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fly like rain, again after the fall

Chapter Text

Felix is two pages shy of the end of his chapter when a loud crash sounds outside his apartment. The curtains over his window tremble as if caught by a light wind. He startles where he’s laying, hanging halfway off his bed, and tumbles to the floor. As he falls, the light on his watch flashes, and once he’s hit the carpet with a soft thud, he catches the time: a quarter past three in the morning. He stands quickly and stumbles to his bedroom door, vision swimming with bursts of shooting white stars, the book abandoned on the floor where it had fallen with him.

Blinking his head clear, Felix wanders cautiously out of his room and glances down the short hallway to the front door. The brass lock is still twisted all the way to the right, undisturbed. The crash hadn't come from that way, had it? Felix looks across the main room to Changbin's closed door, the bathroom next to it dark where the lamplight from the lounge doesn't reach. He’s still out of town visiting his family; Felix is on his own. He steps forward, into the lounge area and then through it, walking past the couch and easy chair, and peers suspiciously at the sliding glass door that leads to their small balcony. He squints in an attempt to see beyond the door through the fine, gauzy green drapes hanging in front of it, but with the darkness of night outside, the view is shrouded and obscured.

Felix inches forward enough to reach the light switch, flicks it, and bathes the balcony in light. He draws the drapes back and blinks. The startling white curtains Changbin had hung across their balcony within their first week in the apartment - some time ago, now - have been torn down from the sliding rail they had run across and are now in a pile on the ground. There is something buried underneath.

Against his better judgement, spurred on by curiosity despite all his life-preserving instincts, Felix unlocks the door, slides it open, steps out into the chilly air. As he does, the pile of curtains starts to move, and Felix's eyes widen as an arm appears out from under the mess. When the body belonging to the arm is uncovered, his eyes practically fall out of his head.

Felix stares at the boy, blinks, then blinks again and again to make sure he's really seeing what he thinks he is. The boy stares owlishly back at him.

“You have wings.” Felix says, dumbfounded, not quite believing the sight before him.

The boy nods, tight, slow, holding Felix's gaze with an intensity that makes him squirm and look away. His eyes travel to the wings: wide, with the same soft, light gray feathers of the baby ducks Felix had raised back home, once upon a time. They’re beautiful in a strange, unnerving, unreal kind of way that parts Felix’s lips with awe. They are not unlike sculpted modern art, but art has never grabbed hold of Felix’s whole being and demanded attention quite like this. When the cloud of mist lifts up from his head though, he notices that the left wing is bent at an awkward angle, askew from the right. Felix looks again to the boy's face and sees pain seeping through the tight lines drawn in his gently sloping cheeks, into his dark, watchful eyes.

“That’s kinda how my arm looked when I broke it a few years ago,” Felix blurts as soon as the thought pops into his head, gesturing at the left wing. The wings are real, his brain might allow for that much to be true, but it still refuses to process the fact that the wings are really attached to this boy. Just as suddenly as he’d mentioned breaking his arm, and surprising himself almost as much as the boy, he asks, “Do you need a splint?”

“Do I need a splint?” The boy echoes, his eyes widening before quickly narrowing again.

“Yeah,” Felix says, “to support the bones while they heal after you set them. Wait. You do have bones, right?”

The confusion on the boy’s face twists and morphs into exasperation. “I know what a splint is,” he asserts in a voice laced with both pain and irritation. “I do not need one. And of course I have bones.” The boy shoves the rest of the sun curtains off his body and pushes himself to his feet, trying to hide the effort it takes, the discomfort it causes.

“Are you . . . okay?” Felix asks hesitantly, focused on the wing, bent backwards now more prominently than before. He might be slow to process what the wings themselves are, but he at least knows what they look like and what that means: something in the boy’s wing is fractured at the very least.

“I am fine,” the boy insists, stepping forward, starting to spread his wings as if to fly away right then and there. But they’ve barely lifted past his elbows before his face crumples in pain and his wings lower gingerly once more. He is steel, burning up to melting, some of his hardness slipping away. He makes a noise in the back of his throat that sounds like waves crashing violently against shore, and Felix chalks it up to a gust of wind whistling past them because there’s no way he’d really just heard a sea in the boy’s mouth.

For a long moment afterwards, they’re silent, the boy staring out at the trees across the way, Felix staring at the boy, still trying to believe that what he's seeing is real. Then Felix says, “I remember how to make a splint. I’m pretty sure we have the stuff.”

The boy turns grudgingly to level his gaze on Felix, where it remains long enough to make Felix’s stomach burst with dark night moths, their wings beating furiously, pitiful in every way the boy’s wings are magnificent. Finally, the boy sighs. He nods his head towards the door behind Felix, and when Felix steps forward and through it, reluctantly follows him inside.

Suddenly grateful for Changbin's insistence on tidiness, Felix walks clean through the sitting room and back into his bedroom to collect what he needs: a fat meter stick he'd accidentally stolen from the University while delirious from an all nighter and had been too embarrassed to return, a short, thin blanket he can pad the meter stick with, the ace bandage he keeps around for when heavy rain outside makes his bad knee throb again, and thick, strong woolen yarn Changbin’s mom had sent him when he'd mentioned he wanted to try out knitting (it hadn't gone as well as he'd hoped). The boy hangs back, just outside the door to his room. He is as tense as the tightly wound yarn in Felix’s hand, and he is watching him closely.

When Felix emerges from his room, the boy backs up until he hits the table pushed up against the half-wall that separates the small kitchen from the rest of the apartment. He glances away from Felix long enough to locate a chair and slide it out from under the table, then he sinks into it and returns to eyeing Felix with confusion and mistrust as entirely unveiled as a bride on her wedding day, if brides looked at their partner like they were some strange stray on the street.

“Why does that say Science Department ?” The boy asks, half curious, half accusing.

“No reason,” Felix says quickly, cheeks dusting pink. He twists the stick to hide the writing, looks at the wing again and remembers that a splint alone won’t heal a broken bone. “You’re not supposed to set a bone at home. You’re supposed to go to a doctor.”

The boy’s eyes narrow. “I cannot go to a doctor.”

“Yeah, sounds crazy but I’d puzzled that bit out myself. Where can you go?”

“Nowhere,” the boy says, voice suddenly soft. He walks carefully over his next words; the bride stepping delicately to avoid catching her train on her heels. “I cannot go home. Not until I can fly again.”

Felix shifts his weight without taking another step closer. “Where, uh. Where is home, exactly?” He is hesitant, asking though he does not expect a response.

The boy purses his lips, doesn’t answer.

“Okay then,” Felix says, still rocking back and forth on his heels. “So what’s the plan?”

“Handle it here.”

Felix blinks. “I was CPR certified when I was like, fourteen, and that’s the full extent of my medical training. I can’t set a bone. Especially not a . . .” he trails off, gestures to the wing.

The boy continues to look expectantly at Felix, unfazed by his protest, as if he hasn't heard or simply doesn't care about what he’s just said.

After a long, awkward pause, Felix relents. “My friend is a vet, I guess I could ask him?”

The boys lips turn down just so, a frown ghosting across his face, but he does not protest. Felix takes it as an okay, so he walks to the table, sets his things down, and then heads back into his room to find his phone. He returns to the table while the number dials.

Minho picks up on the fourth ring. He is not happy about it. “Felix, it’s ass o-fucking-clock in the morning right now. You better have a good reason for calling me at this hour.”

Felix glances again at the boy. “Sorry, Minho. I think I have a pretty good reason though.”

“Well, what is it?”

“This, uh, bird just crashed into my window and its wing looks broken.” The boy’s face twists like Felix’s words are as sour to him as a slice of lemon on his tongue, but Felix tries not to mind. He can’t exactly say what actually crashed onto his balcony. “I don’t know what to do because I can’t take it to a vet or anything and I don’t want to just leave it out there in pain. Can you help?”

Minho sighs, but his voice has taken up a note of concern when he speaks again. “How big is the bird?”

A moment of hesitation. “Pretty big.”

“Is it dangerous?”

Felix eyes the boy. “I’m not sure. I don’t think so.”

“How bad does the wing look?”

“I mean, it looks like my arm when I fractured the fuck out of it a few years ago. But it’s a wing so I’m not sure how that translates, you know?”

Felix can feel Minho frowning through the phone, can practically hear the gears in his brain turning.

“Can you send a picture?”

Felix blanches. The boy’s eyes go wide. Can he hear Minho’s voice too? “Um.” Felix’s voice is strained, higher than usual. He’s not cut out for this; he’s a terrible liar! “I’m not sure I have to? Here, I can just describe it, right? Yeah, yeah. The wing’s bent back at an angle about a third of the way down and he, uh, the bird can’t lift it up. Does that help?”

Minho is silent for a long, weighted moment, and the only sound in the room is Felix trying to stifle his own dragging breaths. He hadn’t stopped for air while trying to worm his way out of sending a picture of a wing not at all attached to a bird, and a wave of dizziness is creeping up the back of his neck now. Felix puts a nervous, steadying hand on the edge of the table. It’s so quiet now he can hear his own heart hammering away in his chest as it heaves.

“Okay.” Minho sounds surprisingly calm. “You know how to splint right?”

“Yeah,” Felix breathes, relieved.

“Cool. It’s gonna be kind of like that. What you’re gonna want to do is wash the wing if there’s any open injury and then dab some baking soda on it to help control the bleeding. You have baking soda right?”

“Of course. We’re not animals. We bake.”

“Congratulations.” Minho’s voice is tired and dry. “You said the bird was pretty big right?”

“Yeah.”

“All right. So once the bleeding’s stopped or mostly stopped you basically need to make a mini splint because bandaging tape alone probably won’t hold a bigger wing. Do you have a ruler or something you can use?”

Felix and the boy both look at the meter stick. “Something like that, yeah.”

“Okay. Gently fold the wing against the bird’s body so it sits the way the other one does. Then line the ruler up with it for support and wrap everything just tight enough to keep it in place. If you do it too tight it’ll hurt. The tape should go under the other wing and comes around its chest when you’re done. Also, make sure you use something that won’t stick to its feathers and hurt it more. Got that?”

Felix runs back through the instructions in his head. “Yeah. I think I can manage. Do I have to wash it if it’s not bleeding, though?”

“Hmm. It’s definitely easier for it to get infected if you don’t, but I guess it’s up to you whether you want to risk that.”

Felix makes a small, distressed sound at the back of his throat. “That’s a lot of pressure.”

“Better safe than sorry, then.” Minho’s voice comes through fuzzy with static. “I can stop by tomorrow if you want me to look at it.”

The boy’s eyes blow wide at the same time Felix’s do. “I’m not sure you have to,” Felix laughs nervously.

“But I’m invested now. I want to make sure you don’t hurt that poor thing any more.”

“Really, it’s not that-”

“I’ll be over some time after work.” Minho cuts him off resolutely.

“But-”

“Remember what I said, Lix. Take care of it and then take your ass to bed. Just because you’re on break doesn’t mean you should fuck up your sleep schedule any more than you already have. You need to be awake to let me in tomorrow.”

“I . . . okay,” Felix says weakly, giving in.

“Night, then.” Minho hangs up the phone.

The boy looks at Felix like he’s the crazy one with wings. “I am not a bird,” he says indignantly.

Felix sighs, exasperated. “I know.” Suddenly he’s far more tired than he’d been a few minutes ago.

“So what are you going to show your friend when he comes?”

“I’ll figure that out later.” Felix waves a hand, pushing the thought away. “Do you want to wash your . . . wing.” Felix chokes on the word. Each time it feels more real than before, and he’s not sure he’ll be able to handle it when his brain finally finishes processing the sheer magnitude of what this boy with wings means.

The boy shakes his head. “I will be fine.” He says it as if he’s convincing himself as much as Felix, but Felix doesn’t argue. If the boy wants to shoulder the risk himself, it’s not Felix’s place to stop him.

“Okay, then we go straight to folding it. It guess that’s better than trying to set the bone. Can you . . . do that? Or do you need me to help?”

The boy’s cheeks puff out and deflate like a balloon blown full and then set lose to spin off to nothing through the air. His lips pull into a thin line. “I think I need help.” The words are raw, as if they’re ripped from his throat, as if he’s ashamed to admit it. Felix thinks it sounds like the whisper of footsteps padding down the hall, a painfully soft knock on his bedroom door, Changbin crawling hesitantly into his bed on nights when the cold and the dark creep in too close and he just needs to be held by someone who knows all too well what that aching feels like; a reminder that in spite of being miles and miles from his family, he’s still not entirely alone. Felix softens a bit around the edges, and when he crosses around the table his hands are light and gentle on the feathers of the boy’s wings, caught halfway between fluffy and sleek.

“I think this is probably gonna hurt,” Felix says, fingers lifting away a bit at the way the boy’s back goes rigid when he touches him.

The boy sighs so quietly that if Felix hadn’t seen his shoulders rise and fall, he wouldn’t have known. “It already hurts,” he whispers. Again, it is so quiet that Felix thinks it wasn’t meant for him. “Just do it.”

“Okay,” Felix breathes. He tugs the meter stick, bandage, and the rest across the table towards him and places his hands lightly back on the boy’s wing. As gently as possible, he eases it down so that, if he doesn’t look at the harsh bend of it a third of the way down, it is a mirror image of the right wing. Out of the corner of his eye he sees the boy’s hands clench into fists.

Holding the wing down with one hand, Felix reaches for the meter stick, rolls it sloppily in the throw, cursing himself for not doing it beforehand. He lines it up against the boy’s wing, pressing it lightly in place with his thumb, then pulls the bandage off the table as well and wraps it once, twice, three times around the wing before he runs out of fabric and has to tie it together with the yarn from Changbin’s mother. It’s not quite what Minho had said to do, but it’s the best he can manage for tonight, so he hopes it’ll be enough. As soon as he’s done, he pulls his hands away and brings them to rest at his sides. He can still feel the softness of the feathers against his palms.

“There you go.” He feels slightly out of breath again.

The boy’s hands curl open and his back slumps so that his spine is no longer straight as an arrow, but slightly curved, like a sapling caught by wind. The boy’s white singlet (is that what it is? Felix can’t quite tell. It’s not anything he’s seen before) hangs crookedly on his shoulders, so Felix can see exactly where skin and bone meld with light gray feathers. He stares at it, that impossible spot, until his brain finally catches up. And there it is; it has finally sunken in that this boy, beautiful wings and all, is real. Felix stumbles back one step, two steps, until he hits the back of the couch, and he falls.

The ceiling is speckled white above Felix, dark at the edges where the light is thrown out by shadows. He curls and the cushions catch his shoulders, his head. His legs hang over the back of the couch. All he sees is the swimming white, pushing against the darkness above him; he is curled inside an egg, trapped. All he hears is blood rushing in his ears, turning black and white to a staticy gray. Then this: the scrape of chair legs on the ground cuts through the drowning noise, brown hair and brown eyes appear to crack the shell of the egg.

“Are you all right?” The boy looks down to him, confused.

“You,” Felix chokes, “who are you?”

The boy pauses. “My name is Seungmin.”

A small sliver of light shines through. Seungmin.

“What.” Felix stops. His throat is raw. Asking the question aloud will make it real. But his eyes swim with the image of the boy with wings. Seungmin. It’s already real. “What are you?”

It is barely a whisper, but Seungmin hears. He tilts his head to the side, watches Felix closely. “Do you not know already?”

“No,” he breathes. He can’t bring himself to say it. He still doesn’t want to believe it.

Seungmin narrows his eyes, but it doesn’t look like an accusation; it looks like a question. Like he’s seeing but not understanding, asking why? The silence drags and Felix feels all the air slowly draining out of his lungs. Now he is the balloon, spinning through the air, helpless.

“I am an angel.”

Felix has been punched in the gut. Suddenly he’s years younger and his father is a gunshot with each shout, his mother’s hand ice against his skin where she rips the cross from his neck. Suddenly the world is swimming through his eyes and a door is slamming behind his back. Suddenly he’s on Chan’s porch, stumbling to his room, sobbing in his arms. The old, buried hurt in him surges back to the surface and he feels it all again in an instant: the suffocating heat of summer, the pain in his chest so sharp that every breath is a knife cutting through him, the rawness of his eyes, the salt dripping from his cheeks to his tongue. He hears their voices, the words he used to hear in his dreams every night until he put an ocean in between himself and the past: One day you’ll know. He’ll make you know. He is real and He does not love you.

“Are you all right?” The hesitant voice comes again, drizzles over Felix like gentle rain, washes away the memories. He resurfaces in the present gasping for air. Fresh tears catch in his lashes when he blinks. Seungmin has crossed around the couch, is standing on the carpet beside him, watching. Confusion has replaced the pain painting his face.

“I-” Felix can’t answer the question. He clutches the cushions, drags his legs over the back of the couch, pushes himself up so he’s propped against the pillows. Seungmin has wings. Seungmin is an angel. Seungmin is real. That means . . . that means his parents . . . were they right? “Is it true?” His voice is shattered like glass.

Seungmin’s brows draw together. “Is what true?”

“That He,” he swallows the words, doesn’t want to say them out loud. He doesn’t want to know the answer. “That you really don’t deserve love if you . . . if you love too much. Love the wrong people? The wrong way? Like me?”

Seungmin tilts his head. His eyes go slightly wide. What a question to ask. “Why would you be unworthy of being loved for loving others?” He pauses. “How can love be wrong?”

Felix says nothing.

“Does it hurt?” He is curious, a rover exploring foreign red sand.

“No,” Felix breathes. It’s not loving that hurts. It’s the fear that walks hand in hand with his love. The fear borne from hate which seems to crowd him like smoke, the smell of burning lingering long after wind had pushed the flames away.

“Then no.” Seungmin’s voice is clear, sure. It reminds him of Chan. “Why would you think loving makes you undeserving of receiving love yourself?”

Felix shakes his head, tries to dry up his tears before they fall, bitter with old pain resurfacing, warm with newfound relief. He can’t repeat his parents’ words. He can only hold tight to Seungmin’s. They are the ones he wants to believe more than anything. There are the ones he will believe.

“Well it doesn’t,” Seungmin says resolutely. It is rain falling gently on his skin, rinsing it clean of the lasting odor. It is petrichor at long last after wildfires had threatened to raze him to the ground. “Why are we here if not to love?”

Felix feels half a watery laugh try to creep from his throat. It’s one thing to hear Chan murmur into his hair that he’s perfectly fine, entirely worthy, that nothing in the world is wrong with him; it’s another thing completely to hear Seungmin, who crashed down from the sky onto his porch, who has wings which are without a doubt the most ethereal thing Felix has ever seen, who is an angel , tell him without hesitation, without motive, not that he is deserving in spite of his own love, but that he is deserving because of it. He loses the battle against the rising tide of tears in his eyes and they fall freely across his cheeks, connecting his freckles and turning them into scattered constellations.

Seungmin watches him, head still tilted at an angle, like he’s waiting for something. An explanation, maybe. But Felix doesn’t have one to give. It is as though he is a house, barely standing after a storm, every inch still soaked through and aching even after the flood waters have receded. He is a raw, exposed heart, almost too exhausted to beat blood through his arteries, let alone explain that years and years of uncertainty drilled into his very bones by his parents built a dam in his chest that Seungmin has just brought crumbling down in one fell swoop, and the only thing keeping him afloat in the aftermath is the knowledge that his heart is not wrong, not a curse, not a betrayal to anything right in the world. He takes a shaky breath and pushes himself up from the couch before he sinks so deep into it he won’t be able to escape its hold until dawn breaks and his open wounds have scabbed over enough for him to move without tearing them apart again.

“I can’t deal with this,” he says weakly, the last of his feeble strength spent on the words. “I’m going to sleep.”

Seungmin steps back to give him space to pass, and Felix stumbles across the floor, through his bedroom door, and collapses on his bed. He doesn’t know what Seungmin will do now, if he’ll leave now that he’s bandaged or crash on the couch, or if he even sleeps at all, but he can’t bring himself to care. His head has barely hit the pillow before he’s out like a light. Dim to dark in an instant.

Chapter Text

Felix wakes to bright sun slanting through his curtains, a dull throbbing headache beating into his skull, and a round of sharp knocks on the door. He almost calls for Changbin to get it before he remembers that Changbin is still away. There’s half a groan of defeat on his lips when he remembers everything else, and then for the second time in less than twenty-four hours Felix finds himself tumbling from his bed and onto the carpet below. Again, he sees bright white stars flash in his eyes when he stands, and in his almost drunken staggering, walks into his own bedroom door before he makes it through the main room and is able to peer through the peephole in his front door. There’s nothing there. Felix frowns, undoes the lock, peeks out into the hallway. It’s completely empty.

“So where…” he trails off, closes the door and redoes the lock, turns around. The balcony.

Sure enough, when he gets close enough to see through the glass, there Seungmin is. He’s sitting cross legged just outside the door, hands folded in his lap. The curtains he’d torn down in his crash landing the night before are hanging again, for the most part. There are a few tears in the top of the curtains, and a few rings are snapped and broken, unable to hold anything up, but even those are stacked neatly in a small pile near the wall. Felix blinks at the sight, surprised. He looks at Seungmin, who is already looking at him.

“What’re you….doing out here?” Felix asks hesitantly, sliding the door open. A small rush of wind ruffles his hair up and away from his face. Seungmin makes no move to stand.

“I put the curtains back up,” he says simply.

“I mean…yeah. I saw.” Felix’s question had been meant to be more of a why are you sitting out in the cold and did you spend the whole night out here? But clearly that didn’t make it across. “You knocked?” He tries instead.

Seungmin nods. “May I come back in?”

Felix bites his lower lip, furrows his brows. “Um.” What is he? A fucking vampire that needs to be invited in? “Sure. I guess.” He can’t exactly leave him out on the balcony anyway.

“Thank you.” Seungmin stands and walks sideways through the open door when Felix steps back to let him pass so that his wings, still folded into his back, don’t come in danger of hitting the edges of the frame.

“Sure,” Felix repeats himself, unsure of what he’s supposed to do now. Do angels eat human food? Do they drink? Is he supposed to offer Seungmin something? He sighs, runs a hand through his hair as if the contact will turn his brain back on in spite of the headache still rumbling through it. “Are you warm enough?” He finally asks.

Seungmin nods. “Temperature does not bother me.”

Huh . Felix supposes that makes enough sense. “Are you, uh, feeling better?”

Seungmin nods again, stiffly this time. “A bit.” He pauses, then tentatively asks, “Are you?”

“Yeah.” Aside from the dull feeling of the seven dwarfs mining away at his skull, Felix does actually feel better. Last night had opened wounds that ran deeper than he’d realized, but they were old wounds nonetheless. He’s going to be okay. Eventually. Better than okay, all things considered. Still, Felix finds himself rubbing the back of his neck, looking down at the floor, remembering in painfully vivid detail the way he’d broken down completely. “Sorry about that,” he mumbles. Was it perfectly understandable that he would break down the way he did considering the circumstances? Yes. But did Seungmin know what the fuck those circumstances were? Absolutely not. Therefore, Felix reasons, it must have been quite startling. “I just had. Um. A lot of old stuff get dredged back up.”

“Oh. I am sorry.”

“No, no,” Felix says quickly at the way Seungmin’s face has gone cloudy and downcast. “It wasn’t your fault, really! It’s just. Well. It was a lot. That you’re….real. I mean- that angels and all of that are….you know.” He stops, swallows nervously.  

At this, at least, Seungmin’s face clears a bit. “I understand. This was a….less than favorable way for you to find out.”

“You can say that again,” Felix sighs.

“This was a less than favorable way for you to find out.” Seungmin repeats himself without hesitation. “Did you not hear well the first time?”

Despite everything, a small giggle worms its way past Felix’s lips, entirely unbidden, and his eyes widen at the sound. He ducks his head, embarrassed. “I heard,” he mumbles to the floor. “It’s just a figure of speech. Just means I agree with you.”

“Oh.” Seungmin sounds quite bemused. “That is odd.”

“Yeah,” Felix says, tugging his eyes away from the carpet to look at Seungmin again. His brown eyes look warm as melted chocolate in the midday sun. “I know. People are weird.”

Seungmin nods sagely. “You are the only one I have met, but I can tell you are right.”

“Hey!” Felix’s cheeks burn. “I’m not that weird. You should meet Changbin.”

“Who is Changbin?”

“My roommate.”

Seungmin’s eyes turn guarded, his shoulders tense. “Is he here?”

“No. He’s away,” Felix says quickly. “Won’t be back for two more weeks I think.”

The tension melts out of Seungmin’s features at this and for a moment Felix is strangely glad that Changbin is getting to visit his family for such a long time. “Well, does Changbin have a needle pierced through his skin like you do?” Seungmin asks, reaching up to brush his fingers against the small silver bird studding Felix’s ear.

Felix freezes and goes cherry red. Do angels just….not have any concept of personal space? But no. There are more important things to focus on. Like protecting his honor and proving that Changbin is infinitely weirder than most people, including him. “Changbin has three,” he says. “And he has secret tats too.”

“Tats?” Seungmin cocks his head to the side again and Felix wonders how much time he spends like that, watching the world spin tilted.

“Tattoos. Weird stuff too; Celtic or something. His most normal one is this tiny black raven and even that gives me the heebie-jeebies sometimes. Like, it doesn’t have eyes, but I just feel like it watches me sometimes, you know?”

Seungmin looks blankly at him. “I do not.”

“Right.” Of course. Felix becomes increasingly interested in the floor again. “Sorry. Forget I said anything.”

Seungmin makes a small sound in the back of his throat like a gentle breeze sighing through summer-green grass and Felix’s eyes widen so that he can see Seungmin’s tan slipper-shoes parallel his own bare feet. “Will you explain for me?” Seungmin asks. “I would like to know.”

Felix looks up and Seungmin’s warm eyes are earnest, curious. “Sure,” he breathes. “Could you explain some stuff for me too?”

Seungmin nods and follows Felix around the sofa to the table where he sits (slightly stiffly, careful not to bump his wing) opposite Felix.  

“I’ll go first,” Felix offers. “Ask away.”

Seungmin sucks part of his lower lip into his mouth and considers for a moment. “What are the needle piercings for?”

“The earrings or the tattoos? They both use needles.”

“Either.”

“Well for me the earring is a reminder, I guess. And it’s pretty. Most people just get them because they like them, I think.” Felix thumbs the silver wings of the stud. They’re smooth and shiny, but nowhere near as beautiful as the ones he’d patched up the night before.

Seungmin tracks Felix’s fingers back to the little bird caught mid-flight against his ear with careful, attentive eyes. “What does it remind you of?”

Felix shrugs, tries to come up with the simplest answer he can without spilling the whole sad, ugly truth. “That I’ve flown away before, so I can always do it again if I have to.”

“How do you fly?” Seungmin’s brows furrow, and if not for his great gray wings, Felix thinks he could pass as any other tired and confused college student.

“In a plane,” Felix says lightly, almost a laugh. He can’t imagine what it must be like for Seungmin, to be able to fly all his own. It must be incredible. He doesn’t let himself dwell on that thought. “I think I get to ask a few questions now.”

“All right.”

Felix taps his chin. What does he want to know first? Something serious or… “What’s with your aversion to contractions? I haven’t heard you use a single one. They’re super nifty though, and they help you not sound like an old professor with a stick up his-”

Seungmin turns an interesting color at this, light enough that Felix’s isn’t quite sure what it is exactly, but it’s certainly something . “I just speak how the rest of my kind do. It is normal where I come from.”

“Where do you come from?” Felix asks. He expects the same silence he’d gotten when he’d asked the night before, but Seungmin surprises him.

“Up,” he says softly, pointing out the window at the sunny sky. “I do not know where, exactly, but I fly and then I am there. I believe it may be everywhere.”

“Oh.” Felix’s voice is small. Very small. He looks out the window after Seungmin, watching a bright cloud drift and disperse in the wind. Something heavy hangs in the air over the table between them when a shadow passes over the sun and they turn to face each other again. Felix’s throat goes dry and rough as sandpaper and for a moment he’s not sure he remembers how to breathe. Then his stomach lets out an unholy growl and everything vanishes like the last wisps of the cloud trailing into thin, smoky wisps.

Seungmin honest to God giggles, all low and light, and Felix’s face is on fire as he stands and practically runs into the kitchen to hide in hungry shame. “Please pretend that didn’t happen,” he wails, reaching for the closest thing he can find (a banana) and peeling it so fast he almost slams his hand down into the counter in his haste. When he does emerge again it is with half the banana already chewed and sating his demon stomach and a very fragile, faux calm plastered across his face. Seungmin, for his part, appears to have waited patiently for him to collect himself, and says nothing of the incident when Felix takes his seat again.

“So I was also wondering,” Felix says weakly, clutching the bottom of the banana a bit too tight, “if temperature doesn’t bother you, are there other things that don’t affect you either? Other human things you don’t have to worry about?”

“Like what?” Seungmin asks, head tilting just so in a way that Felix is unnerved to find he already expects. “I am not familiar with every human custom.”

“Sleeping?” Felix supplies, taking another bite.

“I do sleep,” Seungmin says, furrowing his brows and looking behind Felix at the hideous old clock Changbin had insisted they hang on the wall. “But I do not think I experience time in the same way you do. I sleep less often, I think.”

“Like every few days or something?”

“Or something.”

“Okay, well what about eating?” Felix waves the last bite of banana in the air.

“I have never tried human food, but we do have our own sustenance back home. It is not quite the same though.”

“Huh.” Felix finishes his banana and tosses the peel onto the placemat in front of his seat. “So do you get hungry?”

Seungmin nods. “I never make that hunger sound, though.”

Felix purses his lips to quell the nervous grin trying to worm its way onto his face. So much for letting it go. But Seungmin seems much more open now than he had last night, and the statement seems more like a plain old fact than a jab. Felix thinks he likes Seungmin much more when he’s not terse bordering on mean from pain. “Yeah, well I don’t usually make it either,” he says weakly, trying to save the last bit of his dignity. Then, to get them talking about anything other than the whalesong in his stomach, “Can you tell me about your clothes? They’re very… mountain monk-esque.”

Seungmin looks down at his clothes, then back up at Felix. “They are quite breathable. What is wrong with them?”

“Nothing!” It wasn’t meant to be an insult! “They’re just different from the stuff we wear….down here. Is that how everyone dresses or is it just your style?”

“This is how I dress,” Seungmin says carefully, as if he’s still considering his next words. “Is it boring?” He hesitates. “Because my brother says it is as well.”

Felix’s lips part and make a small, surprised o. That is not what he’d expected to hear . “I don’t think it’s inherently boring,” he ventures, “I just think it wants some kind of spark. Like you’ve got all that white and nothing to break it up.”

Seungmin frowns lightly, his bottom lip sticking out in almost a pout. “Is a spark practical for clothes? Do they not set fires?”

“Well.” Huh. Felix blinks. “They do, but I’m talking about more of a metaphorical spark. Just something that’ll light a fire in someone’s heart instead of burning anything real.”

“A fire in someone’s heart,” Seungmin repeats, like he’s testing the words, seeing how the feel in his mouth, whether he likes them. “Is that good?”

“Yeah, it means they’re passionate about something. When clothes are nice they’re supposed to make people excited. I think. That’s what Changbin says, at least.”

“So flaming hearts are good, and clothes should be exciting.” Seungmin sighs, but his eyes almost appear to sparkle in the light. “Humans are strange indeed.”

Felix decides disputing that is a futile effort and resigns himself to simply nodding. All the evidence points toward Seungmin being right.

“Will you tell me more?” Seungmin’s eyes really do sparkle this time.

So Felix does. Felix tells Seungmin how people speak to animals and babies in impossibly high voices because regular voices just don’t sound right when you’re talking to something that precious. He tells Seungmin how people apologize to inanimate objects when they knock into them and how they threaten the same objects when they don’t work the way they’re supposed to, knowing full well their words fall on unhearing ears. He tells Seungmin how when young children’s baby teeth fall out, they leave them under their pillows at night and in the morning the teeth have been replaced with money. He tells Seungmin that people throw small coins into fountains and wells and wish for the water to help their dreams come true. He’s about to get to dandelions - because if wishing wells blew Seungmin’s mind he can’t wait to hear what he thinks about magic flower seeds - when a loud knock on the front door sends them both jumping in their seats.

Felix’s eyes widen and he turns to gawk at the clock on the wall. Fuck, how did the time slip away without him noticing? That must be Minho! He turns back to Seungmin with wide, panicked eyes. “Hide!”

“Where?” Seungmin asks, eyes just as wide.

Felix points to Changbin’s bathroom. “In there,” he hisses. “I hope you’re not afraid of the dark. Close the door and please, please stay quiet. Minho can’t know.”

Seungmin nods, the light in his eyes already gone, his face serious again. The knocking starts back up and Felix shouts a strangled “I’m coming!” and waits until the bathroom door clicks shut behind Seungmin before jumping up from his seat and wracking his brain for how the fuck he’s going to explain away the utter lack of an injured bird in his apartment while he hurries to the front door. When he swings it open to let a very impatient Minho in though, he’s still drawing a complete and utter blank.

“Hey.” Minho slips his shoes off and steps in, brandishing a small plastic bag in his hand.  “I brought some snacks from the store cuz I figured you wouldn’t have anything over here with Changbin gone and everything.”

“Thanks,” Felix says, not bothering to protest against Minho’s assumptions because they’re entirely correct.

“So how’s the bird doing?” Minho eyes the living room, sees how empty it is. “Where is it?”

“Uh.” The inside of Felix’s brain sounds like a dozen kids screaming on a roller coaster and his headache is setting back in. It’s very unhelpful. What the fuck is he supposed to say?

Minho turns back to him expectantly, an eyebrow quirked at his silence. “Well?”

Felix focuses on a spot just below the slope of Minho’s hair falling into his face so he doesn’t have to meet his eyes. “There...  is no bird.”

Minho stares at him. The bag crinkles in his hand. “What?”

Felix panics. “There was no bird. I imagined it! I was tripping last night. On … acid. Seeing things!”

Minho continues to stare, unimpressed by the lie. “Try again,” he says, barely blinking.

“Um. Okay, so I wasn’t on LSD. I just got a pot brownie from Kevin down the hall and it really fucked me up. I’m pretty sure I also tried to call the police because I thought I was having a heart attack.” Felix might as well drop out of school right here and now to become a gravedigger for the local cemetery. At the rate he’s digging his own, they’d have to hire him, right?

Minho watches Felix sputter out the new lie like he’s watching a speedily sinking ship, and his face opens in horror. “Oh my God, it died! You killed it, didn’t you? That’s why you won’t show it to me!”

Felix’s eyes go wide. “No!” His voice is at least an octave higher than usual, laced with the panic racing through his veins. “Jesus, Minho! I didn’t kill the bird! Why would you think that?”

“Why else would you try to lie your way out of showing it to me?” Minho demands, tossing the bag onto the kitchen counter and then making a break for it.

Felix rushes after him. “I’m not lying! I didn’t kill the bird!”

“You are! You’re a fucking terrible liar, Felix,” Minho says as he takes a sharp turn into Felix’s bedroom and starts to snoop.

Felix scrambles into his room after Minho and pulls the door shut behind him, trapping them as far away from Seungmin as he can. “Fine,” he concedes. “I was lying about the drugs.”

“Yeah, no shit,” Minho scoffs, peering into Felix’s trashcan and starting to rifle through his desk drawers like he’d ever put a bird in any of them.

“I was just embarrassed, okay?” Felix’s brain is racing a mile a minute trying to think of something, anything even remotely close to the truth that Minho will actually believe.

Minho finally stops his scourge of Felix’s room and turns to look at him. He waves his hand a little to tell him to go on with his explanation.

“It was, like, some time past four in the morning when I got all the stuff you told me about and actually wrapped the bird’s wing and I was fucking exhausted.” He stops and runs a hand down his face. This much is actually true. “So I left it on the floor where it couldn’t fall off of anything and hurt itself more and I thought I’d crash on the couch for a minute just to get my energy back so I could set up a good place for it to stay the night, but …” Felix lowers his head in shame. “Then I fell asleep.” This isn’t very far from the truth either. “And when I woke up it was morning and was cold as all fuck in here and I realized I’d left the balcony door open overnight.”

Minho lets out a little groan like he already knows where the story is going. Felix keeps his eyes trained on the floor.

“The bird wasn’t where I left it, and there was a feather stuck in the tracks of the door.” He pauses. “Oh fucking hell, did I kill it?”

Minho groans for real now. Felix looks up to see how angry he is, and he’s surprised to find that Minho looks more amused than upset. “So let me get this straight,” he says. “You went through all the trouble of fixing that poor thing up, then left it on your living room floor in front of an open door and then fell asleep and basically tossed it back out into the wild off of your second story balcony?”

“God,” Felix practically wails, “I did kill it, didn’t I.”

Minho laughs very lightly. “Well, was it down in the grass when you woke up?”

Felix shakes his head.

“Then I guess you probably didn’t kill it after all.” Minho’s voice takes up an almost reassuring tone. “Most animals are more resilient than we think they are. If it wasn’t up here and it wasn’t down there, then it probably got itself out and just wandered off. A fall from this height shouldn’t be able to kill a big bird if it still had one working wing. It’s probably fine.”

Felix heaves a huge sigh of relief.

“Next time just lead with that,” Minho tells him lightly. “It honestly would have been worse if you actually were on drugs and seeing things.”

“Yeah, I know,” Felix mumbles. “I just didn’t want you to be mad at me for losing the bird.”

Minho walks across the room and pats Felix’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. If I was gonna be mad about anything it’d be the call in the middle of the fucking night.”

Felix shrugs sheepishly. “Sorry. I didn’t know what else to do.”

“It’s okay. This time.” Minho laughs again, like tinkling fairy bells, and Felix understands again why Chan is absolutely hook, line, and sinker gone for him. “Just don’t make it a regular thing.”

Felix nods, opens the door to his room again to let Minho out. They walk back to the kitchen together, to the bag Minho had brought and then abandoned on the counter. Minho dumps out the contents and they pick through the small pile for something to snack on while Felix sorts the rest out into the cupboard.

“Thanks for bringing this,” Felix says around the crunch of crackers in his mouth.

“Of course,” Minho nods, gummy candy sticking between his teeth. “I figured you’d be a mess without Changbin around.” He gives Felix a knowing look. “And I was right.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Felix rolls his eyes. Still, he can’t say Minho is wrong; Changbin is the one who usually keeps things in perfect order. And the last twenty-four hours have been a mess indeed. He stacks the rest of the treats in lightly crumpled boxes and shuts the pantry door.

“Seriously, though. Are you gonna be okay until he gets back?” There’s a note of concern in Minho’s voice that makes Felix’s heart ache just a little bit.

“I’ll be fine,” Felix tells him with much less confidence than he’d intended. His mind wanders back to Seungmin, still hiding in the bathroom. “I think.”

Minho starts to say something, probably along the lines of “maybe it’s time to start actually getting your shit together, buddy,” but Felix cuts him off.

“Honestly. It’s just, like, two more weeks. That’s only one load of laundry and maybe two trips to the store? I’m sure I’ll be able to get through that without burning the place down.”

Minho rips a gummy in half with his teeth and makes a small sound like an ‘ oh.’ His eyes look softer than usual. “I didn’t mean logistically. I mean are you gonna be okay being on your own?”

Felix’s heart aches for real this time. “What did Chan tell you?” He whines so he doesn’t have to answer the question.

Minho’s eyes flick away and he chews his gummy candy until it melts to nothing in his mouth. His silence says enough.

Felix sighs. He thinks of Seungmin again. “Don’t worry about me. And tell Chan he doesn’t have to worry either.”

Minho snorts and the tension eases. “You know me telling him that won’t do shit. He was born to fuss over literally everything. Especially you. I think he still thinks you’re a little kid, from the way he talks about you.”

Felix flushes. Great . “Okay, point. But still, I think I’m gonna be fine.”

“As long as you’re sure.” Minho fishes the last bit of candy out of the crinkling package. He holds it out for Felix to bite, and Felix’s cheeks flush even deeper, but he still leans forward to take it.

“Thanks,” he mumbles around the gelatinous mess in his mouth.

Minho laughs and it sounds as soft as silk, delicate as stained glass. “No problem.” He tugs Felix in for a quick hug, arms holding him steady for a moment, then hands squeezing his shoulders. “I gotta go now.”

Felix nods. No one ever stays very long.

“Take care,” Minho tells him, hands falling away as he steps back.

“You too.” Felix smiles. Panic about the bird aside, it’s been nice having Minho over, even if it was only for a little while.

Minho smiles, waves on his way out. And then he’s gone. Felix is left standing alone in his very empty kitchen, watching the door click shut again. He sighs, slides the lock into place again and walks back to the table, sinks back into his chair. “You can come out now,” he calls to Seungmin.

The door to the bathroom swings open, hinges squeaking slightly, and Seungmin appears quite relieved to emerge from the dark. He approaches his seat slowly, poised as if he’s about to ask something he’s afraid Felix won’t like. “I could not help but overhear,” he starts, and Felix tenses, but then, “What is a pot brownie?” Seungmin is completely serious. Felix feels the tension bleed from his muscles so quickly it is as if it was never even there, and a loud laugh slips from him. Maybe it really will be all right after all.

 

Chapter Text

It’s weird. Felix won’t say it isn’t. It’s weird to be sitting at his little dining table (it’s the same size as a nice desk, really, but Changbin insists they ‘treat it with respect and call it what it’s trying to be’) and looking across the polished wood at Seungmin. If he just focuses on Seungmin’s face, it almost feels normal, but then his gaze slips past chestnut eyes and chestnut hair and lands on startling gray wings and all of a sudden everything feels completely surreal again.

Seungmin is talking, he realizes, but the words slip past him as his brain gets stuck on the way the gray feathers look downy in places and shine like metal under light in others. His fingers itch to reach out and touch, to see what it really feels like when he’s not just bandaging them, but the rational part of him aggressively whispers that he needs to keep his distance. Seungmin may be an angel, and he may have a laugh that sounds like creeks babbling happily in the summer, but he’s still a stranger. A stranger who’s seen Felix at his weakest in a way only Changbin and Chan have before him. A stranger who just spent the night in his home (on the balcony behind a closed door, but still). A stranger who doesn’t seem to be leaving any time soon. A stranger, Felix thinks, who might not stay a stranger for very long.

“Felix?” Seungmin waves his hand in the air in front of Felix’s face, and he blinks back to the present.

“Huh?”

“This black brick is buzzing.” He points at Felix’s phone.

“Oh!” Felix scrambles to grab it before the ringing stops. “That’s my phone, thanks.” He manages to open the call just in time to beat his voicemail. “Hello?”

“Hey, Lix.” Changbin’s voice comes through the phone gravelly and slightly disjointed because the service at his family’s house is horrendous, but Felix hardly minds.

“Changbin, hey!” Felix finds himself grinning a little. It’s the first time since leaving that Changbin has called, and he isn’t above admitting he misses the older boy. “What’s up?”

“We’re heading out for a flea market and I was wondering if there’s anything you want me to try and find for you while we’re there.”

“Oh, um.” Felix thinks for a minute. He’s long stopped questioning why Changbin and his family still go out to vintage shops and old markets when they’re rich enough for Changbin to pay the entirety of the rent on his and Felix’s apartment each month without batting an eye while Felix goes a little green just thinking about the figures. Now he just figures it’s one of their strange, small country town quirks. Last time Changbin had come back from visiting them, he’d brought Felix a faded old blue and green dreamcatcher, even though Felix already had a small pink one from Chan hanging above his bed, because, “You can’t have too many, okay? And this one has really good energy, I’m telling you.” But Felix can’t come up with anything he particularly wants right now. “I’m good, I think.”

“Okay. Just thought I’d ask.” He pauses. “You’re doing all right, yeah?”

Felix makes a noncommittal noise at the back of his throat. “I guess. You?”

“Got put to work on my second day here, but yeah.”

“Really?” Felix snickers a bit. “Can’t say you didn’t come by that killer work ethic honestly, I guess.”

Changbin sighs. “Don’t I know it, man.” There’s a moment’s lull, and Felix hears some kind of garbled noise come through the line on Changbin’s side. “Okay, I’m getting hounded, gotta go. Don’t burn the place down while I’m gone!”

“No promises,” Felix says, and he hears Changbin sigh again before he cuts the call. Felix grins at his phone for a minute before setting it down on the table and looking back to Seungmin. “That was my roommate.”

Seungmin nods, looks like he wants to say something but is holding it in, keeping it on the tip of his tongue. Felix briefly considers pressing him for it, but it isn’t his place, is it? They don’t even really know each other, after all. Which makes him wonder again . . . “How do you all live? Y’know, up there? Is it a neighborhood like The Good Place , but with angels? Do you all sleep on clouds or something?”

Seungmin blinks. “Why would we sleep on clouds? They are just masses of condensed water. They would not hold us up.”

“I dunno,” Felix shrugs. “That’s how it is in a lot of art.”

“Oh.” Seungmin’s brows furrow in confusion. “Strange. We do not. And I do not know where the good place is.”

“It’s not actually a place - it’s a show.” Felix wonders why he thought Seungmin would have known that. “About heaven. Or I guess it’s technically about hell. Whatever. Forget it. I was just wondering. Are you allowed to tell me? Is it supposed to be a secret? Wait.” Something dawns on him. “Are angels supposed to be a secret? Am I gonna be smited for finding out?”

Seungmin’s eyes go wide at the onslaught of questions. He opens his mouth, says nothing, and closes it again. When he’s done, Felix finally remembers that he’s supposed to breathe and gasps a little in catching his breath, which seems to startle Seungmin into speech.

“Angels are… each different, I believe. Most times guardians never reveal themselves, but there are always exceptions. And there are always those who know of our existence regardless of whether they learn from angels themselves. So no, you will not be smited just for knowing. Do not worry.” There’s an almost somber look on Seungmin’s face, but a light shines in his eyes that reassures Felix regardless. Still, he decides maybe it’s not the best idea to push his luck on twenty questions today. But there is one other thing that’s been bothering him.

“Your wings,” he says after a moment’s hesitation, “can you . . . retract them? They can’t always be out, right?”

Seungmin nods a little. “Yes. That is how many angels are able to come here without being discovered.”

“So you could hide yours too?”

At this, Seungmin falters for a moment. “I could,” he says slowly, “if one were not hurt. Retracting them now would make the injury worse.”

“Oh.” Felix nods, not entirely sure why he’s disappointed by the news. “Well, hopefully they heal well and you can go home soon.” He offers a small smile, and Seungmin returns it tentatively.

“Thank you.” He pauses. “I suppose it was lucky I crashed here and not somewhere else.” Seungmin tilts his head a little, as if appraising Felix, but says nothing more.

Felix feels his skin go slightly warm, although he’s not entirely sure what to make of the comment. “I’m surprised you believe in luck,” he says to avoid focusing on the rest of Seungmin’s statement. “What with the whole divinity thing.”

Seungmin does what Felix assumes is an angel’s equivalent of shrugging. “I may be young, but I know there is magic in the universe beyond even my kind.”

Felix blinks, runs a hand through his hair, feels his headache from the morning start to come back in full force. “Okay.” He so does not have the energy to unpack any of that at the moment. “I think that’s enough existential talk for now. My brain hurts.”

Seungmin agrees easily, like he’s not at all surprised that Felix is struggling to wrap his tired head around any of what they’re talking about. Then his face softens and the brown of his eyes reminds Felix of trees hit by the first rays of morning light, glowing almost gold. “I am sorry. I am aware that this is a lot to process.”

“Yeah,” Felix just nods because what else can he say to that? Sure is fucking crazy that this is all real, but it’s even fucking crazier that I’m this damn calm about it. What the hell is up with that? And really, he is wondering why his brain hasn’t broken from the news yet. Why he’s still functioning as he usually does. Why his whole world isn’t completely shattered because of this.

It certainly has nothing to do with the gentle slope of Seungmin’s cheeks or the easy curl of his hair falling over his forehead that makes him look like just another boy from down the hall. Nothing to do with how Seungmin had, in less than an hour, banished fears which had clung stubbornly to Felix since he was just a boy. Nothing to do with his earnest nature or the fact that he’s just as confused and out of place as Felix himself is. Definitely nothing to do with any of that.

“Do you want to watch a movie or something?” It’s the only thing Felix can think of to get his mind off of . . . everything.

“A movie?” Seungmin furrows his brows. “Is that another strange human custom?”

Felix, already standing from his seat at the table to head over to the couch, pauses. If he thinks too much about any normal thing, it does start to seem as odd as Seungmin must think it is. A whole bunch of people being paid to pretend to be other people, all caught on camera and sold to the masses for entertainment. “I guess, yeah. You all have plays and stuff though, right? Theater? Or is that just another angel stereotype?”

Seungmin shifts in his seat, but does not stand to follow Felix quite yet. “Make believe stories?”

Felix nods, plucks the TV remote off of Changbin’s lounge chair. “Yeah, that’s pretty much the idea.”

“What kind of stories?” Seungmin asks, curiosity now pulling him to stand and follow Felix.

“Any kind you like. There’s movies of literally everything, I think. What’d you fancy?”

“I do not know,” Seungmin admits. Felix probably should have seen that coming. “What is something that you enjoy?”

Felix turns on the TV and watches Netflix slowly come to life on screen. What does he like? Suddenly he can’t think of any movie he’s ever seen before in his life. “Um.” What’s something fun and safe and completely unrelated to any of this ? Netflix finishes loading, opens to his list, and there it is. Perfect. “How about this?” Felix asks as he selects The Emperor's New Groove .

“What is it about?” Seungmin asks, head tilted questioningly at the loading screen.

“It’s about this really selfish emperor who doesn’t care about his people at first but then goes on this... adventure, sort of, and grows to realize that life is better when you have friends and you’re actually nice to people. Basically. There’s more to it, but I don’t want to spoil it.”

“This is one you enjoy?”

Felix grins in spite of himself. “Yeah.”

“Then I am sure it will be a good choice.” Seungmin nods, and when Felix sits down in Changbin’s chair, sinks gently onto the couch.

“Great,” Felix says, starting up the movie, already beginning to forget about almost everything that isn’t the opening narration. Almost. At first, Felix is hyper-conscious of Seungmin’s presence on the couch, aware that’s he’s watching the movie and likely judging both it and Felix himself. After the beginning of the plot starts to come together, though, the movie draws him all the way in, perfectly according to the plan, and even Seungmin starts to slip away. Until he laughs.

Kronk pulls the wrong lever and suddenly Seungmin’s shoulders are shaking as he giggles openly, and Felix’s eyes are pulled away from the screen entirely against his will to take in the sight. Seungmin’s face scrunches up so his eyes are half closed crescents and his cheeks dimple lightly, and Felix can only stare for a moment before he forces himself to turn back to the TV. You don’t know him , he tells himself firmly as Yzma walks back into frame with a crocodile in hand. Seungmin falls silent again and Felix lets out a small sigh of relief. He sinks back into the movie, and for a while, all that slips from Seungmin are small, contained laughs, staggered with Felix’s own. They grow bigger and bigger as the movie progresses, and then, towards the end, he loses it completely.

Somewhere in between Kronk’s conversation with the angel and devil on his shoulders and half the characters on screen, including Kuzco himself, being turned into increasingly ridiculous animals, Seungmin’s laugh like sunshine sets Felix off as well, and they’re in stitches until the conflict dies down.

When the movie finally ends and the credits are rolling down the screen, Seungmin turns to Felix and says, “I think this is my favorite human custom so far.”

Felix grins. “I’m glad you liked it, it’s been one of my favorites for a while now. This and Matilda . I used to watch that all the time.”

“Will you show me Matilda too?” Seungmin asks, leaning forward with bright, excited eyes.

Felix’s stomach does a funny jumping thing, and he stands abruptly as he realizes there’s no longer light coming in through the windows. He hasn’t eaten since Minho was over earlier, has he? That must be the odd feeling in his gut - hunger. “Sure,” he says, more to the wall than to Seungmin, “I just need to make dinner first.”

“So you do not make the hunger sound again, right?”

Felix glances back at Seungmin and the question seems to be painfully genuine. He can’t help but smile a little in spite of the flash of resurfacing embarrassment. “Yeah.” He pats his stomach a little. “Gotta keep him quiet.”

Seungmin blinks at him. “Another strange human custom?”

Felix replays what he’s just said in his head and yeah, referring to your stomach as an animate thing might be kind of weird . He nods. “You’re gonna learn about a bunch of those, I guess.”

Seungmin practically glows at this, and stands to relocate to the chair he’d been in before, where he can look into the kitchen, towards which Felix has already started moving. Before he heads in, Felix grabs his phone off the table and brings it with him to set on the counter while he works. “I usually listen to music or something while I cook, is that okay with you?”

Again, Seungmin perks up. “What kind of music?”

Felix feels himself color, realizing Seungmin’s tastes are probably vastly different from his own. “Um. Pop stuff. I dunno if it’s gonna be anything you like.”

“I enjoyed your movie very much,” Seungmin says matter-of-factly. “I would like to hear what else you like.”

A small “oh” slips past Felix’s lips and a shy smile finds its way onto his face. “Okay. I’ll put something on then.” He scrolls through his music for a minute before finding what he’s looking for - something he loves that’s still safe enough to show to Seungmin. He sets his phone back down on the counter and starts looking for the pasta he knows is in the cupboard somewhere .

The first verse and chorus of Beautiful Feeling have finished playing by the time he emerges from the dark shelves and can sneak a peek at Seungmin’s face to see how he likes the song. When he looks, he sees Seungmin’s eyes are wide, focused on the window to the kitchen, his lips slightly parted. Felix accidentally catches his gaze, and Seungmin smiles, nodding like he wants to let Felix know he’s enjoying the song but doesn’t want to speak over the music. Felix finds himself suppressing another grin.

When the song finishes, Felix has set the box of noodles on the counter, fished out a pot from under the sink, filled said pot with water, and set it to boil. He moves back to the window to pick another song, and Seungmin still has that small smile on his face. “I enjoyed that very much. It was very different, but I liked it.” His eyes turn hopeful. “Will you play another?”

“Sure. I can just shuffle all their songs, if you want.” Felix isn’t sure if he’s more relieved by the fact that Seungmin didn’t hate the song or more pleased that he actually seemed to really like it. He settles on a jumbled mix of the two as he clicks the big green shuffle button and sets his phone back down on the counter. Hi Hello starts up and Felix swears it must be a trick of the light the way Seugmin’s eyes sparkle. He turns away, lets Seungmin listen to the song on his own, and focuses his attention back on dinner.

While the water heats up, Felix digs the sauce he and Changbin had made together the day before he left out of the fridge and portions some out into a bowl, which then goes into the microwave because Felix doesn’t want to dirty another pot heating it the old fashioned way. He sticks the rest of the sauce back in the fridge and returns to the water. There are already small bubbles forming at the bottom and jumping up to the surface. He cracks the noodles to the beginning of Congratulations and stirs them in as the microwave dings to let him know his sauce is probably the same temperature as freshly cooked volcano lava because it’s impossible to heat anything up the right way in “the best microwave fifty dollars can buy.” Felix will let the bowl sit in there at least another minute or two before he takes it out so he doesn’t burn a finger (or three) touching the hot glass bowl. He does, however, need to set a timer for his noodles, but once that’s done the only thing left for him to do is stand and wait. And for his eyes to wander back out the window to land on Seungmin, a contented look on his face as his head moves lightly back and forth to the beat of the song.

Again, as if he can sense Felix’s eyes on him, Seungmin turns his head just so to catch his gaze. Again, the small smile on his face grows the slightest bit. “This is very good,” he says in a way that makes Felix feel prouder than he should that it is music he loves that Seungmin appears to like too.

“I’m glad you like it,” Felix says honestly. If Seungmin hadn’t liked Day6 what would he have liked? Felix shudders to think of it. They fall silent for the remainder of I Smile as it plays through the weak speaker of Felix’s phone between them, and when Better Better starts, Felix returns to his food. The noodles are almost done, so he finally retrieves the sauce from the microwave, and then kills the heat on the stove and drains the water. Once the noodles have made their way into the sauce bowl and the two have been stirred together to Felix’s tastes, he plucks his phone from the counter and returns to the table.  

“So another weird thing people do when they eat sometimes is watch stuff,” he says as he sets the bowl down and pauses his music just before I Like You can start. “ Matilda isn’t on Netflix like the last movie was, so we can’t watch it on the TV, but I can go get my laptop and play it from there unless you just want to keep listening to music.”

Seungmin’s lips pout a bit as he ponders his options. “Will you play the music again later?”

Felix nods, “Sure.”

“Then I would like to see this other movie you enjoy. Everything else has been quite enjoyable so far.”

“Cool.” Felix sets his phone down and retreats into his bedroom to get his laptop from where it has been left untouched for far longer than usual. “I actually have it downloaded,” he says when he sits back down, “because I used to watch it so much. It’s a good thing I never deleted it because I have no idea how to redownload anything without my friend’s help.”

“Changbin?” Seungmin asks curiously.

Felix shakes his head. “Chan. I don’t know if you heard earlier when Minho was over, but that’s his boyfriend. He actually reminds me a lot of one of the characters in this movie.” Felix almost starts to reminisce for a moment before he remembers where he is. “But I guess that’s not super important.”

Seungmin doesn’t bat an eye at the boyfriends comment, nor at Felix getting sidetracked while he clicks the little movie icon on his display, just shifts in his chair a bit to get a better view of the screen. Just before the file pops up to cover it, he gets a glimpse of Felix’s background: all bright blue sky and green leaves and Felix sandwiched between Changbin and Chan, laughing because Minho had said from behind the camera that it looked like they were holding him hostage with the number of arms there were around him. “Blink twice if you need me to come save you! I know exactly how to knock Chan out, and Changbin is so small you could just shove him over and run!” Felix smiles again at the memory, then tries not to miss them when they’re replaced by a black screen and a white play button. He starts the movie, turns the computer more so Seungmin can actually see it, and then digs in to his dinner.

This movie is different. Seungmin is almost entirely silent throughout, and after he finishes his dinner, Felix finds himself unable to break the hush that has fallen over the apartment. He glances to the side every so often to check Seungmin’s expression, and each time it’s almost the same. His brows are slightly furrowed and his lips are pressed together in a small pout, as if he’s intently focused. He watches the screen with rapt attention, seems to digest the movie like it’s his job. It’s such a shift from the light, easy energy of the last movie that Felix isn’t sure what to make of it. To stop himself from overthinking, he focuses instead on the characters, as the plot he knows now by heart continues to unfold.

When the movie ends, Seungmin turns to Felix with an odd look on his face - almost contemplative, but there’s something off about it. For a long moment, he says nothing, and Felix feels his stomach swirl with nerves. He fights the urge to swallow back what feels like a snake pushing up through his throat.

“You enjoy very different things,” he says finally, but still there’s something in his eyes that Felix can’t read at all.

“Did you not like it?” Felix asks, and he probably should have expected that. How could Seungmin have enjoyed all the same things as him?

“No,” Seungmin says slowly, looking away for a beat. “I thought it was very beautiful.”

Oh. “Really?”

Seungmin nods. “I am not in the habit of lying.”

Felix’s cheeks threaten to flush again. “I didn’t think you were! Really is just a way of showing surprise? I guess?”

“Oh. More human habits.” The light is back in Seungmin’s eyes, although the questioning air about him remains. “May I ask which character reminds you of your friend?”

Felix’s cheeks really do color this time. He hadn’t thought that passing comment would stick. He can’t exactly say no, though, can he? He could lie, but lying sours his stomach and makes his toes curl and he’s already lied more today than he ever wants to. So he nods, sure , and the truth falls from his lips. “He reminds me of Miss Honey.”

Seungmin’s face relaxes at this, curiosity softening to understanding. “He must be quite kind, then.”

Felix ducks his head. “Yeah,” he says more to the table than to Seungmin. “He is.” When he looks up again, the contemplative look has returned to Seungmin’s face, but Felix doesn’t dare ask what he’s thinking about. It almost feels like by showing Seungmin Matilda , a movie so close to his heart, he’s exposed a piece of himself for Seungmin to scrutinize. And he’s just a little bit worried that the look in Seungmin’s eyes means he’s reading him like an open book.

“Thank you for showing me so many nice things today.” Seungmin’s words pull Felix out of his own head and back into the present. “You are quite kind yourself.”

The heat returns to Felix’s face as if it has never left, and he lets out a small, awkward laugh, puffs his cheeks out for lack of anything better to do. “It’s no problem really,” he mumbles. “I just played stuff I liked. There’s nothing great about that.”

Seungmin makes a small noise at the back of his throat that sounds like waves washing against the shore. “Nevertheless, I am grateful.” He gestures back at his wings and grows more solemn. “I would still in great pain if not for you. But now the human world does not seem as dark as I had feared when I landed.”

The deep pink on Felix’s skin reaches all the way to his ears. “I’m glad I could help,” he says softly, feeling impossibly small in the face of Seungmin’s simple, honest words. “And I’m really glad your, um, wing doesn’t hurt as much anymore. You were kind of scary before I, y’know, wrapped it.”

Seungmin laughs lightly and Felix realizes that maybe he should have left the last part out. He rubs the back of his neck nervously, but Seungmin doesn’t seem to be too upset by the remark. “Yes, I was quite tense. I had just crashed into a strange human’s home and discovered I stuck there because I couldn’t fly back to my own.”

“Well when you put it like that,” Felix mutters. Then louder, “I’m sorry. That must have been scary, on top of everything.”

Seungmin briefly casts his eyes down to the table and nods. “Yes. Until I realized you are not as scary as your voice makes you sound at first.”

“Hey,” Felix protests, “I don’t sound scary.”

Seungmin makes a face, but his eyes are soft, like he’s almost smiling. “You do. Just a bit. But it is just your voice, the rest of your presence is quite welcoming.”

“Oh.” Felix tugs at his ear, unsure of what he’s supposed to say to that. Thanks? “I guess neither of us got the best first impressions, then.”

“I suppose not. But I am glad they were incorrect.” His almost-smile grows, and Felix continues to be surprised by the easiness of his candor. And by how infectious it seems to be.

“Me too,” he finds himself saying, his own lips turning up lightly. Before he can say anything more, though, his phone buzzes on the table between them, and Felix jumps at the sudden sound in the otherwise quiet apartment. He reaches around his laptop for the phone, and opens it to a new message from Chan. Minho told me you were up at some ungodly hour last night so you better be taking your ass to bed earlier today. Like now, if you’re still up. Felix glances at the time on his phone and oh, shit it got late, didn’t it? His traitorous body decides that now, because it’s suddenly aware of the hour, it’s time to yawn. He stifles it with his hand, but not fast enough.

“Oh! I know this one!” Seungmin says with more excitement than Felix has ever thought to associate with yawning before. “That means you are tired, does it not?”

Felix nods, swallowing back another yawn because once the dam bursts, they’re impossible to stop.

“So it is time for you to sleep.” Seungmin nods his head as he speaks, like he’s agreeing to his own statement.

“I guess so,” Felix says. “Are you going to spend the night inside this time?”

“Hmm?” Seungmin’s brows furrow before he realizes what Felix is referring to. “Oh. I can stay outside again, if you would like. The cold does not bother me.”

Stranger , the voice in Felix’s head whispers. Kick him out again, he’ll be fine . But Felix finds himself shaking his head. “I mean, you can stay out there if you want? But what if you need to sleep? There’s no room out there.”

“I do not believe I will need to sleep,” Seungmin says.

“Well. Do what you want then, I guess. You can go back out or you can stay in this room, either is fine. I’ll leave the balcony door unlocked. As long as you don’t wake me up I don’t really care which you choose.”

“All right, thank you. I will be quiet.”

“Great.” Felix offers him another small smile, gathers his things, and stands to head to his room. “Night.”

“Night,” Seungmin echoes tentatively, as if testing the word out for the first time, and the small smile on Felix’s face grows the slightest bit even as he turns away and closes his bedroom door. Not long after, he falls asleep with the faintest ghost of a smile still painted lightly across his lips.

Chapter Text

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.”

“Yes.” 

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.

“What?” 

“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.