Fandom: VIXX (AU, !vampire)
Pairing: leo/n, ravi/hongbin
Word count: 7,588
Rating: R (for hella adult themes and language)
Summary: Hongbin looked up at Wonshik, utter horror written across his features, and Wonshik felt like a monster. "No," Hongbin gasped. "No, no I can't—"
WARNING: There is a scene in this that I worry may be potentially trigger-y, but I don't really know how to warn for it. Nonconsensual-getting-dragged-into-a-vam
A/N: If you didn't read that warning, go back and read it. We've always skimmed over, or outright skipped, the whole, you know, killing people part, and that needed to be addressed, because the reality of it is pretty bad, and I think people forget that amidst all the romance and quirky Kardashian watching, and this update kind of faces that head on, so. It gets pretty intense in spots, and then just sad all around i aM SORRY.
They were downtown, in a nicer area. It was quieter here, and all the street lamps worked. Sanghyuk blew a breath out, saw it come out as steam in the cold night air. He looked beside him. Hakyeon was staring up at the night sky. It was clear out tonight, the moon half full and bright.
Sanghyuk bumped into his side gently. "My mentors always told me that you had to pay attention on patrol," he said solemnly, and Hakyeon slit a glare at him out of the corner of his eyes.
"I figure I'm safe," Hakyeon said idly, looking back up at the sky. "I do have Han Sanghyuk, the prodigal trainee, with me after all."
Sanghyuk felt his cheeks warm, wondering if he blushed hard enough, his skin would give off steam in the icy air. "Oh, shut up."
Hakyeon smiled, just a little, and then they fell silent once more.
After another block or so, Sanghyuk felt his wards begin to tingle and warm. Hakyeon's wards must have started as well, because he stopped walking, right under a lamppost, and Sanghyuk followed suit. "Is it Taekwoon?" Sanghyuk asked. He didn't know how Hakyeon always seemed to know when his lover was around, but he did.
Hakyeon shook his head. "No, but it's— I don't—" His head swiveled around, and Sanghyuk reached into his coat, fingers wrapping around the handle of his dagger.
The back of his neck prickled and he spun, pulling the dagger out and raising it, but the vampire was a good ten feet from them, had jumped off a nearby rooftop and landed agilely on its feet. Sanghyuk blinked. "Jaehwan?" he asked.
The vampire shifted, stepping nearer to the lamppost, and the golden light hit its features, showing that yes, it was Jaehwan, grinning like he was very amused. "Hello, my dear little humans," he said. "Just thought I'd drop in." His eyes flicked to the roof he'd just jumped off of.
Sanghyuk had lowered himself into a crouch, but he raised himself out of it, letting his dagger drop to his side, though he still held it firmly. "That was a terrible pun."
Jaehwan grinned even wider, and his gaze raked up and down Sanghyuk's form. He was doing the thing with his eyes. Sanghyuk didn't really have a word for the thing. But he, once again, found himself wondering if he could blush so hard steam would come off his face, even as his wards sent a ripple through him, telling him being embarrassed by Jaehwan should be the least of his concerns.
"I heard you killed a couple of vampires the other day," Jaehwan said, voice gone soft and intense. "Congratulations."
Sanghyuk frowned, wondering if Jaehwan was mocking him. He didn't appreciate it, and he didn't appreciate the way Jaehwan was looking at him either. "Stop looking at me like I'm— I'm something to eat," Sanghyuk said, trying to inject some bite into his voice, but his words still came out quavery. At least he was managing to keep his teeth from chattering. Hakyeon by his side gave him some courage. "I'm a hunter, and I did kill two vamps."
Jaehwan took a sudden step forward, and Sanghyuk jerked, stumbling back a little, and then he felt so embarrassed he wanted to melt into the concrete. Jaehwan smirked, fangs running out. "Trust me, pretty Sanghyuk, I'm very aware of what you are."
Pretty, Sanghyuk thought. Now he was sure Jaehwan was mocking him.
Hakyeon edged himself forward a little, putting himself between Sanghyuk and Jaehwan. "What do you want, Jaehwan?" he asked, tone rather cold. He hadn't lowered his dagger.
Jaehwan turned his smirk on Hakyeon, and it changed into something quite different, something still equally dangerous, but less predatory, somehow. He didn't look at Hakyeon like he wanted to eat him, more like he wanted to pull him apart and see what was inside.
Jaehwan opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it suddenly, head cocking to the side. Sanghyuk could sense it as well, his wards prickling anew.
Taekwoon didn't make any noise, he just suddenly was there, standing between them and Jaehwan. He was scowling, just slightly. "Explain yourself," he ordered softly.
The smirk fell off Jaehwan's face. "Can't I have a chat with our human friends, without some dark ulterior motive being behind it?"
"No." Taekwoon stepped back, so he could stand by Hakyeon's side. Sanghyuk's wards jangled at him coming so close, but he didn't even glance at Sanghyuk. He placed his hand on Hakyeon's shoulder, and slowly, Hakyeon raised himself out of his defensive posture, but he looked anything but happy.
"Well," Jaehwan said, "as it so happens, I really am here to talk with Hakyeon, and I have no evil intentions." He sniffed. "You wound me, Taekwoon."
Taekwoon didn't reply, simply stared, and Jaehwan sighed heavily.
"You're no fun, any of you," Jaehwan muttered, then he spoke up. He focused his gaze on Hakyeon. "I wanted to tell you, Hakyeon, that Hongbin, when he awoke tonight, was quite lucid."
Hakyeon sucked in a breath sharply, dagger fully dropping to his side. "What?"
"Oh, now you want to talk to me?" Jaehwan said, his smirk returning. "Yes, he awoke as himself, tonight. He was quite confused, obviously, wondering why his lover was a vampire, what had happened." Jaehwan shrugged. "I sensed oncoming tears, so I left, figuring he and Wonshik could have their sickeningly sweet reunion, and I could come here to tell you the splendid news."
Hakyeon was standing very still, and his eyes were wide. He seemed to be having trouble breathing. "You're lying," he whispered hollowly.
"I'm not," Jaehwan said. "You can come over, see for yourself, if you don't believe me."
Hakyeon's gaze snapped to Taekwoon, eyes large and full of hope and pain. Taekwoon looked away. "No," he said, very soft but no less definite.
"I want to see him," Hakyeon said, voice cracking. "I— if he really is awake—"
"It will not last," Taekwoon said, and Hakyeon fell silent, pale faced. Taekwoon glared at Jaehwan. "I hope you told Wonshik this."
Jaehwan looked like the idea caught him by surprise. "I— I don't think I did," he said. He thought for a moment, looking a little guilty. "Oops."
"You are cruel," Taekwoon said, blandly like it was a fact that no longer even surprised him.
Jaehwan frowned. "It's not like I omitted the information deliberately." He looked up, at the rooftops. "I'd better go, then, and take care of this. See you soon, I expect, Taekwoon, Hakyeon." His eyes flickered over Sanghyuk. "And you, pretty Sanghyuk."
And then he was gone.
There was silence, for a few moments, before Hakyeon broke it. "What do you mean," he whispered, "that it won't last? I thought— he could get better—"
"It's a process," Taekwoon murmured. "He'll have bursts of lucidity. He'll awaken himself, for a short while, before his body cannot handle it anymore, and needs to feed again, and then he'll relapse into the bloodlust. If he is fed quite a lot while he is lucid, he should be able to maintain it for longer stretches, and as time goes on, he won't need to feed as much to remain lucid." Taekwoon touched his fingertips to the side of Hakyeon's face. "And, eventually, he will relapse into the bloodlust only on occasion, much like a normal vampire."
"That sounds like it will take years," Hakyeon said numbly.
"For him to reach a point where he is fully like a normal vampire," Taekwoon murmured, "yes. It will take years."
Hakyeon swallowed thickly. "I— I can't wait years, knowing he's lucid— I have to see him."
Hakyeon shoved himself away from Taekwoon, hands going up to hug himself. "I am going to see him," Hakyeon said, voice thick with unshed tears. "You can't— c-can't stop me—"
"I imagine in a few weeks, he'll be able to maintain his lucidity for an hour or two, long enough for you two to have a short reunion and— talk some," Sanghyuk said meekly, trying to help them find some middle ground.
They both looked at him, Hakyeon's eyes full of tears and Taekwoon's simply dark and intense and utterly terrifying. Sanghyuk gulped.
"Yes," Hakyeon said, sniffling. "Yes, not now— obviously— but in a few weeks—" He looked at Taekwoon hopefully.
Taekwoon pressed his lips together. "We'll see. I will need to look in on him beforehand, and then we shall discuss it."
Hakyeon's face crumpled, and he gave a broken sob. Taekwoon stepped forward immediately, gathering him close, pressing his mouth to Hakyeon's temple.
"I just can't believe he's woken up," Hakyeon gasped. "I never really thought— he was so gone, in the cells— but God, I hoped, I prayed—"
"I know," Taekwoon murmured into his hair, "I know."
Sanghyuk stepped back, out of the pool of light the lamp cast. He would've thought he'd have gotten used to feeling like such a third wheel, but he hadn't.
Sanghyuk had heard so much about Hongbin, from Wonshik and Hakyeon, and from the other hunters at HQ. He was happy for Wonshik and Hakyeon's sake, that he'd come back to himself. Sanghyuk had only been down to the wards once, to fetch Wonshik, but that laughter had haunted him. It still did.
Sanghyuk had always wondered what Hongbin was really like, and now, it looked like he was going to finally find out.
Jaehwan found a grimace spreading across his face as he opened the door to his house. Once the door was open, he stared into the dark entranceway, but it was simply quiet. He stepped lightly inside, and closed the door softly behind himself. His face was still twisted into an expectant grimace as he made his way carefully into his large living room.
There were empty blood bags everywhere, littered over the coffee table and the floor. On the couch, Wonshik and Hongbin were sitting right where Jaehwan had left them. But Hongbin was leaned up against Wonshik's side, head pillowed on Wonshik's shoulder, and he was apparently sleeping, probably needing the rest after nearly cleaning out Jaehwan's stock of blood. Wonshik had his arm around him, holding him in place. He was staring blankly ahead, bloody tears streaming silently down his face. Neither of them moved when Jaehwan came into the room.
Jaehwan swallowed. "Well," he said, going for a light tone but finding his voice came out a bit squeaky, "I guess he, uh, regressed again."
Wonshik blinked, stirring a little, sending a new cascade of tears down his face. He didn't look at Jaehwan as he said emotionlessly, "You knew."
"I— sort of," Jaehwan said weakly. "I knew his lucidity would be somewhat episodic, but I didn't expect he'd regress again quite so quickly— you probably should have gotten him a blood bag first thing—"
"You knew," Wonshik said again, a bit more thickly than before, hints of anger creeping into his tone. "You knew and you didn't tell me."
"I told you it was going to be a process," Jaehwan pointed out. Wonshik turned his face slowly so he could stare at Jaehwan, something unfathomable in his gaze. "I figured you'd know that he wasn't just going to wake up one night and be fine again."
"Don't put this on me," Wonshik said, voice rising in intensity, "don't you dare put this on me— you should have told me—"
"I should have," Jaehwan said, holding his hands up in a defensive posture, "I should have, I'm sorry, alright? I just didn't think about it."
"Didn't think—" Wonshik choked out before cutting himself off. He clenched his jaw shut, lips pressing together as he breathed deeply in through his nose.
"I've been a bit preoccupied, you know," Jaehwan said hotly, his guilt making him angry. "I've been hunting every night, trying to simply get him to this point. I haven't been thinking much about— this part."
"It's all I think about," Wonshik said hoarsely. "Hongbin finally getting better is all I have right now, and I thought— I thought we were almost there— and now you're saying you fucking forgot to tell me that he's going to be flickering back and forth?"
"It's not that big of a deal," Jaehwan muttered, "at least he's making progress, and he's going to have periods of being himself again, which is what you wanted."
Wonshik stared at Jaehwan, hard, mouth opening and closing but no sound coming out. He'd stopped crying, but Jaehwan could see he was trembling. Finally, he said lowly, "I felt bad for you, after you first turned me. I could tell you were lonely, had been lonely for a long time, wanted so badly to just have someone around, even if you do like to pretend you're perfectly alright without the love and approval of others. And I pitied you, because I'd never seen someone so very sad and not even know how miserable they are." Wonshik swallowed, and Jaehwan frowned, about to argue, but then Wonshik was speaking again. "But I don't pity you anymore, because you've made your own bed, and you're so awful that I think you deserve to have that quiet ache in your chest and never know why it's there. You deserve to be alone and have it haunt you for eternity."
Jaehwan recoiled, frown deepening. "I am perfectly alright, thank you very much. I don't like being alone, it's true, but I'm not lonely." He grinned, but it felt brittle. "I do have you and Crazy around after all. It's all the company I need. Or, alternately, the only company I can take, since you're both so much fucking work."
Wonshik laughed hollowly, shaking his head, and Hongbin snuffled against his side. "It amazes me," Wonshik said softly, all the bite in his voice gone, "how you've been around over three hundred years and yet you're still so blind in some matters."
"Stop romanticizing me and turning me into some kind of dark romance novel protagonist," Jaehwan snapped. "I have been around over three hundred years, and I know myself well by now, better than you do. I'm happy with my life."
"Alright," Wonshik murmured, and from his tone, Jaehwan could tell he didn't really believe it, and it infuriated him. Fucking Wonshik, and his romantic illusions about life. Taekwoon too, riding so high up on their horses. Look at them both, more miserable than he was by far, turning their noses up at him and acting like they were so much more fulfilled.
"Tomorrow night Hongbin will wake up lucid again," Jaehwan said harshly. Wonshik looked up at him in mild surprise. "And he should be fed immediately, get him a blood bag while I go hunt for him." He sneered, fangs running out, "Then you'll get to have the joy of convincing him to kill someone lest he go mad again."
Wonshik flinched back, and Hongbin's head slipped off his shoulder, sending him sprawling across Wonshik's lap and waking him up for a few seconds before he drifted off again. As Hongbin snuffled into Wonshik's thigh, Wonshik stared down at him in vague horror. "I didn't think of that," Wonshik whispered. "He won't do it."
"He will," Jaehwan said, practically snarling, "one way or another, he will." He turned, striding out of the living room and back down the entrance hall.
"Where are you going? It's almost dawn," Wonshik called out.
"I haven't fed in a long time, and I need to tear something apart," Jaehwan growled. That would make him happy. Fuck Wonshik's idea of happiness, fuck Taekwoon's too, they could keep their romance, their soul mates, hold them close and feel the misery creep into their bones anyway. Jaehwan knew ruin when he saw it. He was going to sink his fangs into someone's soft flesh, let the blood sing in his veins, and it would make him happy without leaving him cold afterwards, without shattering him into pieces.
He wrenched his door open and stepped back into the tunnels, heading for the surface once more.
Hakyeon arched with a gasp, his bare chest pressing flush against Taekwoon's as Taekwoon nipped at his neck, blunt teeth not breaking the skin. They were cozied underground at Taekwoon's place, safe from the oncoming dawn in the eternal darkness of the earth.
Hakyeon squirmed underneath Taekwoon, hands fisting at the blankets when Taekwoon continued to nip lightly at his skin. It felt good, so good, his wards sparking, but he just— he couldn't—
Taekwoon came back up to kiss him fiercely, and Hakyeon let his mouth drop open so Taekwoon could flick his tongue inside. Taekwoon's hand trailed over the bump of Hakyeon's collarbone, down the smooth plane of his stomach, to palm at the front of Hakyeon's boxers— then he stopped, pausing.
Taekwoon pulled away, lips kiss swollen and eyes confused. Hakyeon knew he was blushing. "What is it?" Taekwoon murmured. "Are you— are you still upset with me?"
Hakyeon felt his blush spread, and he wiggled, so Taekwoon rolled off him. "No," Hakyeon mumbled, "that's not it. I know you were just concerned for my safety, and I'm sorry, for snapping at you." Taekwoon made a small noise, shaking his head a little. "I just— I can't stop thinking about Wonshik."
Taekwoon's eyes flicked downwards. "Well, that explains that."
Hakyeon swatted at his shoulder weakly, frowning. "No, I mean, him and Hongbin, and Hongbin finally coming back to himself, and just— everything."
"Ah," Taekwoon said, something flashing in his eyes. He sat up, tossing the pillows up against the headboard, and Hakyeon followed, so they could scoot to the top of the bed and then lean back against the headboard comfortably. Hakyeon took an extra second to grab the blankets and tug them up, over their hips, and once they were there he found he couldn't look away from their pattern. He didn't want to meet Taekwoon's eyes.
Taekwoon reached out, his fingertips brushing against Hakyeon's cheek for a brief second. "Tell me," he murmured.
Hakyeon's mouth twisted, and he traced over the pattern on the blankets while he tried to get his thoughts in order. "It's just— they'll have their happy ending, won't they? Now that Hongbin is getting better. The two of them, in love, for all their endless years." He glanced up at Taekwoon's face, but his expression gave nothing away.
"Perhaps," Taekwoon said softly, and Hakyeon looked away again.
"We can't have one, can we? A happy ending." Hakyeon laughed hollowly, hating himself. "Not while I'm like this."
Taekwoon's hand snuck into Hakyeon's field of vision, grasping his own and squeezing lightly. "It is impossible to say what the future holds, for any of us. But we are not Wonshik and Hongbin, Hakyeon. Their situations were different." He paused. "You do not have to be a vampire, for us to be together."
Hakyeon looked up, meeting Taekwoon's eyes. "Don't I, though?" he whispered, and Taekwoon shook his head, frowning a little. "I can't stop thinking about it. We're together now, but in the end— in the end—"
This time, it was Taekwoon who looked away.
There was silence, for a time, before Hakyeon finally spoke again. "I've never been afraid of dying," he said slowly. "When you're a hunter, you can't be. And I'm— I'm still not, I came to grips with it all a long time ago, but— this is different. It's not just dying, it's— it's me, growing old, decaying, while you stay untouched by time." Hakyeon swallowed. "I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to die knowing I am leaving you alone, and that you'll have to live with that for eternity."
Hakyeon took a breath, finding it caught a little in his chest, that his eyes had begun to prickle. "But I don't want to be a vampire," he said, voice cracking, finding that he meant it down to his core. "I really, really don't." He blinked and a tear fell from his right eye, warm and heavy, and he wiped it away. "I don't want to have to kill people, to drink their blood while they're still alive, while they're afraid and crying. I don't want to want to do that, and I know vampirism does that to you. It changes you, it has to, and I don't want to lose myself to that." He took a shuddery breath, and beside him Taekwoon was so still, watching, listening. "I'm afraid it would ruin me, afraid it would destroy in me whatever it was you fell in love with in the first place. It was my humanity you fell in love with, and I'd— I'd lose that, because I wouldn't be human anymore."
"It would not change my feelings for you," Taekwoon said gently, and Hakyeon shook his head, sniffling. Taekwoon continued, voice barely audible, "I would trade it all, your natural warmth, your fluttering breaths, the sweet sound of your heart— if it meant I got to keep you forever."
Hakyeon held Taekwoon's gaze, feeling his throat close, his heart pound. He tried to let Taekwoon's words warm him, calm him, soothe his fears, along with the knowledge that it was what Taekwoon wanted. Taekwoon wanted to turn him, he wanted it desperately, even if he tried not to show it, and Hakyeon believed him when he said that he would still love him, even when he was a vampire.
But it wasn't enough. The thought of being a vampire brought about a panic Hakyeon had never known before. Hakyeon was going to break Taekwoon's heart because he just couldn't do it.
He felt his face crumple, and then more tears were streaming down his face, sobs bubbling up his throat. He began to shake his head, back hunching as he hugged himself. "I can't," he choked out, "I can't do it, Taekwoon, I just— I can't." He was sobbing so hard he could scarcely draw enough breath to speak. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I know you want me to turn but I can't—"
Slowly, Taekwoon reached for him and gathered him in his arms, holding him to his chest. He ran his hand over Hakyeon's hair, cradling him close. "Ssh, Hakyeon," he said softly as Hakyeon continued to cry against him, shuddering in his arms. "It's alright."
"I'm going to die," Hakyeon moaned. "I am going to die and leave you all alone."
Taekwoon fell still, hand resting lightly on the back of Hakyeon's neck. "Yes," Taekwoon whispered, something strange in his voice. "Yes, I suppose you will." His hand resumed petting Hakyeon's hair lightly. "But first, dearest, you'll live." He grasped Hakyeon's shoulders so he could push him back and look into his eyes. "And I will cherish every single second."
Hakyeon hiccuped, sobs quieting but tears still falling heavily from his eyes. "I don't like this."
Taekwoon's lips quirked into a semblance of a smile, but it didn't seem truly happy. He let out a little puff of laughter, self deprecating. "Nor I."
Hakyeon felt bemused, and he tried to blink the tears away. "Why are you laughing?"
"Just thinking about something Jaehwan said," Taekwoon murmured, smile twisting. He looked like he'd just taken a bite out of something very bitter, but when Hakyeon frowned in question, making a small noise, Taekwoon shook his head. His hands loosened their hold on Hakyeon's shoulders, running down his arms so he could clasp Hakyeon's hands in his own. "You seem very determined to come to some kind of permanent decision on this matter in the immediate future, but Hakyeon— you don't have to. The option of turning is always there, if you ever decide to take it, be it tomorrow, in five years, or in thirty. When you are old and grey and on your deathbed and you decide then that finally, you wish for the bite, I will turn you even then. You may change your mind at any time, but once you are turned you cannot be unturned." He gave Hakyeon's hands a squeeze. "More than anything, I want you to be happy. Do not become a vampire unless it is what you truly want. I was turned against my will and I would not wish that suffering on you. If, right now, you wish to be human, then remain human. You may always change your mind."
Hakyeon found himself frowning, and he sniffled weakly. "I am retiring from hunting soon," he said lamely. "I wanted to— to know what I was going to do, how I was going to handle this. I wanted to have a decision and stick with it, so I could stop floating in this limbo."
"You wish to remain human," Taekwoon said, lilting a little, and Hakyeon nodded slowly. "And tomorrow, you think you will wish to still be human?"
"Yes," Hakyeon whispered.
"And then next week, next month, in a year, human?"
"Yes," Hakyeon repeated, finding the word broke.
"Then that is your decision." Taekwoon gently swiped his thumb over Hakyeon's cheek, wiping away the tears. "As I said, you do not have to be a vampire for us to be together."
Hakyeon's eyes fluttered shut, and he nodded weakly, finding he was exhausted. "I suppose," he murmured. He had a terrible headache coming and his eyes hurt from crying. Taekwoon settled back into the bed, bringing Hakyeon with him, still holding him against his chest. Hakyeon let his eyes remain closed, and he settled heavily against Taekwoon's warmth, counting his own heartbeats.
He must have dozed, because the next thing Hakyeon knew he was laying on the soft mattress instead of his somewhat firm lover. There was the sound of running water hitting tile— the shower. Hakyeon snuffled, blinking his eyes open as he raised his head. His pillow was damp from residual tears, and maybe a little bit of drool, and he reached out for the one beside his to replace it, only to recoil with a jolt.
The pillow beside his was smeared with blood.
"I can't do this," Wonshik said as he paced in front of the sofa, practically wearing a hole in the carpet. His fingertips pressed into the sharp edges of the blood bag he was holding. "What if he doesn't wake up Hongbin? What if he's just— just mad again? What if he doesn't come back to himself for months—"
"That's not going to happen," Jaehwan said from where he was sitting on the couch. He was watching Wonshik pace, arms crossed and expression surly. "Calm down."
"I can't," Wonshik said, continuing to pace. "This hurts, so fucking much. I hate it."
"The joys of being in love," Jaehwan muttered.
There was a noise from down the hall, so soft Wonshik barely caught it, but then he was leaping across the living room and down the hall, into his shared bedroom. Hongbin was just sitting up, scooting to the edge of the bed, blinking blearily.
"Wonshik?" Hongbin said with a yawn. Wonshik's chest hitched, because he was lucid. Thank God. "What—"
"Drink this," Wonshik interrupted, thrusting the blood bag into Hongbin's face.
Hongbin's nose wrinkled, and he took the bag gingerly. "Blegh."
"Do it," Wonshik said, his voice sharp, desperate, and Hongbin blinked up at him. "I know it's gross but just— I don't want a repeat of last night."
Hongbin's eyes lit up with understanding. "Yes," he mused. "I got— got hungry. I remember." He took a sip of the bag, and then another, longer, drinking deeply. It wasn't long before the straw was making noise as Hongbin sucked on air, the bag empty. Hongbin blinked down at it in surprise, like he couldn't believe he'd been able to finish it so quickly.
"Come on," Wonshik said, a little strained. "We'll get you another."
Hongbin was looking at him a little oddly, but he said, "Okay."
Wonshik took Hongbin's hand and led him into the kitchen, where he set him up with another bag and got three more out of the fridge.
After taking a sip of the bag, Hongbin asked, "Where's Jaehwan?"
Wonshik had a jolt as he realized Jaehwan wasn't in the living room anymore, wasn't even in the house. "He must have gone out," Wonshik said, going for a casual tone. He knew full well exactly where Jaehwan had gone, and why. He tapped Hongbin's hand to distract him. "Drink."
Hongbin obeyed, quietly, but he hadn't regressed, Wonshik could tell. He was just pensive. Once he finished his second bag, he poked the straw into the third one himself, and said, "You were crying last night." He looked up at Wonshik's face, and there was something very sad in his eyes. "I remember."
Wonshik swallowed, but didn't say anything. He couldn't deny it.
"It's been hard on you," Hongbin murmured. "Seeing me like— like that. Taking care of me." He sipped at the bag, slower this time.
"It hasn't been a cakewalk for you either, Hongbin."
Hongbin's face twisted. "Yeah, well, it was my own fucking fault. I can deal with ruining my own life but— I don't like that I dragged you down with me." He moved onto a fourth bag, face screwing up.
"Don't you say that," Wonshik said. "It wasn't your fault, any of it. I made my own choices."
Hongbin jerked his head. "It was a domino effect, and you can't deny I was the catalyst."
Wonshik didn't know how to argue, didn't know how to explain that he didn't consider his own life ruined, that if he could go back in time, to the night where he asked Jaehwan to change him, he would do it again. Even through all the horror, he'd do it again. Because he had Hongbin back. "Maybe you were the— the catalyst, Hongbin, but it wasn't your fault. It was just— just—"
"Shitty luck," Hongbin finished for him. "Maybe. I'd like to believe that." He sniffled and rubbed at his eyes, laughing hollowly. "I don't want to cry, I don't want to— to get hungry, again." As if to protect himself, he took another large gulp from his bag, then shook his head. "I meant to ask this last night, but— well— I didn't get a chance," he said, a little sheepish, "but I was wondering where Hakyeon is? Is he alive, is he— is he well? I can imagine he's— he's not— not in contact— he probably hates us both now, doesn't he?" His tone was very sad.
Wonshik took a long breath in, then slowly blew it out. "I've actually been to see Hakyeon." Hongbin looked utterly shocked, eyes going wide. "It's a long story," Wonshik said weakly. "There's— a lot has happened— the short version is that between you getting turned and now, well— Hakyeon sort of— he's— fuck how do I even say this."
"Is he a vampire too," Hongbin whispered in horror.
"No!" Wonshik said, "no, no, he's still human. He's—" His voice dropped down so he was muttering. "He's been fucking an Elimia."
"What?" Hongbin squawked.
"I told you," Wonshik mumbled. "It's a long story."
"Well fucking tell it because— what the actual fuck?" Hongbin said, and he was so surprised, eyes round as saucers, that Wonshik almost laughed. Almost. "Hakyeon? And a vamp?"
"I'm still confused on the finer points, if I'm being honest," Wonshik said. He nudged Hongbin's hand, and Hongbin obligingly took a sip of his blood bag. "He's quite in love though."
Hongbin just looked dazed. "That is just— I never would have expected it." He sipped at the bag again, thoughtful. "It's not— is it Jaehwan? He's an Elimia, I can tell—"
Wonshik made a face that had Hongbin laughing. "God, no. Jaehwan is— no. He and Hakyeon don't actually get on too well, which is understandable; Jaehwan's about as obnoxious as they come. No, he's with—" Wonshik was saved from having to say with Jaehwan's brother — which really made his life sound like one of the bad reality shows Jaehwan watched — by the wards rippling. He could tell by the nature of the ripples that it was Jaehwan returning. "Jaehwan's back."
Hongbin gulped, and followed Wonshik back into the living room. After floundering for a moment, Hongbin set his blood bag carefully on the coffee table. He looked— curious. He hadn't, after all, properly met Jaehwan. It made Wonshik feel awful. He knew what was coming and it was going to be bad.
Wonshik could hear the nearly inaudible sound of Jaehwan's footsteps, but over it there was the sound of another pair of feet, louder since they were shuffling, stumbling. The front door swung open, and after some more footsteps Jaehwan was there, dragging a very thin girl by her upper arm. She was young, in her early twenties, but looked older, haggard, her hair hanging around her face in limp strands, her clothes dirty and worn. Her eyes were open but vacant, glamoured, and she smelled like smoke and addiction, painfully human.
Hongbin, who had stepped forward presumably to greet Jaehwan, fell back, to Wonshik's side. He glanced from the girl, to Jaehwan, then to Wonshik, eyes wide, fearful. "Wonshik?" he asked, voice small, and Wonshik found he couldn't meet his eyes.
"Jaehwan, actually," Jaehwan said. Despite the joke, his face was grim, the set of his mouth hard.
"I—" Hongbin stuttered, then he covered the lower half of his face with his hands. "Please— take her away— she smells like—" He looked at Wonshik pleadingly, but Wonshik was still refusing to look at him.
"An ashtray," Jaehwan supplied helpfully, "and underneath that, like skin, like warmth, like blood. Can you hear her heartbeat? It's not the best, she's been abusing her poor body for years, but she'll do."
"Take her away," Hongbin repeated, eyes squeezing shut as he hunched over a little. The girl shifted, blinking, rousing from the glamour. "I'll— I'll lose it— she's not safe—"
"She's for you, Hongbin," Wonshik said softly, trying to be gentle. He knew this was going to be agony. "You need to feed."
Hongbin looked up at Wonshik, utter horror written across his features, and Wonshik felt like a monster. "No," Hongbin gasped, looking at the girl with fear. "No, no I can't—"
"You can, you have," Jaehwan said simply. The girl was blinking quickly now, her heart rate speeding up, her eyes darting around. "You've killed before."
"That was different, I— I couldn't help it," Hongbin said. He fell against Wonshik's side, holding onto him desperately. "Please, make him take her away, I don't want to— to lose it again."
"You have to feed, Hongbin," Wonshik said, and he could feel tears prickling at the backs of his eyes.
"I'll drink the blood bags— as many as it takes—"
"They aren't enough," Wonshik murmured, and Hongbin's eyes snapped up to meet his. "We have to— to drink from live humans, or else the blood lust will take over."
Hongbin didn't react to that, just stared up at Wonshik, fear all over his face. The girl was beginning to struggle, but Jaehwan held her arm firmly in his grasp. She scratched at his hand with her nails, panting, the whites of her eyes showing in her panic. "Please," she gasped, and Wonshik closed his eyes against the sound for a moment. "Oh god, oh god." Her gaze was darting all over as she took in her surroundings fully, dark and underground and surrounded by vampires. "I'm high, this is— is a bad trip— oh god, oh god no—"
"We can do this one of two ways," Jaehwan said, and he didnt even flinch as the girl clawed blood out of his hand, her motions jerky with terror. "Either you eat her now, while you're lucid, or you don't, in which case, you'll relapse, then eat her anyway."
"No," the girl cried, "no, no, no, please, let me go. Please, I won't tell anyone—"
"You've killed people," Hongbin whispered, still looking up at Wonshik, apparently so horrified he was tuning the girl out. A bloody tear slipped down his cheek, "You've been— killing people, haven't you? Eating them."
"Wonshik prefers them like this, sick, hooked on some kind of drug," Jaehwan sneered, "He says it's better, when they're already half dead."
"I'll never take a hit again," the girl sobbed. "Oh god, I want my mom, oh please, I promise I'll never touch a needle again—"
Hongbin was still just looking at Wonshik, waiting for an answer. Wonshik felt sick. "Yes", he murmured, and Hongbin sobbed, stumbling away. "I've hated it every time, but— Jaehwan is right. It's this or the madness."
"You have to," Jaehwan said. The girl took a swipe at his face, catching his cheekbone, and he snapped at her hand, fangs bared, making her scream.
"Take her away," Hongbin said again, covering his ears with his hands, eyes clenched shut. "Let her go, let her go, before I lose it. I'd rather die, I'd rather walk into the sunlight and burn." Hongbin was shuddering, and he stumbled to the coffee table, picking up his abandoned blood bag and drinking out of it. "I won't do it," he said around the straw.
"I knew you'd make this difficult," Jaehwan muttered, and he moved to go down the hallway instead of the front door. The girl shrieked, sobbing hysterically and digging her heels into the carpet.
"What are you doing?" Wonshik asked. He reached for Hongbin, but he flinched away, and Wonshik felt filthy, wrong.
"I can't let her go, can I? We'll keep her in the back room until Crazy decides he's hungry," Jaehwan said, and the girl gave a hiccuping sob, gagging on it.
"Will you glamour her again?" Wonshik asked, voice pained. He wished he could glamour properly, would do it himself, but the moment he broke eye contact, it always faded. "Please."
At the mention of the word, the girl squeezed her eyes shut, saying no no no again.
"She's stubborn," Jaehwan said, shrugging, and he made to move again, but then the house wards rippled.
Wonshik jerked. "Were you followed?" he asked, harsh, and Hongbin looked at the door fearfully, his horror momentarily forgotten
"No, it's—" Jaehwan began, but then the door was opening.
"Help," the girl screamed, making to leap for the door, but Jaehwan held her fast. She was struggling so hard Wonshik was surprised she hadn't torn her own arm out of the socket. "Help me, please—"
But it wasn't the VCF, or a hunter, or a human at all. It was Taekwoon, stepping smoothly into the room with a confused frown on his face. When she saw him, the girl recoiled back, giving a wail of utter despair.
"What are you doing?" Taekwoon asked, his soft voice cutting through the girl's sobs.
"Trying to get Crazy to eat his dinner," Jaehwan said. "What are you doing here?"
"Checking on Hongbin," Taekwoon murmured, and his eyes darted to Hongbin, who had stopped crying and was staring at Taekwoon like he'd seen a ghost. "Hongbin?"
"I won't do it," Hongbin moaned.
"Help me," the girl sobbed at Taekwoon, "please, make them let me go."
Taekwoon looked furious, just for a flash. "You're a bastard," he said to Jaehwan. He strode forward, grasping the girl's chin in his hand, and she shrieked at the contact, squeezing her eyes shut once more, but she couldn't pull out of his grasp. "Look at me," he whispered.
"Let me go," the girl gasped, still not opening her eyes, "let me go, please, let me go—"
"We can't," Taekwoon said, gentle, so very gentle. "You know we can't, I'm sorry." The girl sobbed anew. "But I can take it away," he murmured, "I can take the fear away, the pain, leave you with nothing but peace, warmth. It will be like coming home. Look at me."
Wonshik could almost smell the magic it was so thick in the air, could feel Taekwoon pulling at the girl's consciousness. It made the hairs on his nape prickle.
"Look at me," Taekwoon repeated, and the girl did, just slitting her eyes open, but it was enough. Once Taekwoon caught her gaze, she couldn't pull it away. Her body relaxed, face going slack, and for several beats, she stared into Taekwoon's eyes. Wonshik could still feel the pull, stronger than ever. One last tear rolled down the girl's cheek, and then Taekwoon pulled away. The girl did not move, simply stared off into space.
"She will not resurface again," Taekwoon murmured. He glared at Jaehwan. "This is why, even when you are my age, you will still not be as strong as me. You cause suffering where there need be none."
"I just never got the hang of glamouring like you did, that's all," Jaehwan said mildly. He let the girl go and her arm flopped to her side. She still did not move. "You wiped her, didn't you?"
Taekwoon paused. "She will not resurface," he repeated.
"That's a yes," Jaehwan said. "Maybe Crazy will be more inclined to eat her now that she's gone."
"Gone?" Hongbin rasped, and they all turned to him, making him fidget.
Wonshik reached out, gently wrapping his arm around Hongbin's shoulders, and this time, Hongbin let him. He tucked Hongbin in against his side, wondering how long they had, until the blood bags wore off, and Hongbin regressed. Not long.
Wonshik looked back at Taekwoon. "Gone?" he echoed.
"He took her memories," Jaehwan clarified, and Taekwoon looked down at the floor. "Took her. She's just a body now. Just a beating heart."
"I didn't know vampires could do that," Wonshik said hoarsely. "Why didn't you tell me that?"
"It's not a skill all vampires have, and you can't even do a normal glamour yet. And, to be honest, I can't do it," Jaehwan said. "It's very difficult."
"It's not, you're just cold, and lack the empathy," Taekwoon snapped. "I'll teach you," he added, more gently, looking at Wonshik and Hongbin in turn. "Both of you. It will take time, though, and first you will need to get the hang of glamouring on its own."
There was silence, Wonshik absorbing that. Hongbin was still looking at Taekwoon with a frozen expression on his face. "Who are you?" he whispered. "You— you were here before—"
Wonshik made a noise of surprise. "You remember that?"
"A little," Hongbin said. "It's all fuzzy. I just remember— I remember there was a lot of blood, Jaehwan's, I think. I was scared."
"I'm sorry," Taekwoon said softly. "I didn't mean to frighten you."
Hongbin just shook his head.
"This is Taekwoon," Wonshik said softly. "He's— he's Hakyeon's—" His voice dropped to a whisper. "He's Hakyeon's lover."
"Ah," Hongbin said, eyes lighting up. "Ah, I think I— understand that a bit more now."
Taekwoon didn't react to that. "Hongbin," he said gently, "you need to feed."
Hongbin recoiled, and apparently trying to hold the bloodlust at bay, he took another sip of his blood bag. "No," he whimpered. "No, please, I— I can't— I can't kill someone."
"He said he'd rather walk into the sunlight," Jaehwan said helpfully and Wonshik's upper lip curled, baring his fangs.
"I understand the feeling," Taekwoon said. "If you truly wish to— end your existence, it can be arranged," he said seriously, and Wonshik actually growled. Taekwoon paid him no mind, was simply staring at Hongbin, who looked a little dumbstruck. "But otherwise, you must feed."
Hongbin shook his head. "I don't want to— to die," he whispered, voice catching a little, "but I don't want to eat people, either."
Taekwoon paused. "And yet those are the choices left before you," he said, not unkindly. "If you choose to remain vampire, Hongbin, and you starve yourself, you will fall back into the bloodlust, and then you will tear apart any humans in your path, cruelly and painfully." Hongbin flinched, pressing against Wonshik's side like he could hide there. "It would be kinder, to all involved, if you kept yourself sane, learned how to glamour, and led your victims into the darkness with gentleness, rather than madness." He paused again. "It is that, or death, for you."
Hongbin was silent for a long time, clearly thinking, weighing the options. Finally he looked up at Wonshik, who held his gaze. "How did you do it?" Hongbin whispered. "How did you— learn to kill people without it destroying you?"
Wonshik wished he had an answer. "I didn't," he said, barely audible. "Every time I do it, I can feel a piece of me chip away. But I kept on because— because of you. Because for me to take care of you I had to be a vampire, a lucid vampire."
Hongbin's mouth twisted, eyes brimming with new bloody tears. "If I walked into the sunlight this coming dawn," he whispered, "what would you do?"
"Walk into it with you," Wonshik said without hesitation.
There was silence again, before Hongbin looked away, down at the floor, and he gave a sniffle. He motioned to Jaehwan. "Bring her here," he said tiredly.
it occurred to me that the end of jaehwan's pov section could, potentially, read like he went off to go eat sanghyuk, and so i'll just say now that he did not. in rara's words, "he'd never eat hyuk without getting to fuck him first and get one over on hakyeon :|"