At first, Joonghyuk feared this part of himself, this – dark and twisted feeling festering inside the pit of his chest. He hated Dokja looking away from him, wanted to grab his chin and force him to turn back towards him , not at one of their party members who’d caused him to die over and over again in rounds past.
The third round had been for Lee Gilyoung, the fifteenth for Yoo Sangah, the thirtieth for Lee Hyunsung (and what use was a shield who required their master to die for them? The inexplicable rage that filled Yoo Joonghyuk when he watched Dokja fall, guts barely kept inside of himself all the while Lee Hyunsung had slid weakly to his knees, tears streaming down his face as he cried out – he wanted to take his hand and crush that useless soldier’s throat. How dare he? How dare he make Kim Dokja die, when none of them deserved the devotion that man gave without expecting anything in return.)
It kept going. Jung Heewon, Lee Jihye, Shin Yoosung. Over and over in an endless cycle, Dokja continuously threw himself in the way of blades, fire, gods, angry creatures of the abyss, ignoring his wings being ripped out slowly and his horns cracked and falling.
Then Kim Dokja died for him . It had been a stupid mistake, one he shouldn’t have made so far into the scenarios. Just the slightest moment of distraction and Yoo Joonghyuk couldn’t see the claws swiping at his back.
But Dokja had.
He felt Dokja’s small frame crash against him, sliding down feebly. He’d immediately turned around, heart in his throat and stomach queasy with dread, to see his worst nightmare – Kim Dokja dead at his feet.
Joonghyuk lost himself to rage. When the red haze finally faded away, he looked at all the bodies around him. No one had been spared, not even the people who traveled with him and Dokja (he stopped considering them party members long ago. The need to protect fizzled out the fifth time Dokja died, only an emptiness gaping in him.)
He laughed, hands shaking and blood covering every inch of his body. The force of his laughter caused him to hunch over and it turned hysterical, hot tears streamed down his face and he clutched at his hair, sword long abandoned on the ground.
What was the point? What was the use of all his power if he couldn’t protect the only person he loved?
He crumbled to his knees beside Dokja’s body, leaning his weight against the cooling corpse. “Dokja.” He murmured on an endless loop. He caressed Dokja’s pale cheek and closed his eyes, pressing their foreheads together. “Why, why is it always you?”
Silence answered him.
“One more time.” Joonghyuk said, blindly reaching for his sword. “One more regression. I’ll make it perfect for us, Dokja. It’ll just be us, no one else, no more pests.” He grinned, eyes crazed and mad.
“I’ll take such good care of you this time.” He stabbed the blade towards his heart and felt a brief flash of pain before his consciousness faded into darkness.
He opened his eyes to the subway. Glancing around him, he saw the same people every time he regressed. They were weak. Joonghyuk couldn’t remember the amount of times he’d killed them already, their bones crunching under his unnatural strength and their screams white noise to his ears.
The dokkaebi barely announced the start of the scenario when Joonghyuk made his move. Dokja, Dokja was in the car in front of him. He needed to get to Dokja.
He slaughtered them all. Man, woman, child – all of them were just obstacles in his way. He didn’t need to care about any of them. The only one who deserved his affection was Dokja, his bright, shining star that he would never let anyone snuff out anymore.
He ignored the dokkaebi’s sputtering behind him, jamming his hands in the crack of the doors and tearing it open slowly. He heard panicked noises from the train car in front and sneered when he recognized Lee Hyunsung’s voice.
Joonghyuk would have to take him out first. Hyunsung always liked Dokja a bit too much, followed him around more than Joonghyuk liked.
The metal started giving way.
“Try the other doors!” Joonghyuk brightened up. Ah, there was who he was looking for. His brilliant Dokja, already looking for ways to survive.
Joonghyuk hummed to himself quietly. Dokja wouldn’t need to do that anymore. Joonghyuk was here now. He would take care of him. All Dokja had to do was stay by his side and never leave, never look away.
He could see them now. Han Myeongoh, Lee Gilyoung, Yoo Sangah, Lee Hyunsung, and his Dokja. All scrambling to tug at the doors while sending glances of fear back towards him.
How unpleasant. He didn’t care how the others saw him, but Dokja should never fear him. Joonghyuk would sooner rip his own heart out and present it to him as an offering than hurt him.
It would be okay. They would have lots of time alone together.
The gap was big enough to fit through and he stepped in, grabbing a pole and ripping it off the train car with a large screeching sound. He cocked his hand back and threw it with all his strength, watching in satisfaction as it pierced through Hyunsung and took him down in one go.
Someone screamed, but he ignored it as he marched forward. As he passed the child, just a quick snap and that pest was gone too. Two down, two to go – and one to hold.
Dokja backed away from him, looking terrified. He gestured to Yoo Sangah to get behind him and Joonghyuk narrowed his eyes, irritation pricking his heart. What, had that woman tried seducing his Dokja so soon? He couldn’t let that stand – she had him die for her too many times.
A quick movement of his hand and she was tossed aside like a broken doll. Dokja slapped a hand over his mouth and retched. Hm, Joonghyuk would have to make him a tonic. Maybe even lay him down and rub his stomach to make him feel better. A smile stretched on his face at the idea, though all it seemed to do was unnerve Dokja even more.
“Y,Yoo Joong–” As much as Joonghyuk would love to hear his name fall from those tempting lips, he had one more piece of trash to dispose of.
“Just a moment, my dear.” Joonghyuk said, flashing him a grin full of teeth. It probably wasn’t his best look, but he knew Dokja would find him handsome regardless.
“S,Stop right there! Do you know who I–?!” Joonghyuk grabbed him by the throat and lifted him up, watching in fascination as his face turned blue and purple. He walked to an unopened door and threw him through the window. The glass shattered and Han Myeongoh flew out and down into the mouth of a roaring ichthyosaur.
Finally, some peace and quiet for him and Dokja.
He spun around. Dokja scrambled backwards and Joonghyuk’s eyebrows furrowed. “Kim Dokja,” he said, “you are the last person I’ll ever hurt.”
Dokja didn’t look like he believed him. Oh well, there was plenty of time for Dokja to regain that affection Joonghyuk knew he held for him. He snatched Dokja’s thin wrist and drew him in, their chests pressed together.
He could feel the fast pace of Dokja’s heart, his warm body shivering in his grasp. His face red, sweat on his temple – Dokja was alive . He cupped Dokja’s face between his palms as gently as he could manage.
Joonghyuk could see himself in the reflection of Dokja’s eyes and thought he should clean up a bit. All that blood and bits of bone sticking to him was quite unattractive. Dokja only deserved him looking his best after all.
He smoothed his thumbs over Dokja’s cheeks, squishing them between his fingers absentmindedly. “Don’t be scared,” he cooed, eyes pampering and unhinged. “I’m here now. I’ll protect you, Dokja.”
“What… are you?” Dokja whispered. His gaze was unfocused, like he was looking somewhere else. Joonghyuk didn’t like that. Dokja should only look at him.
He leaned in, lips so close he could feel their breaths intermingling.