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yunho leads him back to the elevator where he pushes the button for up, and when it finally arrives it’s loaded with a gaggle of drunken, costumed, college students. changmin notices the vague look of disdain on yunho’s face as the students pour out of the elevator, singing some song, off key and at the top of their lungs.
“let me guess,” yunho says as he steps inside. changmin notes the blood still splattered on the floor, now smeared in some places, and allows a frown. “i take it that hyunwoo’s throwing another party.”
“i take it you don’t like him?”
“he is… an annoyance,” yunho says, pushing the button for the top floor.
“i can understand.”
“what of the man seeking your attention in the elevator?”
“hell if i know,” changmin says through gritted teeth. “what i do know is that he loves himself more than narcissus.” changmin watches the floor number rise higher, then, “…so?”
yunho says nothing.
“what have you been doing for the last sixty-something years?”
“this and that,” yunho replies, a small smile tugging his mouth. “yourself?” he looks at changmin, and changmin fights an intense wave of nostalgia when he looks into yunho’s eyes.
“i moved to the city four years ago,” changmin says vaguely. “i’m currently working on a degree in classic literature.”
“of course,” the way he says it reminds him that yunho knows
him. “it’s where you father is from, after all.”
the doors ding open and changmin follows yunho out to, now unsurprisingly, a single door only a few strides away. pausing, changmin is hit with a concerning amount of interest, wondering how yunho lives, if he has family or if he lives alone. would—
“ever curious,” yunho mumbles, activating the card key and gesturing for changmin to step inside. changmin’s interest turns into a streak of intimidation and he takes a hesitant step over the threshold, looking around the apartment.
not apartment. condo. house in the sky. bigger than what he’d seen of hyunwoo’s, its walls are made entirely of glass and steel, the view of the light lit city below as breathtaking as the night sky above.
“this is—” changmin breathes, voice falling into a whisper. he walks over to the glass, completely oblivious to yunho’s following stare. “you can actually see the stars here.”
“i designed it that way,” yunho tells him.
changmin’s brows shoot behind his hair. “you designed this?”
“it’s what i do now. twenty years ago i was a lawyer in south america. twenty years before that… well, you were there for that, but the eighty-four years before that
? it’s a secret. different occupations help pass the time.” yunho trails off, and changmin gives a nod in understanding. of course yunho had done many things, relocated after set periods of time just as he had on his own travels. after all, werewolves stop aging too, and changmin himself never talks about the years before he became frozen at twenty four forever. not that yunho would need that information. as he said, he was there for that.
changmin feels more off balance than he did when yunho had declared himself to him outside, and he tries to figure out what changed. his gaze flicks to the city below and back.
everything, he decides. even yunho’s appearance has changed, the near opposite of what changmin remembers.
“are you still you?”
yunho blinks at him. “i don’t understand.”
“your eyes,” changmin tries again, repeating yunho’s own words. “your birth marks. or have you dyed your hair and—”
yunho stops him when he removes a ring from his finger. his whole image flickers, and changmin remembers the mention of his own dislike for concealment spells. yunho’s hair turns copper, eyes back to the bright golden amber changmin remembers, naturally dark lined, glowing, and, there, just peeking from his suit collar changmin can make out the beginnings of his markings, ones that he recalls wind all the way down. yunho’s movement allows changmin to see his wrists, and there he spots the birthmarks of identical northern stars.
“still you,” changmin says quietly, feeling slightly more at ease with the change. yunho catches his eye, and he ignores the ache in his chest at the familiar intensity in the gaze. he looks just like her.
“come with me,” yunho gestures for him to follow. changmin takes the chance to marvel in the strangeness of the situation, and then his surroundings as he’s led up a flight of spiraling stairs that meet with an alcove of a landing. yunho stops at the first door.
“guest bathroom,” he clarifies at changmin’s silent question. “i’ll find you a change of clothes.”
stopping himself from arguing, changmin nods, closes the door gently behind him.expensive
is the word that comes to mind when he takes in the bathroom features. it’s as elaborate as the rest of the house, so unlike what he was used to by now. a towel rack rests beside a towel warmer, standing shower and a bathtub so deep changmin gives into a sense of utter indulgence and switches it on before turning to the shower.
he sheds his shirt first, frowning at the sticky mess it left but folding it carefully despite the stain. albeit the gross smell it will probably have forever now, he hopes he’ll be able to bleach the purple eyesore out; it was a gift, after all. he knelt, carefully unlaced his boots before toeing off his socks and sliding out of his jeans, then boxers, settling them into a pile.
changmin makes a throaty noise of appreciation when he opens the misty glass shower doors; there are shower heads protruding from corners of each marble wall, four on the ceiling to rain straight down, two more, waist high. there’s an array of soaps and shampoos, all lined up neat on a small shelf built into an alcove in the wall.
he didn’t realize he had a dream shower, but he decides this is definitely it.
he turns a knob experimentally and warm water flows from the ceiling. the second knob activates the shower heads in the corners, water sprouting from different angles to meet in the middle. he ignores the last knob, steps all the way and immediately feels his body relax.
“i wonder if he designed this too,” he murmurs, voice lilted in something that sounds like pleased
. he picks a random bottle of shampoo and pops it open. the scent of it is nonexistant and he hums in understanding approval, pouring some into his palm and settling the bottle back before lathering his hair.
steam rises, clouds the shower, and changmin loses himself in the impromptu pampering. dare he say he feels like royalty as he cleans, exuviating the strong, foul smell of alcohol and the lingering feeling from the would be elevator assault.
changmin feels more like himself again when he finally turns the knobs off. a thick blanket of steam wisps, billows out around him when he opens the shower doors, reaching blindly for a towel. he’s surprised when he finds it and it’s warm to the touch, definitely soft enough to sleep in. he enjoys the feel of it on his skin as he takes care to dry himself slow and in circles before moving to his hair. he catches sight of the length of it in one of the wall mirrors; the black locks curl in slight around his jaw, thick even when wet. he’ll have to trim it soon.
he finds a bottle of lotion and makes quick work of it. he pauses when he finishes, wonders if there’s perhaps a robe somewhere for him to use or if he’ll have to peek around the door to ask. he’s more than positive yunho would’ve heard his shower end and’ll have clothes for him, but he halts when he spots them on the counter, a pair of emerald green silk pajama pants and a clean white tshirt. changmin wonders when yunho came in, pulls the pants on and watches them slip from his hips, a fraction too big for him. he notes that the cuffed ends stop just short of his ankles with amusement. he’s taller than yunho.
the t-shirt follows, soft to the touch, comfortably too big for him, and he tucks part of the hem into the pajama pants so he doesn’t look completely swathed with it falling at mid thigh.
he rests his towel over the bar and turns off the towel heater before stepping out of the bathroom. it’s noticeably cooler and his skin tingles in a way he actually doesn’t mind.
nose coming to the air for a small sniff, he deducts that he won’t be able to find yunho by smell—his savory, earthy scent is everywhere. instead he stills, tries to feel him out but gets nothing but the silent hum of the house. finally he takes a tentative step toward the waist high wall lining the upper landing and stairs, furrows his brows, tilts his jaw just so, listens.
there’s amusement in yunho’s voice when he calls, “i’m down stairs,” as if he could hear changmin’s own mind.
changmin reminds himself that unlike his sibling, yunho is a full, royal blooded werewolf; he can smell emotion, taste the air, and more than likely hear miles out into the city, even from their height. changmin walks down the stairs, takes in the expanse of the first floor of the home in the lights that have been switched on before movement catches in the corner of his eye and he turns to it, realizing that yunho is in the kitchen.
again he marvels at the open space as he makes his way over. there are no walls, merely furniture and counters to mark the areas off.
“would you like a glass of wine?” yunho offers, looking comfortable in his own silver pajamas and pouring a glass.
“sure,” changmin gives a slow shrug, not wanting to refuse. “yes, please.”
yunho fills a matching glass next to his own and hands it to him. the deep, rich red color reminded him of yunho’s more visible markings in the low light.
“a minute to midnight,” yunho says from behind his glass.
“to halloween,” changmin laughs softly, raising his glass, nodding when yunho raises his own in salute before taking another drink. changmin finds himself following again as yunho steps forward and leads him into the living room. plush couches and chairs and artfully placed cushions form a cozy, open barricade. changmin took a seat closest to the windows, glancing the city below and crossing his legs.
silence rang, almost comfortable. “thank you,” changmin murmurs after another moment. he drags his gaze from the living city and looks yunho in the eye and means it. “you didn’t have to.”
yunho holds his stare, brows furrowed thoughtfully. “no,” he finally says, swirling the wine in his glass, dropping his eyes to it. “believe it or not, despite your… separation, for all of these years, you are still pack, and pack takes care of its own.”
changmin feels his mouth part ridiculously, brows fly behind his still damp hair. “i—i am
“despite your heritage, you ran with the wolves,” yunho smiles slow, eyes sharp. “you ran with jihye
, and therefore you ran with me, as i am the head of house, the patriarch, if you will.”
“jihye,” changmin says her name carefully, amazed at the way it still fits on his tongue. “she—”
“lives in the states. she visits now and then but she’s away now, on permanent stay in america.”
changmin nods absently. it makes sense. if jihye hasn’t changed as drastically as yunho has, america is her perfect fit.
“which leaves you under my care.”
changmin’s brows furrow down, strangeness making itself at home in his chest. his mouth parts, a thousand arguments to that forming on his tongue. changmin’s a fully grown, almost one hundred year old vampire descendant. he’s traveled the better part of the world, slain an entire coven of wendigo, and drained blood down his throat on a whim. he doesn’t need taking care of.
but “oh,” is what he manages to say. he can try again on that later. “did anyone else stay?” he asks cautiously. it was an anomaly, what they had been—royalty of the wolves befriending the grandchildren of the original vampires, letting them run as if they were their own—but even so, they had been family.
changmin had loved them.
now his curiosity burns right next to the ache of an old loss resting in his gut, and he wants to know.
“i’m sure you remember my cousin, boa. she has a home in the east, but she lives here in this building,” yunho tells him. “two floors below this one, actually, but she isn’t home either. she left some months ago for europe. something about liking the coffee better.”
changmin’s mouth splits in a grin at that even as he mentions the surrealness of the situation. "this is insanely strange," he says, still grinning. "really."
“imagine how strange it is to see a family member you haven’t laid eyes on in over half a century, wearing the clothes of his ancestors and shouting at the sky,” yunho chuckles. changmin makes a surprised noise; he knew that he had probably looked ridiculous with his brows currently shooting up and his mouth falling a fraction open, but he can’t stop staring.
yunho is laughing.
even though it’s at his own expense, changmin can’t help but marvel even a little. jihye had always been the more carefree one—he remembers yunho’s smile as rare, a laugh? nonexistant. it’s a warm sound, one changmin knows he wants to hear again.
“i do believe it can be excused for having to deal with that asshole in the elevator,” changmin says finally, voice quipped yet definitely amused. he punctuates it by downing the last of his wine in a single drink. yunho stands, walks to the kitchen and brings the bottle back with him.
“he won’t touch you again.” yunho promises as he pours more wine into changmin’s offered glass.
now that tone is something he remembers. “what did you do?”
giving a light shrug, yunho takes a small sip of his wine. “simply informed him that if another such attempt were to happen that his arms would never heal. or be reattachable, for that matter.”
“his arms will be out of commission for a while,” yunho intones flatly. changmin swears he catches a phantom of a smile on his mouth.
“fulfilled my duties and my right
as patriarch. anyone willing to treat another person as such should be aware of the consequences that pursue.”
changmin leans back and twirls his wine glass between his fingers. he looks at yunho, who simply looks back, and reevaluates his standing opinion of him; yunho may be relaxed enough to actually smile and laugh freely but he is still very clearly the commanding, royal force to be reckoned with and still very much the liege of those he considers his.
it’s glaringly obvious to changmin that he’s being overruled despite his lineage, by some twist of the fates. he’s yunho’s now, in a sense.
an urge of rebellion wells in his chest, raw and hot—changmin is no one’s, it took him years to get out of that
and he would damn well stay out—but yunho looks at him with eyes so much like his sister’s, his old friend’s, and changmin swallows the feeling as he concedes the glow of yunho’s eyes, remembers the stark difference between their cultural dynamics.
wolves claim. wolves protect. and they don’t do it on whims.
“tell me about them,” changmin says dilatorily, backing away from the uncomfortable subject of his life once again being tied to someone else’s as a responsibility. “about the pack, i mean.”
“jihye is mated to an american native. as a representative of the lands he’s unable to relocate and jihye packed up to live with him and his family. they have two pups, both still little whelps.”
yunho pauses there as if waiting. changmin merely blinks at him slowly, smiles.
“i’m glad she found someone who could make her happy. she’s always wanted little ones.”
yunho starts. “i know you two have a bit of history—”
“yes, a history you bared your teeth at and tried to have my head over, but it is just that. history.” changmin says firmly, shutting yunho up. “i was nineteen when i was forced to leave, yunho, you know that. i loved jihye, probably more than i should have, but believe me when i say it wasn’t in the way you think it was. your sister and i…” changmin’s smile cracks into a flash of teeth, something bright and secret and just for himself. “we had an understanding.”
“boa’s into art,” yunho continues after a brief, contemplative pause with a nod. “she more than enjoys world recognition as a painter. she’s also been pursuing the last member of the western inugami clan from japan, a half blood. it’s been an extraordinary thing of a chase and i expect them to announce their engagement soon enough.”
changmin’s eyes widen in genuine surprise. the last member of the inugami clan— “crystal?”
“that is her name, yes,” yunho raises a brow in his own surprise as he moves to refil his glass again. “you know of her?”
“we met during my travels, years ago.” changmin says. “she’s brilliant, that one. eyes like lava and skin like the earth. it makes sense, now, when she mentioned that she was bickering with a ‘friend’ of hers. didn’t think it would be your cousin of all, though.”
“i was starting to wonder if boa had a thing for punishment,” yunho laughs.
“probably destined, with the way you canines tend to be. you don’t ever seem to do anything within a normal fashion.”
“jihye for one, the way she was with me—and i have no doubt how she must’ve been with her mate. now your cousin.”
“jihye and kiyiya definitely hated each other on sight,” yunho muses, leaning back into the couch. “i suppose it’s more than true that supernaturals don’t follow the usual pattern of courtship.” yunho slants him a look, “vampires are definitely up there.”
“wouldn’t know,” changmin says absenrly with a light laugh, shrugging.
yunho grins in turn, tipping his glass back. “probably for the best.”
“whatever, but perhaps you’ll indulge me on something else,” changmin downs the last of his own wine, adjusts and gets comfortable. “if i recall, you hated drawing because you were absolutely
no good at it—” he raises a hand at yunho’s indignant sound, “—pray tell how you come to be an architect?”
yunho tells him about how he hasn’t stopped adhering his duties to his family’s royal bloodline, although he did not care for the title of ‘king’ when he had became the representative of wolves in all of the east on the council—something changmin is only generally familiar with due to his own family ties and his refusal to or a part of it—though changmin is curious. changmin listens as yunho skips over the time in which they’d practically lived together, instead talks about his days in south america as a lawyer, his brief time in between as an engineer and businessman. yunho’s voice is a smooth, mellow low and it couples with the wine in changmin’s system, making a blanket of safety in the wake of the nights previous events.
changmin doesn’t resist. he slips further down the couch and closes his eyes, sleeps.
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