Kim Dokja still remembers the first emotion he felt when he laid eyes on Yoo Jonghyuk right at the start. It felt a lot like meeting someone he’s always wanted to see in person. It felt a lot like relief, with the slight bitter tinge of fear racing through it, because he knows the kind of trash individual Yoo Jonghyuk was at the start.
Namely, someone who wasn’t afraid to kill anyone in his path as long as he believed they were getting in his way. Actually, Kim Dokja thinks, erasing his previous thought – Yoo Jonghyuk, that asshole, just cut down anyone he wanted to because he could. He had a plan, and coupled with the ability to regress, that meant he could live through this world by trial and error as much as he wanted to.
Look where that got him, Kim Dokja muses to himself, turning to his left and eyeing the still form of the 1863th Yoo Jonghyuk. A blind killing machine that was caught up in regression depression.
[Kim Dokja thinks this is a good development.]
“I do not think this is a good development,” he mutters under his breath, rolling his eyes at the impudence of the Fourth Wall. The Fourth Wall that most likely, suspiciously, may have caused that regression depression to suddenly flare up.
Somehow, it led to this. Kim Dokja is officially the only man who can reach out to Yoo Jonghyuk of this time right now. He still doesn’t quite know how it happened, how all the events fell into place to lead to the event where Yoo Jonghyuk acknowledges him and him alone, but there’s nothing he can do about it.
“Yoo Jonghyuk.” The name is like a prayer on his lips. In another world, in his world, Yoo Jonghyuk is almost like a super weapon, isn’t he? Kim Dokja wouldn’t call him a messiah, because he’s the one who has defied death over and over again in one lifetime, but Yoo Jonghyuk is someone special indeed.
Kim Dokja’s best weapon, the most precious supernova he’s ever met and held in his hands, and one rendition of the man is quickly moving towards him, coming to a stop right in front of him.
“I didn’t call you,” he says, and pretends to make a flapping motion with his right wrist. “Shoo.”
He half-expects Yoo Jonghyuk to actually turn around and march off, like a private in the army. This is the same man who ate dirt because Kim Dokja asked him to.
But Yoo Jonghyuk presses closer, intruding into his carefully curated personal bubble, and a furrow appears in his brows. Kim Dokja looks up, neck twitching at the stretch slightly. He’s always had to look up to meet Yoo Jonghyuk’s eyes, but never at such close proximity.
He’s almost afraid to breathe. If he does, he thinks he can see his breath condense on Yoo Jonghyuk’s collarbones from where the collar of his shirt has fallen open.
That sharp line could properly slice his palm wide open, Kim Dokja thinks faintly, before shaking himself back to reality. Yoo Jonghyuk stays where he is, crowding in, and even when Kim Dokja tries to push him lightly away, the man doesn’t move.
This is strange. This is exceedingly strange. There’s no route to back away to. The wall behind him presses harshly into his back with how much Kim Dokja is scraping up against it, trying to lean away from Yoo Jonghyuk’s gaze.
“… Hey. I said I didn’t call you.” He puts in as much frustration as he can into the words, a tick appearing at the side of his temple as his lips twist into a frown. Fight fire with fire, right? If Yoo Jonghyuk isn’t backing away because he keeps backing down, maybe it’s time to switch up the strategy.
He pushes forward, narrowing his eyes and setting his shoulders. Kim Dokja doesn’t always look threatening, even with his status as Demon King of Salvation. Not that he’s demon king of anything in this world, but he knows that there’s probably nothing in the world that looks threatening enough to scare Yoo Jonghyuk.
Except maybe the Breaking the Sky Sword Saint. But she’s not here and Yoo Jonghyuk isn’t backing down, so Kim Dokja is attempting to rapidly recalculate his odds at escaping this weird interaction.
Yoo Jonghyuk stares with his unfathomable gaze, eyes a lot sharper than they were just a few moments ago, and his mouth drops open slightly. “You are… Kim Dokja.”
Kim Dokja nods slowly, face still too uncomfortably close to Yoo Jonghyuk. It’s like the world’s most dangerous game of chicken. He’ll look incredibly stupid if he backs away again to press himself up against the wall, because he just surged forward to challenge Yoo Jonghyuk a few seconds ago. There’s nowhere to turn.
A sudden thought pops into his mind. This is supposed to be a parallel world, or something, right? A world where Kim Dokja didn’t exist, or a world where Kim Dokja failed, or just a world where everything messed up and Yoo Jonghyuk doesn’t remember much because of his time under the messy haze of his killing frenzy and bloodlust.
But then why do Han Sooyoung and her clone still exist? That means real people still entered the story, right?
That means a version of Kim Dokja must have existed, somehow or other, right?
He almost wants to curse his other self out. How did he fail so badly? What makes one Kim Dokja different from another? How did the Kim Dokja of this world let Yoo Jonghyuk turn into this?
The man before him sighs slightly, the sound dragging him back to reality. Somehow, while he was off thinking about life and the existence of his other selves, they’ve changed positions.
Or rather, Yoo Jonghyuk’s right hand has risen up to press against the wall next to Kim Dokja’s head. It cages him even further, and the man still doesn’t say a word, as if patiently waiting for Kim Dokja to issue an order, or something.
He stills, eyes widening. Is this what it is? Yoo Jonghyuk wants an order? He quickly runs through his memory so far of this version and his habits. Maybe he wants the order to think of happy thoughts again?
Maybe – the thought makes something twist painfully inside Kim Dokja’s chest – maybe Yoo Jonghyuk doesn’t remember how to think of happy memories unless ordered to.
“Hey.” His voice is slightly softer, and he lifts both palms to hesitate briefly over the thick muscle of Yoo Jonghyuk’s shoulders. It’s exceedingly disturbing to curve the flat of his palms over corded muscle. Something hot settles in his gut, roiling around suspiciously, and Kim Dokja decides to label it jealousy. “Sit down and think of something happy.”
There’s a short pause where Yoo Jonghyuk appears to just stare blankly at Kim Dokja, not registering the order in his mind. Wha- did he say something wrong? This is a good order, isn’t it?
Kim Dokja spares a brief moment to consider the possibility of Yoo Jonghyuk having come back to his senses and is just thinking of the best way possible to kill this man who dared to issue an order to him when a low voice speaks quietly.
“Somehow, you make me happy, Kim Dokja.”
[The exclusive skill ‘Fourth Wall’ is shaking!]
Kim Dokja would choke if he didn’t think choking would lead to him falling face first into Yoo Jonghyuk’s chest. Who is shaking? Nothing is shaking. There is no reason to shake.
[Kim Dokja thought: He is shaking.]
The Fourth Wall is getting more and more insolent, Kim Dokja thinks, and swallows tightly.
“Maybe if you sit down, you’ll be even happier.” The moment the words leave his mouth, he cringes. It’s actually stupid. He’s just throwing out whatever pops into his mind right now.
Some part of him laments the lack of Bihyung or Biyoo. If anything, the presence of a dokkaebi stream would probably mean coins rolling in with every second they maintained this position. He remembers the constellations loving these sort of weird events, even though they always make Kim Dokja feel funny and unsure of what he’s doing.
What did he even do to make Yoo Jonghyuk happy? He helped fight off other demons. He reassured Yoo Jonghyuk and halfway cured his regression depression. He protected Yoo Jonghyuk and convinced Lee Jihye and Lee Hyunsung to leave him alone.
He also, uh, made Yoo Jonghyuk eat dirt. Try as he might, he can’t forget that. But is that enough to make someone happy? Has Yoo Jonghyuk been so alone that he’s forgotten what help feels like? Is this really enough?
Yoo Jonghyuk suddenly laughs. He- Kim Dokja’s eyes widen, breath hitching. Yoo Jonghyuk is laughing quietly, giant muscles shaking minutely with the effort. Kim Dokja’s palms are shaking as well, still pressed lightly against Yoo Jonghyuk’s tight shoulders.
He’s never seen this side of him. Is this what Yoo Jonghyuk looks like when he’s happy? There’s a brilliance to him, as if he’s suddenly become a constellation of Eden. If Kim Dokja squints, he might even see a halo circling his hair, enveloping Yoo Jonghyuk’s entire being in a soft, golden glow. If he blinks too fast, he can even picture six ethereal wings unfolding behind Yoo Jonghyuk.
Kim Dokja sucks in a quick breath, feeling his heart start pumping in his chest again. His heartbeat is through the roof, jackrabbiting so quickly it might escape the surface of this Earth and become a guest at the constellation banquet amongst the stars. It gets so loud in his ears that he almost can’t hear himself think.
This is a very, very strange development, he thinks, and Yoo Jonghyuk, for the love of god, leans closer.
He didn’t think there was more space to lean in to.
[The ‘Fourth Wall’ is greatly shaken.]
Yeah, okay, he reconsiders. That’s a fair point.
“Kim Dokja.” The words are murmured so softly that he barely hears them. As it is, Yoo Jonghyuk is so close that Kim Dokja wildly thinks he can feel Yoo Jonghyuk whisper them against his lips. “Tell me what to do.”
“What?” He swallows tightly, quickly, and Kim Dokja swears on all his stories that his lips brushed against Yoo Jonghyuk’s. His gaze drops down briefly, hazily staring at the curve of those half-moons, the color a faint pink, slightly parted as Yoo Jonghyuk awaits whatever bullshit Kim Dokja is about to pull out of his ass.
He blinks once, twice, and Yoo Jonghyuk surges forward.
Kim Dokja doesn’t open his eyes after he closes them for the third time, because there’s something soft pressing lightly against his lips. It tastes like ash and dirt, and he really, really regrets asking Yoo Jonghyuk to eat dirt just to test the limits of his power.
But it’s Yoo Jonghyuk. It’s Yoo Jonghyuk, and just the impossible thought of kissing Yoo Jonghyuk, the most amazing man in infinite universes, the most intriguing man that Kim Dokja can never leave alone- he is not going to pass that up.
Something sounds like it’s dying, and Kim Dokja considers breaking apart to find out what’s happening in the background before he realizes it’s him. Another weak whimper escapes his lips, muffled by Yoo Jonghyuk bearing down on him, and Kim Dokja wants to scream that this is unfair.
He’s never had practice in kissing. He’s never had practice holding someone else’s hand. He’s never had practice trying to breathe through his nose and not acting like a human being who still needs to breathe every once in a while, because what’s natural human processes in the face of Yoo Jonghyuk?
[The exclusive skill ‘Fourth Wall’ keeps shaking.]
They break apart for a second and Kim Dokja’s eyes fly open, mouth open as he gasps for sweet, sweet oxygen, and the 1863th edition of Yoo Jonghyuk suddenly looks a lot like the one he left back in his world. There’s a smugness in his eyes, a gleam in the teeth peeking through his tiny smile, and just an infuriating general air of satisfaction.
Kim Dokja feels like this is the wrong thing to be doing when he’s supposed to be figuring out how to kill this person before him. Kissing him doesn’t count, probably, even if they’re two letters apart. Maybe he could induce the little death…?
[Kim Dokja thought: I am a pervert.]
Kim Dokja is thinking that he will do something very dangerous to the Fourth Wall soon, he muses darkly, and something laughs at the back of his mind.
“Kim Dokja.” He looks up, attention directed back to the man before him. The smug superiority has diluted into something else. It settles on Yoo Jonghyuk’s shoulders like a familiar cloak, and it makes him look more alive than Kim Dokja’s seen him in the past few days.
He looks awkwardly to the side, fingers tightening against the back of Yoo Jonghyuk’s shoulders, absentmindedly tracing the sharp line of his shoulder blades. “Don’t use my name too much. You’ll wear it out.”
Yoo Jonghyuk’s smile widens a little, and Kim Dokja's heart beats faster. Any faster and he might collapse. Imagine dying because of this. “You make me happy. I’ve forgotten what it felt like.”
Kim Dokja flushes, an embarrassed scowl painting his lips, and pulls Yoo Jonghyuk back in. It takes a while for his mind to get back to a stage where he can think again, but after kissing Yoo Jonghyuk until he’s satisfied, Kim Dokja can evaluate and pick apart that expression just now.
He thinks it through for an entire night, and when he wakes up, Kim Dokja thinks the new strange look on Yoo Jonghyuk might actually be happiness.