Pairings: Sehun/Minseok, mentioned Jongdae/Kyungsoo
Length: 3,852 words
Summary: It begins when he tastes lust, coffee rich in the air. It ends when he tastes love, cinnamon and vanilla in the air. (Loosely inspired by Wicked Lovely)
Warning: claiming, some mention of blood.
Author's note: I hope you enjoy this, as I tried my best with the time constraints. I fully intend to rewrite this when I can! The music inspiration for this fic came mostly from Royal Blood. To K, for keeping me calm and covering for me.
A five year old boy stares intensely at the sandbox. There is a girl there, but her hair moves like the sand and the other children do not acknowledge her. It's funny, her skin looks like sand too. Sehun approaches her, hand outstretched. His mother snatches him away before he moves more than few steps. Later that evening, in the attic, where the walls are made of iron, his parents explain the Sight and faeries to him. They drill the rules into him, until he can say them better than he can the alphabet. He does not approach faeries for the rest of his life, although sometimes, being around iron gives him a headache. And at five a.m., when he's just finished cramming for a test, he swears he sees his eyes glow green. Those nights are where he dreams about a great black wolf, huger than a human, shifting into a tall and lanky man, with a huge grin and ears too big for his head. He does not tell his parents about those dreams.
The first time it happens, Sehun thinks it's the alcohol or the drugs. It's his first party since he turned 18 but it's like nothing he's ever felt before, emotions running high. For some strange reason, he can identify all of them; there's lust: thick and cloying with the richness of coffee, there's desperation: frantic and fast paced, a hummingbird's wings beating rapidly. Excitement has a low hum to it and tastes vaguely like vodka. Sehun doesn't know how he knows these things but they're there, drawing his attention at the party. He's grinding against another boy, a really pretty one when they start making out. It's probably the drugs because Sehun feels the emotions pouring into him, tastes the loneliness, the desire, the drive to prove on his tongue, everything filling him up, almost like he's had a heavy meal. They kiss for five minutes, maybe more, before the boy passes out, tan skin ashen. Sehun blames it on the drugs when he goes home and he barely remembers it the next day.
He's always hungry now and no amount of food that he eats can appease him. He brushes off as puberty.
The second time it happens, he bears a permanent reminder. The tattoo artist is ridiculously tiny next to Sehun, his eyes perpetually curved into crescents and a kitten curl to his lips. There is the acidic aftertaste of nervousness and almost refreshing, fruity anticipation. Chen's forearm has a pack of wolves running across the night sky and to Sehun, it looks as if the wolves are real.
"You like that?" The elder asks, pulling one of his snakebites into his mouth.
"They're almost alive," Sehun murmurs, mesmerized. The pain of the needle barely registers.
"They're called the Hounds of Gabriel. It's a Welsh myth, associated with death. Some say they're the protectors of the Dark Court."
"The fourth rule when you see fey is to walk, not run." Sehun whispers.
Chen looks surprised. "Yes. Who told you that?"
"My mother." He admits, embarrassed.
"She is a wise person. It doesn't bode well when fey take notice of you."
"Are they real?"
"Aren't all myths based on some truth?" Chen asks, smirking.
He hums in acquiescence, watches his tattoo take shape. It was weird, just a simple frame on his forearm. Funnily enough, there were wolves at the corners, with eyes a luminescent green. Chen had used black ink for the whole piece except the eyes, green eyes that glowed back at Sehun, trying to divulge a secret.
"It's lovely." Chen's hand is resting against his, and he can feel fondness, cotton candy satisfaction, radiating out.
"Remember the rules, Sehun. They're all about to change." Chen says as he leaves the shop.
Sehun swears the elder's eyes are glowing the same green as the wolves in his tattoo. He doesn't feel hungry at all.
As he walks home, he thinks about the rules. His parents had been superstitious people, people who believed in the existence of fey and myths. When he was younger, he had the rules ingrained into his head.
3. Don’t stare at invisble faeries.
2. Don’t answer invisible faeries.
1. Don’t ever attract fey attention.
The third time Sehun feels emotions rushing through him from skin to skin contact, he's more or less figured it out. Chen had invited him to a club owned by his friend, newly opened. It was situated closer towards the forest at the edge of the city compared to the other buildings and was made entirely of bricks. Ever since Chen had told him about the hounds of Gabriel, Sehun had pulled up research on them.
The hounds were the servants of the Dark Court (there were five, and the Dark Court was only second to the High Court) and the Gabriel, the true pack alpha, lived to carry out the King or Queen's orders. The Dark Court drew their energy from the King but it was slightly different in the case of the Hounds; they fed off the energy or rather, the emotions of people. The Gabriel was important in the Dark Court, for if the king was weak then the Gabriel was the one the court fell back on.
The lack of iron is enough to set of the warning bells in his head but Sehun is curious, itching to know about something other. It would make sense then, the constant hunger and tasting emotions, the way he was always looking for someone to lead him around, how he looked nothing like his brother. There was another story he'd read, the story of changelings. Of fairy children left in the place of sickened, human babies. Now Sehun was simply grasping at straws but something had felt right the moment he started believing in the fey the way his parents did.
"Sehun!" Jongdae is at the entrance of the building, jostling an equally small man with raven hair and an unimpressed expression.
"Control yourself in there, yeah?" Sehun nods, unaware to what he's agreeing to.
The party he'd attended a long time ago was nothing compared to this. He could feel himself drowning in waves after waves of emotion, dragging him under and threatening him to cave, to lose himself to base desires. Everything hit him like a wall of bricks; bile fear and copper anger and rich lust and vodka excitement. It felt like everything was amplified. The club itself played some haunting music, music that raged through him and pulled him to the dance floor in the center.
Fairy rings were dangerous -- the minute you stepped in, you'd be unable to leave. But if Sehun truly was fey, it wouldn't matter to begin with. If he doubted the existence of fey before, he certainly didn't now. It was like they'd dropped all their pretenses. The first person who brushes against his skin had him reeling, head spinning.
At some point, someone pushes a glass into his hand and Sehun downs it in one go. The drink tastes like an explosion on his tastebuds, bringing him higher than any emotion in the room had. The green skinned boy he was dancing with has disappeared but it's alright. Here, surrounded by so many fey, Sehun feels alive, he feels like he's finally found his home after years of searching. The night passes by in a blur of liquid gold and multiple dance partners, the emotions of the club bearing down on him almost oppressively.
"Boy," the man that approaches Sehun radiates power like a well worn outfit and Sehun can taste fear, his fear.
The man, fey, is short but he doesn't care for glamour, his features oddly human. There is a yearning in Sehun, like he's finally found a missing part of himself. The other, bigger part needs. Need, need, need, ba-bump ba-bump like his heartbeat. The faeries part for him and Sehun knows he's in trouble.
When the fey is close enough for Sehun to make out his features, he comes to the conclusion that the faeries portrayed in most forms of media are based on this one, on court fey because this fey is beautiful. He doesn't have horns or scaly skin or green hair, almost human. Human looks enhanced by something significantly other. His eyes are bright and angled, his lips are lush and pink and it's as if his whole body is comprised of smooth lines. Sharp jaw and a strong nose, the tendons of his neck prominent and his collarbones forming a sharp dip. The black shirt he's wearing has 3 buttons undone, offering a glimpse of skin marred by tattoos and Sehun is burning with need. The man is close enough for Sehun to count his eyelashes, an eyebrow raised. He's close enough for Sehun to see he has wings looming behind him, made of what seemed like solid shadows.
"Kneel." His voice is soft. Sehun's knees buckle under him.
The grip he has on Sehun's chin is firm and the need abates, the younger, for he is clearly younger, sighing in relief.
The faery doesn't miss this, his lips curled at the corners, threatening to smile.
"Look at what you've done to those of my court," the crowd parts to reveal three bodies, each faerie different from the next.
"I'm sorry, I-"
"Don't be sorry. The Dark Court needs you." Chen appears next to him, kneeling.
"My lord," he murmurs. "Forgive me for this is-"
"Chanyeol's changeling." He sounds amused. Sehun doesn't dare look. "I know, Jongdae."
Next to him Chen, or rather, Jongdae, relaxes. Sehun can feel the shift in emotions; going from sweet and spicy curiousity to chamomile tea approval. He basks in it and draws it into him, flinching when the grip on his chin tightens.
"Follow me." He says to Sehun. "Enjoy the night, for we have much to rejoice over." He says to the crowd.
As they make their way through the people, Sehun notices how the faeries attempt to brush against him; his hand, his body, his hair. Any contact from him leaves them smiling; he doesn't even resent the thistle covered faeries that sting him with their thorns.
Jongdae and his friend from the entrance follow him, and walking behind the court fae, he realises the wings aren't really wings but shadow people. They're engaged in some diaphanous dance, always touching their host faery and Sehun finds himself mesmerized until Jongdae waves a hand in front of him.
"Don't stare at them." Sehun glances at Jongdae's tattoo. The wolves are moving.
He looks at his own tattoo, where the wolves are howling and prowling along the vines and in the blank space, there are simple strokes of words. His brain interprets it as "follow me".
"Faery ink. I'm Kyungsoo, your beta."
"Kyungsoo." The shadow faery snaps.
The room they find themselves in is opulent, with walls of glass and the light of the full moon shining through.
"My name is Minseok." His shadow figures elongate, their backs arching until they look like wings.
Sehun bows, unsure.
"Do you know what you are?"
Minseok nods and Jongdae whines. When Sehun turns, he finds a wolf in place of Jongdae.
"Your father, the Gabriel, thought you too weak. We switched you out for a human boy, healthy. He took to fey life easier than we thought he would, until he fell in love with one of the Shadow Court."
"I'm not weak, I just-"
"Yes. You're not weak, Sehun. You're strong, too strong. It's a miracle Jongdae found you."
"Found me? But I went to him!"
Minseok smiles, and it changes his face. He's no longer stern looking, but rather, impish and full of mischief. "We've been looking for the children the Gabriel sired. You displayed-"
"Everything and more." Jongdae blurts.
"Where is my father?" Sehun demands.
"Unfortunately, the Gabriel died in battle six months ago. The Dark Court has been...suffering."
"Starving." Kyungsoo supplies, crossing his arms.
"I didn't read anything like that anywhere."
"Not everything about us is out there, for you to pick and find. There is only enough, enough for us to remain as myths."
Minseok is extremely patient for someone who calls himself king of the Dark Court.
"I'll let the hounds explain this part." A throne appears out of nowhere; twisted metal and dark stains and Minseok steals his breath as he settles into his throne.
"Most of the Dark Court feeds on blood, actually, everyone except for the Hounds and the King. The problem started when the High Court came up with a rule where the Dark Court had to cease killing the humans they fed on. It's not an intentional thing, trust me. It's easy for the Dark Court to get carried away by our natures. The Court can feed from the King but our king presents a unique situation."
"He's a Gancanagh." Jongdae murmurs.
"Gancanagh?" Sehun frowns, staring at Minseok. He's smile is self-deprecating.
"I feed...differently. And those I feed from get addicted to me, practically dead without my touch. I end up being a potentially dangerous drug."
"The only person who isn't affected by Minseok's touch is the Gabriel. No one has been strong enough to take his place and so the Court has been weakened."
"We need you, Sehun. I need you."
"And we need a Gabriel." Kyungsoo mutters.
He looks at his forearm, where his wolves are pacing. There is only one line of orders there.
"Ah." Minseok gets up to peer at his tattoo, fingertip tracing a vine. "This is exquisite, Jongdae."
"What does this mean?"
"The Gabriel is the right hand man of the King. In some cases, the Gabriel is more. But you will always be bound by the orders of the King. If there is something I want done, it will appear on your skin and you cannot disobey. The fact that my first order is there...it shows you are undeniably the Gabriel and High Court magic can never be doubted."
"Oh." Sehun rocks on his heels; Minseok's hand is still touching his skin and he can feel Minseok feeding off the excess. He can feel himself having just enough emotion for himself, full, but nowhere near how desperate he was a month ago.
"I'll join the court." It took him several times to figure out that he was tapping into the emotions of people.
It took Sehun longer to figure out that he was the one in control of it. At least here, in the Dark Court, he could learn. He wouldn't be hurting anyone.
"You should claim your betas. They were your father's betas before, and they are wise and powerful."
"My lord," Kyungsoo says. "Shouldn't you be the first to claim the Gabriel?"
"You are young still. I acknowledge your claim to the title of Gabriel.”
Magic, as Sehun comes to learn, has it’s own flavour. Magic tastes like cold water to a parched throat. Your mother’s cooking when you’re homesick. The person you love, or in Sehun’s case, vanilla and something he can’t recall the taste of, but is there. As soon as Minseok says the words, he feels a presence in his head, a presence purely animalistic in nature.
Awake, the creature rumbles.
Sehun reaches out tentatively in his head, yes.
There is a sense of approval.
"Your Hound." Jongdae says, when Sehun comes back to himself.
Both Jongdae and Kyungsoo are kneeling, grinning up at him.
"You have to bite them, draw blood from them." Minseok is standing behind the both of them.
"Where?" Jongdae pulls aside the collar of his t-shirt. There are several bite marks layered where his neck meets his shoulder.
Sehun kneels, nervous. His fingers are trembling when he grips Jongdae's bicep. Jongdae tenses when Sehun bites him but almost immediately, blood flows into his mouth. Blood that tastes like strong coffee with an undercurrent of lemon. He does the same to Kyungsoo, his eyes wide when Kyungsoo's blood tastes strongly of lemon with a coffee undertone. Mirror flavours.
"Welcome home, Gabriel." Their eyes are glowing green.
"The two of you have mirror tastes."
"We're mated." Jongdae is happy to admit this and the smile Kyungsoo gives him is exasperated but fond.
"I'm sure your betas will settle you into the Hounds quarters. You will have to claim all of your hounds, and bring in new ones if you see fit.
His Hounds are heavily inked and pierced, and it influences Sehun. Within six months, he sports a huge piece on his back, of all his hounds in form. Jongdae had been more than happy to do that. He learns that Kyungsoo does piercings and he gets several on his ears. His Hounds are only frightening when they need to be but in person, they're friendly and extremely dorky. They teach him what he needs to know, what he as a changeling would have missed, how to fight and how to protect Minseok. Kyungsoo gives him a long talk about mate claiming and how he as Gabriel can chose any fey to share himself with.
"Even the king?" he asks.
"Especially the regents. Even those from another court. The Gabriel is powerful Sehun, and you must exercise him often, learn to coexist with him."
Most days, Sehun works fine with Gabriel. At night however, that's when Minseok finds him. His King is a composed man, unphased by anything. He doesn't need to sleep but Sehun will find him in his bed at midnight every day, a book in hand. Minseok rarely wears shirts and Sehun admires the dips of muscles, the glint of titanium barbells on Minseok's pelvis. They lay in bed together, and it's almost cuddling. Sehun falls asleep flat on his back with one of Minseok's hands resting on his tummy, or carding through his back. Sehun is used to waking up with his arm dead under the weight of Minseok's head. He doesn't need to sleep and Sehun considers it an act of trust; his King lets his guard down when Sehun could harm him.
This pattern continues for almost a year.
Minseok has his emotions on lock most of the time but the first time Bananach, War visits him, Minseok's falls are down and Sehun drowns in waves of cranberry frustration. The Gancanagh murmurs frantically to War and the second Sehun is at his side, a hand resting on his king's shoulder, he sees the tension drain out instantly. Sehun also tastes something else in the air. Love, as he's come to learn, is different from person to person. Jongdae's love for Kyungsoo is coffee, and Kyungsoo's love for Jongdae is lemon. The thistle fey, Soojung has a honey love and her significant other tastes like, for some odd reason, fried chicken. Sehun tastes Minseok's love, vanilla and cinnamon and he knows that taste, the same taste that fell thick on his tongue when he was claimed Gabriel.
Bananach stays for long, taunting Minseok and showing him all the chaos she had caused. The other courts would be coming for her and she wanted to tempt the king into doing the same. Sehun feels the familiar tingle on his forearm and his newest orders read 'make her leave'. Sehun makes Bananach leave but the pressure of what he's learned keeps him away from Minseok for the rest of the day. There's only so long he can stay away because Minseok will be in his room tonight but for now, it works.
Sehun can't deny the attraction he feels for his King.
"Minseok," he mumbles later that night.
The elder is reading, and he hums in response.
"I tasted it." He can now taste bile fear.
"Don't be afraid."
"I hate how hounds do that." Minseok chuckles and sets his book down.
"The day you claimed me verbally, I tasted it. I didn't know what it was then, but I know now."
"Sehun, Gabriel, I am-"
"I want to claim you."
"Sehun." The look Minseok gives him is warning. "Sehun, you are young, practically a pup by even Hound standards. You may be Gabriel but your wolf is so young, you don't know what you're talking about."
Sehun rolls over and sits astride Minseok's lap, grasping his king's hands and pressing kisses to the scarred knuckles.
"I do know what I'm talking about. My wolf has chosen, magic has dictated. I can't change it even if I wanted to Minseok."
"There is no taking back a claim. From me or you. And I am a Gancanagh, you may not have known what we do two years ago but you do now. It's not pretty to constantly need me around."
"I am the Gabriel. I am strong, Minseok, please." He can taste lust, coffee rich and soaking into his sense.
"Please," he whines, pressing his forehead against Minseok's.
Minseok is a composed man, on most days. Minseok is not a composed man when he has a desperate Gabriel in his lap, begging to be claimed.
Sehun loses himself to the easy grace of Minseok's hips and his gentle fingers, stiffening when Minseok bites into his neck.
As a Hound, he was sensitive to begin with. Sehun could pick up any stirring of Dark Court emotion. As Gabriel, Sehun was constantly overwhelmed. He is the only Gabriel without centuries to adapt, the knowledge of controlled feeding, how to shut off when he needed to. That's where Minseok comes in; the Gancanagh king absorbs, takes away the extra emotion Sehun carries, keeps him sane and the court happy. In wolf form, as the Gabriel, Sehun can pick up the emotions of the animals, the overwhelming surge of millions of lives crashing down on him like waves.
"The Dark Court is happy." In wolf form, he reaches Minseok's shoulder. There is a hand behind his ear, a gentle gesture but hides the fact Minseok is tapping into the excess.
Sehun grumbles in approval and Minseok's laugh is clear in the sanctuary of the garden.
"I've never had such a self-satisfied Gabriel before."
Months of practice has made the shift easy. Sehun finds himself kneeling before Minseok, the King's shadow guardians blocking out the sunlight from this angle. They look at him in interest and Sehun tries not to lose himself in them.
"There has never been a Gabriel loved by the King before."
Minseok's face softens as he grips Sehun's chin, the same gesture that once abated Sehun's need.
War is coming. Gabriel can taste it in the air, in the way War holds herself. As long as Gabriel lives, the king shall reign.