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Rise of a Phoenix

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Chanyeol had hoped that his overheating symptom would go away after a day of rest. But, ever since a few days ago when he and his friends had done some 'pseudo-training' in the royal courtyard, he's been noticing how much his body temperature is rising.

 

At first, Baekhyun wouldn't even bat an eye when they'd hold hands or sleep in their shared bed together, but what finally made Chanyeol realize that it's gotten bad is when he wakes up to find Baekhyun not clinging to his back like usual.

 

In fact, when he springs out of bed, he finds Baekhyun snoring on their room's sole carpet, and moves closer with furrowed eyebrows before he immediately stops when he sees Baekhyun squirm in his sleep and whine that it's too hot. And the thing is, Baekhyun's the only one out of his group of friends that could ever truly withstand Chanyeol's natural body heat, due to his power of light giving him a strong immunity. So, if even Baekhyun is feeling the heat, then Chanyeol definitely has to do something about this.

 

With a deep frown, Chanyeol groggily leaves their shared room and knocks on Suho's room door before he hears a tired Come in, and opens the door to step inside. Suho's just currently chilling on his bed, though when he sees that it's Chanyeol he tells him to wait before he grabs for a large cup of water beside his bed and chugs it all down real quick.

 

"Damn, how'd I not notice how bad it's gotten for you guys?" Chanyeol asks, more to himself as he stands there and watches.

 

"I dunno, but judging by the literal heatwaves you're giving off right now, you're getting hotter every day," Suho responds with a frown. Chanyeol then opens his mouth to make a joke but he cuts him off. "Thankfully, I'm not feeling it too much when you're over there but Chanyeol--" His expression turns concerned. "--this can't go on any longer. You know that, right?"

 

Chanyeol sucks in his lips until they form a thin line. "I know. But, you heard that doc when they stopped by the other day..."

 

A few days ago, Tao's parents had called in a doctor that specializes in fire to try and help treat Chanyeol's overheating symptom, only for the person to basically tell him that they've never seen a case like this in an adult in all of their years of practice. And that usually only kids first becoming in tune with their fire powers get this overheating symptom, and thing is, Chanyeol had actually dealt with this symptom as a kid himself. But for some reason, this time around it doesn't just feel like some weird second puberty thing, it feels like it's something way more serious.

 

---

 

After their other friends wake up, Suho gathers everyone into the living room to come up with a plan to help Chanyeol. Xiumin then comes up with the idea of bringing him to the coldest city all the way up north but Chanyeol quickly shakes his head and shivers at the thought. (Fortunately for the others, he's sitting all the way at the other end of the room so that no one feels his heat radiating too much. For Chanyeol though, he feels like a stranger on a deserted island and whines to the others about this feeling while they continue planning--some things more outrageous and outlandish than serious.)

 

But then, Lay brings up the Tree of Life and everyone pauses as they take this possibility in. "Who better than the one that created our magic in the first place, right?" Lay then says.

 

"Shit, true," Chen responds, and basically everyone else agrees too.

 

And so, after a bit more talking, Suho announces that it's decided (even after the rest of them had decided unanimously) and Lay just chuckles while Chanyeol rolls his eyes at Suho.

 

---

 

The trip to the Tree of Life from the royal city thankfully doesn't take longer than a few hours as they go from taking Luhan's private train to walking into the heavily guarded sanctuary that leads to her highest majesty. And with Luhan there, donned in his royal prince attire, it's as easy as the guards seeing him and then immediately bowing as they open the large doors to let the eleven of them inside.

 

(It would've been the twelve of them but Kris had gotten a call earlier in the morning from his mom requesting his help back in their home province. So, while the eleven of them took a private train to the Tree of Life, Kris took another one in the opposite direction. Of course, they feel his lack of presence and specifically the lack of corny jokes and such, but Chanyeol can't wait to have a new story to tell Kris once they all return back home and Kris returns in an expected week or so.)

 

Anyway, the path inside starts off full of cobblestones before it soon naturally fades to dirt the further in that they walk. And all around them lies a forest of the healthiest looking trees, with little fairy sprites flying this way and that, a small river flowing at the left, and when they look up, they notice just how bright the sun is here since there seems to be no roof to speak of.

 

Right beside Chanyeol (though unfortunately with a bit of distance between them), Baekhyun's just silently admiring the scenery before he seems to notice him staring and turns to grin up at him. Chanyeol softly smiles back before he turns his head to look ahead and frowns as he gets a sudden weird sensation in his stomach. It's that lowkey uncomfortable feeling one gets sometimes, like a fight or flight sensation.

 

And apparently, he's not alone in having this feeling since the others up ahead stop and everyone turns to look at each other with confused or now worried expressions.

 

"Do you guys feel that?" Kyungsoo's the first to ask, thick eyebrows furrowed while he nervously sucks in the side of his bottom lip.

 

"Yeah, it's like--I can't even explain it," Luhan replies. "But something doesn't feel right."

 

Chanyeol then looks past him to look further down the path where it soon seems to go down and down into seemingly nothingness.

 

"Do you think it's her majesty? Like what if she's..." Sehun nervously asks before trailing off. The word 'in trouble' seems to be on the tip of his tongue but he dares not speak that aloud.

 

"No-no, it can't be that," Suho replies, waving his hand dismissively.

 

"Yeah, wouldn't the guards have told us if anything was wrong?" Xiumin adds.

 

"...So then what's this feeling?" Chen quietly asks to no in particular. He's currently huddling into himself, and Chanyeol has to fight the urge to go over and hug him. Thankfully, Lay notices and turns to rub Chen's back to comfort him.

 

No one says anything for a moment before Kai announces that he'll check out the rest of the path with his mental map real quick. They all let out Alright's and Okay's and then watch as Kai squeezes his eyes shut to focus on moving about the place with his porter ability. Usually, when he's done this in their presence, Chanyeol would be the first to silently make fun of the hilarious expressions that he makes while focusing, but this time he simply sucks in his lips as he imagines practically everything under the sun.

 

Not even a few seconds later, Kai's eyes open while he gasps, effectively making most of them flinch or curse at the suddenness.

 

"Wha--what'd ya see, baby?" Kyungsoo asks him.

 

"Well, it's not really what but who," Kai replies before he turns to look at the rest of them. "It was her greatness. I'd made it down the path and saw her greatness being tended to by a few tree nurses, and for some reason like, even though she obviously doesn't have a face, I-I felt like she could see me just then."

 

"But was she okay? Did she seem weak or...?" Luhan asks.

 

"Nurses? Why are there nurses there?" Baekhyun adds.

 

"So should we continue down then?" Sehun asks at the same time, turning to look down the path.

 

Kai lets out a determined Yeah, I think we should.

 

"Alright," Suho responds, and even with that strange feeling in their stomachs, the eleven of them begin cautiously walking down the rest of the sloping path.

 

---

 

A minute or two later, that strange feeling seems to get stronger as they all finally start seeing the Tree of Life after having to climb up a steep-ass hill to reach her branches. And just like Kai had told them, there are a few nurses around her that are tending to some gashes in her highest majesty's shining brown bark before they stop for a second as they hear them approaching.

 

The nurses' eyes then widen at the sight of Luhan before they quickly bow and ask how they may help his highness. But Luhan seems more interested in the Tree of Life as he gapes up at the height and beauty of her highest majesty from her glow to her vibrant swaying leaves, and so Xiumin steps up as he politely asks the nurses what happened to her.

 

One of the nurses furrows their eyebrows at him as they say, "The red force."

 

Chanyeol frowns at their tone and response before the other nurse beside them speaks up in a nervous tone. "Oh, my sincerest deepest apologies! Eh-heh, Frances here is um fairly new to our land so he didn't know about your highness' and friends' evacuation...And so, yes, uh though the red force got driven out a few years ago, their attack on her highest majesty has still unfortunately left an impact to this day. Again, so very sorry for Frances' discourteous response."

 

"And...how long have you three been on duty to help her highest majesty?" Suho asks, eyes narrowed.

 

Simultaneously, the three nurses say 'one year', 'two years', and 'a month' and the Frances one darts their eyes left to their compatriots before they look back at the eleven of them and then quickly look away again.

 

"Alright, well I'll be sure to let your boss know of the royal palace's appreciation for your help in nursing her most esteemed majesty back to health," Luhan says in his royal tone. "Though, now I'd like to ask a favor of you three, if that's alright?"

 

"Oh! Of course, your highness," one of the nurse says, and the other two echo her statement.

 

With a fake, bright grin, Luhan continues, "We'd like to converse with her most esteemed majesty in private, if you three don't mind."

 

"Oh yes, sure sure, let us not be in the way!" the third nurse immediately responds, before they and the other two quickly start packing up their things and head out on their way. They bow as soon as they pass them by, and Chanyeol narrows his eye at the shady nurse before they've scurried down and then up the hill and have completely left the vicinity.

 

"...Okay, is it just me or was that Frances guy really fuckin' sus?" Lay's the first to ask.

 

And that breaks some of the tension as a few of them laugh and agree.

 

"Yeah, I'll definitely get that sorted out afterwards, don't worry," Luhan says before he runs a hand through his coiffed hair and seems to relax a bit.

 

"A.k.a. you're gonna get that dude fired, right?" Chanyeol asks.

 

Luhan just winks at him and Chanyeol laughs. Meanwhile, Lay, Kyungsoo, Kai, and Xiumin have already walked closer to her highest majesty and move to sit down before her. Baekhyun and Chen dramatically call out Hey, wait for us! as they rush over to do the same, and then the rest of them quickly follow suit as they sit down and close their eyes.

 

Long gone is that strange feeling in their stomachs as they sit there and meditate, and instead a lovely, bright feeling of pure unadulterated joy flows through their bodies and minds as the Tree of Life makes contact with them all just as the legends said that she would.

 

"Hello, my dears."

 

Chanyeol smiles and can somehow feel the others smile as they greet her in return.

 

"My, your journey has been very long and weary, I see...But despite that, you've made it back home to see me...So, what brings the eleven of you here, hm?"

 

"Our friend Chanyeol here," Luhan's the first to say in this shared mindspace. "Something's wrong with his powers and we were wondering if you might know how to help him, your most esteemed majesty."

 

"'Wrong', hm?"

 

Chanyeol then laughs at the ticklish feeling he gets as the Tree of Life seems to mentally examine his spirit. Baekhyun and the others quickly ask him if he's alright and he simply laughs out a Yeah, I'm good. Then, when she's done examining him, the Tree of Life lets out a curious hum and tells them all of her findings.

 

"Hmm, it seems to be that you're simply acquiring your second power, my dear."

 

And at that, gasps and loud exclamations of What?! sound out amongst Chanyeol and his friends.

 

"S-second power? Me?" Chanyeol sputters in disbelief.

 

It's a very, very rare occurrence for someone with one power to get a second one later in life. In fact, Chanyeol's pretty sure that there's only like ten recorded entries in the history books of people who even got a second power.

 

"Yes, my dear. You were born with the spark of a phoenix in you."

 

"Wait, so y-you're telling me I'm the descendant of a phoenix? Really?!"

 

The tree lets out a bright, ethereal laugh. "Yes dear, you are."

 

"Holy shit, Chanyeol--that's so fuckin'--" Sehun whispers before immediately getting scolded by Kyungsoo for the language in front of her highest majesty. "--I mean, wow chum that is so totally rad!"

 

A few laugh at that, including the Tree of Life, before Baekhyun asks the question that Chanyeol was gonna ask her next.

 

"So, um your most gracious majesty, is there any way to speed up the process of this without Chanyeol turning supernova or something? 'Cause even right now I can feel his heat beside me and, normally I'd love that but lately it's gotten to be too much."

 

"Wow Baekhyun, only you," Kyungsoo drily replies, and Tao giggles.

 

"What?"

 

"'Normally I'd love that'~" Kyungsoo imitates in a funny voice, and Kai and Sehun burst out into laughter. "Like I promise you, nobody asked."

 

And though Chanyeol can't see him since it's only the others' voices that he hears, he just knows that Baekhyun did the biggest eyeroll known to mankind just then. But before he can retort with a funny joke, the Tree of Life speaks up again as she informs them all that there is actually a way that Chanyeol can get his second power at a quicker rate.

 

"Have you all heard of The Forest of Fire and Lava?" she asks.

 

They all inform her no, though Chanyeol has the vaguest memory of hearing a legend about the place as a kid.

 

"Well, residing in that land is one of my children who is the first being to ever harness and spread my fire magic. He goes by many different titles now but to me he'll always be my little one full of flaming charisma," she says in a loving tone. "He's one of the first birds that I'd stumbled upon all of those eons ago who didn't seem adverse to being near me as I practiced and honed my fire, and eventually after a bit of practice himself, he'd learned to hone it as well and inevitably embody it."

 

"Holy--guys--we definitely gotta go there!" Chanyeol exclaims. It's actually been a dream of his to meet a phoenix one day!

 

"Yes, I highly recommend that you do so. He will be the best help for you during this time..." Suddenly, she lets out a sigh. "I feel a tad regretful that there's not much else that I can do to aid you besides giving this guidance...In my current state, if I tried to alter your body-clock to lessen your natural overheating symptom, I'd accidentally reset your knowledge of fire too."

 

Chanyeol instantly winces at the thought of losing his fire, but instead of bemoaning that possibility, he instead thanks her for all that she's done and the others end up thanking her graciousness as well.

 

With a happy tone again, she lets out a Oh, you're most welcome, dears and then bids them farewell and good luck before ending the connection and thus separating them from the shared mindspace. Slowly, Chanyeol's eyes open and he turns to look around at his friends, their expressions going from serene to contemplative and serious. Well, until Luhan curses since he forgot to ask her graciousness about that shady nurse that they all saw earlier.

 

Xiumin places a hand on Luhan's shoulder and says, "Hey, we all forgot to ask her, Lu--don't feel bad. And I mean even though that nurse from earlier was definitely off, if they were trying to harm her esteemed majesty, I doubt it's been working."

 

"Ahh, I guess. Eh why does it matter--I'm putting in a complaint about them once we leave here anyways," Luhan replies, and Xiumin just smiles.

 

Then the two of them move to get up first and dust the dirt and grass off of their clothes, before the rest of them follow suit as they all continue talking and move to leave.

 

Everyone then ends up taking one last look back at the ever-gracious Tree of Life, and Chanyeol can't help but feel some relief at the thought of this all being over soon.

 

---

 

"You said it's how far from here?" Baekhyun asks Kyungsoo, incredulously.

 

They'd all made it back home and are currently in the living room where Kyungsoo's just looked up how far the forest of fire and lava is from the royal city. Apparently, by train it'll take a full day to get there.

 

Thankfully, Lay (the continuous voice of reason today) then reminds the two of them that Luhan has his own private train and so the time of arrival would most likely be cut in half compared to if they used a public train like the search engine on his mirror-phone is suggesting.

 

Baekhyun groans out a Ugh, still though and lays his body across Kyungsoo who grunts and immediately shoves him off. Meanwhile, across from them Tao excitedly pats Sehun's thigh at the thought of them all travelling together and Sehun just smiles at him. Next to them, Suho and Xiumin are conversing over how much it'll cost to get everyone (sans Chanyeol) some heatproof suits and bags and specifically ones with advanced water-retention features for the two of them. And Lay's texting someone on his mirror-phone, his legs resting across Chen's lap, while the latter is talking to Kai and Luhan about some random Earth TV show that he really wishes he could watch still.

 

Chanyeol's again at the far end of the room, but the others always manage to include him in their conversations at certain points and he ends up making stupid jokes to see his friends laugh and just pass the time as they make a plan to set out tomorrow.

 

---

 

Very early the next morning, after Chanyeol puts on some casual, warm weather clothes and the others don on their white heatproof suits and bags (at a heavily discounted price due to Luhan's royal presence), they all head towards Luhan's privately-owned train. (If they'd decided to take an airship, it'd probably take them half the time of the train, but with Luhan's extreme fear of heights and lack of a personal airship, they all wouldn't be able to snatch tickets for one until about a whole month later.)

 

So, they all step into the train's large single cabin, and converse and laugh as the train zooms on by different terrains and provinces. Every few hours, the train conductor stops the train for everyone to take a break and walk around outside and such, and some of them voice their desires of them all travelling the world for fun someday. Luhan smiles and says that they definitely should, though of course they all know that he'll forever have Princely duties keeping him tied to the royal city until he's King.

 

Either way, none of them voice that as they continue chatting, and Chanyeol wistfully looks out at the beautiful maritime scenery as the train currently flies low over the Southern Sea.

 

---

 

At some point, Chanyeol falls asleep until he's nudged awake much later by Baekhyun who whispers to him that they've finally arrived at their destination. Chanyeol shivers a bit at the proximity and revels over how nice it feels to have Baekhyun actually by his side like this again. Though when he looks at him, he sees Baekhyun's face and body mostly covered by his suit's white protective metal material. Luckily, he can see his boyfriend's crinkled eyes through the clear reflective visor though and with a smile growing, Chanyeol leans in to hug him for a nice, long moment.

 

Baekhyun immediately hugs him back and squeezes as he nuzzles his face (albeit a bit awkwardly with the suit) into the crook of Chanyeol's neck.

 

"I've missed this," he then murmurs.

 

"Me too," Chanyeol whispers before he closes his eyes for a moment. Who knows how long it'll be before he can hug him like this again.

 

Eventually, they pull away and both look like they want to kiss each other but obviously that just won't work with their current situation. So instead, Baekhyun reaches for his hand to hold and they interlock fingers/gloves before Baekhyun leads Chanyeol over to the others who've apparently already exited the train a while ago.

 

"Damn, took you two long enough," Sehun chides with a teasing smile as they step out of the train.

 

Chanyeol just lifts his middle finger at him before Sehun mock-gasps and places a hand over his chest. The two of them then inevitably tease each other for a moment before Suho tells them to stop and gets no response as they continue even louder. Then, it's Xiumin who sternly tells them to quit it and immediately they stop and turn to look at him.

 

Suho's lips part at this while Xiumin's eyes crinkle as he takes on the pseudo-leadership role for once, meanwhile Luhan's just waving at the train conductor who calls out that she'll be over at the next city, waiting for his call to return home.

 

Luhan lets out a Sure thing! and all of them then thank her for the smooth train ride to which she grins and bows at. Then, just like that she heads back inside the train and a few seconds later, they all watch as the train reverses its body and then zooms away towards the north, up a hill and through some tall cloudy mountains, and then away from sight.

 

"Alright, you guys--let's go!" Xiumin says with a determined grin as he points west towards an opening in the forest.

 

Luhan just looks at him all lovey-dovey and wraps an arm around his shoulders as they lead the way, with the other seven following after. Chanyeol and Baekhyun end up holding the rear, and Chanyeol leans down to quietly ask his sweetheart how Xiumin's so happy when this place should be like his worst nightmare come true.

 

"Hah, I think it's that water in his suit--I swear they put like fairy crack or somethin' in it," Baekhyun whispers, and Chanyeol lets out a soundless guffaw as they walk.

 

---

 

Many head-ducks from the tall-ass fire-trees and admiration over those protective suits actually doing their job later, they all finally come across a cave surrounded by what can only best be described as a moat of ever-flowing lava. Chanyeol's fairly sure that he could just walk in the lava barefoot but definitely can't say the same for his friends, even if they're wearing those heatproof boots.

 

Thankfully, Kyungsoo's one step ahead as he tells them all to stand back (which they all immediately do) and then lifts a foot and stomps down hard on the ground to lift a piece of it up. He then bends down and cautiously tests the ground's heat with his gloves before his shoulders relax a bit and he moves to grab and subsequently drop the long strip of land across the moat as some sorta bridge. Obviously, that flimsy strip of land won't be sturdy enough to hold anyone so he turns to Xiumin who quickly understands and stretches his arms out to create a large rectangular slab of ice. Once the ice slab is as big as the strip of land, he places it on top of the strip and everyone watches as the combination of the two causes steam to quickly rise.

 

"Run!" Xiumin then announces before he and Kyungsoo set off to jump and slide across the ice-bridge. Thankfully, they both make it to the other side safely and end up high-fiving each other.

 

"Shit, wait, wha--" Sehun says as he gets dragged towards the bridge by a laughing Tao.

 

They both then jump just like Xiumin and Kyungsoo did and Sehun uses his wind power to push down onto the bridge to give them a bit more time in the air. Once they land, the four of them then beckon for the others to join before Kyungsoo and Xiumin end up face-palming when Kai simply ports himself to the other side.

 

Kai just laughs. "What, did you two forget I could port?"

 

"No, but yes?" Kyungsoo sheepishly replies. "Ugh, maybe the heat's already getting to me."

 

"Hehehe honestly there were so many ways we could've gone about doing this, hon. Like Tao could've frozen time and Luhan could've lifted the lava away so we all could just walk here. Or Sehunnie could've pushed us all with his wind as we jumped or--"

 

"Or even this," Lay says as he calmly walks over the moat onto their side in his heatproof boots. All of them gape at that as the boots stay intact and he replies with, "What? Sometimes the best solution is the most simplest one. Dummies."

 

He then turns to Kyungsoo and Xiumin while the rest of them cross the moat to their side too. "It was pretty funny seeing how serious you two were just now though. I'll just blame it on the long train ride haha."

 

Kyungsoo sucks in his lips, obviously at a loss for words, while Xiumin just shakes his head at himself. Luhan then moves to comfort him as he places an arm around his shoulders again, and this time Lay's the one that takes on the pseudo-leader role as he smiles and leads everyone into the large cave.

 

---

 

As they walk, Chanyeol feels a rush of nervous anticipation surge through him before Baekhyun seems to notice and gently squeezes his hand. He then glances down at his boyfriend and Baekhyun looks up, and with the way that his eyes soften through that visor, Chanyeol can already tell what he's trying to say.

 

Don't forget I'm here, okay? We all are, is what Baekhyun seems to be saying.

 

Chanyeol gives a small smile back and takes in a deep breath before he looks ahead again as the others stop at a divergence in the cave path. One path goes left and the other goes right. And at this, the others immediately turn to look at Chanyeol, and Suho asks him which way they should go.

 

Chanyeol furrows his eyebrows and replies, "Umm, how the heck would I know?"

 

"What, you're not getting some kinda like pull to one direction?" Sehun then asks.

 

Chanyeol shakes his head in amusement. "No, dude."

 

"Huh. Should we split up then?" Xiumin asks.

 

"No-no, let's just put it to a vote or something--" Suho starts.

 

"Or we could just try both, and if one's a dead end then we know the other one must be right, right?" Sehun replies.

 

"Or I could just use my mental map," Kai says at the same time.

 

"...But what if the dead end was actually the right end?" Baekhyun chimes in, seeming to not have heard Kai who understandably looks a bit frustrated now.

 

And just like that, Chanyeol and his friends start arguing for a bit, that is until Lay rolls his eyes and starts walking towards the right path. Everyone of course notices and tells him to wait up as they follow after him and continue talking as they all walk together.

 

And funnily enough, Lay's frustrated guess seems to have been the right one as they all begin feeling even hotter. (Chanyeol thought that it was just him, but he quickly notices with concern how a majority of the others are slowing down, and Xiumin and Suho are fanning themselves a lot now.)

 

"Shit, this definitely must be the right fuckin' way," Chen pants as they walk. He then turns to look up at Chanyeol whose eyes are wide with worry. "I don't think these suits can handle all this heat much longer, man."

 

"Should I--should I just keep walking solo then?" Chanyeol asks before turning to look down at Baekhyun.

 

Like usual, Baekhyun seems to be tolerating the heat better compared to the others but even he is scrunching up his face with every heatwave that seems to pass them by. Baekhyun looks like he's about to lie and say that they can handle it when Xiumin cuts him off and announces that he's gonna try something a little bit unusual.

 

"Like...?" Sehun asks.

 

Chanyeol can then see Xiumin's eyes crinkle through his visor. "I'm gonna freeze us!" Chanyeol instantly flinches and shudders at the thought and he turns to look up at him. "Not you, Chanyeol. C'mon now."

 

"But Min, wouldn't that use up your water reserves?" Chen asks worriedly.

 

"I mean yeah but I could just absorb it right back. Trust me, nothing could go wrong with this."

 

"Ha or something does go wrong and we end up in like a cryostasis or something," Lay mentions offhandedly.

 

Xiumin just tells him to shush before he asks the others if they're okay with this option. Of course, some of their friends look hesitant at the idea but then Luhan announces that he trusts him, then Kyungsoo and Kai do too, and it snowballs from there with everyone agreeing. (Though Lay ends up being the last to reluctantly do so.)

 

Xiumin then cheers and lets out an Alright! before he tells Chanyeol to take a good amount of steps back. And Chanyeol doesn't have to be told twice about that.

 

Then, they all watch as Xiumin claps his hands and then extends his arms out as a swirl of frost forms from his hands and surrounds him and the others. Though with the heat in this land and cave in general, they all watch as the frost starts to steam up before Xiumin closes his eyes and clenches his hands into fists. Then, just like that, the frost instantly freezes to ice around them, though by the way that the others are turning their heads in awe and such, there must be some pockets of air that he left inside.

 

Chanyeol watches as his friends seem to relax, and Suho and Xiumin especially look much happier as they revel in the cold. A few of them then start talking, though with how thick the wall of ice is, Chanyeol can only hear mumbling, so he decides to sit down for a moment and wait for the others to fully cool down.

 

Then, he hears tapping on the ice wall and looks up to see Baekhyun worriedly looking at him and holding up an okay hand gesture to ask if he's okay. Chanyeol returns the gesture but then gestures that he can't hear them at all right now, but that doesn't stop Baekhyun who then makes a sexual joke using his hands that gets Chanyeol chuckling. Baekhyun grins at that and before they know it, Xiumin's reclaiming his ice into himself and a few of them groan as the heat hits them square in the face again.

 

Chanyeol then gets up and moves to join them again as he asks them all if they feel any better. Tao runs a hand through his hair and murmurs out a Yeah while Suho stretches his arms up and grunts before saying Wow, that felt fuckin' good.

 

"Okay, ya pervert," Baekhyun laughs before looking up at Chanyeol. "Babe, as soon as that fuckin' wall went up, Suho moaned out loud--I swear to all that's bright."

 

And Suho blushes as he instantly denies that. "What--no, I didn't! Baekhyun, that's a fuckin' lie and you know it."

 

Some of them just chuckle or smile at this though, and Kyungsoo's snort-laughing the most as he joins in on teasing Suho with a cackling Baekhyun. And so, they all continue down the path like this for around another minute before the path seems to open up to a vast area with torches lined all around the walls. And everyone instantly stops in their tracks as they see what or who is in the center of the room.

 

In the center, lies a gigantic, red phoenix whose head is tucked into its neck as it sleeps. And as Chanyeol looks closer, he can see that its feathers range from not just red but to orange and yellow, though since it's asleep, the colors don't burn as bright as one would expect for a phoenix.

 

Somehow though, instead of feeling nervous over this whole situation, Chanyeol feels a strong sense of relief and determination as he slowly walks up alone towards the phoenix. His friends just watch, and when he turns to glance at them, he sees some of them giving thumbs up or doing a 'keep going' gesture with their hands. So, with a smile growing, Chanyeol turns back around and clears his throat before he starts to speak to the sleeping phoenix.

 

"Um...Mr. Phoenix, sir?"

 

Lay dramatically groans at that (he can tell since he hears him groan so much whenever they all go on adventures), and he turns to say What? before he whips his head back as he feels the phoenix let out a huge, deep breath. Then, he just watches in awe as the phoenix's eyes burst open, and he can see a fire in its eyes that's both incredibly bright and frankly enchanting. Then, the phoenix quickly stretches up, its feathers high and ruffled, with a stance that shows it's ready to fight. Instinctively, Chanyeol takes a step back while he shoots his hands out to show that he means no harm.

 

"Chanyeol!" One of his friends worriedly calls out, but he can't break away from the phoenix's steely gaze to look back at them. Because something tells him that if he does, he'd probably get struck down in oh, say two seconds flat.

 

Then, the phoenix speaks and Chanyeol feels a giant, toasty wave of burning heat hit him as it commands in a deep, booming voice, "State your name and why you are here, at once!"

 

"U-uh, I-I--" Chanyeol starts to say, figuratively feeling rooted to the ground. "--my name is Chanyeol, and I-I need your help, sir--I--"

 

The phoenix then leans forward and Chanyeol cuts himself off and leans his head back as it lets out a soft, billow of white-hot flames from its mouth onto him. Of course, with Chanyeol's power, that show of fire that'd probably burn a building down in a second doesn't affect him, and so he just blinks as the phoenix leans back and lets out an intrigued hum, its feathers falling back down.

 

"You must be one of my descendants," the phoenix muses.

 

"I--yes, I guess I am? I kinda only learned that yesterday when me and my friends, um they're the ones over there--" Chanyeol turns and gestures towards them before turning back around. "--we um met with her highest majesty and well she um--she led us here."

 

His ancestor then looks like he's about to say something but then Tao interrupts. "Um, she also called you her 'little one with flaming charisma' if that helps prove the legitimacy!"

 

Huh? Why would that--oh, he must've rewinded, Chanyeol thinks.

 

And at that, his ancestor surprisingly laughs, in a way that stuns Chanyeol and the others with how bright and joyous he sounds. Then, when his ancestor is done laughing, he says Alright, come sit with me to Chanyeol and gestures to the spot in front of him with his wing.

 

With wider eyes, Chanyeol obliges and carefully sits down on the cave floor and his ancestor does the same as he wraps his large beautiful wings around himself and closes his eyes. After taking in a deep breath, Chanyeol closes his own eyes and then just like with the Tree of Life, he finds his thoughts and voice interweaving with that of his ancestor's now.

 

"Alright," his ancestor starts. "I will begin by taking a look at your spirit to see what there is that evidently needs fixing."

 

Chanyeol just lets out an O-okay and then feels his vision go pure white for a long moment...And then just like that, his eyes pop open with a gasp and he looks up to see his ancestor now looking down at him again. Though this time, with a very confused expression based off the way that he tilts his head.

 

"Wha--what did you see, sir?" Chanyeol then nervously asks.

 

"I...I am not quite sure, my progeny. Because it seems that your innate knowledge of flight had gone dormant a few years ago--" Chanyeol's eyebrows raise high to the sky. "--when, from what I have heard from my offspring, that second power typically arises in their own offspring before they've reached two decades around our two moons. Do you perhaps have any idea what might have caused your ability to go dormant like that?"

 

Unsurprisingly though, the only thing that Chanyeol took away from that is that he's apparently gonna be able to fly.

 

"Chanyeol, you're gonna fucking fly?!" Luhan calls out behind them. "Yo?!"

 

Chanyeol just turns to him and his other friends, his mouth agape from excitement.

 

And Sehun groans dramatically. "Ugh, now we're gonna have two fuckin' birds in our friend group? Hate it." His eyes then widen as he glances at Chanyeol's ancestor who simply looks amused by this conversation. "Uh, no offence."

 

Kyungsoo chuckles and adds, "Honestly, I just can't wait 'til we get back and tell Kris all about this shit."

 

"Hahaha he'd probably challenge Yeollie to a flying competition like right then and there," Baekhyun replies.

 

The two of them then chuckle together as they imagine that while Chanyeol looks back at his ancestor as he remembers that he was actually asked a question from him. Something about...dormancy.

 

Then, it hits him.

 

When he and his friends were on Earth, they still had their powers of course, but in a diminished state compared to how it is now that they're back home on their exo-planet. So, maybe that emergency evacuation and then prolonged stay is what caused his second power to go dormant like that.

 

He then offers this possibility to his ancestor who takes the info in and begins preening himself as he thinks. After a short moment, he speaks again in a contemplative tone.

 

"Alright, bearing all of that in mind, am I right to assume that because of your current state you would like me to help speed up your body's natural adjustment process?"

 

Chanyeol furiously nods his head in response.

 

And his ancestor sighs. "Now, do not get me wrong, I will always show love and care to my children and descendants but, doing something as ambitious as your request would be very taxing on myself."

 

"What would you need then?" Baekhyun suddenly calls out and they both turn to look back at him. "Food? Money? Uhh another bird to keep you company? We'll get you anything!"

 

His ancestor just lets out a caw of a chuckle at that and then quietly tells Chanyeol that his friends are very amusing before he loudly proclaims that he would need sustenance to be able to help. Of course, since they all came this way, everyone seems ready to scour the ends of their planet for phoenix food if need be, and Chanyeol couldn't be any more glad to have such amazing friends like them.

 

Then, his ancestor lists off the requirement of twenty blazing fire-fruits (which apparently grow on the numerous trees that they'd passed by earlier) and one hundred fire-beetles (that live inside of said trees). To Chanyeol, it seems like a very simple request but, once again, Lay asks the sensible question of how to get said fruits if the trees are apparently only at their flowering stage.

 

Chanyeol's ancestor lets out a devious chuckle at that and cryptically tells them that they shall figure it out before he shoos them away and begins curling up to go back to his slumber.

 

"Wait, what--what do I do when we get your food?" Chanyeol asks. "Do I just drop it in front of you? Should I get like some fancy gold bowl or something to put it all in?"

 

"Aha! I have no aversion to this fine cave floor, my progeny. Now please, do not wake me up again unless you have brought my food or because our world is crumbling and you have come to warn me."

 

And with that, Chanyeol murmurs out a Yes, sir and then walks back over to his friends who seem a mixture of relieved to soon be leaving this hot cave and worried over how to get the food. Baekhyun then moves closer to him and wraps an arm around his waist as they and the others bid Chanyeol's ancestor farewell and walk out of the cave and back out into the open air.

 

Then, after crossing the moat with their heatproof boots, they continue refining a simple plan that Suho had created while they were walking. One group will help get the beetles while the other will get the fruits, of which still no one knows how they can even get. Because normally, Lay would be able to speed up a plant's natural growth with his healing power, but he has to physically touch a plant to do so. Gloves and the trees being fire-hot just won't do for him.

 

And so, they're all just sitting around on this large plain of dried-out grass when Tao announces that he's found a solution in one of the many timelines that he'd just been in. He then excitedly tells them all of the plan and after some shrugs of acceptance and whatnot, Chanyeol and Lay get up since they're apparently the key parts to this plan.

 

Tao then gets up too and the three of them walk closer to a nearby tree before Chanyeol extends a hand out to press against the bark and slowly absorbs all of the heat coming from it. With a jolt, his hair starts blazing and his energy raises before he's done absorbing all of the heat and steps back. Then, he watches as Tao quickly waves one hand to create a time bubble around them and then lifts his other hand's index and middle finger together to stop time.

 

Their friends' breathing and motion quickly slows to a stop while the blazing, dancing fire on the other trees around them stop as well. Now, only the loud-ass ticking of the time-continuum clock is what they can hear besides themselves as the three of them circle around the tree that Chanyeol's just absorbed some fire from. Chanyeol then reaches a hand to feel the bark and smiles as he tells the other two that it's still cold to the touch, his hair finally falling back down.

 

So, without wasting any time, Lay slaps both of his hands onto the tree and closes his eyes as he focuses on sending out some healing wisps to its core. Immediately, they watch the tree pulse a little and marvel as the branches grow and sway before a few orange and white fire-fruits spontaneously pop up and fall to the ground. And so, with the speed of three people trying to beat time, they do this same thing with the other three trees before Tao quickly resumes time and takes in a long, deep breath.

 

Chanyeol then grabs for as many fruits as he can and waddles over to the others with them while Kyungsoo quickly grabs for a fireproof bag for him to deposit them in. Then, after like less than a minute, with the help of the other two, exactly twenty fire-fruits are in the bag now which just leaves the fire-beetles.

 

"'Kay, so I was thinking like what if when we get those bugs out, we keep some of the bark too," Sehun says. "'Cause I mean, fire-tree bark is a pretty rare resource back home."

 

"Yeah, that sounds good," Suho replies.

 

"Ooh yes, my parents would love some. Nice idea, Hunnie," Tao chirps with a smile, and Sehun softly smiles as he glances at him.

 

"Okay, so like...who's gonna be getting the bugs though?" Baekhyun then asks.

 

"Wait, wait, you guys," Kai suddenly says and they all turn to him. "Uhh, didn't that phoenix say that the fire fruits should be um, 'blazing'?"

 

"Oh shit, you're right."

 

"Chanyeol, can you light them up real quick then?"

 

Chanyeol lets out a Sure and snaps his fingers to produce a teeny-little flame before he squats down to the bag of fire-fruits and taps the flame against the top-most fruit. And usually, it doesn't take much/longer than a second for something to catch on fire, but for some reason the fruits haven't caught on to that fact. With furrowed eyebrows and the others now crowding around with confusion, he smothers the tiny flame and claps his hands together to produce an even bigger flame, now on both of his palms.

 

Then, he grabs for a fruit and cradles it in his palms with still the same reaction. Nothing.

 

"Umm, you guys..." he says, as he smothers that flame and stands back up. "Something's wrong."

 

Baekhyun places a comforting hand on his shoulder, and he looks down at him with worry. "Wait, wait before you panic, babe, why don't ya try your power on something else, like, hold on--" He then digs through his bag for a piece of bread and hands it to him. "Try to burn that."

 

And so, with his lips pulled in a bit, Chanyeol reproduces his flames and relaxes a bit when he sees the bread immediately burst into flames as he touches it, rapidly turning from toast to burnt toast to crumbs in his palms.

 

"Okay, see it's not you--it's the fruit that's acting up," Baekhyun then says.

 

"Ugh, so now we have to find out how to actually light them up then," Kyungsoo murmurs, his hands on his hips as he and everyone else look down at the bag of fruit.

 

"Ya know, it would've been nice if that phoenix actually told us how we could do this shit," Chen then says.

 

Suho frowns and claps his hands. "Ya know what--let's just take a break, you guys. Let's eat, drink, and refresh our bodies and minds a bit before we solve the mystery of this hell fruit."

 

All of them end up letting out relieved words at that and so, as everyone sits down and starts digging through their bags for whatever rations, Sehun asks Suho and Xiumin where their water reserves are at, and both of them more or less tell him that their reserves are halfway done now.

 

"We obviously can't spend the whole day here--" Suho responds before turning to Kai. "--but Kai, you'd be able to port us back if need be, right?"

 

"Of course!" Kai replies before lifting his visor to chug some water. He then wipes the corners of his mouth. "But uh let's not let it get to that point, yeah?"

 

---

 

And so, they all end up chatting, snacking, drinking, and relaxing for several more minutes before everyone seems way more relaxed. Lay's then actually the first one to push himself to stand as he dramatically proclaims about how he could run a marathon in this heat now. Chanyeol and the others just laugh and Luhan teases him with an Oh yeah, bro?

 

Lay responds with a Yeah and Luhan ends up getting up as he asks him if he wants to be the one to go see the phoenix again then. Lay just lets out a dry laugh at that and it quickly ends up with Chen telling them to scissors, rock, paper it to see who'll go. And like any prideful being would do, they both agree and so, the two of them move to stand opposite each other with Chen in the middle as the makeshift referee.

 

Chanyeol smirks and then wraps an arm around an equally amused Baekhyun as he and the others watch this spectacle.

 

With an arm extended to his right, Chen puts on a fake announcer's voice and decrees, "On the left side stands Lay, dear friend and confidante, a man ever ready to go the fuck back home where it's cooler and full of fresh grass."

 

Laughs and chuckles are had as he then lowers that arm and extends his other arm out towards his left. "And on the right side stands Luhan, another dear friend and confidante, a Princely man who's also ready to go wherever it's colder--if you know what I mean," he says, wiggling his eyebrows at the end, and both he and Xiumin laugh.

 

Even with the visor, Chanyeol can tell that Luhan's definitely blushing, and even more so when the latter playfully slaps Chen's arm and tells him to get on with it. Chen just laughs some more and says Okay, okay before he switches to Korean for a moment as he starts the dramatic countdown of scissors, rock, paper. And at Paper!, both Luhan and Lay shoot their hands out with Luhan playing rock and Lay playing rock.

 

For round two, they both end up shooting out paper. And for the third round, they both end up shooting out paper again. And so, it literally goes on like this for like seven more rounds with both of them playing the same move since they know each other too dang well before Kai actually gets up from cuddling with Kyungsoo and tells them Okay, this joke's gone on long enough--lemme just go and ask him and he ports away.

 

About two minutes later, he ports back to the same spot (with Luhan, Lay, and Chen already sitting back with the rest of them) and then tells them all what Chanyeol's ancestor told him.

 

"Okay, so this is gonna sound so fake but apparently, we need light, like sunlight, volcanic ash as their water, and...love. I think that last one was just like a joke though, can't completely tell."

 

"Light, volcanic ash, and love?" Kyungsoo murmurs to himself.

 

"Hmm, would we have to like--nah, that wouldn't make sense," Sehun starts.

 

"Hm, what--what?" Tao asks him.

 

And Sehun lightly chuckles as he looks at him. "I was thinking like ha, what if we had to kiss the fruits or something? But obviously that doesn't make any sense."

 

Tao just lets out a little giggle, and Sehun softly smiles and holds his hand as they chat some more. And while those two are off in couple land, Chanyeol looks towards Baekhyun who's busy talking to Kyungsoo and Kai over how he can best go about shining his light on the fruits and he laughs when Kai suggests a silly anime-like pose. Baekhyun, Kyungsoo, and Kai laugh along with him and then when Chen and Suho have gotten up to go towards the still cooled down trees, Baekhyun gets up to bring the bag of fruits over.

 

However, the bag is hella heavy from all of those fruits so Baekhyun ends up pouting and turning to Luhan who's busy chatting with Xiumin about something or another. Xiumin actually notices his expression first and chuckles before he nudges Luhan who turns to look up too before he rolls his eyes. Begrudgingly though, Luhan lifts a hand, palm upward, and effortlessly lifts the bag with his telekinesis before he flicks his hand from right to left and the bag moves towards Chanyeol and the other two and gets set down before them.

 

Baekhyun thanks him with a saccharine grin and then jogs back over and sits back down before he unties the bag for the fruits to be seen. Then, he dramatically lifts his arms up high towards the sky and closes his eyes for a moment before they all watch as a tall beam of white light travels from the sun towards his outstretched hands and then slowly encompasses his whole body.

 

"Blob of light! Blob of light!" Chen chants as he and Suho pause their apparent beetle-catching to watch.

 

Then, Baekhyun extends his arms out at the sides in the silly pose that Kai came up with a moment ago, getting Kai to burst out into high-pitched laughter while Kyungsoo chuckles beside him and pinches his nose as he snorts. And just like that, the white light from Baekhyun's body all pulls up to join together at his chest before bright, colorful beams of light shoot out from him and reach the fruits.

 

Chanyeol's lips part a bit as he watches what basically is like a mini fireworks show, and once Baekhyun's done, the fruits are now glowing with a white aura, and Baekhyun's left panting as he drops his arms to his sides and drops his head to catch his breath.

 

Kyungsoo frowns and lifts a hand to rub his back while Chen, Xiumin, Sehun, and Tao all tell Baekhyun about how cool he just looked. Lay then ambles over to heal his exhaustion away and bends down to his knees and takes off a gloved hand and one of Baekhyun's gloves to hold onto his hand and heal him that way. It's definitely slow-going that way, but Chanyeol lets out a sigh of relief when Baekhyun's able to breathe normally and lifts his head to thank Lay. Lay just smiles and nods his head before he moves to sit back down with Sehun and Tao while Chanyeol moves over to Baekhyun and leans in to hug him tight.

 

He then feels Baekhyun squeeze back and feels his head rest against the crook of his neck, and they stay in this embrace for a nice long moment before Baekhyun pulls away first. Chen then announces that he and Suho got a 'shit-ton of the crunchy-looking beetles' and the two of them end up coming back over with a bag filled with what Chanyeol feels was a pretty accurate description of the amount of bugs in there.

 

"Fuck me, did you two take out like a whole colony or something?" Sehun asks, as he and Tao come closer to look at the bugs too.

 

Suho sheepishly smiles while Chen just shrugs and says, "Hey, I left the larvae at least. They just gotta well uh, heh, dry."

 

"Hopefully, the bark will still be good to use..."

 

And so while they chat about the bark and such, Luhan asks how they should go about getting volcanic ash for the fruits, and Xiumin chimes in with And love--don't forget that.

 

Both of them then glance at each other and smile and Chanyeol fake-gags along with Baekhyun before they laugh as they get glared at. Then, Kai ends up using his mental map to look for any volcanoes nearby, and after finding one, he grabs for Chanyeol's hand (since Chanyeol's the only one that could really scoop up ash to put in a fireproof bag).

 

Kai then asks if he's ready to go and Chanyeol nods and clutches an empty bag in his other hand before he feels himself getting ported.

 

It's always the strangest feeling being in between reality and not but thankfully he doesn't have to dwell on the thought or feeling for too long as it takes only a few milliseconds for Kai to port them from their friends to what looks like pure nothingness to a lava river surrounded by tons of black ash. Kai then lets go of his hand and asks him if he's okay, and Chanyeol nods and lets out a Yeah before he moves closer to the volcanic ash and squats down to scoop it up with his hands while asking Kai how the hell he does that.

 

Kai lets out a curious hum and tilts his head to the side. "How do I do what? Port?"

 

"Yeah like, how did you get used to porting to an empty-ass void like that? I've always wondered but realized I like never asked you."

 

Kai then crosses his arms over his chest and lifts an eyebrow as he replies, "I mean...I think it's just like any power you get. At first it's obviously scary but uh if there are others like you or people that can help you learn to use your powers then it becomes as easy as breathing." He suddenly shrugs. "And it's not like I ever stay in the void for longer than a few milliseconds anyways."

 

Chanyeol unknowingly takes in a deep breath and continues scooping up the ash (he figures he should get as much as the bag can hold), before Kai taps him on his left shoulder. And with a pause, Chanyeol looks up at him curiously.

 

"You'll be fine, Chanyeol," Kai says with a knowing smile, and Chanyeol looks down for a second before he nods and goes back to scooping. He'd been so excited at the thought of flying that he'd been pushing down the fear of well, failing at flying. "Seriously, like I know the thought of getting a second power must be a lot, but like there's no one else I know that'd be better suited for one than you."

 

"Ha, yeah okay."

 

"I'm serious!" Kai then squats down to his current height. "Hey, you know I wouldn't just bullshit ya."

 

Chanyeol half-smiles. "True."

 

Kai then looks down at the bag and laughs as he says, "Uhh, don't ya think that's enough?"

 

Chanyeol then glances down and realizes that he packed it almost to the brim already. So, after letting out a small chuckle, he slowly gets back up before he tries lifting the bag after tying it at the top. It ends up requiring him to use both hands to hold it up but as long as he has a tight hold on it with one hand, Kai will be able to port him and it back to their other friends. So, after rubbing off any stray ash from his hands onto his pants, he grabs onto Kai's hand with one hand and the bag with the other before he feels himself getting ported back.

 

The others immediately ask if they're okay as they're now back in front of them, and Chanyeol and Kai say Yeah before Chanyeol asks where he should dump the ash, now holding up the bag with his biceps flexing. Kyungsoo then points to a spot nearby in the grass where a random hole (about the size of a pothole) is at now.

 

"Uhh, was that always there?" Chanyeol then asks Kyungsoo, who drily replies with an Obviously not. "Tch, well shouldn't it be a little bit bigger so we can like get 'em all covered at once?"

 

Kyungsoo rolls his eyes but begrudgingly gets up to do so since according to him, I guess for once, you're right.

 

Chanyeol grins obnoxiously and moves to sit back down with Baekhyun. "I'm always right though."

 

"Ummm I beg to differ," Suho replies teasingly, and Chanyeol laughs before the two of them start immediately roasting each other.

 

Meanwhile, Kyungsoo's bent down in front of the hole he made, his gloved hands splayed out at the sides while his eyes are closed as he focuses. Then, he suddenly grips the ground with his fingers, his fingers digging into the soil before he slowly stretches the hole by pulling the ground away from itself.

 

When he's done pulling, he opens up his eyes and looks at the rest of them (and specifically Chanyeol) as he sassily asks them if the hole looks big enough now.

 

"Of course, hon," Kai says with a loving tone.

 

"Yeah, I mean that shit looks like an empty pool now honestly," Baekhyun jokes.

 

Chanyeol and the others then basically let him know the same thing and with that, Kyungsoo releases his grasp of the soil and dusts the dirt off of his gloves as he gets back up and walks back over to them.

 

"Seriously didn't expect to be an interior designer today," Kyungsoo grumbles as he sits back down next to Kai.

 

"Interior designer?" Baekhyun instantly chirps back, and Kyungsoo's eyes go a bit wider. "You sure you got that right, Soo?"

 

"Fuck, I meant exterior--"

 

"No-no-no hahaha--you said interior. From now on, me, Lay, and Yeollie are the gardeners. Chen and Suho are the executioners. And you're the hehehe you're the fucking interior designer hahaha!"

 

Baekhyun then rolls backwards as he laughs while Chanyeol chuckles along more at his contagious laughter than the joke itself and Kyungsoo laughs even as he tells Baekhyun that he's lame as fuck. Baekhyun's now lightly laughing, meanwhile Chanyeol has just now noticed that Luhan's been telekinetically moving the bag of ash up and towards the hole. With a twirl of his index finger, Luhan then opens the bag and flips his palm down to turn the bag upside down and empty its contents into the hole.

 

All of the ash quickly flies out (with some flying towards them) but Sehun notices and quickly swats his hand down to blow the ash coming towards them to the opposite direction. He then judgingly looks at Luhan who jokes and says, Ya know we just missed the opportunity of a lifetime there, right?

 

"How?" Sehun asks while Luhan telekinetically moves the bag of fruits over to the hole.

 

"Yo, didn't you know that a lot of people back on Earth take mud baths that have volcanic ash in them?"

 

"Ooh, I did that once," Tao chimes in.

 

Luhan's eyebrows lift high. "Really? How was it?"

 

"Hot." A few of them laugh. "And like at first the sensation was so freakin' weird, like I thought they were tryna bury me alive, but after a minute or two it got really relaxing and I fell asleep just like that. And like right after, my skin felt so clean and rejuvenated, I was glowing for like the rest of the week, I swear~!"

 

Most of them end up letting out noises of amazement at that, and even more so when the fire-fruits that Luhan just dumped into the ash start making the ash glow a bright white.

 

"Is it done now?" Sehun asks, lifting an eyebrow.

 

"Or does it actually need some love or whatever?" Baekhyun asks.

 

And so, Chanyeol ends up getting back up to jog over to the hole where after a moment of examining it, he thinks back to what plants typically need to grow.

 

Water, sunlight, time, love, and sometimes fertilizer.

 

Then, he looks over to the fire trees, their leaves red and blazing and he realizes. They're literally on an island of fire and lava, and so what would be the most loved thing a fruit like this would want? Fire.

 

So, with a snap of his fingers, he produces a little flame and throws it down onto the ash before he grins wide as he sees the white glow quickly turn from yellow to orange to red. And when he checks to look at the actual fruits, he and the others cheer as they see that each fruit's actually on fire like they're supposed to be.

 

"Finally!" Suho cheers first. "I would've lost my mind if that didn't work, I swear."

 

"Woohoo, let's go!" Kai cheers at the same time, before scrambling to get up and pulling a grinning Kyungsoo up with him.

 

Both of them instantly hold hands as they stand and watch the others get up too, and Chanyeol makes quick work of scooping up each fire-fruit into the heatproof bag and then letting Luhan handle the actual carrying part. And so, they all set off towards the cave with Luhan complaining over feeling like a pack mule and Baekhyun and Chen jokingly tease him by saying that at least he's not an interior designer. Chanyeol just laughs as Kyungsoo swats the two of them, and Suho actually ends up chuckling too when Chen almost drops the bag of fire-beetles.

 

Not too long later, after the others have to cool down in another ice ball again, they make it back to Chanyeol's ancestor (who fortunately is already awake) and Luhan ends up telekinetically setting the bag of fruits before him while Chanyeol takes hold of the bag of beetles and walks closer before setting it down too. Then, after opening both bags and laying them out onto the floor, Chanyeol bows and takes a step back.

 

"Well done," his ancestor says, the fire in his eyes dancing. He then looks over at Chanyeol's friends and says, "Your teamwork and efficiency seem to know no bounds."

 

"Aha, well you know, we do what we can~" Baekhyun replies first.

 

Chanyeol's ancestor just chuckles before he informs Chanyeol to take several steps back so that he may feast. Chanyeol's eyes widen as he does just that and steps back to stand with his friends again before he watches his ancestor move closer to his meal and then peck at a fire-fruit. Then, he does something that surprises all of them. With a lightning fast speed, they all watch as he blows out a blast of electric-blue fire that consumes all of the fruits and beetles and then reclaims the fire, sucking up the food into his beak.

 

"Wow, well that was...uh not what I expected," Xiumin whispers to no one in particular.

 

Then, Chanyeol's ancestor lets out a sudden caw and a blaze of multi-colored fire erupts from his beak before he lifts up his right wing and directs it towards Chanyeol.

 

"Alright, I am now ready to deliver on my end of the bargain! Please come forward at once."

 

Chanyeol lets out an Okay and nervously glances down at Baekhyun who squeezes his hand and wishes him good luck before he lets go as he walks forward. The others tell him that he's got this as well and he smiles despite the nerves as he stands back in front of his ancestor.

 

"Oh, do not worry. The ritual that I am about to perform will be quick and simple for you," his ancestor says, preening himself. When he's done, he stands tall and asks, "Are you ready, my progeny?"

 

"Yes, sir!" Chanyeol responds.

 

And his ancestor lets out a laugh. "Good to hear! And for your efforts, you may call me by my given name which is Minho."

 

"Uh, o-okay, Minho, sir."

 

Minho chuckles. "Okay, now repeat after me and follow my movements exactly."

 

Chanyeol nods his head. "Okay."

 

Then, he watches as Minho lifts one large wing up, his many beautiful feathers now dangling a bit, and quickly lifts the corresponding arm. Minho then lifts the other wing up and Chanyeol lifts his other arm up before Minho starts flapping both wings and Chanyeol awkwardly flaps his arms up and down.

 

Then, Minho begins to glow all around, starting from his blazing eyes which turn electric blue and then extending from his head all the way down to his tail. Chanyeol then lets out a quiet Thank gosh when Minho suddenly stops flapping his wings and he lowers his arms to his sides as he basks in the nice heat that Minho's aura is giving off now.

 

And if Chanyeol could turn to look at his friends, he'd see that Xiumin has set up another ice wall again. But, he finds himself completely mesmerized by his ancestor as he can't help but stare into Minho's striking and hypnotizing eyes. Then, all of a sudden, he feels his hair start to blaze and his vision turns to white just like before...

 

And before he can even freak out over this, he quickly feels the strangest sense of nothingness beneath his feet.

 

This feeling then quickly registers as his first flight and he grins the hardest that he has this whole day as his friends cheer him on before he feels a sudden wave of exhaustion and nausea hit him. Quickly, he lowers himself to the ground at this, his head pounding now (though with his vision clearing), and he ends up stumbling backwards as he tries to get his footing.

 

"Babe! Babe, are you okay?!" Baekhyun cries out, the ice wall melted a bit now.

 

Chanyeol slowly turns to his friends, his mind thinking Yes, when everything seems to go in slow motion as his head tilts...and his body tilts and he crashes to the ground, with everything going black.

 

---

 

Chanyeol quickly wakes up with a start before he looks around with wide, confused eyes as he sees that he's back in his and Baekhyun's shared room. And Baekhyun, who has apparently been sitting on a chair beside the bed, jumps at him waking up before he tears up and quickly moves closer to hug him.

 

Chanyeol grunts at the impact, his arms stretched out before he naturally wraps his arms around his sniffling boyfriend.

 

"Baek, what--what happened? That...that wasn't all a dream, right?" Chanyeol asks, his voice groggy. "I really learned how to fly...? Right? I'm not overheating anymore?"

 

Baekhyun lets out an Mhm against his neck, and squeezes him tighter.

 

And Chanyeol lets out a relieved sigh at that. "Oh thank gosh." He then grunts a bit as he sits up and Baekhyun pulls away to stand up again. "Um, how long was I out though?"

 

"Three days!" Baekhyun whines before moving to hug him again.

 

And Chanyeol's eyes bug out. "What?! Three days?!"

 

But before Baekhyun can reply, their friends quickly barge into their room, most likely because of both of their outbursts, and their surprised expressions quickly turn to joy with some of them tearing up as they rush closer.

 

"Chanyeol!"

 

"Bro, you're finally fucking up!"

 

"Don't ever scare us like that again," Kyungsoo whines, lightly punching his arm. Chanyeol lets out an Ow despite the lack of force behind that punch and Kyungsoo gives a teary-eyed frown. "Are you feeling better now?"

 

Chanyeol just gives him an incredulous look and gestures to his arm to which Kyungsoo gives a small apology and Chanyeol lightly punches him back as payback. Kyungsoo doesn't even flinch and instead asks again how he's feeling, and Chanyeol says that he feels like normal before he asks them all what happened after he blacked out.

 

And so, he learns that after he learned how to fly, he landed after like a second and promptly fell into a deep sleep. Baekhyun had quickly rushed over despite the heat to pick him up before he asked Minho what went wrong, but Minho simply told him that it was nothing to worry about and that the surge of new energy had just released all at once--leading to Chanyeol's body needing some time to recuperate.

 

And so, long story short, they all bid him farewell and rushed to get the hell off the island by train, and well, three days later he's finally woken up. But Chanyeol can't help but wonder one important thing now.

 

"Okay, but like, did I look cool when I was flying though?" he asks.

 

Fortunately, a few of them chuckle at that while Kyungsoo picks up a nearby pillow to chuck at his face which Chanyeol quickly dodges and then laughs at. Baekhyun laughs too and then leans in to kiss Chanyeol's cheek before saying, Yeah, you looked super sexy, babe. Chanyeol goofily grins at this and kisses him back on his forehead, and so everyone ends up chatting in their room for some time. Later on, after Chanyeol's eaten and whatnot, he thinks of flying again and finds himself doing just that as he's sitting with his legs crossed before he drops back down when Baekhyun worriedly tells him to be careful and to take it slow.

 

So yeah, this flight thing is definitely gonna take a while to get used to. But with his boyfriend and their friends by his side, Chanyeol knows that he'll always have them there to catch him if and when he falls, and vice versa.