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Chase the Day

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"Wait, so you’re saying you’ve never even seen him?’’

 

Jae shrugs best he can, laying down with his head in Wonpil’s lap. “No. I haven’t heard so much as a whisper.”

 

“Seriously?” His voice comes out a squeak and he glances over to where their other teammates are still sleeping soundly by the campfire. “You’re two hundred years old! Not even a glimpse out of your peripheral?”

 

“Nope.” Jae lets the end of the word pop gently in the still night air. “We’re elves, I’ll probably live upwards nine hundred more, there’s still time.”

 

Wonpil can’t even imagine it. Sune will take the time to visit him in dreams, sometimes she’ll even whisk him away for the day to some sort of absurdly expensive bathhouse where they’ll have their skin slathered in creams and leave with flowers braided in their hair. He loves the way her nose scrunches delicately when she throws her head back to laugh, the way her long flame-red hair looks just this side of dishevelled, and how even when she’s reprimanding him, there’s nothing but love in her eyes. She isn’t just his patron, she’s a treasured friend and Wonpil loves her. Their deeply personal relationship is part of what makes him such a good cleric.

 

“I really don’t know how you do it.” Wonpil says, voice much more subdued.

 

“Faith.” Jae replies easily, letting his eyes drift closed when Wonpil runs his fingers through his hair. “That feels nice.”

 

“We’re supposed to be on watch, stop closing your eyes.” Wonpil gently scrapes his nails over Jae’s scalp and he lets out a low hum. “And are you implying that I don’t have faith?”

 

“Of course not, you doofus, the fact that we’re not all running around with missing limbs is proof enough of your faith.”

 

“I’m just giving you a hard time.”

 

“I know.” Jae presses his cheek into his thigh. “Is it nice?”

 

He doesn’t need a clarification on what Jae’s asking about. “It’s amazing. You know that feeling you get when we go home for the holidays and your mom makes soup and it’s all warm and homey and there’s absolutely nothing like it? Or that feeling of getting into town after being in the woods for weeks and you sink into a bath that’s just this side of too warm? Or how it feels when you try a new dish and it’s nothing like what you expect but somehow totally perfect?”

 

Jae’s eyes are open now, meeting his, and he nods even though he doesn’t need to.

 

“It’s like that.”

 

Jae doesn’t speak for the rest of their watch, but he doesn’t move away from Wonpil either, so he counts it as a win.

 

There’s too much blood.

 

It’s all over his hands, staining the leather of his armour, getting into the hard to reach places, and making the diamonds he’s trying to put on Jae’s chest slip in his hands. Jae’s ice-blue hair is dyed a grisly red, and it sticks to his face in ugly clumps. Wonpil wants to wipe him clean, but there’s no time, so he takes a deep breath and closes his eyes.

 

The familiar tingle of magic rushes through the air, through Wonpil’s veins, and the diamonds make a high, almost musical, ringing noise as they shatter into dust. He opens his eyes again and it’s like Jae’s covered in a fine layer of frost.

 

Sungjin’s leaning heavily against Younghyung, the pain in his knee finally catching up with him now that the rage of battle has faded. Dowoon’s tucked into Sungjin’s other side, less to support him and more for his own comfort, and Wonpil can see his lips trembling.

 

“Okay, now we need to call him back.” He takes a deep breath in, rakes his fingers through the mess in Jae’s hair and tries not to think too hard about the clumps he’s clearing away. “We need to make three offerings.”

 

Younghyun steps forward first, passes Sungjin off to Dowoon, and keels on Jae’s other side.

 

“It’s weird to see you so quiet, dude, you even talk in your sleep.” The corner of his lip quirks, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. “This is no secret, but I hated your guts when you first joined the team. You were so good at swordplay but shit with knives, and I resented being pushed into that direction to compensate for you. It really was for the best though, because you can’t stealth for shit.”

 

He takes a shaky breath in. “You have to come back. Who else am I going to steal whetstones from? Who else is going to speed-read novels for me first so I don’t have to work my way through the shitty ones?”

 

Younghyun pulls a beautifully engraved pocket knife out of one of the dozens of hiding places on his person and gently tucks it into Jae’s hand. He leans forwards and whispers something into Jae’s ear, too quietly for Wonpil to hear, before stepping back.

 

It’s one of the rare occasions where they’ve found a town that’s small enough for Sungjin to be comfortable, big enough for Younghyun to find interesting, and diverse enough to not make the fact that they’re a party of adventurers comprised entirely of elves too strange.

 

Sungjin’s splurged on a room all to himself and Younghyun had grabbed onto Dowoon and screamed, “Dibbs!” before dragging the youngest member of their troupe away.

 

An evening spent in an actual featherbed means that Jae doesn’t complain that Wonpil’s left a mark on his neck too high for his collar to cover and refuses to magic it away, or let him magic it away. He even takes Younghyun’s incessant teasing well.

 

The five of them walking around aimlessly - pockets heavy with hard-earned coin, well rested and clean - is the closest they’ve ever been to an actual vacation. They’ve coincidentally come in the middle of the town’s annual spring festival and everything’s beautifully decorated with flowers and there’s children, even some adults, running around with feathered masks.

 

Wonpil isn’t exactly sure what the festival is for, something about the birds returning with the warm weather, but it barely even matters because everyone’s laughing in the sunshine and the smell of something spiced and sweet is floating through the air and it all warms him from the inside out.

 

“Yo,” Jae stops, pulling him back by where their arms are lopped together. “I want one of those.”

 

There’s a grinning halfling, all freckles and blonde curling hair, selling candied apples; shiny and red.

 

“Two copper a piece.” She prompts, “Best candied apples in town, you can ask anyone.”

 

“We’ll take two.” Jae says and Wonpil automatically reaches into his coin purse to pay.

 

“Thank you.” He says, passing her a silver. “You can keep the change.”

 

“Thank you kindly!” She beams up at him and reaches behind the counter before placing something into Wonpil’s hand. “On the house. It’d look lovely in your hair.”

 

It’s three long black feathers secured with string to a wooden comb. It’s simple, nothing about it is expertly made, but pretty.

 

“Oh! We can’t accept this.”

 

Wonpil tries to hand it back to the halfling who waves him away. “It’s tradition to give first time visitors something nice if they come to the festival. If you come back next year, you’re not getting another, so keep it safe.”

 

Jae laughs and plucks it out of Wonpil’s hands, tucking it into the hair by his temple. The pale blue of his hair brings out the almost oily green threads running through the feathers and makes him look even more otherworldly, like the hero from a song.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Jae waves his apple at the halfling as the two of them walk away and loops his free hand back into Wonpil’s. The other three are still about 20 feet away, Younghyun’s arms draped easily over Sungjin and Dowoon’s shoulders, and Wonpil is enjoying their leisurely alone time.

 

“I can’t remember the last time I had one of these.” Jae says around a mouthful of apple. “Super nostalgic.”

 

“I never know where to start eating.” He twists the apple around, admiring the way it sparkles in the sunlight. It feels a little wrong to break the surface of something so perfect and beautiful.

 

Then there’s blue hair in his face and Jae’s taking a giant bite out of his candy apple.

 

“Hey!”

 

Jae shrugs, mouth shiny and red from the sugar, struggling to chew around the too big bite. “I’m helping. Now you’ve got a starting point.”

 

“Stop that, I bought you your own for a reason!” Wonpil scowls, taking a bite opposite of where Jae had.

 

“Everything tastes better stolen.”

 

“How about a kiss?” Wonpil asks, wiggling his eyebrows.

 

Jae wrinkles his nose. “Wow, gross.” 

 

Wonpil’s laugh is loud enough that the rest of their party turns around to look at them, stops to wait for them to catch up.

 

“Hey!” Younghyun points to the candy apple accusingly. “Where did you get those?”

 

Wonpil sighs and hands his mostly uneaten apple over. “Just take mine.”

 

“But you barely got any of it.” Younghyun says, eagerly taking a big bite anyway.

 

He gestures to Jae with his thumb. “I’ll just make him share.”

 

The last of the candy apple freezes halfway to Jae’s mouth. Wonpil narrows his eyes, grips Jae’s hand a little bit harder. He can see the genuine turmoil in Jae’s eyes before he sighs and lifts the apple to Wonpil’s mouth instead.

 

Wonpil takes a bite, the fruit and the last of the sugar shell crunching triumphantly between his teeth. Jae glares sullenly at the core on the stick, but the corner of his mouth quirks up when Wonpil hums happily.

 

“Fuck adventuring!” Dowoon declares, taking a bite of the apple Younghyun held out for him. “This place seems nice enough. Let’s just build a house here and become farmers or something.”

 

“I’m not sure I’ve ever successfully grown anything in my entire life.” Wonpil muses.

 

“You can tend to the animals with me.” Dowoon says, “We’ll leave the heavy lifting and boring stuff to the grunts.”

 

“I’m going to pretend you didn’t refer to me as a grunt.” Jae tosses his core into one of the waste receptacles situated around the square. “I’m delicate and not meant for hard labour.”

 

“If you’re not going to pull your weight, you can’t live with us.” Wonpil says, ignoring his indignant gasp. “Life is tough and I’ll not have any freeloaders living on our farm.”

 

“What’s Sungjin going to do then?” Jae gestures to where he’s fighting with Younghyun over the candy apple. “He’s not exactly farming material either, he’d sooner accidentally crush our entire crop than help with the harvest.”

 

“We’ll send him around to our neighbours to chop wood with his shirt off, and we’ll have fostered good relations with the entire town in no time.”

 

“Seriously? Why not me, I’m strong and I’m charming as fuck!”

 

“Sungjin’s built like the protagonist on the front of those novels you pretend not to read.” Dowoon says, “Sure, you’re strong, but you’re unassuming.”

 

“I’m compact!” Jae waves one of his arms in the air, armour clanging with the movement. “Do you know how heavy this shit is? I’m fucking ripped!”

 

“There, there,” Wonpil sooths, “I think you’re very handsome. Every maiden’s dream.”

 

“And don’t you forget it.” Jae grumbles, letting a laughing Wonpil kiss him on the cheek while Dowoon rushes forward to catch up with to where Sungjin and Younghyun are gathered around a stall with savoury buns.

 

They meander through the crowd, taking their time reaching their friends.

 

“Is that really what you want?” Jae asks, “A house on a plot of land in the middle of nowhere with our friends, farming, raising animals, and pimping Sungjin out as eye-candy for all the middle-aged women in the village?”

 

“Probably not.” Wonpil admits, “I love the rare, peaceful moments we have like this, but I’m made for adventure, right down to my bones. I want to do this for as long as I can.”

 

“Oh thank the gods.” Jae breathes, slumping against him in relief. “I already know I’d be bored out my mind. I need excitement in my life.”

 

“Maybe when we’re all old and wrinkled.” Wonpil pulls Jae closer to him. “When my knees ache getting up in the morning my hands are too shaky to cast anymore. I like the idea of maybe having a couple goats or something.”

 

Jae shudders against him. “I hate goats, their eyes are creepy.”

 

“They’re adorable, hardy, and practical. We’re getting at least two.” Wonpil says, “Besides, the milk doesn’t upset your stomach the way cow’s milk does. It’ll be an endless supply of cheese.”

 

“How much milk can two goats actually produce?”

 

“Fuck if I know.” Wonpil shrugs, grunting when Jae stops suddenly. “What now?”

 

Jae pulls him wordlessly over to another one of the many stalls set up around the square, this one selling pretty trinkets and jewellery, most of them with accented with feathers.

 

“Excuse me,” Jae catches the attention of the young man with the slightly bored expression manning the booth. “how much for this one?”

 

The hair piece is similar in style to the one given to Jae earlier, but this one is made of silver and the feathers a pretty, pure white.

 

“Uh,” The young man blinks for a moment before his eyes come back into focus. “one silver.”

 

Jae flips him the coin and carefully secures the comb into Wonpil’s hair, opposite side from where he wears his own. He checks his reflection in the mirror and the light metal and feathers stand in stark contrast to his black hair.

 

“Do you like it?” Jae’s fingers brush against his jaw as he smooths back a stray lock of hair from around Wonpil’s face. “Not sure what their return policy is like, but I’m pretty sure we’re stuck with it now.”

 

“It’ll do.” His face hurts a little from the force of his grin and he tangles his fingers with Jae’s to keep from fiddling with it. “I’m going to do my absolute best to keep this thing intact, but we do live a pretty high-risk lifestyle.”

 

Jae sighs dramatically and rolls his eyes. “I guess I could buy you a replacement if anything happens to it.”

 

“I’m touched.” He really is. Jae hordes his gold like a dragon. “Thank you.”

 

The kiss he presses to Jae’s cheek turns the points of his ears bright pink. “Gross.”

 

But he leans forward to chase Wonpil’s lips until their friends shout at them to catch up.

 

Dowoon approaches and sits down cross-legged in the spot that Younghyun had vacated.

 

“Hyung…” His voice, even with the tears rolling down his face, is surprisingly even. “I know it took a long time for the two of us to really get to know each other, longer for the two of us to become comfortable with one another, but you’re one of my closest friends now. You’re the one I turn to when I want someone to sit in comfortable silence with. When I’m in a mood, you try your best to make me laugh again even when I’m being an absolute terror.”

 

He pulls a wool blanket out his pack. The soft grey of it is broken up by colourful patches. When Dowoon drapes the blanket over Jae, it sends the diamond dust on his chest flying around them like unmelting snow.

 

“I only took it because you’d already worn it in.” Dowoon admits, tucking Jae under the blanket best he can. “I feel like it doesn’t matter which vendor we get these things from; they’re always so stiff when we first buy them. And all the patches you put onto it makes me feel better when I start to feel homesick. Not that I feel homesick all that much anymore. I think somewhere between that incident with the giants and the time you punched the gnome who grabbed my ass, you guys started to become my family too.”

 

“Why Ilmater?”

 

“Why Sune?” Jae shoots back without looking away from the book he’s reading.

 

“Because she picked me.” Wonpil says easily from his bed. “When I was young, I saw a beautiful woman when I playing in the woods outside my house and found myself drawn to her. She was hard to miss, all curling red hair and white dress, and she looked human so I went to talk to her.”

 

He glances in Jae’s direction again and he’s put the book down, all his attention turned to Wonpil, so he flips over so that he can look him in the eye. The room they’ve rented for the night is tiny enough that they’re barely four feet away from each other and he lets Wonpil eyes wander over his features. Jae’s all pale skin and sharp features, light blue hair falling over his shoulders and into his eyes. He knows Jae’s self-conscious about his eyes. He’s drunkenly complained before about how unnerving it is that his they’re a pale blue from edge to edge, but Wonpil loves Jae’s eyes.

 

“I’d never seen a human alone in the Feywild before, and everyone knows the stories about how the magic in the air seems to get to their heads and turn them in circles, so I was worried. I don’t think I noticed there was anything off about her at all, I couldn’t have been older than 40 at the time, but I took her by the hand and scolded her as I lead her to go find my grandmother.”

 

Jae burst into laughter. “Are you telling me that a major deity of the pantheon let an elven child boss her around?”

 

“That’s what I’m telling you!” Wonpil laughs, “My grandmother recognized her, of course, and almost fainted when she realized she was meeting Lady Firehair while in her nightgown. I remember her giving me a kiss on the forehead that day before she left. She came again a couple days later and hasn’t really left since.”

 

“Why you?” Despite the harshness of his words, there’s a desperate look in his eye that keeps Wonpil from taking offence.

 

“She said that she knew I’d grow up to be beautiful of face and wanted to make sure that I’d also be beautiful of soul. She told me that outward beauty is meaningless if you’re vile to the core.” Wonpil gives Jae a shrug. “I don’t know how well that worked out, but I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be who I am without her.”

 

Wonpil allows Jae his silence, but he pillows his hands under his face and turns the full force of his attention towards him. Jae blinks rapidly for a couple of moments.

 

“I picked Ilmater because he’s good. Because the world can be a cruel and terrible place and someone needs to be the one to power through, to be the one to offer people second chances and help them repent. It sounds a little arrogant in retrospect, but I wanted to leave every place I went to better than I found it.”

 

He looks a little like one of the big feline creatures Wonpil has seen in the Feywild, stretching out in the last of the late evening sunlight. Wonpil crosses the short expanse between their beds, kneels beside Jae’s bed as he props himself up on his elbow so they’re face to face. The expression on his face is somewhere between vulnerable and challenging, and his cheek is cool under Wonpil’s warm hands.

 

Their first kiss is just the brush of lips, almost shy, before Jae surges up and tangles his fingers into the hair at the nape of Wonpil’s neck and then they’re pressed together and it’s sweet and lovely.

 

It’s good and beautiful and the first of many to come.

 

Sungjin limps over to Jae’s prone body, uses Dowoon’s shoulder to steady himself. Wonpil can see the muscle in his jaw working furiously as he tries not to cry. He keeps blinking and looking up to the sky, much too cheery and sunny for a situation so dire, and Wonpil starts to panic as the spell begins to slip away without an offering to cling to.

 

“Listen to me, Park,” He hisses, mouth so close it brushes the delicate silver ring highlighting the point of Jae’s ear, close enough to smell blood and the creep of death sneaking up on him. “you don’t get to die. You don’t get to leave me like this. We’re fucking elves, you won’t make me live centuries without you, because I won’t be able to handle it. I’ll hunt you down, I’ll go to the ends of the known universe, tear through every single plane I must. I’ll become a deplorable and horrifying creature; I’ll become a horrible shell of myself that’s what I need to do to bring you back to me.”

 

“I’m not scared. You swore to me that you’d love me no matter what, so you sure as shit better still be mine when you’re the one who’s torn me apart in this hypothetical situation.”

 

Wonpil, hands shaking, takes the pretty earrings from out of his ears, roughly pulls the rings from off his fingers, the little charms that Jae braided into his hair, and puts them all onto Jae’s chest.

 

“I don’t need these, I don’t want these anymore. I lied when I said I liked them, they don’t suit me at all, and I want replacements.”

 

Jae doesn’t stir.

 

He leans forward and presses a hard, wet kiss to Jae’s unresponsive mouth. Holds his cold face in his hands, smears even more blood and dirt onto his pale cheeks.

 

“Please,” His voice cracks and he has to swallow painfully before trying again. “don’t leave me.”

 

There’s the taste of ozone and burnt sugar in the air as the spell finishes.

 

It’s quiet.

 

Wonpil doesn’t breathe, doesn’t let go of Jae, doesn’t lift his forehead from Jae’s.

 

He can hear Younghyun start to sob and Sungjin crying along with him.

 

“Wonpil-“ Dowoon’s hand is warm and his deep voice raspy and stuffed from tears and he wants to shake him off, tell them to leave him alone.

 

But he can’t move.

 

 Then there’s the sharp intake of breath from under him, and Wonpil feels himself start to breathe again too.

 

Jae coughs and Wonpil rushes to help him sit upright, Jae’s back against his chest. His armour’s unyielding and uncomfortable against his own and he’s never going to let go.

 

“Holy shit, that wasn’t fun.” Jae’s voice is weak with exhaustion and Wonpil’s never heard a more beautiful sound in his life.

 

Everyone’s crowded around the two of them and Dowoon’s making a horrible, heartbreaking, wailing noise and clinging to Jae’s legs, and it makes Wonpil start to cry all over again.

 

He hears Jae say something like “Fuck you, I looked for that thing for literal years.” and Younghyun let out a startled burst of laughter before he’s bowled over by the additional weight of Sungjin and Younghyun on top of him too.

 

It takes Wonpil yelping out in genuine pain, just too much pressure applied on a cracked rib he hadn’t really noticed earlier, for everyone to scramble up and then all the attention’s put onto him.

 

“Dude, what the fuck.” Jae’s slim hand sneaks under his breastplate to rest gently on his ribs and he feels the warm itch of magic knit his rib back together. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

 

“We had more pressing things to worry about!” Wonpil hisses, batting his hands away. “Stop exerting yourself, you were literally dead a second ago.”

 

“Then why am I being scolded already- ouch!” Jae pulls his hand up off the ground and one of Wonpil’s earrings is pressed into his palm. “And pick this shit up, I paid good money for it!”

 

Wonpil wipes his nose on the back of his hand. “You heard me, I don’t want them anymore, I want new ones.”

 

“Even this one?” Jae holds up the silver hairpiece, the snow white feathers now smeared with blood, one of them bent out of shape in his carelessness. “Sort of fucked up now, but maybe we can see if someone in the next town can fix it? For sentimental reasons if nothing else.”

 

He lets out a wet laugh. “Put it back on for me.”

 

They’re covered in mess from battle and both Wonpil and Jae end up having to be carried back to town, too exhausted to even stand. They hold hands from across Dowoon and Sungjin’s back, the two of them complain endlessly, but none of it can wipe the smile off Wonpil’s face.

 

That night, finally clean, still a little sore, and pressed together so tightly that he can barely even tell where he ends and Jae begins, Wonpil runs his hands through Jae’s hair feeling the unbroken skin and whole bones against his temple. He can’t stop touching him, skin soft and clean again, eyes blinking sleepily back at him. Wonpil can’t look away and if he closes his eyes, it’s the image of Jae lying in a pool of his own blood that’s burned into the back of his eyelids.

 

“I’m still angry with you.” He whispers, only a breath away from Jae. “You need to go buy me new earrings tomorrow before the ones in my cartilage close up.”

 

“That’s your own fault, you didn’t have to toss all of them on top of me you giant drama queen.” Jae flicks the point of his ear and he turns his face to bite at his fingers. “Literally one trinket would have sufficed.”

 

“Seriously, you dick? I wasn’t about to risk not getting you back because picking everything up afterwards would be inconvenient!”

 

“We couldn’t even find all of it!”

 

“Probably because they’ve all been pressed into the earth by your fat-ass when you rolled over onto everything!”

 

“Hey! Plate armour is heavy and I’d just died, give me a break!”

 

“Shut up, shut up!”

 

Then they’re wrestling and he manages to pin Jae much easier than expected and he starts coughing and Wonpil’s off like a shot, helping him sit back up against the headboard and running to grab his canteen.

 

He presses the metal into Jae’s hand and carefully lifts it to his lips to help him drink. “Slowly, be careful.” His hand rubs gentle circles against his back. “You okay? Do you need anything else? Does anything hurt?”

 

“I’m okay.” Jae’s voice sounds raw and he leans heavily against Wonpil’s chest. “I’m just kind of tired. Had a long day, you know?”

 

He kisses the top of his head, lets the quiet settle back over them. The inn they’re staying at has thin walls, he hears Dowoon sneeze powerfully from the next room, and Jae’s laugh reverberates through his chest.

 

“The guy sneezes like he has three kids and not enough time for all of them.”


“I will never be able to understand how you think of these analogies, or why they make so much sense to me.”

 

Jae pulls him back down into the sheets and he curls up with his head against his chest. His heart beats slow and even in his ear and Jae’s breath gently ruffles his hair.

 

“I know you said once that you didn’t want to live on a farm, but how do you feel about going back to the Feywild?” Wonpil whispers.

 

“I wouldn’t hate that.” Jae muses, running his fingers through Wonpil’s hair. “Maybe somewhere close to my hometown. Close to where the portals are so we can come back to Faerun if we’re craving a little excitement.”

 

“I knew you wouldn’t be able to give it up.” Wonpil feels Jae’s chest vibrate with silent laughter. “Maybe you could be a diplomat or something between the two worlds. You’d be good at that, I think, you’re gentle but firm. Good at seeing both sides.”

 

“You could be my trophy husband. Pretty and smiling on my arm.”

 

“You’d have to ask me first.”

 

Wonpil feels Jae’s grin in his hair. “Patience, we’ve got time.”

 

“That’s a promise then.” Wonpil says, digging his fingers into Jae’s arm, marking him with his nails. “Stay with me. Grow old and boring with me.”

 

“Life with you could never be boring.” Jae continues his gentle ministrations. “I think you’d look handsome with some grey.”

 

“I’m not sure it’d even show up on you with how light your hair is.” Wonpil looks up at him through his eyelashes and playfully pulls a lock of light blue. “Forever young.”

 

“Only worthwhile if you’re right there with me.”

 

“Then here’s a promise from me.” He kisses Jae hard. “Me and you, together no matter what.”

 

“What, no promise from me to ‘live on well without you’?”

 

He blinks away the quick tickle of tears in his eyes. “Your god’s tenants are sacrifice and martyring, mine demands nothing of the sort. You’re mine and no one else’s.”

 

They kiss and it’s the same as every single time they’ve kissed before; perfect. His magic’s completely sapped from raising Jae earlier, and his ribs hurt like a bitch, and it might be the most perfect kiss in the entire world.

 

“Then you’re mine too.”

 

Jae’s lips are bloody red from where Wonpil’s lip split back open while they were kissing and his eyes are red too. His face is flushed and his hair spread over the sheets is tinted warm from the setting sun outside and he’s never looked more alive.

 

“I heard what you said to me during the ritual,” Jae’s voice is low and quiet again. “I would do the same. You’ve worked your way too deeply into my bloodstream, there’s no me without you anymore. So, don’t make me into an oathbreaker. You need to stay safe too.”

 

“Luckily, I have a strong, strapping paladin of Ilmater watching my back.”

 

“Honestly, I mostly count on Sungjin to keep an eye on you.”

 

“You’re horrible and you’re not getting anything more than a cantrip out of me for the next five days.”

 

Jae flips the two of them so Wonpil’s on top again, head resting on his chest. “I love you, Wonpil.”

 

“You’re terrible and I hate you.” Wonpil snuggles in closer. “Tell me that story about the mermaid again. The one who made the deal with the sea-hag to come onto land for the prince.”

 

“Why do you always want to hear that one? It’s so sad.”

 

“The way you tell it is beautiful.”

 

“Have I told you the one about the girl in the flower? That one ends happily.”

 

“I think you’ve told it to me before, I liked that one too.”

 

Jae’s voice is smooth, soft, soothing as the familiar words roll off his tongue like a song. Wonpil falls asleep before Jae finishes, but he knows how it ends.

 

The lovers, made for each other, together.

 

The way it should be.