Pairings: Krisyeol, side!Hunhan and Kaixing
Warnings: descriptions of gore and death
Wordcount: ~15k (screams)
Summary: Demons fall in love, Angels are sent to kill, and Armageddon happens somewhere in between.
A/N: In which K are Angels and M are Demons. I think it's quite fitting.
The story goes that God created the Earth and the moon and the stars. He also created Angels but like all the balances in the universe, Evil was created soon after.
It’s year 2062.
The world is lost beneath the ashes that had fallen half a century ago. Democracy has lost all meaning, dictatorship has been falling since the last decade, the international economy is edging the brink of extinction - the earth’s people are scrambling to grab onto the last shreds of logic left.
Rewind back fifty years - December 21, 2012. The Heavens fell to ruins when words spread throughout the galaxial skies through frantic whispers -- God is dead.
Revolts broke out in the Heavens, Angels turning against their own in a battle of faith and betrayal. Below, the leading powers of the world barreled into the bloodiest battle in human history - World War III. Stars dimmed in the stormy sky as bodies collapsed on the ground, crushed bones and spilt blood.
Everything spiraled out of control when Lucifer overthrew the governing bodies in the leading nations with a flick of his finger, causing the world to fall into a hopeless depression. War in the Heavens seized - the World War on Earth kept raging - and instead Angels gathered their remaining survivors and focused their attention on the overtaking of the globe by Demons, the Fallen Angels.
That was year 2047 - The Angels of the Heavens have declared war on the Demons of Hell.
Chanyeol watches as a group of Rebels pours gallons of kerosene on top the president’s housing, soaking the blue roof and bleached white walls. Fire erupts when one of them tosses a lit match on the oily trail, and they speed away, yells and whoops echoing behind them.
It is useless, Chanyeol knows, because the President has been dead for two days. The assassination attempt was successful, albeit messy, and it left behind a massacre in its wake, pictures of shredded torsos and limbs that had been scattered all over the dirt ground printed on every newspaper available. The Vice President had committed suicide shortly thereafter, leaving the Cheongwadae deserted.
The fire inches towards him, but Chanyeol doesn’t budge. Instead, he pulls out a crumbled box of cigarettes, takes one out, and lets the flames light it for him. The smoke he inhales tastes different from the smoke around him.
“Standing a bit too close, aren’t you?”
He twists around to see Joonmyun a few feet away, staying clear of the flames that are now wrapping their red fingers around Chanyeol’s legs. He smiles and shrugs, puffing on his cigarette as he turns back to watch the roof of the house collapse into charred rubble.
He hears splashes and hisses behind him, and he feels the fire retreating. He frowns a little, missing their warmth, but then Joonmyun appears beside him, disappointment clear in his eyes.
“You’re standing too close, Chanyeol,” he says, fingers digging into Chanyeol’s elbow. “The humans will wonder.”
Smoke blurs Chanyeol’s vision momentarily before clearing away in the light breeze, and he smiles down at Joonmyun, gently shaking off his hold. “Well, I’m not anymore, thanks to you. They never notice.”
Joonmyun scoffs and shakes his head. “This world has made you careless, Chanyeol.”
“As it did to you. Weren’t you putting the fire out a while ago?” Chanyeol laughs when Joonmyun pushes him into the flames. He stumbles a little, the fire licking at his shoulder and neck, touching the skin but not burning it. “Now look who’s careless.”
He gets a face-full of water in response and, laughing, the two of them walk away from the flames, Joonmyun brushing soot off Chanyeol’s shoulder and Chanyeol shaking the water from his hair
Behind them, the fire turns burnt rubble into black dust, red tongues melting away the last standing evidence of freedom and justice.
World War III has long ended. The end result was not in anyone’s favor - Lucifer took control in the background, causing extensive mayhem and turning allies against each other. Now that the “All Seeing Eye” has fallen, Hell’s doors have broken loose and Demons poured out onto the earth, morphing into humans and living among them.
The War had ended with no treaties, no promise of peace. Just the thin hope of survival, a golden thread stretched taught in people’s chests, bending and pulling but never snapping. But for some, sooner or later, it rips apart.
There is no exact order - there never was any order, not anymore - and everything is unplanned and messy, scattered footsteps on cracked concrete. The higher-ups of civilizations fell below the middle class, the suburban has since been turned into slums, and the slums a human wasteland.
Demons now live with the humans, taking on human form - beating heart and all - and slowly, but surely, killing them off. Life expectancy around the world decreased by nearly thirty percent, and people are scrambling to escape the mass movement of death spreading throughout the nations. Unexplained house fires, families dropping dead without any evidence of violence, massacres drenching walls and floors with crimson liquid. The media has stopped covering murders - there are simply too many.
Lucifer laughs in the background, pointing out the weak attempts of the government to insure safety and peace. They’re so weak. Like ants, simple beings trying to follow the usual routines. So useless.
And in the place of saviors, Angels descend upon the Earth in human form, searching for demons and killing them.
Terminate everyone. That’s what Yunho had said, and that’s what Joonmyun had passed onto the others. Leave no survivors. Be merciless. Joonmyun had flinched - what happened to forgiveness?
Soon, red blood mixes with black, the body count growing higher and higher as the world slowly deteriorates, and that last shred of hope is ripped away. Reality twists as Demons overtake the fallen nations and Angels turn into killers.
“Out,” Sehun doesn’t bother to turn around, “probably searching.”
Chanyeol holds back a groan. “He’s been searching since three am this morning,” he says.
“He's fine, hyung,” Sehun looks back and casts Chanyeol an amused glance. “You worry too much.” He throws him a quick smile before turning around and staring out the open window, the breeze drifting in ruffling his hair.
Chanyeol leaves the room with a huff, proceeding to the living room. Throwing himself on the couch, he grabs today’s newspaper off the coffee table and reads through the front page.
BODIES FOUND IN THE RIVER. NO EVIDENCE LEADING TO MURDER. AUTHORITIES CLAIM MASS SUICIDE. He cursors through the tiny print beneath the grainy photo of the twisted bodies floating on water, grey flesh looking even paler in the stark black-and-white contrast of newspaper ink.
The news hasn’t changed for the past month. This is the sixth or seventh time it’s happened; they don’t know anymore, people have lost count. Chanyeol rubs at his face - he hopes Baekhyun makes it back soon.
The river is polluted with human waste and sewer run-offs that no one bothers with anymore. It’s murky, and trash is littered below the shallow waters, some buried underneath thick layers of grey sand mixed with ash and soot. Now swirls of red spread throughout the oily surface of the water.
Chanyeol watches as a small group of people struggle to pull the dead bodies out from the water before they sink. Some of them are bloated to grotesque proportions, bloodless skin hanging off bleached bones, and their faces are so sunken the eye sockets resemble gaping holes.
“Such a mess,” Sehun shakes his head, wiping his hands on his jeans as if it was him who had done all the dirty work. “What do you think? That there’s a group of them nearby?”
“That’s Baekhyun’s theory -- I don’t have one,” Chanyeol says. He walks over to one of the bodies that has been tossed haphazardly to the side and nudges it with the tip of his shoe. It rolls over, revealing the bony face of a young girl, half her scalp ripped off and her black hair matted with leaves and dirt. “They’re calling this suicide?”
“Whatever the public wants to hear,” Sehun shrugs, the corner of his mouth curled downwards in distaste. “Besides, it’s not our job to determine how they died.”
Baekhyun joins them later when the bodies are hauled away on the back of a rusty pickup truck. “It was unplanned, that’s what I’m thinking. Either way, they were messy and left some evidence I used for the search. There are about six of them around here, in Seoul.”
“Together?” Chanyeol asks. It’s rare for Demons to stay in groups - trust and dependence aren’t their strong suits - and it’s almost unheard of for so many to stay in one city. “What, are they getting desperate?”
“More like stupid and careless,” Baekhyun rolls his shoulder, working out the cramps he’s got from flying around so long. The setting sun casts a shimmering glow behind him, the faintest outline of his wings fluttering in the wind. He tucks them closer to his back, complaining under his breath about the stiffness. “It’s late, and I’m tired. We’ll start searching tomorrow.”
Sehun’s already walking ahead of them. Chanyeol watches as his wings materialize, the sun’s rays bathing the grey feathers in orange and red. Checking to see if any humans are watching, Sehun leaps into the air and speeds away, his body a faint blur in the sky. Baekhyun sighs at the theatrics and follows suit, his wings longer and slimmer compared to Sehun’s.
Chanyeol watches them before unfolding his own wings, feeling his muscles popping from holding them closed for so long. Earth had placed them under so many limitations - at this rate, their wings will be too cramped to move. He waits until Baekhyun’s a tiny spec in the horizon to spread his wing. Black feathers surround him as he jumps into the air.
The sun turns a bloody red before it descends completely beneath the city’s border.
There is this lie that people believe in - Angels are perfect.
They’re not. Despite the folklores, the myths, Angels are as flawed as the humans on earth. And the ones with the blackest of hearts are thrown down without mercy, wings burning off as they're hurled towards the earth, and break through its surface, falling all the way into the molten lavas of Hell.
Sometimes, when the skies are clear enough for the faint stars to peek through, Chanyeol would stroll along the blackened streets, head tilted back so he could see nothing but the vast expanse of the sky above him.
“Look, Mom, stars!” he hears one day, and Chanyeol stops to watch a mother and her child standing a few feet in front of him, their head turned upwards. The child is pointing exciting fingers at the sky, the smile on his face brighter than any star Chanyeol has ever seen.
“Make a wish,” the mother whispers, a small smile of her own dancing on her lips, “the angels will hear and grant it for you.” And they close their eyes and the world falls silent again.
Chanyeol watches with a breaking heart. He wants to reach out and pull the boy away and apologize, because it’s all useless, and a silent wish is better than a broken one.
Angels don’t grant wishes - they destroy them.
Chanyeol has nightmares. And then he has the nightmare. Angels aren’t suppose to dream, not really, but a certain scene of scorching flames and bloody hooks rewinds itself beneath Chanyeol’s lids almost every night, like a damaged film caught between the two and four minute mark.
He doesn’t let the others know, not even when he wakes up in cold sweat, red still blurring the edges of his periphery and he can’t stop his hands from shaking even when he has them clenched in his bed sheets. It’s an endless reel of unadulterated torture - the flames, for the first time, bite back and burn him.
They only search during the night because broad daylight is too revealing and they can’t fly high enough to pass off as anything else but people with wings. Even when the world is on the edge of insanity, they’d rather not have the people worry about anything else. They’re set on a schedule, and it’s been a routine they can’t shake off. They always work better as a group, better coordinated and in sync. They’re formidable, even amongst other Angels.
Baekhyun’s throwing a jacket on when he asks Chanyeol, “Are you not sleeping well?”
There’s a brief moment of panic, and Chanyeol says, “No, uhm, I’m fine?” Baekhyun smiles a little, pulling at his zipper. It’s his search tonight, and Chanyeol can see the silver dagger hidden in the sleeves of his jacket. Chanyeol had seen him sharpening it earlier that evening, brows pulled down in concentration. It’s the same face he has when he’s reading the news or rearranging the jumble of messes in their cabinets.
It’s all routine. Search, kill, burn. Rinse and repeat. “Don’t think about it,” Baekhyun had said when Chanyeol set fire to a group of Demons they had successfully terminated. The scent of burning flesh was overwhelming and he felt bile rising, burning his throat. It didn’t make anything better, because he couldn’t stop thinking about it, couldn’t stop thinking how easy it had been to slide his dagger in between their ribs, watching the red fire die in their eyes.
“You say that like you’re not sure,” Baekhyun comments, fixing his sleeves so the dagger doesn’t drop accidently.
“I’m fine,” Chanyeol says, clearing his throat and trying to look nonchalant. Baekhyun bumps shoulders with him playfully before he walks over to the open window. The August wind is chilly against Chanyeol’s skin, rising goose bumps, and he silently wishes Baekhyun luck as Baekhyun falls over the edge, wings spreading to catch him last minute and then he’s soaring, wings a streak of white against the velvet sky.
Chanyeol thinks the stars look like diamonds tonight, hard and sharp, shaped with precision. He never understands why humans find them so beautiful.
Kyungsoo comes back with a full report on the Demons they’re searching. He dumps a large manila folder on the coffee table, and the others look up at him, dumbfounded.
“Hyung, why are you -” Jongin starts but Kyungsoo cuts him off by shoving a pile of papers into his hands.
“They’re dangerous. They’re not like the usual ones we’ve killed before. They’re different in the worst way possible,” Kyungsoo says, pulling out papers and laying them down on the table. They’re pictures, all drained of color. Most are grainy as best - Chanyeol could hardly make out half of them due to the blur and odd angles.
They leaf through all the information, Kyungsoo running them through some of the most important points. Chanyeol catches leader, right-hand man, and like us.
“What do you mean, like us?” Baekhyun’s tongue is stuck between his teeth as he scans over a paper about the Demon named Tao, brows furrowed in his default face of concentration.
“As in, they have abilities like ours. They’re different, like I said.”
Everyone tenses at the thought; Demons with abilities is perhaps ten times worse than the average Demon. The fact that they’re not sure who has what presents an even greater obstacle.
“Who knows what they can do,” Sehun says, frowning at the strewn mess of papers in front of him. He picks up a random sheet, the one titled LU HAN, biting his thumbnail as he reads through the contents for the third time. “This one is apparently Lucifer’s right-hand man.” Chanyeol looks over his shoulder and sees a blurred picture of a rather short man, smirk evident on his face. The contrast is low, but he could see the red in the Demon’s eyes by the light shade of his pupils. It’s almost as if he’s staring right at the camera.
“Alright. Change in plans. No more solos, we’re dividing into two groups,” Joonmyun says. The others go along with it silently, because no one can think of anything better. Chanyeol is placed with Joonmyun and Sehun while the other three make up the second group. “At least this way, we won’t be horribly outnumbered.”
“They will probably have the same idea, if they’re aware of Angels within the city. It evens out, good thinking, hyung,” Chanyeol smiles, giving Joonmyun a thumbs-up. The smile he receives is automatic but grim, the corners of Joonmyun’s lips never really reaching his eyes.
Chanyeol has the nightmare again. Except this time, the reel goes on a little longer, like scenes were slipped in between the film, and the heat gets so unbearable Chanyeol wakes up with a choked gasp, beads of sweat running down his cheeks. He still sees the flames beneath his lids every time he blinks, and he’s afraid of going back to sleep. His room is pitch black, and he’s more than thankful that it’s Baekhyun’s and his group’s turn to search that night because that means he’s not here to witness Chanyeol’s shaken state.
He finally sinks back into his bed, eyes staring stubbornly at the ceiling of his room until fatigue takes over again, and he slips into the numbing darkness.
“Did you see him?”
“No. Why should I?”
“Oh, come on, Duizhang. He’s the only reason why you’re even here.”
“... I don’t know what you’re talking about, Lu Han.”
“You know the plan. You made the plan. Don’t delineate or Master won’t be happy.”
“I know that, why are you -”
“Question is, what’s your agenda in all this?”
“I don’t have one.”
“That’s a lie.”
Searching is almost therapeutic to Chanyeol. It’s the time for him to calm down and just let his wings slice through the night air, carrying his drained body over the cityscape. It’s the time he uses to forget all his problems and focus on the one thing he knows best - hunting Demons.
He closes his eyes and sees in his mind’s eye where Sehun and Joonmyun are, their forms glowing, blurred dots of light moving over a monochrome copy of the city map. He blinks his eyes open, squinting against the force of the wind.
Demons pour forth dark aura just as Angels have a thin veil of light surrounding them, like a white mist shrouding their body that humans cannot see or feel. It’s their distinction, their weaknesses that make them easy prey for each other. The only advantage Angels hold over Demons is their wings. Even then, Demons have been known for ambushing Angels. Chanyeol has lost too many people that way.
He senses the heavy air around him, electricity crackling as his vision blacks out a little and purple tinges in his peripheral. “Demon,” he whispers and dives swiftly into a dark alley, landing on the balls of his feet.
No sooner does he touch the ground is he thrown down by a hard kick to his chest. His back slides across the floor, the jacket ripping, and he feels the dagger slip out of his sleeve. He curses and struggles to stand up, palms held in front of him as he feels fire surge through his veins.
“Chanyeol, is it?” says a soft voice and suddenly something’s grabbing his wrist and twisting it behind his back. The grip is bone-crushing, and Chanyeol gasps when he feels an arm wrap around his neck, squeezing mercilessly. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Angels are made from nothing; they are created by the very mind of God. Infinitely wise and strong from the start, they are the ideal keepers of the Gate and guardians of Earth. But some are led astray, and those who have turned their backs to God are hurled down without mercy.
Demons are made from Angels - no, they are Angels. Angels with charred hearts and soulless eyes, who laugh when there is pain and groan when there is hope.
And he realizes that, after a while, falling sort of feels like flying. But the freedom is gone, ripped away just as the air is ripped from his lungs, and fear claws up his chest. Feathers are dancing around him - black feathers - and when he reaches out a hand to try and grab them, they slip through like sand between his fingers.
“It’s not working. Can I please just slap him?”
“Jongin already tried that...”
“And he’s still not consciou- wait, Joonmyun, what are you-”
Ice water hits Chanyeol in the face, and he gasps, lurching forward as some of the water drips into his nose and ears. His shirt is soaked, a large wet patch staining the middle. He wipes an arm over his face, rubbing the water from his eyes. He looks up to see Joonmyun with a metal bucket and everyone else crowded behind him, relief clear on their faces.
“How long was I out?” Chanyeol asks. His limbs feel weak, like lead, and there’s a ringing in his head, vision blurring around the edges.
“A few hours. That Demon knocked you out pretty good,” Baekhyun reaches out and pressed a thumb against the soft skin of Chanyeol’s neck. The pressure brings a dull pain and Chanyeol hisses, rubbing his palm over the bruise. “We couldn’t get him though. I don’t know what it was, he just disappeared.”
“And it wasn’t teleportation,” Jongin says. “No smoke; something else must’ve happened.”
Chanyeol nods absently, trying to recall the events from last night. “What happened?”
“Sehun and I sensed that you were in danger so we ditched our location and came looking for you. Found you in the middle of the alley, getting nearly strangled to death by the Demon,” Joonmyun explains. Sehun’s giving him a weird look, like he isn’t quite sure of what he saw. Chanyeol shudders, hands coming up to press against his bruise. “When we arrived, he disappeared. No theatrics; one moment he was there and the next he was just gone.”
“Anyone recognize him?” Baekhyun asks.
“Dark hair, kind of tall. Looks a bit like one named Zitao,” Sehun says. Chanyeol remembers the report on him; dark windswept hair and puffy eyes, sharp nose and high cheeks. He looks dangerous, even in black-and-white photographs that have too much noise and not enough contrast.
Baekhyun starts discussing the events with Kyungsoo, Joonmyun is warning Sehun and Jongin about taking extra precautions, and Chanyeol is left feeling lost and dizzy, head too muddled with slurred questions and not enough answers. The others start leaving the room, some calling out for him to feel better. “Sleep. You’ll need it,” Baekhyun says as he closes the door softly behind him.
The afternoon melts into the evening as the sun falls slowly from its zenith. Chanyeol watches the room grow dark, the streaks of sunlight disappearing as diamonds are studded across the sky. He looks out the window and sees the Big Dipper, the North Star winking down at him. It’s mocking him, Chanyeol thinks, and he remembers the endless fall and the storm of black feathers around him.
You’d think it gets a little easier each time. You’d think the torturous cycle will become a little more bearable with each turn, the timer ticking down only to have it wound back again but this time it goes a little faster. You’d think all this, but you’re wrong.
Chanyeol’s always wrong.
Jongin goes missing for three days and reappears at their doorstep as if nothing ever happened. Joonmyun shouts himself hoarse and Kyungsoo worries his bottom lip with his teeth as he hands Jongin a glass of water while Sehun, Baekhyun, and Chanyeol stand by, unsure of what to do besides hold their hands by their side and wait.
Jongin had gone off on a search with Baekhyun and Kyungsoo as usual, but Chanyeol only remembers two coming back. The group panicked the next morning when they saw that Jongin’s bed was untouched, the soft grey blankets folded neatly. They all go out and search, circling around the city two, five, ten times. They can’t sense Jongin however hard they tried; it’s like he teleported off the earth, not even a wisp of smoke left behind as a trace.
“I don’t remember what happened, to be honest.” Jongin’s fingers are pressed tight around the glass cub Kyungsoo hands him, fingertips going white with pressure. “I’m walking down an abandoned street because I thought I saw something and then next second I’m lying on a hospital bed.”
“Hospital bed?” Baekhyun’s eyebrows shoot up beneath his bangs.
“Yeah. I felt… fine. Better than fine, I felt great.” Jongin’s stroking the rounded edge of the glass, nails scratching gently along the rim. “There was a Demon there,” his voice drops a little lower. “Wouldn’t tell me his name, but I recognized him. He saved me.” Jongin looks up and his face betrays how bizarre he finds the whole situation.
The others shift uncomfortably at the thought that a Demon had saved Jongin. It was unheard of.
“I was stabbed. That’s what he said. In the back; he stitched the hole in my shirt and washed off the blood. And he stood there, just watching me, before he got up and left. Told me to be careful on my way back home.”
Baekhyun reaches around Jongin, fingers finding the neat stitches that are keeping the tear in Jongin’s shirt together. “How did he heal you? I don’t feel a scar of anything.”
“That’s the thing, I don’t know. He didn’t say much, just healed me and left.”
“Do you… feel ok?” Joonmyun asks.
“I’m ok. Fine, great actually.” Jongin shrugs. “I don’t know, it’s weird…”
“No kidding,” Sehun mumbles. The air shifts and everyone’s a lot more relaxed, just happy Jongin is back in one piece. “Who was it? The Demon.”
“Uhm, wait, I have to check.” Jongin leans forward and grabs the folder of papers, leafing through some of them before pulling out a single sheet. The picture is surprisingly clear, the figure actually within focus. It’s a profile shot; Chanyeol can see slightly curled hair and a sharp jaw line. “Yixing. That’s him.”
They’re not quite sure what to think of anymore. Sehun calls for a break and walks into his and Jongin’s room where the others hear him collapse on the bed. Baekhyun merely shrugs and stretches on the couch while Kyungsoo mutters something about grabbing a bite from the fridge.
“Hey, you sure you’re ok?” Chanyeol nudges Jongin lightly with his elbow.
“It’s weird. I shouldn’t be but – I am.”
Jongin brings a hand to his chest, fingers curling into the thin fabric, and Chanyeol finally sees the small dots of red on the black shirt. The dagger must’ve pierced right through his chest.
“Be careful next time,” Chanyeol warns.
Jongin is reckless and capricious, failing to show up at the Gates on time and pulling pranks in the Garden. He’s young and has energy to burn, but Chanyeol could see that the Earth and searching has drained Jongin of all the energy he has left. Right now, he has a wry smile instead of the usual smirk, skin ten shades paler than usual. “I’ll try.”
The story goes that Lucifer was an Angel, a beautiful one who served at the hand of God. But then he wanted the throne of Heaven for himself, thought himself better than his Father, and tried to raise an army to revolt. But God casted Lucifer and his army to the burning core of the Earth, stripping him of his wings and beauty.
He finds him walking down the middle of the street one day. It’s broad day light; Chanyeol had been sent out to buy more food.
He looks different from the pictures, taller and paler, with a sharp nose and steep jaw. He’s wearing a clean-pressed white shirt, the brightness contrasting sharply with the dark aura that is pouring from him. Chanyeol hisses when they brush shoulders, hand reaching down to grip the dagger he keeps hidden in his jacket pocket.
“It’s not smart to kill someone in the daytime,” the Demon - Kris - whispers into his ear. Chanyeol feels cold fingers wrap around his hand, the one that’s gripping the dagger. “People are watching.” He walks away without a backwards glance. Chanyeol’s wrist burns from where Kris had touched him and he wonders why everything is so much more complicated.
“Are you ok?” Baekhyun asks that night as Chanyeol prepares for his search. “You seem… distant.”
Chanyeol doesn’t tell anyone about his encounter; he feels like they have enough to worry about. He tries not to let it distract him but the burn on his wrist lingers and when he looks over the pictures again, he can see the colors leaking into the shade of Kris’s hair and the dark shadows of his eyes. “I’m fine.”
Baekhyun gives him a look that tells Chanyeol he doesn’t believe him but thankfully the question is dropped and Baekhyun is wishing him luck when he jumps out the window, wings spreading to catch him mid-fall.
In Heaven, Joonmyun was the watcher over everyone assigned to the Gates. His calm disposition made him likeable amongst everyone, a favorite in the Gardens. Kyungsoo was the one worrying and calming at the same time; Baekhyun was a bright spirit who never really knew how to stop talking. Jongin and Sehun were dangerous together, a pair known for wreaking havoc, running across fields instead of reporting to their stations.
But Chanyeol never had a category for himself. He was always there, walking down the line between existing and breathing. He smiles wide enough, and he thinks his heart is big enough, but he sometimes sees black and white instead of colors. So he lets Baekhyun and the others drag him along with confident hands, unsure of where to step because he’s afraid of falling through the clouds.
He’s standing on the same street again, dagger already in his hand. His palms are sweating and he’s worried it might slip.
“Oh… you’re here.” The street lamps cast odd shadows on the figure, covering his face in dark shades of black. Only his eyes are visible underneath blond bangs, red undercurrents rippling through the depths with a faint hint of surprise. “Honestly didn’t expect you to come.”
Chanyeol raises his hand with the dagger, ready to strike. The aura is overwhelming, nearly choking him with its strength and Chanyeol wonders who this Demon really is.
“I’m not here to fight.”
“Fuck that,” Chanyeol snarls and then he’s launching himself across the street, wings spread wide and the deadly point of the dagger held before him.
Something grabs his shoulders and shoves him down on the ground. His chest rubs painfully against the cracked concrete. His dagger is kicked out of his hand and someone’s knee is pressed against the small of his back, pinning him on the floor. “I said I’m not here to fight.”
Cold fingers grip his chin and twist his head uncomfortably to the side. Kris stares down at him, red eyes roving over his face. There’s a small smile dancing on his lips, and Chanyeol’s struggles die down. “What are you –”
“You haven’t changed,” Kris says, letting go of his grip. His cold breath causes the hair on the back of Chanyeol’s neck to raise and something feels wrong, so wrong, but Chanyeol can’t quite place it when –
A sharp pain cuts through his head and he screams, vision going white and then red and finally black. He sees a blur of colors and shades, and everything feels hot, too hot, the flames coming back to nip at his sides - only this time, it’s not a dream.
He feels his head connect with the floor, bits of rubble digging uncomfortably into his cheek and ear but he couldn’t bring himself to care because it feels like something is splitting his head right open. The weight on his back suddenly disappears – he realizes that his wings have melded back into his body – and suddenly he’s being lifted in the air, legs dangling awkwardly over a bent elbow, strong fingers gripping the back of his knees and shoulders. He tries to keep conscious, tries to push back the swirling black and red, but when his head rolls on a shoulder that’s too broad and sharp to be Baekhyun’s or Joonmyun’s, he’s falling.
It feels sort of like flying.
The story goes that not all Demons were Angels. Lucifer had been enraged with God’s decision to cast him from Heaven, and in retaliation, created his own Demon, a much stronger one, perhaps one even more powerful than himself. And in a fit of vengeance, Lucifer released the Demon upon the Earth.
July 28, 1914 – the war that ended all wars spread throughout the nations.
The sheets are too white and the room is too dark, and when Chanyeol twists his head to the other side, instead of the usual window there are bookshelves lining the wall. Everything is too clean, even the air; he and Baekhyun had never been ones for cleaning up after themselves, floors littered with scraps of paper and a shirt or two.
He sits up, blood rushing to his head and roaring in his ears. His bangs tickle his forehead and when he reaches up to brush it to the side, he finds them crusted with dry blood.
Chanyeol starts, head snapping to the left. It’s a different Demon; light brown hair and unnaturally bright eyes; the red even looks like it is a shade or two lighter than normal. His smile is wide, perfect teeth pressed against pink lips, but it doesn’t reach his eyes and it reminds Chanyeol of stars, cold and calculating, artificial beauty.
Chanyeol recognizes him – Lu Han, Lucifer’s right-hand man.
“Duizhang would want to know. Stay there.” The door next to Lu Han swings open but no one comes in. Instead, Lu Han steps out and the door swings softly shut behind him, locking itself.
Chanyeol snaps the blankets back and quickly runs his hands through his body. He checks for bruises, cuts, but finds nothing, just smooth skin with bits of dirt streaked across his arm. He fingers his bangs again, wondering if the blood is his, before he’s slipping off the bed and hurrying to the window next to the bookshelves.
“Leaving so soon?”
He shivers at the familiarity of the voice and he doesn’t need to turn around to know who it is. His fingers are still bent over the latch on the window, nails scraping against chipping white paint on metal.
“I suggest you sit down, Chanyeol.” A hand grabs him by the shoulder and spins him around. He’s ready; he jabs his elbow into the broad chest in front of him as hard as he could. But nothing happens, and Kris rolls his eyes while pulling Chanyeol back to the bed, pushing down on his shoulders to get him to sit. “You’re in no condition to be standing, let alone flying, so I suggest you sit tight for a while. Yixing can only fix so much.”
“I heard a lot about this Yixing.”
“Yeah?” Kris smiles, a tight-lipped smile that stretches across his face painfully as if his muscles weren’t used to moving that way. “And what have you heard about me?”
Chanyeol eyes him warily, conscious of how Kris towers so easily over him. “Enough.”
The silence stretches on for a few minutes before Kris sighs, and Chanyeol feels the bed dip besides him as Kris sits down. He stiffens, shoulders bunching up in defense as he tries to move a little more to the side. Kris lets out a little laugh when he notices although Chanyeol could see the confusion and something a little like sadness in his eyes. “So you really don’t remember?”
Chanyeol racks his brain for memories, anything useful, but he just closes his eyes and shakes his head because this is so wrong, so bizarre. He isn’t supposed to be here, he isn’t supposed to be sitting on a bed with a Demon, talking about memories Chanyeol doesn’t have.
He hears Kris sigh and suddenly fingers are under his chin, tilting his head up. He hardly has time to react – he thinks he hears a sorry whispered into the air before something presses against his lips, and everything falls into black again.
The story goes that God sent an army of Angels to track the Demon and kill it.
But something happened and the plan fell apart when the Angel who found him first refused to kill the Demon and fell in love with him instead.
“He kissed you.”
It actually sounds worse when Baekhyun says it like that, deadpanning and eyes boring into Chanyeol’s head. “I –I don’t know, I think he did, but then everything went black and…”
“He kissed you. He kissed you, oh my god, Chanyeol, why didn’t you do anything?”
In hindsight, Chanyeol really could’ve done something, if the fingers on his chin and the bright red in Kris’s eyes were any indication, but it was still too sudden, and he didn’t know how to react. “I couldn’t. I passed out.” Baekhyun snorts and then bursts out laughing, hands useless in their attempt to muffle the sound. “You’re the worst,” Chanyeol whines, head buried in his hands.
“Ok, ok, I’m sorry,” Baekhyun catches his breath, still chuckling. “Did he… say anything?”
“Kept talking about something I forgot. Something I can’t remember.” Chanyeol doesn’t notice Baekhyun stiffening next to him, doesn’t see how the brows on Baekhyun’s face draw down into a sharp V or how Baekhyun’s fingers twitch into a fist.
“Don’t let them play with your head, Chanyeol. They’re Demons after all,” and Chanyeol smiles and nods, relieved because Baekhyun makes everything easier.
Baekyun walks out of his and Chanyeol’s room a few minutes later and into Joonmyun’s.
“We need to talk.”
The other Angels are careful around him, actions stiff and guarded. Chanyeol tries not to notice how Jongin gives him a quick smile when he says hi and turns to Sehun instead or how Joonmyun is watching his every move, eyes never leaving him. Kyungsoo is still gentle and quiet, but he asks Chanyeol odd questions (“How are you sleeping?” “Are you getting headaches lately?”), and Baekhyun is still as close and bright as before.
It hurts, Chanyeol won’t lie, but he paints a smile on his face and moves on.
He’s in a middle of a battlefield. Bullets are shot at him but they pass right through like his body is made of smoke. Bombs erupt in the background, and the smell of blood and fear permeates the air. He spins around in a circle, horribly disoriented and his just-awakened state isn’t helping.
Then the ground beneath him melts away and he’s falling, no wings to catch him or to slow him down. He falls and falls and this isn’t flying, it’s dying.
The story goes that the Angel hid the Demon from the army God had sent, shielding him with his own life and placing himself under the label of traitor.
But they were found, sooner or later, the army tearing them away from each other. It was a tragic love story from the start – nothing from Heaven or Hell has a happy ending.
They’re sitting in their shared room, the sun streaming through slanted blinds. Chanyeol watches the dust float around in the sunlight; they look like tiny feathers, thin and translucent.
“What is it?” Baekhyun’s shuffling through the papers again, fingers moving across letters and picking up smudged black ink.
“Did I do something?”
“No?” He looks up, brows furrowed. “What, did you do something?”
“It feels like everyone is trying to get away from me.” Just the other day Jongin had asked who would go down to the market with him. Chanyeol had jumped at the opportunity – Joonmyun had told him to stop searching for a while and he hasn’t been outside in days. But then Jongin hesitates and Chanyeol hates how guarded his smile is.
“It’s ok. I’ll get Sehun, I don’t want to bother you.” And then they’re gone, footsteps echoing down the stairs.
“They’re not, Chanyeol. You’re thinking too much.” Baekhyun looks back at the papers and let’s silence fill the gap between them.
Later, Chanyeol asks Kyungsoo the same thing. “We’re not avoiding you,” Kyungsoo says but Chanyeol can see the way his hands float above Chanyeol’s shoulder before giving him a gentle pat. “Things are just rough right now. Both you and Jongin were taken, and we’re not any closer to killing them.”
Chanyeol wonders when things got so complicated, the searching and the killing, because this isn’t how the world is suppose to function, not like this – causing death to avoid more deaths, dirtying their hands with a job completely ill-suited for them. Angels aren’t meant to kill, but that’s all they’re good for now.
“Do you think Duizhang will get mad if I just kill everyone?”
“I believe you are actually suicidal.”
“I’m serious, Yixing. Tao failed the first time, but I’m not going to. This is a waste of time, all we need is Chanyeol.”
“Then bring Chanyeol to Duizhang, but don’t touch anyone else.”
“Oh? I bet if I left that Jongin boy alone, you’d be fine with me slaughtering everyone else, right?”
“Lu Han, I swear –”
“Kidding, I’m kidding.”
“Don’t bring the kid. I have a feeling Duizhang will go to him.”
“Because we’re under the orders of an idiot.”
“Like you can do any better.”
“I am in charge, don’t forget that, Yixing. He put me in charge.”
“And we’re all just pawns, aren’t we?”
“Yes. Just pawns. But look at this way, Kris will take the fall if you and I fail. Everyone wins.”
“No, you win.”
“That’s all that matters.”
The story goes that the Angel was sentenced to nihility – nothingness, nonexistent. Death. But the Demon threw himself upon the court and begged for a lesser punishment, and the Angels cried in disbelief at the sight of tears on his face.
And so it was decided; the Angel was thrown down to Hell, his wings burned off. And the Demon took his place, red eyes replaced with dark brown, black wings instead of white.
Chanyeol wakes up to an empty apartment a week later. The air is too still and cold; Baekhyun’s not shuffling around the bathroom and Kyungsoo isn’t whining at Jongin to get out of his kitchen. He races out of his bedroom, long limbs tripping over each other because it’s too early and he can’t see straight.
He sees glass shards scattered across the living room carpet, light bouncing off of the countless facets.
It takes him half a minute to change and race out the broken window, wings moving like shadows above him.
“Why has the Earth gone to hell, Yixing?”
“What sort of question is that, Lu Han?”
“A serious one.”
“You know the answer.”
“I’d like to think it’s because of me. But I didn’t kill God.”
“No. People killed God.”
Something heavy lands on his back, and Chanyeol cries out, head twisting back to see what it is. He meets red eyes and feels cold breath brushing against his neck, the word land growled into his ears before he can comprehend anything. Hands fist in his hair and he jerks up in pain, wings held down by the weight on top of him.
He crashes on top of a small company building, dust rising into the air as he collides with the floor. The Demon grabs him by the collar and flips him around so his back is pressed against the cracked floor, wings pinned beneath him. He blinks blearily and looks up to see Kris glowering down at him, sharp eyebrows and red-rimmed eyes.
“Where are they?” He asks, yanking harder at Chanyeol’s collar. “I’m not fooling around, Chanyeol, where are they?”
Chanyeol claws at Kris’s hand, feet kicking in his attempt to break free. “I don’t… know what you’re talking about.” It’s getting harder to breathe, and Kris’s knee on his chest isn’t helping. “I woke up, and they were gone.”
The pressure is finally lifted, and he curls on his side, shaking and coughing. “Your friends are missing, too.” There’s genuine surprise in Kris’s voice, like he wasn't expecting this. He grabs Chanyeol by the shoulders and drags him up. “What do you remember?”
“Someone broke in, that’s all I know.”
“No, what do you remember?”
Kris is staring at him with desperation in his eyes, and Chanyeol is tired of this game of guess-and-tell – he’s not getting anywhere, just hitting dead ends. He pushes Kris’s hands from his shoulder, taking a few steps back because the cold air around Kris is unsettling. “I don’t know. I don’t remember anything; I don’t know what I’m supposed to remember. Why the fuck won’t you just tell me?”
Kris takes a step forward but stops when Chanyeol keeps backing away, his hand held awkwardly between them like he wants to reach out for something. He lets out a small laugh, eyes drifting down to look at the narrow crack running across the floor between them. “Would you believe me if I said I don’t want to hurt you?”
Chanyeol frowns. “It’s in your nature to hurt people. You’re a Demon.”
“That’s harsh. And you’re not ‘people’, are you?”
“… I don’t understand you.”
“I guess that’s expected,” Kris laughs again and this time his smile is wide and gummy. Chanyeol catches himself staring and jerks his eyes away, looking instead at the grey clouds rolling towards them. “I’m just a stranger to you right?”
He tries to find second meanings behind this conversation but comes up empty, so he just settles with, “You’re a complete stranger to me,” because it’s the only thing that makes sense.
The story goes that the Angel was forced to remember everything, every detail from the start of this tragedy to the very end, even as the flames of Hell burned away his dark eyes and filled them with red. God was merciful, and because the Demon was innocent by definition, sent out on his own without guidance, his memories of Hell and his powers were blocked away, hidden behind a wall.
But it was temporarily, the Angels knew, so they held their breaths, waiting for the day the bricks start to crumble.
Chanyeol learns that Kris has the power of flight, which explains how he landed on Chanyeol’s back while he was a few hundred feet above the ground.
He finds himself back in Kris’s apartment, cross-legged on the couch and watching Kris shuffle through random stacks of paper. He tries to think of a plan, any plan, because the last thing he needs is to be dependent on a Demon, especially a Demon who seems to know more about Chanyeol than he’s letting on. He’s about to stand up when a sheet of paper falls from the stack Kris is going through and lands upside down in front of him.
It’s a picture of Chanyeol, black and white shades in high contrast, blurred lines and too much noise. Just like the other papers. He isn’t really surprised – the Demons probably had tags on all of them. But then he sees small blocks of text and two red lines scratched across the page.
Ex-Demon. Extremely dangerous.
He sees people screaming around him, bloody arms and bloody heads, frantic eyes swirling in their pockets before another bomb explodes and there are more screams. He tries to dodge the mass of bodies pushing against each other, but they simply pass through him.
He remembers fire licking along the dry field, red tongues engulfing trees and bodies, and he’s paralyzed, watching as the fire crept closer until it’s nudging at his feet.
Then the world melts away and he’s falling again, but this time he sees fire below him and feels the heat burning his skin, but he can’t fly away. Suddenly white feathers are floating next to him and cold hands grip his wrists, and everything fades into black.