up with him. They settle down on a seat and San drinks him in, his relaxed, poised appearance, despite his slightly muddy clothes, the leaves sticking out of his hair. He looks wild and frayed but so different from the time San had first met him; he’s comfortable now, confident.
He leans over and picks out the leaves from Yunho’s hair absently, revelling in the way Yunho’s scent gets richer, so profuse, San can’t help but take a deep breath in.
“Sorry, I look like a mess,” Yunho cringes, shaking his hair. “Been practising shifting in the forest.”
“How’s that going? Full moon tomorrow, right?”
Yunho nods, scratching at his scalp. “Well, I don’t feel as murderous as I did a month ago, so that feels like progress? I can also control the shift pretty well. Jongho says it’ll take years to be like, perfect at it, but I’m doing okay right now,” he offers, giving him a wry smile.
San beams back, nodding, and they lapse into a comfortable silence. In the distance, a nightingales’ warbling cry echoes and Yunho places his palm over San’s knee, thumb caressing the jut of his bone gently.
“Hey, I wanted to ask you something.” San looks at Yunho and quirks a brow.
“Just- when, you and Seonghwa found me, I noticed that you guys knew how to defend yourselves. Even right now, you had me on my back in the blink of an eye. Would you teach me? How to fight?”
“Uh… Well, yeah I can, I learned a long time ago. But yeah, of course, it’s just-”
“Why are you asking me? Like, why not ask Jongho, I’m sure he knows some stuff as well.” San hopes he doesn’t sound as bitter as he feels.
“He does but I’d like to learn from you. You’re so fast and agile, like a panther. Jongho’s style is more knock 'em to the ground with your entire body,' ' Yunho snorts, demonstrating Jongho’s constant pro-wrestler stance.
San can’t stifle the giggle that bursts out, head leaning to the side with mirth, eyes locked on Yunho’s infectious smile, the chub of his cheeks.
“Yeah okay, I’ll teach you. I was just- kinda surprised, you’d ask me. You’ve been pretty busy with Jongho and the others lately,” he says and winces inwardly at how petty it sounds. Yunho seems to notice it as well, face falling, eyes widening.
“Oh. Fuck, I’ve been a terrible friend, haven’t I?” And San’s entire world comes to a screeching halt.
The blood in his system roils restlessly, as if it’s threatening to come up. He has the strongest, most pathetic urge to curl up into a ball and roll away, never to be seen again. He wants to reassure Yunho that he’s been wonderful, just peachy, but the words don’t come out, nothing except for a quiet, choked out-
Yunho blinks rapidly and San brings his legs up to his chest, holding them close.
“I’m sorry, I’m just- maybe we weren’t on the same page all this time, I was being foolish, we should have talked about this right after the- in the forest-” he’s rambling and he knows it, but Yunho’s still silent and he smells strange and San feels like he needs to fill up the vacant space between them with something.
“I’m okay with being friends if that’s what you want, I can totally-”
Yunho’s hands come up to cup his jaw, forcing him to look up. And after a brief moment battling with his own pride, he does, and finds himself riveted by the depth in Yunho’s gaze, the tenderness in the way he touches San’s face.
“I should have said that better. I am your friend, yes. But I want to be so much more,” he murmurs and San sags. He has the sudden urge to sob, complicated, intense emotions lodging themselves in the back of his throat.
“I want- I thought I was being shamelessly clear about it, about how much I want you, but maybe I wasn’t and I’m sorry I made you think otherwise,” Yunho apologises and leans in to press a kiss to San’s forehead. “I-I was actually going to talk to you about something else, something important.”
“What is it?”
“Something Jongho pointed out recently.” He lets go of San’s face and pulls at the collar of his own shirt, angling his head to the side. San’s confused for a moment before he notices the scar on his neck: a bite mark, faint but still very much branded into his skin.
He gasps, reaching out to touch the scar and Yunho shivers when his fingers graze the raised skin. As if it’s still an open wound.
“It’s never going to heal. Not because you’re a vampire but because it’s you. Do you remember how I told you that your voice helped me forget about the alpha’s command? San, you’re my anchor. You- do you know what fated mates mean to our kind?” He asks insistently and San stills. Of course he knows, remembers reading all about it years ago, remembers speaking to mated werewolves and staring in awe at the way they seemed to know each other inside and out, as if they belonged to each other, were a part of each other, in a way his own coven would never be.
Yunho stares at him, eyes so bright and vulnerable, that San can’t help it when he rushes towards him, throwing his arms around his neck and capturing his lips in a frantic kiss. Yunho's mouth is soft, lax against his, so overwhelmingly warm that it makes San gasp silently and push into the sensation, shifting so that he's seated comfortably on Yunho's lap.
He pulls away for a moment, to allow Yunho to suck in a quick breath, and peppers doting kisses all over Yunho's flushed cheeks, the soft curve of his chin, sinking into the fresh scent of the forest on his skin, so comforting, so Yunho. Yunho makes a soft noise in his throat and San pulls away again, taking in the way Yunho's breathing heavily, pink blooming onto his cheeks and the bridge of his nose. The look in his eyes is so much, so vulnerable, as if he's baring himself open, inside out, for San. It fills San up with something so searing it feels like its dripping into every part of him that has been frozen, stuck in time for so many years, finally thawing out and making space for more.
“Kiss me again?” And when Yunho asks him like that, who is San to resist?