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[Round 3] #93 (R3 Archive) Inside the Dark Star

Title: Inside the Dark Star
Pairing: Xiumin/Kai
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 7k
Warnings: Dark fic, dark!Jongin, very unhealthy relationship
Summary: Fairy!au, demon!au. Minseok is content to be a hermit in his flower field, until Jongin shows up in the middle of it. He's a little in awe of Jongin, a little enamored, and before he even knew he was in the rabbit hole, Jongin had him so far down in it that escape is impossible.

Author's Notes: Thank you to the prompter, I hope you enjoy this! I'm sorry Minseok isn't an angel like you asked, but I hope you still like it! As always, thank you to my precious friends for beta-ing and encouraging me; especially Sparks and Spoops who don't even like k-pop to begin with ^^ Also thank you to the mods for making my first time participating so much fun!

Minseok sighed happily to himself as he basked in the sunlight pouring into his field. The only clouds in the sky were small ones, thin ones, not even dimming the sun if they happened to pass in front of it. The breeze was light, enough to make the flowers whisper but not enough to ruffle the trees. The flowers were in full bloom, open wide and happily to the light of the sun streaming down on them and brushed gently against Minseok’s calves and thighs and wings as he walked through them. He was completely alone, one nearly bronze figure tall against the brilliant sea of color.

It was absolutely perfect.

Most of his kind lived deep in the surrounding forest, little communities high in the trees, with houses made in little alcoves of the tree branches. The height gave adults room to stretch their wings, fly from place to place, while the young ones who didn’t quite have control of their wings yet ran from house to house on bridges made of living branches. The system meant that they could expand their communities and social circles further, some social circles even included humans, who lived in nearby towns or lone cabins by little lakes or pastures. Human made trinkets slowly made their way into shops and pockets and shelves… novelties for the most part, pretty things. But his kind certainly did love their pretty things.

Minseok, though, Minseok was alone. Occasionally some of his kind flew out to him, or small children made their way down to the forest floor and out to his little home in the tree trunk. The tree was still living, but he’d coaxed it into opening a space for him with his magic. It wasn’t large: a small bed, some shelves full of trinkets, a window, and a table with one small stool. Like the field, for Minseok, it was perfect. The children looked at it like a play house, and then sat outside on the ground for Minseok to tell them his stories. The adults looked in and were convinced that Minseok was a hermit, and no one else wanted to make the same sort of life, in a small house far away from their communities, so no one thought about doing anything silly, like becoming his neighbor in the misguided notion that Minseok was lonely. He talked to the flowers, he talked to the children; he needed nothing else.

It was a quiet morning when Minseok saw him. The sun had barely begun to kiss the sky, the air was still cold from the chilly night, and the flowers were still asleep. Minseok knew the exact moment he appeared in the flower field because the birds, who were beginning to make a racket as they greeted the slowly coming day, immediately fell silent. Minseok had still been in bed, blinking lazily and coaxing warmth into a cup of tea that he’d left cooling the night before when he heard all the noise stop. He sat up, and found that his eyes were drawn to him. At first he was just a lone, dark, figure, silhouetted as a darker spot against the still mostly dark flower field and trees.

He abandoned the tea, and wrapped his blanket around his shoulders, winding it carefully to leave room for his wings. It wasn’t work to coax warmth back into the tea, but it was work to keep himself warm, and his clothes were gauzy and mostly there to be pretty and offer the barest hint of modesty.

The figure said nothing as Minseok stepped out of his house, and walked towards him. As Minseok got closer, he could see that the figure was male in appearance, and wearing clothes much more suited to the current temperature. He had wings, too, but Minseok could not see them well. Closer, he could see that the figure had beautiful bronze skin, a different tone from Minseok’s, darker, and ashen hair. The figure still said nothing as Minseok walked closer, standing in the flower field like he knew it well, even though Minseok was sure he’d never seen him before. Finally, Minseok could see his face, and wings, in detail. There was something to his face that made him look young, soft. Similar to Minseok’s own face, but soft and young in a different way. Minseok stared at him, taking in the slope of his nose, the gentle bow of his lips. His eyes were warm and deep, captivating enough that Minseok almost didn’t pay attention to his wings, now that he could see them in detail. They were dark, almost black, and while not entirely the same as a bat’s, not dissimilar.

A demon. The figure was a demon.

Minseok stood there for a moment, looking at the figure, the demon. Taking him in. He said nothing, the demon said nothing. There was no sound save for the breeze picking up and making the flowers rustle, brushing against both of them. The birds were silent, the bugs were quiet, and even if anyone else were awake, they were not around to see them.

Finally Minseok spoke:

“Who are you?” His voice was soft, deliberately so. He felt like he shouldn’t disturb the quiet.

“My name is Jongin.”

“Are you a demon?”

“Yes.”

“I have seen demons from far off, but I’ve never met one.”

“I would imagine that’s for the best.”

“If it’s for the best then why are you here now?”

Jongin shrugged. “I felt like it.”

“Have you come here before?”

“Yes.”
“I’ve never seen you here, and I never leave.”

“I know. You didn’t see me because I didn’t want to be seen.”

“Then why now?”

Jongin smiled. It was a cute smile, for a demon, and it put Minseok at more ease than it probably should have.

“I couldn’t resist.”

Minseok didn’t quite know what to do with that, but he ended up making tea for Jongin and sliced up pastry bread that he’d baked the day before for the both of them. At first Jongin made him a bit nervous, he was a demon after all, but Minseok found himself relaxing around him sooner than he’d expected. Jongin’s voice was soothing, and just something about his manner was pleasant.
That day Jongin left before the sun was too high in the sky, before the children came to visit, but Jongin came nearly every day. Minseok began to see Jongin more often than not, it felt like, and when his only other visitors were children, it was a bit exhausting. Jongin was a whirlwind, and Minseok was being carried along for the ride, right in his own home. But Minseok couldn’t find it in him to mind: Jongin was everything he didn’t think a demon could be.

He was caring, polite, sweet, and a whole host of other things. He listened with all his attention on Minseok when Minseok spoke, asked him questions and was genuinely interested in the answers Minseok gave him. They talked in Minseok’s house, on walks in the woods, laying together in the flower field, with the leaves on the stems tickling Minseok’s legs gently, and his wings the only thing sticking above the flowers.

Minseok was relaxed enough around Jongin to fall asleep with him still there, too. It mostly happened out in the flower field, with the sun warm on his back, dirt cool on his stomach where it was exposed, and still cool through the gauzy material of his top, and Jongin’s voice lulling him to sleep. Whenever he woke, Jongin was still there, awake but just barely, and lazily watching where a butterfly had landed on the back of Minseok’s thigh.

Jongin brought him gifts, too. According to him, in the town closest to Minseok’s home there were several “magic user friendly” (a kind way of saying “anything not fully human who can somehow communicate their order to us and give us money”) bakeries, and so he brought Minseok sweet breads and little cakes and cookies. He didn’t mind when Minseok took his sweet time eating them, trying to figure out exactly how the baker had made it. Sometimes he couldn’t quite figure it out, but many times he could, and Jongin certainly enjoyed watching him bake and eating the results with him.

It wasn’t always baked goods, or little hard candies, either. Jongin started to bring him little trinkets from human shops. First, a little hand mirror, with painted butterflies on the back. It was pink and green like flower stems and Jongin said he had thought of Minseok when he’d seen it. Next a delicate little thing that he’d called a “hand flower.” It was a ring and a bracelet and had little gold chains with delicate little sea shells mixed in connecting the ring and bracelet. Minseok wore it constantly: he loved the smile on Jongin’s face whenever he saw Minseok wearing it. The children asked him about it, and not long after he received a few adult visitors asking with a little playful smile who his new “friend” was who was giving him nice jewelry. Minseok stammered and stuttered and they didn’t tease for long, just started giving Minseok advice that they said was practical but made his ears burn bright red to hear.
Minseok told Jongin and Jongin laughed out loud. Bright, unapologetically happy, with his head tilted back and it warmed Minseok to the core to see him like that.

“Well they’re right,” he grinned at Minseok. “It is practical advice.”

“It’s unnecessary!” Minseok blushed bright red, his flush reaching the tips of his ears.

“You’re cute,” Jongin laughed, and played with the bracelet of the hand flower on Minseok’s wrist.

His favorites, though, were two things in particular. The first one was a little music box. Jongin said the humans had hundreds, thousands of different kinds: they all looked different and most had different tunes. This one was painted with a little meadow scene around the sides, waving flowers and grass with a clear blue sky. The lid was a weeping willow tree beside a pond. It looked serene as anything and Minseok loved it. When he opened it, the box was lined with baby blue satin, with a delicate little mirror on the underside of the lid and a figure of a female fairy, wearing only a little gauzy skirt, not unlike Minseok’s shorts he was so fond of, with her long wavy hair covering her breasts. When it was open, and when Minseok had turned the crank, it played a little lullaby. Minseok got used to falling asleep to it, and Jongin had walked into his home in the tree several times to find Minseok fast asleep and the music box open next to his bed.

It was even better when Jongin laid down with him. The music box worked even better when combined with Jongin’s fingers running gently through his hair, down his back, and even, very delicately, down his wings. Minseok was sure to be out like a light.

The second thing was a delicate little figurine. It was made with glass that was tinted white, but the horn and hooves were dipped in gold plating. It was so tiny, smaller than the palm of Minseok’s hand, and it seemed like the little legs might snap and break if he put the slightest pressure on them, they were so thin, but they did not. Not that Minseok tried.

“In the shop,” Jongin told him, his voice low and his mouth close to Minseok’s ear. “They had hundreds of little glass figurines like this. They shone little lights on them, and the whole place looked like a rainbow, Minseok. It was so pretty, it looked like a whole world full of the brightest flowers you’ve ever seen. I thought of you immediately, Minseok.”

Minseok tried to envision it in his head. He closed his eyes and thought about it, but he couldn’t quite come up with what it would look like.

“Can… Can I go?” Minseok asked hesitantly. “Will you show me?”

Jongin smiled, that beautiful, beautiful, smile.

“Of course, Minseok.”

It was terrifying, leaving the forest. They did it gradually, with Jongin gently guiding him with his arm around Minseok’s waist. When Jongin had said “town” Minseok had envisioned something like his own nearest community, only not up in the trees. But this…

There were buildings. They were too big, in Minseok’s opinion. The trees were small and… wrong. He didn’t know how they were wrong but they had an air of defeat to them. Spaced out just so along the road. Too many humans, far too many, walking far too fast and talking too loudly and most looked grumpy at best.

But Jongin tucked Minseok into his side and walked confidently, and it made Minseok feel better.

They only went to town a few times, but Jongin started bringing Minseok out of the forest to take him to quieter places, places more in tune with nature. A rice farm, a beach, a separate forest with a creek running through it that they played in until Minseok’s fingers and toes were wrinkled.

It became more fun than scary, even if it was still nerve-wracking, and Jongin gently coaxed him farther and farther away from the forest for their daytime outings. Minseok got excited just listening to Jongin talk about the places he wanted to show Minseok, and how much he knew Minseok would love it.

It was gradually that Jongin coaxed Minseok into spending the night away from the forest. Staying out late, traveling back by the time it was the wee hours of the morning rather than evening. Minseok became more comfortable with the idea, and after about a month of these occasional night-time adventures, Jongin told him where he wanted to take him next.

“The mountains, Seok,” Jongin smiled. “You’d love the mountains. The closest one has this beautiful cliff with a small meadow and the most delicate little wildflowers you’ve ever seen. It’s so quiet up there and from the cliff you can see the forest below it so well… it’s beautiful.”

“The mountains are really far, though…” Minseok hesitated. “We’d have to be away overnight.”

“I’ll be with you the whole time,” Jongin told him gently. “You’ll be okay.”

Minseok was worried, though. He’d never spent the night away from his flower field. For all the trips he had gone on with Jongin he had never once spent the night away from his own bed, his own safe haven. He wasn’t sure what he was worried about, but the very thought of sleeping anywhere other than the magic-soaked walls of his tree trunk home made his stomach feel like it had rolled into a ball of lead.

“I don’t know,” Minseok said softly. “I don’t want to be away overnight.”

He looked up in time to see Jongin look upset, just for a moment, before the demon schooled his expression back into one of gentle concern.

“Minseok, if you think we’re taking too many trips out of the forest, it’s okay to tell me. We don’t need to go on so many.”

Another worry stabbed sharp into Minseok’s stomach. Jongin loved taking him on these trips. Jongin took him places that he had thought Minseok would like and connect with. What if he took Minseok’s unwillingness as a rejection? Not just of the trips but of him personally? Minseok had always been solitary, but he’d long grown attached to Jongin’s company. He liked Jongin, he liked him a lot. He didn’t think he could handle it if the demon left.

“I… I,” Minseok stuttered. He never stuttered. “We can try going on the overnight. To the mountains. I think… I think if you’re with me, I’ll be okay.”

Jongin smiled one of the most brilliant, relieved, smiles Minseok had ever seen on his face.

“Really Minseok?” He sounded so excited. “I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.”

Minseok swallowed. “No, I’ll be… I’ll be fine.”

He forced himself to smile. It was shaky, but he managed it.

He would be fine.

He was sort of fine. Jongin was right; Minseok loved the mountains. The air was crisp and a bit cool, but not cold enough to kill off the wildflowers. They were able to fly along the man-made trails, and it was perfect: Minseok could tell by looking at the ground that the trail they were taking was difficult enough that they had no human company and probably wouldn’t see any along the trail.

Minseok thought it was a bit too quiet: the birds and small animals tended to disappear when Jongin got too close, so Minseok could only hear the birds sing if he focused in on a far off point, and if he did that then he lost his concentration. The only noise other than Minseok and Jongin talking was the wind whipping through the trees and making the larger ones rustle like a dog shaking off water, while the smaller ones groaned with movement.

And the cliff, the one that Jongin had coaxed Minseok out here with, was absolutely breathtaking. If they were to try to get there by walking, they would have also had to have been prepared for rock climbing, so fortunately for the two of them they had no human company and didn’t worry much about any of them showing up. The tall grass and flower stems were soft, sliding sweetly against Minseok’s legs and the lower portion of his wings as he landed. The wind was blocked by trees on farther reaching outcroppings, so instead of a harsh push there was nothing more than a gentle breeze, and Minseok couldn’t help but smile at the flowers tickling his thighs. The blooms were tiny, delicate, curious things, and Minseok got to know them with magic in his fingertips.

There wasn’t much light left in the day, but Minseok soaked up every last drop of it, talking with Jongin as the flowers kissed his cheeks. He had been away from his flower field at night before, with Jongin, so he didn’t get nervous as the sun crept lower and lower in the sky, stealing most of the warmth as it left. He felt comfortable as he kissed and sang the little flower blossoms to sleep, watching as they hid themselves away. But he began to feel the lead ball in his stomach rolling into something larger and larger as Jongin made them a place to sleep.

“Come lay down, Minseok,” Jongin called out gently when he’d finished.

Jongin had made a sort of nest out of an area of soft grass, big enough for them to both fit, but they would clearly be sleeping close. It was surrounded by sticks, and Minseok wondered why until he laid down. Jongin laid next to him and one of his massive black wings stretched out to cover the top. With the sticks surrounding them like a fence it made a neat little shelter.

“It’s okay, Minseok,” Jongin’s voice was low, almost husky. Minseok could barely see the outline of his head, much less his facial features. His wing was thicker than Minseok thought, and the moonlight couldn’t get through: the only light was coming from around the wing or between the sticks surrounding them.

“I’m right here. Just go to sleep, everything will be okay.”

Even with Jongin rubbing his back, the ball of lead still grew bigger and bigger in Minseok’s stomach. He tried to sleep, but it was fitful, and he had very little of it. Everything just felt wrong; it was too quiet with all the nocturnal creatures having fled the immediate area, and as pretty as the cliff was, and as friendly as the flowers were, they were strangers to him. They weren’t his flowers, they didn’t have his magic flowing from them like his flowers and his tree did. If anything, it was Jongin’s magic flowing from them: dark and thick, covering Minseok like a dense fog. Minseok could feel it: crawling over and inside of him as it explored, so thick he thought he might choke on it while he slept. Minseok had obviously been in close quarters with Jongin before, but never overnight, never long enough for Jongin’s magic to cling to him like a film on his skin.

He didn’t choke, but he barely rested. He needed help flying back and he thought Jongin probably took a bit too much pleasure in holding onto him.

He would be fine, as soon as he got home.

Jongin coaxed him into taking overnight trips more and more. They were usually spaced wide apart, and Minseok didn’t have the same problem with Jongin’s magic choking him like he had on the cliff. But it still made him uneasy.

“It’s probably because you almost never left your flower field,” Jongin told him. “Trying to sleep somewhere without your own magic surrounding you makes you feel like mine is choking you.”

Minseok reasoned that Jongin was probably right, but still.

He grew more comfortable with it as time passed. He didn’t necessarily like spending nights away from his home, but he enjoyed the places that Jongin took him to. He liked Jongin’s company: he was sweeter than any of the demons Minseok had heard about, and there was almost an innocence to how he spoke to Minseok. Before he knew it, he was wrapped around Jongin like vines wrapped around a tree: it would be hopeless to try and pry him loose. But he liked to think that he wasn’t choking Jongin like vines, Jongin was just helping him expand his world.

“Minseok, I really want to show you where I live.”

Jongin sounded like he knew what he was asking. He was hesitant, his voice almost shy. Just the idea made Minseok nervous: Hell was nowhere he wanted to go. It would be draining on Minseok, both mentally and magically, and there was so much that could go wrong on the way down, while he was there, and the way back.

“Why?”

“It’s just… you’ve been so generous with me. You let me into your home, your private space, somewhere that’s flowing with your magic and somewhere you consider your safest place of all. That’s… I’ve never had someone else do that for me. I want to show you the same trust.”

It was when Jongin phrased things that way that Minseok had a hard time saying no. Even though he was a demon, Jongin could look so pitiful; like a child, innocent, gentle, and even a bit fragile. The looks, the air that Jongin gave off, made Minseok wanted to give in, want to protect his feelings, his heart, whether he was a demon or not.

“… I wouldn’t be able to stay long. I would want us both to come up with a plan.”

Jongin’s head shot up, and the look on his face was so hopeful that Minseok thought his heart might melt.

“Really?” Jongin smiled like the sun. “Minseok, you would really go?”

“I want us both to come up with a plan first,” Minseok said again.

Jongin hugged him tight, and Minseok couldn’t help but relax into it.

“There’s… there’s one thing, though.” Jongin said hesitantly, just his tone of voice alone implying that it was something major.

“What is it?” Minseok asked, pulling back so he could look at Jongin’s face.

“There are creatures down in Hell… not all of them are demons, but all of them are dangerous. They can’t know what you are, Minseok. They’d… I don’t even want to think about what they would do to you.”

“How can we disguise my wings?” Minseok could look like a human, if not for his wings, but that was a lot to disguise.

“I…” Jongin looked down at the dirt below them. “I would need to take your wings and hide them. While we were down there.”

Minseok recoiled, physically moving away and standing. “Jongin, no!” His eyes were wide. “How could you even think of asking me that?”

“I’d give them back!” Jongin pleaded. “I’d keep you safe!”

“Do you have any idea what you’re asking of me?” Minseok almost screeched. His heart was pounding, his hands gripping into fists so hard that his fingernails were pressing painfully against the palms of his hands.

“Yes, but-“

“Then how could you ask it?”

He wanted to run. He wanted to run back to his tree and lock himself inside. Even the thought of giving up his wings for even just a small amount of time filled him with anxiety and outright terror. But he made himself stay, plant his feet, and let Jongin speak.

“I just… Minseok, please…”

“Jongin, I think you need to go home for today. I need a while to calm down.” Minseok spoke when it was obvious that Jongin was trying to placate him rather than apologize.

“Can I come back and see you?”

Even now, as scared and angry as Minseok was, the thought of not having Jongin around ever again sent a fresh wave of anxiety and desperation through his body.

“Yes,” Minseok kept his voice as even as possible. “Yes, of course. But not today.”

He turned around and walked back to his tree. Hopefully being surrounded by his magic would make him feel better.

He saw less of Jongin after that. At first the demon came by quite a bit with trinkets and apologies. A glass figurine of an elephant, a sash that tied around his waist with little bells all over it so that they all chimed when Minseok moved. Sweet breads that Minseok had fun trying to replicate and marveling at how ingenious humans could be with their non-magical baking. But he also still asked Minseok to visit his home, and when Minseok refused every time, he started coming around less and less.

It hurt, it hurt a lot. Minseok’s heart ached with loneliness; the children still came around, but while he enjoyed their company, he’d become addicted to talking with Jongin, laughing with Jongin, just knowing that Jongin was next to him. He didn’t go out of his flower field without Jongin, and while it wasn’t a confining feeling, being in his flower field, he was acutely aware of missing seeing places, experiencing things that were outside of his routine.

Subtly, so much so that Minseok barely even realized he was thinking about it, Minseok began to reconsider Jongin’s offer.
He knew what Jongin was thinking with offering. Minseok hadn’t thought about it overly much when he invited Jongin into his home, but clearly for the demon it was a serious display of trust. And Minseok had come to trust Jongin, he let him take Minseok away from his home, even on overnights. Jongin was probably trying to show Minseok the same amount of trust Minseok had shown Jongin. Of course he’d be hurt if he refused.

He knew there was a lot to be worried about. He’d heard about the demon king, about how demons, especially higher ranking demons, liked to keep Fair Folk of all kinds as pets. He understood why Jongin would want to disguise him as much as possible.
But the thought of giving up his wings, even for only a short time… it wouldn’t just be physically painful. It would be magical agony, on every level it was possible to hurt. He trusted Jongin to give him his wings back once it was safe, but he wasn’t sure if he could endure having them taken in the first place.

But as time passed, Minseok found himself more and more willing. He wanted Jongin, he wanted to spend time with him again, to be what they had been again. Friends were worth the pain, weren’t they? Jongin was worth the pain, surely.

Jongin was elated when Minseok agreed. Minseok thought Jongin might actually cry, he looked so happy. He pulled Minseok into a hug, his arms wrapping around Minseok almost too tightly. He had his face in Minseok’s neck when he inhaled, and Minseok could feel his breath shake.

This would hurt more than anything, but it would mean the world to Jongin.

Jongin helped Minseok pack a few things. With everything that Minseok was going to have to go through, this wasn’t going to be an afternoon trip. Minseok knew he would be there a while, and that made him nervous, but he trusted Jongin. Jongin would make sure nothing went wrong. Minseok didn’t really have any clothes beyond what he wore normally to speak of, few fairies did, but what he had, he packed. There were also a few trinkets, his favorites of things Jongin had given him, and a flower crown: made from flowers from his flower field, and kept alive through his own magic. While he could still use it. The magic would linger, though.

They waited until before they were going to leave before Jongin took away Minseok’s wings. Jongin knew how to remove them without Minseok telling him anything, and Minseok wasn’t very surprised: he would have easily heard it from higher level demons.
“We’ll do this in your tree,” Jongin said gently. “So you’ll be calmer.”

He was rubbing Minseok’s back gently, and even though it was Jongin, Minseok still flinched every time his hand brushed one of Minseok’s wings.

Jongin’s magic was thick in the air as he lit candles. There was a sort of ritual to remove a fairy’s wings, although the ritual itself was not inherently magical. A human could technically do it, although the fairy would probably kill them before they could get very far into it. But demons had magic of their own, and it was what made it so easy for them to keep Fair Folk as unwilling pets.

Minseok felt his heart beginning to race, and even though he was in his tree, even though this was Jongin, his self-preservation instincts were screaming. But because of Jongin’s magic his body was relaxing on its own, pliant as Jongin laid him out on his stomach.

“Shhh, Minseok, it’s okay.” Jongin soothed with his voice and his hand brushing gently against Minseok’s cheek as Minseok whimpered.

Jongin had a tightly rolled bit of cloth, so packed that it was solid enough to provide real resistance if Minseok bit down on it, and he pushed it between Minseok’s teeth. Not as a gag, but so Minseok wouldn’t injure himself.

Jongin began to rub at the base of one of Minseok’s wings, and Minseok realized very abruptly that Jongin was a lot more powerful than Minseok had realized. Minseok couldn’t move.

Minseok had thought that Jongin was a lower level demon. The most he should be able to do was make Minseok sluggish and pliant.

“Jongin…” The only thing he could still do was speak.

“Jongin, wait.”

Minseok saw a flash of silver out of the corner of his eye.

“Jongin, please!”

He felt the knife slide in along the base of his wing. And then nothing.

Minseok couldn’t remember the journey to Jongin’s home. He was aware of various sensations: the darkness creeping closer and closer, the temperature changing too many times to be comfortable, but most of all, he was aware of Jongin. The sound of his heartbeat, the feel of his arms around him, supporting him. Carrying him. Hushing him softly as Minseok made little wounded noises that he was only vaguely aware of making.

Everything else was blank. He couldn’t even feel pain from the ragged flesh on his back that his wings used to come out of. Everything was dulled in the wake of the cavern of nothing where he used to feel his magic dance. It wasn’t just that he was tired, mentally or physically; he felt as if a part of his soul was missing. Not just missing, but that it was dead. Gone. There was no way for him to reach what was such an integral part of himself and now he had no idea what to do. He didn’t know how to function without his magic under the surface, dancing along his skin and intertwining with the energy of everything around him. Now that there was nothing, he felt cut off from reality.

When he was more conscious, he realized that Jongin had brought him to a house. Not a small thing, like his home in his tree, but it seemed like a room in the sort of houses humans had. The entire trunk of his tree would have fit inside of it, surely, with room to spare. The bed was impossibly huge, at least compared to Minseok’s in his tree: at least three people could fit on this comfortably, and probably four or five if everyone squished onto it and someone slept at the foot.

Now that he was conscious, his back felt like it was on fire. He could barely move, and cried out when he chanced rolling onto his back and propping himself up on what was far too many pillows for one being, human or magical. Jongin had wrapped bandages and cloth around his chest and back, at least, and Minseok could feel that it was wide enough to cover the wounds where his wings had been.

Had been. Minseok started to cry as soon as he processed it again. His wings were gone. His magic was gone. Everything that he was, that he identified himself with, had been ripped away from him.

He fell asleep like that, crying again.

He couldn’t tell how long he slept for, there wasn’t any light from the sun for him to attempt to go off of. Minseok fell asleep and woke up multiple times, but that didn’t mean anything. He was tired and every part of him ached. At one point he was coherent enough to register that Jongin was there, feeding him and gently making him drink. Most of what he drank was water but there was something that burned like fire as it went down his throat and settled into his gut and he couldn’t help but claw at Jongin’s back with his finger nails when Jongin hugged him to try and shush him when he cried.

After that, though, the pain in his back dulled until it subsided completely, and even though Minseok still felt disoriented, empty, from the lack of magic in his soul, he was coherent the next time he woke up.

This time he was able to get out of bed and explore the room. Jongin had clearly done a bit of unpacking for him: his more delicate trinkets were sitting out on multiple surfaces: most of them on the dresser but a few on what Minseok knew to be a vanity. The color scheme of the room was dark but not overwhelmingly so, just enough to be easy on the eyes and Minseok appreciated it. There was an arched door leading to a bath, which looked more like the size of some small ponds Minseok had seen, but made of marble.
Back in the main bedroom, Minseok decided to go find Jongin. The sooner he started moving and exploring, the faster he’d, hopefully, start feeling like himself again. He crossed the room to the other door, a large rectangular one, and reached for the door handle.

As soon as he touched it, his hand felt like he’d touched white-hot metal, and Minseok jumped backwards away from the door with a scream. He looked at his hand, and not only did it look burned, but the flesh of his palm was rapidly blistering and redness spreading like a rash up his arm. Wherever the rash spread, the pain went with it, and Minseok shrieked in agony, falling to his knees.

The door handle was made of iron!

A few seconds after Minseok started screaming, the door flew open.

“Minseok!” Jongin was at his side, on the floor with him, in an instant.

“Iron!” Was all Minseok could wail at him.

“Oh goodness, I’m so sorry, Minseok, I didn’t think…”

“My liege?” Another demon was at the door.

“Bring me bandages and the burn solution!” Jongin said immediately. “Quickly!”

The demon was gone without another word.

My liege? The thought cut through Minseok’s head like lightning. Jongin was using magic to stop the spread of the red rash, and the magic lessened the pain which allowed Minseok to think. Liege was just a title for someone of high status, but the use of it caught Minseok off guard, and brought back to light what Minseok had thought just before Jongin had removed his wings. Jongin had wielded far more magic than Minseok thought he could, and that, and the liege title, made Minseok realize that he had no clue who Jongin was. He thought he had, it was why he had trusted Jongin this far, but he was missing information. Information that was much too vital to ignore.

He was quiet as Jongin spread a sort of cream on Minseok’s arm. Everywhere the red rash was, and it took the pain away almost immediately. He wrapped his arm, too, and Minseok stayed still.

“There,” Jongin said, and his smile was the same one that Minseok had always known. “If you leave it wrapped like that, it won’t scar.”

Minseok nodded. “Thank you.”

“Do you want to explore the house? You were trying to come find me, right? You should be healed enough to move without hurting too much.”

“Yes,” Minseok said softly. “I was.”

“Minseok?” Jongin looked concerned. “Are you feeling alright?”

“Why is the door handle made of iron?”

Jongin winced. “It’s a demon thing. I wasn’t even thinking about it, honestly. I’m so sorry, Minseok.”

Jongin led him around the house, keeping Minseok tucked under his arm as they walked. Before they’d come here, Minseok would have felt protected. He would have leaned into Jongin’s touch. He might have even believed Jongin when he said that an iron door handle was “just a demon thing.” Now, though, now he was wary.

While they were walking, another servant approached them.

“Your highness,” he began, and Minseok felt his blood run cold, tuning everything else out. Unlike “liege” which had many meanings, “highness” usually was only reserved for one individual.

He’d known it. Somewhere in his brain he had known it for a while, but hadn’t wanted to believe it. He had heard stories of demons taking Fair Folk, and none of them matched what had happened to him. Several demons descending on one fairy; even higher level demons still having to tie down their chosen unwilling pet to remove their wings. No known demon had enough power to make it so that a fairy couldn’t move, even when under extreme fear. Even simple things: Minseok had never heard of a demon’s presence making the birds and woodland creatures flee or go silent. There was so much Jongin could do that shouldn’t be possible.

And with this address, he knew who Jongin was.

He’d known who Jongin was, but now he had to admit it.

The Demon King.

Minseok ran. He heard Jongin call out to him but he didn’t dare look back. He had to find an open door, an open window, anything, but he couldn’t touch iron without being incapacitated. If he was still able to use his magic he could have at least dulled the effects of the iron until he was free, but without his magic, he was completely helpless. But still, there had to be some way for him to get out, find his wings, something!

In the distance he could hear someone, maybe Jongin maybe multiple people, running after him; but all he could hear near him were the harsh slaps of his own bare feet on the floor. The house or palace or whatever was a maze and Minseok desperately hoped he could find his wings and use his magic to get out.

Jongin would have put them somewhere. Fairy wings could be used for a lot even off of a fairy, and Jongin wouldn’t want to risk Minseok getting them somehow. He wouldn’t have discarded them, and he didn’t seem the type to destroy them.

At least, Minseok hoped.

He was rapidly running out of breath. There was a stitch in his side: he wasn’t made for running, especially not long distances. He was made for flying. But adrenaline spurred him on and he forced breath into his lungs. He had to get out.

Navigation was difficult: he had to stay ahead of Jongin and his servants, and figure out the palace at the same time. Hallways branched off into corridors, and the corridors didn’t always go through to somewhere else. Several times he cut it too close for comfort when he was forced to double back. The demons were only getting closer, and Minseok was losing speed and stamina far too rapidly.

Finally, he found it. An open door at the end of a branching corridor. No matter what the room was, he could jump out a window, if there was one, or at least have a chance to hide and regroup.

“Minseok,” he heard Jongin call out. He sounded entirely too light-hearted. And far too close.

Minseok ran for the door, hurrying inside and out of sight.

He’d ended up in another bedroom. This one was very large, with a lot of open space on the floor, and looked much more lived in. The comforter was off the bed and the sheets were rumpled. There was a bench at the end of the bed with clothes all over it. A desk with papers, and a private library. But it wasn’t comforting, despite the signs of life. All of it, the furniture, the walls, everything, were in dark colors, dark enough to be oppressive. Looming.

But what stole Minseok’s attention, even away from the feeling of dread, was right across from the bed, placed carefully in such a way to command attention from anyone who walked into the room. A cage. Very tall, taller than Minseok, but relatively shallow. The bars were likely made of iron, but they’d been well maintained. But none of that mattered.

Inside of it, were his wings. They looked a bit faded, and they would, since they were surrounded and being supported by iron, but Minseok would recognize them anywhere.

He felt tears well up in his eyes. He knew he shouldn’t have done this, every fairy knew from birth, but Minseok had been too trusting, and Jongin too manipulative. His poor wings...

“I thought I might find you here.”

Minseok screamed and whirled around when he heard Jongin’s voice behind him. But fear quickly turned to anger.

“What have you done?!”
“I’ve locked them up for safe-keeping, Minseok.” Jongin looked like he was trying to placate him. “They won’t be hurt, and this way I can keep up appearances.”

“Bullshit!” Minseok didn’t believe that for a minute. He already hadn’t, and just the idea of Jongin trying to pull him back into the web of lies he’d created made him furious.

“Bullshit?” Jongin looked confused.

“You’re the demon king!”

“Minseok,” Jongin’s expression was still something that he used to have on his face often: concern. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I just… I wanted you to like me. I’ve been fond of you for so long and I knew that if I told you who I was you would be afraid of me.”

“I’m not foolish enough to believe that.”

The concern melted off Jongin’s face like he was shedding a mask. In its place was a cold, even smug, expression.

“Aren’t you? You were so very naive, Minseok. So trusting. I heard from a lower level demon about a pretty fairy who lived out in a flower field all by himself.”

He stepped closer to Minseok, and he didn’t feel like Minseok’s Jongin anymore. He didn’t even look the same.

“Originally I was going to watch you for a while and decide whether I wanted to keep you or not. You were powerful but, as you felt from the ritual, there’s really very little you could have done to stop me from taking you. You were nothing. A whim of mine. But then, you did something so strange, so stupid, that I had to change my tactics. You approached me. You talked to me, let me into your tiny nest of a house. You treated me like I was any common wizard. You made me tea.”

Jongin giggled, but it wasn’t a joyful sound.

“It turned into a game. I’ve never had so much fun, seeing how far I could get you to trust me. What I could get you to do once I had that trust. You’re an adult, but you’re as naive as those children who loved you so much.”

Minseok broke away from Jongin with a yell of frustration. When he turned to the bedroom door, he was met by a team of lesser demons, Jongin’s servants. There were too many to fight off, even if he had use of his magic, and he was too cornered to outrun them. Even if he had had a chance against the servants, Jongin could easily overpower him.

Anger turned into a mixture of fear and sorrow. Minseok had been so worried about keeping Jongin’s trust, about not upsetting him. He had bent over backwards, allowed Jongin to mold him into something Minseok had never intended to be. All in the name of keeping around the one close friend he thought he had. But they’d never been friends. Minseok meant nothing more to Jongin than a butterfly did to a child. And Minseok had flow right into Jongin’s hands and sat still while he plucked off his wings.

“I hate you.” Minseok still spat.

Jongin patted his head, his voice condescending when he spoke:
“I don’t care.”

Minseok struggled as the servants descended on him, wrapping impossibly strong hands around his arms and legs. He still fought because what else could he do?  Jongin watched impassively as his servants got a good hold on Minseok and carried him out of the room.

Minseok writhed in the demons’ hold as they carried him back through the maze of hallways. There was no way he’d be able to break free, but he couldn’t let them just take him without a fight. He squirmed and kicked and even tried to bite hands and arms that came too close, but all for nothing.

They reached “his” room, the room he’d first woken up in, and tossed him into it with little ceremony. Minseok hit the floor hard and cried out in pain when he landed on his back, but none of them even looked back, they just closed the door. They didn’t even bother locking it; there was no way he could leave.

Locked in, for the rest of eternity or the rest of his life. Made a pet of the Demon King by his own blind trust.

There was no escaping this.

All Minseok could do was curl up into a ball and cry.

Tags: !round: three, pairing: xiumin/kai
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