Jungwoo would describe himself as someone who was different, and not in the good way. He quite was a strange creature, at least in his mind. There was a good handful of things different about him. Like his mouth, full of sharp fangs that would scare anyone unfamiliar with monsters. Or his three pairs of arms. Jungwoo had met creatures far more complex than him, like ones who had multiple heads. Ones who weren’t even humanoid, like he was. He was also quite calm, with his soft, small voice. To anyone unknowing of what Jungwoo really was, he would look like a pretty man who loved to wear large Victorian-era style gowns and long veils— and that he had a posse of pretty, cheerful men who would always be found near him. They were scattered across town.
The first two of the men were found in the church. Jungwoo was devoted to the Lord, and he regularly went there. At least that’s what he told himself, since he had only started going to church because he had stumbled upon the priest one night while walking home- a humble man with black locks of hair almost always slicked back and brown eyes by the name of Johnny Seo. Mr. Seo had spotted Jungwoo, in his black dress and veil and all, walking alone and offered to walk him home. After a little of conversation, Jungwoo had found out he was a priest at the local church. The conversation got very little farther than that, as Jungwoo had stopped in his tracks at his house, telling Johnny that this was where their conversation ended. Albeit there were gloves on his hands, made of lace and silk, Johnny had softly grabbed his hand and kissed it before bidding him farewell. In the dark of the night, they went their respective ways.
How unfortunate it was, that Jungwoo could not stop thinking about that man. It got to the extent where the creature’s curiosity had reached a point of no return. He had decided, the night before, to attend mass in hopes of seeing Johnny again. In the rain, Jungwoo left his home one morning with an umbrella, walking slowly toward the church in hopes of reaching there on time for mass. He luckily got there on time, sitting in the back pew a few minutes before the sermon began. The Sunday masses were always full, and people would always stare at him. The gossiping housewives would peek behind them during the service, although there was nothing to look at besides a veiled face. Jungwoo didn’t enjoy the stares he felt, or the gossip that went around between those who had nothing better to do, but he didn’t stop coming to the church. He had just switched to the Wednesday sermons- sitting in the back pews every time and never nearing the front.
Johnny would always come chat with him after each mass, asking how Jungwoo had been in that past week. They would talk and talk and talk, until Jungwoo said he had to be on his way home, all the people praying had left, and the church was empty. Even then, Johnny would usually offer to walk him home.
Their relationship eventually bloomed into something more, something bigger and beautiful. They would sit in the local cafe, drinking hot tea, chatting the night away. Johnny would stare at him with a loving gaze, rubbing little circles into one of Jungwoo’s hands. And their walks to Jungwoo’s home became all the warmer, despite the snow falling onto their cheeks. Jungwoo felt comfortable around Johnny. Johnny felt comfortable around Jungwoo. He learned to love himself a little more. And for the umpteenth time, Johnny kissed Jungwoo’s hand, and left him in the dark of the night. It would only be another week until the two met again.
Alongside Johnny was an altar boy who he hadn’t found out the name of yet. He had delicate ivory skin and brown hair that would fall upon his eyes if he didn’t brush it back. The altar boy almost appeared as if he was a doll, dainty and pure. He was at every mass, helping Johnny with the services. Jungwoo wanted to know his name, for the altar boy stood out from the crowd.
He had an aura that was almost angelic. Jungwoo heard his laughter only once, and he could tell that the altar boy was gentle and carefree. He had eyes that held the stars. He made Jungwoo feel safe.
Jungwoo had only gone near the altar boy once, after one of the Sunday masses. He was saying goodbye to people and passing out fliers for some type of special service or festival of sorts coming up, and Jungwoo only spoke a few words to him. They had conversed for a moment or two, mostly the altar boy speaking, as he spoke about how glad he was that Jungwoo could find solace in their small, yet wonderful church. He had also complimented the other’s outfit for the day (he was wearing a pink gown and matching veil), which only proved that the altar boy had amazing taste in clothing. Before Jungwoo could ask the altar boy his name, his friends Ten and the local doctor, Qian Kun, had come to pick him up.
Ten and Dr. Qian were another tale to tell. They had arrived in town one grey, misty morning only a month after Jungwoo did, holding hands and whispering to each other. Jungwoo remembers that they entered the marketplace together, Dr. Qian leading Ten around. When they’d stop at a stand to buy something, Ten would always run his fingers through the doctor’s black hair. Ten, like Jungwoo, was a strange sight. He came into town wearing a veil, like the arachne always did, but wore it for another reason. Jungwoo would soon find that reason out — in his first encounter with Ten, the man had slipped under Jungwoo’s veil to face him. “Hello,” he had whispered. Their lips were almost touching, a full fanged smile spreading across the man’s face as he looked up at Jungwoo. “You and I are the same.”
Jungwoo soon learned that the man, who went by the nickname Ten, was a gorgon. A very pretty one, at that. He wore veils because of his gaze, able to turn a simple creature into stone. The only ones immune to it were Jungwoo and the doctor.
Doctor Qian Kun was the other part of the package in which Ten had come along. He stuck only to very light colors in his clothing choices but mostly wore white. His coats were always quite long, and a little dramatic, if Jungwoo had to be honest. The doctor was a very quiet man, but a delight to be with. Jungwoo’s fondest memory with him was when they once played cards by the fire on a cold winter day, Ten laying in his lap. They had spent the whole day drinking hot cocoa and playing around, laughing as Ten slept.
“Stay the night with Ten and I, won’t you? It’s much too cold and dark to walk home by yourself. We want you with all of your 30 fingers, not a few of them fallen because of frostbite.”
Their antics continued through the night, only with Ten awake, complaining about the doctor and Jungwoo complaining about tiredness. “That’s what you get, sleeping all day.” Kun replied to Ten, kissing him on the forehead. “There’s nothing hot cocoa can’t solve, though. You’ll be sleepy soon again.”
The hot cocoa, as Kun said, made Ten sleepy again. Ten normally didn’t like human things, but it quickly became one of the exceptions. The three slept by the fireplace, wrapped in blankets huddled close to each other. The morning quicker than they wanted, the light of day peeking through the window curtains and the warmth of the fire dying slowly.
That morning, while Jungwoo was preparing to leave home, the two had told him that he should come by more often. “Come back, won’t you?” Ten had spoken with a full fanged smile. The three, already close, would become much closer.
On his way home from Kun and Ten’s house, Jungwoo was near his friend Doyoung’s repair shop, so he decided to stop by and say hello. Doyoung was so happy to see him, his eyes and gummy smile brightening Jungwoo’s already good day. Doyoung was a carpenter, whose handiness with things almost made Jungwoo think that he was the one with 6 arms, and not him. He could always figure out the problem with something and fix it real quick. Jungwoo would also soon learn that he was an undertaker, since there were no other in town.
When they met, Doyoung was taking apart a music box to repaint and refurbish. Jungwoo walked into the shop while he was winding up the comb. When he let it go, the tune that played was a soft melody that Jungwoo found himself humming along to. It was something that could put anyone to sleep.
“A nice tune, right?” Doyoung asked him. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Nothing, sir. I just came in to look around after hearing the music box.”
Doyoung got up from his table and walked over to the veiled figure. “May I?” Jungwoo nodded, and Doyoung kissed his gloved hand, then looking at Jungwoo with a gummy smile. “There’s nothing much here but me and my tools, I’m afraid. My name is Kim Doyoung. And yours?”
“Kim Jungwoo. You’ve got quite a pretty smile, Mr. Doyoung.” The carpenter shied away. “You almost look like a bunny.”
Jungwoo would make it a task to visit Doyoung at least once every few days, and over many months they would get closer and closer.
One night, as Doyoung was polishing a wooden piano he had been commissioned to fix up, he asked Jungwoo something. “You’re always wearing that veil. If you don’t mind me asking, why?”
Jungwoo was sitting on the piano bench as Doyoung looked up at him, since he had been kneeling on the floor while polishing the sides. The light of a candle was the only light between them, Doyoung’s eyes looking even more curious in the low lighting.
“Because I’m different, Doyoung. But maybe I’ll show you my face one day. Now come and give me a kiss, won’t you? This gown is awfully hard to get up in.”
With that, Doyoung got up and sat next to him on the bench, then giving him a kiss through his veil. “You’re my favorite bunny, Mr. Doyoung.”
“And you’ll always be beautiful to me, different or not, Jungwoo. Everyone in this town is unique- it won’t hurt them to see someone a little bit stranger than them.
From then on, maybe Jungwoo began to think that he wasn’t very different than anyone else—
from Johnny, with his sweet words, sweet kisses, and devotion to the Lord;
Jaehyun, with his strange angelic holiness;
Ten, with his pretty eyes that could turn someone to stone;
Kun, with his delicate gaze opposing Ten’s, able to calm anyone down, making the two a perfect pair;
Doyoung, with his handiness, profession as an undertaker and that oh-so-sweet gummy smile;
And then him, Jungwoo. With his many arms and his unhinged jaw. With all the love in his heart for everyone.
Jungwoo came to the conclusion that he wasn’t a difficult creature. He was sweet and calm. He was loved by all his friends. Within a short time, Jungwoo found a home in that strange little town. His home were his friends, who made his days brighter.