Rating: E – NSFW
Fires Find a Home
Yoo Jonghyuk is quiet as they walk through the ruins.
Ways of Survival was not written with good prose or even good atmosphere, is what Kim Dokja always thinks in those hours in-between the influence of the Scenario. Environment was always just an afterthought in its author’s work, valuable as a prop during battle or a setting during emotional scenes. Kim Dokja doesn’t favor lyricism in his choice of reading anyway, so he has never had to complain about it; after all, physical descriptions were never his focus either. If a place was called derelict and nothing more, it was enough. If a character was handsome or ugly, then that was all there was to it.
But Seoul lays around them flattened by catastrophe. Once-tall high-rise buildings are crooked in the skyline, their windows blasted open, their plastered walls turned into dust in the last rays of sunlight. No movie has ever done justice to just how it feels to walk amongst rubble and ruin, to breathe in those particles or watch them pinken in the sunset. Kim Dokja allows himself for one second to feel the heavy air on his skin and hear the echo of their footsteps in the silence.
He once walked through that very street while commuting to work. He had never known it to be silent then.
“Not much farther now,” he tells Yoo Jonghyuk, more out of desire to fill in the silence than because he cares to reassure either of them.
Yoo Jonghyuk doesn’t answer. He hasn’t said a word since they left camp in search of the item Kim Dokja knows to be hidden around here.
That he insisted to come along at all was surprising. Kim Dokja vaguely intended to ask Jung Heewon or Lee Gilyoung for protection—this is not a quest that necessitates Lee Hyunsung’s strength or Yoo Sangah’s abilities—but Yoo Jonghyuk offered almost before he could be done saying, “There’s something I want to look for tonight.”
That was what he had thought when accepting.
Yoo Jonghyuk has shadowed his steps since then in utter silence. Kim Dokja knows he is not the most loquacious man even while among friends, though he can deal out a stinging retort when the time calls for it, but this kind of treatment is still surprising. Usually, Yoo Jonghyuk would have already criticized him for a thing or twenty.
“Here,” he says when they reach one of the less torn-down buildings.
Yoo Jonghyuk stops by his side and looks up, following Kim Dokja’s gaze.
It is a bank—it was a bank, is perhaps the better way of saying it, for no employees have come here for months, and it hardly matters what money they find, if any. The only currency of the new world has no physical form. Shards of glass glint off of the blasted windows in shades of gold and red, stinging their eyes, looking like dripping blood.
“You don’t have to come in,” Kim Dokja says as he pushes open the door. “There’s nothing around I can’t take care of by myself. Be a nice dog and stay outside.”
Once more, Yoo Jonghyuk doesn’t rise to the taunt.
It is more insufferable, in a way, than when he does. Kim Dokja has never known a person better than he does the man standing next to him, but when he looks at him—tall and dark and somber, the soulmark on his cheek looking almost like just another scar—he can’t read him at all.
[The exclusive skill ‘Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint’ Lvl. 1 has been activated.]
Yoo Jonghyuk chooses this moment to look right into his eyes.
Kim Dokja turns away at once, losing his grip on Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint and missing any thought he could have caught from under that mop of artfully-disheveled hair. “A corpse has more conversation than you tonight, Yoo Jonghyuk,” he says in irritation.
The door gives under the weight of his hands. He coughs after a first breath of stuffy, dusty air, putting an arm over his mouth and nose and kicking away debris with every step. Yoo Jonghyuk follows with a lot more dignity.
It is much darker inside the building. There is no electricity to keep any room or hallway alight, or to boot up any of the computers. Some have been stolen from the first few rooms they cross, no doubt by early-level incarnations who still doubted that the material goods they were so used to were now worthless, but the fake paintings on the walls remain. The trinkets on the desks are broken or swept over, but present. Kim Dokja finds a water dispenser near the elevators; mold has gathered at the surface of its reservoir and floats along gently.
“What are you looking for?”
It has been so long since Yoo Jonghyuk said a word, Kim Dokja almost jumps at the sound of his voice alone.
He turns around to face him. His eyes have attuned to the dark enough to make out the shape of him and the gist of his expression, but any detail is lost. The sword-shaped mark over his left cheek is invisible.
“A poison cure,” he replies.
“You and I don’t need those.”
“We’re not the only people around.”
Yoo Jonghyuk almost looks offended. Kim Dokja sees his jaw strain over insult or reprimand, no doubt, and thinks not for the first time that it is no surprise such a man managed to bewitch Lee Seolwha not once, but twice.
In the end, Yoo Jonghyuk says nothing. He doesn’t stop observing Kim Dokja either. Dokja is tempted to ask if he would like a picture, or if his brain has melted enough for him to lose the use of language, but something holds him back.
He doesn’t like that too much. Nor does he enjoy the prickling feeling of Bihyung following them around, or the knowledge that now, of all times, their audience chooses to be silent.
He kicks open the door leading to the staircases. Another cloud of dust rises and makes him cough, which should make Yoo Jonghyuk mock him but doesn’t, and Kim Dokja ignores it in favor of walking down the stairs blindly. He has to search the walls with his hands to make sure not to fall.
“We’ll need as many poison cures as we can soon,” he says without looking behind. He would see nothing anyway. “This one can be duplicated too, once you’ve had the original in your hands.”
[The constellation ‘Demon-Like Judge of Fire’ wishes she could see better.]
[The constellation ‘Secretive Plotter’ is complaining about the bad lighting.]
Shut up, Kim Dokja thinks.
A faint light starts glowing over them regardless of his wishes. It makes navigating old stairs much less dangerous, but means that he has no choice but see Yoo Jonghyuk’s shadow merge with his in front of him, as if they are but one elongated creature.
They reach the first underground floor. Kim Dokja feels more embarrassment than fear when his foot slips on the last step and he topples backward—at least until he feels a hand catch his elbow painfully, at which point all embarrassment is replaced with irritation, and he snaps, “Let go.”
“Do you want to blast your skull open that badly?” Yoo Jonghyuk growls.
“I’m not going to die from falling down some stairs,” Kim Dokja replies, sending Yoo Jonghyuk a scathing glance over his shoulder. He hasn’t felt this offended since he came back from the Peaceful Land only to find that his nickname was now Ugliest King. “Even if I did, it wouldn’t be such a big deal.”
The hand tightens around him. His bones ache with the treatment, so Kim Dokja shoves his elbow against the wall, and Yoo Jonghyuk’s hand with it. Yoo Jonghyuk doesn’t wince—his stats are too high for any such thing to bring him pain—but he does release him. He comes down the last step, shortening their ridiculous height difference.
“Kim Dokja,” he says menacingly.
There is always a hint of menace to how he says Dokja’s name. “Yes?” Dokja drawls in answer, his eyes caught for a second onto the mark on his cheek which flutters in the low light, ready to come out and stab him, too.
As if it hasn’t already stabbed him enough times.
Yoo Jonghyuk advances toward him. The platform between the end of the stairs and the doors is not wide enough that they can afford to move without bumping into each other; Kim Dokja thinks at first that Yoo Jonghyuk will reach for the door and open it, so he shifts until his back is flat against the wall.
Yoo Jonghyuk isn’t aiming for the door. He follows Kim Dokja’s movement until the toes of their shoes are touching and he is staring down at him in what looks like anger but feels a lot more worrisome.
“What?” Kim Dokja says.
He very nearly feels nervous, good God.
[The constellation ‘Demon-Like Judge of Fire’ is—]
‘Bihyung’, Kim Dokja thinks with an ache between his ribs, ‘disable indirect messages.’
He doesn’t want to hear this now.
The space in his head dedicated to awareness of their public falls blissfully silent. Which means, of course, that there is now nothing at all to distract Kim Dokja from the fact that Yoo Jonghyuk has essentially cornered him into a wall.
It takes immense effort to look into his eyes and nowhere else, what with the soulmark right under so tantalizingly close, closer than he has seen it even when Yoo Jonghyuk was holding him by the neck above the open mouth of an ichtyosaur. Yoo Jonghyuk himself makes no such effort, his gaze lowering with that same aftertaste of anger, of disappointment, until it rests over Kim Dokja’s right shoulder.
Kim Dokja’s throat locks up.
There is a buzz in his ears now. He feels as though the light around ought to flicker ominously, plunging them into blackness once more. He hopes for it, even, with a fervency reserved for prayer, but this is no such light.
There is no such prayer now that will be answered by anyone.
Yoo Jonghyuk looks up at him again. “You’ve been deceiving me,” he says with the voice of someone on the brink of murder.
“This is a surprise to you?” Kim Dokja replies.
Yoo Jonghyuk’s hand is too quick to be stopped; it grabs Kim Dokja’s shoulder before Kim Dokja can do anything more than wrap his fingers around the other’s wrist and tighten till his nails dig into skin. Yoo Jonghyuk’s blood runs fever-warm.
“At first I thought yours was that Yoo Sangah woman,” Jonghyuk all but murmurs. “You were always with her. She looks like she carries a torch for you.”
“Yoo Jonghyuk,” Kim Dokja says.
“Then, I thought Han Sooyoung.” He pauses there as if biting back on loathing. “She’s been deceiving me too,” he spits.
“Do you have any idea how long I looked?”
Kim Dokja does. He has never known anyone as deeply, as intimately as he does the man in front of him. He knows exactly how long Yoo Jonghyuk has looked and been disappointed. He knows how much importance this holds for the main character of the story. He doesn’t need Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint now.
His mind makes a valiant effort to try and parry this change of plans as it has every change before now. It isn’t as if he’s never thought of what he should do if ever Yoo Jonghyuk found out, and he should be thinking of all the words and deeds he carefully put away for later, for now, but he cannot.
All he can think about is reading the first chapter of Ways of Survival as a child and reaching the sentence, ‘A handsome man with dark hair and a sword-shaped soulmark on his cheek.’ All he knows is the wonder he felt then that drove him to coveting this story, this man, almost jealously; that led him to standing here and now with over three thousand chapters’ worth of knowledge imprinted in his brain, allowing him to survive.
Actually, this is a novel, he imagines telling Yoo Jonghyuk now. I’m not a prophet. I just know the end of the story.
He considers declaring, You’ll never find what you look for in thousands of years of searching.
“So many people found their soulmates after the scenarios started,” Yoo Jonghyuk says, pained, and Kim Dokja has no idea how to feel about it other than flustered and horridly satisfied. “The first times that was all I… but Seolwha wasn’t.”
Kim Dokja looks at the ceiling in a hurry, combatting the flush rushing up his cheeks. He wishes Bookmark weren’t now allowing him to recall with acute clarity just how Yoo Jonghyuk’s cock had softened upon disrobing Lee Seolwha the first time and discovering no hint of a soulmark anywhere on her skin.
He tries not to think about how smug he had been when that chapter came out.
“Kim Dokja,” Yoo Jonghyuk says.
Then he tugs on the collar of the white coat, encroaching his fingers into the grey shirt underneath to pull it aside as well.
Someone must have told him, Kim Dokja thinks in that spare second. Resisting him would be useless even if he wanted to, so he thinks instead of when exactly someone they both knew could have seen and understood or had the occasion to snitch to Yoo Jonghyuk. It isn’t hard to narrow it all to one name.
When he comes back to the encampment later, he will skin Han Sooyoung alive.
Air rushes over the skin of his shoulder, colder underground than it had been on the ever-warm surface of this apocalyptic world, and Kim Dokja hears Yoo Jonghyuk take in a breath that is heavy with emotion and heavy with relief.
There is no spark of magical understanding when Yoo Jonghyuk traces the blade of the sword with his thumb. Romance novels have been lying to Kim Dokja for over a decade. He feels rough skin press over the mark, rubbing at it as if trying to make sure that it isn’t a fake, that it won’t erase with the pressure. Any shiver Kim Dokja feels for it is nothing more than his body’s base, human reaction.
I’m not your soulmate, Kim Dokja thinks. You’re a character in a novel.
The affirmation proves as useless now as when he was fourteen.
Yoo Jonghyuk hasn’t torn his eyes away from the mark on Kim Dokja skin, absorbed with it as he never is with anything, so Kim Dokja has to be the one to grab him by the hair and crush their mouths together.
He was faintly worried for his own inexperience with kissing, but he needn’t have. Yoo Jonghyuk moans almost obscenely, his own hand crawling over Kim Dokja’s throat oddly similarly to that time he held it in threat; but now the full of it rests like a burn upon Kim Dokja’s heartbeat as he tilts his head sideways and takes complete, utter control of any motion they make.
Kim Dokja’s head fogs up with the blood rushing through it. His lips numb and yet feel more than ever before, shaped to the bow and dips of Yoo Jongyuk’s, dry cracks rubbing together from lack of care until Yoo Jongyuk wets them with his tongue. When he parts his mouth, Kim Dokja’s mouth parts as well.
It is an odd and exciting feeling, having someone else’s tongue in his mouth. Kim Dokja thinks he should be appalled with the hygienics of it all were it not for just how hot he feels, how dirty and exhilarated. Saliva slickens the inside of his lips and threatens to spill over. He is almost certain that his teeth are in the way of whatever Yoo Jonghyuk is aiming to do now, licking inside of him and guiding their mouths in an open-closed, open-closed motion. His heart beats inside his throat right under Jonghyuk’s palm, and his hand has turned sweaty against all that windswept hair, against the fabric of Jonghyuk’s coat.
He’s the one moaning now.
He realizes a little late that he forgot to find a way to breathe through it all. He pulls back from the kiss feeling entirely light-headed. His legs are shaking.
He doesn’t have to think of what to say now either, for Yoo Jonghyuk takes the option from him by flattening himself against him. Unlike Kim Dokja, his breathing is measured, only halted by realization and, Kim Dokja ventures, arousal. His hand caresses Kim Dokja’s throat. The other is still tight over his bare shoulder, stroking the blade of the sword again and again.
“Kim Dokja,” Yoo Jonghyuk rasps. “I’ll kill you for this.”
Kim Dokja laughs weakly. “Of course.”
“I really will kill you. I’ll make it hurt.”
“If I had a choice, I wouldn’t have wanted my match to be you either, Jonghyuk.”
Yoo Jonghyuk pulls off some of his suffocating weight. He looks down at Kim Dokja with offense. “That’s not what I meant,” he says.
Surprise makes Kim Dokja bite down on the reply he had prepared. His breathing still hasn’t quieted, which would be embarrassing enough even without Yoo Jonghyuk’s body being the only thing keeping him standing.
“Then what did you mean?” he asks in a thin voice.
Distasteful. He sounds like the heroine of a drama.
Yoo Jonghyuk doesn’t answer him. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he demands instead, dragging the nail of his thumb over the sword. It is entirely painless; all it does is make the small of Kim Dokja’s back tighten in an exciting and unfamiliar way, and the front of his slacks warm in an equally exciting and very familiar way.
“I had to find out from that woman,” Yoo Jonghyuk says, confirming Kim Dokja’s earlier suspicions. “Why didn’t you tell me? You knew, you knew all along. I’m not one of those people who can keep it hidden.”
Yoo Jonghyuk has never resented his mark being so visible to others. His whole life, he has dreamed of nothing more than his match finding him. Kim Dokja knows this intimately.
“Is it wrong to want you to want me for me?” Kim Dokja replies without thinking.
Immediately, his face floods with blood. Embarrassment crushes the arousal out of him and leaves him almost gasping.
He can’t avoid the sight of Yoo Jonghyuk’s mouth curving with satisfaction. Kim Dokja makes a vain effort to try and squirm out of his hold, but Jonghyuk’s grip tightens on his shoulder and the side of his neck, and he once more plasters himself over Kim Dokja’s front as if trying to fuse with him.
Kim Dokja wonders if he should be worried by how much he enjoys being smothered.
Yoo Jonghyuk places another kiss over his lips, here-and-gone as quickly as a breeze, before training his lips over the side of Kim Dokja’s face. The hand he doesn’t keep obsessively over Kim Dokja’s soulmark trails into his hair instead, turning his head sideways so he can kiss along his jaw and ear, a warm press of lips to skin skin that makes shivers unfurl down Kim Dokja’s neck almost violently. He follows them, entirely unhindered by how feeble Kim Dokja’s breathing has become; he seems satisfied with the putty-like state of him in his arms, something to handle and shape whichever way he wants, to crush under his weight or stroke with the tip of a finger.
His lips are wet over Kim Dokja’s neck. He sucks his skin between his teeth where the slope of it curves at the angle of his shoulder—he kisses the soulmark, mouths and teeths at it as if famished, as if desperate, as if thirst has dug so deeply into his belly and throat that he could satisfy it with the sweat gathering on Kim Dokja’s skin and nothing more.
It’s all Kim Dokja can do to keep tugging at his hair and keep standing. The lack of room between them means that he feels Yoo Jonghyuk’s cock harden against his hip. He wants to comment on it regardless of his own arousal. Worked up by some making out, Yoo Jonghyuk? he wants to say. Are you a teenager?
“Mmrph,” he says instead.
Yoo Jonghyuk shoves his entire head into the crook of Kim Dokja’s neck and declares, “If I could tie you in place and make sure you never move out of my sight again, I would.”
That would be highly bothersome considering everything Kim Dokja still needs to do, but here and now in the silence of that abandoned building, with Yoo Jonghyuk breathing onto his skin and rubbing off against his hip, he can’t feel too strongly about it.
Kim Dokja manages to shove a hand down between their bodies. It is no easy business with Jonghyuk still glued to his front, but he reaches the man’s belt and rids him of it with less shaking than he expected. Jonghyuk’s skin is a furnace against his fingers, hot and dry and burning, and the shape of his cock fits into Kim Dokja’s palm like it was always meant to be there.
“Yes,” Jonghyuk says as he wraps his hand around Kim Dokja’s and helps him stroke him. He is too-dry still and the friction must hurt, but it does nothing to stop his quiet moans or his humping against Kim Dokja’s hip. “Yes, God.”
“Just Dokja,” Kim Dokja breathes.
Yoo Jonghyuk bites his lips, then kisses him again.
Kim Dokja’s fingers slick with fluid, making jerking him off a lot smoother and more agreeable. Yoo Jonghyuk shoves a knee between his legs to rub against, the gentleman, and Dokja would feel shame for it if only the heat in the other’s eyes didn’t belie just how much he enjoys watching him debase himself.
He feels very obvious in his inexperience. Though he can rub one out adequately and doesn’t think a handjob is enough to give him away, there is no hiding just how much learning he has to do where kissing is concerned. He gets better at it with Yoo Jonghyuk’s guiding tongue and the glide of his wet lips, finds a breathing pattern which allows them to stay locked together in never-ending proximity, but he is hesitant. Any move he makes has to be coaxed out of him, and he is almost vengeful in his grip over Yoo Jonghyuk’s hard cock, in just how hard he squeezes him.
The bastard enjoys it.
“Had a feeling it was you,” Jonghyuk is murmuring now against the mark on his shoulder. It’s as though he can’t breathe if he isn’t touching it, can’t think if his lips or fingers aren’t in contact with it. He takes his hand off of himself to make away with Kim Dokja’s pants, says, “read me so well, predict me just like this, you can just—”
“You’re easy to read,” Kim Dokja gasps.
He’s never had anyone else touch him like this. Yoo Jonghyuk’s hand around his cock is mind-numbing.
“You think you’re so mysterious and special, Yoo Jonghyuk,” Kim Dokja says, even as Yoo Jonghyuk drives him up his toes against the basement wall of an abandoned bank, one hand over his cock and another over his soul. “In the end you’re just—” my hero, my soulmate, my savior “—a man.”
“If it’s you,” Yoo Jonghyuk rasps against his neck. “If it’s you, I don’t mind if you can read my thoughts and heart.”
Kim Dokja comes with a cry, arching off of the wall and directly into Yoo Jonghyuk’s waiting palm. Yoo Jonghyuk rises his head to watch him with greedy, satisfied eyes, his hand only briefly ceasing its jerking motions before taking it up again in a slow, painful massage, squeezing the spent out of him until Kim Dokja vibrates with hypersensitivity.
Every breath out of his lungs burns.
He realizes that his own handjob has stopped. “Come on,” he says, dislodging Yoo Jonghyuk’s hand from his pants so he can focus on reaching this ending. “Come on, Jonghyuk, do I have to use my mouth for you to give me what I want?”
He isn’t imagining just how Jonghyuk’s cock pulses between his fingers, slick and hot and marvelous, nor is he hallucinating the, “You will,” Jonghyuk says into his ear before once more flattening him to the wall.
A breath comes like a kiss over his skin before Jonghyuk’s orgasm wets his hand. The other barely even shakes against him, miles away from the explosion which has rendered Dokja’s legs as weak as a newborn foal’s, but his grunt of release is satisfying enough. Kim Dokja takes his hand out and wipes it against Jonghyuk’s clothed ass.
Yoo Jonghyuk sags against him. He sighs.
“What?” Kim Dokja says sharply.
“Don’t ‘what’ me now, Kim Dokja,” Yoo Jonghyuk replies without moving away. “In fact, don’t speak at all.”
– Fine, Kim Dokja sends through Midday Tryst.
Yoo Jonghyuk shoves his collar and coat back over his shoulder and pushes off of him.
Standing on his own legs with no support is almost enough to send Kim Dokja tumbling. He catches himself against the wall and belatedly thinks to close his pants again. His underwear is sticky and uncomfortable, but there is nothing he can do about that now.
Yoo Jonghyuk is watching the door quietly when he looks in his direction. The light isn’t strong enough to discern the flush high on his cheeks, but the sword mark is as visible as ever. Trembling every time he uses his mouth to speak or clenches his jaw in anger.
Kim Dokja wonders how it would twist under the strength of a true and honest smile.
He feels a little out of his body as he slides away from the wall and approaches the door. Post-orgasmic languor is familiar, though the strength of it is not, but part of him feels lacking now, as if he will never again find peace without Yoo Jonghyuk’s body crushing him under its weight.
A hand wraps around his from the side. Kim Dokja resists looking down or looking at its owner, even when Jonghyuk’s callused fingers entwine with his own.
“I meant what I said,” Yoo Jonghyuk says.
This is no surprise. Yoo Jonghyuk is a man of few words for a reason. “I’ll make sure I can survive your retribution.”
Kim Dokja does look sideways then. Yoo Jonghyuk is staring at him, the scar-like mark on his cheek fluttering in the dokkaebi’s light.
“If it’s you, I’ll let you read and predict me,” he declares.
“That’s not very smart of you.”
“You’re my soulmate, Dokja.”
Not ‘Kim Dokja’. Not any surname or insult. Just Dokja.
Only Dokja’s mother has called him like this before.
“You do realize,” Kim Dokja wills through the shaking in his chest, “that the both of us sharing a mark means very little in the grand scheme of things. You’re not stupid enough to believe we’ll ever just agree with each other.”
Yoo Jonghyuk chuckles.
His fingers leave Kim Dokja’s with a caress. Kim Dokja expects him to move his hand to his shoulder instead and touch the mark again, but Jonghyuk strokes his hair and then his cheek, trailing goosebumps once more with every line that his fingertips draw.
“You can read me,” he repeats, taking his hand away. He steps toward the door, casting long shadows in the white light, until his hand rattles the handle and the panel opens with an ill-oiled creak.
“So let me read you sometimes too.”