The last time Kun saw Chenle they were sitting in a restaurant and Kun was ending their relationship after seven months of dating.
There’s always been a force connecting them, an attraction evident from the moment they met. But their love wasn’t enough for them to work through the biggest difference: Kun follows the rules of the magical system and Chenle breaks them.
Though he understands Chenle’s reasons — he understood them then too — Kun doesn’t like the risk Chenle’s choices carry. Saving the world is important, but so is Chenle’s life.
Kun got tired of brewing health potions in the middle of the night and praying Chenle’s wounds away. He got tired of the fear bubbling inside of him every single day, counting down to the moment Chenle would show up at his doorstep, bloody and in need of Kun’s fairy magic to be able to make it until the morning.
So he did what Chenle warned him not to the moment their flirtation became a relationship: he asked Chenle to stop risking his life.
After the breakup, and how bitter and broken had Chenle seemed at the end of the discussion, Kun thought it was the absolute end. For a few months that seemed to be true — Chenle stayed away, even at his worst. He sought help from Kun’s fairy friends, he’d eventually find out from each one.
Then Kun moved. He ran as far as he could from the hustle of the city and back to the woods where his kind belongs. He hid himself in a cottage, protecting it with a spell that makes the house and yard invisible to humans and uninvited guests.
Kun thinks he’ll never see him again, that he’s made it too difficult for anyone to find where he is without an invitation. That’s until Chenle shows up on his doorstep in his usual fashion — dressed up, unannounced, and hanging on by a thread.
The first thing Kun feels is a strange relief. He’s glad that Chenle’s alive, though it’s barely.
His heart drops at the familiar sight — Chenle’s dirty and beaten up, leaning against the porch post so he won’t fall to the ground. Then it completely breaks at the realization that Chenle found him. The spell was meant to stop that from happening.
“I’m sorry,” Chenle whispers, “I didn’t know where else to go.”
So he decided to go to the only fairy whose whereabouts he didn’t know? Bullshit.
Kun walks out of the door and reaches out for him, the texture of Chenle’s skin still familiar to his touch despite it being so long since the last time he felt it. He helps Chenle sit on the bench under his window, and he kneels in front of him so he can get a better look of him and assess the damage. An energy potion is needed, a healing one too. Maybe some stitches to help the healing magic and rest. A few days of it at least.
“How did you find me?” Kun asks. He’s trying to keep him talking, he needs him awake right now to be able to find out if he’s missing any spots or symptoms. To bring him inside so he doesn’t spend his magic on teleportation.
“A spell brought me here,” Chenle responds, his eyes heavy on Kun as he watches every move he makes. He doesn’t protest as Kun undoes the buttons on his shirt and examines his body, finding bruises on his sides and signs of several broken ribs. No wonder Chenle can barely breathe.
“Magic protects the cottage. No one uninvited should be able to find it.”
“I’m not uninvited, then,” Chenle says, smirking because of the implication.
Nonsense. Of course he’s uninvited. He’s especially uninvited because of the state that he’s in. No matter what Kun’s heart and magic might think. And his heart, beating speeding up at the sight of Chenle’s smile, seems to have some insane ideas.
Chenle shakes his head in dismissal. “I’m fine here. Just fix me up a little and I’ll get out of your hair. I’ll look at your pretty flowers while you fix my bones.”
But Kun won’t accept that. It’s silly. How is he supposed to pull out a miracle when he doesn’t have any of the things he needs on hand. He needs to clean the blood off his body, keep him warm while he brews potions and finds his supplies.
After the break up he hasn’t really had a reason to keep those brews on hand. It’ll take a few hours before he can administer Chenle the right tinctures and tonics.
“Don’t be stupid, you need to rest.”
Kun attempts to lift him up, but Chenle won’t budge. Maybe the teleportation spell is necessary after all.
“I didn’t come to rest,” Chenle replies. So stubborn and frustrating. So reckless with his own health. This is the only part of being with Chenle that Kun doesn’t miss.
“Why did you come, then?”
“For closure,” Chenle says. It sounds ominous. What he adds doesn’t sound any better. “To see you one last time.”
Kun’s chest gets heavy with worry. Even when things were bad, Chenle never said anything of the sort. He never seemed this hopeless before, the danger was never as serious.
“I don’t like you saying that.”
“I don’t like what I’m about to do,” Chenle admits. It’s the first time ever that Chenle has said anything of that sort to him and it gives Kun a reason to argue. If he doesn’t like it then there’s no reason for him to do it.
“I have to.”
The response feels like a trip back in time and Kun finds himself back in the mentality of a fairy crippling under the stress of life in the city — where he doesn’t belong — scared for the wellbeing of the person most important to him. He goes back to responding to Chenle’s madness the way he responded then, suppressing his anger and trying to reason with logic. With trying to make him realize how much he wants him to stay alive.
“It doesn’t have to be you.”
“It doesn’t. I just want the credit,” Chenle jokes. It’s a line Kun’s very familiar with. No credit is worth losing one’s life, but Chenle refuses to accept it.
The joke is anything but funny to him. It makes him more angry. It makes him feel like he’s wasting his time.
“If you’re going to walk into a fight you won’t walk out of, why should I bother helping you?”
There are many things Chenle could point out, the biggest being the feelings they have for each other. He chooses to go with what he knows Kun might be interested in.
“So I can finish it,” Chenle casually says.
Finishing it is something Chenle has talked about for the longest time. Reaching an end to his fighting and finding a new purpose, one that doesn’t require that all his clothes be bloodied. It was a fantasy, one Kun would allow himself to think about on a daily basis. He didn’t think it’s become what it seems to be now — a reality.
As exciting as finishing it is, it’s not a simple thing to do. Not as simple as Chenle wants to make it out to be.
“It might finish you,” Kun raises his voice at him in frustration. Chenle’s taken aback by his candidness. And Kun can’t let it go. He needs to say it, even if it’s the nth time. He needs Chenle to hear his point of view yet again. “Why do you prioritize everyone over yourself?”
“So the world can be safe for you.”
It’s a nice sentiment, one Chenle has never shared and Kun can’t tell if it’s true or not. And it’s something Kun never asked for or expected. He just wanted— he wants Chenle’s love. He doesn’t need the world to be safe for him if it means Chenle can’t be by his side.
The break up was the hardest thing that Kun went through. It was so heavy on him, it was so sad and lonely without Chenle that he started to lose his power. He almost lost his light before he decided to come back to his natural habitat.
He had to come here to save himself and to try to forget the heartache. But Chenle’s unforgettable. And maybe he didn’t miss the stress of not knowing what condition Chenle will be in the next time he sees him, but he misses him and the good moments they share.
“You can’t say something like that and expect me…”
“I don’t expect anything,” Chenle interrupts him.
Kun looks at his face, inspecting it carefully as he tries to figure him out. He thought he lost his touch in figuring Chenle out. That what he considered a talent, one developed thanks to how long they were together, was something he could forget. It’s not. He has him completely figured out and the connection is still there. He can tell what Chenle’s thinking just from the cues on his face.
It’s like they were never separated.
“Let’s get you inside, Chenle. Stay until morning, at least. Let me help you,” he offers and takes a small pause before he adds “for my sake,” as his last resort.
It’ll hurt in the morning when Chenle leaves again, but he can’t let him do it without getting him better.
Luckily, this time Chenle doesn’t object. He nods in agreement and lets Kun help him walk into the cottage. He leads him to the couch and Chenle groans as soon as he drops into the pillows. It’s a sign for Kun to start working as fast as he can so he can relieve Chenle from his pains as soon as possible.
He can feel Chenle’s eyes on him as he works, a burning sensation between his shoulder blades that has never felt uncomfortable. He used to love working while Chenle looked at him, it was like he was putting on a show for the most special audience. Today it feels like anything but, this is panicked and sloppy as the only thing he focuses on is to be productive and fast, to do things correctly.
Chenle must be used to it, Kun thinks when he doesn’t hear any complaints about the smells or the sting of the alcohol in the tinctures. He’s the perfect patient, as he’s always been, but it’s a thought that’s too sad for Kun to bear.
He deserves to live a comfortable, safe life. If only he’d dare to choose it.
As the pain starts to disappear, the exhaustion catches up to Chenle. He closes his eyes and relaxes. Kun takes the moment to walk away and check on the bigger batches he’s brewing, but Chenle catches his hand and stops him.
“Kunnie. If I make it out alive, can we try again?”
Chenle asked a similar question the night they broke up, wondering what he needed to do to get another shot, what he needed to say for Kun not to leave him. He gets a similar answer.
“We can try again if you stop.”
“It’s my last fight,” he then says, and the tone of his voice makes Kun feel uneasy.
“Stop saying last.”
“I mean it. It’s this fight. This is finishing it. He’ll be defeated and I can stop.”
He is a mysterious person from Chenle’s past that he rarely talked about. One he always swore was too powerful and out to get him. He has to be defeated, Chenle would repeat and he wouldn’t let it go.
Now he’s finally near the end it seems. Kun can’t— he shouldn’t try to stop him now. No matter how much he wants to.
“Okay,” he accepts it. Just like he’ll have to accept the outcome, he realizes, feeling as the panic he’s been feeling in his body makes it even more difficult to breathe. He’s almost breathless. What helps him calm down is sending a silent prayer to the gods that Chenle will survive.
“We’ll try again when you come back,” Kun promises.
Chenle lets go of his hand. He drifts off to sleep and Kun stays up all night, brewing potions and tonics, administering them to Chenle’s cuts and dropping them onto his lips. He monitors his condition, makes sure the bruises are fading and the wounds are closing. He lets Chenle rest and watches over him, heats his body with his hands and sends the energy off his fingertips into healing Chenle’s bones.
He catches himself staring on more than one occasion, trying to remember him just in case. He wants to have something with him if the risks are so high that he might not ever come back.
When Chenle wakes up at the first sunlight, he tries to leave. Kun needs him to hang on a bit longer. He guilts him into having breakfast with him and uses the time to bottle the last of the potions that he brewed while Chenle was asleep.
He shoves the bottles into Chenle’s arms while they’re saying their final farewell.
“Take these with you,” he says, separating the bottles by their color so he can let Chenle know of their purpose. “These are for energy, these are for healing.”
“Thank you,” Chenle says honestly, looking Kun in the eye. He freezes for a second, eyes darting down to Kun’s lips.
Kun can’t. He refuses to. He won’t have a final kiss.
Instead he thinks about what else he can give him, how else he can protect him from afar since Chenle won’t let him be by his side during the battle. It dawns on him, the amulet with the symbol his grandmother gave him when he was little. Ancient magic is connected to it. It might not be enough, but it will protect him as much as it could. As it would any person that’s part of Kun’s family, as the legend states.
“And this,” he says, removing the charmed bracelet off his wrist and placing it on Chenle’s. “For protection.”
“Kun,” Chenle tries to warn him, knowing the implication.
“So you come back and we try again,” Kun says instead, signaling to him that he’s made up his mind.
Chenle’s eyes glimpse down at Kun’s lips once more. “Will you kiss me goodbye?”
“I won’t. I refuse to say goodbye. I’ll kiss you hello when you return.”
“If I return,” Chenle supplies with sadness in his voice, looking down at the ground to avoid Kun’s stare. But the truth is not what Kun wants to hear. He’ll focus on the positive, he’ll pray for it and try to manifest it.
“When you return,” he insists.
They both go silent, leaving the fear and uncertainty unspoken just like the good luck wishes. You don’t wish luck before a battle, luck is simple, mortal magic that won’t do them any good. It’s a superstition, just like trying to not speak any bad outcome scenarios into existence.
It’ll end well. It has to. It will. Chenle will return.
When Chenle looks up again and faces Kun there are tears in his eyes. They both know he has to leave, and they have to say anything else besides a goodbye. The words Chenle chooses fill the hole that’s been in Kun’s chest since they separated. It does so for a few moments, before he walks away and Kun watches each step, memorizing as much of him as he can.
“I love you. I never stopped,” he admits.
The lump in Kun’s throat stops him from saying it back. “Come back to me,” he says instead.
Chenle mutters a promise before he walks away, leaving Kun with uncertainty and the fear he escaped from when he ended the relationship.
It’s like a déjà vu. Two days after he sent him off, there’s a knock on his door and he opens it to see Chenle leaning against the post, bloody and beaten. In a much worse shape than he was the other night.
“It’s over,” he manages, trying to smile at him but it ends as a wince. “Can I get that kiss now?”
“You can get all the kisses you want.