‘Just get in the car.’ The copper haired boy huffs out. The aggravation that had built up in his body over the past ten minutes is let out in a shuddery breath as he squeezes his eyes shut and pinches the bridge of his nose.
‘My mum told me not to get in cars with strangers.’ Donghyuck snaps his eyes open and forms his arms into rigid poles at his sides, tensing his hands into angry balls of fury in the process. The boy with flawless pearly skin and cropped black hair stands across from him defiantly, small smirk playing on his lips as he leans back and crosses his arms.
‘I already told you Renjun, that I, Donghyuck, and he, Jeno,’ he hisses, as a celestial looking boy sat in the passenger seat of the old white Beetle gives a small wave towards Renjun, ‘are here to escort you to heaven.’ Donghyuck inhales deeply, clenching his jaw. ‘NOW. GET. IN. THE. CAR.’ He spits through his teeth, punctuating every word with a stomp of his foot against the lustrous tarmac. Renjun narrows his eyes at the seething boy in front of him, still not convinced he wasn’t getting kidnapped in some sort of elaborate rouse concocted by his pesky underclassman Jisung.
‘You don’t even have wings.’ Renjun observes, as he leans slightly forward and raises his eyebrows in direct challenge. Donghyuck internally screams, contemplating how much trouble he’d be in with Mark if he punched a ward he was escorting. It can’t be that much, he’s probably done worse in his time as an angel.
‘Neither do you, you little shit, now get in the car!’ With that, Donghyuck forcefully rips open the back door of the beat-up machine, indicating the end of the inane circular conversation that had been going on far too long in his humble opinion. Renjun ignores the gesture and carries on regardless, whether out of genuine distrust, or spite, no one will ever know.
‘Yeah but I’m not an angel, I don’t need wings.’ Donghyuck’s eyes grow larger in rage, even more blood rushing to his already flushed face. He grabs the front of his uniform frantically, pulling it aggressively away from his body in efforts to make his point even clearer.
‘Do you not see me in my white flowing robes right now!? You think I wear this for fun?!’ He screams, the tendons in his neck becoming ever more prominent. ‘You think I like looking like some sort of frilly toilet roll cover my grandma would use?! Because god forbid anyone finds out anyone uses the toilet ever!’ The sarcasm and rage mixing into some sort of over dramatic telenovela style breakdown, literally, on the side of the road. The suspension of the rust covered car squeaks as Donghyuck is still looking up into the sky silently pleading for God to allow him to re-kill this pesky mortal in front of him (the answer was a resounding no by the way, much to Donghyuck’s disdain). Jeno shifts his weight to lean through the driver’s side window, calm washing over Donghyuck knowing his partner has finally come to save the day and end this madness.
‘To be fair it is kind of fun when the wind blows up them and we look like the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters.’ Jeno says, as the gear stick pokes his abdomen. This earns the black-haired boy a fiery glare and a loud scream of frustration from the enraged heavenly creature as his hopes of Jeno being remotely helpful are dashed and cut into tiny chunks right in front of him.
Renjun stands, pondering his options. He’s currently standing on the side of a seemingly impeccably maintained, but also deserted highway. There are no other cars or even buildings in sight. Everything was just…white? Like, not in a creepy or unsettling kind of way, just a matter of fact kind of way. Donghyuck must have seen the cogs working as Renjun stands in silent contemplation and takes his shot.
‘You can walk if you want?’ His melodious bell like voice rings through the boy stood in front of him, as he impatiently taps his foot and holds the back door of the Beetle open in temptation. Renjun cautiously bends down slightly to peek into the back seat, scrunching his eyebrows together in confusion upon seeing around ten pairs of eyes sheepishly staring back at him. The odd smile and small wave thrown in for good measure.
‘Er, where will I sit though? You look kinda full.’ Donghyuck had had enough. All it takes is one swift shove to the unsuspecting boy’s side, and a small yelp before he’s slamming the door shut, Renjun safely inside with the other passengers.
‘No more questions!’ he announces cheerfully, as he brushes invisible dirt from his hands, smiling in triumph.
Renjun huffs in discontent, settling in beside the other passengers as Donghyuck clambers into the driver’s seat and lets out a giant sigh of satisfaction.
‘Yaay, heaven.’ Jeno deadpans, giving a sad little fist pump, breaking the awkward silence.
Donghyuck stares at him incredulously, deciding it’s better to not even acknowledge his embarrassing actions before turning the key in the ignition a few times, forcing the old thing to cough into life.
They’ve only been driving for around five minutes when Donghyuck feels movement in the back of the car, a prickling sensation moving up his neck as his eyes flicker towards the faint sounds of ‘excuse me’, ‘oh sorry, I didn’t see your hand was there’, ‘Is it alright if I just…’ coming up closer behind him. There’s a thump on the back of his chair as a body slams into it from behind, causing Donghyuck to jolt forward slightly and growl in annoyance. A small head pokes its way forward stopping in line with Donghyuck’s.
‘Do you really think this song is appropriate?’ a voice whines into Donghyuck’s right ear, the snobbish intonation making Donghyuck’s lips twist at the corners and his fingers to grip tighter on the wheel. Donghyuck immediately recognises it as ‘Little Shit Renjun’ and attempts to slap him away with multiple flaps of his left hand as the other remains firmly in place.
‘Stop distracting the driver!’ He huffs, never taking his ever more narrowing eyes from the road. Renjun shrugs off the attack and remains beside the irritated angel.
‘I just don’t think it’s very appropriate for you to be playing ‘Highway to Hell’ right now.’ This causes Donghyuck to snap his head towards the personal space intruder in disbelief.
‘Well I don’t think it’s very appropriate for you to be questioning the driver’s music taste!’ He snipes back, ‘And for your information, heaven and hell have the same route until you reach the Reservoir of Martyrs, so technically we are on the highway to hell, it’s just also the highway to heaven too. Is that okay with you Google Maps or do you have more travel advice to give?’
‘Yeah I do actually.’ Donghyuck’s jaw clenches, about to give the little shit an even bigger piece of his mind before Renjun points out toward the long stretch of road in front. ‘There’s a dog in the road.’ Donghyuck’s head snaps back towards the tarmac upon realising what the annoying little shit just said.
His eyebrows lift, and his eyes widen as he swings the wheel to the left and slams on the breaks. The rust bucket comes to a screeching halt in a cloud of tyre smoke and profanities. A chorus of groans comes from the back as Jeno checks the rear-view mirror to see all eleven occupants, bar Renjun for some odd reason, squashed in a pile against the right side of the car. He’ll call it a newbie bonding exercise when he writes it up later.
Donghyuck’s already grasping at his seatbelt, trying to unbuckle himself with speed. ‘Jeno, you’re driving, start the car!’ He shouts as he flings the door open, not bothering to close it as he goes.
Jeno’s only just shuffled over the gear stick and into the driver’s seat when he hears loud panting coming ever closer and the slam of the passenger side door.
‘DRIVE!’ Donghyuck screams.
No matter how many times this happens, Donghyuck will still look like the cat that got the cream as he snuggles the abandoned dog into his chest tightly, and Jeno will always look like he’s about to have a nervous breakdown as he floors the accelerator. The panic is still written all over his face as the tyres screech on the road and all the occupants are thrown backwards with a scream, Donghyuck too preoccupied with cooing at his new four-legged friend to even notice.
They drive towards the horizon in silence, windows rolled down, wind rushing through the rust bucket, billowing heavenly garments as it does. Highway to Hell blasting on repeat per Donghyuck’s insistent request.
They reach their destination just after seven at night despite the whole Renjun and dog debacle, Donghyuck thinks it’s pretty good going considering. Jeno quickly ushers the occupants of the car towards the gates of heaven, towards Mark, wanting to clock out as soon as possible. It’s Friday night after all, people have plans.
Mark stands behind his lectern and clears his throat before starting his welcoming speech. He still gets nervous no matter how many times he has to give it. Welcoming people to the afterlife is a big responsibility after all.
‘Welcome everybody, it’s pleasant…’ his voice falters, awkward silence filling the air.
‘Donghyuck?’ Mark questions, all eyes falling on the sun kissed beauty in white robes stood towards the back of the crowd. ‘What’s that?’ he says, eyeing the rather large bulge under Donghyuck’s robes. The rather large moving bulge.
‘What’s what?’ Donghyuck replies, avoiding Mark’s gaze, feigning ignorance to the very noticeable creature he’s concealing beneath his clothes.
‘The dog under your robes Donghyuck.’ Mark deadpans, gripping the sides of the lectern in irritation.
‘What dog?’ Donghyuck counters, using his most innocent voice to try keep the façade up as long as possible. He only has to make it through the welcome speech and back to his apartment without Mark noticing and he’ll be safe.
Mark sighs, ‘Donghyuck, I can literally see it’s tail poking out the front of your uniform.’ The angel looks down spying the brown fluffy appendage joyously wagging away at his side.
‘Ohhhh! That dog!’
‘Yes, that dog! What is it doing here?!’
‘He’s come to enter heaven silly!’ He even has the audacity to giggle as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, and Mark was the biggest idiot for not knowing.
Mark rubs his face aggressively with both palms, not wanting to deal with the not so uncommon situation any longer. There’s no point, he’s been here too many times to even bother reprimanding the boy and decides to just not bother. He grumbles something incoherent under his breath before turning to his only responsible employee.
‘Chenle, sort the newbies, I have a headache coming on.’ Donghyuck comes closer, peering over the lectern slightly, cheeky grin lifting the sides of his lips.
‘Is that headache called Donghyuck?’ He chuckles as Mark scowls at him unamused.
‘It’s always called Donghyuck! Now go home!’ He snaps, shooing the mischievous employee away with a flail of his arms.
Donghyuck’s boisterous laughter probably reached the ears of God himself after winning the battle with Mark so easily. How the boy hadn’t been punished for noise pollution was anyone’s guess at this point.
Mark sighs, fishing for his keys in between the folds of his baby blue robes. He unlocks the door of his apartment and steps over the threshold, muttering hotly under his breath as his eyebrows knit closer together. There’s a moment of pure silence, Mark likes to call it his moment of ‘Blissful denial’, before the scratching of paws and the familiar thudding of socked feet on the wooden floor rings through his ears. The nightly tsunami of limbs comes raining down as he’s doted upon by his (read: Donghyuck’s) seven dogs, followed by the mischievous angel of his dreams (or nightmares, he’s still not sure, even after the many years they’ve been together).
The loud ‘Markie!’ screeched directly into his eardrum, followed by the wrapping of arms around his neck that cut off his air supply breaks him from his contemplation. He wraps his arms around his lover’s waist in greeting before he leans back expecting to collect his welcome home kiss. Only it doesn’t happen and Donghyuck just harshly slaps Mark’s shoulders several times in rapid succession.
‘You need to pick up an extra bowl for the new dog tomorrow! I’ll be at work all day!’ He excitedly whisper-yells before slinking his way out from Mark’s grip, running back towards the living room, his army of dogs in hot pursuit.
He sighs again.
‘For the love of all that is holy.’