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Something Wicca This Way Comes

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Taeyong was running late; he was running so late. He had meant to be home hours ago. Doyoung was definitely not going to be happy.

He sat in the driver’s seat, contemplating the best way to get to the house from his spot parked in the rain. Gathering his wits and his bags, he decides its best just to make a break for it. Taeyong rushed out of his car and into the downpour, opening his umbrella as he ran up the steps. By the time he had gotten to the front door of his family home, he was shaking like a leaf. This kind of weather never boded well for him.

It took a few tries to unlock the door, but when he did, he immediately placed his bags down as he attempted to rid himself of his sopping outer layers. The house seemed suspiciously quiet. The foyer and dining room were both absent of his younger brother.

As he hung up his umbrella, he called out, “Doyoung?”

“In here,” Doyoung’s answer was immediate, “Working on the chandelier.”

Taeyong huffs out a sigh as he continues stripping out of his coat, before picking up his bag and moving further into the house.

“Sorry I’m late-”

“What else is new?” Doyoung was quick to cut his brother off. “You know, Hyung, I would have been here to meet the electrician myself, but you know I can’t leave the museum until 6.”

Of course, Taeyong knew that Doyoung’s hours weren’t flexible, the museum always took more of his time than Taeyong had liked, even more so now that he was at odds with his current boss, who just so happened to be an ex-fiance of Doyoungs. 

Doyoung spins towards Taeyong as he steps off the ladder, gesturing at his now creased slacks and rolled sleeves. 

 “I didn’t even have time to change.”

Taeyong looks sheepish as he tries to explain himself, “I just- I didn’t realize how long I was in Jung. Did Sungjae call?”

Doyoung smirked as he turned away, walking out of the room and into the dining room. Taeyong always had a one-track mind. Huffing a little as he dodged out of the way of the ladder, he contemplated his reply to Taeyong.

“No, but he had some roses and a package delivered.”

Taeyong had followed his little brother out of the room, eyes wide as he searched for his gift. 

“What were you doing in Jung, I thought you had an interview in Gangnam?”

“I did but,” Taeyong paused as he picked up the package from the dining room table. “I went to Namdaemun Market after my interview to get the ingredients for my audition recipe tomorrow.”

He smiles as he admires the roses on the table. He and Sungjae had been dating for less than a year, but he always seemed to know what Taeyong needed. He was a shoulder for Taeyong to lean in during the whole issue with Grams, and even now, he supported Taeyong in all of his endeavors.

 Finally, his gaze returns to opening the package in his hands, briefly tuning in to what Doyoung was trying to ask him. 

“-Knock-off didn’t hire you today?”

“No,” Taeyong pulls a bottle of wine from the neat wrapping. “But this just may get me the job.”

Doyoung pulls the bottle from his hands, admiring the label. It was a rare type of sweet red wine, produced with distilled grapes exclusive to Portugal. It must have cost Sungjae a small fortune to locate the wine, let alone ship it to their house. 

“Sungjae sent you Port.” It wasn’t a question. The bottle was in Doyoungs hands; of course, he knew that Sungjae had sent the wine. He was still mystified by how his older brother was able to snag such a generous man. 

Taeyong smiles smugly as he returns his attention to the roses, “its the ultimate ingredient to my recipe.”

“Nice Boyfriend” The remark was only slightly bitter coming from Doyoung. 

The smug grin slips from Taeyongs face as he looks further down to the table, a more surprised smile taking its place as his eyes go wide, seeing what Doyoung had dug up from the basement.

“Oh my God, I don’t believe it” he makes his way around the table, “Tell me that’s not our old spirit board.”

“Yeah, I found it in the basement while I was looking for the circuit tester.”

Doyoung smiles as he observes Taeyong’s glee. He had been just as surprised to find the old thing lying around in the basement. After moving out the first time, he had honestly never expected to see it again. They don’t typically store stuff in the basement; it gets too hot and wet in the summer for anything other than spare tools to survive down there. 

Taeyong picks up the board, inspecting it. It had been years since he had seen it last. It was still as large and rough as it was when he was a kid. The board itself was made from a large slab of burled wood, filled with swirls and knots. It was polished to perfection, even with the edges left unfinished. The branded letters on the top, under the coat of resin, were modeled after a traditional ouija board, only it lacked the conventional yes, no, goodbye. Instead, it had a collection of roman numerals lining the bottom from 1-10. Right in the middle sat a Celtic knot that matched the one on the tip of the pointer. 

He flips it over before reading the inscription on the back, “To my three beautiful boys, may this give you the light to fight the shadows. The power of three will set you free. Love, Mom.

He rubs his fingers over the hand-carved inscription before turning to Doyoung, shaking his head and continuing, “we never did figure out what this inscription meant”

Doyoung scoffed, walking away from the table and back into the foyer. He honestly thought the inscription was meaningless. They had stopped believing in monsters under their beds years ago.

“Well, maybe we should send it to Donghyuck. That boy is so in the dark, maybe a little bit of light will help”

Donghyuck was the only member of the family to buy into Grams' mystical stories growing up. He was afraid of the Woogyman in the basement until he was at least 12, and to this day, he refused to go into down there alone. 

“You’re always so hard on him.” Taeyong hated the rift that had formed between his two younger brothers.  From a young age, things between the two had been rough. He and Doyoung had both tried to give their youngest brother a stable upbringing. It was hard growing up with only Grams as an adult role model, not that there was anything wrong with the way Grams had raised them. He had done his best, but it was hard looking after three boys on your own. 

 Doyoung was someone who needed structure and organization. Donghyuck, having grown up nearly suffocated by Doyoungs list of rules, had done everything in his power to break them once adolescence hit. Taeyong had done his best to mediate, but his refusal to intervene and pick a side had caused an even bigger catastrophe. One that still hadn’t been solved.

“Taeyong, the boy has no vision, no sense of the future.” 

Taeyong had sent a small shrug at Doyoung as he spoke, “I really think Donghyuck’s coming around.”

 “Well, as long as he doesn’t come around here, I guess it’s good news.”

Doyoung smiles as he walks past his brother and into the kitchen. 

Taeyong left alone in the dining room. Glancing at his watch, he contemplates his options. There had to be a way for him to change Doyoung’s opinion on their youngest brother. Sighing, Taeyong follows Doyoung into the kitchen. There wasn’t enough time to complete such an impossible task.  

Neither sibling notices the ominous movement from the table as they leave the room. The pointer slowly slides across the spirit board, almost as if it were being guided. It ends with the tip pointed towards the letter A.

 

Meanwhile, across town Detective Jung Jaehyun is pulling up to an apartment complex. He had been out and about all afternoon trying to catch a break in his latest case until he had been called about a new victim. As he approaches a line of police tape and multiple uniformed officers, he sees his partner, Moon Taeil, waiting at the door for him.

“Well, it’s about time!” Taeil sounded exasperated, which was a bad sign so early in the night. 

“I got here as soon as I heard, Sunbae. Another dead female, right? In her mid to late 20s?” Jaehyun cuts right to the chase, unwilling to discuss his tardiness with Taeil.  Taeil rolls his eyes at the blatant disrespect after the honorific. The only reason Jaehyum included it in the first place was because of the increased presence of coworkers. 

“I’ve been calling you for over an hour, Jung. Where have you been?”  He was never one to give up without a fight, much to Jaehyun’s displeasure. Maybe if he keeps his answers vague, it’ll get Taeil off his back.

They had stopped under the awning of the complex, out of the rain, but away from the actual scene of the crime.

“Yangcheon. I was checking out a lead. One that went nowhere.” Well, almost nowhere. He had been able to learn a thing or two about the victims themselves.

“You’re avoiding my question” Taeil pushed past the glass doors at the front of the building, not even looking back to make sure Jaehyun was following. Jaehyun, of course, did his best to keep up as he answered the question for a second time.

“Because you don’t want to know I went to an occult shop.” 

Occult was a strong word for the shops he had visited, they were more on the side of herbalistic or homeopathic catering shops, but they were run by those who were interested in a pagan lifestyle. A local professor that studies occult had pointed him in the right direction. And, while they didn’t give him any new leads on the killer, he was able to learn a lot about the lifestyles the victims had led.

“You hate me, don’t you. You just want to see me suffer,” Jaehyun scoffs at his partners whine as he follows Taeil up the stairwell. Not everything revolved around him. 

“I want to solve these murders. Someone is after Witches”

“Women” Taeil is quick to correct his partner. He glanced around the room, making sure no one noticed the crazy theory Jaehyun just spouted. 

“That woman up there. I bet she was killed with an athame-”

“-Wrong.” Taeil turned around to address the younger man, “ Double-edge steel knife.”

“Right, that’s an athame. It’s a ceremonial tool; witches use them to direct energy” Something he had learned today on his trapeze around Seoul in search of witches.

“That woman didn’t direct anything. She was stabbed. Plain and simple.” Taeil wasn’t having any of it. It was bad enough that there was a killer on the loose, there was no need to complicate this more. If the media got ahold of something like this, there might be a modern-day witch hunt on their hands. They would never be able to lead an arrest on the killer if he was able to get the public on his side. 

Jaehyun, thankfully, exercised a small bit of caution by making sure no one was listening in before he asked his next question,  “Was she found near an altar?” 

Taeil sighed, “yes.”

 “Were there carvings on that altar?”

Taeil looked dumbfounded, blinking a few times before narrowing his eyes. “Just do me a favor, don’t ever follow a lead without checking with me first.” He raised his eyebrows in understanding, hoping Jaehyun would agree to this one stipulation.

“You want to go to occult shops?” Jaehyun just asked with a sly smirk. Taeil let out a small chuckle, mirroring Jaehyun’s smile as he patted his shoulder and turned away. 

“Just get to work, ok?” was all he said as he left to continue his job. 

Just as Jaehyun moved to follow him into the crime scene, a voice from behind him called out, “Inspecter Jung.”

The smile slipped off his face as he looked over at the reporter who was walking up behind him. 

“Yook Sungjae, Seoul Chronicle. Care to comment?” The way the reporter addressed him was swift and severe. 

Jaehyun sighed, knowing that he couldn’t refuse to comment, as that would make it look like they were trying to cover something up. If he ended up being the one to make this case into a social media circus, he could kiss his job goodbye.

“A woman was stabbed. Plain and simple.”

As he turned away to head in again, the reporter, Sungjae, spoke again, “well, that’s the third one in three weeks.”

Jaehyun looked over his shoulder at the reporter, glancing up and down, before continuing on his way. 

 

At home, Taeyong is pacing the length of the living room, periodically looking out the front windows. He’s anxious as he finally leaves the room, heading through the kitchen and into the doorway of the laundry room, where Doyoung had been checking the circuit breaker.

“I don’t get it,” Doyoung was messing with the switches on the board, frustrated, “ I have checked everything. There is no reason why the chandelier should not be working. ”

Taeyong was conflicted, there was no way Doyoung was gonna react positively to what he had to say, that is if he could actually say it. It had been weeks since he had heard the news and he still hadn't found a way to break the news. He was running out of time, so maybe it was for the best that he just blurts it out while Doyoung's focus is on other things. 

“Ahh-” Taeyong chuckles anxiously as he leans against the wall next to where Doyoung is working. “You know how we’ve been talking about what to do with that spare room? I think you’re right. We do need a roommate.”

Doyoung swerves around his brother as he makes his way into the kitchen. “Well, we could rent out the room at a reduced rate in exchange for help around the house.” 

He moves towards the junk drawer, digging for a few seconds while listening to Taeyongs reply. 

“You know... Donghyuck’s good with a wrench” Taeyong was trying to be positive, but the glare Doyoung sends him has him flailing for his next response.

“Donghyuck isn’t even in the country. He lives in New York.”

Taeyong figures, at this point, its best to get this over with quick and painless, “Not anymore.”

Doyoung swerves to a stop before walking around the island to stand face to face with his brother.

“What?” 

Taeyong holds back a groan, “He left New York. He’s moving back in with us.”

The range of emotions that crosses Doyoungs face in the next half a minute is too much for Taeyong to process, but the one that he settles on is one he knows well - disgust. HE quickly turns away before Taeyong can continue, stomping as he goes.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Doyoung scoffs as he exits the room in a rush. 

Taeyong scoffs in return, following him out of the kitchen, “Well, I could hardly say no!”

 Doyoung’s longer legs mean he covers more ground than Taeyong can when he’s angry. He was being ridiculous over this situation. This was their brother they were talking about. It's not as if Taeyong had gone and gotten any random person off the street without even a background check. Doyoung was making this out to be much worse than it actually was.  

He had made it all the way to the foyer when Taeyong finally caught up, just in time to say, “It’s his house too. It was willed to all of us.”

“Yeah, months ago.” Doyoung swivels to face Taeyong with his hands on his hips. “And we haven’t seen or spoken to him since.”

Taeyong pouts at his brother, “ You haven’t spoken to him-” Not for lack of trying on his part. Both of his younger brothers were stubborn, and no amount of mediating could solve this if they didn’t want it solved. 

“No, I haven’t. Look, maybe you’ve forgotten why I’m so mad at him”

Oof. Taeyong glances down at his watch. He needs to get a handle on this situation, Donghyuck would be arriving any minute now, and tonight wasn’t a good time for a blow-up.

“Of course I haven’t forgotten, but he has nowhere else to go. He lost his job, and he’s in debt-”

Doyoung was quick to cut him off, “and this is news?” he paused to reevaluate the situation. 

“How long have you known about this anyway?”

Taeyong looks guilty when faced with his brother's question, “a couple of days, maybe a week...or two” 

In reality, Donghyuck had been contemplating coming home since he left after the funeral. The scholarship he was on only covered the price of classes, and he was wearing himself thin, trying to take on enough shifts to cover the cost of books, food, and utilities. It was a blessing that their mother bought a condo there when she had attended school. Returning to classes after Grams death had been overwhelming for Donghyuck, and it was only a matter of time before he returned to his roots. 

“Thanks for sharing” Doyoung sounded furious. This was Not Good. 

“When does he-” The tail end of Doyoung’s question ended being drowned out but the front door opening. Donghyuck’s head poked though with a brilliant smile spread across his face. 

“Suprise!” He makes his way into the house, placing down his coat and umbrella in the same spot that Taeyong had when he arrived earlier, toeing off his shoes as he makes his way into the foyer. Doyoung grits his teeth, refusing to turn around and greet his younger brother. Taeyong peers around Doyoung with a nervous smile, happy to see that the maknae made it home safely. 

Donghyuck waves an object in his hand as he moves from the foyer towards the dining room.”I found the hide-a-key.”

Taeyong moves around Doyoung, swooping in for a hug, “Donghyuck! You’re home!”

“Hyung! It’s so good to see you,” Donghyuck whispers into the hug, snuggling deep into the embrace of his oldest brother. He spots Doyoung eyeing them from his place a few feet away. He shoots the middle brother a smile. 

“It’s great to see you!” Taeyong released him from his hug, facing their last brother, “isn’t it Doyoung?”

Doyoung shoots the pair a tight smile, swaying slightly. “ I’m speechless.” 

Taeyong takes time to read the mood of the room. The two of them would never be able to work this out if this continues. He decides to make a tactical retreat. 

“Ok, let me go get started on something for us to eat!” Taeyong didn’t leave any time for his brothers to reply before dashing into the kitchen, leaving them to their own devices. 

Doyoung spots the small bag of his brother’s belongings that he had brought in with him from the rain, “Is that all you brought?” 

Donghyuck smiles back tightly, the tension in the room almost tangible. “that’s all I own. That, and a bike.”

The look on Doyoung’s face could freeze ice. If Donghyuck had felt unwelcome when he walked in, now all he wanted to do was run back to New York. 

“Hyung, I know you don’t want me here-” He was trying to extend an olive branch, hoping to bridge this gap, even just a little, if only to make things more comfortable around the house in the future. 

“We’re not selling Grams house.” The statement was blunt, but it still cut into Donghyuck like knives,

“Is that why you think I came back?” He played it off rather expertly, in his opinion. If Doyoung knew how much that had hurt him, he’d probably find some way to use it against him. 

“look, the only reason Taeyong and I gave up our apartment and moved back here was because this house has been in our family for generations.”  Doyoung sounded frustrated.

Donghyuck just scowled. How dare he insinuate that the house had no meaning to him. As if Donghyuck hadn't spent his entire life within these walls, as if he hadn't spent afterschool afternoons baking in the kitchen with grams, as he hadn't had his first crush kiss and heartbreak within these walls. Doyoung was always good at deflecting away from the actual issue, but Donghyuck could see right through him.

“No history lesson needed. I grew up here too.”  Donghyuck paused, “so can we talk about what’s actually bothering you?”

Doyoung hummed, glancing towards the kitchen. Donghyuck prayed that Taeyong would come back soon. At the rate they’re going, one of them wouldn’t make it till dinner.

“No,” he finally answered, “I’m still furious with you.”

He had turned away, probably to go chase after Taeyong.

Donghyuck grabbed his brother’s arm, pulling until they were face to face. 

“So you’d rather have a tense reunion filled with boring chitchat and unimportant small talk?”

“No,” Doyoung sounded petulant. “But otherwise, we won’t have anything to talk about.”

Donghyuck was so done with this. The fact that Doyoung was acting cold and frigid? He could handle it; he’d handled it almost his entire life. Doyoung acting petulant and condescending? No Way In Hell. 

“I never touched Minho.” 

“Whoa,” that got Doyoungs attention.

“I know you think otherwise because that’s what that Armani-wearing, Chardonnay-slugging, chaebol told you, but-”

Before Donghyuck could continue his tirade he was interrupted. 

“Heeey!” Taeyong had come out of the kitchen, but judging by the smile on his face, he had no idea what was happening. “So I checked the fridge, and we have the stuff to make almost anything. What would you guys like me to cook up?”

Doyoung takes a second to compose himself before looking towards the oldest, “I’m not hungry.”

And with that, he shoots Donghyuck a glare as he stalks out of the room, heading into the living room. 

Donghyuck returns the smile Taeyong shoots him, moving in for another hug. 

“I ate on the plane, I’ll be ok for now,” and then he pulls away, grabbing his bag and heading upstairs.

Taeyong stands lost for a moment, wondering what the hell could have happened. 

“Alrighty then, we’ll try the group hug later” his voice was strained but still loud enough to carry. 

He made his way back into the kitchen, knowing that at least one of his siblings was lying.

Chapter Text

Arriving at the room Taeyong had (secretly) started to set up for him was almost euphoric. He ended up smashing face-first into the bed, ignoring all other obligations for just a little bit. 

Donghyuck was exhausted. It’s been weeks since he had gotten a good night’s sleep, and traveling internationally had not helped. He huffed, rolling on to his back. Studying abroad, going to his mother’s alma mater, it had seemed like such a good idea, but here he was, home for the first time since Grams funeral, right back a square one. Funnily enough, he thinks that was the longest conversation he’d had with Doyoung in almost three years, besides their fight that is.

Which, to be clear, was in no way his fault. Minho was an absolute sleazeball that Doyoung had met through his job at the museum. They ended up dating for almost two years, and when Minho had proposed, Doyoung had said yes. Of course, proposing hadn’t stopped Minho from getting drunk and hitting on an uninterested Donghyuck. Doyoung had caught on, but before Donghyuck was able to explain, Minho had spun the story to paint himself as the victim of unwanted advances. The resulting fight was something the family avoided speaking about at all costs. Doyoung eventually came to his senses, realizing that he was settling and deserved way better, but the damage was done. In the end, the two youngest had cut ties with each other completely, going so far as to block each other on social media.

Donghyuck sits up abruptly, reminded of the fact that his phone had been off for hours at this point. He quickly fishes his phone out of his pocket, turning it back on. Almost immediately, he was flooded with texts from friends who were worried about his well being.

After sending out a few mass texts, assuring everyone he was still alive and having to go so far as to post a selfie on Instagram to assure Minhyuk that he hadn’t been kidnapped and replaced with an imposter, he finally convinced himself to unpack.

Despite what Doyoung may think, the amount of stuff Donghyuck owned wasn’t small; the single suitcase he brought home wasn’t small. He could pack very precisely. 

The condo that their mother had owned, while in a great location and paid off, didn’t have very much space. He hadn’t been able to accumulate junk because of that small space. When he had initially left for the states, he decided that bringing material things like photo albums or stuffed animals was useless; storing anything sentimental with Grams and donating everything else was the best decision for Donghyuck at the time. 

So, the majority of what Donghyuck had to unpack was clothing. It honestly didn’t take very long to make progress. The only issue was that it was way too quiet in his room, so he decided to turn on the old tv for background noise. 

“-the victim, believed to be a student nurse at Yonsei University, was reportedly stabbed to death in her apartment earlier this evening.” He’d barely began to tune in when he was interrupted by a knock on the door.

“It’s me” Taeyong obviously hadn’t listened when he’d said he wasn’t hungry earlier, opening the door holding a tray of food. He looked very comfortable, having changed into some pj’s while he was cooking.

“Oh, thank god, I’m starving!” Donghyuck ended up crawling onto the bed to get close to the food, beckoning his brother to join him.

“I figured,” Taeyong had a massive smile across his face as he placed down the tray of simple Gimbap.

As he sat down, he noticed what was playing on the tv, a close up of a reporter speaking to a detective, “Hey, that’s my boyfriend, Sungjae. What happened?” 

“Oh, some woman got whacked.”

Taeyong rolls his eyes at how ridiculous his brother is, “Whacked? Hyuckie, you’ve been in the states way too long.”

“Yeah, well,” Donghyuck shifts uncomfortably, grabbing something off the tray to keep his hands occupied, “maybe I should have stayed…Why didn’t you tell Doyoung I was coming back?”

Taeyong looks away, picking at the Gimbap as well. “And risk him changing the locks? I don’t think so.”

He looks back up, meeting Donghyucks eyes, “besides, you should have been the one to tell him, not me.”

He frowns as he catches Donghyuck’s eye roll, “I’m serious. The way the two of you cut ties was messy, but I know for a fact that it’s been at least a year since you two unblocked each other. You had a way to get into contact with him; you just chose not to.” 

“You’re right” Donghyuck had the decency to look guilty. “ it’s just so hard for me to talk to him. He acts more like a mother than a brother most days.” 

“That’s not his fault. He practically had to-” Taeyong faltered as Donghyuck joined him in finishing his sentence, “sacrifice his own childhood to help raise us.”

Taeyong shot a glare at the younger, “hey, we were lucky he was so responsible.”

In truth, Taeyong felt a little guilty in the role he played in their, meaning all three of the brothers, upbringing. 

As a child, he was considerably smaller and weaker than the other kids his age. He and Doyoung were only 10 months apart, but people always mistook Doyoung for the older sibling once they passed toddlerhood. Taeyong was not a very outgoing child, and often Doyoung had to go out of his way to make sure his more sensitive brother remained included in whatever was happening at the moment. Doyoung went as far as to skip a grade to stick to Taeyong. Whenever asked about the jump, Doyoung would always reply that it was his duty to protect his brother. That sentiment was multiplied by 10 for both brothers after the arrival of their youngest. 

Taeyong had ended up coming out of his shell around highschool when the brothers had been split up for what seemed to be the first time. He had hit a growth spurt and ended up in the same class as an outgoing Thai exchange student, and the rest was history.

 “You both took care of me after mom died, but you understood when it was time to let go. He still seems to think I need a mother when what I really need is the support of both of my older brothers.”

Donghyuck was interrupted, yet again, by another knock at the door. Doyoung stood in the doorway, holding a bundle of blankets.

“Hey,” the greeting was a little weak, “This was always the coldest room in the house.”

He placed the blankets on a flat surface near the door.

Donghyuck smiled faintly, “thanks.”

Just as quickly as he had arrived, Doyoung fled.

 

Elsewhere, Jaehyun was still held up at the crime scene. The apartment was stuffy and humid, both from the rain and from the number of police officials and paramedics casing the scene.

“It’s the same tattoo that was on the other two victims.”  The tattoo was some sort of knot, three arcs or ovals that overlapped, connecting continuously. The victim had kept it in an easily hidden place, the back of her shoulder. It was visible, most likely due to whatever ritual she had planned to perform that night. Jaehyun was quick to cover the body back up, moving to inspect the rest of the room.

“So, the murderer is killing cultists.”

Jaehyun rolled his eyes, “No, the murder is on a witch hunt.’

Taeil scoffs, “Yeah, and he’s 500 years old and he lives in Busan.” he waves his arms, gesturing to the decorations surrounding them, “look around you, Jung, pentagrams, altars, offerings. All tools for a freak fest.”

“They call them Sabbaths, and this was hardly a freak fest. She was a solitary practitioner; she practiced her craft alone.”.

Jaehyun turned to get a better look at the altar, “Let me ask you something, Sunbae. Do you believe in UFOs?” 

“Hell no” Taeil looked uncomfortable

“Neither do I, but do you believe that there are people out there who do believe in UFOs?”

“Yes,” Taeil can’t believe Jaehyun wouldn’t let this go. ”but I think they’re crazy.”

Jaehyun was frustrated, “then why can’t you believe that there are people out there that believe they’re witches.”

“Look, all I know is that if you don’t stop talking about witches, I’m going to start questioning you.”  with that, he turned to leave, knowing that the CSI team will gather anything else he needed.

Taeil still felt like Jaehyun’s theory was ridiculous, but it was honestly becoming more and more believable with the ‘clues’ Jaehyun seemed to be digging up. He wasn’t about to say that out loud, though, especially not in a room of witnesses.

Both men ended stopping in their tracks, distracted by the sound of a cat. It was pure black, with striking amber eyes. Jaehyun moved to get a closer look, only to be stopped by Taeil.

“I’d stay away from that cat, Jung. It's been clawing everyone.” he turned away again, “I’ll see you at the car.”

Jaehyun ignored his warning, running his hand down the cat’s back, “hi kitty, come here.” he picked the cat up. He continued to make calming noises as he turned the burgundy collar to see the cat’s tag. It was double-sided, the engraving on one side matching the tattoo of the victim, with the number 10 engraved on the other side. 

 

Taeyong and Donghyuck had eventually decided they needed something more than bad late-night news channels, so they moved to the downstairs sunroom. Donghyuck picked up the spirit board from the kitchen table along the way, while Taeyong had made a bowl of popcorn for the pair to share.

 They sat together at a little four-seat table, both with hands on the pointer hoping for an answer to the question they asked.  

“You know,” Donghyuck doesn’t take his hands off the pointer, “ I’m glad you and Sungjae are still together. Where did you meet him anyway?”

Taeyong gave a sad smile, “we met in the hospital cafeteria the day Grams was admitted. He was covering a story, and I was bawling over a bagel. So he handed me a napkin.” 

Donghyuck let out a laugh, “how romantic~.”

“As a matter of fact, it was, the napkin had his phone number on it.”

After a few seconds of giggling, Taeyong shot his brother an annoyed look, “stop pushing the pointer.”

Donghyuck let out an offended noise, “I’m not touching it.”

Taeyong smirked in return, “You always used to push the pointer.”

Playing with the spirit board was always a fun pastime when the brothers were children. When Grams was busy doing, whatever it was that he would do throughout the day, the three of them would sit on the kitchen floor and ask the spirit board for answers. Sometimes they'd ask about their futures, where they'd be when it came time to grow up, while other times they'd ask mundane questions, like who stole the last cookie or what the answer to question 10 of their homework was. And yes, sometimes Donghyuck had a habit of punching the pointer. Grams would always walk past laughing, before stopping to tell them that the spirit board was a way to speak to their ancestors. Sometimes, when Donghyuck was alone with the board, he would try to contact their mother, wondering if she was proud of the way he had been growing up, he never really got an answer.

“Anyway,” Taeyong stood up to go to the kitchen, “more popcorn?”

He walked away without waiting for an answer. 

Donghyuck continued moving the pointer on his own, before stoping. 

“Hey,” he called out, “I forgot your question.”

Taeyong raised his voice so that it would carry across the room, “I asked if Doyoung would have sex with someone other than himself this year.”

Donghyuck scrunched his face, yelling back to his brother, “that’s disgusting.” pausing before continuing to move the pointer, whispering, “please say yes.” 

The lightheartedness was soon forgotten as Donghyuck felt the pointer move without his consent. “Hyung?”

The pointer moved again, “TAEYONG GET IN HERE.”

The fact that he was scared enough to speak informally got his brother’s attention.

“What?” Taeyong was confused as he returned from the kitchen, Doyoung coming to a stop behind him having been summoned by the youngest distress.

“What did you guys do now?” Doyoung’s tone was accusatory.

“Me?” it was Taeyong’s turn to be offended, “I didn’t do anything.”

“The pointer on the spirit board,” the attention returned to Donghyuck. “It moved on its own”

“Really?” Taeyong sounded skeptical, even with the sight of a distressed Donghyuck.

Donghyuck looked at both of his siblings in disbelief, “I’m serious. It spelled A-T.”

“Well, did you push it?” Doyoung looked annoyed to be interrupted for something so ridiculous. “You always used to push the pointer.”

 “I’m telling the truth! Look,” Donghyuck attempted to demonstrate what happened earlier, only for nothing to happen. 

Both of his siblings sighed, turning to finish whatever they were doing earlier. As soon as their backs were turned, the pointer moved involuntarily again.

“There!” Donghyuck was almost hysterical at this point. “It did it again!”

Only Taeyong turned around, looking at the spirit board to see that the pointer remained on the letter T. Still, sensing how distressed this was making Donghyuck, he stuck around.

“I swear it moved” this time, Donghyuck removed his hands completely, unwilling to keep contact any longer.

No longer having fingers to hold it back, the pointer moved on its own to complete the answer.

“You saw that, right?” Donghyuck didn’t know what he would do if Taeyong hadn’t seen. 

Taeyong hesitated, “yes? At least, I think I saw?”

“I told you I wasn’t lying,” even scared out his mind Donghyuck sounded smug.

The pointer continued to move, prompting Taeyong to call Doyoung back into the room.

As Doyoung walked in, Donghyuck had moved to grab a spare scrap of paper and a pen, writing down the letters.

As he turns to show his siblings what he wrote, he says, “I think it’s trying to tell us something.”

“Attic” Doyoung is the one to read it out loud, “why the attic?” just as he finishes speaking, the lights in the room blink out.

Taeyong is the first to flee from the room, grabbing his phone and turning on the flashlight as he makes his way towards the front door. 

“Don’t you think you’re overreacting?”  it was Doyoung who caught up to him first. “We’re perfectly safe here.”

Taeyong faces the middle child with a horrified look on his face. “Don’t say that. In horror movies, the person who says that is always the next to die.”

Doyoung grabs Taeyong’s hand, stopping him from putting on his coat, ‘Stop. It’s pouring rain, there's a psycho on the loose, and Sungjae probably isn’t even home.”

“I’ll go to Ten’s then”

“He lives on the other side of the city; you’d never make it in this weather. You can’t drive like this.” 

“Doyoung” Taeyong takes a deep breath, “I saw that pointer move.”

“No,” Doyoung grabs both of Taeyongs arms this time, “what you saw was Hyuck’s fingers pushing the pointer. There’s nothing in the attic. He’s playing a prank on us.”

Taeyong moves back toward the kitchen in search of his keys, “we don’t know that. We’ve lived in this house for months now, and we’ve never been able to get that attic door open.”

Doyoung sighs, “look, the powers out. Just come with me to the basement. I need you to hold the flashlight while I check out the main circuit box.”

While the two oldest were running around arguing, Donghyuck took it upon himself to find his phone and the lock pick he had stashed in the kitchen junk drawer so that he could get into the attic. He conveniently walked passed his brothers as they were arguing over the basement, intent on heading up the stairs.

As soon as Taeyong sees him, he says, “Donghyuck will go with you to the basement, won’t you, Donghyuck?”

Donghyuck barely glances over his shoulder at them as he climbs the stairs, “no, I’m going to the attic.”

Doyoung narrows his eyes, “No, you’re not. We already agreed.”

Donghyuck only shrugs. “I’m not waiting for some handyman to check out the attic, and I'm definitely not waiting for tomorrow. I’m going now.” 

He ignores any other protest and continues his way to the locked attic door.

After attempting to open the door without intervention and getting no luck, Donghyuck goes to use the lock pick, only to realize he left it on the dining room table while arguing with his brothers. He makes it down half a flight of stairs before he hears a loud creaking noise that causes a shiver to run down his spine. Looking backward, he realizes that the door to the attic opened on its own.

”fuck”

He took a deep breath before Turing back around. 

“It’s now or never, Hyuck. Don’t be a loser” of course, speaking to yourself was a great self-motivator. 

Walking back up the steps and through the doorway took almost all of Donghyuck’s willpower. This was his home, but too many creepy things seemed to be happening at once. Still, it was less creepy than the basement. 

The room was wide and open, and there were boxes of junk piled everywhere. Piles of old toys, an old sewing machine, stacks of books and photo albums, and a large gaudy chest. 

 

The attic door creaked behind him, but all Donghyuck could focus on was the chest at the end of the room. It’s not like the chest was the only thing occupying the attic, it was a giant mess considering no one had been up there since before Grams had died. There was absolutely no logical reason for him to be drawn to such a gaudy object.

 Still, he opens it.

“That was very anticlimactic, all that’s in here is a book and a bunch of candles” Donghyuck is disappointed for about three seconds before he realizes that book bears the same symbol as the spirit board that led him here in the first place. He picks it up, closing and sitting on the chest. He blows the dust off the cover in hopes of finding an actual title. 

The book is large and thicker than some of the textbooks he had had to purchase for class. Feeling impatient, he opens up to the first page.

“The Book of Shadows,” just saying it out loud felt ominous. The title, he guesses, was handwritten and ornate. 

Turning the page to the next entry, he finds what appears to be a poem written just as elegantly as the page before.

Hear now the words of the witches.

The secrets we hid in the night.

The oldest of Gods are invoked here.

The great work of magic is sought.

In this night and in this hour.

I call upon the Ancient Power.

Bring your powers to we siblings three,

We want the power.

Give us the power.”

Thunder rumbled in the background as Donghyuck felt a shiver roll down his spine.

Something had just happened.

Chapter Text

The odd feeling didn’t go away; it was more like fading into the background. Donghyuck ended up reading the next few pages to himself, becoming weary of speaking them aloud. It was fascinating, the amount of detail put into this book, with its pages stiff and yellowing around the edges. 

A few minutes later, the door to the attic banged back open, causing him to jump. Doyoung and Taeyong had both arrived, utterly shocked that Donghyuck was able to get the door open. 

“What are you doing?” Doyoung was the first to speak after noticing the youngest perched on top of the ugliest trunk he had ever seen. 

Donghyuck scrambled to stand, almost dropping the book in his haste to face his brothers. “Uh, reading.” 

He was standing directly in front of them at this point, “rea-reading an incantation - from this book of shadows-” he gestures towards the trunk with the book, “I found it in that chest.”

“Let me see that-” Doyoung grabs the book from Donghyuck’s hands.

“How did you get in here? We gabbed your lockpick from the table on our way up” Taeyong sounded slightly distressed, waving the (professional) lockpick kit at his brother.

“The door opened! I was on my way back down to grab that, and it just opened up!”

“That’s ridi- wait a minute!  An incantation? What kind of an incantation?”  Taeyong’s hands had found their way to his hips as he stared down the youngest. 

“It said something about there being three essentials of magic: timing, feeling, and the phases of the moon. I haven’t made it very far into the book, but if omens exist, I think finding this - at midnight, on a full moon, on the eve of a sabbath - is definitely one. This could only happen now, its no coincidence.”

“This? Do what ‘This’?” the glare Taeyong levels at him would send a lesser being running; Donghyuck only squirms. 

“Receive our powers.” the reply Donghyuck gives is sheepish, and only slightly tinged with guilt. 

“What powers?” Taeyong was growing more confused by the second, just what had their youngest gotten them into now? “‘Our powers?’ You included me in this?”

“He included all of us” Doyoung finally chimes in from where he was inspecting the book, moving so that Taeyong could look over his shoulder. “ Bring your powers to we siblings three? It’s a book of witchcraft!”

“Let me see that-” Taeyong’s voice was soft as he gently pulled the book from Doyoung’s grasp.  

Honestly, if Doyoung hadn’t been so upset with Donghyuck, he would have appreciated the book more. It was obviously handmade, at least a few centuries old, and obviously - going by the change in handwriting as the book continues - passed down through several generations. A find like this was a goldmine for a curator. 

 

Donghyuck shifted, trying to tone down the squirming. The glare from one of his siblings was manageable, but being under the focus of both glares made him feel like he was 10 years old again. 

Doyoung quickly turned and walked back out of the attic, frustrated with the situation. 

“Spirit boards, books of witchcraft, it figures that all this freaky stuff started when you arrived”  All Doyoung had wanted was to get the power running again, but instead, Donghyuck had to drag them all into his mess, and - for all they know- get them cursed.

“Hey!” Donghyuck’s offended tone was only a few steps behind Doyoung as they walked down the stairs, with Taeyong lagging only by seconds, having stopped to put the book down. “I wasn’t the one who found the spirit board.”

“Well,” Doyoung shines his flashlight further in front of him as he makes his way down into the foyer. “It wasn’t my fingers sliding the pointer around.”

“It Doesn’t Matter.” Taeyong ends the argument before it could even take off. “Because nothing happened. Right Donghyuck? When you did the incantation ?”

The group moved towards the living room, inspecting their home for any changes. 

“Well, my head spun around, and I vomited split pea soup” Donghyuck figured he was being petty, but seriously, how could they expect him to understand everything? “How should I know?”

Taeyong sighs, “everything looks the same. Everything feels the same, so nothing changed. Right?”

“You’re right”  Donghyuck couldn’t keep the disappointment out of his voice. 

“Yeah, the house still needs work.” Doyoung had softened his voice, deciding not to try and pick another fight while Taeyong was freaking out. “Maybe we should hire a handyman? Nothing I do is getting that chandelier to work.”

Taeyong just ignored his brothers’ musings.

 

The boys continued with their nightly routines after Doyoung dragged Taeyong down to the basement to fix the main circuit box. Things ran smoothly from then on out. They remained ignorant of the cloaked figure watching the house from the sidewalk, standing for what could have been hours in the pouring rain, leaving just before the sun rose.

 

The rain subsided sometime during the night, which left Donghyuck to sit on the front steps. He had spent the entire night reading the Book of Shadows. The book seemed to have some sort of charm on it because, with how old it is, it should have been filled to the brim already. Instead, the book had an infinite amount of blank pages at the end to be filled, without making it any larger or denser than it already was. 

The door opened behind him, startling him out of his thoughts. He turned his head to look at Taeyong, noticing the chef’s uniform clutched tightly in his hands.

“You’re up early!” Taeyong was surprised to see Donghyuck up and about at this hour. 

“I never went to sleep. Jetlag is killing me.” Donghyuck wasn’t lying. Being 13 hours ahead of where he was two days ago takes a toll.

“So, what were you doing? Flying around the neighborhood on a broomstick, with your black hat and your black cat?” Taeyong was joking, but he was worried. Donghyuck has never looked this exhausted before.

Donghyuck just laughed, “The only broom I’ve ever had was kept in a closet beside a mop.”

“Actually,” his tone took a turn for serious, “I was reading. Is Doyoung around?”

Taeyong shook his head, sitting next to his brother and stealing his coffee. “He went to work early… were you reading aloud ?”

No, but according to the book of shadows, one of our ancestors was… a witch named Kwon Boah.” Donghyuck hoped Taeying would listen to him. 

Taeyong just rolled his eyes, “and we have a cousin who’s a drunk, an aunt who’s manic, and a father who’s invisible.” They both stood as Taeyong made his way towards his car.

“I’m serious,” Donghyuvk wasn’t about to give up so easily. “She practiced powers, three powers. She could move objects with her mind, see the future, and stop time. Before Boah was executed for her craft, she vowed that each generation of Kwon witches would become stronger and stronger, culminating in the arrival of three siblings.”

Taeyong opened the driver’s side door of his car, shooting his brother a look through the glass. He really didn’t have time for this today. The restaurant was expecting him soon and he wanted to get there as early as possible.

Donghyuck just kept going, “now, these siblings would be the most powerful witches the world has ever known.”

“Look, I know what happened last night was weird and unexplainable, but we are not witches. We do not have special powers. Besides, aren’t witches supposed to be female? 

“Well- not exactly. Witch is a general term, stemming from the masculine form, Wicca, and the feminine form Wicce. It could be used for everyone. Stop trying to deflect.”

“Look,” Taeyong wanders around the door, Taking Donghyuck by the arms, “Grams wasn’t a… witch, and, as far as we know, neither was mom.” he leans forward to give the younger a quick kiss on the cheek. “So take that, Sherlock.”

Donghyuck laughs as Taeyong gets into his car to leave.

“we’re the protectors of the innocent. We’re known as the Charmed Ones.

 Taeyong just blows him another kiss, heading out to get to his audition on time, leaving Donghyuck standing in the street. 

 

Already at work, Doyong was quick and thorough in checking the catalog for the current special exhibition. After the inventory was taken, thankfully cataloged digitally on the tablet Doyoung was holding, each piece would be numbered and displayed in the first-floor exhibition hall with a small description. This particular exhibition would be at the museum for just over six weeks, the display time having been extended after both public and private interest in the collection.

He’d already been here for hours, always arriving before his boss and leaving after. Speaking of his boss, Doyoung looked down at his watch before moving to stand next to the warehouse door; he’d be here any second.

Just like clockwork, Minho walks through the door, eyes immediately searching for Doyoung. “Ah, just the person I wanted to see. Come, take a walk with me.”  He didn’t wait for Doyoung’s answer, moving through the warehouse at a rapid pace.

“There’s been a change in plans” Minho was straight to the point. 

“A change in plans?” Doyoung was confused. “Regarding the Joseon Landscape Exhibition?”

Minho turned to Doyoung, never missing a stride as they continued to walk, “the extra money that you helped raise through private donations has sparked significant corporate interest. The Joseon paintings will now become a permanent part of our Medieval and Early Modern History Exhibit.”

Doyoung tries to get a reply in, quickening his pace to match his bosses as they weave through artifacts.

 “well that’s terrific,”

Minho didn’t acknowledge Doyoung’s reply, steamrolling ahead like nothing happened.

 “Which is why the board wants someone a little more… qualified to handle the collection from now on.”

This statement caused Doyoung to halt, letting out a huff, as scowl formed on his face. That was his exhibit.

“You look surprised,” Minho sounds surprised himself.

“I don’t know why,” Doyoung can’t keep the anger from seeping into his voice, “I’m furious. Not only have I been on this project since its inception, but I’m the curator who secured the entire exhibition.”

Minho looked away, unable to look a furious Doyoung in the eyes. “You’re the person a little more qualified, aren’t you.” Doyoung was seething.

“I could hardly say ‘No’ to the entire board of directors, now could I? But I know you’ll be happy for me, after all, what’s right for me, is definitely good for you.”

Every word drips with condescension, Minho going as far as to gesture at Doyoung with a pen he had been holding, almost poking him in the nose. As he fips the pen, placing it in his shirt pocket, he asks, “Right, Mr.Kim?”

“Mr.Kim? Since when did we stop being on a first-name basis? When we stopped sleeping together or when I returned your engagement ring, Minho?”

“I didn’t realize the two were mutually exclusive” it was almost as if slime were dripping from every word he spoke. “Although I certainly enjoyed one more than the other.” he wiggled his eyebrows as Doyoung looked close to screaming. 

“Bastard” was all he had to say as he turned and left with another glare.

If he had taken the time to look back, he would have noticed the ink from Minho’s previously capped pen spontaneously pooling in the pocket of his shirt. Minho pulled the pen out, taking the cap off and bringing it closer to his face, only to be sprayed by the rest of the ink remaining in the pen. Spitting and sputtering, he tried to keep it out of his mouth, unable to open his eyes.

 

After Taeyong had left, Donghyuck decided it was time to get started in his day. He showered and changed, forgoing any attempt at sleep to try and fix his internal clock.

Just as he is getting ready to leave the house, his phone began to ring. He was only half surprised, after checking the caller id.

 ”Sanha wasn’t expecting your call.” his tone was dry as he greets one of his best friends. There’s a brief pause before the caller, Sanha, answers.

”Hyuck!! I'm so glad you answered! I haven't heard from you at all today, and I was getting worried!” Donghyuck rolls his eyes as he glances at the wall clock.

 ”of course you haven't heard from me, it's only 10 am. I'm 13 hours ahead of you…” he trails off, hearing a struggle on the other end of the call.

”I know that- Minhyuk stop trying to take the phone-” Minhyuk was whining in the background, and Donghyuck could almost picture Sanha standing with his phone held high above his head, out of Minhyuk’s reach.

When he moved to NYC for the exchange program, he had been entirely alone. Right before his first day of classes, he had been invited to a...party of sorts, for exchange students. He hadn't wanted to go, but it was an opportunity to meet students in similar situations. Sanha and Minhyuk had rescued him from his lonesome corner, and, after growing closer, gave him some stability while abroad. It's was only natural for them to be concerned once he had left.

”guys?” He tries to get their attention, failing miserably as the phone makes a smashing sound.

After a few seconds of silence, a third voice, much more feminine, answers, “Sorry about them, Hyuck, they obviously,” the word was laced with venom, “don’t know how to behave.”

Donghyuck smiles, moving towards the kitchen to grab a snack. ”Hyunjin, it's good to hear from you.” 

He had met Hunjin the day he arrived in the states. She and her mom lived in the unit next to him, and they had often walked to school together. Her mother, Sooyoung,  was a first-generation Korean American, and she had been the person who helped him adjust the most, showing him where to buy authentic (and cheap) ingredients to make recipes that Grams and Taeyong had sent. She also made a habit of inviting him over for dinner when she 'happened to make too much food'. When he had introduced Hyunjin to Sanha and Minhyuk, they had immediately clicked.

”Hello gorgeous, it's been a few days, hasn’t it?” Hyunjin sounded happy; the struggle in the background had all but ceased. He could only imagine what she had done to them. She was probably sitting on them, her small stature not really doing anything to keep them down, only making them behave through the power of intimidation. 

"it has.”

"what have you been up to? I hope you don't miss us too much.” 

Donghyuck snorts quietly to himself. Oh, you know. Just finding an ancient spellbook in his grandfather’s attic, and reading a spell to give his siblings magical powers. Nothing too crazy. 

 “I'm about to head out of the house. I have a meeting with my academic advisor to see if there's anything salvageable from my failed abroad trip.”

Hyunjin sighed, “Kim Donghyuck,” uh oh, she pulled the full name card. “your time abroad was anything but a failure. You spent almost three and a half years here; one rough semester isn't going to keep you from getting your degree.”

His last semester was a sensitive topic, but none of his friends would let him wallow for too long.

“thank you, Hyunjin.” his voice was much softer this time around.

“How has everyone been since I left? Did your date with Jisung go well?”

They ended up speaking for another half hour, with both Sanha and Minhyuk cutting in when they could. It had been exactly what he needed today.

 

At this point, Taeyong felt like it was safe to say he got the job. He had arrived at the restaurant early, and everything for this recipe is going smoothly. 

The restaurant was a high-end Italian restaurant in Gangnam, popular for locals due to the unique cuisine, famous for tourists due to the familiar food. Taeyong had been trying to get an interview here since he graduated culinary school, but they had never been hiring. He had prepared a special recipe, one from his mother’s old cookbook. Typically cooking a Korean fare when it’s just him and Doyoung, he enjoys being able to branch out to other cultures cuisines.

He turns away from where he had been plating his chicken to check on how his Port sauce was doing. He glances at the wall clock as he stirs his sauce. He still has at least ten minutes. He looks at the pan.

“It’s still too thin.” Taeyong is frowning as he turns the heat up slightly. “Letting it simmer and reduce some more should help it thicken up.”

 He didn’t need to speak out loud, but it helped to keep his thoughts organized. He stirred it a few more times before turning down the heat again, satisfied. Just as he turned to finish plating his final dish, the chef who was supposed to be evaluating him, an American with a fake french accent named Chef Moore, entered the kitchen. Taeyong takes another look at the clock; he should still have another five minutes.

“Your time,” Chef Moore clapped twice, a smirk spreading across his face, “is up.” 

He moves to the counter, picking up the recipe card that Taeyong had written the night before as a reference. “Let's see, Chicken with Mushrooms and Tomatoes over Penne a with Port Wine sauce, eh?”

Taeyong tries to get Moore’s attention, “Chef Moore?”

“What?” Moore doesn’t give any further acknowledgment, busy inspecting the dish.

“About the Port-” Taeyong doesn’t get much further, cut off.

“Yes, a hearty sauce is a base to any good meal; without it, the plate is bland and dry.” The chef has picked up a fork beginning to dig into the full plate of food.

“I didn’t have time for-” Taeyong’s cut off again.

“Ah-ah!” The noise coming out of Moore’s mouth is akin to the one used to reprimand a dog.

“But-”

Taeyong makes an aborted movement with his hands, an attempt to keep Chef Moore from eating what was on the fork when suddenly, Chef Moore stops with the fork just inches from his mouth.

“Chef Moore?” He’s confused. Chef Moore is frozen in place, unmoving and unblinking.

“Chef Moore?” Taeyong questions again with a slightly hysterical laugh. He waves his hand in front of the chef, hoping to break him out of whatever trance he was stuck in.

He moves around the frozen man, still waving his hands. “Hello? Hello?”

Taeyong spots the pan of sauce from the corner of his eye. Well, if Chef Moore wasn’t going to be moving anytime soon, he might as well. 

He dashes across the kitchen, grabbing a turkey baster along the way. He quickly fills the squeeze tube, racing back to put the smallest amount on the piece of chicken that the frozen Chef Moore had on his fork. He also added some to the rest of the plate, knowing that it would be suspicious if only one bite had the sauce. Just as he returned to his original spot, Chef Moore unfroze to finish his bite. 

“Mmhmm” He makes a satisfied noise as he chews, taking a moment to savor the flavor before swallowing.

 “That is very good, C'est Magnifique.” He finishes the bite with a smile.

Taeyong stares, gobsmacked and relieved.

 

After the incident with the ink, Minho had to return to his main office in the private wing of the museum. He had washed his face and changed into a new suit.  

Doyoung, on the other hand, went back to his office to organize his thoughts.

Minho’s back was to the door as he tied his tie, so Doyong waited to announce his presence, allowing him to overhear a particularly infuriating conversation.

“It was my idea to spark corporate interest from private donations. Besides, not only have I been with this project since its inception, we both know who secured this entire exhibit-”

Minho spins around in his chair.

“Doyoung.”

Doyoung takes that as his cue to speak, clenching his keys to avoid saying something stupid.

“I quit.”

Minho stares open-mouthed, broken out of his stupor by someone speaking on the other end of his call. He adjusts the phone next to his ear, “I’m going to have to call you back.”

He stands, straightening out his tie as he moves around his desk. “Think about this, Doyoung.”

Doyoung rolls his eyes, “lousy job, lousy pay, lousy boss, what’s to think about?”

“Your future,” Minho leans against his desk before continuing, “because believe me, if you walk out with no notice, you can kiss any references-”

Doyoung cuts off his yelling ex-fiance, “ Don’t threaten me, Minho.”

Minho lets out a huff, smiling. “You know me. I had to try.”

“Look, you’re hurt, you’re angry, your pride is wounded. I understand all that. That’s why you can’t see that I’m doing you a favor.”

“Excuse me?” Doyoung was furious before, but this was just offensive.

“I-I had to take the exhibit away from you. If I hadn’t, the board would have come in an-and put a total stranger in my place. Think about it, Doyoung. A stranger wouldn’t understand the way we run things here. You should be thanking me, not leaving me.”

Oh, so that’s the reason. Doyoung sneered. The lengths Minho would go to save his job. It was pitiful.

“Well,” Doyoung finally spoke up, laughter at the display of ‘compassion’ barely held back, “ I’m not worried. I’m sure your intellect will make quick work of the thousands of pages of research I left in my office. I also left a flash drive containing the museum and it’s warehouses catalogs and catalog system. That is, at least 310,000 pieces.”

The smile had slid from Minho’s face, “you’re going to regret this.”

“Oh, I don’t think so.” Doyoung sounded smug. “I thought that breaking up with you was the best thing I’d ever done, but this definitely tops that. Goodbye, Minho.”

Doyoung turns and walks out, picking up the briefcase that he had set just outside the doorway.

Minho, of course, always tried to get the last word in, “I hope there are no office supplies in your bag.”

Doyoung clenched his jaw, squeezing his hands into fists to avoid turning around and punching Minho. He kept walking until he reached the elevator.

Luck was not on Minho’s side today, as he felt his tie involuntarily tighten, choking him. He struggled to get around his desk while gripping at his neck. Sliding into his seat, he gripped blindly for his drawer, pulling out scissors to cut the tie. Finally getting them in his grip, he wrenched them through the fabric, the force sending his desk chair tumbling.

“What the hell was that?”

 

Donghyuck had spent most of his day doing things that he would rather not be doing. First, he had to find a way to get to campus, then, once on campus, he had to actually locate the office his advisor was in, and then he had to sit through an hour-long meeting discussing the ‘circumstances’ by which he bombed last semester. All in all, it was pretty sucky. 

Now, he was meeting up with a friend who also attended the same university. The plan was for the two of them to catch up over lunch.

“Donghyuck! Hey! Duckie! Hyuck! Donghyuck!” After a few tries, he finally located the voice calling his name.

“Jungwoo!! It’s great to see you!” Both boys had run headfirst for each other, almost toppling over from the force of their collision.

Jungwoo had been one of his closest friends growing up, other than his brothers, of course.

“I’ve missed you so much! Did you have a good flight? How are your brothers doing?”

They separated from each other, linking arms as they walked towards the campus food court in the student center.

Just as they had finished crossing the street, Donghyuck collided with another boy, sending them both sprawling. They both stood up hastily.

This particular intersection was usually empty, both people and cars taking faster routes, so it was odd to run into someone else back here. The boy was about Donghyuck’s height, with wide brown eyes.

“Watch where you’re going next time” The boy probably wasn’t trying to be rude, but he obviously was in a rush, as he pushed past Donghyuck for a second time. 

As their fingers brushed, Donghyuck felt a shudder roll through his entire body. 

A scene flashed before his eyes in slow motion. The boy was waving at a friend on the other side of the crosswalk. They called out to the boy as he crossed the road, Mark. He didn’t see the car flying passed the stop sign.

Donghyuck spun on his heel, ignoring the worried questions from Jungwoo. He dashed forward as he saw Mark raising his arm to wave.

“Mark!” the boy didn’t hear him. “Look out!” 

The car was coming fast now. There was no time. Donghyuck ran even faster, tackling Mark to the ground, the car hit its brakes.

A black cat meows from across the street as a group of witnesses gathers to see if everyone’s ok, its odd collar glinting in the sun.

Jungwoo rushes forward to see his friend, listening to the crowd yell, arguing on whether to call an ambulance.

Chapter Text

Taeyong was shaking by the time he finished speaking to Chef Moore about what else he had to do before his first day (he was hired as a chef, but he still needed to meet the staff and learn the way that they liked to run the kitchen). He was able to keep a straight face for the rest of the conversation, but once outside, he was ready to drop. He slowly fished his phone from his pocket, unlocking and navigating with trembling hands.

The dial tone he hears as he lifts his phone to his ear is ominous, glancing to make sure no one is around to hear, he starts to whisper, “Donghyuck answer the phone. Answer the phone.” 

He’s almost whining by the time it goes to voicemail. Of all the times his brother chooses to ignore him, it has to be the time where Taeyong is freaking out over the powers he may or may not be cursed with.

Taeyong is so unaware of his surroundings that he misses a tall figure walking up behind him. He flinches when an arm wraps around his waist from behind, twisting his entire body around while throwing his elbow back to catch his assailant in the sternum.

“Hey! What was that for?” the voice is familiar.  Taeyong spins fast, swatting at the arms that try to steady him. 

“Sungjae?” Taeyong asks in disbelief. “Oh my God, Sungjae! You scared me.”

Sungjae grabs his elbows as he clutches his chest to calm his racing heart. His boyfriend is sympathetic when he replies, “I- I can see. I’m sorry, are you ok?”

Taeyong huffs out a weak laugh, “Yeah, now I am.” 

Sungjae doesn’t look like he believes him for a second, moving to pull Taeyong into his arms. Taeyong buries his face in Sungjae’s chest, breathing in the scent of his cologne. 

“I really am. Um…” He only pulls back far enough to look at the other’s face. “What are you doing here? “

“Well,” Sungjae sounded sheepish, his voice tinged with embarrassment, “I wanted to be the first one to congratulate you on your new job.”

The laughter that comes from Taeyong is genuine this time, “You always surprise me- How did you know?”

“You prepared something special to you.” The reply comes with a gentle squeeze around the middle, Sungjae’s way of reassuring him, before he pulls away, to grab Taeyong by the shoulders.  “Anyone who’s sampled your work can see how talented you are, but when you use a recipe that you put your heart into? It’s honestly unstoppable.”

“Thank you.” Taeyong leans up to place a gentle kiss on Sungjae’s lips, the incident from earlier slipping to the back of his mind.



Across town, Doyoung is rushing into an emergency room. They had contacted him almost an hour ago, saying that Donghyuck had been admitted, and Doyoung was one of his emergency contacts. Why? Doyoung had absolutely no idea, as that should have automatically transferred to Taeyong after Gram’s death. Unless, of course, Donghyuck had manually updated his emergency contact list, or had told them which sibling to contact.

While the ER wasn’t empty, it was certainly less crowded than he expected. The nurses’ station was well-staffed, and only one person was being helped at the moment.

Mind racing, he approached the help desk, paying no mind to the man filling out forms beside him. “Hi, I’m looking for my brother, Kim Donghyuck. You called me about an hour ago?”

The receptionist nods as she begins typing, “give me one second while I pull up his information. What is his date of birth?”

Doyoung answers and begins to look around while he waits, eavesdropping on the conversation beside him.

“What’s the name again?” a nurse asks the man who was filling out paperwork. 

“Inspector Jung Jaehyun, Homicide. Doctor Qian is expecting me.” The nurse nods and walks away, most likely to confirm with Doctor Qian.

“Jaehyun?” Doyoung’s voice comes out a little weak.

“Doyoung?” Jaehyun turns to face him, a smile filled with surprise, but a voice filled with happiness. His voice takes on a softer tone as he says, “I don’t believe it. How are you?”

Doyoung answers his smile with one of his own, “ I’m doing very good, how are you?’

“I- I’m fine. I just can’t believe I’m running into you.” It had to have been years since he had last seen Doyoung in person. They parted on good enough terms, but Jaehyun couldn’t resist checking up on him every once in a while.

“Mr.Kim?” they were interrupted by the receptionist. “I’ll need to see some identification before I can release any information.” Doyoung hands over his license, having taken it out before he entered in preparation. He’s surprised she didn’t ask before she looked up Donghyuck. He turns back To Jaehyun as she inspects for authenticity.

“Yeah, I’m- uh picking up Donghyuck. He had some sort of an accident.” That he still didn’t know the details of. 

The smile slips from Jaehyun’s face, “oh, is he gonna be ok?”

“I think so. I don’t know any details, but they didn’t say it was anything serious when they called me in.” Doyoung tried to reassure the younger with a smile.

“Good.” and like the flip of a switch, Jaehyun’s dimples are out in full force.

Doyoung refrains from asking the reason for Jaehyun’s visit, knowing that if he was using his title, he must be here in an official capacity. 

“Your brother is still in x-rays, Mr.Kim, so it will be at least another 15 minutes until you can see him. Inspector Jung, the nurse informed me that Doctor Qian is at lunch at the moment, he’ll be sure to come and get you when it ends. You can wait here if you would like.”

“Thank you” “Thank you” both men thank the receptionist before moving to clear the area so the staff could help other patients.

“ Well...” Jaehyun lets out a sigh as he turns to Doyoung. “Donghyuck’s busy. Doctor Qian is busy…”

Doyoung raises an eyebrow.

“Can I buy you a bad cup of coffee while we wait?” Jaehyun is preparing himself for rejection, so he’s surprised when Doyoung says yes. 

 

The hospital they were in was part of a more massive medical plaza, with multiple offices and medical centers contained in one spot. They also had a conveniently located coffee shop right outside the er. Both men move to the shop, conversing along the way.

“So… You’re an inspector now.” it wasn’t a question, but Doyoung was willing to listen to whatever Jaehyun says.

Jaehyun laughs, of all the things to talk about. “What can I say? In any other city, I’d be called a detective.”

“Mhmm, Inspector’s classier.” Doyoung enjoys the smile that continues to fill Jaehyun’s face.

“I like it better already.” is the only thing he says before they both have to give their orders tho the barista.

“Your dad must be so proud.”

Jaehyun just shrugs, “Third-generation, you bet he’s happy… What about you?” Jaehyun is curious, and social media doesn’t necessarily give a full picture. “Taking the world by storm?”

“Well, my siblings and I are back at Grams house to avoid leaving it empty.  And I have recently decided that a change in career would do me some good. I heard that you moved to Ulsan?” Doyoung hoped his situation didn’t sound as pitiful as it felt, back in his childhood home and currently jobless. He did his best to try to deflect the conversation.

“I came back,” The answer didn’t give Doyoung an answer; he had forgotten that Jaehyun was just as stubborn as he was. “Are you- uh? Are you still...dating Minho?”

“No.” Doyoung was shocked, to say the least, “How did you know about that?”

The question caused Jaehyun to chuckle, so Doyoung continued to ask questions, “You checked up on me?”

Jaehyun’s smile had turned shy, as he avoided looking at Doyoung’s eyes. 

“I wouldn’t call it that.”

Doyoung wouldn’t back down. “What would you call it.”

Before Jehyun could defend himself, their orders were called. They both decided it would be better to wait in the ER instead of sitting down in the coffee shop, just in case they missed their call.

The spot they find is secluded, with a clear view of the hallway where doctors’ offices are. Doctor Qian shouldn’t have any trouble finding Jaehyun when the time came.

As they sat down, Jehyun finally replied, “ok, so maybe I did keep tabs on you. You’ve always been one of my best friends, and even if we parted ways, that doesn’t mean I stopped caring about your wellbeing.”

“Well,” The tips of Doyoungs ears have turned red, “Then I will admit to occasionally checking up on you.” 

“Really?”

 Before the conversation could move any further, a voice over the intercom interrupted.

“Mr.Dongyoung Kim, please meet your brother at the nurses’ station.”

Jaehyun sighed, shooting Doyoung a sad smile, “That’s you.”

Doyoung returned it before moving to go meet up with Donghyuck, “I’ll see you around, Jaehyun.”

Before he could walk away, Jeahyun grabbed him by the arm, tugging him into a quick hug. As he let go, Doyoung could feel Jaehyun pressing something soft into the palm of his hand. He bid Jaehyun goodbye again and walked away. He waited until he had left Jaehyun’s field of vision before uncurling his fingers from around an object. It was a small rabbit keychain that had a tag attached to the ring. Where or when Jaehyun had the time to buy it, Doyoung was clueless. Upon closer inspection, Doyoung realized that a phone number was written on the tag of the keychain, Jaehyun’s phone number. Warmth filled his chest as he carefully put it in his pocket if only to avoid questions from Donghyuck.

He realized after the fact that Jaehyun never got over his habit of speaking informally with him. Doyoung couldn’t find it in him to be bothered by this fact.

 

As Doyoung walked away, Jaehyun spotted Doctor Qian arriving back to his office, accompanied by a short figure dressed in all black. The small man could only be described as catlike, walking with more grace than Jaehyun could ever hope to possess. Something about him seemed familiar. With nothing left to do, Jaehyun couldn’t help but eavesdrop. 

“You’re sure that it’ll happen tonight?” Doctor Qian sounded nervous.

The shorter man just laughed, “Yes, Kun, I’ve been observing this for months. Taeyong is starting to get suspicious over where I keep disappearing to. Still, now that the night of the sabbath is over and they’ve each received their gift, it’s bound to happen” There are multiple Taeyong’s in Seoul, they surely couldn’t be talking about the one that Jaehyun knows.

“Ten, you’re absolutely sure they’ve received the gifts?” Ten? Wasn’t that the name of Taeyong’s best friend?

“Yes, a surge like that doesn’t pass by unnoticed.” This isn’t making any sense.

“And you’re sure we can’t interfere?”

Ten pauses. “Yes. This is something they’ve gotta overcome themselves.”

“What happens after tonight? Will you keep observing them personally?”

“Maybe. I plan on gifting them Eleven, I’m sure that I can find time to switch with him periodically.” This is going to give Jaehyun a headache. He decided it was time to give them their privacy, looking down at his phone to distract himself. Just in time, too, as he heard footsteps getting closer to the end of the hall.
“Inspector Jung? I heard you wanted to speak to me about a case?" Doctor Qian stood directly in front of him, the other man, Ten, nowhere to be seen.

 

 

Meeting up with Donghyuck was exactly aw he expected it, a disaster.  He wasn’t waiting for Doyoung at the nurses’ station. Someone had come to bring him to the room his brother currently occupied.

“Hello there, Dongyoung. How are you today, Dongyoung?” Donghyuck’s words were slurred as he stared at his brother from a wheelchair. “Ha! Dongyoung.”

Ignoring him, Doyoung shot the nurses a look, “What the hell happened to him?”

Not only was his brother drugged to the gills, he sporting bandages around his head and his arm, with a white piece of gauze taped to his face.

The nurse fidgeted under his gaze, attempting to stay professional, “He was involved in a minor car accident. From what I understand, your brother saw a car run a stop sign. He tackled another student out of harm’s way, but the car clipped his side. He was adamant that he didn’t need to go to the hospital, even though he was in obvious pain, so the EMT’s gave him something light to stop him from injuring himself further. He had a more extreme reaction than expected, so he's currently under supervision.”

What the fuck.

“What is the extent of his injuries? Where are the other people that were involved? Do we have the means to contact them?” The questions Doyoung fired back at the nurse were rapid; she barely had time to keep up.

A knock at the door prevented him from asking more questions.

 

“Excuse me,” A head of dark hair ducked through the door. “Uh- is this Kim Donghyuck’s room?”

No one answered him because his voice had caused Donghyuck to look up from where he had been babbling at the poster next to Doyoung.

“MORKIE” The boy, Morkie apparently, flushed at the greeting. He entered the room, bowing to the two older occupants.

“Sorry to interrupt, I was hoping by the time he was out of his x-ray he’d be sober. I’m Mark Lee.”

Mark Lee, huh. What he had to do with his brother, Doyoung didn’t know, but he wasn’t going to wait to find out.

“Kim Doyoung, I am Donghyuck’s older brother. Is there something we can help you with, Mark?”

“Ah,” Mark had turned even more red at Doyoung’s introduction. “I was just hoping he’d be coherent enough for me to thank him. He basically saved my life.”

So, Mark was the student he pushed out of the way, and from the looks of it, there was some sort of attraction. And from Donghyuck’s reaction, Mark wasn’t the only one.

Doyoung fought a smirk, “Yes, well, Donghyuck is currently indisposed. If you leave your contact information, I’ll be sure to have him call you.”

Mark was close to turning purple at this point; his face was so red. Unable to speak, he wrote his name and number on a sticky note the nurse handed him, being sure to ruffle Donghyuck’s hair before he left.

 

“He’s been here since the accident happened.” The nurse, who Doyoung still didn’t know the name of, leaned over to whisper, avoiding catching Donghyuck’s attention. “He rode with Donghyuck and did his best to keep him calm. As the other person in the incident, he didn’t have much of a choice on riding to the hospital together, but he has been very kind to your brother. The other boy with them, Jungwoo, had to leave early due to a family emergency.”

Jungwoo had been one of Donghyuck’s friends for quite some time, Doyoung was surprised anything could tear the boy away from Donghyuck. 

She continued when Doyoung didn’t comment, “The driver didn’t stay, but he did leave contact information if you want to pursue legal action...Can you help me move him?” She gestured towards Donghyuck, who was falling asleep in his wheelchair. Nodding, Doyoung moved to lift his younger brother out of the chair and onto the bed the room provided. He was suddenly thankful that he had kept up with going to the gym; it had been useful when he needed to help catalog or move larger items at the museum, but even more helpful now. Once the younger was settled, Doyoung moved back and sat in a chair beside him. The nurse just continued to brief him on the situation.
“ As far as his injuries go, Donghyuck was pretty lucky. He broke his ulna and fractured his radius, his head, and his arm are both scratched up, and he bruised ribs. He does not have a concussion, and he did not break anything in his legs. His meds should wear off in the next hour or so. As much as I want to say you’ll be out of here soon, we still need to do an ultrasound to make sure there’s no internal bleeding and put a cast on him. We’ll also put in a prescription for him for some mild painkillers.”

 At Doyoung’s look, she’s quick to clarify, “Nothing like what he’s on now, just an oral medication that’ll be a bit stronger than over the counter.”

“If we only have a few more things to do, then why will it take so long?” Doyoung is confused.

The nurse is apologetic when she says, “there aren’t many ultrasounds machines in our ER, so we have to classify each use by severity.  Donghyuck is not in any immediate danger, so there are others above him on the waiting list.” 

Doyoung nodded in acknowledgment, not looking up from where he had focused on Donghyuck.

“By the time he wakes up, the painkillers should have worn off. Normally we’d give him another dose to hold him over until he fills the prescription, but we’ll probably give him some oral painkillers instead. Someone will come by with those when they fit him for a cast.  Let me know if there is anything else you need.” and with that, she moved to leave the room. 

“Ah,” Doyoung finally turned back to look at her, “ I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch your name when I came in.”

She shot him a smile. It was easy to see that he was too concerned about his brother to pay attention to anything but him. “My name is Jihyo.”

“Well, thank you, Nurse Jihyo.” The tips of Doyoungs ears were flushed, but otherwise, he looked unaffected.

 

Alone in the room, Doyoung looked back at his younger brother. He had scared the life out of him with that call, but Doyoung would never tell him that. 

 Reaching over to brush Donghyuck’s bangs away from his face, he wonders how this had happened. Donghyuck was the baby of the family, his baby. Even if he didn’t understand his need for rebellion in his highschool years, or his wild idea of studying abroad, Doyoung had never wanted to estrange his brother. It was hard when it seemed like they only thing Donghyuck wanted to do was get under his skin.

The incident with Minho wasn’t his fault; that was something Doyoung was willing to concede. Minho had been scum from the start, and one of his biggest regrets was taking his word over Donghyucks. They had been at odds over something; he couldn’t even remember what it was at this point, but taking his ex’s side over the younger sibling that he had been furious with had seemed rational at the time. 

He wanted to make amends with Donghyuck, but there were still a few things that had happened between them that needed to resolve, like the reason Donghyuck had moved to the states in the first place.

Doyoung couldn’t keep stewing in his thoughts; Donghyuck was waking up.

“Doie?” his voice was still slurred, but he sounded more aware than he had earlier, so that might be from sleep.

Doyoung checked his watch; it was currently a quarter to three. Maybe if they got out of here soon, they could meet up with Taeyong for an early dinner.

“Hey,”  he spoke softly, trying not to spook the younger in his bedridden state. “Do you know where you are, Hyuck?” 

Donghyuck just blinked some more, bring some clarity back into his eyes.

“The hospital, right? I was admitted after I saved Mark.”

He was coherent enough to understand what had happened, so that was good. Earlier, he was babbling about whatever crossed his mind, not taking the time to answer questions.

“How do you feel, Hyuck?” 

Donghyuck’s face pulled into a grimace, “really really gross. My arm really hurts.” 

He attempted to move it, but Doyoung stopped him before he could, “that’s only going to make it worse, I’ll go see if the nurses can give you something. Don’t Move.” He finished with a glare, standing up to see if Jihyo was around to help. 

 

Donghyuck wasn’t released from the ER’s care for another hour and a half. Doyoung had texted Taeyong to see if he had time to meet up, but he never received a reply.

They both had decided it would be better to grab something simple to eat while they were waiting for Donghyuck’s prescription to be filled. That's how they found themselves sitting at the corner booth of one of their favorite ramen shops; it was owned by another childhood friend of theirs, Yuta.

Donghyuck didn’t have time to visit old friends today. He needed to tell Doyoung about what had happened earlier, so he started with the speech he had given Taeyong this morning about their ancestor Kwon Boah. This time around, he included the vision he had of Mark getting hit by a car. Doyoung had waited until their waitress had set down their food and walked a reasonable distance away before he replied.

“The chosen ones? The Charmed ones ? Donghyuck, this is insane.” Doyoung couldn’t keep the disbelief from his voice. Maybe Donghyuck was still high on painkillers. Do painkillers even cause hallucinations? 

Donghyuck’s face had scrunched up, “are you telling me that nothing strange happened to you today? You didn’t freeze time or move anything?"

Donghyuck is surprised that Doyoung’s eyes didn’t pop out from how hard he had rolled them. “Minho took an exhibit away from me-” the sigh that Donghyuck let out was probably heard by the people sitting on the opposite end of the restaurant, it was so loud. “Alright, look, Donghyuck. I know that you think you can see the future - which is pretty ironic considering-”

“Considering What?” Donghyuck interrupted, “That you don’t think I have one? That my vision of life is cloudy compared to your perfect hell?” The words he used were cutting, as his tone rose with each one.

Doyoung looks away, so Donghyuck speaks softer. “Even if you don’t want to believe me, just once can’t you trust me?”

Doyoung sighs, dealing with the youngest was much more comfortable when he was asleep. 

“Donghyuck, I do not have special powers. Now, Where’s the soy sauce.”

Donghyuck shoots his brother another look before turning to the end of the table to retrieve that soy sauce. Only to witness it move on its own accord to the middle of the table.

“Really,” Donghyuck is smug, “that looks pretty special to me.”

Doyoung ignores him, testing it again. This time he focuses on the soy sauce, moving it back across the table. Finally, he lets it slide to the middle of the table, right into his waiting palm.

“Uh,” He’s stupified. “Oh my God, so uh, I can move things with my mind?”  His face was almost white as he tries to process what just happened.

The smug grin still hadn’t left Donghyuck’s face. 

“With how much you hold inside, you should be a lethal weapon by now.”

Doyoung rubs his head, trying to ease the headache he could feel coming on. Turning to their waitress as she passed, he ordered a shot, downing it as soon as it arrived. Donghyuck wasn’t even sure that Doyoung knew what he had ordered; he just asked for a shot of any kind. It would have been amusing if his brother wasn’t so freaked out over this.

“Are you ok?”

“NO, I’m not ok.” Doyoung snapped. “You’ve turned me into a- a- Witch.”

“You were born one” Donghyuck seemed to be handling the situation very well. That is, both his brother freaking out and the fact that they all had powers. “We all were. And I think it’s time for us to start dealing with it.”

Doyoung stood up, unable to deal with his brother anymore. He quickly found their waitress and paid, stepping outside to get some air. Donghyuck had the rest of their meals boxed and bagged before following him out.

 

They both started moving in the direction of the pharmacy, forgoing using Doyoungs car to give them time to talk as they walk.

“When I was looking in the Book of Shadows, I saw these pictures, almost like wooden carvings. They looked like something out of a Bosch painting… All these terrifying images of three people fighting different incarnations of evil-”

“Evil fighting evil, that’s a twist.” Doyoung was quick to interject.

“Actually, a witch can be either good or evil. A good witch follows a Wiccan rede: ‘an it harm none, do what ye will’. Bad witches, also known as warlocks, have but one goal, to kill good witches and obtain their powers. Unfortunately, they look like regular people. They could be anyone anywhere.”

Doyoung looks over at Donghyuck, who had grown solemn and serious, “and this has what to do with us?”

“Well- in the first picture they were in a slumber, but in the second one, they were battling some kind of warlock. I think that, so long as we were in the dark about our powers, we were safe. Not anymore.” 

A black cat meows as they pass, but they paid it no mind. It jumped down from the ledge it was on and followed the pair until they entered the pharmacy.

 

Neither one spoke as they approached the counter and asked for Donghyuck’s prescription. 

The pharmacist was a kind older man who said, “I’ll be right back with your prescription.” 

“Take your time.” Donghyuck leaned on the counter as he began his wait.

Doyoung spoke up from where he was standing behind him, “Excuse me, where do you keep the aspirin?”
The pharmacist turned, “uh- aisle three.” he gestured with the prescription in his hand. 

“Thank you.” was the only thing Doyoung said before rushing off. Donghyuck waited for his prescription to be filled and paid for before he followed his brother.

“You know, chamomile tea works great for headaches” was the first thing he said as he approached.

 “Not for this one, it won’t.” Doyoung was pacing the aisle while looking for the aspirin, occasionally rubbing his head to ease the tension building.

Donghuck follows, staying two steps behind. When he finally speaks again, it’s barely above a whisper, “You know, I’m not afraid of our powers. I mean, everyone inherits something from their family, right?”

“Yeah,” Doyoung doesn’t bother whispering, well passed the point of caring for the public’s opinion. “Money, antiques, debt, a strong disposition, that’s what normal people inherit from their families.”

“Well, who wants to be normal when you could be special .” Donghyuck almost sounded giddy.

I want to be normal. I want my life to” Doyoung cuts himself off, impatience boiling over. “You know, isn’t this aisle three?”

He move0s to keep looking, getting even more frustrated.

“We can’t change what happened.” Donghyuck is also getting frustrated, Doyoung obviously didn’t understand how much of a big deal this was.“We can’t undo our destiny.”

Doyoung ignores him, “Do you see any aspirin?”

“I see chamomile tea.” is what Donghyuck answers to be petulant. 

That’s what sends Doyoung over the edge. “LOOK, I have just found out that I’m a- a witch, that my brothers are witches, and that we have powers that will apparently unleash all forms of evil. Evil that is apparently going to come looking for us. So excuse me, Donghyuck, but I am not exactly in a homeopathic mood right now.”

Donghyuck refrained from interrupting, keeping a straight face the entire time. About halfway into Doyoung’s rant, he decided to test a hypothesis. 

“Then move your headache from your mind.” He made it sound simple. 

The look of pure contempt Doyoung levels at him is far different than the other glares he had received today. A single bottle of aspirin flys down from the shelf next to Donghyuck’s head, barely missing him, and into Doyoung’s hands.

Doyoung’s spooked gaze moves from the bottle to his brother as a grin splits across Donghyuck’s face.

“You move things when you’re upset.” he points to the bottle for emphasis, letting go of the petulance he had used to get under Doyoung’s skin.

“This is ridiculous; I thought you landed on your arm, not your head.” Doyoung remained unconvinced.

“You don’t believe me.” Donghyuck was honestly a little offended, after all that work he had put into making Doyoung upset.

“Of course, I don’t believe you!”

Donghyuck crossed his arms with a smirk. “Minho”

Three more bottles of aspirin came flying off the shelf, this time landing on the floor. Doyoung flinched at the crash they had made.

“Now, let’s talk about dad and see what happens.”

Doyoung rolled his eyes as he bent down to pick up the bottles, “He’s dead, Donghyuck.”

“No, he’s moved from New York, but he is very much alive.” Donghyuck was back to being petulant, with an edge of patronizing this time. 

“Well, he isn’t for me. He died the day he left mom.”

Donghyuck laughed, “what are you talking about. He’s always been a major button pusher for you.”

You’d think by now Doyoung would have figured out that Donghyuck was trying to get a rise out of him, but this was a trap he always fell for. 

“You’re mad that he’s alive, you’re mad that I decided to reconnect with him while I was abroad, and you’re mad I came back. Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad.” He was almost singing as he taunted his brother.

Doyoung exploded again, pulling every piece of merchandise off of the shelves in their aisle, causing them both to flinch.

Donghyuck stared open-mouthed at the destruction his brother caused, “feel better?”

Doyoung sent a small smile back, “Lots.”

“The Book of Shadows said that our powers would grow.”

Doyoung let out a breathy laugh, “Grow? Into what?”

Looking back on the mess with that in mind, both brothers burst into a fit of giggles. 

After they had pulled themselves together and paid for the aspirin, they took a long stroll back to where Doyoung had parked his car.

Along the way, Doyoung finally asked, “Have you spoken to Taeyong at all today?”

Donghyuck shook his head. “No, he hasn’t replied.”

“That’s so unlike him.”



Taeyong was finishing up a lovely dinner. Sungjae had treated, saying that it was a congratulation meal. Either way, Taeyong was in paradise.

They had decided to head back to Sungjae’s apartment afterward, as it was much closer than the house. Or at least, that’s what Taeyong had thought. Sungjae had just taken a wrong turn. 

“Seventh? Why’d you turned on seventh? I thought we were heading back to your place?” Taeyong wasn’t too concerned; he knew that he was safe with Sungjae. Still, he was curious.

Sungjae shot him a smile, taking his eyes off the road briefly. “We are, but what you said at dinner reminded me of something.”

“Something I said?” Taeyong sounded confused. 

“About being on top of the world. A friend of mine has access to one of the old entertainment buildings, and the top floor has one of the most amazing views of the city you’ll ever see.” 

Taeyong decides to let it go, figuring it must be special if he was going to interrupt their night for it.

It only took them another ten minutes to reach the site.

 “The building was originally abandoned, but one of the cities projects was to restore it and have it serve a purpose again. It’s currently under construction.” They both paused at the doorway. 

Taeyong scrunched his nose, “I don’t care how amazing this view is, I’m not going in there.”

Sungjae just grabbed his arm and pulled him along, Taeyong didn’t resist. “Come on. I have a surprise prepared.” They entered the only working elevator, a freight elevator. The ride up was bumpy, and Taeyong was holding on to his boyfriend’s hand for dear life. It didn’t take long to reach the top.

The couple stepped out into a completely bare room that was lined with windows. Taeyong gasped as he rushed to get a look. It was indeed a panoramic view of the city.

“Sungjae, this is gorgeous.” his voice came out breathy as he took in the lights of the city.

Sungjae walked up behind him, wrapping an arm around his waist, “I thought you’d love it. I figured you tell Doyoung and Donghyuck about it the moment you see them.” 

Taeyong turned to look at his boyfriend’s smiling face, confused, “I never mentioned that Donghyuck was home.”

The arm around his waist tightened almost painfully, “whoops.”

“Hey,” he tried to twist out of his grip, “That’s not funny, you’re hurting me.”

A faint purple glow started to emit from the hand on his waist, when all of a sudden, he felt paralyzed, going limp in Sungjae’s grip.

He barely even registered it a moment later, when a new pain filled his senses, sharp and brutal in his side. Looking down, he could see the knife sticking out of his body, and he could see his blood running down the blade and onto Sungjae’s hand, but it just wasn’t registering.

“Sorry, babe,” Sungjae was still smiling down at him as he twisted the knife further into Taeyong's side. “Nothing personal, really. Maybe in another life, this could’ve worked out, but you and your brothers have something I need. I’ll have to kill all three of you, your powers are too connected, and they won’t transfer if only one of you dies.”

Sungjae was probably going to say more, do more, but the meow of a cat interrupted him.

“You again?” He sounded agitated, but everything was starting to become muffled to Taeyong. He was getting dizzy. 

 

There was a crash, and then the arm holding up Taeyong disappeared as he crumpled to the floor. Taeyong opened his eyes. When had he closed them? He shook his head, looking to see a small figure fighting off Sungjae. When had someone else arrived? He shook his head again. The next time he opened his eyes again, Sungjae was gone. There was; however, a cat walking towards him. 

It meowed loudly, butting its head at Taeyong’s hand. He wanted to comfort it, but he couldn’t find the strength to speak. He just let it rub against him, his eyes closing voluntarily this time. 

Just as he was about to drift off, he hears the tinkling of bells. Struggling to open his eyes again, he’s briefly greeted by a strange blue light before exhaustion overtakes him. 

“Hey,” the voice he hears is soft and warm. “Hey, now, it’s not the time for that yet.” Hands cup the back of his skull, also warm and soft.

“Johnny,” this voice, a second voice, was familiar, he couldn't place it right now. “This wasn’t supposed to happen. He wasn’t supposed to be alone with a warlock.”

“I know Chittaphon” The first voice sounded exhausted. The hands gripping his head gently moved down his body towards where he had unknowingly curled to conceal his wound.   

“We can’t always predict the outcome. As it is, you shouldn’t be here either. It was never your job to look after them.”

“He is my best friend. I would never leave him alone when he’s in danger.” A strange warmth is starting to fill Taeyong from where this stranger had his hands on Taeyong’s side.

“You should go. Check on the other two Chittaphon, and I’ll take care of him.”

The sound of footsteps receded. 

“Come on now; it’s not your turn to die today.” was the last thing he heard.

Soon after, the warmth in his side stopped and he heard another tinkling of bells. 

When Taeyong opened his eyes, he was alone in the room. The only trace that he had been injured was from the rip in his shirt and the blood staining his clothes and hands.

Woozy, he tried to stand. Even if he didn’t understand what was happening, Sungjae had mentioned his brothers. Taeyong had to get to them before he did.

 

 

Walking into the house, Donghyuck and Doyoung split up to see if Taeyong had made it home yet.

Doyoung walked up behind Donghyuck with a bundle in his arms, “Well, Taeyong’s not home, not unless he turned into a cat.”

Donghyuck’s forehead creased as he squinted at the cat. “How did the cat get in?”

Doyoung shrugged, placing the black cat on the ground, “I don’t know, someone must have left a window open.”

Doyoung was just about to ask if Taeyong had left a message on either of their phones when the front door opened.

Taeyong looked like an absolute mess as he ran towards his brothers.

“Is that blood?” Doyoung was the first to ask, meeting him halfway.

‘Uh- Long story. Look, we don’t have a lot of time, so lock the doors and check the windows. Donghyuck!” the youngest jumped at the mention of his name, “Did the book of shadows say anything about a-”

“Warlock?” Donghyuck took a guess, figuring he was right. 

Doyoung looks back and forth between his brothers, “Oh my God.”

Donhyuck nodded, running up the stairs to grab the book.

“I’m calling the cops.” Doyoung had no time for crazy psychos on the loose, why can’t they just leave it to the professionals?

“And tell them what?” Taeyong is always the voice of reason.  “That there’s a warlock on the loose trying to collect witches powers? If we bring the cops into this, we’d only be putting them in harm’s way.”

Moments later, Donghyuck runs back down the stairs, “I found the answer! Come on!”

 

His brothers follow him back up the stairs, stopping to collect additional items they may need from the kitchen.

All three of them take a spot at the small table in the attic. It sits close to the ground, and currently, is covered with the items they need for the ritual they were about to perform.

“Alright,” It was Doyoung who started them off, “We have placed the nine candles anointed with oils and spices in a circle.”

He gestures to the white candles placed evenly throughout the room, all equidistant from the table.

“Hold on!” Taeyong interjects, “I only count eight.”

“Oh!” Donghyuck pulled something out of his pocket. “You forgot this one!”

“A birthday candle?” Doyoung asked dryly.

Donghyuck lights the candle anyway, tossing it into the copper tub they had repurposed into a cauldron. “I guess Grams was a little low on witch supplies.”

Doyoung shrugs, turning to Taeyong, “Next, we need the poppet.”

“Got it.” Taeyong holds it up.

“Then we’re set. We’re ready to cast the spell.”

Taeyong takes a deep breath, picking up the poppet in one hand, and a rose from the bouquet Sungjae had sent them in the other.

“First I’ll make it stronger.” he gently presses one of the thorns on the stem of the rose into the white clay of the poppet while saying, “Your love will wither and depart from my life and my heart. Let me be, Sungjae, and go away forever.”

He placed both the poppet and the rose in their cauldron together.

“Ok, the spell is complete.”

Doyoung smirks across the table, “lets hope it works.”

The three siblings watch both the poppet and the rose catch fire, causing smoke to rise from their cauldron. There was a flash as the rest of the spell took effect.

 

Only a few minutes away from the house, Sungjae stops short, clutching at his chest. He stumbled violently as thorns began to pierce his body from the inside out, cutting through his clothing. Blood trickled down his face as he tried to determine where to go.

 

Back in the attic, the brothers are cleaning up the mess they made. Picking up the makeshift copper cauldron, Donghyuck felt another shudder run down his spine. This time, he saw the spell taking effect on Sungjae, watching him get impaled by thorns. Then, he sees Sungjae stand and stumble his way down the road.

“Wait!” his brothers pause in the doorway, surprised. “It didn’t work.”

“What?” Taeyong was confused.

“The spell, it didn’t work.”

Doyoung made his way back into the attic, “How do you know?”

“When I touched the pot, I had a flash. I saw Sungjae.” Donghyuck was panicking. He quickly made his way around the table towards the door.

“You touched the pot...and you saw him?” Taeyong was still confused. 

Donghyuck reached the doorway, bolting down the stairs with the other two not far behind.

“He’s on his way here.”

As they reached the bottom, Doyoung spoke up, “Maybe we should leave the house for a bit. Lay low and regroup. Figure out what to do next.”

“Great idea!” Taeyong agreed, “Ten would probably let us stay with him!”

Doyoung opened the door, starting to usher the others out when he heard a scream from both of them. Turning around, he spotted Sungjae walking up the front steps in all of his grotesque glory.

 

He backs up, shielding his two smaller brothers with his body.

 “Taeyong, Donghyuck, get out if here. Now.” He tilts his head, sending Sungjae flying into a wall. Taeyong leads their youngest back up the stairs, figuring the book may offer some more insight.

Sungjae smirked as he stood, “cool parlor trick. You were always the tough one, weren’t you, Doyoung?”

Another tilt of Doyoung’s head sent Sungjae flying backward again, only this time, Doyong didn’t stick around to see him stand up. He bolted up the stairs, knowing his brothers would have made their way to the attic. As he runs through the door, he grabs the handle, slamming it closed behind him. 

“Donghyuck, you’re right. Our powers are growing.”

All three of them move to barricade the door, in hopes of keeping Sungjae out. They can hear him stomping his way up the stairs, but they all still jump when his body slams into the door. 

“You can’t keep me out! My powers are stronger than yours.”

They turn and watch as each item of furniture they had placed in front of the door was thrown aside. 

“You really think that could stop me?”  Sungjae's voice was beginning to sound as warped and grotesque as his body. 

Taeyong was trembling from his place behind Doyoung. This was an absolute nightmare. All three of them were breathing heavily, and Donghyuck looked ready to combust.

“How do we face him? We’re trapped.” Taeyong is surprised he kept his voice from stuttering.

The door shattered into pieces, causing them to scream. Sungjae stood there, twisted from the thorns sticking out from his body, holding the same knife that he had used to stab Taeyong earlier that night.

“Come on! We’ll face him together!” Doyoung couldn’t hide the crack in his voice, but still, he grabbed his brother’s hands tightly. “Do you remember the spirit board?”

“The inscription on the back!” it was Taeyong who answered him.

“The Power of Three will set us free”  Sungjae sent a ball of fire at them, causing them to scream again. 

Doyoung used his power to deflect it; he was not going to be cowed. “Come on. We have to say it together!”

Almost nothing happened at first, but as each of the siblings joined in, they could feel the power rushing between them. Wind picked up around them, deflecting any attacks that Sungjae might have sent their way.

Sungjae attempted to speak to them, probably trying to threaten them, bet they paid him no mind. They continued chanting, noticing his face contorting in pain as his skin began to bubble. The wind picked up, rushing past them even faster, begging to cut into Sungjae.

Finally, after what felt like years of chanting, Sungjae combusted, taking with him any present threat.

All three of the siblings stopped, collapsing into each other in relief. They decided to shower and change for the night, opting to clean up the rest of the mess in the morning. Thankfully, any pieces that could have been left behind of Sungjae had dissolved. 



They had all took turns showering and putting on their pajamas. Taeyong had gone last, and he was the one to pick up the excess clothing off the bathroom floor to place it in the laundry. As he moved the pile, a small object fell out, a keychain, it most likely had been in someone’s pocket. He placed the pile in the laundry room before going back to pick it up. He waited until all three of them had gathered in his bedroom to bring it up. Donghyuck had just walked into the room, holding the cat that they had found in the house earlier.

“Is this one of yours? It fell out of the laundry.” Taeyong held up the small rabbit keychain.

Doyoung’s face lit up in return as Donghyuck just shook his head in confusion. “It’s mine. Jaehyun gave it to me earlier.”

DOnghyuck scrunched his brows in confusion, “I thought Jaehyun was in Ulsan.”

“Yeah, when did he get back into town?” Taeyong was also confused.

“I don’t know when he got back, but I met him yesterday while I was picking up Donghyuck from the ER.”

“The ER?” apparently they had forgotten to tell Taeyong about that. They had barely had time to perform a spell, let alone talk about how their days went. And To Taeyong’s credit, the bruising on Donghyuck’s face was minimal, especially after Jihyo had removed the bandages from his scrapes. His pajamas cover most of the cast, and currently, the cat was covering the rest.

“It wasn’t anything too big.” Donghyuck was quick to reassure, accidentally exposing his cast.

“You broke your arm ?” Taeyong was close to panicking at this point.

Doyoung was quick to take control over the situation, sitting all three of them down on the bed to explain the day before, in detail. He told them about his job, about quitting, and in return, Donghyuck told them about Mark and how he broke his arm. About halfway through, they had decided to curl up together, with the two eldest wrapped around Donghyuck. Donghyuck, being in the center, wrapped his arms around both of his older brothers. Taeyong spoke last, telling them about his date from hell, of the voices he had heard and the warmth he had felt. He knew that the people who had saved him had said names, but he couldn’t quite place them. All three of them had drifted off into a fitful sleep tangled together.

 

In the morning, Doyoung woke before both of his brothers. He had taken a few seconds to watch them breathe, to reassure himself that they were still there. After that moment of indulgence, he got up to start his day. Since he didn’t have work, he made himself a cup of coffee and went to sit on the front steps to drink it.

As he watched the sunrise, he noticed a car pulling down the street, stopping to park right in front of his house. Who could possibly be visiting them at this hour? Doyoung hadn’t gotten any texts from friends, no one had informed him of a visit.

 His confusion over their guest didn’t last long, as a familiar head of dark hair pops up from where the driver’s side door had opened up. 

Coming up the steps with, what appeared to be, a fresh cup of coffee, was Jaehyun.

“Good Morning!’

Doyoung stands, walking down the steps to meet him, “Hey, this is a surprise.”

He feels only slightly self-conscious, being caught in his rabbit print pajama bottoms, but this is Jaehyun. The same Jaehyun who had been by his side throughout his awkward teenage years and his less than typical childhood. The same Jaehyun who he hadn’t seen or spoken to in years, until yesterday, that is.

“I’ve been feeling really guilty about that bad cup of coffee.” Jaehyun’s reply comes with a bark of laughter, “I thought that I could make it up to you.”

As they come to stand face to face, Doyoung takes a second to admire Jaehyun in a way he hadn’t been able to yesterday. Today he was dressed professionally, probably having stopped on his way to the precinct. The time away must have done well for him, because he filled out nicely, the fabric of his button-down and slacks bunching around his muscles. High schooler Doyoung would have had an aneurysm if he could see this. 

“So, you brought me a good cup of coffee?” He quickly tears his eyes away before Jaehyun could notice him staring, asking a question to deflect.

“Oh, this?” Jaehyun gestures to the cup he was holding, “this is mine.” He takes a long sip for show. Pulling the cup away from his lips, Jaehyun’s eyes never leave Doyoung’s. 

Clearing his throat, he continues, “I- uh, I just wanted to ask you out to dinner.”

Doyoung raises his brows in surprise, gesturing for Jaehyun to continue as he takes a sip of his own coffee.

Jaehyun smirks, noticing that Doyoung neglected to answer, “Unless, of course, you’re afraid?”

“Afraid of what?” if it had been anyone else, Doyoung would have been offended.

“Oh,” The sigh that falls from Jaehyun’s lips was comical, “Y’know. Having too good a time, stirring up old memories, rekindling the old flame.”

Doyoung could barely contain his laughter long enough to reply, “Good point. Better not.”

Jaehyun’s smile was radiant, “okay… Friday night? Eight o’clock”

Doyoung’s smile dims for a second, memories from the night before creeping upon him. Could he really bring Jaehyun into something like this?

Jaehyun had noticed immediately, his own smile waning in response, “you hesitated.”

‘Yeah, but it’s not what you think.” Doyoung shakes his head, combing his thoughts for an excuse, something that would give him time to think on this, to talk it over with his brothers.

“I already told the boys that we could go put Friday night. Taeyong just got a new job, and we wanted to wait until the weekend to celebrate.” that sounded plausible enough, right?

The smile slowly spread back across Jaehyun’s face, “rain check then?”

“Raincheck.” Doyoung nodded.

A beep from Jaehyun’s phone startled the pair, breaking the tension that had been building in their stare. Looking down at the newest text, Jaehyun let out a curse.

“I’ve gotta get going, they need me at a scene. You have my number.” it wasn’t a question. Doyoung vaguely recalls Jaehyun slipping it into his hand before he went to find Donghyuck the day before. It’s probably still tangled in Taeyong’s bed. Still, he nods. 

“I’ll see you later, Jae” The old nickname slipped past his lips on accident, causing his ears to flush. Jaehyun waved as he walked back down the steps. 



Behind him, Doyoung could hear the door opening. Looking over his shoulder, he saw both of his brothers huddling in the doorway, with Donghyuck holding the cat that they had found in his arms.

“I told you I heard another voice.” Donghyucks smug voice was loud enough to carry, Doyoung wouldn’t be surprised if Jaehyun could also hear it from where he had just gotten into his car.

“Jaehyun? What did he want?” Subtlety seemed to have escaped Taeyong as well. 

Both brothers moved to stand next to Doyoung, waving back at Jaehyun as he departed. 

“He came…”Doyoung was in a teasing mood, so he paused for effect, “to ask me on a date.”

“A date?” Taeyong wasn’t afraid to tease him back, speaking in a sing-songy manner, “Well, what did you say?”

Doyoung’s smile faded, “I asked for a raincheck. I think we need to spend some time getting control over our powers, as well as studying the book before we can think about starting- or rekindling.” Doyoung was quick to amend his statement, shooting a look at Donghyuck, who had just opened his mouth to interject. “Any relationships. We’ll see how we feel about this after a few days to process this change.”

 

Stopping to take a breath, a thought occurred to Doyoung. ‘’Why are you two awake this early, anyway?”

Taeyong laughed, “So, it turns out that my phone was turned off yesterday…That’s why I didn’t hear your calls or texts. Sung- He must have turned it off when I went to the bathroom at dinner. You weren’t the only person I missed calls from. Ten was so worried this morning that he called your phone, which woke us up. We stayed awake because Ten took us answering as an incentive to invite himself over, he’ll be here any minute.”

Doyoung stares at them in disbelief. Ten was on his way over? Before he had time to process it, a horn honking in the distance caught their attention. Ten was racing down the road, screeching to a stop right where Jaehyun had parked earlier. 

“YOOOooongie! I was so worried about you!” Ten doesn’t bother closing his car door, launching himself up the front steps and on to a resigned Taeyong. 

 In the meantime, Donghyuck had gone and shut the car door, trying to prevent any damage or accidents, and Doyoung had left to refill his coffee. Both had returned with Ten none the wiser.

After a few minutes of smothering, Ten finally lets him go. He sets his sights on Donghyuck next, only to pause when he sees the cast and cat combination.

What he actually comments on comes as a surprise to all three brothers, as they were expecting him to smother Donghyuck for getting hurt.

“You found Eleven.”

“Eleven?” this is the first time Doyoung has spoken to Ten today.

Ten just rolls his eyes, “Yes, he’s one of One’s kittens.”

Taeyong makes a noise of understanding, his brothers turning to him for an explanation, “One is Ten’s cat-”
“Familiar” Ten interject

“Familiar” Taeyong amends, use to Tens’ oddities at this point, “and she had kittens about six months ago, but-” he looked back at Ten for an explanation of his own. “ I thought you gave them all away?”

Ten grins, gently taking the cat, or maybe kitten, from Donghyuck. Donghyuck hands him over, reluctantly. “Most of them. This one,” he gestures with the cat, gently, of course, “had a hard time being placed. I guess he just knew that it wasn’t his time yet.”

The phrase has Taeyong flinching, his mind reeling with memories of the night before. 

He takes a step back, “You-”

Everyone else stares at him in shock. 

“You- It was you- Last night- The cat- and the- the-” he doesn’t know how to put it into words. He can remember the conversation, even clearer now that he’s had time to rest.

Ten stares at him with an open mouth. This was not supposed to happen.

Chapter Text

To Doyoung, Ten’s reaction to Taeyong’s outburst was a lot more telling than the outburst itself. He had seemed surprised, but it was more so that Taeyong had remembered...whatever it was that he remembered, not at the fact that Taeyong was freaking out.

Glancing down the street, Doyoung took notice of all the pedestrians - an elderly man stepping out for the morning paper, a couple on their morning jog, kids walking to their bus stop together - and decided it was time to relocate.

“Look-” He spoke loudly, cutting through the tension and panic that had begun to build. “This is neither the time or place for this. Let’s move inside before we demand an explanation.”  The look he shot Ten made it clear that they would be demanding an explanation, and Ten wouldn’t like to know what’d happen if he refused.

The group was silent as they made their way up the steps and into the house. Doyoung led the group past the sitting room and into the sunroom, thinking that space and light might be able to lighten the mood. They had a small sitting area directly behind where Taeyong and Donghyuck had been playing with the spirit board just a few days ago.

The panic had faded from Taeyong’s features; all that was left was impassiveness. Still, everyone in the room could see the tenseness of his shoulders.

Once seated, Ten didn’t wait for the questioning to begin, jumping right into his explanation, “Yes, that was me. Yesterday, after you were stabbed, it was me who distracted Sungjae, and it was me who called for help.” 

Ten stopped to take a deep breath, and Taeyong used that time to ask what had been on his mind the entire time, “Why? Why were you there? How did you know to be there? How can you turn into a cat?”

Seeing Taeyong growing more and more hysterical, Doyoung took over, his thoughts piqued by his brother’s questions, “How long have you known about this? Did you know that Sungjae was a warlock?”

The last question had Ten paling, “No! I had absolutely no idea!”

“You had ‘no idea’” Doyoung raised a brow, using air quotes as he spoke, “yet you were able to be in the right place at the right time to save Taeyong?”

“it’s a very long story; I’m not entirely sure where to start.”

“Then start from the beginning, when did you find out about all of this?” that was the first time Donghyuck had spoken up the entire conversation.

“Well,” Ten started, after the other two nodded for him to continue. “I was born to a long line of wiccans who have bred familiars for generations. Familiars are companions for witches; they can be used to help guide a witch as they expand their powers. Before I was born, my parents relocated our branch to Thailand on a whim. It was meant to be a good place to continue the business, as the area that they had settled was a natural nexus for good, leading to an overflow of magical energy that could be absorbed by the animals we raise.  Due to the great concentration of wild magic in the area, I ended being the first Leechaiyapornkul in generations to gain active powers, marking me as a witch.” He pauses for a second, wondering how to continue. 

In the meantime, Donghyuck stood up to retrieve a pitcher of water and glasses from the kitchen, figuring that they would be in there for a while.

When he returned, he handed a glass to Ten, who thanked him before taking a sip. Then, he continued his story.

“I moved to Korea at age 15 to expand our business here. I met Taeyong on my first day of classes, and we became best friends.”

Doyoung frowned, “that is barely an explanation.”

Donghyuck, on the other hand, was almost bouncing in his seat, “you mentioned an active power, is it healing?”

Ten sighed, slumping forward, “I don’t have the power to heal others, but I know someone who does.” he shifted to get comfortable.

“So this who situation started a few months ago when a… higher power of sorts approached me. I was warned to stay away from you, and that any interference on my part would have dire consequences.”

 ”A higher power? What ”higher power” is invested in us? And since when do you take orders from them?” Taeyong’s knuckles were white from how hard he was gripping the glass that Donghyuck had given him, leaning forward in his seat. Ten’s history had come as no surprise to him, he had always been very open about his pagan upbringing, and Taeyong had never questioned his oddities. Powers, now that was something new. Ten having powers is something he would have to process on his own time. Ten would give him an in-depth explanation. Probably. If Doyoung doesn’t kill him beforehand.

“I can’t tell you who it is.” Ten holds up a hand to stop the brothers from interrupting. “What you have to understand is that these people are like, the decision-makers for the side of good. They oversee almost everything. The only reason I consider their orders is the fact that they can erase memories. Not just a few seconds, we’re talking about my existence being wiped from your memory for good.”

Taeyong sat back in his seat, fuming. These people think they have the right to dictate their choices, to threaten his best friend? 

“What do they want from us?” Donghyuck’s voice is small when he speaks up.

“Well, when they threat- I mean, gave me the warning, I had no idea what they were talking about. So, I ended up asking a close friend, the one who healed you actually,” he gave a weak smile to Taeyong, who actually returned it. “To look into it while I started to watch over you guys. He was able to find a legend, or I guess prophecy about three brothers born to a long line of witches. I wasn’t paying too much attention when Johnny explained, but from what I understand, if I had tried to explain it early or tried to warn you, it would have caused a giant chain of events that would have tipped the balance of nature in favor of evil. I knew that once you gained your powers, there would be a trial of sorts.”

Ten stopped, leaning over the table to take his best friend's hand. Taeyong let him, leaning forward to lace their fingers together. 

“I had no idea that it was Sungjae; you have to believe me. I don’t-” he takes a deep breath, pretty close to crying, “I don't have the ability to sense evil, not like my cats do. You’re my best friend, and I would never allow anyone close enough to harm you…”

The admission caused both boys to break down into tears as the night before finally caught up to them. It took several minutes for them to calm down again, with Taeyong eventually maneuvering around the coffee table to sit in Ten’s lap.  

Once things were calm again, Donghyuck let out an awkward cough, “sorry to interrupt, but did you say your cats could sense evil?”

The question startled a laugh out of the emotional pair, while Doyoung fought the smile that threatened to curl on his face. 

“Yes,” Ten took another sip of water before replying.

“My cats are a bit more special than typical familiars because they are all mothered by One, who has been exposed to my magic since before she was born. Witches that Sungjae killed purchased several of the kittens from Eleven’s litter. Three of them are back at my apartment, getting ready to be rehomed.”

Taeyong looks ill, shifting his weight to lean against Ten’s chest. l 

“My powers are more in tune with animals because I can become one,” he smiled at the brothers, “but that’s the extent of my powers, the familial ones, that is. Cats have a way of communicating with each other, but it isn’t as comprehensive as human speech. I tried to gather information from the kittens, but it’s not like I can read their minds. Anyway, my feline form currently has two sizes, housecat and mid-sized cheetah.”

Donghyuck is practically vibrating at the information Ten is giving them. 

“There have been reports of my ancestors having feline forms the size of horses or cars, but I'm not sure if my powers will grow that far...Other ‘normal witch things’ could technically count as powers, I guess. Casting spells or mixing potions are things I can do, but those aren’t unique to my line.”

Donghyuck looks thrilled at the prospects, “Are those things that we can learn too? The ‘normal witch things’? Will you teach us?”

The questions startle a laugh out of Ten, which in turn, makes Taeyong crack a smile.

“Yes, I have every intention of teaching you guys,” he glances around the room, eyes landing on Doyoung for just a second longer before returning to Donghyuck. “Having not grown up in this kind of environment, it can be difficult adjusting.  I plan on teaching witch 101 while you guys take the time to get the hang of your own powers.”

Doyoung’s phone rings suddenly, causing all four men to jump. He quickly pulls it from his pocket, standing once he sees the number.

“Well, this has been lovely, but I need to take this.” Doyoung takes several long strides towards the kitchen. “It was nice to see you, Ten. We’ll talk more later.” With that, he was gone.

Taeyong sighs, glancing at his watch before wiggling to get up. He turns and offers a hand to help Ten stand before saying, “It’s getting late, and we both need to get to work.” 

Ten nods in return, making his way to the front door, only to turn around after realizing he forgot something. 

Eleven sat curled in Donghyuck’s arms, purring as he scratched behind the cat’s ears. Noticing Ten’s stare, he slowly stopped his movements, arms twisting to pull the cat closer to his chest.

Ten rolled his eyes at the defensive posture that Donghyuck had taken up. 

“I wasn’t planning on taking him, you know. He was going to be a gift later on this week, but I don’t think he minds ruining the surprise. I can stop by later on today with some supplies if you want.” after addressing Donghyuck, he turns to Taeyong for conformation.

Taeyong could barely nod his head before Donghyuck had rushed to pull them both into a bone-crushing hug. Well, as bone-crushing as he could get while hindered by both a cat and a cast.

 

Heaven wasn’t quite as mortals imagined it would be. It wasn’t actually heaven, merely a place for angels of all kinds to convene. Most whitelighters, Johnny included, referred to it as ‘the upper regions’ or simply ‘up there’ to keep from confusing their charges. Spirits were taken to a different kind of afterlife, one that only the dead were privy to. 

Johnny was found pacing up and down an empty hallway. Everything surrounding him was a pristine white; he looked out of place in his mortal clothing. 

Large ornate doors at the end of the hallway opened with a groan, causing him to stop in his tracks. A tall man draped in silver robes stood in the doorway. Johnny remained frozen in his place as the person let down his hood. 

“Sehun,” he was relieved to see a familiar face.

Sehun did not share his relief, giving the younger whitelighter a grim look. 

“They’re ready for you now.” was all he replied before turning on his heel and walking back through the doorway, his words echoing in the empty space.

The chamber that Sehun led Johnny into was white, just like the hallway. The room was round, and around the edges, there was a raised platform where eleven individuals sat. At the front of the room were three individuals who had a platform that was built higher than the rest; they were all draped in gold. The other eight were dressed in the same silver as Sehun, who had replaced his hood and sat in an empty chair at the edge of the platform.

Johnny stood in the center of the room and waited to be addressed.

“Seo Youngho” it was a feminine voice that spoke, the woman was dressed in gold and sat in the direct center. “You have been called before the council due to claims of interference in the work of other whitelighters. Do you accept the claims against you?”

Before Johnny could give her his answer, the golden figure on her left spoke up, “of course he accepts the claims, why are you wasting our time, Boah? We clearly have the evidence to punish the guilty party.”

The room seemed to hold its breath as they waited for the apparent leader to respond to the interruption. Maybe not the whole room, just some. Maybe it was just Johnny holding his breath. Everyone in the room held a higher rank than him; it would be unwise to get on someone’s bad side.

“Evidence? I’m not sure what kind of evidence has been shared with you, Jiyong, but as far as I know, we are gathered over conjecture. ” The final golden figure, who sat to the right of Boah. 

Both men had begun to lean forward in their seats, talking around Boah.

“Enough!” Boah banged a fist on the arm of her chair, before reaching up to pull off her hood. “In case either of you has forgotten, I am the senior member of this council. I am the one who calls and conducts these official meetings.  I am the one who chooses the final verdict. And it is Elder Boah to you, Elder Jiyong.” she lets out an annoyed huff before turning her attention back to Johnny. “Whitelighter Seo Youngho, do you accept these claims?

Johnny straightens his posture at the direct address. “No, Elder Boah, I reject these claims and bring forth a case of charge negligence against Kim Jiwon. Furthermore, I move to have the Charmed ones removed from his care and placed under the care of a more diligent whitelighter.”

Johnny’s statement causes the room to freeze.

“Charge negligence is not a matter to joke around with. The penalty for such crimes is to be stripped of your powers and be exiled to the mortal realm. Do you have evidence to back up these claims?” The unnamed elder is the first to break the silence.

“Yes.” Johnny takes a deep breath, “I am willing to submit my memories of the events in question, as well as the memories and written observations of other witnesses.”

“Do you have the memories already extracted?” Boah asked. She waited for Johnny to nod and pull several vials out of his pocket before continuing. “Very well, we will adjourn to look over the evidence. Once we are finished, the accused will be summoned, and a final verdict will be made. We will reconvene at the toll of the bell. Dismissed.”

 

With those final words, the entire room rose and departed. Sehun nodded at Johnny from his spot, and Johnny followed him out of the chamber to a more secluded area.

“So, Elder Sehun. How have you been?” Johnny was laughing as he approached the bench Sehun had chosen.

Sehun pulled Johnny into a hug, “You scared the shit out of me, dude.” 

He ended up pulling back to punch him in the shoulder, “Never do that again, asshole. And shut up, I’m not an elder yet.” 

“When the hell did you land yourself a spot on the council? How did you get a spot on the council?” 

The pair sat down as Sehun began to explain. 

“Obviously you know the gist, a good person dies and is given a choice, then you become a guardian angel for witches and other future whitelighters. After you've had as many charges as I have, it can get kinda draining. Living for hundreds of years, helping hundreds of witches. I did a lot of good, but I was beginning to feel like it wasn’t enough. When Jun- Elder Junmyeon approached me due to an opening in his third of the lower council, I would have been a fool to refuse.”

Johnny gives his friend a look, having noticed his slip up, before asking another question. “What do you have to do? As a council member, I mean.”

“We take over his overflow work. There are occasions when only the lower whitelighter council is called to pass judgment, mostly just minor offences. On heavier cases, like your own, WE are called upon as witnesses. The lower council is split into sections under the highest-ranking Elders. Elder Junmeyeon is charged with keeping records, while Elder Jiyong’s faction carries out punishments. Elder Boah is technically the highest-ranking Elder because she is the oldest. She took the mantle after the last was killed in an attack a couple hundred years ago. She handles peacekeeping. No one actually knows who belongs in her lower council; they’ve never removed their hoods during official matters.” Sehun finally pauses, shrugging. “It’s not like we have a way of knowing who’s who when we’re outside of the council chambers. If you hadn’t been summoned today, I’m sure you wouldn’t have found out unless you were appointed to the council.”

Johnny lets out an offended scoff as he pushes the older off the bench, “I can’t tell if you think I’m too stupid to notice when you’re keeping a secret, or too unremarkable to ever become a council member.”

“I didn’t say either!! And unremarkable is the last thing I would describe you as,” Sehun sat on the floor for just a second, staring at his best friend. “You’re making waves with this counter-accusation. Kim Jiwon was granted the Charmed Ones due to past exemplary work. Hell, rumor has it that Elder Jiyong has an eye on recruiting him to the lower council. No matter the outcome, this will not be taken lightly.”

He finally stood back up, fiddling with the clasps on his robes. He was worried for Johnny. He always worried; Johnny was like a little brother to him. This though? Whatever This was, it ran deeper than either of them could fathom. Sehun was scared. Johnny might have bit off more than he could chew this time. 

Johnny had stood, ready to say something - maybe to reassure Sehun- but before anything else could be spoken, the sound of a bell filled the room. It was time to hear the verd1ict.




When Taeyong had applied for the chef position at the restaurant, he had done it under the assumption that he would be taking over the kitchen while Chef Moore took over the General Manager position that granted him more authority and decision making power. Standing in his bedroom on a phone call with the owners of the restaurant, he was beginning to regret his decision to step foot there in the first place.

“What do you mean, Chef Moore resigned?”  He was trying very, very hard not to panic right now.

“Well,” the owner, a lovely Italian woman named Sofia, wasn’t one to beat around the bush, “ He decided that it would suit him better to leave our establishment and start his own restaurant. He left a glowing recommendation for you, and we would really like to keep you in the position of new head chef, but we really need someone to oversee everything . As the new GM you would be in total control of the restaurant, well mostly. You would have to consult us for any big decisions. We’re willing to pay double what you would have started with as our chef.”

“D-double?Th-That's… uhh, Ms.Sofia, may I have some time to think over this offer? I will get back to you before closing tonight.”

“That’s no issue, dear. Please, take until the weekend ends to make your decision, we don’t mind waiting. And don’t worry about training until after you decide. Have a wonderful day Taeyong.” Taeyong could barely make a noise of acknowledgment before she hung up. 

Groaning, he turned and launched himself headfirst into his bed. This was not what he had signed up for. The money was good, though. But he wouldn’t be in a position that he had been craving for years. This would be a good experience for when he decided to start his own restaurant.

Doyoung knocked at his door, startling him out of his thoughts. 

“Hey, I just got off the phone with the handyman company, they’re willing to send someone to assess the house either later on today or early tomorrow.”

Taeyong stuck his head up at that information.

“Oh? That quickly. That’s great. Was that the urgent phone call that you had to take earlier?”

Doyoung huffed, “no, that was Jisoo, I have to meet up with her and Jinyoung later on today to go over my resignation with HR.”

Taeyong rolled onto his back to get comfortable before he spoke again. “My training at the restaurant has been postponed, so I will be here to meet the person they send to check out the house. Take as much time as you need to.’

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to tell his brother about what had just happened; he just needed some time to process it before either of his brothers butted in with their opinions.

 

When Johnny and Sehun had returned to the council chamber, it had been a somber affair. No one in the room dared to make a sound as they reconvened. Johnny had been shown to a new spot, in the back of the room and out of the way of the new accused. It felt slightly different to be a spectator instead of the main attraction; the room felt a little less tense - at least to him.

“Senior Whitelighter Kim Jiwon. You have been called before the council for claims of charge negligence. Your accusor has moved to remove the Charmed ones from your care and have you punished accordingly. Do you accept these claims?” Boah once again had her hood raised, but this time neither of the other Elders made a move to speak.

The man summoned, Kim Jiwon, stood at the center of the room, where Johnny had been just hours earlier. He stood at a rather average height and was dressed in the white robes that whitelighters typically would have donned for a visit to 

Kim Jiwon scoffed, clearly not understanding the severity of the claim. “No, Head Elder Boah, I do not accept the claims. The accusor must want the Charmed Ones whitelighter changed for his own personal gain. I have been nothing but diligent looking after my charges, making sure nothing interferes with their destiny.”

Boah hums, glancing over Kim’s shoulder to look at Johnny.

“Very well, Whitelighter Kim Jiwon. If that is the only rebuttal you wish to make, we will move on to the evidence gathered by Accusing Whitelighter Seo Youngho.”

Kim looked ready to protest but held his tongue.

Boah looked away from both whitelighters to address the entire room. “During the trial of a connecting case of interference from an outside whitelighter, Whitelighter Youngho brought forward the case of charge negligence. Whitelighter Youngho was kind enough to extract the memories of the events in question from not only himself but another witness as well.  All of the memories have been checked for tampering, and none has been found. The events in question happened yesterday at 10:34 pm. One of Whitelighter Jiwon’s charges, Kim Taeyong, was put into a vulnerable position due to negligence on Whitelighter Jiwon’s part. Kim Taeyong found himself alone and at the mercy of a warlock. He would have been killed if not for the interference of our second witness, Chittaphon Leechaiyapornkul, who distracted the warlock and called upon Whitelighter Youngho for assistance. Mr.Leechaiyapornkul submitted memories of not only last night but the months leading up to the event, documenting the movements and growth of Whitelighter Jiwon’s charges leading up to the day they received their powers. In one memory, in particular, Whitelighter Jiwon threatened Mr.Leechaiyapornkul due to the witch being a close friend of his charge.”

Boah moved to address Kim again, “Do you have anything to say for yourself, Whightlighter Jiwon?”

“Everything I did was for the good of my charges.” he seemed to be sticking to his story.

“Alright then, I think that the verdict is clear. Whitelighter Jiwon, you have been charged with charge negligence of the highest degree. Your charges are to be reassigned, and you are to be stripped of your powers and sent back to the mortal world before the end of the day. We will give you enough time to put your affairs in order and say your goodbyes, do not try to escape your punishment. Councilmen Kim and Oh will accompany you out of the room now.” 

She gestured for Sehun and a hooded council member that sat closest to her to stand. The duo quickly escorted Kim from the chamber.

“Whitelighter Seo Youngho,” Johnny startles at the mention of his name, too distracted by the leaving trio. He steps forward to the middle of the room. “ You have been accused of interfering with the work of another whitelighter. The memories that you have submitted have given sufficient evidence that it is true.”

Her words cause Johnny to tense.

“However, a whitelighter interfering to save the life of another’s charge is an unpunishable act. The case against you shall be dropped with no repercussions,”

The joy that coursed through his veins was almost palpable. He tried his best to keep a straight face, feeling his hands twitch.

Boah must have noticed because she had to hide a simile of her own/.

“Instead,” Hearing Boah speak again, he did his best to pay attention. “The Charmed Ones shall be transferred into your care. I’m sure that you will do a marvelous job.”

What? Johnny must be hearing things. Elder Boah couldn’t have possibly just said that.

“The cases are closed, this meeting is adjourned. You are dismissed.”