Jinki wanders aimlessly down streets, through alleyways, in and out of shops, and even around a park. He doesn't know how long he does this, but when he finally decides to lean against the cold brick wall of a building, it's almost dusk. His head is fuzzy with dizziness; he hasn't eaten since he shoveled down dinner last night and he's still reeling from Minho's betrayal. He shuffles from foot to foot, both of them are beyond aching and every movement, no matter how slight, sends jolts of pain up his calves and thighs.
He takes a deep breath, leaning his head back against the wall. Jinki lets the air flow out of him slowly, watches it curl around before him. It does nothing to calm him down, though. He's a wreck.
Punching Minho had been a mistake, empowering—he's never punched anyone in his whole life, but a mistake nonetheless. His anger was in the right place; Minho lied to him, betrayed him. Sure, Jinki had no practical knowledge of demons and how they operated, other than what was told to him in church, but that didn't justify Minho treating him like some idiot. Especially when it was his little brother they were searching for, even if he was a demon.
Jinki's skin crawls, remembering how he'd woken up, rolling over with the tiniest bit of hope that Minho decided to share the bed with him. What he opened his eyes to instead... He's going to be haunted by those black eyes and glassy teeth for the rest of his life.
"Are you alright? You shouldn't be alone in the dark."
Jinki whips his head around, trying to pinpoint where the voice came from. A soft laugh echoes from his right and when he turns, he's stunned to find Taemin walking towards him, mephistophelean grin on his lips. His heart stutters in his chest and Taemin grins louder, like he can hear how frightened he is.
Taemin clucks his tongue, wagging a finger at Jinki like he's a child who's done something bad. "Taemin isn't here anymore. It's just Vetis behind this door." He bows as if he's on stage and then he's suddenly before Jinki.
Jinki tries not to gag at the overpowering scent of rotten earth wafting from Taemin's body. In fact, he tries to shrink himself further against the wall to escape the pitch eyes boring into his.
"I can smell him on you." Taemin—Vetis—says, sniffing the air around Jinki. And Jinki can only let him, terrified of the glassy, black teeth glittering at him from Taemin's mouth. "I can smell Hell's little mistake all over you." He laughs into Jinki's ear.
"I smelled him on your brother, too."
Jinki physically jumps with his surprise. "What?"
"You didn't know?" Vetis laughs, but it comes out sounding like hundreds of voices crying and Jinki is half-tempted to cover his ears. "They were fucking, Taeminnie and Minho."
"You're lying." Jinki grits out, but it's for his own convincing.
Vetis presses against him, tsking under his breath. "I'll tell you every secret, so you can fall to pieces."
He kisses Jinki like he's trying to crawl inside of him, and some part of him does. It slides into Jinki's mouth at the same time Taemin's tongue does, tracing a slick trail down the back of his throat. Light bursts behind his eyes and instead of the seedy alley he'd stopped in, Jinki is standing in a void filled with memories.
Memories that don't belong to him.
Jinki is an unwilling witness to every moment between Minho and Taemin, from their inauspicious meeting to each time they have sex. But he doesn't just see them, he feels them. Feelings that aren't his own burst inside of him at a dizzying speed. They course through his head, through his veins, like lava and he can barely tell if the pain, the excitement, the emptiness, is his own.
Taemin's laughter mixes with Minho's, ringing in Jinki's ear, in his head. He's going to lose his mind if he stays in here anymore.
"Stop it!" Jinki shouts. "Stop, please."
Much to his surprise, it does. He's back in the alley before he can blink, hunched over and heaving. Vetis chuckles, unseen, in Taemin's voice. The sound makes Jinki's insides twists until he's vomiting, painfully dredging up stomach acid until his throat burns and his stomach aches.
This is how Minho finds him. Jinki wipes his mouth on his coat sleeve but doesn't say a single word to Minho, or the demon rocking back on his heels. There is no fear in Jinki now and he coolly regards them both. The demon's face is blank, save for the smirk twisting his full lips, while Minho looks like he's desperately trying to reign in his emotions. There's a kicked dog look about him and Jinki honestly isn't sorry.
"You're going to tell me truth." His own voice, raspy and hard, shocking even himself but Jinki doesn't let it stop him. "Every bit of the truth."
They trudge silently to a noodle bar, Jinki leading the way, having spotted one during his angry wandering. It isn't the most ideal spot to discuss demons and love affairs, but for the first time in weeks he's actually starving, his stomach aching with hunger. All he wants is for something to go his way for once; namely a hot meal to eat and something alcoholic to drink. So he walks like a man on a mission, carefully weaving through people, mostly not caring if Minho and Jonghyun are keeping up.
The tiny restaurant is crowded, but they somehow manage to snag the last available booth that's crammed in the back where the air is stagnant and noxious with cigarette fumes. Every breath he takes, no matter how big or how small, is heavy and burns the tiniest bit in his lungs. When Jinki eats, a steaming bowl of spicy chicken ramyeon, the slight ash flavor he tastes has nothing to do with depression.
He doesn't care though, not even bothering to speak until his bowl is empty and he's ordered a second serving.
Jinki levels his gaze on Minho. "The truth."
Words come from Jonghyun instead. He leans on his elbows to stare hard at Jinki. There's a tenseness about him that's strangely human. "Are you sure you want him to tell you everything? All the angry you've built around yourself is nothing compared to the story that's going to come out of his mouth."
There's an undercurrent of slithering in Jonghyun's tone but Jinki steels himself against the shiver that wants to run up his spine. He can't afford to be the clueless, scared human anymore.
Jonghyun and Minho share a look that would take eons to understand, but they seem to reach some sort of agreement as Jonghyun sighs and leans back. Jinki isn't fooled; the taut line of his mouth says he's still ready to spring shut, like those cartoonish bear traps except the teeth in Jonghyun's mouth are real.
"When I was sixteen, I was murdered." Minho says, eyes unwavering as they stare into Jinki's. "I was stabbed, beaten, and buried in a hole to die. And I did." He takes a drink of his water, lets the words sink in. They unexpectedly crush Jinki, their weight forcing the air out of his lungs.
"I was dead for three days when Jonghyun presented me with a deal. Live and hunt demons, or rot in a hole." Minho snorts to himself. "It's obvious what I choose to do. I work for an overseer of Hell; I do my best to keep demons in the pit instead of in bodies."
"But not without a price," Jonghyun supplies. They're both looking at Jinki in ways that make his skin crawl.
"I could never see my family or my friends again."
Shames crawls bitterly up the back of Jinki's throat and he has to fight not to hang his head. He feels like utter shit, so much so, he doesn't even touch the second bowl of ramyeon when it's placed on the table.
"I'm barely even human." Minho says when the server leaves. He's intently inspecting his hands, scrutinizing them for something unknown to Jinki, and maybe to Jonghyun, but Jinki doubts it. Jonghyun is probably aware of everything when it comes to Minho.
"What—What do you mean by that?" Jinki asks. Part of him doesn't want to really know.
"I don't need to eat. I don't need to sleep. I don't even really need to breathe." He snorts again like what he's saying is a joke on he knows. "I do it, eat, sleep, and breathe, because it's reflexive. I never really used to pretend I was human until I met your brother at that bookstore a few blocks from your house."
Jinki knows the one; he'd taken Taemin there almost every day since he'd learned to read. They'd spent hours reading to each other quietly in the store's various corners. Jinki had also met, and broken up with, his first and only boyfriend in that store. Irony abound.
"He was a reading a demon bestiary, which at the time I had thought was just for fun, but I came to realize he was already aware of demons." Minho gives Jinki a meaningful from beneath drawn brows. "All he needed was someone who could help him, explain things to him."
"You." Jinki sighs and Minho nods slowly in agreement.
"I didn't know every time we had sex, it was getting closer and closer to the end. I didn't know everything I was telling him, letting him read, would lead him further along his path." Minho thumps the table with his hand, not loud enough to disturb those around them, but with enough force to make Jinki jump.
Minho's gaze is frigid when Jinki meets his eyes.
"I did not start him on his journey to damnation."
"I believe you." And Jinki does, he really does. He just doesn't understand why it had to be this giant secret. He had hoped with all the years he'd harped on Taemin about coming to him with anything, his brother would have. Especially about being gay.
"Why didn't I tell you?" Minho says like a mind reader and it's Jinki's turn to nod. "I was I supposed to tell you your little brother was having sex with a guy? Taemin told me nothing of his family with the exception of a few quips about you. I was doing it to protect him as much I was you. And myself."
He a raised a good point, a very good point. Had Minho uttered even the slightest word on homosexuality around his and Taemin's father, Jinki would have been served to Hell on a silver platter. Jinki sighs heavily and slumps back in his seat. Life, and the afterlife, is exhausting.
"If you two are done with your little date, I'd like to ask Jinki why exactly he smells like Vetis." Jonghyun's voice cuts between the silence with the grace of a machine gun.
"He cornered in me in the alley. He showed me the truth."
"He’s a trickster." Jonghyun counters with a sneer.
"Minho confirmed everything."
They stare at each, Jinki and Jonghyun, until Jonghyun disappears with a huff. Minho only rolls his eyes in response, and then juts his chin at the cooling bowl of ramyeon.
"If I'm paying for everything, you're finishing that."
They end up sharing the bowl in a companionable silence.
"Are you okay to walk?" Minho asks when they exit the restaurant. "Jonghyun and I came on foot."
Jinki's muscles protest at the mere mention of more walking, the few feet they had to cross to leave the restaurant had been excruciating. Jinki sighs abysmally, but Minho chuckles, dropping to a slight kneel and offering his back. Jinki hesitates; it's a long ass trek back to the apartment, too long for him to be carried.
"I'm barely human, remember?" Minho says, waving his hand at his back.
Carefully, Jinki slides on and tries his best not to squirm even though his nuts are dangerously close to being crushed. They walk in silence, avoiding a few stares thrown their way, and Jinki lets himself enjoy the warmth bleeding into his skin from Minho.
"I don't know if I forgive you for keeping everything from me, but I wanted to tell you I'm sorry." Jinki says into the shell of Minho's ear. "About everything."
"I am too."
Minho does in fact carry him back to the apartment. Jinki doesn't know what he was expecting, that maybe Minho would stop a taxi or put Jinki down after so many kilometers, but he didn't. He carried Jinki the whole way with only a single stop; Jinki desperately needed to adjust himself.
When they make it inside of the apartment, Minho carefully deposits Jinki on the couch. He rolls his shoulders and pops his neck in obvious discomfort.
"Are you okay?" Jinki asks, feeling the tiniest bit guilty even if Minho brought it upon himself; it's just his nature to be concerned for others.
Minho rolls his neck from side to side, dull pops issuing from under his skin and muscle. "Better." He replies with an upward tilt of his lips. It isn't exactly a smile, but Jinki doesn't press any further.
He focuses instead on taking off his shoes, reach down to undo the laces, but Minho's long fingers are there first, nimbly pulling at the strings. It's vaguely arachnid-like the way he does it.
"I can do that myself." Jinki intones, though he makes no move to actually do it himself.
"I know." Minho replies gruffly, tugging at one shoe until it slides off Jinki's foot. He worries for a second if they smell, but he’s really too tired to care; besides, Minho's face remains placid as he reaches for Jinki’s other foot.
"I know you can do it yourself, but I feel I should be doing more."
There's a disparity to his voice that makes Jinki's heart break. He slides his hand through Minho's cropped hair, gently tugging his head up. Minho's face is hard, but there’s a frailty behind his eyes that speaks louder than any words could.
Minho's view of himself—of his work—is so skewed he doesn't recognize how much good he is actually doing.
"Come here." Jinki coaxes softly, cupping Minho's face. He runs the pad of his thumb across Minho's lips in way that clearly states what he wants.
"This isn't a good idea." Minho replies, but he moves anyway, sliding between Jinki's legs. He holds Jinki's gaze for the longest time until they kiss, lips pressing together, slow and wet.
Jinki licks into Minho's mouth as Minho's hands slide up his thighs, one palming his half-hard erection, the other slipping beneath his shirt. Heat pools low inside of Jinki and everywhere Minho touches feels electrified. He hears himself groan low in his throat when long fingers fingers skirt along his erection. Jinki can’t bring himself to be embarrassed; he has more important things to do, Minho being at the top of that list.
"Bedroom?" Minho gasps into his ear, grinding pointedly against Jinki’s thigh.
The feel of him there, hard and wanting, sends a sharp thrill of lust straight to his cock. He finds himself unable to speak, his mouth finding a better purpose sucking at Minho's neck. Jinki nods emphatically in the crook of Minho's shoulder.
They strip each other in the short time it takes them to get to Minho's room, leaving behind a trail of clothing. Between each kiss Minho presses to Jinki's mouth, his neck, and even the inside of his wrist, images of Taemin and Minho together surface in Jinki's mind in vivid, painful detail.
Jinki pulls Minho's hand from the door before he can open it.
"I’m not a stand in for my brother." He tries to keep his tone hard, but it shakes near the end.
Minho draws his hand out of Jinki's loose grip, using it to card through Jinki's hair. "I never saw you as one." He speaks against Jinki's lips and when he's finished, Minho kisses him.
Jinki swallows the elation that bubbles up inside of him. He is far from allowing himself to be happy—part of him feels he doesn't deserve it—but he'll let himself have this indulgence.
Minho pushes the door open and Jinki follows close behind. When they are inside, Minho wastes no time pressing Jinki against the wall. He hisses softly at the coolness of it, arching forward into Minho. He takes that as invitation to lick into Jinki's mouth like a man starved, and Jinki finds he doesn't mind at all. Burying his hands in Minho's hair, he grinds himself against the taller male's abdomen.
Their gasps and groans fill the quiet of the room; Minho's voice in Jinki's ear fills him with a hot, urgent need. He pushes meaningfully at Minho's chest and they stumble to his bed in the dark.
Jinki goes down first, back hitting soft sheets. Minho stares at him and with the pale light of the moon filtering in from the window, he can see the way Minho's eyes move slowly over every inch of his body. It’s unnerving and erotic in equal measures.
Jinki takes his cock in his hand, stroking himself beneath Minho's gaze. He keeps the smirk off his face at the desperate sound Minho makes in the back of his throat. Jinki spreads his legs, letting Minho slide between them.
They meet each other in a kiss while Minho's hand wraps not only around Jinki's erection, but his own as well, pressing them together. Jinki cries out against Minho's lips, hips lifting to match the tug and pull of Minho's hand. Jinki slides his arms around Minho's neck, whispers brokenly that he’s close a few seconds before he comes between them with a full body shake.
Distantly, Jinki is aware of Minho reaching his own orgasm but he can’t bring himself to do much more than blindly kiss at his chest. Satiated and pleasantly numb, he curls into Minho when the younger male stretches out beside him.
"We’re sticky." Minho says softly, drawing circles along Jinki's shoulder.
Jinki mumbles unintelligibly which only makes Minho chuckle. Dozing off, Jinki misses Minho getting up and then coming back a few minutes later. He barely wakes for the lukewarm wash cloth cleaning him up.
He does wake up sometime in the early morning hours to find Minho sleeping, long arms wrapped around Jinki. Settling back against Minho's chest, Jinki closes his eyes and sleeps again; for the time being, nothing else exists.