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All My Demons Greet Me

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“You sure you’re qualified for this?” the sheriff asked, blatantly skeptical even as he led the way towards the morgue.  “You look a little... young .”

 

Mark chuckled, the sound awkward and just a little wry to his own ears.  The sheriff wasn’t wrong.  He was twenty-three.  It made Mark wonder what the man would think if he knew Mark had been doing this since he was even younger.

 

“I’m uniquely qualified, actually.”  Unfortunately.   He gave the sheriff a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.  “Don’t worry, though, sheriff. If I fail, you don’t have to pay or anything.”  I’ll probably be dead, after all.

 

Mark didn’t need to say that last bit for the sheriff to understand, the older man’s face crumpling with an expression somewhere between concerned and unnerved.  Which, all in all, was better than looking at Mark like he was crazy.  Although he’d had plenty of time to get used to both.

 

“Well, here’s to hoping you can help us then. We’re plenty desperate, if that wasn’t already obvious,” the sheriff sighed, holding open the door to the little section of the town’s police station dedicated to the dead who passed from unnatural causes.  He led Mark to the wall of metal cabinets, each labeled with a number, a little card bearing initials taped underneath.  “We’ve lost a person a night for the past three weeks. We’re a small town. We’ve never had a tragedy like this before. We’re- we’re out of our depth, if I’m being honest.”

 

“Why not call the FBI in?” Mark asked, shivering slightly in the chill of the room, already knowing the answer.

 

“The FBI deal with human monsters,” the sheriff said, matter-of-factly, opening the nearest cabinet and sliding out the mortuary stretcher inside.  There was a sheet covering the body on the metal slab, but Mark didn’t need to see what was underneath to know some crucial parts were missing.  Like the chest cavity, and all it’s limbs.   “What did this? It ain’t no human.”

 

“No,” Mark sighed, watching the faint thread of inky black wisping off the body with a grim sort of understanding.  He felt his blood stir in response, senses sharpening at the whiff of rotted magic.  “It isn’t. At least, not anymore.”




The town of Brooker was idyllic in the light of day, it’s business street a pretty row of pastel painted shopfronts, people comfortably going about their errands.  It didn’t seem like a place that had recently seen a spike in gruesome murders.  

 

That’s how it usually was, though.  Especially when magic was at play.  Which it was, in spades.

 

Mark pulled the brim of his cap down further over his eyes, tucking his hands in his pockets as he walked, following a muddied trail of magic through town.  

 

Tracking was his least favorite part of this whole process.  There either wasn’t enough of a trail to trace, or there was too much — sludge-like magic covering the area in a thick, hard to parse out layer.  Regardless, both required Mark to scour the area on foot, resigning himself to the sun beating down on his shoulders.  He winced as a bead of sweat slid down his neck, disappearing into his shirt, trickling all the way down his back to the waistband of his jeans.

 

He sighed against the urge to step into the next shop and soak up some air conditioning, forcing himself to focus.  Each day it takes me to find the killer is another person dead.

 

A deep voice, rumbling up from the back of his head, sending a small shiver down Mark’s spine: “ Careful, love. You’re no good overworked, either.”

 

Mark rolled out his shoulders, sighing.  I know.

 

Swirls of wary concern that weren’t his own rose up, poking at the boundaries of his mind.

 

Mark rolled his eyes, a fond smile twitching at his lips.  He cleared his throat, looking around to see if anyone had noticed — he’d had bad experiences with people catching him effectively talking to himself — and then realized he’d come to a fork in the road.

 

“Left.”

 

Mark looked to the left.  Taking that branch-off of the road would lead him further into one half of the little residential district in town.  The one school was located further that way also, along with a thicker miasma of curdled magic.

 

Mark’s mouth pressed into a grim line.  Great, left it is.




A little girl with just-budding magic is found with her heart cut out the next morning.  The sheriff, when he calls Mark in, looks distraught.

 

Mark doesn’t tell him it could’ve been worse.  The girl was dead when her heart was taken.  That, in and of itself, was a blessing.  Not all mages were given that much mercy.  To a human, not used to the casual savagery of the magical world, a literal shark tank, it wouldn’t be a comfort though.

 

Mark decided to spend the second day of his arrival re-tracing the little girl’s steps.  Magic like hers had been — crisp, fresh, healthy — was easier to track than the rotted disaster that was leaking out from the killer.

 

He followed it from her home, to school, then back to her home, where a woman who must’ve been her mother stood outside on the house’s little porch being consoled by her neighbors.  A boy, the girl’s younger brother, clung to his mother’s skirt.  His eyes were red, cheeks mottled from crying and still wet with tears.  He glowed softly like his sister had, the beginnings of magic reacting to his emotions.

 

If that magic was fostered, he’d be strong.  His mother, on the other hand, gave off a weak flicker.  Magic that hadn’t quite stuck, waning away with time.

 

Mark watched her expression.  It felt...off.  She didn’t look nearly as sad as the neighbor speaking with her, bouncing her own sleepy child on her hip.  Even the sheriff had been more broken, head hung over the death of the little girl.

 

Her mother, though…

 

“A monster wearing a human’s face,” a voice sighed, the sound gusting through Mark’s head with a feathery touch, light and sweet.  “How quaint.”

 

Mark grimaced.  The boy…

 

The voice hummed.  “Will be next.”

 

A spike of anxiety bubbled in his stomach.  Mark grit his teeth.  Not if he could help it.




The sort of monster that formed from the shell of a wannabe-mage, was a special breed.  Human lore would call them wendigos, but in truth, they were something a little more than that.  Normal humans who practiced cannibalism would eventually shift, losing their minds and their human form to the blood-crazed thing they’d become.  A mage, of any level, would have all of the hunger, but get to keep their mind, and, for the most part, their form.

 

A mage who was specifically eating those with any fledgling spark of magic, would keep a bit more.  Gain a little something they didn’t deserve, even if it was only temporary.

 

It meant that the woman, who’d eaten thirteen people, one of them with magic of her own family line, was strong and her magic noxious.  Mark knew that.  He did.

 

It didn’t mean he was any more prepared for the poison that shoved it’s way into his lungs when he tried to slip into her home, hoping to be in time to save her son from the creature his mother had turned herself into.

 

Panic strangled him, stalled his responses.  Startled worry that wasn’t his own crowded his head and made his vision blur, blood heating up in a desperate instinctual attempt to push the rotted magic trying to kill him out .  Still, he was coughing, and coughing, and coughing, and he just couldn’t get up.

 

A hair-raising clicking sound chirped behind him, and through the black dots staining his vision, Mark could just make out the distorted form of a woman walking past.  She was dragging something small behind her, and Mark wanted to throw up.

 

Fuck.

 

Mark could pinpoint the moment the almost-beast caught his scent on the air, titling her head at what she must’ve smelt in his blood.

 

She took a lurching step towards him, and then warning growls that didn’t come from him were snarling through the air with a startling amount of force.  Mark’s body hurt, the tattoos lining his arms aching , the bounds of the spells they held being pushed and stretched.

 

The monster before him, sensing the presence of something more dangerous than her, than Mark, took a step back, then another, and another, until she was walking away entirely.

 

No, Mark thought desperately, hacking up blood.  He tried to stand, fell back to his knees.  No.

 

Unable to move, Mark had to watch the two figures disappear over well kept fences and manicured hedges, vision fading to black.

 

Damn it.




“Are you mad?”

 

Mark shook his head.  He was setting a simple trap using his own blood as bait, keeping in mind the bald interest the mage — more creature than not, now — had shown the other night.  It was to be expected.  The one true constant Mark could count on was his blood’s ability to attract the worst of things.

 

“Mark?”

 

“I’m not,” he said simply, slicing his palm open with a clean, sudden swipe of his knife.  An elegant silver blade that shone fire orange with the setting sun.

 

His blood hitting the air had the two voices in the back of his head letting out twin startled purrs.  The kind that was pure reflex, neither demon settled in his head able to rangle the reaction back.

 

“Shush,” he chided, letting the blood collecting in his hand trickle down over his fingers, dripping onto the ground as he started to walk.  Then, “There wasn’t anything you would’ve been able to do with me down, like that.”  As frustrating as it was to admit.  “She- she would’ve still killed the kid.”

 

A contemplative silence as he created a simple trail, leading just past the town’s limits into the scraggly woods that surrounded it.  Away from businesses and homes and the pulse of human life.

 

Eventually, once he was done, “You sure it’ll follow that?”

 

Mark huffed out a small laugh, wrapping his bleeding hand loosely and settling in to wait on an old tree stump.  Both of them had seen the way the mage (and really, Mark used that term lightly) had drawn closer at Mark’s scent.  

 

He didn’t point that out, though, just saying, “Wouldn’t you?” and leaving it at that.

 

A low hum that trickled down his spine like warm honey.

 

Two voices in sync.  “Yes.”

 

Mark tilted his head back, closed his eyes against the warm kiss of the setting sun.  A sigh, whisper soft, and a barely there caress over his bared throat.  Mark smiled.  “Then there’s your answer.”




It came at night, like all things of its sort tended to.

 

Mark turned his head towards the soft sounds of crunching leaves and brittle grass, posture lax, elbows propped on his knees.

 

The smell hit him first, the stench of rotted earth and dying flesh burning his nose.  His blood simmered in warning, pressing against his skin.

 

Defend , it was telling him, memories of the previous night rising violently to the forefront unbidden.  Danger .

 

“Mark.”

 

“I know,” Mark said, low, calmly watching the woman approaching in the dark.  Then, louder: “You couldn’t leave your own family untouched?”

 

A smile, spread unnaturally wide, teeth flashing sharp and dangerous.  Eyes, pitch black, almost liquid in the moonlight, curved up into harsh crescents.  The true face under the mask she’d been wearing yesterday while “mourning” the death of her daughter.”

 

“They were the only ones with even a drop of power in this worthless little town.”

 

Mark’s stomach twisted, disgust a familiar taste in his mouth.  “Was it worth it?”

 

“It will be,” the woman sighed, fingers twitching at her side, disjointed and wrong , “Once I eat you too. You shouldn’t have come here, you know, smelling as sweet as you do.”

 

The amount of times Mark had heard that…

 

“You won’t get any stronger,” Mark said, simple, straightforward, tired.  Oh, so very tired.  “You’ll never feel full, you’ll always be hungry, and you’ll never be able to summon anything, let alone bind it to you.”

 

The woman tossed her head back at an unnatural angle and cackled, the sound closer to a hacking cough, black fluid — congealed magic — spitting up from her mouth and dribbling down her chin.  She didn’t seem to notice, and if she did, she didn’t seem to care.

 

“What do you know?” She gave him a look of pure condescension.  “You’re a child.”

 

Mark smiled, rubbing a thumb absentmindedly over the palm of his unbandaged hand, tracing the jagged scar that marred and twisted the skin there.  “I know enough. And I’ve heard enough.”  He tilted his head eyes looking somewhere just over the woman’s shoulder, the juncture of his neck burning.  “Johnny, could you...?”

 

The woman frowned, skin moving oddly over the frame of her skull, too tight and stretched.  “Who’re you-”

 

Before she could turn to look, a large hand slid around to grab at her chin, fingers framing her jaw, gripping hard enough to crack bone.

 

“Of course,” Johnny said, smiling sweetly, eyes dark and glittering.  Wonderfully imposing in the way he towered.  His grip tightened and the woman, the mage — whatever was left of her, really — whimpered.  Johnny’s smiled widened, lips curling up at the corners handsomely, beautiful in spite of the brutal glee radiating off of him.  If Mark was being honest, beautiful because of it.  “Anything for you.”

 

In a motion almost too quick for Mark to follow, Johnny crushed her jaw and snapped her neck, letting the woman’s body drop to the forest floor with a dull thud.

 

Mark watched as her body began to liquefy almost instantly, the magic that had been rotting away — twisted by each murder she commited, each person she consumed for energy when their death didn’t bring about the result she wanted — melting her from the inside out.  He watched until Johnny stepped close to block his view, tilting his chin up so he was staring straight into the demon’s face.  

 

Mark sighed into the touch.  Relaxing in a way that used to terrify him, but that had come to be a grounding constant.  He let the sizzle of the mage’s skin fade into the white noise of the forest, focusing on the warmth of Johnny’s hand, hell-fire tamed into something carefully gentle just for him.

 

It helped the buzzing of his own magic settle, his blood calming, singing softly in response to Johnny’s touch.  

 

Mark sighed again.  He was sweaty and tired, clothes sticking to him from the heat of the night, leaving his jeans and simple shirt uncomfortable and itchy.  He wanted to shower, eat some food, and then crash in the lumpy bed of the two star hotel the sheriff’s department had put him up in.

 

“Doyoung,” Mark breathed, closing his eyes, feeling the space between his shoulder blades burn briefly.  

 

He shivered against it, trying, and failing, to keep himself from cataloguing the ways it differed from when he called on Johnny.

 

Sharper, cleaner, less all consuming but no less embarrassingly pleasurable.

 

When he opened his eyes again, Doyoung knelt before him, head tipped forward in a display of simple submission.  A habit he’d formed after enough times being brought to heel by the power flickering through Mark’s veins.  A habit that had lost its necessity and taken on a different meaning as time had passed.

 

“Hungry?” Mark asked, reaching out to sift the fingers of his bandaged hand through Doyoung’s hair, enjoying the cool silken feel of the strands slipping past heated skin.

 

The look Doyoung fixed him with when he raised his head was a cross between begrudging admission and fond exasperation.

 

Mark smiled, genuine for the first time since coming to this little middle-of-nowhere town.  “Help yourself.”

 

Doyoung snorted, standing to his feet, brushing his clothes off with a perfunctory flick of his wrist.  “You say that like I’m not your glorified clean-up crew.”

 

Mark’s smiled widened, lips pressing together to keep the exhausted little laugh threatening to bubble up from slipping out.  

 

“I have no clue what you’re talking about,” he eventually managed, speaking to Doyoung’s back as the demon turned on his heel, walking over to the corpse that was nothing more than a puddle of putrid magic at that point.

 

Doyoung made a small, prim noise, kneeling back to the ground.  It should’ve probably concerned Mark that he wasn’t off-put by the slurping sounds coming from where Doyoung was cupping the magical sludge into his hands, methodically drinking it up.  Or, that he was so comfortable with Johnny — big, dangerous, quick to kill Johnny — curling around him like a large cat where he sat, strong arms wrapping around Mark’s waist to pull their bodies flush, legs settling on either side.  Warm thigh to warm thigh.  

 

It should’ve concerned him.  It used to.  Now?

 

Mark let himself be held, breathing softly as Johnny nuzzled against his neck.  He barely even flinched as Johnny’s tongue came out, warm and wet, laving over his pulse point, the demon chasing the heat of Mark’s magic thrumming just under his skin.

 

Gods, he should’ve been terrified.

 

“Not here,” Mark said, firm even as his heart rabbitted in his chest.

 

“But I’m hungry too,” Johnny pouted, with all the innocence of the lamb he definitely wasn’t.  Voice deeper, then, promising in the most worst way possible, “When do I get my meal?”

 

Mark shuddered, warmth washing through his body.  From where he was eating, filling up on the physical manifestation of dark intentions and cruel desires, Doyoung’s shoulders flinched, the bond that tethered them all together feeding him twin sensations. 

 

A muscle in Mark’s jaw jumped but he didn’t push Johnny away.  The demon wouldn’t force him, at the end of the day.  Couldn’t — not with the seals decorating Mark’s skin, tattooed in crisp lines of red — but also wouldn’t .

 

Again, firmer, “Not. Here .”

 

Johnny huffed against his neck.  He nipped at the lobe of his ear but relented, contenting himself with perching his chin on Mark’s shoulder and pressing his cheek to where he knew his own personal sigil sat on Mark’s skin.  “You’re no fun.”

 

Mark snorted, patting Johnny’s hands where they’d come to rest between his legs.  “And I’m okay with that.”



☽ 



Mark’s blood was special.  It was a fact he’d known since he was little.

 

“You have to be careful, sweetheart,” his mother had warned, cleaning a crying five-year old Mark’s scrapped up knee, blackish-purple gore spattered across her cheek.  “Our blood is different. It lures things in. Makes us targets.”

 

Mark had sniffled, glancing over at the thing that had come lurching out of their backyard, breaking through powerful wards with a single-minded sort of determination, outward facing fangs, a void like mouth, and sharp claws all pointed at Mark and his freshly scuffed knee.  His mouth wobbled, another wave of tears welling up and spilling over his cheeks.  If his mom hadn’t been there, hadn’t come running, hair flying behind her, a mother bear intent on protecting her cub…

 

Mark hiccuped.  Even at five he understood the concept of death.

 

“That’s why your father is so hard on you learning how to protect yourself,” she said gently, petting his hair, smile a touch sad.  “We won’t always be here. You need to be able to defend yourself. You need to be able to survive, Mark. For those like us, that’s the biggest act of defiance we can achieve.”

 

Years later, having been attacked by mages that wanted to consume the power he’d been born with, and creatures that wanted to kill him for the threat that power posed, and somehow living through it all with nothing more than a collection of mildly horrifying scars, Mark got it.  He really did.

 

He’d done things his parents wouldn’t be proud of.  Broke rules his father had taught him.  Rules his family had followed for generations to “maintain their humanity through barbarous times”.  He’d killed, he’d left people cursed and howling, and probably worst of all, he’d used the power his blood afforded him.

 

But, he’d survived.  Against all odds, he’d survived.

 

“Hey,” Johnny breathed, nudging Mark’s temple with his own, too long strands of hair tickling Mark’s cheek, “Where’d you go?”

 

Mark flushed, caught.  “Nowhere,” he mumbled.  “‘M here.”

 

“No, you’re not,” Doyoung pointed out not unkindly, reclining back on Mark’s motel room bed. 

 

They were back in the safety of his room, surrounded by a tri-blend of wards.  Temporarily cut off from the rest of the world and the monsters that inhabited it.

 

Doyoung cupped Mark’s cheek with a hand too delicate to belong to something as dangerous as he was, drawing forward a small, unwanted voice from the depths of Mark’s mind.

 

“Fallen are just another breed of monster. Given the chance, they’ll kill you same as the others, because our blood can bind them just as well.”

 

Mark let himself relax into the touch, ignoring the horrible little voice that — in his opinion — didn’t know jack shit.  He focused instead on Doyoung in front of him, immaculate except for the wild, hungry look in his eyes.  A look that betrayed how much he was controlling himself for Mark’s sake, him and Johnny almost irritatingly aware of how much more human Mark was than them.

 

“If you’d rather sleep, now,” Johnny started, pressed up against his back, speaking close to Mark’s ear, “I wouldn’t mind.”  He pressed a kiss to Mark’s shoulder, running his hands along Mark’s thighs.  “Dinner could be breakfast instead.”

 

Mark sucked in a breath, letting it out in a slow sigh.  Through the thin cotton of both their shirts, he could feel the firm press of Johnny’s muscles.  So very promising in all the many, many ways they could wreck him.

 

Mark shivered.  Yeah, he was tired, but Johnny being naked, ruining him so perfectly, was a prospect too tempting to pass up.

 

“N- No,” Mark stuttered out, already breathless.  “I don’t- I’m tired, but-”  Johnny’s hands slid higher on their next pass, hiking up the hem of Mark’s shirt.  He sighed, arching into the touch.  Johnny’s chest rumbled with a pleased sound while Doyoung leaned forward to nose under Mark’s chin, a small sound being puffed out against the skin of his throat.  “I want this.”

 

Gods he wanted this.

 

“Okay, Mark.”  Johnny slid a hand all the way up Mark’s chest, careful not to disturb Doyoung where he was busy sucking bruises into the soft skin of Mark’s throat, using long fingers to tilt his head up so Johnny could capture his lips in a lingering kiss.  He parted with a sweet, chaste peck, smiling in a way that mages would have others believe demons couldn’t.  “Okay.”

 

They went slow, because they always did.  Johnny helped slip Mark’s shirt over his head while Doyoung got the front of his jeans undone.  Nimble fingers tugged at his waistband while big hands helped him to his knees.  It took some moving around, some rearranging of limbs, soft huffs of laughter escaping Mark whenever a particularly ticklish spot was grazed, but then they were naked.

 

Mark would never get tired of the sight the two demons painted.  Doyoung with his broad shoulders, narrow waist, and sharp features.  Ethereal in his beauty when he dropped the last bits of his glamour.  Johnny, in contrast, fit in a way that had Mark’s mouth watering.  Strong muscles lining long arms and long legs, powerful in the way predators of his calibre often were.

 

Beautiful.  So beautiful.  Mine.

 

Mark blinked, startled by the intensity of his own conviction.  

 

Johnny laughed, eyes crinkling, coming to crawl on the bed from where he’d been grabbing lube from Mark’s bag.

 

“Yours,” he breathed, bodily hauling Mark up with an arm around his waist in a delicious display of strength, redepositing him directly in the circle of Doyoung’s arms.

 

Doyoung turned Mark so he was kneeling in the v of the demon’s legs, arms braced on either side of his hips.  He held his face between his hands, eyes glittering with the strange sort of starlight Doyoung seemed to always glow with under his human facade.

 

“All yours.”

 

Mark, skin buzzing as it had been earlier, made a small sound high in his throat.  When Johnny, who’d settled in behind him, leaned down to kiss at the base of his spine and lick a hot stripe up his back, he made a much more incriminating one.

 

“Johnny,” he moaned, nerves tingling with the slow seep of magic special to all incubi.

 

“Yes, baby?” Johnny asked, a smile clear in his voice.

 

Mark heard the click of a cap opening and knew Johnny was slicking his fingers up.  Johnny’s magic would sharpen pleasure, but it wouldn’t make it any easier for Mark to take his cock.  A cool finger slid down the cleft of his ass and circled his entrance, dipping in briefly with a small push.  It startled Mark forward, moaning long and high, pressing his forehead against Doyoung’s chest.

 

“I don’t- I like it but-”  I don’t have the energy for a long night.

 

Admitting that, even now, after the years they’ve spent at his side, was still embarrassing, though.

 

He didn’t need to say it out loud, luckily.  Didn’t even need to project it to be skimmed from the surface of his thoughts.

 

“We know,” Doyoung told him, holding out a hand for the bottle of lube while the other carded through Mark’s hair, admiring the dark locks.  To Johnny, “Don’t play with your food. He’s already exhausted.”

 

 “I won’t,” Johnny assured, mouthing wetly at Mark’s shoulder, leaving love bites and teeth marks pressed into the skin around the jagged scar Mark had there.  “Mark, love?”

 

“Mm?” Mark sighed, rocking gently onto the finger Johnny was pushing into him, a low hum of pleasure starting in his bones.

 

“Try not to disappear into your head,” he said, pushing another finger in to join the first, stroking over Mark’s hip when he whined at the stretch.  “Need you here to tell me if I go too far.”

 

That’s gonna be hard , Mark thought, already feeling himself sinking back into his head.

 

“It’s okay,” Doyoung said sweetly, guiding Mark’s face up from where he’d been burying it against Doyoung’s chest, breathing in the crisp scent the fallen always carried with him.  He was smiling, equally predatory as Johnny’s had been, equally devastating in it’s effect.  “That’s where I come in, isn’t it sweetheart?”

 

And, yeah, that was where he came in.

 

Doyoung kissed Mark like he was trying to devour him , tongue pushing into his mouth, curling around Mark’s own.  It had Mark grunting low, warmth pooling low in his belly.  Johnny, watching, practically purred .

 

“So pretty,” he cooed, curling his fingers up into Mark, searching, searching, finding that little bundle of nerves that had Mark keening high and long and loud.

 

Doyoung, ever the opportunist, parted on a sigh, spit still connecting their lips, and breathed in .  Worries Mark hadn’t realized he was carrying, errant thoughts of purple blooded mages and torn up bodies all flitted past his eyes.  There and gone, sucked up along with the faint wisp that had gone from Mark’s mouth straight to Doyoung’s lungs.

 

Mark’s negativity, the things that plagued him on the regular, all settled into Doyoung’s chest with a pale blue glow.  Doyoung licked his lips, eyes falling hooded as a faint dusting of pink collected on the high points of his cheeks.  Mark, dazed now, head hazy with a slowly building simmer of pleasure from Johnny and relief from Doyoung, couldn’t do more than whimper.

 

Johnny added a third finger, thrusting them at a quicker pace, and Doyoung finally uncapped the lube bottle he’d left lying on the bed with a pleased little smirk.

 

“You always taste the best,” he sighed, shifting a little closer before laying back, tipping some lube onto his fingers before tossing the bottle to the wayside.  “No matter what, love, you’re always the best .”

 

Mark shook his head, tongue feeling too thick in his mouth to say anything, watching with rapt attention as Doyoung slowly started to finger himself open.  Mark felt his toes curl at the small sounds coming from the demon’s parted lips, a stark contrast to the deep purrs he was getting from Johnny as he slowly rut against Mark’s hip for any measure of relief.

 

“Always,” Johnny agreed, finally dragging his fingers out of Mark with a wet squelch.

 

Mark whined at the loss, the sound trailing off into a broken moan when he felt Johnny then line himself up behind him.

 

“Ready?” he asked, spreading Mark’s cheeks, pressing in ever so slightly.  Mark made a complicated sort of sound, fists curling into the sheets, and nodded.  “Doyoung?”

 

Doyoung let out a humming sigh, pulling his fingers out from where he’d been stretching himself at a much more languid pace.  Using his already dirty hand, he stroked over Mark’s neglected cock, hanging red and heavy, slicking him up.

 

Mark, sparks of stimulation arcing up his spine, cried out at the contact.  Doyoung cooed at him, bringing his knees up to frame Mark’s hips.  It had a flush climbing high on Mark’s neck, spreading down his chest.  But, then he was guiding Mark’s cock down to his entrance, Johnny crawling forward to blanket Mark’s body and follow.

 

Already panting and feeling overheated from sensation and arousal, Mark felt like he was going to cry when he started to push in to the tight heat of Doyoung’s body, hips held steady by Johnny’s grip.

 

“Gods.

 

Doyoung, back arching, muscles tensing beautifully under pale skin, moaned softly in agreement.

 

When Mark was fully seated, Doyoung impossibly tight around him, no amount of prep ever going to change that (because angels weren’t made for this, and as a fallen that hadn’t changed) Johnny started to ease his way in as well.  It hurt in a way that almost immediately blended with pleasure, Johnny’s magic twining with Mark’s, amplifying and soothing.

 

Johnny was big, and Mark felt like he was being split open, Johnny pushing in, in, in, knocking the air from Mark’s lungs.

 

Just when he was sure he wouldn’t be able to take anymore, though, Johnny stopped, balls deep and body flush to Mark’s.

 

“Baby,” he groaned, mouthing wetly at the base of Mark’s neck, muscles tense and flexed against Mark’s back.  “Baby, you feel so good .”

 

Mark felt like he was going to die.  The pet names the demons showered him with had his belly igniting with heat in normal circumstances.  Now, with Johnny pressed snug into him, his own cock throbbing, hugged tight by the wet heat of Doyoung’s body, it ruined him.

 

“Johnny,” he said, voice pitched high, every breath coming out on a whine, “ Please .”

 

“I know.”  A kiss pressed to the line of Mark’s jaw.  A hand coming to brace next to Mark’s on the mattress, Johnny’s thumb hooking around Mark’s pinky.  “I’ve got you.”

 

Johnny was careful with Mark.  Often in ways that even Doyoung wasn’t, the former angel less familiar with human limits than the incubi.  When he was hungry, though, he loosened up on some of that control, fucking Mark with an almost desperate abandon.  And, if Mark was being honest, that was what he preferred.

 

He liked the blatant reminder of how strong Johnny was in the way he could keep Mark pinned in place with a hand.  The way his hips slammed into him, the loud slaps of skin on skin dulled by the beat of Mark’s pulse, loud in his ears with each delicious drag of Johnny’s cock against his rim, stretching him, pushing impossibly deeper with each hard thrust.  How the force of Johnny fucking into him, using his body, drawing out and on his quickly cresting arousal had Mark’s hips jerking forward into Doyoung.

 

Mark could barely do more than pant, little hiccuping whines escaping his open mouth, punched out by the slam-slam-slam of Johnny’s cock.  He was drooling, he knew it, but it was taking all his strength not to collapse, pleasure turning his body to jelly.  It didn’t help that Doyoung was sliding his fingers up from Mark’s chin, placing them on Mark’s tongue, eyes darkening when Mark closed his lips to suck on them.

 

“Oh, Mark,” he huffed, the shadow of an almost disbelieving smile playing on his lips.  Mark licked between Doyoung’s fingers, sucking harder and moaning when Johnny found his prostate, sending sparks of pleasure dancing across his eyes.  “You’re so good to us. So fucking good.”

 

Mark keened, the already tight coil or arousal settled in his gut winding even tighter.

 

Johnny, forehead pressed to the curve of Mark’s neck, breathing hot and wet against the sweat slick skin there, let out a savage sort of sound at the way Mark’s body tightened around him.  Sucking him in for more, more, more.  His grip already harsh on Mark’s hip, turned bruising, muscles rolling and rubbing against Mark’s back, cock fucking into his pliant body with abandon.

 

At some point, Mark registered faintly that there were tears staining his cheeks, senses so overwhelmed he’d started crying.  Doyoung wiped them away with a thumb, then reached out to grab the hand not being kept in place by Johnny, dragging it down to where his cock was bobbing above the flat planes of his stomach.

 

Mark understood, wrapping his fingers around Doyoung’s shaft, jerking it with far less coordination than he’d like.

 

Things all kind of spiralled down from there.

 

Johnny sunk his teeth, blunt still, not sharp, into the flesh of Mark’s neck.  Biting right over his sigil, making the magic there sing .  It turned Mark into an over-stimulated livewire, the tight coil of pleasure tensing his muscles and curling his toes finally snapping, sending heat coursing through Mark’s body, tumbling him over the edge with a cry.

 

His hips stuttered forward, body falling on Doyoung’s, chasing friction on his cock as he came, filling Doyoung up.  The grip he had on Doyoung’s cock tightened and the demon, who was mostly quiet and contained in his pleasure, arched his back off the bed in a startled gasp.  That, combined with the way Johnny was still fucking Mark into him, had Doyoung coming in warm spurts over Mark’s hand and between their bodies, painting their stomachs..

 

Johnny, surrounding by the thick cloy of others’ pleasure lingering in the air, growled, thrusting in once more before he was grinding his hips against Mark’s ass, cock pressing hard and insistent against Mark’s prostate.

 

Mark moaned weakly, over-sensitive, squirming in Johnny’s hold until the demon gasped, hips stuttering, stilling, coming.  Mark shuddered against the sensation of being filled, Johnny’s magic thick on the back of his tongue, tied to his more and more with each time the demon fed, each time they fucked.

 

They stayed like that for a minute, Johnny peppering butterfly kisses across every inch of skin he could reach, Doyoung running his hands along Mark’s sides in gentling strokes.

 

Mark, glassy eyed, stared down at Doyoung in a daze.  He was so blissed out, the after-glow settling in nicely, that when he opened his mouth what came out was a slurred, “So pretty.”

 

Doyoung snorted.  He bit his lip around an amused smile, raising a mostly clean hand to trace a finger over Mark’s features.  “Thank you, sweetheart. You are too.”

 

“Mm.”  Mark bobbed his head in the approximation of a nod, almost listing to the side.  Almost, if it weren’t for Johnny’s arm curled around his waist, catching his weight and keeping it up.  Mark smiled, patted Johnny’s forearm, slid his touch back and up to pat at his bicep.  Mm, so strong.   “Hot.”

 

Johnny barked out a startled laugh, pressed a kiss to his back.  Mark practically purred.  Johnny’s kisses were so nice.

 

“Thank you, Markie.”  Johnny held Mark still so he could press them flush, chest to back, nudging at Mark’s cheek with his nose until Mark tilted his head up.  “I think you’re pretty hot too.”

 

Somehow, still all wrapped up in each other, Mark had it in himself to blush.  “‘M not.”

 

Johnny smiled, lazy and sated, the cat who’d gotten the cream.  He brushed his lips against Mark’s softly, once, twice, before deepening it into something slow and loving.

 

Because he did.  Love Mark, that is.  They both did.  Or, at least they felt the demon approximation to it, which, in Mark’s humble opinion, was much much more intense.

 

“You are,” Johnny said when they parted, licking his lips.  “You just don’t have the pleasure of seeing yourself through our eyes.”

 

Mark snorted, opening his mouth, ready to disagree.  Doyoung chose that moment, though, to push gently at Mark’s stomach, shifting his softening cock where it was still pressed snug into Doyoung’s body.

 

It made him flinch, muscles tensing, accidentally tightening around Johnny who stuttered out a surprised but appreciative gasp.

 

“I’m getting us some towels to clean up,” Doyoung said, pausing to kiss Mark on the forehead.  He shot a warning look at Johnny.  “No round two. He’s exhausted.”

 

Johnny chuckled low in his chest but didn’t argue.  “I’ll behave, I promise.”

 

With Doyoung walking into the small bathroom — Mark’s eyes tracing over the line of his back and sway of his hips — Johnny gently eased himself out of Mark.  It left him feeling empty, body automatically clenching to try and keep Johnny in, a small sound of discomfort working its way up from his chest.

 

Johnny chuckled, pressing a kiss to Mark’s tailbone in apology.  “Don’t pout, we can’t clean you up otherwise, now can we?”

 

“Not pouting,” Mark mumbled, pouting.

 

“Mm, of course not.”  Another kiss, this one higher up on his back, over a mole Mark had never known about until Johnny discovered it and fell in love.  

 

An arm slunk its way around his waist, pulling Mark down onto his side as Johnny all but flopped himself onto the straining mattress.  Johnny cuddled him close, strong arms keeping him pressed back into a firm chest.  Mark let himself melt into the embrace, sighing at the light touch Johnny was trailing up and down his stomach.  He was half way to dozing off in Johnny’s arms, dry cum and all, when Doyoung came back with a warm wet hand towel in one hand and two big dry ones in the other.

 

“Lift him,” he told Johnny, putting the hand towel down on the corner of the bed while he shook out the two bigger ones.

 

Johnny did as asked with a fond huff, picking a lightly grumbling Mark up so Doyoung could put the towels down over the dirtied portions of sheets.  Once Mark was re-situated on the bed, facing Johnny and his pleased little lopsided smile, Doyoung set to cleaning him.  He was always gentler with his touch than Mark thought he would be, wiping the wet towel between his legs and over the inside of his thighs with careful swipes, conscious of how sensitive Mark was everywhere after sex.

 

When he’d cleaned Mark to his satisfaction and taken the dirty towel back to the bathroom to rinse it ( “I’m not leaving this for someone else to deal with,” Doyoung scoffed, offended, as if he weren’t a demon that’d suck down a soul without a second thought, “That’s gross .” ) he came back to bed, pressing in close against Mark’s back and tangling their legs.  Johnny, humming happily at the intimacy of their arrangement, accommodated Doyoung joining them by using his stupidly long reach to let his arm rest on the other demon’s waist.

 

“Better?” Mark asked, smiling against Johnny’s throat, having been tucked firmly under his chin.

 

Johnny chuckled, the sound vibrating low in his chest.  “Mm. You?”

 

“Mhm,” Mark sighed, body light, mind lighter.

 

“Good,” Doyoung said, pressing a kiss to the back of his neck, rubbing a hand absently over Mark’s chest before letting it fall between Mark’s and Johnny’s bodies.  “Now sleep, you leave early tomorrow and you need your rest.”



☽ 



Mark had a particular lack of pity for wendigos.

 

The amount of humans a person needed to eat to become one...yeah, Mark had no sympathy for them whatsoever.  Not even demons gorged themselves like that.

 

It didn’t help that they happened to be the most common result of a power hungry mage (pun only partially intended).  And Mark, considering how his family had been hunted and all but wiped out, didn’t particularly care for mages.

 

“Those’re a lot of bodies,” Johnny commented mildly, eyeing the stack of files Mark had been presented with upon arrival to the small east coast city they were in — though calling it a city was being generous, and entirely dependent on the ten people that pushed it just past the classification of town.

 

“Most of them are tourists who ‘got lost in the woods’ over the years,” Mark grumbled, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes.  He already had a headache and he’d barely started.  “They just stumbled across all the bodies recently.”

 

Johnny reached across the table plucking a french-fry from Mark’s abandoned plate and then a case file.  He was joining Mark on his survey of the city, giving anyone whose eyes lingered on Mark too long a threatening smile.

 

“Still a lot of bodies,” he said.  “You sure it’s a wendigo?”

 

“Has to be,” Mark sighed, looking up when he noticed Johnny holding out some fries for him to eat in his periphery, indulging the demon’s urge to feed him.  He paused to chew and swallow before continuing, “Look at how the bodies are torn up. Half of these are frenzy kills. People don’t kill like that.”

 

Johnny gave him a look he wasn’t in the mood to read into, something assessing, the gears in his head turning behind a carefully neutral expression.  Johnny’s forte.

 

“Okay,” he eventually said, nudging Mark’s plate closer to him in a silent request for Mark to actually put something substantial in his stomach, “but can I ask you something, then?”

 

“Mm, what?” Mark asked, barely flinching at the gore filled photos of the dead he came across as he gave in to Johnny’s gentle prodding and took a proper bite of the club sandwich he’d ordered.

 

“When you go out at night to track it, let one of us tail you, even if it’s from a distance.”

 

Mark opened his mouth to disagree.  To point out that if the wendigo were to catch their scent, it would tuck tail and run, because on the monster pecking order, Johnny and Doyoung ranked pretty damn high.  But then he caught the look in Johnny’s eye, the naked concern swirling there.

 

Mark sighed.

 

“Fine. Why not.”




The first night it was Doyoung, following from a distance that Mark could easily sense, but the wendigo wouldn’t be able to scent.  Technically.  Hopefully.  

 

He was a calm presence at Mark’s back, sending along bursts of thought through their bond.  Little things, like ow they should go get some fruit from the little farmer’s market they saw setting up earlier.  How they should stop by the souvenir shop again, the one with the bear head that Johnny used to startle Doyoung with, and “borrow” it to get Johnny back.  How Mark smelled worried and could Doyoung help him with that.

 

Mark shot the last one down with a snort and a shake of his head, thinking “NO” as loudly as he could.  He was scoping out the smaller motels and Bed & Breakfasts that the people who’d been killed had been staying at.  Looking for any signs of something still sniffing around, because creatures like this didn’t have the thought to change up hunting grounds — not that humans, in his experience, were much better, though.

 

He needed to focus on keeping his own magical presence small and unassuming, while also not getting the cops called on him for creeping around in the night.  That would just be embarrassing.  So Doyoung “helping” him with his worries was decidedly out of the question.

 

For now , he conceded, when Doyoung’s pout, a physical thing in his mind, got progressively worse.  Once we’re back at the hotel…

 

Doyoung was happy again from one second to the next.

 

Con artist , Mark thought pettily at him.

 

Demon ,” Doyoung corrected right back, snickering as if to prove the point.




Johnny went out with him the next day, Doyoung choosing to stay back and read through the police files Mark hadn’t had a chance to get to yet.  Johnny kept an arm loosely slung around Mark’s shoulders, smiling at the pleasant weather and mild sun.  He didn’t need to keep his distance during the day, since wendigos hunted only at night, and was taking full advantage of it, going full couple mode.  He showered Mark with light, fluttering kisses, tucking Mark into his side whenever they had to squeeze past an obstacle on the sidewalk instead of pushing Mark to walk ahead.

 

It was nice.  Mark, tired from not really getting enough sleep to function like a normal human being, was enjoying the casual affection.  He enjoyed it even more when Johnny led them into a small cafe smelling deliciously of freshly brewed coffee on their way to the next disappearance spot.

 

The girl behind the counter, looking about Mark’s age, smiled at him when they walked up to order and giggled at Johnny’s friendly small talk.  She looked between them when Mark handed her his card — because the demons didn’t have a cent to their name — and gave him an approving little grin, cutting her gaze to Johnny and back with meaning.

 

Mark felt himself flush.  It wasn’t the first time someone had made the mistake; assuming one of the demons was his boyfriend.  It didn’t mean Mark enjoyed it any less.  It made him feel… normal.  Like a normal twenty-three year-old out on a date with his very hot, wonderfully out of his league boyfriend.  Not the twenty-three year-old orphaned mage who’d managed to graduate college by the skin of his teeth.

 

Mark smiled back, stepped a little more into Johnny’s space to point out something tasty on the menu, and basked in the overall good vibes.

 

The general calm of the day, ended up carrying into the night, much to Mark’s chagrin.

 

Johnny kept his presence low, fading into the shadows even better than Doyoung had, born from the shadows in a way Doyoung wasn’t.  It didn’t seem like it’d matter either way, though.

 

Mark had noted in the files that kills were sporadic, but there hadn’t been a missing person or body found in the last three weeks and for a wendigo that was ages .  He’d hoped to find at least a little something within the past two nights, but instead all he’d found were fluctuating magical leylines and one Bed & Breakfast operator’s disturbing penchant to snoop through her guests’ stuff.

 

Other than that, nothing.

 

He couldn’t even pick out why the people who’d been killed had been killed, a few children thrown in the mix who would’ve been too young to go hiking through the woods without their parents.  Too young to be wandering around at night, alone and unaccompanied for a wendigo to pick off.

 

It might not be a wendigo ,” Johnny floated over to him.

 

Mark sighed, twirling one of the thin blades he kept tucked away on his body — three in total, stashed in places that would be easy to access in an emergency.  He’d flicked it out when he’d thought he’d sensed something out in the darkness, absent mindedly spinning it between his fingers now that it’d turned out to be nothing.

 

It can’t really be much else.

 

Johnny didn’t have an answer for that beyond the insistent hunch that it was something else.  A hunch he broadcasted for Mark to feel, loud and clear.

 

Mark spent a little longer out than he had the night before, Johnny eventually cutting in and making the decision to call it for him .

 

He curled up under the hotel bed duvet when they got back, scratchy against his skin and passed out.  He dreamt about bone white smiles and the glistening red of too much blood.




The next day and night was more of the same.  The one after that, too.  And the one after that.  And the one after that .

 

Johnny or Doyoung, sometimes both, would go out with him, feed him, pamper him, offer comments on the odd scents they picked up, the faint traces of magic they could sense which Mark couldn’t.  Then, they’d follow from a safe distance at night as Mark trekked around the small city, scoping out old trails of oddly contorted magic, hoping to catch the creature in action and take it down.

 

It was… weird.  This quiet.  It left Mark with an itch of mounting paranoia he couldn’t quite scratch.  Like the calm before the storm.  It was also lulling him into a disconcerting sort of limbo.

 

He was enjoying going sight-seeing with Doyoung and out to eat with Johnny.  He hated having nothing to report back to the detective he was in contact with, but he couldn’t help but like the facade of normal .

 

Of course, that doesn’t last for long.  Not that it ever did.




Johnny was right.  It wasn’t a wendigo.  

 

It’s by chance, as fucking embarrassing as it is to admit, that they even stumble across the culprit.  An average looking middle-aged man with an unsuspecting sports duffel slung over his shoulder.  A mostly normal man, if it weren’t for the bandaged hand still actively bleeding, staining the wrapping black in the moonlight, the flecks of blood spattered up his neck, or the thick cloud of inky miasma coiling around him like a giant snake.  Magic, destroyed by cruel actions and evil intent.

 

Mark, caught off-guard, froze up, forgetting how badly the demons following him reacted to so much corrupted magic and mal intent.  They came out of the shadows snarling, and in a second the man was turning to them, the fog of magic roiling like a cloud of bees.  He saw Mark, Johnny and Doyoung, and smiled .  

 

Mark almost lost his head in the clash that followed, reacting a dangerous beat late to the first sudden strike.  Doyoung, as it was, lost a hand.

 

It’ll heal , Mark told himself, funneling as much magic as he could into the slowly oozing wound, trying to still the flow of inky blood that just wouldn’t. Fucking. Stop.  It’ll heal. It has to heal.

 

Except it wasn’t, and Johnny was snarling in distress, tail that he usually kept so well hidden lashing behind him nervously.  Doyoung was taking the pain in stride, skin paling but not a peep passing from behind gritted teeth.

 

“Fuck it,” Mark hissed, grabbing his already bloodied knife and slashing his own hand, right there in the little alleyway of an otherwise unassuming, perfectly manicured street.

 

He grabed onto the severed portion of Doyoung’s wrist, letting their blood mix, feeling his magic take hold, and then willing it to do it’s fucking job .

 

It took a horribly long second, where all Mark could hear was the heavy beating of his heart, pounding away like a drum in his ears.  And then, it was working.

 

His blood was crystallizing, building, melding with bone and stretching out to create the skeletal structure of a hand.  It couldn’t just be any hand, though.  It had to be Doyoung’s or it wouldn’t stick, it wouldn’t take.  Mark grit his teeth, zeroed in on the wavelength of Doyoung’s magic, and brought his own into line.  It wasn’t as difficult as it should’ve been, a benefit of the bond that tied them together, Mark’s blood lying dormant in both Doyoung and Johnny, just waiting to be called on.  That didn’t mean it was easy, though.

 

Mark tasted iron on the back of his tongue, felt warmth trickling down from his nose.  Still, he didn’t let up until the last layer of skin stretched over the new appendage and Doyoung wiggled his fingers in experiment.

 

“I didn’t know you could do that,” Doyoung breathed, shoulders sagging now that he wasn’t in pain.  

 

“I’m gonna be honest,” Mark huffed, leaning back onto his uninjured hand with a sigh of relief, magical fatigue already starting to set in.  “I wasn’t sure I could.”

 

Doyoung stared down at his new hand with a little frown furrowing the space between his eyebrows.  “It feels like you. Or...feels like your magic? I- I just-”  he paused, the shadows behind him flickering, wavering, the shape of tattered, massive wings just barely discernible.  Your blood will meld with mine, like this.”  He looked up at Mark, eyes impossibly dark.  “So will your magic.”

 

Mark held his gaze, staring back defiantly.

 

His magic would bind to Doyoung’s, helped along by the traces of Mark’s blood already flowing through him.  In a demon like Doyoung, it would, with time, give him the strength to break the blood contract tying him to Mark.  It’d give him access to Mark’s magic, the bond becoming a two-way channel.

 

For a mage to allow that was nearly unthinkable.  Not even members of Mark’s family would’ve acknowledged a demon this way; as an equal, not a tool to be wielded or tossed aside.

 

Mark didn’t give a fuck.  He’d do it again.  As many times as needed.

 

Doyoung huffed out a little incredulous laugh, Johnny — who’d stopped pacing once Doyoung was okay, having come over to crouch behind Mark and press up against his back — joined him, snickering, tucking his face against Mark’s shoulder.

 

“How are you real?” Johnny asked, breath warming the material of Mark’s shirt.

 

It was bloody from scrapes too shallow to matter, and stuck to him in ways that would probably sting to detach later.

 

Doyoung, smiling brilliantly, cupping Mark’s face, surged forward to crush their mouths together in a hard kiss.  It wasn’t the most pleasurable kiss Mark had ever been on the receiving end of, teeth clicking in a way that almost hurt, but it made his heart swell and fingers tingle all the same.

 

Doyoung parted first, pressing his forehead against Mark’s, eyes closed, noses brushing.

 

“How did we get so lucky?”




Huddled together, shrouded in protective wards, they hid out until the sky turned a pale grey with the first bits of morning light.  The mage, thankfully, hadn’t decided to come looking for them, and once all three of them agreed the coast was clear, they made their way back to the hotel serving as home base.

 

Mark didn’t think about the fact that the mage had probably let them be because he’d managed to snatch up Doyoung’s hand.  He didn’t think about the way man’s eyes had gleamed at the sight of Johnny and Doyoung, fucking beaming with joy like a giddy little kid when he’d managed to snag a piece of powerful demon.

 

Mark didn’t think about it, because if he did he’d go down the road of horrific possibilities, cataloguing the way Doyoung’s hand, his flesh, his bone, his blood, his magic could be used.

 

Mark breathed in slow through his nose, holding the air in his lungs for a second, two, three, before letting it out in a measured exhale.  Yeah.  It was just easier to not.

 

They stumbled through the door of the hotel room, the warm brush of Mark’s wards welcoming them when they crossed the threshold.

 

It had Mark letting out a full-body sigh, tension in his shoulders releasing all at once, exhaustion that he’d been keeping at bay washing over him in an all-consuming embrace.

 

Johnny and Doyoung weren’t much better off, both demons leaning towards Mark unconsciously like plants towards the sun.  They were tired and hungry, but mostly tired, the two things not disconnected.  It left their typically carefully kept mental walls weak, allowing a stream of thoughts to slip through to Mark unbidden.  

 

Need sleep, can’t keep standing, need food, need rest, Mark, is Mark okay?  Those look like they hurt, want to help.  Can I help? Need food, though.  Need to heal and need food, need food, need food-

 

Mark pressed his eyes closed with a groan and flopped down on the queen sized bed.  The only one in the room.

 

He couldn’t tell which demon the thoughts were from, their voices fading in and out and blending together.  Didn’t matter much, since regardless of whose thoughts they’d been, they were likely both in the same boat.  They hadn’t fed in over a week, after all.  Too conscious of Mark’s well-being to push for more.

 

Mark smiled into the cool material of the duvet.  Idiots.

 

He reached out an arm, still lying on his stomach, not bothering to open his eyes.  “C’mere.”

 

It was a general invitation that received just about the response Mark was expecting: both demons flopping down on either side of him, partially on him, limbs lying heavy over his back.

 

“Magic’s trying to heal me,” he mumbled around a yawn, “so I’m too tired to do much, but…”

 

Doyoung shuffled closer, rearranged Mark’s arm so he was tucked under it, and kissed him.  It was sweet, soft lips moving against his own in a gentle press.  It wasn’t to feed.

 

Mark frowned when Doyoung pulled back, smiling tiredly in response to the confused grunt Mark unintentionally let out.  “You’re drained, Mark. We’ll manage until you’ve regained some of your energy. Until you’re in better condition.”

 

An illogical sort of panic rose in Mark’s exhaustion addled mind.  A panic that didn’t belong there, but existed anyway.  One that was whispering in his ear, telling him they were going to leave, to find someone stronger, someone they could feed off of, someone better .  That if they didn’t, they’d fade away and die, or worse, revert and lash out, driven only by hunger like all demons were supposed to be.

 

It was entirely unfounded, not a single one of those worries grounded in any form of reality that applied to Doyoung and Johnny.  And yet, Mark couldn’t get them to fucking stop .

 

“Doyoung,” Johnny said, rubbing his hand in broad strokes over Mark’s back, slipping it under Mark’s shirt when it rucked up.  “I think you need to take a sip. He’s spinning out.”

 

Doyoung sighed.  “Yeah, I can see that.”  He shifted more fully onto his side, tilting Mark’s chin up with a finger, using the hand Mark had reconstructed for him to do it.  It had sparks racing along Mark’s nerves at the contact, and he absently wondered if that was going to be a thing from now on.  “Baby.”  Mark’s eyes drew back into focus, looking up at the startling pale silver-blue of Doyoung’s pupils.  “Deep breath in.”  Mark did, long and slow.  Doyoung smiled, gaze going hooded even as his eyes seemed to shine brighter.  “Good. Now just,” he leaned close, touching their noses together ( pretty, so fucking pretty ), “let it out.”

 

Mark exhaled with a soft strained sound, ribs aching where they’d been bruised.  Doyoung took it all, breathing everything in — his pain, his stress, his worries — and swallowing it down.  It left Mark feeling like a layer had been scraped from the very top of his mind; oddly light and vulnerable.

 

“Sorry,” Doyoung gasped lightly, shivering as the energy he’d taken in dispersed through his body with a faint trailing glow.  “Not my most delicate work.”

 

Mark sniffled and shrugged a shoulder, body giving in to the exhaustion weighing it down.  “Don’t mind.”

 

Johnny laughed, smile tucked into the crook of Mark’s neck.  He pressed his forehead against the side of Mark’s head, rolling his weight more firmly on top of Mark’s body, letting his hand come to rest on the small of Mark’s back.

 

“You never seem to.”  He sighed, tickling Mark’s skin with it, making him squirm and vaguely try to shrug away.  “You should, though.”  He paused, and Mark could hear him thinking, organized but loud even with a more firmly built mental wall back in place.  “You’ve always trusted us more than you should.”

 

It was said with a hint of wonder and Mark wriggled around as much as his aching body allowed to turn his face towards Johnny.

 

He shrugged.  “I’ve never really had a reason not to.”

 

Johnny leaned forward to kiss him, catching Mark’s bottom lip between his teeth as he pulled back.  “Even in the beginning?”

 

Mark thought of the blatant hostility, the constant cold appraisal, the anger.  Two powerful beings suddenly finding themselves bound to a bleeding sixteen year old kid.  A kid with special blood that practically laughed in the face of their strength.

 

“Mm,” Mark closed his eyes, finding it harder and harder to keep them open.  “I grew up in a family of magic users hunted for their blood. From the start, you two have been more honest than anyone I’ve ever known.”




They laid low, holed up in their hotel room, bundled in blankets and each other, for the next three days.

 

Thats how long it took for Mark to recover enough to let Johnny feed from him, submitting happily to his strong hands and clever mouth.  

 

He kept in touch with his police liaison, updating him on the shit show that had happened the morning after — a few key things left out for the sake of credibility — and gave the detective a heads up that there’d be another missing person being reported soon.  Then, he focused on finding the mage.  In-between Doyoung drinking down his worries and self-doubt, and Johnny drowning him in the sweetest pleasure, Mark sat on the floor cross-legged and searched

 

He let his magic stretch out, using offered help from both demons to spread his sensory range.  He drew old runes he knew by heart and delicate sigils mirrored on the skin of his arms across sheets of hotel provided notepads.  He did everything he could to locate the mage and find his base, because he’d been going somewhere that night, with the body in his bag, and Mark would bet money it’d be the last place the mage was expecting to be hit.  A mage’s workshop, after all, was a sacred space.

 

Mark searched, and searched, careful not to be heavy handed so as not to set off any warning wards that might’ve been set.

 

Because he’d find the fucker.  He’d find him, and for what he was doing, what he’d done, he’d crush him.  

 

(It was why he’d gone down this path in the first place.)




In the light of day, the city certainly didn’t look like home to a mage actively picking off its citizens, all charming facades of brick buildings and primary color doors.  Even the old abandoned shop being used as the mage’s workshop was utterly unassuming.  A worn mint color with simply boarded up windows.

 

With a quick glance to make sure the coast was clear, Mark approached, walking up the concrete steps.

 

A few drops of burning blood over the door, and the wards guarding the space were frozen, caught in a loop that let Mark enter without being detected.  The air inside was bitter and stale and tinged with something sour that had Mark covering his nose and mouth with his hand.  Nothing in the empty, wood floored shop front should’ve lent itself to the smell.  Nibbling on the inside of his cheek, Mark eyed the door set into the back wall that must’ve led to some sort of back room.  Then, his gaze slid down to the floorboards under his feet, a hunch forming that would be easy enough to prove.

 

“Careful, Mark,” Johnny’s voice rumbled, kept far and safe in their hotel room by Mark’s explicit orders to stay clear until this case was over.

 

I know, Mark thought back.  I know.

 

The door, when he let his magic rise closer to the surface of his skin, glittered with a flickering seal, traps meant to kill and maim attached at various points.  That, too, Mark froze, using more of his blood to sear the trap components away, setting in to pick the door’s lock once he was confident the action wouldn’t trigger a magical flare.

 

Like he thought, the smell was coming from below the shop, in a basement section boarded up behind another set of wards.  These stronger than the first two sets, meant to leave the trespasser cursed to a slow, painful death.

 

To be able to take apart another magic user’s spellwork was part of Mark’s blood-rite and something that he’d never seen anyone else in his family manage to pull off.  It was how he’d been able to slip away on his own so much as a child, his parents suspecting but not willing to confirm.  Because, then, he’d be valuable even among the stray, scattered members of their endangered family.  

 

With what he did now, acting like a pseudo detective of the occult and other things that went bump in the night, it tended to come in ridiculously handy.  ( “Magical and regular lock picking skills,” Johnny mused, watching him break into a funeral house in the dead of night, “You know, in another life, you would’ve made a fantastic thief.” )

 

He eased open the basement door, listening for sounds of life, testing his weight on the first of the wooden steps leading down into the thick, rancid darkness.  When it didn’t squeak, he tried the next one, continuing his progress down in the same cautious manner.

 

Mark didn’t know what he’d been expecting.  The dark stains of blood spattered across the concrete floor he’d found when he’d flipped on the light, wiped down and in to the grain of the floor, weren’t a surprise.  Not after seeing the middle-aged mage spattered in blood, or the hunger in his eyes at the prospect of a demon’s severed hand.  Neither were the trays of fresh gore, kept in stasis with magic, sitting out on a table by the poor body it’d come from.  What threw him, though, left him in a lurch of just sheer incomprehensibility, was how... neat everything was.  Despite the smell, despite the left out gore and bloodstains, despite the horrible states all the bodies found had been left in, everything was horrifyingly neat .

 

The walls were covered with scribbled on pieces of paper, annotated notes tacked up next to photos.  So.  Many.  Photos.

 

Subject 35 failed to produce any form of summons. Non-magical biomatter seemingly incompatible with Puliver family’s blood.

 

Subject 12 produced a partial manifestation in the body of the subject herself.  Zhuo family blood was used.

 

Subject 28-

 

Mark gagged, disgust building in his chest, bile rising up the back of his throat.

 

It kept going.  Entire descriptions of attempted summons gone wrong, categorized by levels of success and catalyst used.  Pictures of men, women, children — so many children — that matched up to the case files sitting back at the Bed and Breakfast he was staying in.  Their bodies cut up, dismembered, mutilated .  Some had grown horns or claws, bones contorted and pushing against skin, the result of magical corruption.  Humans, normal humans, who didn’t have a drop of magic in them, killed for a hungry mage’s greed.

 

A note caught Mark’s eye, tacked behind a tray of what looked like carefully categorized blood samples, each labeled with a different intricately drawn crest.

 

He stared at it, feeling his stomach drop and eyes burn.

 

“Mark?”   Doyoung’s voice, concerned.

 

Stay there, Mark threw at them, trying his best to contain the mounting mix of anger, disgust, and distress brewing in his gut.  Please, just, stay there.

 

He read the note again, tears welling up and spilling over unbidden.

 

Subjects 39 and 40 produced minor summons.  Low level demons.  Non-intelligent.  Confirming suspicion that Lee clan’s blood holds more potency than other five binding families.  Will need fresh stock to continue.

 

Mark’s eyes dropped back down to the tray of blood samples.  The crests made sense now.  He reached out, fingers hovering until he found the one he was looking for, tracing a thumb over the familiar symbol.  He closed his eyes, sensing, and, yeah, there.

 

He opened his eyes with a watery smile.  “Hi mom,” he whispered, voice hoarse.  “It’s been a while.”




Mark decided to wait, sitting in the dark, letting the ghosts clinging to the mage’s workshop wrap around him, give him strength.

 

Johnny and Doyoung had wanted to come, to join him, to tear apart the mage that had tried to kill him and taken Doyoung’s hand.

 

Mark, a fury so hot it ran cool simmering in his veins, didn’t let them.

 

The mage they were dealing with, mid-tier in all regards, was trying to get a demon of his own.  He had sigils painted all around his workshop meant to trap and seal a demon once summoned.  Mark wasn’t sure if it would work on his, who were already spoken for in every possible regard, but he didn’t want to find out.

 

He looked down at his hands, the demon-bone hunting knife Johnny and Doyoung had gifted him two years ago winking dully in the light of the basement, vibrating happily at the bloodlust and magic Mark wasn’t bothering to hide.

 

He thought of Doyoung’s hand, snatched away by a man with a receding hairline and a feverish smile, crowing about “high class material”.

 

He breathed, feeling the anger prowling through him like a physical thing.  Yeah, this was for the best.




The man came back with a limp girl slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.  She couldn’t have been more than eleven, yet she was bleeding from a gash along her forehead, radiating a faint steam of dormant magic.

 

It took a moment for the mage to notice Mark’s presence, senses dulled by his own excitement and the way his rotted magic was eating away at him.  When he did, it was with a yelp and a curse, veins in his arms bulging and turning a discolored purple as he tried to funnel energy into any of the trapping seals decorating the basement walls.  He seemed smaller without the toxic cloud of magic swirling around him like a snake, probably dispersed when he’d walked into the safety of his workshop.

 

Mark had been waiting there for hours, though, honing his initial burst of rage into a razor-fine edge.  He’d already scraped enough paint from all the sigils to render them utterly useless.  He’d also burned any notes with summoning circles and relevant spells in a trash basket he’d found.  The blood filled vials were still untouched, but that was only because they deserved a proper ceremony to dispose of them.

 

When the mage noticed none of the sigils were responding, he changed tactics, skin tinging an unnatural grey as he forced his magic into the air, hardening it into sharp shards.

 

Mark watched unimpressed.  Then, with a twirl of his blade he opened his hand, and his own magic burst forth.

 

It was funny, Mark thought, how unnerved other’s got — magic users who’d kill him in a heart beat for his special brand of power — when they actually saw his magic in action.  It’s like they never considered how literal blood magic would present.

 

As it was, this mage, went from on edge to excited .  He stared at the glittering blood swirling around Mark, ready to shift into spellwork forms, with fucking stars in his eyes.

 

Disgusting .

 

“Amazing,” the mage breathed.  “I’ve never seen a blood mage’s magic in action.”  He focused back on Mark.  “You had demons with you that night. Where are they? Are they here? Which clan are you from? Because I’ve never heard of a mage, even with a binding birthright, being able to sustain two demons at once.”

 

Mark stared at him, lip curling in disgust.  “Seems like you’ve already done a lot of work with binding mage blood already, though. You’ve seen it work plenty.”

 

The mage shook his head, grinning manically as he let the girl he’d been holding drop to the floor with a dull thud.  “Never in the context of a living mage.”  His veins were darkening, magic reacting to his excitement, its corrosion spreading.  In all honesty, he probably didn’t have long to live.  “Which family are you from? Are you from a main line? Or has your blood been diluted?”

 

Mark would be happy to speed along the process, though.

 

“You’re not even scared I’m here, are you?”

 

The man tossed his head back and laughed.  “You’re in my workshop. I took a hand off your demon.”  He looked at Mark like he was a particularly stupid child, head tilted.  “Why would I be scared?”

 

Mark scoffed, flexed the hand not holding the very dangerous knife, which the mage should’ve been much more wary of, and let his magic surge.  It rushed through the basement space with a deep boom, cracking the concrete walls and floors.  It sent everything flying back, metal trays and surgical tools crashing to the floor in a series of sharp pings and wobbly clangs.  The mage himself was sent careening back into the steps leading out of the basement, the weight and speed of his body breaking the wood of the ones he landed on.

 

“You should be scared,” Mark started simply, “because I’m stronger than you. You should be scared, because I was hired to hunt you down.  You should be scared, because you hurt someone I care about. You should be scared,” he stopped, took in a shuddering breath, fighting back the haze of red threatening to engulf his vision again, “because you have my mother’s blood in a little vial. And if all that’s not enough,” a flat, dangerous smile that didn’t reach his eyes, “you should be scared, because I’m going to kill you. Slowly, painfully, like you deserve.”

 

The mage stared at him for a beat, wide eyed.  And then he started to laugh.  Small disbelieving huffs building into full-bodied cackles.

 

“You think that level of strength is a match for me? I’ve been consuming demon parts for years now. I’m stronger than you , and this is my home turf. You’ve made a big mistake.”

 

Mark’s grip on his knife tightened, his magic crackled, small snaps cracking all around the room.   “We’ll see about that.”




When Mark gives Johnny and Doyoung permission to come to his side, they find him down in the mage’s lair, covered in blood, his knife still held loosely in his grip.

 

He held up the vial with his family crest on it, still staring unfocused down at the blood slick floor, dotted with bits of flesh and bone.  The remains of the mage, crushed under the full force of Mark’s magic.

 

“My mom’s blood,” he said, voice sounding dull even to his own ears, fury drained out to a cold, empty sort of tired.  Gods he was tired.  “He had others, too, but-”  his grip tightened for a second before relaxing again with a slow breath out.  “Even with the way I’d broken through his wards, he was still only thinking about adding me to his collection. Even when I-”  Mark broke off with a harsh, disbelieving laugh, devoid of any humor.  “Even in pieces, he still thought he had the upper-hand. He still thought he’d get my blood.”  He hung his head, fringe falling in his eyes, shoulders shaking from an overwhelming rush of more emotions than he could handle.  “Fucking ridiculous.”

 

Doyoung took up a seat on his left, wrapping an arm around his waist.  Johnny settled in on his right, a big hand coming up to rest on the nape of his neck, thumb rubbing gentle circles into his skin.

 

“Was it slow?” Doyoung asked, resting his chin on Mark’s shoulder.

 

Mark nodded, not raising his head, the screams still echoing loud in his ears with a sick sort of satisfaction.

 

Doyoung hummed.  “Good.”

 

“Did you find out where he got the blood from?” Johnny asked.

 

Mark sucked in a slow, measured breath, keeping down the flickers of burning fury that threatened to rekindle in his chest.  He nodded again.

 

Johnny purred, the sound rumbling in his chest as he leaned up against Mark’s side.  He pressed his lips against Mark’s ear, voice all soft silk and rich shadows, “Then where to next?”



☽ 



The mage Mark had killed — a Richard Alberts, 57, single, mass murderer — had under great duress told Mark that the contact who’d given him the samples of blood from family’s with a binding blood-rite, had been a broker.  He’d been friendly, “A true salesman!”, flanked by two monstrosities he’d kept hidden in the shadows.

 

( “Demons?” Doyoung had frowned.

 

Mark pressed his lips into a grim line.  “If he has his own stores of blood...it’s not impossible.” )

 

Alberts hadn’t had a name for the man, saying that he’d went by a pseudonym instead: Mr. Blue.

 

It was stupid, in Mark’s opinion.  The type of alias someone comes up with when they’re having fun with what they’re doing, all feux clandestine like a kid playing spy.  It was stupid, and the most solid lead Mark has had in a while regarding his family’s remains.

 

That, and the demon scale Alberts had swiped as the magic broker had been leaving.

 

( “I can track that,” Johnny told him, plucking the scale from his hand.  “If you’ll let me.”

 

“So long as you’re careful about it,” Mark said.  “Someone who’s using stolen blood to hold onto two demons already probably wouldn’t mind trying to take a third.”

 

“Of course,” Johnny had said, smiling.  He pressed a kiss to the corner of Mark’s mouth.  “I’ll report back with what I find.” )

 

Which brought them to where they were now, almost a month and three cases later, Johnny stumbling through a wall in the little Airbnb apartment they’d been put up in for the current job, slipping free of the dimension demons used to travel, landing in the middle of a conversation about ghouls and wraiths.

 

He all but crumbled to the ground panting, knees giving out as a frustrated growl worked its way up his throat.  “ Shit.

 

“Johnny?” Mark croaked, coughing around a mouthful of water that went down the wrong way.

 

Johnny groaned, hunching forward, pressing his forehead to the fake wood floor.  His hands were curling and uncurling, the tips of his nails lengthening, turning a dusty black.

 

“Oh fuck.”  Mark shot up from the little dinning table Doyoung and him had been sitting at for his take-out dinner.  “Johnny-”

 

Johnny recoiled from the sudden movement with a vicious growl ripping from his chest, looking up at him with desperate eyes glowing like hot coals.  Doyoung was in front of Mark in a heartbeat, growling right back, beautiful face twisting into a harsh snarl.

 

Johnny’s shadow flickered and warped, a tail and curved horns being cast behind them where there weren’t any.  Yet.

 

Mark looked at Johnny, seeing the demon’s expression shifting between something feral and defensive to something distressed and apologetic, and sighed.  Oh Johnny.

 

“You were supposed to check in a week ago,” he said, placing a hand on Doyoung’s shoulder, stepping around him and fully into Johnny’s line of sight,  “Specifically to avoid this.”

 

Johnny whined, nails elongating fully into claws, the black that had started at the tips of his finger spreading up to his elbows.  It was the first major sign his glamour was breaking down, his energy reserves running too low to keep it up.

 

“What happened?” Mark asked, shooting Doyoung a look that he thankfully — if reluctantly — understood as a signal to go prowl the wards’ perimeter.  He shot Johnny a warning look that was all cold steel and blazing silver before leaving, leaving Mark alone with the incubus.  Mark turned his attention fully back on Johnny, slowly walking closer.  “Something did happen, right?”

 

With more effort than it should’ve taken, Johnny managed a jerky nod, groaning low as his tail finally appeared, the small points of his horns already poking through on his forehead.  Mark bit his lip.  It really had been a while since Johnny had let things go this far.  He was even more on top of feeding, more aware of staying in control of his own instincts, than Doyoung was.

 

Forcing down every survival instinct telling him to run from the threat in front of him, Mark walked over to Johnny and sunk down to his knees.  He slid his hands into Johnny’s hair, combing it back so he could see his face better, smiling at the small whimper the simple action earned him. 

 

“So? What happened?”

 

“Found him,” Johnny managed from behind gritted teeth and longer than normal incisors.  “Found his demon.  Found him.”

 

Mark froze, body tensing.  “Where?”

 

Johnny shook his head, squeezing his eyes shut.  “Don’t know,” he gasped, holding himself impossibly still with Mark so close, muscles standing out in stark relief under the thin barrier of his clothing.  “Didn’t stay long enough to tell. Couldn’t. Only know it’s not too far.”

 

Mark forced himself to breathe and let that thread go for now.  He could press Johnny for more later, maybe ask him to open his mind up a little so Mark could see his memories through his eyes.  Later.  Now, though…

 

“Okay. Okay. That’s not all that happened, because you didn’t come back when you should’ve,” Mark said softly, sliding his hands down from Johnny’s hair to cup his cheeks, “but, that’s not important right now. How bad is it?”

 

Johnny was looking at him with blazing eyes and a lovely cross of stress and hunger playing out on his face.  His voice was a rough rasp when he spoke, “ Bad .”

 

Mark nodded, considered the best plan of action, then decided fuck it, because this was Johnny and straight-to-the-point was always best where he was concerned.

 

Using his hands on the demon’s cheeks as leverage, Mark pulled him into a kiss.  A firm press of their mouths that quickly escalated to a hot slick mess the second Mark parted his lips, flicking his tongue out to lick at the seam of Johnny’s lips.  Johnny let him lead, tension singing through every inch of his body.  Holding back when he didn’t need to.  

 

Typical .

 

Mark pulled back first, needing air where Johnny technically didn’t.

 

( “It’s a luxury.” )

 

“You’re starving, Johnny,” he said into the weak whine bubbling up Johnny’s throat.  Johnny leaned his weight forward, the most he’d moved since Mark had come closer to kneel before him.  His eyes were hooded, completely focused on Mark’s mouth.  “You’re allowed to take what you need.”

 

Glowing eyes flicked up to meet his.  Mark snorted.  He couldn’t help it, really.  Johnny was looking at him like he’d hung the moon.  Like he still couldn’t believe he was allowed this much freedom while being inextricably tied to Mark.

 

He shook his head, winced, tail swishing behind him, spade tip occasionally scratching a line on the floor from the force of its movement.  “I can’t.”  Quieter, almost wounded, “I’ll hurt you.”

 

Mark laughed, loud but not unkindly.  “I’m not made of glass, Johnny.”  He raised a hand to rub gently at the base of one of the demon’s horns, now fully out and curving upwards, grinning when Johnny full body shuddered.  “I’m not delicate.”  He curled his hand fully around the horn he’d been rubbing at, pulling Johnny forward.  Hard .  Johnny grunted, the sound sending arousal pooling in Mark’s gut, molten hot.  “So just fuck me already.”

 

That seemed to do it, whatever bit of self-restraint Johnny was holding onto sailing straight out the window.  He was surging up and over Mark like a tidal wave, grabbing at Mark’s thighs to haul him up as he stood, reconnecting their mouths in a searing kiss that had them both moaning low and long.  He moved a bit too quickly once he was on his feet, overbalancing and stumbling — which Mark had never seen him do — just managing to catch them against the wall.

 

“Careful,” Mark hissed, arching his back as Johnny got a hand up under his shirt, claws dragging bluntly over skin.  “I don’t wanna be charged for anything.”

 

Johnny, head now buried in Mark’s neck, nipping and licking at the soft skin there with sharp teeth, nodded.

 

It took a dizzyingly minimal amount of effort for Johnny to get them both naked all while keeping Mark held up against the wall.  It had excitement sparking through Mark’s body, his magic beginning to fall in tune with Johnny’s, singing just under the surface of his skin.

 

Both demons were inhumanly strong, but Johnny was just so… big .  He dwarfed Mark in almost every way, magical strength being the only thing Mark had over him.  It was amazing.  Absolutely fucking delicious .

 

Johnny moaned wetly against Mark’s skin, mouthing absently just below Mark’s jaw, right over his fluttering pulse point.  

 

“So sweet,” he sighed, using one hand to hold Mark up while the other moved to rub at his entrance.  It had Mark twitching, thighs tensing where the were wrapped around Johnny’s waist, bringing their bodies closer together in an unconscious attempt to get some friction on his rapidly filling cock.  Johnny dragged his tongue up the column of Mark’s exposed throat, moaning at the arousal he tasted on Mark’s skin.  “So fucking sweet .”

 

Mark groaned, thunking his head back against the wall, trying his best to grind up against the firm ridges of Johnny’s stupidly well defined abs.  Johnny’s magic was thick and all-encompassing, filling his lungs and veins in a way Mark hadn’t ever actually experienced before.

 

It was fucking fantastic.  

 

It had his body going loose in all the best ways while keeping the strain in his muscles low.  It had him sighing, lips parted, when Johnny accidentally bit into his shoulder too hard, drawing blood.  Keening when Johnny lapped over the bite in apology, Mark’s magic egging Johnny on while strengthening the bond.

 

“Sorry,” he mumbled, raising his head to nose at Mark’s cheek, eyes dazed.  They looked like pools of heated gold, a shade calmer than the way they’d been burning when he’d first stumbled through the wall.  His horns bumped lightly against Mark’s forehead.  “Sorry.”

 

Mark kissed him, using too much tongue and spit — sloppy, how Johnny liked it.  “Stop apologizing.”

 

He reached around for the hand Johnny had at his ass, accidentally brushing his knuckles against Johnny’s cock, hard and already leaking.   Johnny flinched, letting out a startled purr.  When brought Johnny’s hand up and sucked two of his fingers into his mouth, Johnny outright growled, tail curling behind him.

 

Mark’s cock throbbed where it was trapped between their bodies, precum dribbling out onto their stomachs.  It made the slide easier when Mark rolled his hips up, still sucking on Johnny’s fingers with lowered lashes.  Pleasure sparked, white hot, feeding to the growing tension in the pit of his stomach.

 

Johnny, looking like he’d been knocked over the head, gaze intent on the way Mark’s mouth wrapped around his fingers, pulled his hand free.  He tapped his nails — blunted with no small amount of self-control, in this situation — against Mark’s bottom lip.

 

“I could’ve fucked your mouth.”

 

Mark huffed, digging his own nails into the skin of Johnny’s shoulders.  “Next time.”

 

Johnny purred at the allowance, leaning back in to shower Mark with kisses as he reached back around to press at Mark’s entrance again, this time with spit slick fingers.

 

Normally, that would never be enough.  Wouldn’t be now, really, but high on Johnny’s magic, Mark was looser than usual.

 

The first finger sunk in with only minor resistance, going to the second knuckle before Johnny was sliding it back out.  He fucked Mark with one finger until Mark was trying to ride back on his hand, thighs straining with the effort.  The second finger was a stretch, the burn numbed almost instantly by a rush of magic.  Johnny fucked him a little faster, a little harder, with two fingers, panting hard against Mark’s shoulder as he stretched him quicker than he typically would.

 

The third hurt, one of Mark’s hands flying to Johnny’s hair and pulling in warning, as if the sharp cry he let out wasn’t indicator enough.  Johnny’s magic practically drowned him in response, keeping his cock hard and drooling even through the flash of pain.

 

Dangerous , a little unnecessary voice chimed in Mark’s head.  This is how incubi are dangerous. They can kill you, and you’d enjoy every second of it .

 

The voice went largely ignored, because Mark didn’t care.  Decided he didn’t when he summoned them in the first place, a move of complete desperation.

 

And he definitely didn’t care now .  He let Johnny keep him pinned to the wall, fingering him open while he sucked bruises into his throat, because Johnny wouldn’t hurt him.  Not really.  Not in a way that would count.

 

“I need to-” Johnny cut off, moaning wetly against Mark’s neck, kissing up to his ear.  “I know it’s not, mm , not enough, but can I…”

 

Mark turned his head, chasing Johnny’s lips, pulling him into a searing kiss, welcoming the way Johnny’s tongue plunged into his mouth, moaning sweetly.

 

“Yeah,” he breathed when they parted with a wet noise, lips spit slick and red.  “You’re- yeah, you can.”

 

That had Johnny kissing him again, stroking Mark’s hip briefly before jacking himself slowly, the sounds of him spreading the precum-like slick oozing from his tip loud to Mark’s ears.  Anticipation had Mark’s heart racing in his chest and all his blood rushing south, his cock hard and throbbing, begging for some proper contact.

 

When Johnny lined himself up, the head of his cock pushing at Mark’s entrance, Mark gasped, toes curling.  When he started to push in, stretching Mark around him, Mark just about cried.

 

What should’ve hurt, what should’ve burned like a motherfucker, felt impossibly good .  Johnny was fucking spearing him, pushing in, in, in , and all Mark could think was more, more, more .  

 

“Johnny,” he keened, nails biting into Johnny’s skin, dragging down his chest, catching on the demon’s nipples.  Johnny jumped, seated himself a little further in, grip on Mark’s ass turning bruising.  “Fuck, Johnny .”

 

Johnny whined.  He nuzzled under Mark’s tipped back jaw, nipped at the lobe of his ear, and then thrust himself all the way in with one last push.

 

Mark saw stars, pleasure setting him on fire .  His veins felt molten, magic actually glowing just under his skin.  He felt so fucking full , Johnny in him and around him and just-

 

Mark moaned, panting heavily, head hazy from lust and the heat of the air around them.  Johnny was holding himself still again, muscles tensing from the effort of not just drilling Mark into the fucking wall.

 

“So good for me,” Mark mumbled, patting Johnny’s sweat damp hair, tracing a finger over the curve of his horns.  “So fucking good.”

 

Johnny groaned and pressed in close, shifting his hips in a small roll.  Testing.  Asking.

 

Mark read the question in his eyes, slitted pupils blown wide.  Can I?

 

Mark smiled, eyes hooded and fuzzy, heading towards blissed out.  He trailed his touch down to Johnny’s neck, where the sigil that mirrored Mark’s was, all crisp pretty lines glowing the same golden red as Mark’s magic.

 

Mine.

 

He scratched his nail over it, breath hitching as Johnny shivered, his cock twitching inside him.  “ Fuck me .”

 

Gods, and Johnny did.

 

He fucked into Mark hard and fast, smothering tiny growls into Mark’s shoulder.  His cock rubbed deliciously against Mark’s rim with every slide back, and had the coil in his belly wrenching tighter with every slam back in.

 

“So good,” Mark chanted, hiccuping out little breathy sounds.  A string of high ah-ah-ah’s falling from his lips.  “You fill me up so well,” he praised, crying out and trying to rut down when Johnny slammed right into his prostate.  “So full. So much. So perfect.”

 

Johnny moaned, skin running warm and sweat slick under his wandering hands, the praise feeding into his actions in the special way it did only when he was really hungry.  And gods was he hungry.

 

He fucked into Mark’s body, cock pressing insistently against his walls, until the slide was wet and easy from the precum rapidly oozing from Johnny’s cock.  He fucked him until there was only the right amount of drag, every thrust bracketed by obscenely wet squelches, loud in the room alongside their heavy breathing.

 

Absently, Mark realized there were tears slipping down his cheeks as he curled around Johnny, letting the demon use his grip on Mark to bring him down onto his cock in time with each thrust.  It was just overwhelming, the sheer amount of pleasure coursing through him.  Johnny’s cock reached so far, did so much.  Every slap of hips was met with a gasp, Mark feeling like all the air had been punched from his lungs in the best way possible. 

 

Perfect, Mark thought at him, not trusting his ability to speak at this point, so close to snapping.  Beautiful, strong, mine, mine, mine.

 

“Yours,” Johnny choked out, lips brushing Mark’s ear.  “All yours.”

 

And then Mark was coming, cock pulsing between them, painting their chests white, untouched.  Johnny growled, bit down on Mark’s neck over his sigil, ground into the tightening heat of Mark’s body, and then he was following, joining Mark in the tumble over the edge.

 

He moved his hips in languid rolls to ride out Mark’s orgasm, peppering the skin he’d bit with light, gentle kisses.  When Johnny’s hips finally stilled, he raised his head to meet Mark’s gaze, eyes tired but happy, so, so happy.

 

They were a honey brown again, the fiery glow gone along with his horns and — Mark imagined — his tail.  Glamour back in place now that he wasn’t on the brink of going feral.

 

Mark combed a hand through his hair, smiling sleepily when Johnny leaned into the touch, rubbing his face into Mark's palm like a cat.

 

"Better?" he asked, a light teasing lilt to his tone.

 

Johnny huffed out a half laugh, leaning both their weights back up against the wall, draping around him like a blanket.  Warm and heavy and so very comforting.

 

"Mhm."  He kissed Mark's cheek.  "Thanks."

 

Mark kissed him back, a quick peck on the curl of Johnny's lips.  "Any time."

 

Gently, Johnny pulled back from Mark, softening cock slipping free.  Mark made a small noise of discomfort at that, clenching at the feeling of being empty after all...that.  Johnny noticed, chuckling low in his throat at the face Mark made.

 

He didn't set Mark back down, though, instead bringing an arm around to support his hold on him  to carry Mark over to the bathroom, only putting him down once they were inside so he could start the shower.

 

"Think Doyoung's gonna be mad when he comes back?" Johnny asked.

 

"For what?" Mark asked, raising an eyebrow.  "You snapping at him or being kicked out so you could feed?"

 

Johnny laughed, testing the water temperature with a hand.  "Right. I see your point."  He hummed, turning to Mark and extending his hand.  "Come here."

 

Mark allowed Johnny to help him up and usher him into the bathtub, grip firm but gentle.  Everything about him was gentle, right now.  The edge he'd come in with curbed and softened back to the normal.

 

Johnny slipped in behind him, pulling the shower curtain closed to keep the water from splashing out, and then set to squeezing out some body wash into his hands.

 

Mark eyed him with a wary sort of amusement, standing under the warm spray, letting it loosen the line of his shoulder.  "Really?"

 

Johnny smiled like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.  "I promise, it'll be innocent. Just wanna help."

 

Mark snorted but stepped closer so Johnny could soap him up.  He did it with a quiet sort of efficiency, hands sweeping across Mark's body, massaging in where he felt a knot of muscle, but never lingering too long.  Even when his hands dipped lower, they were there and gone.  Careful not to start anything.

 

When Johnny was done he pushed Mark back under the shower spray with a light touch and a smile, reaching over him to grab some shampoo next.  He was lathering it into Mark's hair when he spoke up again.

 

"Doyoung should've stayed. You always enjoy it more when he's there."

 

Mark hummed.  It's more about both of you being there , he didn't say, leaning into Johnny as he massaged Mark's scalp with firm fingers, instead going with, "You were feeling territorial. It wouldn't've worked. You would've fought and shit would've just spiraled out of control from there."

 

"Still," johnny sighed.  "He holds grudges."

 

Mark smiled.  That he did.

 

"He'll understand, though," Mark said.  "Once you explain what happened," he looked up at Johnny, eyes sharp and searching, "he'll understand."

 

Johnny met his gaze and held it, breaking first with a sigh.  "This should wait until morning."

 

"Why?"

 

Johnny raised his eyebrow at Mark's tone, tilting his head as if to say, See? This is why .

 

Mark pressed his lips into a line.  "This is important, Johnny. This is-"

 

"I know," Johnny said.  He leaned down to press a kiss to Mark's forehead, tilting Mark's head back so he could rinse the shampoo out, moving methodically onto the next step.  "But you won't sleep if I tell you now."  Another kiss on his forehead.  "Please?"

 

Mark's hands flexed at his sides.  Johnny was right.  Mark probably wouldn't sleep if he told him now.  Johnny no longer on the edge of starvation, Mark wouldn't have anything to distract him from letting his thoughts run loose as they had been while the demon had been gone.  Thoughts of the magical broker with blood he shouldn't have playing in the back of his head like a bad fucking record.

 

"Fine," he conceded.  "And we're not in any danger?"

 

Johnny shook his head.  "Not from him. Not right now. The only immediate threat in this town is the wraiths picking people off."

 

"Knew it," Mark muttered.

 

Johnny laughed.  "Of course you did."  He ran his fingers through Mark's hair, rubbing conditioner into the strands.  "Because you're good at what you do."

 

Mark allowed himself to preen at the compliment.  He stepped forward into Johnny's space, pressing his cheek to Johnny's chest.  "Tomorrow then?"

 

"Tomorrow," Johnny agreed.




Doyoung was disgruntled when he came back, and still petty the next morning, clinging to Mark and snapping at Johnny because he could.

 

Johnny took it in stride, letting Doyoung stomp around, watching on in fond amusement as the centuries old fallen angel acted like a bratty kid.  He took it on himself to go get breakfast for Mark, giving him some time to soothe Doyoung's ruffled feathers with soft kisses and wandering touches.

 

Mark ate under Johnny's smiling watch, and then, once he was fed and Doyoung was calmer, gestured for the demon to talk.

 

"He caught me," Johnny said simply, shrugging like what he'd said wasn't a big fucking deal.  Mark tensed, anger choking him so fast he almost forgot to breath.  "I tracked his demon. Found it eating some poor bastard, and then,” Johnny shook his head, “he was just there ."  Johnny glanced up at Mark, then.  “He kind of smelled like you. Your magic, that is. But muddled. Wrong.”

 

Mark didn’t know where to start unpacking all that, worry bubbling up to join anger where it was lodged in his chest, so he started with the most immediately concerning bit.  "That’s why you were so late. He-”  Mark’s jaw clenched, teeth aching from the force of it.  "Did he do something to you? Johnny, what did-"

 

"Breathe, Mark, breathe," Johnny soothed, coming around the small table to kneel in front of him, taking Mark's hands in his.  Doyoung reached out, curling a comforting touch over his thigh.  "He tried to force a contract, to override yours. It hurt," Johnny scrunched his nose, "a lot.”

 

"But it didn’t work," Doyoung said, frowning, picking up where this was all going.  "Because Mark’s power is a part of him, part of his will. So it rebounded instead. Which is why it took you so long to come back,” he looked at Johnny, concern sharp in his eyes and the set of his mouth, “and why you were starved when you did. Your magic dispersed, so you could escape."

 

Like a lizard loosing its tail .

 

Johnny shot Mark a look that said he’d heard that thought and didn't appreciate the comparison.  He didn't disagree, though.

 

"Whatever he's done with the blood he's taken, it's not enough to equal someone born with the right to bind," he said.  "That means, you’re stronger."  His grip on Mark's hands tightened.  "When we find him, you'll win."

 

When we find him , Mark thought, magic sparking in his veins, stoking the fire that had been burning in his chest for the past seven years, longer, even (since his mother was killed three years before, the true beginning of the end).  I'll do more than win.




When they track down the two wraiths later, finding them holed up in an old, unused mine shaft, a neat pile of desecated bodies forming in its depths, Mark rips them to shreds with a flick of his hand.

 

He lets his anger guide his hand, thinking about what had almost happened to Johnny, and what ended up happening anyway.  About how there was a man out there using and sell his family's blood, putting it in the hands of other bloodthirsty idiots only interested in their own benefit.

 

He lets his anger lead, and it tears the wraiths apart.  Piece by piece, limb by limb.

 

It’s brutal and bloody, dark, sludge-like gore spattering everywhere.  It had Johnny and Doyoung standing a safe distance away, grimacing delicately at the bits of partially rotted body that landed to close.  Neither batted an eye at the level of violence, though, or Mark’s use of magic when he typically preferred knives and fighting instead.  

 

They didn’t comment that it was becoming more frequent, Mark lashing out with magic, letting his blood whip out from thin cuts, razor sharp and solid.  They wouldn’t, because they were privy to the colder, harsher parts of Mark’s mind in ways no one else would ever be.  They’d been summoned amongst bodies, presented with a child heading into adulthood earlier than he should’ve, fire in his eyes and blood already on his hands.

 

This — finding the magic broker trading in his family’s blood — was one part of Mark’s true hunt.  The reason that had consumed him and left him on the edge of everything as he tried to make it through the rest of his schooling.  And the wraiths, mottled blue and smelling faintly of rotting leaves, were a means to an end.

 

Money in Mark’s pocket, and, in this case, a chance to remind himself that he was strong.  His magic was always there, a coiling snake ready to strike on command.

 

Mark flexed his hand, breathing through the feeling of his blood slithering back under his skin, something he’d never really get used to.  He looked over the carnage.  There was almost nothing recognizable of the wraiths left.  Sighing, he pulled out his phone, snapping a quick picture of the whole scene.  A proof shot for the police.

 

“Let’s go,” he said, turning to Doyoung and Johnny as he slipped his phone back in his pocket.

 

“The bodies?” Johnny asked, falling into step, casting a glance over his shoulder.

 

Mark rubbed the tips of his fingers together, tacky with blood that had seeped down his arm forgotten.  Somewhere in the mine, amongst the piled up corpses, a small spark caught in a drop of blood, jumping eagerly to the dry clothing and brittle hair of the dead bodies it was surrounded by.

 

The spark grew quickly until there was a full fire, roaring softly as it consumed every thing around it.  It would stop when there was no more flesh and viscera to burn.

 

“No one would be able to explain the way they’ve been completely drained,” Mark said.  “They have to disappear.”

 

“And their families,”  Doyoung asked, tone curious more than judging.

 

Mark sighed through his nose, looking down at his shoes.  “I’ll tell them. It’s the most closure they’ll get. It’s the least they deserve.”



☽ 



It was really fucking frustrating that they couldn’t just beeline for the magical broker and be done with that bit of Mark’s life for now.  That they couldn’t just track him and find him and kill him , then go back to helping people with other magic related monsters.

 

Because he knew.  He had to know.  Mr. Blue knew Mark was looking for him, and his interest had been piqued when he couldn’t capture Johnny.  So now he was leaving a trail of magical carnage.  Powerful tools, cursed objects, monsters; all things left in the hands of people that couldn’t — wouldn’t — use them properly.

 

He felt like a mouse being toyed with by a particularly cruel cat, and he hated it .

 

“This is ridiculous,” Mark hissed under his breath, bouncing his knee as they sat waiting outside the mayor’s office of the new city he’d been contracted to.  Doyoung and Johnny were saiting with him, dressed nicely — nicer than Mark — in slacks and button-ups.  Mark didn’t know where those had come from, and at this point he was almost afraid to ask.  “We’ve been tracking this asshole for almost two months now and we’re still no closer to catching up.”

 

“Breathe, love,” Doyoung said, staring ahead at the wall, bored, ignoring the decidedly interested glances the mayor’s receptionist was giving them.  Johnny, head titled back against the wall, eyes closed, reached over to drop a hand on Mark’s thigh, giving it a squeeze.  A comforting gesture that only left Mark more keyed up than before.  “This is all you can do for now. Help people and hunt the things hurting them.”

 

“He’s testing us,” Mark said, voice low and frustrated.  “I can feel it. He’s watching us.”

 

“You,” Johnny corrected lightly, hand sliding higher.  “He’s watching you . We’re nothing more than tools to him, but you?” he tilted his head towards Mark, eyes opening with a lazy blink and a smile, “You’re something so much more.”

 

Mark turned away with a huff, his neck and ears heating up; whether from the way Johnny was looking at him or the hand dangerously close to his clothed dick, though, he wasn’t sure.

 

Thankfully, he didn’t get the chance to think about it too long.

 

“Mark?”  Mark looked up, his demons tensing slightly at his sides.  The mayor, poking his head around his door, smiled.  “You can come on in now.”

 

They got up and shuffled over as a group, Mark shaking the mayor’s hand, noting the firm grip, while the two demons skirted past, warily sizing up the man.  Which, fair.  The city’s mayor — Junmyeon Kim — was what most people would call a hunter.

 

It wasn’t obvious in the organized mess of his office, or the perfectly pressed suit pants and crisp button up that fell to his wrists, but it was there, in the little things.  If you knew what to look for.

 

A sports bag tucked out of sight but still in reach.  A dark smear in the deep blue of the carpet artfully covered up by a large, broad-leafed potted plant.  His the silver glint to his cufflinks and belt buckle — weapons in a case of absolute emergency.  And, of course, the way he carried himself.  Confident and a touch predatory.  Someone who knew how to fight and had survived enough to be confident in his ability to win.

 

“Why’s a hunter pretending to be a politician?” Johnny rumbled in Mark’s head, nose scrunching at whatever carefully selected lotions and cologne Junmyeon must use.

 

“Because he’s not pretending,” Mark said, speaking out loud.  “And he’s a friend, so be nice. No mental convos.”

 

Johnny blinked, looked over at Junmyeon, gave him a cool-eyed onceover, and simply said, “I don’t like you.”

 

It was so childish and blunt, Mark didn’t know whether to laugh or duck his head in embarrassment.  Doyoung huffed as if he thought Johnny was an idiot, but leveled Junmyeon with a look that said he didn’t disagree.  Junmyeon, at least, thought it was hilarious and tipped his head back laughing.

 

“I didn’t really expect you to,” he said, smiling happily as he moved to sit behind his desk, gesturing for Mark to take a seat in the chair across from him.  “You know, when I heard you’d contracted yourself to two demons, I was worried.”  He was looking at Mark with a fond, mothering grin.  “You’d lost everything and I thought they’d use that to eventually consume you. Certain annoying rules that keep those like us out of mage matters, kept me from helping, but I’m glad it seems like it wasn’t necessary.”  A quick glance slid to Doyoung and Johnny respectively, followed with a small approving nod.  “They’ve taken good care of you.”

 

Mark, who’d been sitting stiffly in his chair, relaxed, a small smile twitching at his lips.  “Yeah,” he said, “they have.”  A tilt of his head, a wry slant to his lips.  “You already knew all this, though, because I send you pictures. And texts. All the time . So why are we really here?”

 

Junmyeon laughed, resting his elbows on his desk, linking his hands.  “Straight to the point. That hasn’t changed since you were little.”  He looked between the demons, addressing them both in a conspiratorial not-whisper, “Did you know I trained him? Taught him how to fight. He was a cute kid.”

 

Mark sighed as he felt the spike in irritation rolling off both of them; despite neither of their expressions shifting.  “Don’t bait them.”

 

Junmyeon chuckled good-naturedly, holding up his hands in mock surrender.  “Sorry, couldn’t help it. Old habits.”

 

You make a habit out of taunting demons? Mark almost asked, before he remembered that Junmyeon ran with Baekhyun Byun as a partner, and yeah, he could see where that habit came from.

 

“I called you because something’s roaming through the city and I can’t handle it on my own.”

 

Mark chewed on the inside of his cheek.  That didn’t bode particularly well.  Junmyeon wasn’t exactly a normal human; no hunter was.  He had magic in his veins, even if it didn’t come from a long-standing family line, and even if his stores weren’t deep, they weren’t weak.  He wasn’t weak.  So if he needed help protecting the city he’d set up in, that meant it was bad .

 

“What kind of something?”

 

The corners of Junmyeon’s mouth pressed back in a grimace.  “Have you ever had to deal with ghouls?”

 

Mark frowned.  “Personally? No, but I’ve heard...stories.”  He cast a quick glance over to Doyoung, who’d had lifetimes more experience dealing with humans and mages and all the bullshit and horror both got up to.  “Is that what’s here?”

 

“‘ That’s’ ,” Junmyeon corrected.  “Plural.”

 

Ah.  Yeah.  That was bad.

 

“There’s a pack of ghouls roaming your city?” Doyoung asked, sounding horrified.  Really bad, then.  “ How?

 

“Not my city, technically,” Junmyeon corrected, holding up a finger, then, “and I haven’t been able to get close enough without them swarming to figure that out. Which is where I was hoping you’d come in.”

 

“Ghouls are the by-product of people with no magic trying to use magic imbued objects,” Johnny said, frowning, crossing his arms over his chest in a way that stretched his clothes and made his biceps bulge.  Mark had to force himself not to stare, turning back to meet Junmyeon’s twinkling gaze.  “Couldn’t you just trace things the way Mark does? Find the object or source?”

 

“I did,” Junmyeon said simply.  “Almost twenty signals popped up, a lot of them too clumped to properly pin down a location.”

 

“Twenty,” Mark repeated.  Shit.

 

“Since then at least ten more ghouls have cropped up.”

 

Shit .  Somewhere around thirty ghouls were wandering the city at night, picking off anyone misfortunate enough to be lesser in number when they stumbled across them.  “Junmyeon, what the fuck?”

 

Junmyeon sighed.  “I know. You see why I needed help.”

 

“What about Baekhyun?” Mark asked, brows furrowing of their own accord.  “Or Minseok? Or any of the other hunters I know you have running around here.”

 

“Incapacitated,” Junmyeon said, right hand curling into an unconsious fist.  “Whatever created all the ghouls almost overwhelmed them too the second they got too close.”  He gave Mark a small, muted smile.  “I have my pride, but I know when to ask for help. As it is, the ghoul pack will only get bigger, until it’s more than a one mage problem.”

 

Mark wanted to ask, to press.  Was Baekhyun okay? Was Minseok?  They’d all given him love and attention when his mother had been killed, and then stepped in to help when Mark found himself alone with no one but two powerful, irritated demons.  He wouldn’t, though, because Junmyeon had purposely left it terse and short.  Incapacitated and almost overwhelmed.   Mark forced the small knot in his chest to untangle.  They were alive, and that’s all he needed to know.

 

“We’ll help,” he said, holding Junmyeon’s gaze and ignoring the uneasy grumblings he felt pressing against the walls of his mind.  “Whatever you need, we’ll help.”

 

Junmyeon’s eyes went soft and Mark knew he was comparing the boy he knew to the new adult he was presented with now.  His smile widened just a bit — still sad, still small.

 

“Thank you.”  Two words carrying a breathe of strained relief that had been waiting weeks, maybe months to be let out.  “We’re all in your care.”




When Mark was thirteen, a few months before things started to go wrong, Junmyeon and Minseok had showed up at their door with twin winsome smiles and some story about a training exercise, with other fledgling hunters, off in the mountains.  

 

Things like “Real life experience” , and “Good for self-evaluation” , were thrown around along with a lot of promises that Mark would be safe and in good hands.  

 

There wasn’t any training exercise.  Mark had guessed that from the start.  What there had been, was a hungry half monster bleeding magic faster than it could drain more from its victims, snarling with sharp teeth and sharper claws, hollow holes where eyes should’ve been.

 

“The trick,” Minseok had said, after they’d killed it, tending to an already healing gash on Mark’s chest, “is to be faster than them. Anticipate the next move, and beat them there.”

 

Mark nodded, expression focused and serious.  If Minseok was saying it, it had to be true.

 

Junmyeon had chuckled at the look on Mark’s face, Baekhyun outright laughing along with a few of the other hunters who’d come with.

 

“The real trick,” Baekhyun had crowed, coming over to ruffle Mark’s hair, a fond light softening the almost manic fire always burning in his eyes, “is to be stronger. Always stronger.”

 

Mark had stared up at him with stars in his eyes, these men so different from the cold, anxious mages who haunted his family home; living ghosts who’d accepted what they thought was an inevitable fate.

 

Mark stared up at him, and thought that the reality of things was probably somewhere in between.  Be fast, be strong.  Be both, if you wanted to live.

 

Years and many, many fights later, Mark knew he was right.

 

“You’re a helluva lot stronger than the last time I saw you,” Junmyeon commented mildly, wiping the flat of his knife against his pants — a simple, sturdy black pair of jeans that hid the dark purple ooze that stood in for blood in a ghoul’s body.  “You’re barely breaking a sweat.”

 

Mark laughed bashfully, scratching at the back of his neck.  Gods, where did he even start?  How did he say that mowing down ghouls was easier than he’d thought it’d be?  That killing a mage gone bad, with all their human intelligence and warped animal instinct, was so much harder?

 

“I’ve had a lot of practice,” is what he settled on.  He nodded towards where Johnny was stomping in a dead ghoul’s head, while Doyoung meticulously picked out all the shards of magic that had been glittering in their bodies.  “And they definitely don’t hurt either.”

 

Junmyeon huffed, muttering out an amused, “I’ll bet.”

 

“Where to next?” Mark asked, accepting the small pile of shards Doyoung dropped in his hand with a quiet “Thank you” .

 

Junmyeon watched him drain the magic from them, turning the glittering pieces of crystallized magic to dust with an ease mark didn’t used to have.  “There’s an old clothing factory that closed down a few years back out by the edge of the city. Baek was going to check it out when…”

 

When something happened , mark finished.  Right.

 

“Of course. An abandoned factory.”  Mark sighed, rubbing his eyes with the heel of his hand.  “Why not?”

 

“We’d cover more ground if we split up,” Johnny said, tone suggestive of the many, many arguments they’d already had about the pros and cons of that before coming out tonight.  “At this rate we’ll be coming out the next few nights just to do pest control.”

 

Junmyeon, looking like he was about to agree with that reasonable suggestion, opened his mouth.  Before he could say anything, though, Mark cut in.

 

“No.” He said, firm, staring Johnny down as best he could.  I know what you’re doing.   “No splitting up while we’re being watched.”

 

“You’re being watched ?” Junmyeon asked, eyes wide in startled concern.  It was an interesting look with the smears of ghoul blood on his everywhere.  “By who?”

 

“I’m handling it,” Mark said, not wanting to get into things now.

 

If he told Junmyeon what he’d really been doing all these years, looking for the people who’d had a hand in his family’s death, he’d look at him with sadness and pity .  Mark didn’t want that.

 

He shot Junmyeon a smile.  “Really, I’m handling it. We should get moving though if we want to clear another nest before dawn.”

 

Junmyeon pursed his lips, eyes sharp.  He didn’t want to let it go, that much was obvious.  He’d always treated Mark like blood, looked after him like a parent would.  Mark held his gaze, though, unbudging, and with plenty of mental promises that Johnny would pay for putting himself in the exact situation Mark had been carefully avoiding.

 

Junmyeon sighed.  “Fine.”  He started walking back out towards the car, sidestepping shattered plates, broken furniture, and the odd children’s toy — the remnants of a family who’d had the misfortune of crossing paths with the wrong person, of coming in contact with silver words and poisonous magic.  He stepped near Mark, swinging an arm up around his shoulders.  Low, so only Mark could hear, “Just so you know, we’re not done talking about that.”

 

Mark puffed up his cheeks, letting the air out with a huff.  “I figured.”

 

Junmyeon ruffled his hair, laughing when Mark whined and tried to struggle away, pushing against the hunter’s iron hold.  “Good. So long as you know.”




Piling into Junmyeon’s car, they drove to the next ghoul hotspot and cleaned it out.  Junmyeon kept to the outer edges of the fighting, veins bulging from the strain the weirdly powerful magic fragments put on his body.  Mark, long knife held casually at his side, went straight for the thick of it.

 

He moved with a practised ease, twirling the knife in his hand as he ducked and slashed and kicked out at anything that came snarling at him.  Doyoung and Johnny kept to his sides, shoring up his blind spots with an efficiency it’d taken years to learn.

 

He’d stab his knife through the soft skull of one ghoul, thick blood spurting out, and Doyoung would press in against his back, catching the arm of another, snapping it like a twig and bashing its head in.

 

A nimble duck and charge, edge of his blade flashing in the trickles of pre-dawn light, would be followed by a heavy sweep from Johnny, bodies being thrown as if they weighed nothing.

 

That’s how it went until they were covered in thick slop, the first rays of morning sun creeping into the factory space through dirt covered windows, all the ghouls dead or dying at their feet. 

 

( As dead as something like a ghoul could be, at least. )

 

They went back outside to an exhausted looking Junmyeon who smiled weakly and ushered them all back into his car with disapproving clucks at the fresh nicks and scrapes they’d acquired.  Even Johnny and Doyoung were fussed over.

 

He drove them back to his house, a big, standard colonial outfitted with more protection wards than Mark could count.  They showered and ate — “It’s like comfort food to them,” Mark explained, waving his fork at the two demons chowing down on mouthfuls of soft, buttery pancakes and salty sausage, “At least that’s the excuse they give when they want to blow my budget.” — and when they were done they passed out in one of Junmyeon’s many guest rooms.

 

“You’ll be comfortable like this?” Junmyeon asked, eyebrow raised and mouth twitching like he wanted to smile.

 

“Yeah,” Mark yawned, waving Junmyeon off, eyelids heavy and already drooping shut.  ‘This’ was Johnny laying partially across him like a large, heavy blanket, while Doyoung was curled tight against his side.  ‘This’ was perfect.  ‘This’ was safe.  “If we’re not up when you get back…”

 

“Don’t worry, I’ll wake you up. Enjoy your sleep.”

 

Junmyeon looked beat himself, and the fact that he was still going in to work despite the darkening circles under his eyes was terrifying to Mark.  A superhuman feat he definitely wouldn’t do if he could avoid it.

 

But Junmyeon had always been a different breed —  gold standard Mark still couldn’t help but compare himself to — so he was going in, freshly showered, a bit haggard, and hopped up on more caffeine than was healthy.

 

“Take a half-day,” Mark mumbled, drifting towards the sweet, sweet embrace of sleep with every breath.  “At least,” a yawn, broken off with a grunt as Johnny shifted around on top of him, heavy on his chest for a bit, “At least while this is going on.”

 

Junmyeon laughed.  “I’ll consider it. See you in the p.m.”

 

Mark snorted, and then let himself drift under.




After that, they fell into a rhythm.

 

Wake up sometime after noon to the inviting smell of fresh cooked food or take-out.  Track down the next big den.  Wipe it out.  Come back to shower and crash, blinds closed against the morning light.  Rinse, and repeat.

 

It was grueling, and every night they spent in close proximity with ghouls radiating all sorts of negative emotions on repeat, amplified by the curse-like magic warping their bodies, left its mark on them.  Junmyeon more than anyone else.

 

His veins were starting to stick out even when they were away from the influence of the curse magic.  Too dark under his skin.  He was losing his appetite, too, grimacing at the smell of food in a way that was more than worrisome.  Mark caught it all with sharp eyes, concern welling in his gut as his thoughts strayed.

 

If this is what’s happening to him, what happened to the others who were overwhelmed at first contact?

 

Doyoung had his suspicions, which he shared reluctantly when Mark pressed for them.

 

“Magic like this, when it’s echoed back and strengthened by the bodies it’s already taken, it-” he stopped, ran a hand through his hair, mouth pressed into a grim line.  He looked up, meeting Mark’s gaze before he started again.  “It does things to people. Even people who have magic of their own. It’s toxic, Mark, and the damage isn’t easily reversed.”

 

Mark swallowed, dread raising its head from where it lived, bone deep.  An old friend.  “Can it be reversed? Whatever it does, can it-”  Can it be fixed?  Can I fix it?

 

“Sometimes yes,” Doyoung said, reaching out to take Mark’s hand in his, tracing a slightly shaking finger over the lines of his palm, “Sometimes no. All you can really do is try.”

 

That in mind, Mark essentially banned Junmyeon from coming out with them on anymore hunts.

 

“You hired me to take care of this,” Mark told him.  “So let me take care of it.”

 

Junmyeon frowned at him, eyes glazed from exhaustion and something more.  Mark noticed it.  This is the right thing to do .

 

“I can’t let you go running around the city at night alone,” Junmyeon said, as if Mark hadn’t spent a significant amount of time doing just that.  “You don’t know the layout, or the spots that could be used as traps, or any of the-”

 

“Junmyeon.”

 

The older man startled a bit, blinking up at Mark from his seat on the lush couch in his sleekly designed living room.  He’d always been bigger than life to Mark.  Loud, steady, strong.  He looked so small, now.

 

Mark clenched his fist at his side, nails digging into his palm.  “I haven’t made you take me to see Baekhyun or Minseok, and I haven’t pressed you about whether they’re even still human or not,” he stared Junmyeon down, “You’re staying back. And, when this is all cleared up, I’ll put you in touch with someone who might be able to reverse the magical poisoning on everyone else. Okay?”

 

Junmyeon stared at him, eyes so sad.  He sighed.  “I already called Yixing. He’s flying in from a purging up in Vancouver. He’ll be here on Wednesday.”

 

Two days from now.  Mark nodded.  Good Kun could probably get in by then also if he called right now.

 

“I’ll still call my contact. Two healers is better than one.”

 

Junmyeon hummed under his breath in concession. Tentatively, “You’ll be okay?”

 

Mark smiled.  “I’ve been doing a pretty good job so far, haven’t I? I’ll be fine, Junmyeon. I promise.”




“How’d he take it?”  Johnny asked later that night, when they were prowling the streets, following behind Mark as he lead them to the next highly concentrated bundle of magic.

 

He was dressed comfortably for a fight — they all were.  Combat boots, tough cargos, and a simple turtleneck under a heavy duty jacket.  Over the top for the demons who didn’t get hurt that easily, but Johnny had told Junmyeon he wanted to match Mark with a cheeky smile, so matching they were.  He did look good, though.  Not that he ever didn’t.

 

“Fine,” Mark said, eyes sifting through the shadows around them, hairs on his neck standing on end.  They were being watched.  Again.  Eyes tracking their- no, his every move.  Fucker .  “There’s a healer coming in to try and help… reverse things.”  He narrowed his eyes at a flicker of movement, the slither of what he could’ve sworn was a tail.  “I’m gonna call in a favor, also. See if Kun — the mage I told you about — can maybe spare some time to lend a hand.”

 

“So no issues then,” Doyoung surmised, equally twitchy as Mark had been lately, but for different reasons.  

 

Reasons that had Mark keeping a closer eye on him, taking in the stiff line of his shoulders and tense clench of his jaw, even now.

 

“No issues.”

 

Doyoung nodded, rolling out his shoulders with the subtlest of motions.  “Good. Being around so much noxious magic isn’t good for those with weaker constitutions.”

 

Mark watched his profile, taking in all the cool, sharp planes of his face, almost marble-like in the light from the street lamps.  “With how concentrated it is, it’s not that good for people who are stronger, either.”

 

Doyoung hummed and cracked his fingers, a small, unthinking habit Mark hadn’t seen crop up in a while.  Not since the early days of their contract.

 

A burst of loud, drunken laughter and rowdy teasing over on the main street broke the otherwise still silence of the night, Doyoung’s head snapping towards it like a predator picking up on the scent of prey.  Mark watched, feeling a wave of hunger welling up that he knew wasn’t his.  He reached out, slotting the tips of his fingers between Doyoung’s — the hand he’d created from blood and magic and a desperate sort of love.  

 

“We’ll have to be careful,” he said, knowing that Doyoung barely heard him, pupils flickering a flat shade of gray as the laughter out on the street turned into an argument.  Doyoung licked his lips.  Mark lightly squeezed his fingers.  “All of us.”




It didn’t really take long for Mark to confirm what he’d suspected from the start; the magic stored in the shards they kept finding being the biggest give away.  This ghoul infestation wasn’t an accident.  The first object, dropped in some poor sucker’s hands, was entirely intentional.  A carefully placed bomb, in a city just big enough for it to go unnoticed until the problem had grown to a scale that warranted calling Mark in.

 

Mark didn’t even have time to be worried about how Mr. Blue knew about his connection to Junmyeon to decided to set this whole mess up here, or be angry that he’d dragged Mark’s last remaining loved ones into what felt like one big experiment designed to test him.  Everything was focused on mowing down as many ghouls as he could before the sun rose and they went into hiding, only to spread and infect more people at the start of the next night.

 

It was never fucking ending, and it was wearing on him.  On all of them.

 

Johnny was sluggish, dipping into his own magical reserves to lessen the burden on Mark, who was physically exhausted more than anything.  Doyoung, well… Doyoung was playing it off, but the energy and last emotions of the humans turned ghouls were having a heavy effect on him.

 

It made sense, in the worst way.

 

The negative emotions and stress that he took from Mark were nothing in comparison to the putrid anguish of the ghouls.  It was the spiritual equivalent of dangling a well made, juicy steak in front of someone who’d been eating a less flavorful cut for the past seven years.  Not that Mark thought he was any less tasty — a disturbing sentiment to have in general — just that his emotions, usually kept in check because of the real havoc they could wreck, weren’t going to be as strong as the final feelings of the not-quite-dead.

 

“You can stay back, you know,” Mark said softly, quickly downing a banana and some yogurt before they headed out for the night.  It wasn’t as much as he wanted to eat, but he’d tracked a clump of ghouls to what Junmyeon said was the club district, and they needed to leave before a whole swarm of twenty and thirty-somethings wandered into the lion’s den, so it’d have to do.  “You don’t need to come out if it’s affecting you.”

 

Doyoung, wide-eyed, irises flashing a startling silver, stared at him like he’d grown a second head and a third arm.  “If what’s affecting me?”

 

Mark squinted at him, opening his mouth, reply ready when the tall healer who’d come along with Yixing (when the older mage had gotten there three days ago in a flurry of purposeful excitement) walked into the kitchen, giving them both a hesitant but not unfriendly smile in acknowledgement.  

 

You’re at least two or three centuries old, playing dumb isn’t going to work, he threw at Doyoung instead, eyes still narrowed.

 

Doyoung matched his expression, the effect somehow heart-rending and terrifying at the same time on the fallen angel’s face.  “I’m fine , Mark. Your concern is unnecessary.”

 

Mark recoiled at the acid of Doyoung’s tone cutting through his mind.  Doyoung, noticing, went white as a sheet.

 

“Mark,” he breathed.  He looked like he wanted to run.  Skittish and cornered by his own actions.  “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”

 

Mark forced the knot that had formed in his chest, squeezing against his heart, to loosen.  “I know.”

 

He did.  He knew, which is why his next step should’ve been to order Doyoung to stay, using the bond to force him if he had to.  Like he’d done back in the little town that had started this hunt; keeping his demons away from a mage willing to do anything to get what he wanted.

 

He should’ve, he should’ve , but Doyoung was looking at him, so startlingly open and vulnerable, that he didn’t have it in him to do it.

 

“It’s not weak to admit when something’s too much for you,” Mark said aloud, keeping his voice low even after the younger healing mage had left.  “You’re important to me because it’s you, not because you’re strong. You know that, right?”

 

Doyoung stared down at his hands where they were shaking slightly in his lap — they were always shaking, now.  He nodded, fringe obscuring his expression, though that didn’t do much to hide the brushings of regret bumping up against his consciousness through the bond.

 

Mark slid off the kitchen stool he’d been perched on, patting Doyoung’s thigh and stepping between his legs when he spread them to accommodate.  He cupped Doyoung’s face in his hands, smiling up at the mildly harassed pout shot his way when he squished them between his hands.

 

“If I have to say ‘I told you so’, you know I’ll never let you live it down, right?”  He grinned as Doyoung’s pout deepened, irises darkening for a bit back to their usually glamoured black.  He closed the distance between them in a quick, sweet kiss.  “You’re supposed to be the responsible demon, after all.”

 

“You ‘on’t have to say it,” Doyoung mumbled, pacified by the kiss and leaning forward for another.  Mark gladly obliged.  “I’ll be fine.”

 

Mark sighed, helplessly fond.  They both knew how conditional that statement was.  He’d have to give Johnny the heads up, if the other demon somehow hadn’t already noticed the signs of Doyoung slipping.  Warn him that Doyoung was determined to walk this fine line, stubborn like a fucking mule.

 

“Those,” Mark said around a huffed out laugh, “are some famous last words.”

 

“Hey,” Johnny said, popping his head around the kitchen corner then, coming over to drop a kiss on the top of both Mark and Doyoung’s heads before continuing on to the fridge.  “We good to go?”

 

Mark eyed what Johnny was wearing — a mesh shirt and reflective looking pants tucked into heavy boots — and decided he was going to need to have a talk with Junmyeon about enabling the incubus (since evidently the hunter was getting bored during his recovery).

 

“Yeah,” Mark smiled, biting back his amusement and the first curls of interest unfurling in his gut.  Johnny looked good and he could appreciate it, even if he frowned on the demon using Junmyeon’s stupidly deep pockets.  “You?”

 

“Mm.”  He pulled out a water bottle, opening it with a click before closing it again and tossing it over to them.  Doyoung caught it, eyes hooded and heavy as they dragged over Johnny from head-to-toe.  “We should leave soon, then. Sun’s about to go down. You have your knives?”

 

Mark smiled while Doyoung took a gulp of water, eyes still trained on Johnny until he turned to press the water bottle to Mark’s mouth, amusement and something hungrier glittering in his eyes.  Mark laughed, almost choking on his first mouthful of water, finishing up the bottle once he’d caught his breath again.

 

“Of course.”

 

Johnny grinned, excited at the prospect of being around what to him would be an easy feast, prowling amongst the young and horny.  “Then what’re we waiting for? Let’s roll.”




Mark was worried about Doyoung, and he was worried about the humans around them, but he was starting to wonder if he shouldn’t have been more worried about bringing Johnny to a club.

 

Really? ” Mark shouted over the booming bass, smacking Johnny’s shoulder, trying to ignore how his body thrumming with low sparks of arousal.  Arousal that he knew for a fact wasn’t his.  “We’re here to work! Focus!

 

Johnny turned from where he’d been smirking flirtily at a group of giggling, lovely looking girls in body hugging dresses, pouting down at Mark like he hadn’t been well on his way to getting distracted.  He looked delicious with his hair tousled from the fight at the last club they’d been to, not a trace of blood or gore in sight, just the faint sheen of sweat on his too warm skin.

 

“I didn’t even do anything,” he said, leaning close so he didn’t have to speak as loud.  He caught Mark’s gaze unintentionally drifting down the line of his neck towards his chest, bare besides his mesh top.  He flashed Mark a downright dirty grin, curling a strong arm around Mark’s waist.  “Besides, you know I don’t want anyone but you, baby.”

 

Mark stared back at him, utterly unimpressed despite the blood rushing south at Johnny’s touch.  “You’re incorrigible.”

 

Doyoung’s voice came floating along their bond from where he’d been doing a sweep of the club.  “It’s because you pamper him.”

 

Johnny snorted, ducking his head close to press his temple against Mark’s.  “You act like he doesn’t pamper you, too.”

 

Amusement, and then a visual flash of Mark and Johnny from behind.  Mark glanced over his shoulder, raising a brow as Doyoung joined them at the spot they’d staked out along the bar, fitting himself up against Mark’s side.  

 

“Nothing?” Mark asked, accepting the light brush of lips across his cheek with only the barest flush of heat curling over his ears.

 

Doyoung shook his head, eyes sharp in the low lights, the line of them emphasized by the makeup that had been carefully applied by Minseok’s younger sister when she’d stopped by — having come around to check on her brother.  “Nothing. Not even a trace.”  He turned his gaze back on Mark, small frown tugging at his lips.  “You sure we’ll find ghouls here?”

 

“We did clear out a bunch of them at the last place,” Johnny hummed, doing his own due diligence and sniffing casually at the air for anything distinctly non-human.  “And we’ve been making a fair amount of progress in general. Maybe there’s just finally less of them.”

 

Mark pursed his lips and sipped at the water he’d ordered.  That just… didn’t seem right.They hadn’t found the source yet; the first host whose life was feeding the parasitic magical shards turning the city’s population into single-minded hungry things.  There wouldn’t be less until they did that.  If anything, he’d expected the ghouls to become more vicious, more determined to spread.

 

“I don’t know,” he finally sighed.  His neck tingled with the feeling of eyes on him, and he regretted giving in to Johnny’s prodding to wear a sleeveless shirt, instead of just going with a normal shirt the way he’d wanted.  He stepped more firmly into Johnny’s hold, hoping the taller demon’s imposing figure would deter any more wandering glances.  “I don’t think we should leave yet, though. Something still feels off to-”

 

A sharp caress up his spine, a phantom touch that went all the way down to bone.

 

Mark spun around, heart beating fast in his chest, adrenaline pumping through his veins as his senses screamed Danger! Danger! Danger!

 

“What’s wrong?” Doyoung asked, voice low, both him and Johnny already going on high alert.

 

Johnny’s hand, where it was resting at Mark’s hip, tightened its hold.  “Where?”

 

Mark squinted out at the dancing crowd, trying to parse through the pulsing colored lights and the writhing shadows, searching out a specific movement.  And there!  Slipping unseen around dancing bodies unnoticed, a long, knobby, reptilian tail.  Familiar from all the flashes Mark had been catching in his periphery since arriving in the city, always clinging to the shadows.  Always following, never far.

 

“There,” he breathed, pushing what he was seeing along the bond, not letting the tail out of his sight now that he’d found it, trailing it until, until- Mark’s blood ran cold and then hot all at once.  There.

 

The tail was connected to a shadowy, long limbed form, which was curled over the shoulders of an unassuming smiling man.  Mark had never seen the man before, didn’t know his face, hadn’t met anyone who did — not that it mattered with the way he was concealing his eyes behind a mask-like distortion spell — but he knew that magic.  Foreign but not.  Family, but not.

 

Motherfucker ,” Mark hissed, moving before he realized what he was doing, ignoring the startled shouts of the two demons.

 

He sidestepped girls wobbling around in dangerously high heels and guys hanging off their friends, completely sloshed.  He didn’t hear the shouts of complaint as he pushed his way through the dancing crowd, eyes set on the magic broker standing calmly on the other side, smiling at Mark like he was the most interesting thing he’d ever seen.

 

Fucker .  Mark collided with someone’s shoulder, stumbled, got pushed.  

 

“Mark!”

 

You fucking fucker.  He righted himself with a harsh grunt, kept going.  I’ll kill you .

 

“Mark, stop!”

 

A near miss, Mark swerving around two full cups of something fruity smelling.  I’ll kill you!

 

Mark!

 

Mr. Blue’s smile widened, turning into a cruel teeth flashing grin.  The air next to Mark rippled, heat crowding him, toxic curls of magic stinging his lungs.  Mark’s eyes widened, realizing all at once how neatly he’d been baited, drawn to the thick of the crowd, trapped amongst the people he was supposed to be here to save.

 

Johnny and Doyoung’s shouts reached his ears at the same time the first ghoul tackled into him.

 

It knocked all the air from Mark’s lungs, the hard fall that followed leaving him dazed and gasping.  The ghoul on top of him snarled, grabbing at Mark’s hair to tilt his head and expose the soft, vulnerable skin of his neck and shoulder.  Mark tried to fight back, finding it harder and harder to do with the ghoul’s dead weight squeezing his already struggling lungs.

 

Panic was flooding his system, mixing with adrenaline, fight or flight instincts kicking into overdrive.  His mouth tasted like iron and his scalp was numb where it’d collided with the floor.  His demons wouldn’t reach him in time.  He couldn’t fucking breathe and they wouldn’t- they wouldn’t-

 

“Hey, man, get off of him.”

 

There were hands reaching for the ghoul’s shoulder.  Concerned faces hovering and the faint sound of more low, moaning growls approaching.  Humans.  Vulnerable humans.  Humans he was supposed to be protecting.  And ghouls, sicced on him but not nearly so picky as to keep to their intended target.

 

Mark grit his teeth, pulling on his magic, gathering it close around his bones and in his muscles, asking it to guard everything soft and vulnerable under his skin.  He didn’t need someone to come to his aid.  He was strong.  He was the last member of the Lee family.  If Mr. Blue wanted to test him amongst a crowd of uninvolved humans, if he wanted to see if he’d break, he’d be real fucking disappointed.

 

Mark glared up at the ghoul’s sightless, glazed over eyes, upper lip curling up into a snarl of his own, baring his bloody teeth.  “Get. Off!

 

All at once, his magic blasted out.  The ghoul flew back, taking down another three that had been ambling over, a fine misting of magic shards coming off them on impact.  The people who’d been around them went flying, too, screaming and gathering up their friends to run away from the blast radius.

 

Mark hauled himself to his feet just as Johnny and Doyoung managed to push and shove their ways to his side, eyes flashing and deep, deep growls rumbling from their chests.  The ghoul who’d tackled Mark, hissed at them, unwisely moving to lunge, and found its throat caught in Johnny’s grip.  He snapped its neck, hold going white-knuckled, before letting it drop to the floor with a dull, dead thud.

 

“Wipe them out,” Mark ordered, sounds still oddly muffled to his ears from the fall.  He stared down the mage that had yet to make a move, the shadowy figure that had to be one of his demons still hovering around his shoulders.  There'd be a second around here somewhere.  “He’s mine.”

 

“Be careful,” Doyoung warned, glamour slipping and irises shining an impossible holy silver.

 

Mark nodded, mouth pressed into a grim line.  “You too.”

 

And then he was dashing forward, whipping out the two knives he’d holstered away along the line of his back.  Cutting down the three ghouls that tried to grab at him with sharp, efficient strokes of his blade.  He ducked and rolled out of the way of a fourth, sensing Doyoung coming up behind him and trusting the demon to take care of it.  When he was close enough, Mr. Blue’s grin garishly wide as he watched Mark’s charge, he sliced open the skin on his upper arms, letting his blood flow.  

 

It seeped and spread, covering his arms and shoulders and neck in a thin but strong layer of crimson, magic hardened armor.  The space behind the mage’s distortion mask where his eyes would’ve been shifted, and Mark imagined he was surprised by that trick.  Most magic users were.  It was something special Mark had learned while being beat silly in almost every match ever against hunters determined to teach him to fight.

 

It was also strong enough to take an all-out attack from a mid-level demon at the least, something he’d tested and was glad for now as an absurdly long, spine lined arm came swinging out of the shadows.  He blocked it with his arm, only losing a step of ground to the side as the momentum of the attack moved through him.  Using the delay time between the attack’s initial contact and the demon’s recoil, Mark quickly switched the grip on his knife, slashing it up, before twirling it and slashing back down.

 

The demon let out an ear-splitting shriek — all broken glass scraping over a chalkboard — and pulled its arm back with a blur of movement.  That prompted the other demon to his and unfurl to its full height, raising more terrified screams from those who hadn’t escaped yet in the chaos that had taken the club.  It made a noise like gravel being put in a wood chipper and lashed its tail like a whip, snapping it at Mark’s waist.

 

It grated over a hidden layer of blood formed armor, slicing through his shirt, magic sparking at the point of impact.  Mark, now within striking distance of the other mage and his guard, grabbed onto the demon’s tail before it could retreat, forming spikes with the blood covering his hand like a gauntlet and pulling .  He used his own momentum coupled with magic reinforced strength to step into a spin, yanking the demon away from its master and sending it flying into a clump of oncoming ghouls.

 

Keep it occupied, Mark broadcasted to the others, feeling Johnny step in to take up the task.

 

“And the second one?”   Doyoung asked, the thought interspersed with brief flashes of a ghoul’s face being crushed in, softened bones giving under the demon’s strength.

 

Mark stomped his foot down, a sliver of blood snapping into formation for a system of sigils.  From the shadows, thick, binding threads shot forward and wrapped around the magic broker’s second demon, hauling it back and out of the way.  Taken care of.

 

“Amazing,” Mr. blue breathed, a distorted sort of awe in his voice.  

 

Mark swung his blades out in an arcing swipe, catching on the surface of a barrier.  Grunting, eyes narrowing in concentration, he reversed his grip and tried again, channeling enough magic along the bloodied edge of his knives to shatter the barrier like the finest glass.

 

Mr. Blue laughed, throwing up another barrier.  “Amazing!”

 

A ghoul grabbed hold of Mark’s shirt from behind, tugging, dragging a sharp set of mangled nails over his shoulder, trying to imbed shards of magic in his skin in an completely useless attempt.  Without looking, Mark stabbed one of his knives back, catching the ghoul in its head, sensing it drop by the shift in air rather than the sound of it hitting the ground.  What with all the snarls of fighting and human screaming happening around them.

 

“Absolutely amazing!

 

Mark re-liquified a layer of blood, the magic burning in his veins charged up with all his anger and need to kill this fucker .  It had his blood whirling into sigils and magic circles mid-air, spellwork that hummed and heated before connecting and blasting against the barriers the other mage was constantly resetting.

 

“It’s like breathing for you,” Mr. Blue laughed, sounding overly-pleased even as he was forced to deflect a blade strike that just brushed past his neck.  He watched Mark direct his magic into a new attack formation with a flick of his wrist, smiling, entranced.  “ So easy . Aren’t you just the luckiest .”

 

Mark growled, his magic responding in kind, the blood in his veins and the blood dancing around him glowing bright like a star.  He sliced the head clean off a ghoul that stumbled into his path, kicked out the knee and stabbed straight through the chest of another.

 

Fucker ,” he hissed, grunting when he was slammed in the chest with a shockwave, his bones groaning even as his magic managed to weather it.  “Hold the fuck still .”

 

“Do you even realize how special this is?”  A dodged slash, a vial of thick, congealed blood broken open with a crack and thrown in Mark’s face, burning before it even touched skin.  “How special you are?”  A heavy, gloved hand catching Mark’s wrist with bone crushing strength.  Squeezing .  When Mark barely made a sound, grip on his blade still firm, a hard punch to the face only marginally buffered by a willed in place shield.  “Magic doesn’t come this easy for anyone .”  A harsh laugh that trailed off into a rasping cough, Mark using Mr. Blue’s hold on him as leverage to crush his throat with the hilt of his second blade.  He dropped Mark, stumbling back, smiling.  Still.  Fucking.  Smiling .  “What a charmed life you could’ve had.”

 

“For fuck’s sake,” Mark breathed, sweat trailing down his neck, breathing coming harder the longer this went on, the more his magic heated up.  Vision steadily going red.  “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!

 

His magic was exploding outwards, a vortex of hissing slashes, tearing up the flooring and misting any nearby ghouls.  He’d kill this man.  His magic was an abomination.  A horrible blend of so many different families, with the Lee clan’s blood singing through the strongest, and it was just wrong, wrong, wrong .

 

Mark’s magic, spurred on and unleashed without any of its usual caution sung, high and clear and free .  It was blistering and beautiful and so loud and good that Mark hadn’t realized he’d lost reign of his spellwork.  Hadn’t realized he’d lost sight of his surroundings.  Not until he was being slammed into, the crisp feel of Doyoung’s magic — somehow still brighter than anything Mark had ever come across — barreling into him full force.

 

A small cry of pain escaped him as he tried to push himself up, Doyoung making small, whimpering noises on top of him.  It took him a second, dazed from the tackle and the sudden rush of his magic snapping back under control, to realize that Doyoung was bleeding, his blood pumping out from two large gashes along his flank.  It took a few more seconds of precious, precious time, for Mark to notice that the second demon, formerly trapped, was now free, resuming its place by its master’s side, long arm siding back with ink-like blood dripping from its curved claws.

 

“Fuck,” Mark breathed, voice breaking, heart dropping.  “Doyoung. Fuck .”

 

“Truly spectacular,” Mr. Blue said, calling his second demon to him with the snap of his fingers, ignoring the low growls of the few remaining ghouls, struggling and writhing on the ground where they’d been crippled.  “They’re willing to sacrifice their bodies for you. That’s something not even the strongest blood-binding mage has been able to accomplish. Not since the first five who’d been blessed with this gift.”  He gave his own demons a look of disappointment, shaking his head.  “I get why our family were willing to risk everything for you.”

 

Mark snapped his head up.  What?

 

Mr. Blue clapped his hands and a dark tear in pace slowly ripped open.  He took a step through it.

 

“Wait!” Mark made to stand, driven by nothing for a moment but the need to beat answers out of this man.  “I get why our family were willing to risk everything for you.”   

 

Doyoung’s weak moan and a cold hand gripping tight at his shirt stopped him, though.  Fuck.  Fuck.   He didn’t want to let the mage go, but Doyoung came first.  He always would.

 

“There’s a lovely little home in the heart of a cul-de-sac on Bowinger Street,” Mr. Blue said, disappearing through the tear in space he’d created.  “You should stop by once you’re done here. If that one doesn’t end up killing you, that is. Because he’s looking a little...starved.”

 

And then he was gone, and Mark was left with bruises, a bloody nose, an injured demon, and more questions than he’d started with .

 

“Mark!” 

 

Mark turned to Johnny slamming the last ghoul still capable of standing against the floor with a wet crunch.  

 

“You need to get him out of here!”

 

Mark didn’t disagree — Doyoung was starting to pant, glamour fading as he lost control from pain and overwhelming hunger, having let things go too far exactly the way Mark had told him not to — but he wasn’t sure he’d be able to.  Not with Doyoung’s injuries.

 

“He’s hurt!” He shouted back, voice strained with mounting distress.  “I can’t move him!”

 

Johnny walked over, stomping in the head of a feebly struggling ghoul as he did.  His clothes were torn in places, hair a mess, and his body was covered in scratches of varying depths, but all-in-all he looked fine.  Dangerous and deadly, standing at full height with tension lining every muscle, but fine.

 

He came to crouch by them, gently picking at the back of Doyoung’s shirt.  It was wet and stained through with the demon’s blood, poking up just by his shoulder blades where the first wing bones of Doyoung’s un-glamoured form were starting to peek through.  Doyoung growled at him, turning his head enough to flash blindingly silver eyes at the other demon.

 

His hold on Mark tightened.

 

“He’s about to snap,” Johnny said calmly, meeting Mark’s gaze and holding it.  “The injury is the last straw but he was already starting to fray. You either need to knock him out and get him back to your hunter friend’s home, or move him somewhere private and let him feed. Either way, he can’t just stay here and heal. He won’t. He doesn’t have the energy to.”  Johnny searched Mark’s face.  “You understand that, right?”

 

Mark nodded, tired and aching and steeling himself for the struggle that dragging Doyoung around was going to be.

 

“There’re still ghouls prowling around,” Mark said, picking up on the dots of corrupted magic around them without having to even try very hard.  “Some of the ones here aren’t dead either. Will you…”

 

Johnny smiled at him, reaching over to run a comforting hand through Mark’s sweat damp hair.  “Do what you need to do. I’ll be fine.”  He leaned closer to place a firm kiss on Mark’s forehead, patting Doyoung on the head when he growled low in his throat at that.  “Let me know when you’re done. I’ll take you both home.”

 

Mark nodded.  “Be safe.”

 

Johnny’s smile softened.  “You too.”




The first thing Mark did was stem the steady flow of blood seeping from Doyoung’s injuries.  It was tricky, but his magic was already there, twined with Doyoung’s, ready to be pulled and pushed where he wanted it to go.  Once he was sure Doyoung wasn’t at risk of bleeding out, the skin angry but not open, he coaxed him up.

 

“Come on, Doyoung,” he breathed, holding the almost alien gaze that was turned on him, more animal than anything with the way it tracked Mark’s movements.  “Stand for me, please.”

 

Some effort necessary, he got the demon onto his feet, leading him towards the back of the club with soft encouragements.  Away from where cops would bust in first — if none of Junmyeon’s crew was able to intercept the probably numerous 911 calls — and away from the already rotting ghouls, their last emotions hanging in the air like a cloud, given form by the magic still clinging to them.

 

Doyoung went, one hand clasped around Mark’s wrist like a vice, the other pawing through his hair as he tried to pull him close.

 

He wasn’t sure how much of Doyoung’s consciousness was still in control, and how much of what he was seeing was pure survival instinct kicking in, but at the end of the day it didn’t really matter.  Once they were somewhere with a clear exit, hidden away from the main entrance, Mark let Doyoung press close.  He let Doyoung kiss him until his lungs ached and his pulse raced, every brush of lips coupled with a whisp of pale light slipping out of Mark’s mouth into Doyoung’s.

 

He let Doyoung take and take, licking into his mouth like the starved being he was, in that moment.  Mark gave himself over to the cool hands pressing under his shirt, the fingers digging into bruises both old and new, drawing out pained gasps and soft moans.  He tipped his head back and let Doyoung have at all his anger, all his rage, all the self-hatred hidden deep beneath the layers of love his demons had impossibly been determined to shower him with.  Anger, fresh and fierce, at having to let Mr. Blue go.  At himself for not being firmer with Doyoung to prevent the situation from the get-go.  Rage, an ever burning flame set at his core, for his family, his mother, slaughtered and drained like animals.  And self-hatred, an old, old friend, whispering low in his ear: “Why not you? Why didn’t you die? Why did you want to live? Why do you get to be happy when they’re all dead?”

 

Doyoung took it all, sighing the loveliest little sighs against Mark’s mouth, pressing the long line of his body to Mark’s, firm and solid.  Mark had grown up learning that demons like Doyoung, those who’d been something shining and pure before they’d fallen and been left stained, were dangerous because they fed off of pain.  Thrived in it.

 

Now — Doyoung slipping a thigh between Mark’s legs, purring happily at the hand Mark slid into his hair, taking all of Mark’s negativity while still somehow being careful not to sap from his essence, the core of emotions that were crucial to being human — Mark thought people didn’t seem to really understand the range “pain” could represent.  Or what it meant to consume it.

 

Standing together in a dark corner of a ransacked club, police sirens sounding in the distance, Mark finally sighed out the last bit of tension collected tight between his shoulders, giving himself over to the soft crests of pleasure Doyoung seemed determined to give him.  Now that he’d regained his awareness, the silver in his eyes gradually fading back to a more natural almost black.

 

“Welcome back,” he whispered, when Doyoung seemed to finally relax, his body melting against Mark’s in a boneless sort of exhaustion.

 

Doyoung, breathing in soft pants, closed his eyes, dropping his forehead down to Mark’s in a gentle press.  “I’m sorry.”

 

Mark tilted his head up just enough to brush his nose against Doyoung’s.  “It’s okay.”

 

“You were right.”

 

Mark rubbed a hand along Doyoung’s back, feeling the sharp wing protrusions recede under his touch, Doyoung’s glamour firmly back in place.  A shame .  Doyoung’s other form was hauntingly beautiful, in Mark’s opinion

 

“I know.”

 

Doyoung rolled his eyes, an exasperated little huff puffing out against the still tingling skin of Mark’s well-kissed lips.  Then, softer, more hesitant.  “I’m sorry he got away.”

 

Mark shrugged.  “He didn’t. This just isn’t where he wanted to fight.”

 

“Mm,” Doyoung hummed.  “Another test.”

 

Mark linked his hands at the small of Doyoung’s back, letting them rest there.  “Yup.”

 

Doyoung frowned.  “It won’t be the same next time.”

 

Mark smiled.  No, it wouldn’t.

 

They stood like that for a bit, safe and content, Doyoung running his hands over Mark’s torso and arms, cataloguing all the new cuts and bruises.  Mark sent a brief thought to Johnny, calling him back and checking he was okay, letting his eyes flutter shut when he got a warm presence brushing through his mind in response.  

 

He was wondering if Johnny would get here before the police did, the sirens much, much closer now, when a thought occurred to him.

 

“Hey, Doyoung?”

 

A sweet glance from under dark lashes and a soft kiss placed at the corner of his lips.  “Hm?”

 

Mark tried to school his expression into something innocent, or neutral at the very least, very quickly failing and giving in to the stupid grin that wanted to pull and stretch his swelling cheek.

 

“I told you so.”




It turned out there was only one cul-de-sac on Bowinger street.

 

So, the next day, after confirming the location with a simple scrying session, Mark, a yawning Johnny and a well-rested Doyoung, joined by a recently recovered Junmyeon and a concerned Yixing, all headed out there.  

 

Junmyeon had covered himself in more concealed weapons than Mark could count, and been wrapped in five different layers of wards to protect him from any errant magic — courtesy of Mark and Yixing.  Yixing was rubbing over the runes cleanly inked into the skin of his hands, fidgeting and bouncing his knee.  Mark, contrary to what he’d expected, was calm.  Completely calm.

 

He imagined Doyoung feeding from him likely had a hand in it, but when they got to the house at the very end of the dead end street, Mark’s pulse didn’t even flutter.

 

The lick of anticipation and bitter resignation about the scene they were probably going to find, which he’d expected to feel, didn’t come.  Instead, as they walked up the clean front porch steps and broke the lock to the door, the thick smell of decay and corrosive magic hitting them like a wall, Mark felt nothing.

 

That wasn’t really right, though.

 

He didn’t feel nothing as they walked through the house, stepping over the desiccated bodies of a parent and child.  If anything, this was just… acceptance.  He knew what they were going to find; wasn’t about to be surprised by it.  He just accepted it.

 

Mr. Blue had given a man — maybe been able to make small miracles happen all his life — something that would supposedly make him great .  Not just out of ordinary, but something more .  Something that wasn’t bound to the life he was already living, bound for bigger and better things.

 

What the man had gotten instead, was a polished orb of green glass infused with incomplete magic that had wanted to complete itself, to consume until it was whole.  It had latched onto his chest, imbedded itself into his skin and bone, and turned him into an incubation chamber, cocooning him to the wall like some sort of grotesque mantle piece.

 

“Damn,” Junmyeon sighed, picking up a photo frame that’d been knocked to the ground showing a happy, smiling family.  “There was another kid. A daughter.”

 

Johnny, nose scrunched at the thick smell coiling around them, hummed under his breath.  “She’s probably why the magic was able to escape the house. A viable host. The first ghoul.”

 

Another heavy sigh, Junmyeon rubbing a tired hand over his face.  “Damn.”

 

“Who does this kind of thing for- for no reason? ” Yixing asked, brows furrowed, the question only partially rhetorical.

 

“It’s bait,” Mark said simply, reaching out to touch the tip of his finger to the magical object, almost sentient with the amount of life force it’d drained from all the ghouls it’d collected.  It pulsed under his touch, magic rushing out to try and claim Mark, emitting a high pitched whine that rung in Mark’s ears.  Mark scoffed, blocking it and forcing it back, sending a burst of his own magic into the object, leaving it fried from the inside out.  Pathetic .  “That’s the reason.”  He let his arm fall back to his side, looking up at the bold message left in days old blood above the corpse.  “The highest quality lure.”

 

FOWLER’S PARK

THE 3RD AT 5 P.M.

 

Simple, straightforward, and almost upsettingly mundane for a challenge message.  Because that’s what this was: a challenge.  The glove thrown calling a duel to order.

 

“You don’t need to go,” Junmyeon said softly, watching Mark with sad, sad eyes.  “At least, not alone. You know that, right?”

 

Mark smiled, a small thing that never reached his eyes.  “I get why our family were willing to risk everything for you.”   He breathed slowly, steadying the uptick of his pulse, untensing the fists his hands had curled into.

 

“I do,” he said.  He turned to look at Junmyeon, smile becoming more genuine.  “Besides,” Mark reached along the bond, the sigils for each demon tugging lightly on his skin, his testing mental touch being met with thrumming, reassuring conviction, “I won’t be alone.”



☽ 



The walk towards the meeting point was almost painfully anticlimactic.  

 

Junmyeon had had his driver, a young hunter just earning his stripes, drive them as far as he could.  That meant they’d been left on the side of a one way highway, surrounded by disconcertingly silent woods.

 

It felt normal but not, trekking through the woods.  He’d done this too many times to count back when he was little, stumbling through the overgrown nature behind his family’s home, pretending to be some grand explorer.  It felt off, though.  The circumstances so different it was a bit like having sudden double vision, or deja vu he couldn’t shake.

 

The only things grounding him, keeping him steady and focused, were Doyoung’s hand — the one Mark had re-created for him — in his, and Johnny’s at the small of his back.

 

“If, in the end, he doesn’t want to give you any answers,” Johnny started, voice deep and soothing, “Are you willing to kill him anyways?”

 

“Yes,” Mark said.  That wasn’t even a question.

 

“He picked this area because it suits him best, whether for fighting or escaping,” Doyoung said.

 

Mark nodded.  He’d come to the same conclusion the second he realized just how out of the way Fowler’s “Park” really was.

 

“It’ll benefit his demons, too,” Doyoung continued, glancing at Mark from his periphery.  “How do you want us to handle that?”

 

Mark nibbled at his bottom lip.  He’d thought about this, too.

 

“I trust you guys,” he said around a soft sigh.  “Do what you need to. And, if you go too far, I’ll be here to pull you guys back.”

 

“So reliable,” Johnny teased, leaning forward while walking to press a kiss by Mark’s ear.

 

Mark smiled, feeling the tips of his ears heat up.

 

“I try.”

 

Doyoung squeezed his hand, the evening’s shadows already starting to curl towards him and Johnny in greeting.  “It’s almost done.”

 

Mark squeezed back, staring out at the darkness that had somehow become an old friend.

 

“Almost.”




They reached the clearing just as the sun touched the horizon, warm orange light casting long shadows across the dry grass.  The other mage had situated himself on the old stump of a fallen tree, legs neatly crossed, hands perched on his knees.  The perfect picture of an aristocratic wannabe.

 

“Right on time,” he called with a smile, a porcelain doll’s mask covering his features this time instead of a spell.  “And look! Both your demons also! So your pretty fallen didn’t end up eating you out of desperation. How sweet.”

 

Doyoung bristled, baring his teeth in a sneer.  “Fucker.”

 

Mr. Blue seemed to perk up at that, leaning forward, body language screaming interest.  “You know, I’d noticed this before, but you let them talk an awful lot. Is that why they’re so willing to protect you? Because you let them mouth off and touch you?”

 

Johnny took a step forward, glaring, eyes flickering and glowing like hot coals, a low warning growl working its way up his throat.

 

“I guess being orphaned could leave you craving affection, even if it’s from beasts,” the mage continued, picking absently at dirt under his nails, as if he wasn’t trying to bait them.  Testing how far he could push before one of them got pissed and snapped.  “ I wouldn’t do it. And from what I remember, it was heavily frowned upon — fraternizing with these things. It could get you excommunicated, or killed, depending on how much of a threat the family thought you were. But, to each their own I suppose.”

 

Mark narrowed his eyes, magic coiling like a snake ready to strike along the tattoed sigils on his arms.  There it is again .  “You talk like you know what a family with a binding blood-rite was like.”

 

Like what my family was like.  Ah, and there it went again, “Our family” , playing on fucking loop through his head, taunting him.

 

He could hear the smile in the broker’s voice when he spoke.  “I do. Don’t you want to ask how?”

 

Magic that felt familiar but not, muddied up by the foreign threads of other families’ blood. Demons successfully summoned and bound.  The strength to even attempt hijacking his connection to Johnny.

 

Our family, our family, our family .

 

“Who the fuck are you?”

 

Mr. Blue laughed as his demons finally slithered into view, two giant, hulking things with binding runes seared into their armored skin.  Mark knew from having seen both Johnny and Doyoung’s true forms that Mr. Blue’s demons didn’t look right.  They were lopsided and disproportionate, one’s skin too sallow, while the other looked like it was covered in whorls of still drying lava — skin thick in some areas, cracked in others.  Their faces, Mark realized with a twinge of disturbed horror, had been mutilated.  Eyes carved out and replaced with rune engraved totems.

 

The provisions of a mage who managed to summon them, but didn’t deserve to keep them.

 

With a showman’s flourish, the broker slid off his mask, tossing it carelessly to the side.  He smiled, “I know it’s been a while, and I’ve changed a bit, but I’ve gotta say, I’m a bit insulted you didn’t piece it all together sooner. I wasn’t part of the main family, but you should still recognize your cousin . We’re blood, after all.”

 

The trees bordering the clearing all snapped at once, trunks blasted clean through.  Mark’s fists shook.

 

“You-”

 

“Oh no,” Mr. Blue pouted, his demons chittering behind him.  “Are you angry? I don’t see why. You probably don’t even remember me, with how the main family kept you so well sheltered. So protected and safe. Their precious prodigy Mark Lee.”

 

“You fucker ,” Mark snarled.  Next to him Doyoung and Johnny shifted, muscles tensing, preparing.  “You know what? Yeah, I don’t fucking remember you,” he spat, a venom that felt foreign and yet oh-so-satisfying dripping from every word.  “No one who was worth jack shit in our family would’ve turned on it.”

 

Mr. Blue’s smile took on a sharp edge at that.  He tilted his head, a crazed light dancing in his eyes — the result of his own nature combining with all the voices, and pain, and history of the blood he’d taken into himself.  All that blood that wasn’t his.  

 

Mark grit his teeth, magic lashing and screaming to be let loose.  That wasn’t.  Fucking.  His.

 

“Big words from a boy blessed by magic.”  Mr. Blue raised his arms, sleeves sliding back to reveal the same intricate spellwork tattoed there that Mark had.  Spellwork this mage had supposedly earned, had been given .  Spellwork Mark had had to figure out himself, his parents — who would’ve been part of that ceremony — killed before he could officially come of age.  “Hey, what do you think would happen if I took your blood?”  He tilted his head, manic energy humming all around him.  “Do you think magic would love me, too?”

 

And Mark just couldn’t take it anymore.  Anger welled up, hot and fast and demanding, filling his lungs until he couldn’t breathe.

 

Magic crackled at his fingers, veins glowing with a fierce light, striping him like a tiger.  Fitting, because he felt fucking feral and didn’t really care to reign it in.

 

Mr. Blue — family , traitor — smiled wider at that.  His own jerky, patchwork magic rose to shroud him, his demons shivering next to him, snapping sharp teeth towards where Mark’s contingent stood.  “Guess we’ll just have to find out, won’t we?”

 

Mark’s lip curled up in a teeth baring snarl, the air around him shifting, heating.  A small part of him felt like a sixteen year-old kid again, facing down one of the people who’d cut down his family.  That part of him was neatly quashed, though, the second he caught sight of Johnny and Doyoung from his periphery.  The two demons dropping their glamour, sleek horns and tattered wings taking shape.  For him.  He’d been alone and scared, before.  He wasn’t anymore.

 

“Mark?”

 

The question was rumbled to him in an unearthly tone.

 

Mark breathed in, out, letting his magic burst out onto his skin, barely feeling it as his blood curled and hardened around him.  “Kill them.”




Mark liked to think he didn’t understand the love mages had for strength.  Liked to think he was better than that.  But, if he was being honest, in his heart of hearts, he never felt more alive than when he was letting his magic course through him at full tilt.  His magic was never happier, either, than when he let go of the reins, giving in to the sensory overload of somehow being a part of everything all at once.

 

Left , it whispered in his ear, feeling more like an instinct more than anything.

 

He ducked and dodged left, dropping into a roll just as an entire tree — roots and all — came crashing down where he’d just been standing.

 

“Hold still ,” the other mage snarled, eyes bloodshot and veins bulging from strain, sweat shining on his purple tinged skin.

 

Not a fucking chance , Mark scoffed, snapping his fingers and jerking his hand to the side in a sharp motion, whips of blood mixed magic slashing down hard against Mr. Blue’s crumbling barrier.

 

Mr. Blue yelped.  Even with the advantage of the dark he was still being pushed back, bleeding from long cuts all over his body, magic caught between trying to heal, keep fighting, and keeping a hold of his demons — their fight raging on with brutal crunches and earth shattering roars.

 

Mark didn’t have to worry about Doyoung or Johnny, on the other hand, feeling them in a way he never had before with his magic so open.  His magic was there for their taking, their strength there for his.  

 

Move , his magic whispered down his back, urging Mark into a dash, avoiding the onslaught of explosive sigils that had suddenly appeared beneath his feet.  

 

Fuck! ” Mr. Blue spat.

 

With every attack launched he was looking worse and worse, and Mark realized with a startled laugh that this was the mage’s price for using magic he’d never had the aptitude for.  A limit he might not have run into so harshly if it had been anyone else but Mark, who could more than match him toe-to-toe.

 

He’d always faintly wondered what would happen to a mage if they lost control of the demons bound to them.  Why it was so taboo if it was a skill they’d been gifted.

 

Mark licked the blood trickling past his lips from a cut on his forehead, tasting iron and salt.  Not a bad time to find out

 

Running forward at full tilt, Mark leapt over the severed arm of one of Mr. Blue’s demons, closing the distance between them before the other mage — eyes glazed and desperate — could react.  Mark caught him square in the jaw with a hard right cross, using his other hand to slide behind the man’s neck and drag him down fast against the knee Mark brought up.  He felt the crunch of bone and smirked in bloody satisfaction at the pained howl that immediately followed.  Using both hands to grab onto Mr. Blue’s clothes, Mark hauled him up and, turning, tossed the man up and over his shoulder.

 

Mr. Blue hit the ground hard, a rock catching the back of his head with a loud crack.  He blinked up at Mark with wide, dazed eyes, discolored, too-dark blood seeping out onto the forest floor.

 

Mark channeled magic towards one of the runes on his arms, felt it heat and a magic circle sizzle into existence behind him.  When he was about to finish the mage off, though, bursts of magic flashed in his eyes and he suddenly found himself blasted back.

 

He hit the ground back first with a breathless grunt, rolling onto his side and pushing himself back into a low crouch, joints aching and protesting.

 

Mr. Blue was lurching up despite the bloody, freely bleeding crack in his head, and Mark realized the other man was essentially puppeting himself with nothing but his magic, accelerating his own burn out.

 

“You-” he slurred, blood dripping over his lips and down his chin.  “Y- You fu- fucker . You,” he lurched forward, “think y- you’re so fuckin’ special .”  Another step.  Mark narrowed his eyes, re-forming his magic circle with a quick flick of the hand.  “My demons,” he broke of into a hacking laugh, “are go-nna eat you .”

 

And that’s when Mark, with his vantage point, being able to see what was happening on the other end of this fight behind the mage, realized what was about to happen.

 

The moment Mr. Blue called his demons to him with another hacking cackle — forgetting everything but his need to see Mark dead and broken — they turned with matching shrieks, exposing their backs, unable to ignore the pull of their master.

 

Doyoung, all sleek obsidian skin and sharp wings, struck like lightning, ripping the head off the sallow looking demon he’d been fighting even as he shoved a talon tipped hand through the demon’s chest.  Johnny, looking slightly worse for wear in his full form but still better than the now armless demon he’d been fighting, tackled the yowling demon and crushed its throat before using sharp claws to destroy the demon’s ribcage.

 

Mr. Blue froze in the sudden silence that followed, making the mistake of struggling to look over his shoulder, smile stuck on his face.  “Wha-”

 

Mark moved, quicker than the other mage could react, whipping out the bone blade he’d tucked away just in case — demon bone humming at the blood and bloodlust hanging thick in the air — and, with all the strength he could muster, drove it into Mr. Blue’s chest.  He sliced through clothes and flesh like butter, putting more force into it when he ran into resistance with muscle and sinew, until the knife was buried to the hilt, tipped up and under the mage’s ribs to get right at his heart and lungs.

 

Mr. Blue looked down at Mark, meeting his glare with wide, round eyes, and coughed.  Blood splattered Mark’s face, but he didn’t step back.  If anything, he twisted the blade in deeper, feeling it heat in his hold as it feasted on what was left of Mr. Blue’s magical reserves.

 

Only when the blade stilled, no longer humming, did Mark step back and pull it free from Mr.Blue’s body, watching the mage — the actual last of his family — drop to the ground with a dull thud .

 

Mark stood there for a minute, just breathing.  He methodically flexed all his muscles, taking note of the places that screamed in pain, and the places that only mildly complained.  Once he was sure nothing was in immediate need of attention, he turned to face his demons, both back to their glamoured forms looking tired and glorious with the energy of the fight still clinging to them.

 

“So,” Johnny started, tucking his hands in his pockets, only slightly wincing as he did so, eyeing the carnage around them with fading interest, “What now?”

 

Mark considered that for a beat, tipping his head back to look up at the now dark sky, taking stock of his thoughts.  His wants.

 

He scuffed his shoe against the ground.  He’d need new ones.  The blood spattered on these wasn’t going to be coming out anytime soon, let alone the way they were starting to tear a bit at the seams.  Over-stressed from all the fights and chases they’d seen.  

 

“What now,” Mark hummed, talking more to himself than anything.

 

He thought about ten masked figures storming his family’s home at night, killing everyone with out hesitation.  He thought about a cousin — supposedly dead before but evidently not — weak, no aptitude for their magic, slipping on a mask of his own to take what he thought was his due.  One mask, one killer.  Nine more to go.

 

Mark exhaled slowly, hands flexing at his sides.  “Now, we find the next one. And the next one. Until they’re all dead.”  

 

A slow smile spread across Johnny’s lips, eyes glowing with something feral and hungry.  Something proud .

 

He came up to wrap his arms around Mark’s waist from behind, curling forward to tuck his face close to Mark’s ear.  Doyoung, eyes bright with an equally dangerous light, smile too sweet, walked over to cage him in from the front.  He cupped Mark’s cheeks with a gentle touch, looking for the world like an avenging angel, backlit by the slow creep of dawn, blood splattered across his face and neck.  Under his shirt, one of Johnny’s hands was tracing a simple pattern over the skin of his stomach, nails lengthened back into blunt claws.

 

“That,” Doyoung started, breathless, kissing Mark like he wanted to savor him .  Johnny, behind him, lips hot against the shell of his ear, sharp teeth nipping as he spoke, “Is what we love to hear.”



☽