The next few days follow a similar trend: Felix continues to introduce Seungmin to human habits, quirks, and arts. Seungmin falls more than a little bit in love with the music Felix plays through the apartment almost constantly, says it’s much more exciting, more full of life and passion than what he hears “up on high” and Felix is not so secretly pleased. Seungmin tells him things too, like that no, mermaids and vampires and werewolves and goblins aren’t real just because angels are . Felix’s disappointment (and relief) result in an afternoon of supernatural teen dramas and a night spent watching an old mermaid flick about the power of love between friends that only Changbin (and now Seungmin) know Felix secretly loves. Minho and Chan would never let him hear the end of it, even if they’d agree to watch it with him if he really wanted them to.
The voice in his head yelling that Seungmin is a stranger fades to a mere whisper, and Felix finds himself getting better and better at ignoring it. After all, with each day that passes, Seungmin becomes more and more familiar. The pattern continues until on the fourth day, there’s a slight blip.
Despite Seungmin’s repeated claims that he wouldn’t need to sleep, when Felix walks out of his room in the morning, he finds the angel face first on the floor, arms down by his sides, wings - still folded to his back - casting him in shadow despite the sun pouring in the windows. Felix comes to an abrupt halt, and squats down to make sure Seungmin is still breathing because he’s never seen anyone willingly lay down like that.
“Seungmin?” He asks curiously once he realizes he is indeed breathing.
Seungmin lets out a soft, tired sound, and furrows his brows before blinking blearily at Felix, whose head is tilted to give him a better view. “Wha-” he starts to say before realizing where he is. Seungmin presses his hands flat against the floor and pushes himself up so he’s sitting back on his knees. “I do not remember falling asleep,” he says a little dumbly.
A small laugh bubbles out of Felix’s mouth. “You must have been pretty tired, then. And here you were telling me you could stay out on the balcony.”
Seungmin’s lips catch in a sheepish smile. “I did not realize how tiring this plane was. And I am sure healing my wing is consuming much of my energy now.”
“Ah,” Felix nods. “That actually makes a lot of sense. At least you know now.”
They stare at each other for a moment before another little laugh worms its way out of Felix. “Do you want a pillow next time? There’s plenty on the couch or I can grab you one of my extras.”
The sheepish smile on Seungmin’s lips softens and he nods gratefully. “Thank you.”
On the fifth day, when Felix wakes to the same sight, this time with the addition of the thick pillow he’d brought out from the floor of his closet and slipped a new case on, he just grins and wanders quietly into the kitchen to start water boiling for tea, and eggs on a skillet. The tea drinking had taken some getting used to, but after Changbin had complained that the smell of anything stronger upset his stomach in the morning, Felix hadn’t hesitated to switch things up. He butters the pan, cracks two eggs, and his thoughts wander.
It’s odd, he notices in the first empty morning since Seungmin crashed into his balcony, how strange it feels to be alone in the silence of the apartment. He’d gotten used to it - not the prolonged emptiness that chased Changbin’s departure when he went back home to visit his family, but the moments of stillness that came at any point during the day when he was out of the apartment and it was just Felix, left to his own devices. He’s not as exciting as Changbin, doesn’t go out much aside from trips to the store and to class or the library, so he’d grown accustomed to having a little bubble all his own, a place that was safe even if it wasn’t warm. Now, though, it feels entirely foreign to stop and look around the room and see nothing until he catches a glimpse of himself in the hall mirror. How odd it is, that he’s grown so used to Seungmin’s presence in such a short time.
He finds himself wondering, not for the first time, what it is about him. Is it because Seungmin is an angel, whose wings won’t ever let Felix forget that fact? Is it because of his attitude, so outwardly calm despite everything that has happened to him? Because he shows genuine interest in Felix and his tastes, and makes him feel like maybe he’s a little more interesting than winter break hermit he thinks he is? Felix stirs his eggs around on the pan and sets a tea bag to steep in a mug of steaming water. Or is it his face, his smile, all soft edges and bright eyes, light with wonder where Felix sometimes thinks there rationally ought to be fear or pain. Maybe he isn’t meant to know - just take it as is.
The eggs finish cooking, the tea finishes steeping. Felix leaves the kitchen with breakfast and leaves his thoughts behind. Because his phone is still charging on the desk in his bedroom, Felix finally finds himself picking up the book he’d abandoned abruptly when Seungmin had arrived. He dives back in, hits the climax he’d forgotten was coming, feels the aftershocks like they’re real life.
Maybe twenty minutes later, when his plate of eggs is nothing more than a few specs of pepper and that little bit of that egg juice that seeps out when you stab into them, and his mug of tea is cold and empty save the fine layer of sludge at the bottom, Felix is sniffling something fierce and trying not to let the tears pricking at his eyes fall. He decides it’s a good thing Seungmin crashed when he did, because any later and Felix just wouldn’t have gotten up from his book, or he’d have been too much of a mess to help him out. He decides it’s not a good thing that he’s a mess right now, as Seungmin’s head pokes up over the edge of the couch and his face goes first loose with surprise and then tight with worry.
“Are you all right? Has something happened?” Seungmin pushes himself to his feet and perches on his knees on the couch, an arm’s reach or two away.
Felix coughs a little, thick and wet, and nods. He blinks hard to tamp down the heat in his eyes. “Yeah,” he says weakly, “I’m just reading this book and it’s getting sad.” He lifts the book up so Seungmin can see the cover, as if it’ll mean anything to him.
Seungmin blinks at him like he’s just said he’s an alien.
“They are not real,” Seungmin says slowly. “Why do you cry for them?”
“Oh, um…” Felix shrugs, sniffling again. “I dunno. It feels like they’re real when you’re reading?”
“Strange,” Seungmin mutters, ducking back below the couch. “I will let you finish.”
Felix stares at the back of the couch. “Thanks?”
When Seungmin says nothing more, Felix turns back to his book. He doesn’t cry again, but his chest feels heavy when he finishes the book, his mouth dry from breathing through his teeth. “You can come out?” He says hesitantly as he stands to drop the book back on his desk. “I finished it.”
Seungmin pops up from the floor. “Are you all right now?”
Felix nods, even if he feels silly. Seungmin’s words don’t seem to ever have any ill-intent behind them, so he guesses this is simply a genuine inquiry, despite how it might sound coming from anyone else.
“That is good,” Seungmin says, but Felix realizes his voice sounds strained. The lines of his face are drawn tighter than usual. He squints across the room at Seungmin.
“Are you okay?”
Seungmin was already standing still, but at Felix’s question, seems to freeze even further. He appears caught, a deer in headlights. His eyes widen just so. Slowly, he shakes his head.
Felix crosses the room in a four quick steps, until he’s close enough he could reach out and lay a hand on Seungmin’s shoulder if he wanted. “What’s wrong?” His eyes flicker past Seungmin’s face to his wings. “Is it…” he trails off, questioning.
Just as slow as before, Seungmin nods. His voice is painfully soft when he casts his eyes down and says, “It hurts.”
Felix places light fingers on Seungmin’s bare arm. “Let me look?”
Seungmin nods again, and Felix spins him gently so he can examine the injured wing. He sucks in a sharp breath without entirely meaning to at the sight. Seungmin’s wing is bleeding, the bandage stained an unsettling shade of pink, his feathers shining like swords after war. Seungmin tenses in front of him.
“Is it bad?” He asks, voice nowhere near as steady as it usually is.
Felix doesn’t answer. “Why didn’t you say anything sooner?”
“I did not want to interrupt.” When Felix huffs and spins Seungmin back around to fix the angel with a stern look that make him feel like Chan, Seungmin grimaces. “I did not think you were in the best state to help earlier.”
Felix relents. That at least sounds true, as much as it makes him feel more than a little bit guilty. “Okay.” He tries to decide what he should do. He can’t call Minho again, but he remembers what Minho had said that first night when he’d called, doesn’t he? He can figure something out from there. “Okay,” he says again, “We never cleaned your wing after you crashed, right? I think we should probably start with that.”
Felix takes Seungmin’s arm gently and leads him out of the lounge and into the bathroom that breaks off from his own bedroom. He maneuvers Seungmin around so that he’s sitting on the edge of the tub, his back to Felix, against the white plastic bottom. Felix leaves only long enough to grab scissors and a bowl from the kitchen, and when he returns he snags a washcloth from one of the rungs on the wall. He uses the scissors to cut through the yarn holding the makeshift splint together, then trashes the yarn and abandons the scissors on the bathroom counter.
Carefully, he undoes the bandage around Seungmin’s wing. Each time the fabric lifts off his feathers, Seungmin hisses, and Felix sees his hands clench at his sides. Before the last bit of bandage comes away, Felix wraps his fingers around the meter stick so he can pull it away gently instead of letting it peel off and crash to the floor on its own. Seungmin makes a low, pained noise, and then falls silent. Felix stares at the blood seeping through the feathers of Seungmin’s wing.
“Okay,” he says yet again, because he can’t think of anything else. “I’ll just get some warm water and start.” He stands from where he’s been kneeling, and turns to the sink, running the water to let it heat up. As the faucet splashes before him, he tries to remember what Minho had said the other night on the phone. There was something that’s supposed to stop the bleeding, right? He furrows his brows, grips the counter as if the pressure will help spark the memory in his brain. Something from the kitchen… something he snarked about… something about baking? He pushes away fro the counter, snapping his fingers. Baking soda. He’s through the kitchen cupboards and back in a flash.
Water finally warm on his fingers after he returns, Felix fills the bowl, sprinkles the soda into the swirling water (was that what he was supposed to do?), and kills the tap. When he turns back to Seungmin and sets himself and the bowl down on the tile floor, he sees a faint tremor running through Seungmin’s body.
“Hey.” He places his hand lightly on Seungmin’s arm again, unsure of how else to comfort him. “It’s gonna be okay. Just a little blood. I’m pretty sure it’s normal for most injuries to act up.” He can’t see Seungmin’s head through his wings, but Seungmin makes a short sound that Felix hopes is one of agreement.
Felix removes his hand with a bit more reluctance that he’d been expecting from himself, and reaches for the washcloth. He soaks the tip in the bowl of water, then lifts it out and looks for the highest point of blood on Seungmin’s wing. When he finds it, Felix dabs gently until the blood washes away.
Seungmin inhales sharply as soon as the cloth touches his wing, but is silent afterwards, so Felix continues. He presses lightly, trying not to drag too much as the blood soaks into the washcloth, turning the blue and white stripes pink and purple. Seungmin’s hands remain clenched in tight fists while Felix works slowly and methodically, cleaning away the blood like he’s cleaning one of his own scraped knees. He admires how little noise Seungmin is making; he’s usually much louder in his own discomfort.
However, after twisting the washcloth in the water again, watching the water swirl with color, and moving to the next large splotch of blood, Felix discovers that some parts of the injury are worse than others. He’s barely touched the feathers when Seungmin’s torso jerks forward, away from him. The sound that tears from Seungmin’s throat sounds like waves crashing angrily against rocks by the shore, like wind howling in the night.
Felix pulls his hand back quickly. “Shit, shit, sorry.” He watches Seungmin’s body rise and fall with shaky breaths. For a long moment, neither of them say anything, and the silence is broken only by Seungmin’s unsteady breathing and Felix setting the cloth back down in the water.
“I can...stop?” Felix offers although he knows what the injury needs is treatment to get better.
“No,” Seungmin says quietly, twisting just enough that Felix can see him shaking his head.
Felix bites his lip. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he says in a soft voice, matching Seungmin’s. “Is there anything I can do to make it easier?”
Seungmin twists more, until his face appears from behind the uninjuried wing. His eyes land on Felix, searching his face. “Will you hold my hand?” He asks hesitantly.
Felix blinks, taken aback for a beat before he nods. “Sure.” He reaches his free hand out and takes Seungmin’s, leaving his fingers loose enough for Seungmin to shape them around his own however he wants. Felix’s knuckles end up just over the lip of the tub, palm turned upwards and pressed tight to Seungmin’s as he locks their fingers together.
“This okay?” Felix checks before he makes any move to start cleaning the blood from Seungmin’s wing again.
Seungmin nods, twisting away to face the wall of the shower again. “Thank you,” he says softly.
“‘Course,” Felix mumbles, then gets back to work.
Seungmin flinches every so often, squeezes Felix’s hand tightly before easing up again, and hisses through his teeth again and again before Felix finally sits back on his heels, finished. The water and the washcloth are both red now, swirling like the last shot of a bad shark movie. He would stand to dump the water and set the cloth to soaking, but Seungmin is still holding his hand, and he doesn’t have the heart to move away.
“The bleeding stopped at least,” he says. “Something might have just irritated it while you were sleeping.”
“That’s good.” Seungmin sounds utterly exhausted.
“It looks more aligned than it did right after you crashed too,” Felix tries again, because it seems like Seungmin needs all the good news he can get right now. “I think the splint is helping.”
“Are you going to wrap it again?”
“Yeah,” Felix hesitates, “I just need both hands for it.” He thinks he hears a small “Oh,” fall from Seungmin’s lips before he relinquishes his hold of Felix’s hand.
Felix lines up the meterstick, still sheathed in a now stained throw blanket (not that he cares) and wraps the bandage around Seungmin’s wing again. He’s going to have to soak it in bleach eventually to get the blood stains out, but that’s a problem for another day. For now, he just threads the end of the bandage through the loops he’s made to keep it in place.
Felix stands, dumps the bloody water down the drain, sets the washcloth to soak in cold water, and then lets his hand fall lightly on Seungmin’s arm again. “I’m all done. You okay?”
Seungmin stands, just a little wobbly on his feet, and Felix helps him climb out of the tub. “I am… not worse,” he says once they’re face to face once more.
Felix wants to say something, apologize, tell him it’ll be all right, but he’s not sure he can. He knows just as little, if not less than Seungmin. So he flounders until Seungmin reaches up to catch his hand as it falls from his shoulder.
“Thank you,” Seungmin says again, eyes on Felix’s. He can see the sincerity in them.
Felix nods, cheeks dusting in embarrassment as Seungmin’s apparent disregard for physical boundaries catches him slightly off guard, though not for the first time. “If you’re tired you can take my bed for a nap,” he offers because there’s exhaustion written clear as day across Seungmin’s face. He must be beyond weary from enduring even Felix’s most careful ministrations. Pain often does that, as Felix knows all too well.
Seungmin eyes him curiously at this, considering the offer. “Are you tired?” He asks instead of responding to Felix’s offer.
“Um.” Felix tilts his head to the side. Isn’t he always at least a little tired now? Isn’t that the college experience, even during the breaks? He shrugs. “I guess? But I’m not about to pass out like you.”
Seungmin’s lips tick up at the corners. “Will you nap with me?”
Felix makes a sound caught half between a choke and a gasp, and if he wasn’t blushing before, he sure as hell is now. “W-what?”
Seungmin points through the open door into the living room, where it hangs adjacent to Felix’s bedroom. “So I can sleep more upright. If you lay against the back of the couch, I can lay on top of you,” Seungmin explains.
Felix burns all the way up to his ears. “You…” he trails off, unsure of what on Earth he can say to that. “You won’t be uncomfortable?”
Seungmin shakes his head. “I think it will be better for my wings.”
“No,” Felix chokes out, “I mean laying on top of me. That’s. That’s a lot. You won’t feel weird?”
Seungmin tilts his head. “Is it not normal among humans? Do you not touch each other?”
“We do.” Felix’s voice sounds pitchy even to him.
“So?” Seungmin’s eyes turn soft, pleading. “Contact is how we comfort each other,” he admits quietly.
Oh. “Okay,” Felix says. “Sure. Let’s do it.” He tightens his grip on Seungmin’s hand and pulls him carefully into the living room.
When he sits on the couch, propping a pillow under the small of his back and leaning against the back cushions, he opens his arms. Seungmin crawls on top of him, knees on either side of his legs, and settles down against his chest, arms wrapping around Feilx’s shoulders so his head is pillowed by warm, buttery skin. It makes the back of his next tingle despite the cold wind blowing outside the apartment. Seungmin snuggles his head into the crook of Felix’s neck, and Felix interlocks his hands around the bend of Seungmin’s waist.
Seungmin makes a small humming sound at the back of his throat and it makes his cheek buzz lightly against Felix’s neck. After a few minutes, Felix feels Seungmin go limp on top of him, breath evening out, and he lets out a sigh of relief. He’s glad Seungmin has slipped back into a more comfortable place.
As twitchy and awkward as he’d felt at first, he’s no stranger to cuddling (especially on this couch), so after the initial shock wore off, he’d slipped into autopilot, and is now surprisingly content with Seungmin’s weight on top of him. And though he’d been unsure whether he’d be able to fall asleep, his eyes begin to grow heavy after all. Soon enough, regular sleep schedule be damned, he dozes off as well.
Seungmin becomes much clingier.
After waking from their impromptu nap, it’s like he doesn’t want to let Felix go. When Felix untangles their limbs and heads to the kitchen to load the dishes he’d left on the table and the bowl he’d left in the bathroom, Seungmin trails after him and asks him to explain how the tiny dishwasher works, how the microwave works, how the fridge and freezer work. Felix ends up walking around the whole apartment, telling Seungmin everything he knows about each appliance he points out.
Seungmin is very curious about why Felix’s bathroom has a shower and a bathtub in one, while Changbin’s has only a shower, and did they fight over who got the full bath? The answer is no. (Changbin wanted the room with “better night lighting” and can still use either shower whenever he pleases unless Felix is already in his.)
When they’re just about to leave Changbin’s bathroom, which he’s luckily less picky about having people in than his bedroom, Felix stops so abruptly that Seungmin walks right into his back. “What is it?” Seungmin asks, taking only a small step away.
“Sorry,” Felix says, a bit distracted as he tugs open the fake closet to reveal the washer and dryer, “I just remembered I should probably do my laundry while I’m here so I don’t forget again.”
“Laundry?” Seungmin eyes the machines curiously.
“Yeah, like washing clothes and stuff when they get dirty.” Felix opens the washer, tells Seungmin he can peek inside if he wants, and hurries to his room and back. When he returns, it’s with his hamper, nearly filled to the brim with sweats and hoodies, which he’d been living in since exam season started, and hadn’t seen any reason to stop wearing afterwards. He starts emptying the lights into the washer, and Seungmin watches, twisting absently at the bottom of his shirt.
“Can mine be washed too?” He asks as Felix tugs the last gray pullover from the hamper.
Felix freezes halfway through closing the washer. “What?”
“My clothes,” Seungmin says, assuming Felix simply hadn’t heard him. “They do not feel nice anymore. I do not think they were made for this plane.”
“Um.” Felix’s brows furrow, mulling over the question. Can angel clothes go in a normal human light wash? He doubts Seungmin knows either, so leaves the query unvoiced. “I guess? You’d have to borrow mine then.”
“Okay,” Seungmin agrees easily.
Felix falters, a new thought jumping to the forefront of his mind. “None of my shirts will fit over your wings.”
“That is fine,” Seungmin assures him. “I do not need to wear one.”
“But it’s winter,” Felix says weakly, fighting back another blush.
“I told you, I am not affected by temperature. It will not bother me.”
Felix opens his mouth to protest and promptly snaps it shut again. There’s no way he say no to Seungmin about this without saying too much. Still, he hesitates a moment longer before giving in. “Okay,” he sighs. “I’ll go get bottoms for you. Just wait here a minute.”
He ducks out of the bathroom. While rummaging for clothes suitable enough for Seungmin to wear when he’s probably used fine materials, Felix fights back the heat rising in his cheeks. He’s never met anyone so forward before; even Minho can have tact when he wants to. Maybe the most startling thing about Seungmin isn’t that he’s an angel, but that he appears to have absolutely no boundaries. Well, physical ones at least. Felix does get the feeling sometimes that there are other things Seungmin may be holding back on.
However, when he returns to find Seungmin’s shirt already off and getting tossed in the washer, critical thought flees from his brain faster than it had when he’d sat down for his first exam. He loses the battle against the blush rising quickly in his cheeks, and practically slams the door closed on Seungmin after passing him the pants.
“Open the door when you’re changed,” he says in a strained voice from the other side of the door. “I’ll start the laundry when you’re out.”
Felix barely has a chance to breathe before the door swings open again and Seungmin steps out in a pair of his black sweats. It’s a stark contrast from the all white ensemble he’d been in before, and Felix marvels at the sight for a moment before remembering himself.
He keeps his eyes high and skirts around Seungmin quickly so he can start the wash without delay. The sooner it’s finished, the sooner Seungmin can put a shirt back on. The sooner Felix can breathe easy again.
It’s going to be a long forty minutes.