Authors: black_goose — & umberela —
Pairing: Baekhyun/Chanyeol, Sehun/Luhan, Tao/Kris, Kai/D.O
Word count: 6,984
Summary: "The Oracle has seen the twelve united. War is coming to the Nations. We must prepare for battle."
A/N: HEY LOOK AT US BEING ALL EARLY AND SHIT. jazz hands.
Kai watched the sun rise. Against his back, the dragon’s scales were warm, keeping the chill off. It made him sleepy. A few feet away, Sehun had dozed off, head drooping at an awkward angle. Kai had thought about waking him but doing so would have required moving himself, and he was too comfortable to do that right now.
From his pallet, Kyungsoo snuffled a bit, and Kai smiled. It had been an uneventful night. As far as he knew, the Phoenix hadn’t tried to sneak off. It was going to be interesting, to see what kind of person he was. They hadn’t made proper introductions yet, and Kai was looking forward to Chanyeol’s reactions.
In this white landscape, the dawn light seemed cold, the shadows long and almost bluish. Someone rolled over, once, twice, and then sat up, face turned away to watch the rising sun. Kai blinked, realising it was Luhan, who’d had to be woken up in recent weeks. “Luhan,” Kai called softly. “Go back to sleep, there’s still some time yet.”
“No, there really isn’t.” Luhan turned to look at him, but with the sun right behind him as it was, his face was shadowed. “Is Sehun asleep?”
“Yeah, asleep and drooling.” Kai stretched his feet out, pointing his toes with a groan. “Not much point waking him up when we’ll all be up soon anyway.”
“Jongin,” Luhan murmured, and his voice quivered, just a little. Kai sat up a little straighter, sensing something was amiss. “Can you do me a favor?”
“Depends,” Kai said slowly, cocking his head to the side. “If you want me to teleport you and Sehun somewhere private, sorry, I’m staying well out of it.”
Luhan heaved a sigh. “You know I’d never ask you to do something you wouldn’t want to do, or couldn’t do. I just need you to— to promise me something.”
Not being able to see Luhan’s expression was beginning to drive Kai a bit nuts. “Alright,” Kai replied tentatively. “I can try. What is it?”
“I need you to promise me,” Luhan whispered, and there was a definite shake in his voice now, “that when I tell you to take the others and run, you’ll do so, no matter what.”
There was an awful feeling settling in Kai’s stomach. “What? What are you talking about?”
“Promise,” Luhan insisted.
“You’ve Seen something,” Kai said flatly, “something you haven’t told us about.”
“I need to protect you,” Luhan said, “and so I need you to do this for me, you see? I can’t tell you why. You have to trust me. Please, promise me.”
Kai swallowed. “I promise.”
Luhan nodded jerkily, then wiped at his face. Kai brought his legs in, preparing to stand and go over to him, but Luhan said suddenly, “Chanyeol’s laying awake.”
A pile of furs shifted, and the Phoenix sat up, hair all over the place. “Sorry,” he said quietly. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.” Kai reflected that Chanyeol wasn’t really at all like he’d anticipated.
“It’s alright,” Kai replied smoothly, getting to his feet. “It’s about time for the wake up call anyway.” He turned, kicking at Sehun’s thighs and butt to wake him. It gave him something to do while he tried to make sense of Luhan’s crypticness. The fact that Luhan was Seeing things that he wasn’t telling them both scared and worried him. Luhan was in no fit state to be trying to protect them all on his own.
Sehun groaned, swatting at Kai’s foot. “I’m up, you sadistic jerk.”
“Hey, I let you take a nap,” Kai grumbled, going over to shake Kyungsoo awake. “Up and at ‘em, princess.” Kyungsoo made a sad little noise, burying further into his furs, and Kai sighed, moving on to kick the others awake. Kris was already awake, laying underneath Tao like he was in pain. Kai decided to let that disaster be.
Suho got up quickly, immediately doling out their morning ration’s of food. Chanyeol made to pass again, but Chen insisted he at least nibble some bread. Baekhyun watched the whole exchange silently. Kai went over to sit beside Luhan, who was determinedly not meeting Kai’s eyes. He had definitely been crying, Kai saw with dismay.
“Luhan,” Kai said softly.
“Don’t,” Luhan replied. He shot Kai a weak smile. “It’s alright. It’s going to be alright. You don’t need to worry.”
Kai frowned, and would have replied, but Sehun came and sat on Luhan’s other side, pulling him close with an arm around his shoulder. Luhan sighed, closing his eyes and resting his head on Sehun’s shoulder. Kai went to pack his things up, so they could be alone.
Kyungsoo was still sprawled across their pallets though, tangled in their furs. Kai tugged hard on one, rolling Kyungsoo off. Kyungsoo responded by pulling the remaining furs closer, though now his butt was hanging out. He patted it weakly, whimpering, “Now there’s a draft.”
Kai snagged his other furs up, and Kyungsoo gave a pitiful wail. Kai ignored him and set to work securing the furs to the dragon. When he came back Kyungsoo’s eyes were open, and his face was petulant. “It’s earlier than usual.”
“Doesn’t hurt to get a head start,” Kai responded.
“No one is moving yet though,” Kyungsoo grumbled. “Lay down with me.”
Kai sat down instead, but only to roll Kyungsoo off the pallets. “Nope.”
“You’re mean,” Kyungsoo said, sitting up and dusting salt off his clothes. “Maybe I’ll sleep alone tonight.”
That made Kai grin. “Nice try. I know you can’t fall asleep without me anymore.”
Kyungsoo’s face turned red, and he got up to go get a stale roll from Suho. Kai watched him go, his grin fading slowly from his face, his conversation with Luhan still playing on his mind. When Kyungsoo came back and flopped down on the ground to eat his roll, he said, “What are you thinking so hard about?”
“Nothing,” Kai said, shrugging a bit. He tried to smooth his expression out. He didn’t need to worry any of the others about these things.
Kyungsoo’s eyes narrowed. “You’re thinking about something.”
Kai leaned forward, face dangerously near Kyungsoo’s. “Maybe I am thinking about the last time we were alone together,” he replied, voice dropping. Kyungsoo gurgled at him. “Eat your bread.”
Kyungsoo might have argued, but Suho was standing up, and he cleared his throat to get their attention. “I am just going to introduce everyone to Chanyeol really quickly, and then we should get a move on.”
“You don’t really have to—” Chanyeol began.
“Okay, well, you know my name already,” Suho interrupted him. “And uh, well.” He motioned to Baekhyun, who kept his head down, picking at his bread. “Uh, that’s Kyungsoo,” Suho said a bit awkwardly, pointing. “He’s the Earth Nation Prince, and Head Earth Shifter.”
“I sound so impressive,” Kyungsoo muttered. “I have ash and salt in my buttcrack, I do not feel impressive.”
If Suho heard that quip, he chose to ignore it, pointing in turn at the others. “That’s Kai, the Shadow Walker. You’ve met Luhan, the Oracle, and beside him is Sehun, he’s an air Shifter. Xiumin is a water Shifter like me, and then there’s Tao, he’s Head Air Shifter.”
“Wait,” Chanyeol said, eyes wide, “so, all the Head Shifters are here?”
“Technically I am not Head Shifter anymore,” Tao said. “I kidnapped the Oracle, I am pretty sure I have been demoted to something lower than a toad.”
“Yes, all four Head Shifters are here, now that you’re with us,” Suho said gently before moving on. “That’s Kris, he’s, uh—”
“The only person here with two brain cells that occasionally collide,” Kris interjected helpfully. “Also, you’re using my furs to sleep on. You’re welcome.”
“Thank you?” Chanyeol replied, somewhat squeaky.
“And finally, our Healer, Yixing, and well, you already know Chen.” Suho looked rather happy with himself.
“Yixing is the only reason half of us haven’t dropped dead already,” Chen said. Yixing smiled slightly, clearly pleased with the praise.
“I’d like to think I am another reason we’re all still alive,” Kris said.
“Mm-hm,” Tao hummed, patting Kris’s shoulder. No one contradicted him.
Kyungsoo whispered out of the corner of his mouth, “He’s probably already forgotten half our names.”
Kai agreed, though the introductions had served another purpose. Chanyeol knew, at least, their ranks, their powers, and it was clear to Kai that he hadn’t thought he was surrounded by such strong Shifters. The likelihood of Chanyeol attempting to fight them was steadily decreasing. Kai might not like being the Shadow Walker, but the name definitely had a reputation behind it.
“Right, so,” Suho said, clapping his hands. “Shall we all make a move? We’re still not all that far from the Lightning Clan’s City, and any distance we can cover today will help.”
They all got to their feet, and those who had not yet packed did so. Kai slipped his hand into Kyungsoo’s and teleported him onto the dragon, then helped Luhan up. Chanyeol seemed at a total loss, hesitant to touch the dragon, but Chen helped, pointing out where to put his feet so he could climb up.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be so warm,” Chanyeol said, patting the scales once he was settled. “It won’t eat us, right?”
“Why does everyone ask that?” Kai grumbled. “No, she won’t. Not unless I tell her to.” He grinned at Chanyeol, who looked very unnerved by that. Good. Keeping Chanyeol wrong-footed was probably the best way to travel with him, for now.
“Don’t tease him,” Luhan murmured, leaning his back against Sehun’s chest behind one of the spikes.
Kai opted not to respond. “Is everyone settled?” Kai called. There were murmurs of assent, and Kai would vaguely hear Chen instructing Chanyeol to hold on. “Alright.”
Kai sent a mental nudge out to the dragon, bracing his hands on the spike in front of himself. Nothing happened.
“Uh, Kai?” Suho called.
“Gimme a moment,” Kai said tersely. He sent another nudge out, a spikier one, and she sent one back. It essentially said NO. “What do you mean no, you dumb lizard,” Kai muttered. He sent her a mental image of herself flying, trying to underline it with urgency, and yet she still didn’t move. She sent an image back at him, of herself rolling around on the ground and smooshing them all.
He kicked at her side. “You. Are. Not. Funny.” He punctuated each word with a kick. Kai sensed that if she’d been human, she would have been rolling her eyes at him.
“Is he talking to the dragon?” Chanyeol said in an undertone, and Chen shushed him.
Kai tried again, letting his frustration seep through. Inexplicably, she sent him a slightly distorted image of Luhan back, along with a sharp spike of fear. This made no sense, seeing as Luhan was the least threatening of the lot of them, but the pictures, and the accompanying fear, was something he had received yesterday when she had refused to fly too. All he could send her in reply was confusion and unhappiness.
She sent him the picture again, and this time her fear was greater, edging on panic, and Kai just couldn’t understand. “She won’t fly. I can’t figure out the reason.”
“This is so not good,” Suho groaned.
Kai gave her a little push, and she rumbled to her feet, and began to walk. He sensed she wasn’t too pleased with this, but then again, neither was he. “It’s better than nothing, and it’s faster than we’d be on foot,” Kai called.
“I’ll take what I can get,” Suho said with a heavy, put-upon sigh.
As they walked Kai kept trying to cajole her into taking flight, but she was having none of it. Finally, she had gotten so irritated, she actually blocked him out. She’d only done that twice before. It put Kai in a bad mood. He kept glancing back at Luhan to make sure he hadn’t grown fangs or something, but Luhan was alright. Or, as alright as he’d been for the past few days.
“I’m gonna nap,” Kyungsoo said, settling against Kai’s chest.
“I don’t think you should,” Kai said softly. “Something’s up.”
“Hmm?” Kyungsoo asked, turning slightly. Before Kai could answer, he was being bombarded with panic, the dragon sending him flashing images along with terror. Kai cried out, trying to tell her to stop, but it just seemed to get worse. “What is it?” Kyungsoo asked, sitting up in alarm. “What’s wrong?”
Kai couldn’t get his bearings enough to answer, and then they were being rocked violently, and he had to clutch onto Kyungsoo so he wouldn’t topple off. The dragon had crouched down and shaken herself hard.
Behind him, someone cried out, and Kai turned to see Luhan sliding down the dragon’s side. He fell, limp as a doll, and didn’t stir. Kai immediately teleported down to his side, heart hammering in his chest, and then the dragon was moving again, bounding off at a speed unusual for her while on the ground. Kai could hear the others, namely Sehun, shouting as they were taken away.
Luhan was curled in on himself, face hidden. “Luhan?” Kai said, grabbing his friend’s shoulders. He found his hands were trembling. “Luhan.”
“Ow,” Luhan replied. “I’m okay, I just, I felt faint.”
“You fell off the dragon,” Kai said. He took hold of Luhan’s arm, helping him back to his feet. Luhan stumbled a bit, swaying.
“On second thought,” Luhan said shakily, “I don’t feel so great.” He looked up at Kai, and Kai’s breath hitched. There was light leaking out of Luhan, or so it looked to Kai. A bright liquid was flowing from Luhan’s nose, glowing white as it dripped down his face.
“Luhan,” Kai said, voice trembling, “Luhan, what’s—”
Luhan reached up and touched his fingers to his face. When he brought them away and looked at the liquid, he shut his eyes, squeezing them tight. “No,” he whispered. “Please, no, I don’t want this, I don’t want—” He broke off with a sob.
Kai’s heart was beating so fast he felt it might burst. He reached out, grabbing Luhan’s wrist to see what had so frightened him, but the liquid smeared on his fingertips no longer glowed white. It had turned thick and red. Blood. Kai looked back to Luhan’s face, watching as the light leaked out of his friend’s nose, only to drip down onto the ground and slowly dim until it too was red, smattered against the white of the salt. As he watched, the light began to seep from Luhan’s eyes and ears too. “The Bleeds? But you’re not— this isn’t a vision, Luhan, what’s happening—”
Luhan grabbed his wrist. “You promised me,” he said, gasping in pain, his face twisting with it. “You promised me that you’d take the others and run. Do it, Kai. Leave me, now.”
Kai shook his head, eyes wide. “I can’t— this isn’t— Luhan.”
Luhan made a motion almost as if he was retching, and he clutched at his stomach, gasping. There was white light skittering under his skin, pulsing, and his eyes almost seemed to be glowing. He spat out a mouthful of shining blood. “Go,” he whispered. “Go, before it’s too late.” When Kai just stood there, gaping, feeling helpless, Luhan actually shoved at him weakly. He only succeeded in smearing blood across Kai’s clothes.
“No,” Kai whispered, and Luhan pulled back, sobbing, back to clutching at himself in pain. He gagged, and more light flowed from his mouth, smattering crimson on the ground. Kai couldn’t tell what were tears and what was blood, as they both glowed equally as they ran down Luhan’s face. There was dull sort of terror flowing through Kai as he watched, rendering him immobile.
“Go!” Luhan screamed, before he gagged again. “You’ll die.”
Kai couldn't leave him, he couldn’t, not like this—
“If you die, Kyungsoo will die,” Luhan gasped desperately. “You have to go.”
Kai felt winded, like he’d just been punched in the stomach. He took a step back, then another, and then he was stepping through the darkness and out the other side, a half mile away behind the dragon where everyone was sliding down to the ground. The dragon hunkered down, forming a wall between them and Luhan. The way she was bracing herself gave Kai chills, and he turned, scanning the faces around himself, feeling almost like he was under water.
The dragon sent him a mental nudge, full of urgency and terror. “Everyone stay here, get down,” his voice said, but he couldn’t feel his lips move. He ran, bolting out from behind the dragon, and there was Sehun, running across the empty landscape towards Luhan, whose entire body was pulsing with light. Kai’s breath caught at the sight.
He teleported after Sehun, managing to grab his forearm tightly. He didn’t know what was going on with Luhan, but the dragon was panicking in his head, telling him to get behind her, to crouch and brace himself. Kai fully intended to listen, and he would make Sehun do the same, because he’d promised Luhan to keep them all safe, no matter what happened.
Sehun whirled on him, shrieking hysterically. He lashed out at Kai’s face with his free hand, striking him hard. Pain exploded across Kai’s face, blood immediately gushing from his nose, but he ignored it, gritted his teeth against it, and managed to keep his hold on Sehun, enough that he could pull him through back to the dragon.
Sehun shouted profanities at him once they were through to the other side, and Kai shoved him down to the ground. Kai felt most peculiar. Even behind the dragon, there was a breeze starting, except it wasn’t a breeze. It felt rather like he was being gently pulled towards Luhan. His hair was swirling. “Brace yourselves,” he said. “Kyungsoo, everyone, Chen, stop peeking over the edge.” There was a ringing noise now, mingling with the odd rumbly noises of fear the dragon was making, and the breeze was getting worse, turning more into a gust even from where he stood near the dragon’s side. It was like Luhan was a void, sucking them in.
“Sehun!” Suho called, and Kai turned just in time to see Sehun making a run for it again. He cursed and chased after him, pausing for a moment because Kyungsoo had moved to join him. Kai shoved him down, hard, and Kyungsoo fell back with a cry of Kai’s name. The dragon screamed at him, lashing her tail out to try to scoop him back to her side, but Kai leapt over it.
Several meters away from the dragon, Sehun had stopped running, staring wide-eyed. The light emanating from Luhan was so bright now that Luhan couldn’t even be properly seen anymore. It washed Sehun’s features out, turned his skin the same color as the land.
Kai couldn’t remember ever running so fast before, a horrific desperation clawing at him. Sehun turned to look at him, hair blowing around fiercely, features twisted. He shouted something, but Kai didn’t, couldn’t, hear what. The wind was howling around him, sucking his clothes in toward the light, and he could barely see anymore between the brightness and dust and salt. He reached out, just needing to grab Sehun’s arm, he was only a few strides away—
He didn’t make it.
All of a sudden the wind stopped, the light flickered out, just for a blink, and there was a split second of complete quiet. Then Kai was ripped off his feet, thrown away from Luhan violently, like he’d been hit with a brick wall, and his world was full of bright whiteness, blinding him. It roared in his ears, and robbed him of breath. It seemed to take forever before he hit the ground, hard enough to make him certain he’d broken bones.
For endless seconds, minutes, hours, his world was nothing but white, the wind hot and clawing at him. His head was in agony and every breath he took burned. Through the disorientation, he realized there’d been some kind of explosion. The shockwaves seemed to keep on coming, until he felt certain that his lungs were going to burn up inside his chest.
Then everything stopped, the light going out, the wind dying, as suddenly as it had began, and there was silence, a silence which seemed to go on forever. There was a ringing in Kai’s left ear, but nothing more. His right ear picked up only silence.
He stayed laying down, partially because he was too dizzy to even try to stand, and partially because he was afraid there might be another blast. Then someone was bent over him, shaking him gently, and he blinked rapidly, his vision still covered in bright spots. It took him a minute to realize the person was Kyungsoo, face tear streaked and panicked. He was saying something, but Kai couldn’t hear it. He thought it might be his name though.
“I can’t hear,” he said, or tried to say. He couldn’t even hear his own voice. That just made Kyungsoo look even more panicked. “Sehun. Luhan,” Kai said, and Kyungsoo’s eyes flickered. Sehun probably got tossed in the blast as well, but if Kai was relatively alright, then he was too, most likely. With Kyungsoo’s help, Kai was able to sit up, swaying a great deal. He felt so lightheaded.
Luhan, Kai thought as he looked back out over the landscape. He expected to see some sort of crater, after that blast, but instead there were ripples in the land, radiating out from where Luhan lay, motionless, limbs flung haphazardly. Kai blinked. He hadn’t expected Luhan to still be whole, after such an explosion.
Someone stumbled past Kai before falling down to their hands and knees. It was Sehun, ears bleeding. He shook his head, like a dog trying to clear water from his ears. Yixing came running over, saying something that looked berating, but Kai still couldn’t hear it. He doubted Sehun could either.
Yixing and Chen managed to pull Sehun to his feet, and then Sehun leaned heavily on Chen, pointing at Luhan. He shoved at Yixing, saying something, then pointed at Luhan again. Yixing got the message and jogged away from them, to where Luhan still lay unmoving. Most of the others followed on his heels. Chen helped Sehun limp across the landscape.
“Luhan,” Kai said, and Kyungsoo helped him stand so he too could hobble to his fallen friend. Kai needed to get to Luhan’s side, needed to see, and was beginning to get frustrated with how everything kept spinning. He was quite grateful when they arrived and Kyungsoo helped him gently down to the ground. Once steadied, he was able to process the sight in front of himself.
Luhan was covered in blood, and not just from the Bleeds. He had the strangest wounds all over his skin, razor thin slices swirling around his limbs, pricking at his face. For how violent that explosion was, Luhan’s face was oddly peaceful. Kai had the sudden urge to cry, face twisting, but the tears wouldn't come.
Yixing had his hands over Luhan’s chest, palms already glowing blue. He looked surprised, no doubt at being able to actually do this without suffering the same effect as last time, and Kai felt his heart give a jump as he realised if Yixing was trying to Heal Luhan, that meant Luhan wasn’t dead.
“He’s alive?” Kai asked, and this time, he could almost hear it in his left ear. It was very muffled, but definitely there, so that was something.
Yixing’s mouth moved, but this time Kai missed it. He didn’t miss the enthusiastic nodding of Yixing’s head, however, and he slumped back, relief sweeping through him. He thought he might have been clutching Kyungsoo’s hand a little too tightly, but Kyungsoo was clutching right back. Sehun moved to hold Luhan’s hand, not taking his eyes from Luhan’s face as he did so. Luhan wasn’t moving, and the unnatural stillness terrified Kai. He couldn’t even make out the rise and fall of Luhan’s chest, though he told himself it was there.
Kai waited, and waited, but the wounds on Luhan’s pale skin continued bleeding sluggishly, not fading. “It is not working?” he asked. “He’s still— he’s not— his wounds are still there.”
Yixing frowned, talking, but Kai still couldn’t hear, and he let out a frustrated sound. Kyungsoo rubbed circles on his back, trying to be soothing. Sehun was pointing at the wounds on Luhan’s arms, saying something, looking angry and frightened, clearly not being able to hear what they were telling him either.
Kai felt at his own right ear, the silent one, and his fingers came away bloody. The blast had taken out his ear drum, but he thought his other one might still be intact. There was blood dribbling from Sehun’s ears as well, so it was possible one or both of his ears were busted. None of the others appeared to be having this issue.
Luhan was still wounded, still silent and unmoving, and Kai slumped against Kyungsoo’s side, unable to hold himself up anymore. Breathing had become difficult, each lungful of air feeling like he’d inhaled broken glass.
Sehun had stopped his pointing, and was simply bowing his head, both his hands clasping one of Luhan’s between them. Kai thought he might be crying. He reached out and touched Sehun’s arm, pressing his fingers into his skin in a gesture of comfort. Sehun didn’t look at him, but neither did he flinch away.
Kai began to wonder if Luhan was actually dead. The others were all crowded around, waiting, and nothing was happening. Kai couldn’t really absorb their expressions. He felt like he was stuck in limbo, stuck between two realities, one where Luhan was alive, and one where Luhan was dead. He could do nothing but wait to find out which way the balance was tipped, and until he did that, he didn’t think he could cry. His world was silent, and his entire mind numb.
Kai receded into himself, eyes no longer quite absorbing what they were seeing. It took him a while to notice the marks on Luhan’s skin were gradually fading. Around him, the others were a bit slow on the uptake as well, and Kai only really noticed because Kyungsoo patted his arm excitedly and pointed. Kai, in turn, poked at Sehun so he’d lift his head and see the wounds fading as well. It was the visible confirmation Kai had wanted that Luhan was alive; dead tissue couldn’t be Healed.
Kai expected that the next logical step would be for Luhan to open his eyes, but Luhan didn’t. He stayed motionless, skin still wet with blood from wounds that no longer existed. Yixing sat back eventually, with no visible signs of any sort of strain. He had been bent over Luhan for so long that Kai had expected blood to be dripping from his nose at least, but Yixing seemed fine.
This, however, clearly wasn’t enough for Sehun. His mouth worked, his words coming through to Kai in merely a muffled drone, getting louder and louder each time Yixing spoke to him and Sehun failed to understand. Sehun was getting agitated, tears falling anew from his eyes, and Yixing kept shaking his head, holding his hands up in a helpless gesture. Finally, Yixing’s hands resumed glowing, and Kai thought he would press them back to Luhan’s chest in an attempt to wake him. Instead, Yixing leaned over Luhan and slapped his hands on either side of Sehun’s face. Sehun went out like a light, slumping over Luhan’s body.
Yixing let him go and turned to Kai, a strange expression on his face, his hands still glowing. Kai pulled back nervously but found that Kyungsoo was nodding at him reassuringly, and so he decided it was probably better to just go with what Yixing wanted instead of putting up a fuss like Sehun had.
Yixing’s glowing hands pressed to either side of Kai’s face, surprisingly gently compared to how he had done it with Sehun, and instead of knocking Kai out, he merely found that his hearing slowly improved, the drone becoming almost words until suddenly he could hear. The sensation was off-putting after the silence, and he tried to squirm away from Yixing.
“Hold still,” Yixing muttered, fixing him with a glare. “You’ve broken a couple of ribs and I need to fix them.”
“What did you do to Sehun?” Kai asked. He could see Sehun’s body out of the corner of his eye. Suho was hovering over him like he didn’t know what to do.
“Knocked him out for a while,” Yixing said. “It seems easier than having to deal with his hysterics. I’ll Heal his hearing while he’s out.”
“And Luhan?” Kai gasped out as the heat from Yixing’s power travelled to his ribcage and his bones began to knit themselves back together.
“I Healed him,” Yixing said simply.
Kai absorbed this. “But he didn’t wake up.”
“No, but I Healed his body. He was pretty mangled. Those wounds you saw on his skin, he had them all over his insides too. He wasn’t really. His heart wasn’t really beating right, but there was still a spark of life, and I snagged onto it just in time but, I don’t know.” His voice shook, and for the first time, he looked a bit spooked. “I don’t know what just happened.”
“Neither do I,” Kai said, staring at Luhan’s face, still peaceful. “I think he— he knew. He knew that this was going to happen, he Saw it. But I think he Saw that he would die.”
Yixing looked unnerved, but he didn’t voice his thoughts aloud. He shuffled back so he could stand up, and turned away, facing the dragon. “He Saw himself die,” Chen said flatly. “He Saw that, and didn’t think to tell us?”
“Luhan doesn’t like to worry people,” Kai said weakly, knowing it was a thin excuse. But Luhan had always been tenderhearted when it came to those he loved.
“Oh, well, I guess that’s okay, considering we haven’t been worried about him for the past few weeks what with him wasting away,” Chen snapped.
“He didn’t want to confirm our fears, he—” Kai broke off as he watched Yixing quietly begin to Heal Sehun, a thought striking him. “Yixing, Luhan was basically dead, right? I mean, he was supposed to die.” Yixing nodded, not looking up from where his glowing hands were pressed to Sehun’s back. “Then, why don’t you have the Bleeds yet? You Healed him completely, and then me, and now...”
“I know,” Yixing said quietly. “I mean, I don’t know, I don’t know why, but... I don’t feel tired. I don’t understand it.”
Suho flopped onto the ground, rubbing a hand over his face, and the others all followed suit, sitting in a wonky circle around Luhan and Sehun. “This is all so strange,” Suho said. “Luhan Saw himself die, but neglected to tell us. No wonder he’s been acting so oddly. And what even happened? What was that light? That was. Powerful. Whatever it was.”
Kai swept his eyes over them. Most of them seemed almost shellshocked, their faces pale. Chanyeol’s eyes were wide, and he seemed to be alternating between staring at Luhan and staring at the closest ripple in the ground to where he sat. Kris’s head kept swivelling, like he thought Fire Nation soldiers might come running. They might, Kai reflected. He hadn’t really seen the blast, but the ripples in the earth went on and on. It may as well have been a beacon.
Kai turned, spotting the dragon right where she’d crouched initially. Her head was up, staring at them all from afar. He sensed she was skittish, but she wasn’t fearing for any of them now. He sent a nudge of reassurance towards her and was pleased by the warmth he received back. Then he sent a picture of an explosion, along with a feeling of general exasperation: why not just say there was going to be a boom?
The emotion she sent back was decidedly unimpressed with him. She gave him a mental image of himself, running away from her after Sehun right before the blast happened, and underlined it with fear. Then she sent him more general unimpressed feelings, and turned so her butt was towards them.
“Could you imagine,” he murmured, “if we’d been up in the air when that happened?”
Stunned silence met that. “Gods,” Suho whispered. “We’d all be dead.”
“Do you think she knew?” Xiumin asked, awed.
Kai shook his head. “I think she sensed something was going to happen, but I don’t think she knew exactly what.”
“Why is she waving her butt at us?” Chanyeol asked, eyes still wide. “Is she trying to communicate?”
“No, well, kinda,” Kai said, sighing. “She’s mad because she thinks I’m stupid.” She was peppering him with annoyed jabs, because he’d tried to make her fly when she’d known something was up, and then he’d run away from her when she’d tried to protect him from the blast. He was never going to live this down, she could be insufferable.
Yixing stood, letting the light fade from his hands as he watched the dragon. “I assume no one else needs to be Healed?”
There all murmured a general assent, and Kai looked around, making sure that were true. They all did indeed look alright, the dragon had protected them from the brunt of the blast. Even though she was being a pain right now, he sent her a wave of gratitude.
There was a scrape on Kyungsoo’s cheek, and Kai touched it gently. “What happened?” Yixing turned to look when Kai said that.
“Suho tackled me,” Kyungsoo replied quietly. Kai blinked and would have asked why, but then Yixing was coming over to poke Kyungsoo with a single glowing finger, and the scrape Healed within a few blinks.
“That is not normal,” Chen said, eyeing Yixing appreciatively.
“You should be faceplanting right about now,” Kris said. Beside him, Tao looked shaken, clutching onto Kris’s arm hard. Kai thought that had to do more with the explosion than with Yixing’s sudden new proficiency at Healing.
Yixing did a little wiggle, a thoughtful expression on his face. “I feel really great,” he said. “Better than I have in quite a while.”
Baekhyun was staring up at Yixing with his mouth slightly ajar. Not even a few months ago it had taken everything Yixing had to Heal their more moderate injuries. Chanyeol caught sight of Baekhyun’s dumbstruck expression and made a strange motion, reaching up like he was going to lean over and cluck Baekhyun under the chin to close his mouth. He didn’t though, snatching his hand back quickly with a stricken expression on his face. Baekhyun, whose eyes had been trained on Yixing, hadn’t even noticed. The whole exchange made Kai’s heart twinge, a bit. Sometimes he forgot that Chanyeol was a person, someone that Baekhyun loved so much he’d fought tooth and nail to get back, and not just the Phoenix, a powerful Shifter and potential war ally.
A small sound interrupted his thoughts, and he looked over to see Sehun shifting. It took a few beats for him to realize Sehun was still unconscious, and that it was actually Luhan underneath him stirring. “I— What—”
“Luhan,” Kai gasped, lunging forward. Stupidly, the tears came now, pricking at the backs of his eyes. He pulled Sehun’s body away, rolling him onto his back. “Oh gods.”
Luhan blinked up at him, seemingly more lucid than he’d been in weeks. He sat up quickly, eyes like saucers in his pale face. “I’m. Not dead?”
Kai shook his head. “Almost. Yixing was able to Heal you.”
“That wasn’t supposed to happen,” Luhan said wonderingly. He stared down at his hands, examining them like he’d never seen them before. “I lived. I’m alive.” His eyes trailed over to Sehun. “Is he—?”
“He’s just unconscious,” Yixing said quickly. “I knocked him out because he was hysterical.” Luhan winced.
“That was a terrible thing you did,” Kai said sharply, and the tears began to spill out. “How could you not tell any of us? How could you not tell Sehun?”
“This wasn’t protecting us! How is offering yourself up like a lamb to slaughter protecting us? Your life isn’t just yours anymore— you can’t— you can’t just make Sehun finally accept how he feels for you, finally willingly admit to being in love with you, and then just let yourself die.”
“I didn’t want to hurt him,” Luhan whimpered. “I couldn’t tell him, it would have torn him apart, so I tried— I wanted— I thought I was going to die. I didn’t want him to bear the burden of that before he had to.” Luhan’s eyes had filled with tears. “I thought I was going to die and never see any of you again, and I just wanted to hold onto what I could while it lasted.”
“You can’t do that to us,” Kai said very weakly, no longer sure of what he was even saying. He reached out and pulled Luhan into a rough hug, their bodies at awkward angles. Luhan began to sob in earnest, hiccupping under the force of it. “You’re okay, it’s okay, finally, it’s all going to be okay.”
“I know,” Luhan moaned. “I’m alive, oh gods, I can’t believe it. That was supposed to kill me, whatever it was.” He pulled away from Kai, face wet with tears, and looked up at Yixing. “Thank you.” Yixing nodded at him, back to looking somewhat concerned, though about what, Kai couldn’t say. He didn’t bother pondering it too hard.
Kai scrubbed at his own face before saying, “How do you feel? Tired?”
Luhan sniffled, the tears still flowing down his face as his expression turned thoughtful. “I feel... hungry.”
Kai blinked. “Hungry?”
“Yes.” Luhan looked around himself for signs of food. “So hungry I could eat the dragon.”
“She probably doesn’t taste very nice,” Kai said, laughing weakly. Luhan laughed too, even through the tears, the sound giddy. A few of the others echoed them. Kai sensed they were all a few steps away from having a big cry fest, but he didn’t care.
The laughter was interrupted by a groan, Sehun finally waking up. He sat up, rubbing at his eyes, and then froze as he caught sight of Luhan, awake and alive and smiling at Sehun almost sheepishly. Sehun made a garbled noise, reaching out and touching Luhan’s face like he was making sure he wasn’t imagining things.
“I’m alive!” Luhan chirped, the giddy laugh bubbling up again. He cupped Sehun’s face in his hands, a somewhat terrifying manic gleam in his eyes. “I’m alive and I get to stay with you and—” He kissed Sehun’s mouth. “I love you so much it hurts.”
Sehun gripped Luhan tighter, laughing breathlessly and sobbing at the same time. He and Luhan kissed again, and again, mouths moving as they both continued to cry, clutching desperately at one another.
“I’m gonna barf,” Kai mumbled. Kyungsoo shushed him.
“But,” Chanyeol said quietly in an aside to Chen, “isn’t he the Oracle? Isn’t he supposed to not touch anyone? I’m confused.”
“You’ll get used to it,” Kris said flatly.
“Eventually,” Tao said, a little faintly.
“Someone make them stop, please,” Suho said with a sigh. “It’s not safe to stay here, and as they’re both awake, we should think about moving on.”
“What even happened?” Luhan asked breathlessly, pulling away from Sehun, who continued to pepper his face with kisses.
“There was a giant explosion, and with this flat landscape, it could probably be seen for miles and miles,” Suho explained. “So, provided the dragon will allow it, we need to fly out of here. You can munch while we’re riding. Or make-out with Sehun. Or eat and make-out, I don’t care, but we need to move.”
“She’ll allow it,” Kai said, averting his eyes from his two intertwined friends. He was happy for them, truly, but Sehun’s tongue was in Luhan’s mouth and he just didn’t want to see that. He sent a nudge to the dragon, and she ambled over.
“Does she understand what we’re saying?” Chanyeol asked. Somehow, he reminded Kai of Yixing when it came to the dragon. Just a little too enthused. “It’s like she’s psychic.”
Kai rubbed at his temples. “I’ll explain one day.”
“One day,” Chanyeol murmured. Chen offered him his hand, and Chanyeol took it, walking to the dragon’s side. He patted her scales thoughtfully. Kai rolled his eyes.
Luhan and Sehun began slowly walking toward the dragon, arms around one another. Kai hesitated a moment before grabbing them from behind, and tugging. He was curious, and more than mildly surprised when he was able to teleport them both onto the dragon’s back without getting the Bleeds. Luhan stopped making gooey eyes at Sehun for a moment, looking at Kai in surprise.
“Huh, you’re lighter now,” Kai mused. He shoved them down a bit further, to one of the last decent spikes. “Putting you at the end because no one wants to see you sucking face.”
Sehun looked outraged and Luhan blushed, and Kai laughed as he teleported away to get Kyungsoo, heart lighter than it had been in a long time.