Once they entered the blacked out doors of the Pink Pony for the second time, it was instantly clear that they weren't going to have the same experience they had the previous night. There were less people at the bar and on the floor but the lights still shined ridiculously bright in their eyes. The dancer's outfits were sequined and sparkly this time, lights bounced off with each snap of their hips and their bodies rolled sensually up against the audience members.
Sehun's eyes darted around the room to catch sight of the two boys that had chatted them up the night before but they appeared to be nowhere in sight. Chanyeol disappeared only to return and thrust maroon colored drinks into Sehun's hands. They sipped their drinks (Sehun's face contorted in distaste at the rancid flavor) as they surveyed the room until eyes falling over two familiar heads. He nudged Chanyeol's elbow and gestured towards the two; they seemed to be speaking with a taller gentleman with jet black hair that fell over his eyes. It looked as though they were engaging in some sort of argument. Perhaps he was the club manager and those two hadn't been doing their jobs properly (though it was hard to imagine how they could possibly do their jobs wrong).
"You don't think they're in trouble because they went home with us, right?" Chanyeol turned to him; his brows were furrowed with serious concern. The tall man lifted his hand as if to slap the brunette that had been kissing Chanyeol, Baekhyun, but Jongdae stepped in between them and shielded him. Words left his lips quickly and it looked as though he were spitting fiery remarks between his teeth. Chanyeol lunged forward at first, to protect them, but Sehun held him back and quietly told him watch. It may have been the fast upbeat music that caused their blood to pulse rapidly through their veins and for their hearts to pound in their chests. For a split second Sehun swore that the tall man looked familiar but he couldn't quite put his finger on where. Perhaps he had seen him earlier at the casino the night before, but there was this odd quality about him that made him stick out in Sehun's mind.
Unknowingly, he slowly lifted his hand and snapped his fingers. In an instant, time froze around him and everyone stood still with the exception of the man who had been arguing with Jongdae and Baekhyun. He turned around in surprise, and for a moment their eyes met, a sly grin tugging at the corners of his lips as he folded his arms across his chest. His eyes were narrow with dark circles painting the area underneath his lower eyelids. Sehun strode toward him confidently and tilted his chin upwards, sizing him up, to examine his features carefully under the otherwise horrible lighting.
The other man only smiled back mischievously and met his gaze, black pupils darting across his face. Sehun felt as though he were melting under the intensity of those beady eyes and suddenly the bare bar lights seemed to burn a thousand times hotter. "Kumiho," he snarled, voice low and scratchy as though he hadn't spoken in a long time.
Sehun stepped back in shock because in his entire experience on this planet there hadn't been a single person that had recognized his kind. He turned his head and noticed that his tails had popped out. His seven tails flicked and curled around thin air and were shrouded with a periwinkle mist. He knew that it was only a matter of seconds before his eyes would glow red and he'd completely destroy this person, but the man seemed unfazed by his transformation. Sehun glared and growled under his breath, "What are you?"
"Wouldn't you like to know?" The stranger laughed and with a snap of his fingers, he was gone.
Time suddenly resumed and Jongdae looked at Sehun with wild eyes as if almost demanding for a possible explanation and Baekhyun only shrunk behind him. He whipped his head around because it was quite possible that his tails might've shocked them but they had disappeared. He let out a sigh of relief but Jongdae still had a questioning look on his face and without missing a beat Sehun stuck his hand out.
"I believe you have something of mine?" He raised an eyebrow as he wore his traditional frown on his lips. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Chanyeol making his way towards them, well towards Baekhyun specifically.
A playful glint replaced the fear in Jongdae's eyes as he shifted his weight onto one of his legs and leaned forward. "I might." Chanyeol and Baekhyun appeared to be engaged in hushed whispers which passed quickly between the two of them but their eyes never left both Jongdae and Sehun.
Sehun rolled his eyes, "Can you stop messing around? I won that money fair and square- you can't just steal it."
Jongdae snorted back with his arms crossed over his chest, "This is Vegas, dumbass, all the money here is practically stolen."
Sehun let out an audible sigh of annoyance. He couldn't give up. The money didn't matter to him, no, it meant very little to him. He just didn't like the thought of a human taking that rightfully belonged to him, especially if that human was Jongdae. There was something about him, his aura... it practically dripped with insolence and a rebellious spirit clearly swam through his veins.
Jongdae tapped his chin and tilted his head sideways, "I'll tell you what, how about you win this money back? You've done it once, maybe you can do it again. Show me how it's done, hotshot."
He opened his mouth to protest but found himself whisked away to a room in the back of the club; chairs were drawn and a table was brought forward without questioning. The scene itself was quite eerie in a sense and reeked of bad decisions. Cards were shuffled before their eyes by a woman that Sehun recognized to be the same woman from the night before. She gave him a sour look and tossed him the cards. It was obvious that she was going to cheat to let Jongdae win since she hated his guts after the way he totally kicked ass last night. Sehun parted his lips to ask if they were going to start the game but Jongdae quickly interjected.
"If you win, you can take your money back, but if I win, you have to take me home with you, wherever that home is for you." He gave Sehun a sharp look that meant business. The taller shrugged from across the table because it didn't matter what the terms were, he would win regardless. "One game. That's all you get. Once chance."
Sehun squinted back at the confident boy with the high cheekbones who peered at him over the tops of his cards. He glanced at his own cards; he had a winning hand right here but why did he feel so uneasy playing it? He closed his eyes to pause time but when he opened them he noticed that Jongdae continued to blink and that the dealer was tapping her long fingernails impatiently against the chipped wooden table. Sehun shut them again, was it the lack of concentration in the present situation or the increased amount of pressure to win that wouldn't allow him to use his powers... Whatever it was, he was obviously disadvantaged here.
Jongdae raised a brow as if to say well, what're you waiting for? which caused Sehun to clear his throat and announce that he was ready to call. He shared his cards which included a pair of fives and nines as well as a Jack of Clubs.
The shorter boy smirked triumphantly as he spread out his hand on the table. Three sevens, two of Spades and an Ace of Spades. Sehun had lost.
"Guess you're taking me home, buddy." He stood and clapped his hand on the other's broad shoulders with a friendly smile and leaned over to whisper in Sehun's ear. "Take care of me, twinkle toes."
The foursome (Chanyeol managed to convince Sehun with his big puppy eyes that they absolutely needed to take Baekhyun home with them) made it back to Southern California late in the night with sweat drenched clothes clinging to their backs from the dry summer heat. Chanyeol, Baekhyun, and Jongdae obnoxiously sang campfire the entire way back as Sehun mentally tried to block them out (not that it worked). Surprisingly enough, the two could carry a tune whereas Chanyeol was more of the odd one out of the group. They stopped at a 7/11 for large Slurpees and some snacks that left sour tastes and colored patterns on their tongues. Jongdae told embarrassing stories about his and Baekhyun's experience at the club from strangers with tiny dicks to ones with strange kinks.
"There I was, ready to freaking cream myself in my pants because this guy was drop dead gorgeous- like I'm talking amazing body, knew what to do with pretty much everything except apparently doing the do himself. Guy was literally losing it when he...."
It was quite late by the time they made it back home and they shivered as they tiptoed up the stairs to their floor (the elevators seemed to have been broken down) and helped the two strangers into Chanyeol's apartment since Sehun would not have them in his own. Baekhyun immediately collapsed onto Chanyeol's dingy, tan sofa with a small whine for food, but Jongdae remained awake and paced around the apartment energetically, determined in giving himself a self-guided tour of the place. Chanyeol prepared some snacks, which mainly consisted of potato chips and flat soda since he hardly had much to offer anyway and plopped down on the couch beside a snoozing Baekhyun. Sehun opted to stand outside with a cigarette and watch the dark waves crash against the shore.
"So are you like solving world peace out here or...?" Jongdae asked as he leaned out over the edge of the balcony. The wind blew his hair away from his face and exposed the smooth white skin under neath. He was dressed simply in a black and white checkered shirt paired with black jeans and white socks that barely covered his ankles; an outfit much more mature as opposed to the suggestively revealing getup that he wore at the the Pink Pony. It was serious but on the casual side and the popped open collar accentuated his high cheekbones but that could have just been the moon shining directly at him.
"What do you want?" He sputtered bitterly and coughed since he hadn't expected Jongdae to appear right next to him. There was something about him that put Sehun on high alert because of his incredibly unpredictable nature.
The shorter only shrugged but his small catlike eyes followed the trail of smoke that escaped Sehun's thin lips and disintegrated in the brisk air. He could sense a question formulating in the elder's head as he swung back and forth on the metal railing. "I know your secret." Jongdae threw his head back and gave him a look with pursed lips.
Sehun squinted back at him as if he were crazy which caused the other to laugh as he childishly leaned further back. His eyes glittered secretively and Sehun wanted nothing more than to wipe that knowing smile off his face for the rest of eternity. "What are you talking about?"
"Darn, I couldn't fool ya." He didn't seem all too displeased with that response and stepped off the balcony rails. "Okay, but honestly do I have to room with those two?" He jabbed his thumb in the direction of both Chanyeol and Baekhyun who were both snoring softly on the couch together.
He sighed and rolled his eyes, taking one final drag before squashing the cigarette butt with the heel of his shoe. The end that had once been lit and had looked so beautiful between his lips appeared to be ugly now, crushed into the concrete floor. "Yeah, you do. Unlike Chanyeol, I don't like to keep strays."
Jongdae appeared to be amused by this statement and mumbled his reply. "Not like you could make them stay even if you tried."
Sehun chose to ignore this retort and stomped back to his own apartment. He could picture Jongdae's laughing face in the back of his mind as he furiously turned in bed that night. He couldn't sleep and worst of all he felt incredibly stupid for not being able to come up with something to say back. And to top it off and pour more salt on the wound, he normally would not have cared what any human said but now this one... this one wedged his way into his life and had the audacity to swagger around like some type of showoff as if he were somewhat superior than the rest of mankind. He was kind of like Sehun in a way.
He groaned at that thought and flipped on his other side, covering his ears with his pillow because they couldn't be similar. Mentally, he desperately told his brain to "change the subject, now" and forced himself to think about something else besides that annoying throaty laugh and bobbing Adam's apple. Sehun's thoughts directly flew to that mysteriously dark man they had met at the club. The one that was arguing with Jongdae and Baekhyun and somehow knew that he was a kumiho. He was definitely someone that he had to keep tabs on because he obviously wasn't human. Sehun yawned loudly and his eyelids drooped with sleep as he continued to ponder the affiliation the weird man had with those two. Maybe he would have to track the guy down or corner either Jongdae or Baekhyun for answers.
Sehun's mind immediately shot back to Jongdae's gleeful comment on the balcony earlier.
I know your secret.
His life on Earth just got a little more interesting.
He would’ve started his little self-proclaimed journey on finding that shady man from the club if he hadn’t experienced such a rude awakening that morning. Sehun woke up to clangs of pots and pans strictly ten centimeters away from his ears (which already had super hearing abilities no thanks to his special kumiho status) so it was safe to say that he was particularly moody as a result of waking up on the wrong side of the bed.
The culprit, unsurprisingly enough, was Jongdae who claimed that Chanyeol didn’t have any “real supplies” or “real food” in his kitchen and that he and Baekhyun were going to “die of starvation” if they didn’t receive food in the next seven minutes. And somehow Jongdae ended up cheerfully eating his cereal at the opposite end of the table as Sehun begrudgingly sipped his morning coffee. It was particularly bitter this morning since Jongdae had gleefully taken all the milk for his cereal and left the empty carton in the fridge.
“So… did you sleep well?” Jongdae asked, glancing over edge of his bowl as milk dribbled down the corners of his mouth to his chin and Sehun wanted nothing more than to wipe it because it looked so sloppy.
He shrugged and examined the handle of his mug. It had a picture of a grumpy orange cat popping out of a piece of paper slapped on both sides of the cup, an image that Sehun thought described him perfectly well which was why he’d bought it in the first place.
"I think I've made kind of a bad impression on you, you know, ever since I stole your money," Jongdae tilted his head and rubbed his chin, sighing loudly. "Though I probably shouldn't bring that up after you lost it to me in a game of poker."
He could feel a vein in forehead pulsing wildly because he only wanted some peace and quiet in the morning but all he had gotten was an unwelcome visitor and unwelcome chatter about something he would very much rather forget. "It's nothing," Sehun responded tiredly. He wondered if his tempter would rise to such a level that his human skin would simply burn away and he'd become a full-fledged kumiho. Surely that would've shut him up.
"Great! Because I was wondering if it would be awkward if we-" Okay, he couldn't take it anymore. For goodness sake, they had only met two nights ago by accident and yet here he was sitting on his chair in his apartment acting as if they were best friends. They weren’t best friends. They weren’t even friends. Hell, Jongdae was still a stranger and Sehun didn’t trust him. He couldn’t trust him.
His eyes closed and he hoped that he at least looked a little visibly annoyed, "Look. I didn't invite you into my house. I didn't ask to meet you or fuck you or do whatever it is that we did. I never wanted to take you home or.... or bring your friend along with us. Honestly, I’m regretting even going back to the club to find you because it was so pointless and stupid. So can you please just give me five minutes to enjoy my morning which you so rudely barged into, I’d really appreciate it.” Sehun lifted his head to find Jongdae’s lips pressed together in a thin line. It was hard to read the expression on his face, as usual, though it had seemed like the words had finally gotten through to him. Without another word, the boy bolted from the room and left behind a half full bowl of milk. And maybe in that moment Sehun should have felt guilty for speaking his mind and go after Jongdae to apologize to him.
But Sehun wasn’t sorry because it was the truth. He never asked for this. For any of it. However, he also knew that Chanyeol would totally come after him for “offending their guests” and he should have been polite… but like a child, he refused to admit that he was in the wrong, especially for this.
He pushed his chair back and the sound of wooden legs scraping against the bare floor filled the empty room. Sehun sighed as he got up and gathered whatever was left of Jongdae’s breakfast, carelessly dumping it into his kitchen sink. His apartment was quiet after the boy’s departure and Sehun didn’t really know if he missed the silence or if he preferred it when his kitchen drowned in laughter and cheeky smiles.
Day turned into night and he found himself surrounded in piles of paper with his laptop off to his side atop a tiny mountain of crumpled pieces of paper. His books were scattered across the floor and if someone walked in on him they would have thought he was doing some time of detective work. Sehlock Ohlmes. He chuckled at that the thought of that. Chanyeol could totally pull off a Dr. Watson. His stomach growled and churned out of emptiness, indication that Sehun should probably get something to eat before his stomach threatened to serenade him with the song of its people. He turned his computer off for a moment and tipped his head back, allowing the outside world to indulge his senses. His eyes closed and almost instantaneously Sehun got a whiff of whatever seemed to be cooking down at his favorite barbecue shop from across the street. He could hear the excited chatter from the people that roamed the streets and an image formed in the back of his mind. They were visible, almost real; their features were animated and their voices could be heard as if they were right there beside him. Sehun could see Chanyeol with both Baekhyun and Jongdae huddled around a grill as they were served plates of meat (a sight that caused Sehun’s mouth to water because Chanyeol was always really great at cooking their meat). He tried to convince himself that he didn’t need to be around them but he almost started to drool as his stomach growled noticeably louder. Traitor. He pressed a hand to his stomach and got up, wondering how desperate he would seem if he joined them. But then again, if he did go, he could get closer to the two they picked up from Vegas and figure out their relationship to the man that somehow recognized Sehun’s true identity. The more clues he got, the better and maybe he could finally go home.
Almost immediately an image of Jongdae flashed behind his closed eyelids. He’d probably laugh and tease him about joining them but somehow a part of Sehun didn’t really mind that at that present moment. Humans found comfort in the warmth and company of others. Maybe Sehun wasn’t human but being alone in his apartment suddenly didn’t feel so nice at all. It felt so large and foreign to him, like he was lost in a stuffy room filled with wooden furniture and dust bunnies with no place to run to when he had enough of this world. Before he could even realize it, he already had swung his jacket over his shoulders and scampered down the steps to meet his acquaintances across the street.
The wind slapped his cheeks leaving behind a faint pink glow that found its way to the tip of his nose. The scent of meat sizzling on the grill wafted up into his nose and his tongue grew heavy in mouth. He nonchalantly slid into the seat beside Baekhyun and joined in on the laughter despite the fact that he had no idea why they were laughing in the first place. Jongdae raised an eyebrow to acknowledge his presence but the other two continued to laugh. He didn’t mind it so much but he easily slipped into their conversation as he stole a chunk of meat of the grill and scarfed it down. They were all smiles as they joked about who would pay the bill even though they all knew that Jongdae was practically loaded now (they teased Sehun about this again later when he tipped their waiter).
After they left the restaurant, they strode down the somewhat crowded streets of the city. They walked in pairs with Jongdae and Sehun in the front and the other two lagging behind. Neon lights lit up the night with their cartoon characters and illuminated the ugly gray walls that had been tattooed with glow-in-the-dark graffiti.
“Hey, let’s get bubble tea, you like that, right Sehun?” Chanyeol grinned from behind him as they passed by a shop.
Jongdae peered over to him inquisitively. “You do? Let’s get some then!” He jabbed his finger in the direction of the shop while Baekhyun linked their arms together and tugged him inside. They took their bubble tea to-go and sipped them on their way back to the apartment.
“Hey, if you like bubble tea so much, you should try sucking on my balls,” Jongdae teased as they all fell back on Chanyeol’s worn-out couch. He wriggled his eyebrows suggestively and. Sehun could only roll his eyes and scoff in response but he couldn’t deny the small smile that found its way to his lips. Chanyeol gave him a funny look to which Sehun scowled back. What? It was a good joke.
Time passed and both Jongdae and Baekhyun slowly started to sink their ways into Sehun’s life. They were neighbors now and he couldn’t really avoid the chirpiness of Jongdae’s voice when he sipped his morning coffee or Baekhyun’s greetings when he stepped out to retrieve his mail. He frequently visited Chanyeol’s apartment during the week. It was all very normal. Or at least he tried to convince himself that it was when Jongdae persuaded him into buying a cellphone (“How else am I supposed to reach you when I’m in trouble?” he’d exclaimed despite the younger grumbling that he only lived next door). Sehun continued to try to identify the man from the club as well as pry into Jongdae’s history but the boy kept everything tightly under wraps.
“When’re you gonna tell him that you’re a kumiho?” Yixing asked one day after watching Sehun grin sheepishly at his phone because Jongdae had sent him a long string of emoticons. He set his phone down and scowled up at the elder who only held his hands up in surrender. “I’m just saying man.”
As if right on cue, Sehun’s phone starts vibrating uncontrollably from the slew of messages that Jongdae seems to be continuously sending. Yixing gave him a pointed look and went back to counting the new stray puppies. How do his fingers even move that fast? Does he ever stop? Much like in real life, Jongdae never seemed to shut up.
hey twinkle toes why aren’t you answering
i should call you twink for short
ANSWER YOUR HYUNG DAMMIT
“I think you should answer him,” Yixing had come back. “Before, you know, he goes crazy and blows up your phone some more. Or who knows, blow up something else.”
Sehun’s fingers had already started typing out a response long before the elder had mentioned anything. Yixing simply coughed into his elbow though it vaguely resembled something along the lines of “whipped”.