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the first time mark met donghyuck, he thought that donghyuck must have been a fae. that’s because only fae could have such a youthful face like that with a tongue of a trickster. but it turned out that donghyuck was just a human with a magical affinity.

then donghyuck, fifteen, and the type of kid that parents warned their kids not to befriend, told him a secret. 

“i want to be a witch like my brother,” he whispered in the dark.

mark was sixteen, still hiding his secret, and scared that his best friend would hate him forever. a witch, mark had thought, yeah, that makes much more sense.

it only makes sense that something about donghyuck’s existence is magical.

then, donghyuck was just a human with a magical affinity. today, donghyuck is knocking shots back to celebrate being accepted into taeyong’s coven and becoming a full-fledged “witch”. 

whatever that means, mark still doesn’t know. vampires still kind of turn their noses down at witches since they’re so obnoxious about wanting to be supernatural and oppressed with their covens, yet in the end, they’re still human.

still, mark indulged donghyuck anyway, even though he scoffed every time donghyuck said ‘coven’, he supported donghyuck through his practice of foretelling and trying to read the weather and his conversations with taeyong’s dog. now that was a real brain scratcher and obnoxious, because mark just knows donghyuck is talking shit to ruby behind his back.

“don’t you want to slow down?” mark says, cheek smushed with his fist as he watches donghyuck accept drink challenge after challenge. 

thank god for the ambrosia that made him slightly buzzed. his vampire venom ate up human alcohol too easily and with ambrosia he could get at least buzzed.

“not at all,” donghyuck says and reaches for the bottle yuta placed at their table. the older vampire thrives on donghyuck’s chaos way too much. jaemin too, mark notes, as the other human cheers for another drink. they really are just oil and fire together.

“congrats on getting into your secret society!” jaemin says enthusiastically.

“coven, jaeminnie,” donghyuck corrects. “today, i’m gonna get smashed because i deserve it! mark lee,” donghyuck declares, swaying and definitely will be face-planting by the end of night, “you can’t keep secrets from me anymore, okay? you have to tell me everything because i’m also part of the supernatural world now!”

mark nods complacently. “yes, yes, okay,” he says while rolling his eyes. like donghyuck was even listening anyways. he can’t fight mark with his weak human limbs anyways.

“i can see you rolling your eyes, mark lee! i’m part of a coven, do you hear me?”

mark shushes him, urging him to lower his voice. “may i remind you where you are?” 

they are at a vampire-exclusive club. most humans come here to generously ‘donate’ blood, and mark warned them to keep their human status down if they didn’t want to be eaten. jaemin’s eyes sparkled at that and mark did not want to know what that meant.

“you’re drunk,” he says.

donghyuck grins at him with red dotting his cheeks. “not yet. but i will be.”

it’s a look he’s familiar with, like the times donghyuck had just gotten out of the shower or just finished running, smelling like his deodorant and blood coursing well through his body. he looks so appealing like that, glittering, like something mark can’t touch. the sight makes something in mark squeeze tightly and he instinctively pulls away.

“what are you wearing?” comes out his mouth unintentionally.

“hm?” donghyuck tilts his head, confused.

“your eyes,” mark gestures. “they’re sparkly.”

“it’s eyeshadow, mark,” he explains sarcastically. “i thought your clan would teach you that, right? vampires are too vain not to.”

no, he knows that. donghyuck’s eyelids have this luminescent peachy glow to them, enhancing the way his skin is baby smooth and his eye shape even more mesmerizing. he definitely should’ve been born a fae, mark thinks he should definitely bury this thought thirty six feet in the dark part of his brain.

his reverie is broken by donghyuck yelling at jeno to knock the shot into his glass.

“you’re gonna have a fatty kidney at 40,” mark jokes. “i’m getting you some water.”

and more ambrosia for me, mark thinks. bless the fae for their poisonous inventions.

he takes a breather at the bar, ignoring ten’s weirdly deliberate grin at him as he hands him the drinks. the older vampire has always been like that ever since he brought his friends to yuta’s club. 

on his way back, he almost knocks the drinks into taeyong’s very expensive looking shirt.

“woah, careful there, mark.” taeyong catches his wrists at just the right time.

for a second, taeyong holds them still and goosebumps erupt on mark’s skin, making him feel on high alert all of a sudden. it’s called a vampire’s second sense, something inside their species to alert them to danger, not unlike a human’s gut feeling sometimes.

“taeyong hyung?”

taeyong breaks out of whatever thought he was having and smiles at him smoothly. “oh,” he says, “easy with the drinks, okay? make sure my brother gets home safe.”

mark’s eyes widen and he stiffens. “why? is something going to happen?”

he briefly recalls that taeyong is scarily good at foretelling the future with his sixth sense. it’s actually an enviable trait even vampires haven't developed as well as them.

taeyong shakes his head, “no, nothing like that.” then, the look on his face softens, his grip almost cradling mark’s wrists. “hey, you know you can come to me whenever you need help, right?”

“of course, hyung.”

it’s a weird exchange, but once mark is back at their table, donghyuck tries to steal a sip of ambrosia from his cup and mark has to remind him that he will literally die, and then taeyong would be very sad and then johnny will ground him for at least half a century for it.

taeyong’s words are forgotten completely.

 

an unnatural occurrence happens that day though. 

he has a very strange dream.

mark shuffles in his sleep, seeing tanned skin and very sharp fangs. they’re his fangs. his dream-drunk brain recognizes this, but it’s surrounded by a haze of detachment as dreams always are.

there’s blood that permeates the air and it smells like morning dawn and sunshine on his bedsheets. the back of his mind blares sirens at that thought, like he’s forgetting something, but mark also feels way too good to think about why sunshine on his bedsheets would taste good to him or why that should remind him of someone.

 

that’s why when he wakes up with his gums aching, lips smacking, he thinks i must be really hungry. 

he checks his clock and realizes that he would be late for his 4pm class if he didn’t start getting ready fast. and so, he scrambles to the fridge, past jaehyun and johnny who were laying on the living room carpet.

in the fridge, behind taeyong’s stored side dishes (because johnny, jaehyun, and yuta also tend to forget mark is half human too often) are blood bags and boxes stacked on top of each other. is it type b week? that is the only type left.

mark pouts as he shoves his straw in the blood box, struggling to swing his backpack up his shoulder. he stops on his way to the door, mumbling around the straw, “did you guys stay up working on that thing?”

there’s humming music in the background that registers just now.

johnny and jaehyun are sprawled on the floor, all vampire dignity gone as they compare puzzle pieces. age really doesn’t make a person smarter. jaehyun nods once in a “uh” for yeah, shushing him to focus on the puzzle.

mark shrugs his backpack back up his shoulder and yanks the door open with a short mutter, “weirdos.”

he can hear johnny’s indignant hey! and then jaehyun’s deep voice booming inhumanely johnny! that took me twenty minutes to figure out! through the door. mark snickers through his way down the driveway. johnny and jaehyun have lived for so long that they have to pick up weird hobbies now and then, or else they’d be bored out of their minds.

with the midday rush, it makes him forget completely about what he dreamed that late noon, even as his mouth hurts, gums throbbing through the commute.

he doesn’t even realize anything is wrong until yangyang, a banshee and fellow supernatural, notices and asks him, “dude, are you okay?”

“hm?”

yangyang leans near him, which really isn’t difficult considering the seminar’s squished desks, and whispers, “you’re making that constipated face vampires get when they’re, uh,” and he lowers his voice even more, “blood-thirsty.”

am i? mark thinks and remembers that was the reason he broke his favorite pen earlier. right. what was with the aching in his gums?

“people might get suspicious,” yangyang continues.

mark nods and thanks him mentally, relaxing his shoulders and gulping.

the ache fades and comes back in pulses. sometimes, there’s a sharp throbbing in his upper jaw that reminds him that he’s hungry, but that’s really only once in a while. the rest of the time, there’s an unknown pressure when his gums are aching. it’s his body telling him that there is something wrong.

“we’ll end it here for today,” the professor claps. “it’s getting dark, so don’t be afraid to call the campus security hotline if you feel unsafe, okay?”

there’s some murmuring agreement as the other students ruffle around their seats and pack up.

as if anyone could miss the posters around their campus. 

if you see suspicious behavior, report it.

mark huffs, stuffing his notebook in his bag with unnecessary force. 

you’d think after a century of riots, a small depression, and reform, some kind compassion or understanding would have been reached. but humanity has always proved to be lacking within history. there was an unspoken rule among society. “don’t ask, don’t tell.” 

because of a refusal of a census, it’s unknown that the number of supernaturals surely outnumber the human population. to this day, your neighbor, your best friend, maybe your lover may be a blood-sucking vampire or a face-mauling werewolf and you may not even know even as you’re on your deathbed. 

but no one really wants to know.

yangyang claps him on the back, sending him a sympathetic smile. “don’t worry too much about them, mark.”

after all, vampires were one of the most persecuted among supernaturals back then.

 

when he meets up with his friends for dinner, they go down to itaewon for junk food and drinks. mark says surprisingly that he doesn’t want any food and they all grow suspicious.

jisung leans over the table, not without chenle complaining loudly yah, your shirt is gonna be drenched in orange juice. jisung’s eyebrows furrow in a very worried bunch, lowering his whisper to almost undetectable. mark’s vampire ears hear him just fine.

“are you hungry, hyung? you know... for blood?”

renjun snorts and says, “you don’t have to whisper like that. this place is owned by a witch and a siren, remember?”

“easy for you to say,” says jeno, paranoid werewolf and perturbed by renjun. “it’s because you’re a human. hunters still exist in our day and age, you know? and humans may wander in here without knowing who they’re around.”

“who comes here knowing its reputation?” jaemin asks, gesturing around them.

supernaturals surround them, dining casually, and others at the bar sipping on their type of ambrosia. if you were a witch and you had a sixth sense for magic, you could naturally feel it. the slight hum in the air, thrumming in your veins and on your skin. magic was everywhere.

technically, they’re the ones doing something taboo. a group of supernaturals, two werewolves, a fae royal, and a vampire bringing two humans into a place like this? gossip traveled fast. and people knew where you were going if you went down this particular street in itaewon.

“what’s bad about our reputation?” asks from above them. doyoung places their pizza in front of them, the dish sliding onto the table with a thump and crosses his arms. “you are going to pay this time, right? just because taeyong spoils you guys doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay.”

although doyoung could naturally use his sweet voice of persuasion on them, he didn’t.

“mark’s paying!” jaemin blurts out and points a finger at him. five other fingers follow.

mark looks at them with a face of betrayal and then accepts immediate defeat. “yes, fine. i’m paying, hyung, don’t worry. also..” he continues shyly, “could i get some blood?”

doyoung scrunches his nose up but says anyway, “i’ll see what we have in the fridge. is one glass okay?”

mark nods fervently, cursing at himself inside his head.

admitting that he was hungry and unprepared made mark’s pride swing low in his gut. vampires are one of the most secretive out of all of them, and especially towards how they procured blood. mark didn’t want people to think his clan was doing a bad job of caring for him.

a minute later, the door to the restaurant opens and donghyuck comes rushing to the table, spitting out, “you better not have finished it all! i’m the reason why you get free pizza!”

chenle, with a mouthful of pizza, grins cheekily and says, “too late. also, mark hyung already told doyoung hyung that he was paying.”

donghyuck swats at mark to scoot over to make room for him in the booth. and as he leans forward, trying to fight chenle about how obnoxious he is to eat pizza with utensils, it’s called propriety, donghyuck, a scent wafts towards him. mark’s brain does some kind of backflip at how is donghyuck sweating and why does he smell so good?

the gums on his upper jaw ache, now more than ever, and he has never wished more before to just be at the comfort of home because fuck, this is weird. mark has never wanted to drink blood from any of his friends. he’s never wanted to bite anyone. 

but as donghyuck bickers at jisung for taking chenle’s side, leaning forward and exposing the skin of his nape, for a single nanosecond, mark actually imagines biting down on him.

he remembers now. just like his dream, a pair of sharp fangs pierces into tanned skin and blood seeps from the wound. he’s aching. he wants. it smells like sunshine on his bedsheets.

“here we are, one glass of type ab,” a voice breaks him out of dangerous images.

taeyong places his blood filled cup in front of him with a small clack, full to the bottom in dark red, almost black like their booth shrouded in the corner.

mark swallows harshly, saliva collecting in his mouth. “thank you,” he mumbles and grasps the straw right away.

“are you okay?” taeyong looks down at him. the hand that gripped at the back of donghyuck’s seat comes up to brush his hair away from his face. “you look kind of sick.”

that’s impossible. mark’s vampire immunity system is stronger than his human immunity system which means he has never been sick a day in his life. if that includes human afflictions of course. 

but that isn’t what taeyong’s talking about. mark probably looks the type of pained he does when vampires are hungry. it’s a face taeyong has most likely seen johnny making.

mark just shakes his head. “i’m fine, hyung. don’t tell johnny, please, okay?”

taeyong just frowns. his ever soft voice indulges him, “alright. but tell me if you need more.”

mark nods and lets the affection engulf him. taeyong reminds him of his clan at times, like johnny, an ever stable presence, calming him and reminding him that he’s not the monster humanity says vampires are. he’s calmer now, able to laugh a bit lighter, and the weight in his chest is a bit less heavy.

taeyong goes back to work, and donghyuck turns to him with a smile that makes mark’s stomach do several rolls. “how does it taste?” donghyuck teases with a tongue that swipes along his upper teeth, mocking him again.

that should be disgusting, mark thinks.

but he just feels the swell of blood in his stomach and swallows another gulp. his teeth may have pierced a hole in the straw with how hard he’s trying to smile straight as he musters in a weak voice, “good. it’s my favorite. ab.”

donghyuck snickers, “my blood type is ab too.”

mark chuckles lightly, trying not to throw up right there with donghyuck’s nape shining as the light hits it, and thinks god, yeah, maybe that’s a problem.

the group laughs, making jokes about whose blood type is really apparent in their personality, which all just fades nicely into the background. mark sips on the cup of blood, downing it in mouthfuls, and uses the straw to scratch against the roof of his mouth. his body tells him that he’s had enough, but the ache lingers there, throbbing, persistent. 

 

for all intents and purposes, mark is a half-vampire. 

but he was dumped into his vampire clan as soon as his teeth were growing out and he was starting to crave blood. he entered human society, because that’s what his mom wanted, but he has always been raised by vampire rules, going along with vampire society. 

he has never thought that hey you’re gums are hurting like hell, maybe something is wrong? but he’s always been a little slow on the uptake regarding whether it was his human side or vampire side working up.

that’s the reason he doesn’t think that his gums aching are anything out of the ordinary. he’s never heard of anyone else’s gums aching along their vampire life. that is—until johnny spots him with three empty blood bags and his sprawled out body along the couch.

“uh, buddy,” he starts delicately, “is something wrong? what’s with the gorge fest?”

“johnny,” mark groans as he rolls onto his side and whines, “my mouth hurts, but i keep drinking blood and i’m full and my mouth still hurts.”

“what do you mean your mouth hurts?” johnny leaps for the couch and brings a hand over his mouth, eyes growing bigger in anticipation. “like your gums hurt? it’s aching?”

mark nods miserably. “yeah. it’s itchy.”

johnny gasps and claps his hands joyfully and why the hell does he look so happy? 

“you’re an adult now, mark. the day has finally come! you’re teething!”

somewhere from upstairs, mark can hear jaehyun yelling, “oh, you’re teething. congrats!”

ah, darn that vampire super hearing.

“teething?” mark asks. “what’s teething? i thought only babies and puppies did that.”

“my dear cousin, teething is a stage that baby vampires have when they start craving blood and start growing their fangs extra long.”

mark rolls his eyes and gestures impatiently for a better explanation. “yeah, i know that but why is it happening to me now? i already have fangs and i’m not a baby.”

he even spreads his lips and shows his sharp teeth off for better persuasion.

johnny tuts at him. “but you’re a half vampire. your fangs aren’t as long as the average pureblood vampire, right?”

that is a hit to his ego. “so?” mark huffs.

“so your fangs are growing! new shiny coat, longer, and stronger!” johnny claps. “it’s so you can finally bite instead of drinking from blood bags all the time. you’ve never been able to bite anyone, right?”

yeah and he’s never wanted to. it just wasn’t something mark really had an instinct for. he always thought it had something to do with the fact that he was half-human.

“so my teeth are just going to ache until my fangs grow out? how long will that take?”

johnny hums. “if you’re fast about it, maybe a month. if you wait it out, four months.”

mark bunches his brows together in confusion. “if i wait it out? do i get to choose?”

johnny nods. “psychologically speaking, once we’ve gotten what we want, the ache starts to hurt less and can promote growth.”

“psychologically? you’re speaking in riddles, johnny.”

the expression on johnny’s face is total joy as he scoots closer. “you just have to bite the person that made you this way.”

mark does not like where this is going. 

“what do you mean...” he asks timidly. “how would i know who...”

johnny’s grip on his shoulder grows stronger, just like the time when he was explaining how humans feel during a vampire bite. unconsciously, mark’s skin shudders at the sheer embarrassment of that memory. 

“mark lee,” johnny says, “think about it. when does our biting instinct come out? the moment when..?”

mark can feel his limbs grow weak as he suspects this will lead to something very bad. “..when we smell something good...”

johnny nods and gestures for him, “and when we smell someone good, that usually means that we’re...”

mark swallows. “...we’re attracted to a person.”

“bingo!” screams johnny. the level of excitement in johnny’s voice is actually scaring him. “now who is it you’ve fallen in love with that made you start teething?”

he has to be cursed. that’s the only explanation. 

are you serious? 

the universe had choose the person who made fun of his brace-face (yeah, just because he’s a half-vampire, that doesn’t mean he can have everything), the person who saw him go through his phase of owning twenty beanies and then called him out at trying to be sophisticated like his vampire elders. the person who has seen him at his dorkiest and has been there after the lanky stage passed. it sound ridiculous, right?

but when mark closes his eyes, he can remember his dream so clearly, it’s like a premonition: shiny bronze eyelids, blushing cheeks, and a slender neck all for his taking.

“so?” johnny’s elated booming voice shoots through his ears.

mark throws his head back onto the couch and tries really hard not to black out.

 

na jaemin, a person mark would categorize as a strange, strange human and supernatural enthusiast is the first to notice. 

he was the first to figure out that mark was a vampire because he hung out in the ‘vampire dungeon’ (he means the vampire club yuta runs) and to this day, he still won’t tell mark where he’s getting all his top-secret vampire knowledge from. in mark’s opinion, this was dangerous. but it’s not the first time jaemin put himself in danger just to appease his own curiosity.

“what’s wrong with you?” jaemin asks over lunch.

it’s noon and mark is sleepy, but his final exam was scheduled at this time, an anti-vampire agenda he’s convinced his professor has, so he has no choice but to stick it out.

“what do you mean?” he mumbles into his ice cream bar.

“i mean why do you keep scratching those sharp things into your ice cream?”

mark stops. “oh, it’s nothing. i’m thirsty,” he summarizes neatly.

“oh! is there something wrong with your teeth?” and mark swears he can see the sparkles in jaemin’s eyes as the gears turn inside his head.

“n-no,” mark sputters in denial. he’s really bad at lying. everyone knows that.

“hm....” jaemin hums, not believing him at all.

at this moment, chenle decides to sit down with his tray of food and jaemin turns to him, attention drawn away. mark exhales in relief, also feeling cold from the sweat exuding from his pores. then, na jaemin opens his big mouth again.

“hey, what does it mean when a vampire’s teeth hurt?”

mark’s face pales. fae are the longest living supernaturals in existence aside from vampires, and that means that even vampires secrets are no secrets to the fae.

chenle turns to mark in surprise, blinking. “you’re teething, hyung?”

“teething?” for a second, jaemin looks at him with surprise and a growing smile and mark sees his life flashing before his eyes. 

death, he craves death. right now, please. 

“teething!” jaemin sputters out in laughter, trying to cover his mouth, but doing a very poor job at it as mark glares at him. “what is that? w-why are you teething,” he squeals with tears in his eyes, “like a b-baby!”

jaemin’s cackles grow louder. mark’s cheeks start collecting blood, until it reaches his head and he extends his arm to shut jaemin up himself by clapping his palm over that big mouth.

“shut up, na jaemin, do you want to out me to the whole cafeteria?” he hisses lowly.

jaemin quiets and mark lets go, hand spit slick and gross, human saliva ugh. but the face jaemin’s making doesn’t make mark’s humiliation go down. there’s this disgusting not-grin on his lips as he pokes chenle in the ribs.

“hey, what does it mean when a vampire is teething?”

chenle smiles, all coy like the tricky fae are, and mark just wishes he were born something else at the moment, maybe an inanimate object or a bug would be better than being subjugated to this kind of torture.

“it means he’s in love,” chenle says, sickly sweet.

jaemin’s mouth forms an ‘o’ and he gasps sharply.

mark takes a big gulp of air and says very quietly, “you didn’t need to tell him.”

chenle just flutters his eyelashes. “fae can’t lie.”

“you know very well that you could’ve made something up,” mark mutters and resists the urge to faceplant on the table.

“how? why? no, i mean—” jaemin leans in and whispers conspiratorially, “who is it?”

“i’m not telling you,” he mumbles, bringing the ice cream back to his teeth.

a drop of ice cream drips onto his knuckle miserably. he would die before na jaemin knew and giggled his way around donghyuck in front of mark's face. donghyuck is sharp and he would hold this over mark like the little terror he is for mark’s very long existence.

jaemin pouts and shakes his shoulders in an imitation of being cute. “but i want to know!” he whines, elbows flailing.

chenle rolls his eyes exaggeratedly. “who else do you think it would be?”

a pause.

jaemin slowly turns his head to chenle, and then to mark, his brain working, eyes big and round, and mark knows the whole thing is over

“mark lee,” jaemin coos, “you absolutely adorable thing, you. you fell in love with lee donghyuck? your life is already a walking comedy, but you’re adding liking donghyuck to it?” jaemin cackles and the sound cuts mark straight in the gut like a knife. “oh boy, you poor boy. good for you, good for you.”

mark brings his lips together over his teeth. he can barely contain his anger as his fangs ache and he restrains himself from yelling, teeth-bared, sharp-points in broad daylight.

“how is that good for me?” mark hisses. “do you know how crazy this is driving me? everytime he walks over, it’s like i can smell him before he’s even in the room. and do you even know what he smells like? it’s like—” he falters, “like—” atrociously delicious ab blood, fresh dew from his tanned skin, like sunshine at dawn, in the way the human side of mark always adored, and a pinch of ambrosia that makes mark feel buzzed and sleepily good.

chenle and jaemin look at him, both amused and unimpressed.

“yeah,” chenle says, “you’re really done for.”

mark doesn’t even have a retort to give back. he just lowers his head and shoves his melting ice cream bar in his mouth.

 

yuta, who is usually always gone, comes up to him one evening, leaning over the couch in his horribly sparkly jacket, and grins. “i heard you’re teething. who is it?”

mark groans and drags the book he’s reading over his face.

“come on! who is it? i gotta know who has taken our cutie mark’s heart!”

“why can’t you all leave me to suffer and toil in my misery alone?” mark wails. “are you so bored with your existence that you have to bother me?”

from above him, he can already feel yuta’s grin widening. “why ask if you know that’s the reason? come on, markie, tell me or i won’t give you this.” 

there’s some shuffling and mark gives in to take a peek. yuta takes out what seems like a slab of dried meat, beef jerky on or something, but it’s strangely the size of his forearm.

mark eyes it warily. “what is that?”

“it’s a teething treat for werewolf puppies, but we use it for half-vampires too.”

“i’m not a dog,” mark snarls and picks his book back up, ready to ignore the older vampire.

“you can bite on it for up to three hours,” yuta says.

that makes mark’s grip on his book slip. three hours. three hours of blissful peace and no aching.

with a bit of rumbling in the back of his throat, mark shuffles to sit properly on the couch, hands outstretched.

“ah, ah,” yuta tuts at him. “name first.”

mark has no problem baring his teeth at him and hissing. there’s no need for any pretenses with his clan anyways.

yuta points at him with a finger, warning him like he’s a pet. “put away the teeth or else i won’t help you.”

“donghyuck. it’s lee donghyuck,” he blurts.

yuta’s brows might as well reach the ceiling as he says, “that little brat who gave you a ketchup bottle of different animal bloods and almost gave you blood poisoning by forcing you to eat it?”

“that was a long time ago,” mark whines.

“it was four months ago,” yuta deadpans and looms closer. “so it's him though, right?”

mark gives a grunt in admittance, avoiding yuta’s gaze as he snatches the beef jerky with the most vampire-gifted speed he could muster and turns away from the older vampire.

as jaehyun walks past them, yuta calls out to him, his cheek against the couch as his eyes follow the other vampire. “jaehyun, our poor mark has fallen in love with the devil’s spawn. i think he really might die early before living through his full vampire existence.”

jaehyun’s deep laugh booms. “it’s what he deserves. who told him to bring that foul-mouthed thing into our lives?”

that was bias. jaehyun is only saying that because donghyuck makes fun of him for being so socially repellent. it was literally the only reason jaehyun started an instagram account.

“in my opinion,” jaehyun continues, “i think you should bite him before you start hallucinating during the day and do something worse. imagine if you jump him in broad daylight. hunters will track down our clan and,” he makes a slicing gesture across our neck with a grating noise of his teeth.

mark feels sweat on his palms as he asks weakly, “will that really happen?”

it’s not like jaehyun is far off the mark. he has been imagining biting down on donghyuck everytime donghyuck appeared in front of him.

yuta gasps and claps his hands over mark’s ears, scolding jaehyun. “don’t scare the boy. he’s already going through enough.”

jaehyun gives another laugh and straightens the collar of his shirt.

“speaking of scary...” yuta starts with a frown at jaehyun’s very sparkly and fancy shirt, “where are you going dressed like that?”

jaehyun’s canines glint as he smiles at the two on the couch, which triggers a groan from both of them.

“leave doyoung alone, hyung. he already hates you enough.”

jaehyun barks out at them, fangs elongated, “hey, you mind your own. he’s going to love me one of these days. i knew it from the first time i saw him.” and then, jaehyun’s usually very cold vampire eyes melt into something disgusting.

yuta waves at mark with a floppy wrist, telling him to give it up. “leave him, mark. he needs to be staked in the heart by doyoung at least once so he will learn.”

mark hopes that he never turns out like jaehyun. 

he has always perceived jaehyun as a true vampire. he was calm and collected at all times, seeming to live by his own rules, unbended by time. that is until, jaehyun met doyoung and mark couldn't believe his eyes, seeing the representative of the vampire reduced to a shy, cheeky fledgling.

mark shudders at the thought and wonders.

when he looks at donghyuck, does he look like that? mark isn’t good at lying. and mark hopes he won’t turn like jaehyun. donghyuck can’t ever know, so he’ll just bear the consequences and the aching pain. even if it’s his dignity, he hopes donghyuck can at least let him keep that.

 

mark is surviving on coffee and three hours of sleep, so he has utterly no idea why he is here. 

donghyuck had just told him to get his ass up because they were going to the library. at night. mark just wrinkled his nose and asked him why the hell would he go to the library? to study? 

and donghyuck stuck his ring-cladded fingers in his face and said one: the energy at the back corner of the library is the best at that time of night of the month — whatever that means mark still doesn’t understand witch rituals — and two: taeyong let him borrow the coven’s forbidden encyclopedias of witch practice

so here he is, on the floor of the fourth floor in some shoddy and cold corner surrounded by books and his laptop so he doesn’t get bored keeping donghyuck awake.

mark jumps when donghyuck drops his books to the floor and flops down in front of him.

“what’s wrong with you today?” donghyuck eyes him with a teasing smile.

maybe it’s the way that the lights are dimmed out, casting shadows on donghyuck’s face and highlighting the shine in his eyes and the tip of his perfectly button nose, it makes him look like a dream. 

ah shit, his mouth hurts. he can feel the throbbing of his teeth even now.

“it’s nothing,” he explains, just short from the start of a stutter. “the coffee is making me jittery — is all.”

donghyuck sends a coy grin his way as he picks up the coffee that is mark’s, feeling how it’s still full and takes a big sip on it. “sure,” the menace says.

mark gives a very unneeded exhale before closing his mouth to grit his jaws together. even now, it’s apparent how donghyuck smells. sunlight flowing through the windows and a hint of floral scented candles. his scent is so apparent now that mark is conscious of it.

johnny made it very clear during their talk.

there’s only one way to make the pain go away. you have to bite him or else the aching will just get worse.

“okay,” donghyuck says once he’s laid all his tarot decks down in order, “choose one, markie.”

“don’t call me that,” mark mutters under his breath with flaming cheeks.

mark chooses a bronze crystal laying on the very left. he tried his best to choose based on how donghyuck taught him: with whichever one calls to you. but he wasn’t a witch so he doesn’t know if he did it right at all.

“good! now let’s see..” donghyuck picks the tarot deck underneath the bronze crystal and starts the foretelling. the crack of the cards sounds out as donghyuck swipes card after card and lays it out in front of him.

the sound of donghyuck’s voice buzzes pleasantly into the background as he “tells” mark’s future. mark has never really taken this seriously since he wouldn’t understand anyways and donghyuck’s predictions usually end up materializing in the most unusual ways.

that is until donghyuck says oh, let’s ask the spirits about your love life! and mark returns back to planet earth.

“so these..” death and the nine of swords donghyuck points to, “looks like you’re going to go through something rough. it might be your pride or your fear of change,” he sighs as the more he pulls. “why are you so negative, mark? looks like this person is your soulmate though. how good for you.”

the more donghyuck talks, the more mark’s ears start ringing. “it’s just a bunch of cards, hyuck. they don’t mean anything.”

donghyuck huffs and points out, “i’ll have you know, the coven says i’m the next best witch after taeyong. and my readings always come true, whether you want to admit it or not.” 

it can’t. there’s a snap of the thread in mark’s ripped jeans at where his fingers were fumbling with the seams.

donghyuck points a finger into mark’s chest and puffs both cheeks out. “now shut up, you’re ruining my concentration. here, look at this, good news. the ten of cups means you’ll get over whatever rut is happening and—”

whatever he says next fades into the background because as donghyuck leans over, his shirt dangles open, the expanse of his chest peeking out from where mark can see very clearly above him. this is too much. being near donghyuck is too much.

the deck of cards almost spills over with how mark’s knee misses it by inches when he gets up abruptly. mark’s ears are flaming and it feels like there’s swelling in his upper jaw as he runs his tongue over his canines.

“mark?” donghyuck’s lost voice calls up at him.

“i gotta go. i think johnny’s calling me,” mark spits out, not knowing what he’s doing or where he’s going, he just needs to get away before he does something dangerous.

something dangerous like pushing donghyuck over, watching him fall onto his back and bare his lean neck, ab blood pulsing underneath the skin, so mark could so easily just lean over and—

mark gasps, clenching the railing of the stairs as he bends over and feels the cold metal touch his forehead. 

he’s insane. he’s gone insane.

every single second, he’s losing control of himself. and for what?

wanting to taste donghyuck’s blood? yeah, that makes sense. it’s natural to be curious. but being in love with donghyuck? hell no.

he can’t be in love with donghyuck. he can’t let that happen.

he’s mark’s best friend. he’s the first human to ever stick to him, to embrace him even knowing who he is. it’s a miracle their friendship is already this smooth. mark doesn’t want to imagine the day, if he ever loses control, if he gets mad and bares his fangs, an exact image of all those advisory posters they had at school.

words echo in his head, his clan warnings that have been ingrained in him since he was a child and old enough to understand. 

you are a vampire and that means if there is a choice, humans will always be your undoing.

mark can’t love donghyuck, and donghyuck can’t love him back.

 

when mark looks at taeyong, he thinks no wonder donghyuck’s his brother. he thought taeyong was a fae the first time he saw him too. just like he did to donghyuck.

“what is it?” taeyong asks, his cheeks full and eyes reminiscent of donghyuck’s, pure and encompassing, as if they were calling you to him. “you have something to say to me?”

mark shakes his head. “no,” he says and watches taeyong unload the side dishes he has packed.

johnny brushes by, kissing taeyong on the forehead and murmurs i have a gift for you later, my love. all in broad view of mark’s spaghetti dish. a noodle slips from his fork and splats into a puddle of sauce.

that’s gross. that’s like... his parents.

johnny flashes him a cheesy smile when he leaves the kitchen, knowing full well that mark could still hear him with his half-human ears.

mark twists the fork in his hand, feeling the tension sinking into his shoulders again.

“hyung,” mark calls, and taeyong hums from where he’s organizing their freezer. “why are you in love with johnny? like.. why him?”

taeyong pauses, spinning around, and lets the refrigerator door close. “hm..” he thinks, leaning against the door, “i just like him. i like how he’s gentle even though he could be the opposite, how he never runs out of things to laugh about, how he has so much love to give,” this in particular, taeyong’s eyes sparkle as they look at mark, “and how he treats me so well.”

mark frowns like he’s dissatisfied. “anyone could treat you well though. and they wouldn’t be a vampire either..” he mutters.

taeyong laughs. “yeah, anyone could treat me like johnny does, do the same things as him, but they’re not johnny, are they? there’s a bunch of people i could choose from that are less complicated, but they don’t make me feel like johnny makes me feel. i like him and he likes me, isn’t it enough?”

that’s too easy. it’s unfair.

“i guess,” mark says.

taeyong keeps staring at him, peering at him like he wants mark to spill some more. taeyong’s always had a sort of power over people like that. it makes mark want to shed out of his skin.

mark pushes away his spaghetti dish, appetite washed away. “i’m full. thanks for cooking, hyung. i’ve got some studying to do.”

 

after his fiasco with donghyuck at the library, he makes sure to be late to all their hang outs together. it’s a deliberate act of avoiding sitting next to donghyuck or taking a seat facing him.

out of sight, out of mind, right?

well, it doesn’t work the way mark plans for it to, because if there’s one thing he’s sure about donghyuck, it’s that donghyuck has a mark radar.

it’s part of my sixth sense,” donghyuck snickered. “i know exactly when you’re begging me to bother you. or else you would’ve ended up a hermit for the rest of your boring vampire life. and that would be sad, right?”

today, donghyuck’s mark radar is on full blast, because the only thing donghyuck has on his mind is to bother mark to his death. the blood in mark’s arm is in donghyuck’s death grip, pressed to his chest in an attempt to land a kiss on his cheek.

“please, markie! tell me!” donghyuck’s aegyo reaches new levels of gross mark didn’t even think was possible.

across from him, chenle shrugs at mark’s glare, definitely knowing the crimes he has committed. it didn’t take long after his two friends’ revelation that the rest of their group knew as well. it’s not like chenle is known for keeping their secrets private—not because he’s a gossip, but because he discusses everything with jisung. and jisung is the one who truly doesn’t know how to lie to save his life. at least jisung looks like he feels slightly bad for him, but the rest of them seem to be enjoying mark’s internal torture.

“it’s someone we know,” jaemin tells donghyuck.

“why am i the only one who doesn’t know?” donghyuck cries in a high tone. he starts shaking mark’s arm back and forth, begging more insistently now. “it’s not fair that i don’t know who it is! i’m your best friend! your one and only soulmate in the whole wide world!”

mark groans, grinding his molars together. “it’s not as important as you’re making it out to be.”

jeno outright laughs, his eyes curving into moons as he spills out, “what a lie! yuta came over to our pack house, you know? he asked for some of our teething snacks because you don’t want to bite the person you have a crush on. he says it’ll only get worse and said to make a storage spot just. for. you.” jeno emphasizes, cheesing at him all the while.

the others stare at him, stifling laughter.

renjun does a poor job of mutter softly, “damn, mark. you should just bite him.”

donghyuck flings mark’s arm back at him and puffs his cheeks out. “hmph, i bet it’s lucas, isn’t it? you get obnoxiously giggly around him. i’m not exactly stupid, mark lee.”

the rest of the group burst out in giggles, falling over each other in laughter with tears in their eyes.

mark turns to donghyuck, speechless. “..you really might be stupid.”

this worsens the pitch in donghyuck’s tone and mark really wants to poke his cheeks in so he would stop making that face. his heart is tingling like he owes donghyuck something, because he’s getting so clingy like he actually cares that much. donghyuck hates being left out of secrets.

“i can’t tell you. you’ll just make fun of me,” he says.

“isn’t that natural though? it’s not like you haven’t known me for half my life. even if you’re together with your crush or not, i’d still make fun of you. it’s my perpetual state.”

yeah, that’s exactly why, mark thinks. it’s so easy between us now. donghyuck can make fun of him for anything. but if he knows of mark’s feelings, that might change everything.

 

“hey, did i do something wrong?” lucas lugs the basketball back to his side, leaning near mark as he whispers to him.

“huh? what do you mean?”

“like, why has donghyuck been glaring at me for the past half hour? i swear if i said something wrong, it was just lost in translation. i could go apologize right now—” lucas walks backwards, throwing a finger back at where donghyuck is talking with jeno and jaemin on the sidelines.

“no, no,” mark stops him. “it’s just, ugh, he thinks i want to bite you.”

lucas stops. “huh? oh, it’s the,” he makes a gesture to mark’s mouth, “whole adult fangs thing? you still haven’t told him yet?”

mark burns where he stands. “yeah,” he mumbles in embarrassment.

everyone knows by now since it’s so hard to hide his newly change of diet. 

“why are we stopping? you guys thirsty?” sungchan jogs up to them, holding out bottles, one with water and another mark could smell is blood.

mark shakes his head and refuses it. instead, watching in slight horror as lucas gulps down the water with vigor. and after pummeling the poor bottle within a matter of seconds, lucas perks up.

“we’re talking about how mark hasn’t bitten donghyuck yet,” he chirps.

“really?” sungchan looks surprised. “it’s already been more than two months though.”

mark sighs as lucas looks back and forth between them, clueless like a puppy between the two vampires. “what does that mean?”

“it means,” sungchan explains, “the pain gets worse the longer you wait it out. it’s like having a wisdom tooth that’s growing in the wrong place and you keep ignoring it.”

“my teeth are just fine,” mark defends.

“it’s not about your teeth though. you know that.” sungchan really doesn’t hold back when it comes to spitting out facts as he continues on his lecture for lucas. “when a vampire doesn’t drink blood for a long time, they get hungry, and they can’t help but be enticed by the food in front of them. it’s like that.”

“so what,” lucas passes the ball to the other arm in his confusion, “do you mean that mark might jump donghyuck or something?”

“well—”

“okay, stop,” mark interrupts. “we’re not allowed to be telling others this kind of information.”

sungchan laughs nervously, trying to backtrack. “it’s not like i’ve seen a vampire jump another human for blood anyways. that hasn’t happened in a very long, long time. our clans are very good about keeping us fed, you know?” he tacks on in a very low voice to himself, “but mark is the only half-vampire born in the last thirty years...”

lucas’s forehead wrinkles as he stares at mark in worry. “i think you shouldn’t overthink it. donghyuck is like, the most accepting person i’ve met.”

they all look back at donghyuck who’s attempting to lug jaemin into a hug and sit on his lap at the same time.

too accepting, they all think.

“you should just go for it. who knows?” lucas shrugs and brings the basketball up to eye-level, squinting as he aims, “it might work out.” 

the ball rebounds off the rim, nearly making it in.

it’s that. the fact that taking a chance means there will always be another outcome, one that could hurt more than his six-month pain.

 

does he really have stick onto him like that? 

with a sickening roll of his stomach, mark watches as donghyuck clings onto taeil, almost slipping off the edge of his seat at the bar. donghyuck tilts his head, cooing at taeil, saying how much he likes the other.

he doesn’t know when donghyuck decided to ramp up his obsession on taeil into an attack of affection, but these days, donghyuck is all about moon taeil.

“you’re like the coolest vampire ever, hyung.”

mark watches with a stoned face as taeil gives a small chuckle. “i have to go to the bathroom, okay? i’ll be right back.” after donghyuck’s brief whine, he pats at donghyuck’s hand to let go of him for now.

donghyuck huffs and settles back, scooping his drink up in his hands.

well, if anyone asks what mark thinks, it’s that taeil is the most un-vampire to ever vampire. he doesn’t have single scary bone in his body and despite his fangs being the sharpest after jaehyun’s, mark sincerely doubts taeil has ever bitten anyone. and he makes sure donghyuck hears this sentiment too.

“so what if he’s never bitten anyone, i think he’s still cool. you haven’t bitten anyone either, mark lee minhyung,” donghyuck snarks. he spits out his straw for a second, turning dramatically towards mark with big eyes. “you haven’t yet, right?”

mark turns his nose up at him, focusing on stirring the ice in his cup. “i wouldn’t tell you even if i did.”

donghyuck gasps and places his drink down with a firm clack on the table. “you promised to tell me!”

okay, now donghyuck was just making stuff up. “i did no such thing!”

“you really got together with lucas?”

mark inhales sharply, trying not to break the arm of the seat. “god, no, will you stop? i don’t like lucas that way.”

donghyuck leans in again, tipping forward dangerously. “well then, who do you wanna bite?”

“why do you need to know? do i have to tell you?”

“i’m just curious,” donghyuck says, propping his chin on his fist. “it’s like you’re giving your bite virginity away. you always tell me to stay away from the vampire stuff. can’t i be curious?”

christ. bite virginity. mark ducks his head, hearing his own slow beating heart pick up. “do you have to phrase it like that..”

until the sound of ice colliding against each other rings out, he doesn’t even notice ten in front of him, refilling his drink for him. to anyone else, he looks perfectly inconspicuous. but mark recognizes the hint of a smirk on the corners of ten’s lips. he’s definitely enjoying the show from behind the counter.

“of course, i do,” donghyuck argues. “your bite virginity is important. like a right of passage for baby vampires.” he turns his head up. “right, ten hyung?”

“well, i’m a born vampire so... i don’t remember much about the first time i bit someone. i do remember the first time i got bit though! oh, getting bit by a vampire is a feeling unlike anything else.”

if there’s anything ten hyung is good at, it’s saying unnecessary things. about half of their clan’s problems always lead back to ten’s smart mouth.

donghyuck’s eyes get very big as he asks, “vampires can bite each other?”

fallen right for ten’s bait. “of course, it’s called the fanger position 69—” 

“shouldn’t you be working, hyung?” the glares mark sends to ten is enough to last him for a month.

ten backs up, beaming at them as he goes. under his breath, mark can hear him say, “testy baby vamp.”

donghyuck’s chair makes a full swing towards mark as he asks, “how does being bit feel?”

mark thinks he’s gonna get whiplash. ugh. “i haven’t even bitten anyone yet. how would i know what it feels like to be bitten?”

donghyuck hums contemplatively, looking off while his mouth searches for the straw in his drink.

“would you ever bite me?”

at that second, the oxygen in his lungs is punched out of his being. the sound of the bar is so loud, but mark’s ears whites it all out as buzzing. donghyuck may as well present himself, neck up and begging like a siren into mark’s ears. 

mark pushes his drink away, suddenly way too full to put anything in his stomach. “stop messing around, donghyuck.”

“but i’m not!” donghyuck says defensively, “i’m just really curious.”

“well, you shouldn’t be!” mark whirls towards him, feeling the pang of anger crush against his ribcage and send the gums above his canines throbbing. “have you ever thought that maybe i don’t like it when you joke about things like that? you always push my boundaries and—” the words are just falling out of his mouth and mark can’t even tell what excuses he should give, “and push your silly human ideas about how being supernatural is so cool. it’s not. it’s not cool at all.”

he watches as donghyuck’s sparkling expression crumples and collapses mark from the inside out.

donghyuck’s voice is barely audible, but mark’s ears can hear his low voice ring clearly in his ears. “why do you always think that i’m joking? i am serious. when i joke around with you, it’s because i want it to be easier for you to share that part of your life with me. i told you that.”

mark’s stomach rolls once more as the corners of donghyuck’s lips pull into a frown, looking genuinely upset, a rarity, that mark almost regrets his words. almost.

“you won’t even tell me about something as trivial as your bite virginity,” donghyuck mumbles, “even though it’s no big deal.”

“it’s a big deal,” mark gulps, every part inside him shaking. “it’s a big deal to me.”

donghyuck’s brows curve up, in confusion and in worry, with his eyes big and imploring. mark almost spills his entirety and surrenders himself to donghyuck right that moment.

a noise of being startled breaks mark out of the thought. the most un-vampire action ever. suddenly, he feels all the disgust he had pushed back slam back to the surface at full force. it feels like his mouth might just be better off split open and bleeding instead of itching intensely like this. 

the shadow forming behind donghyuck catches mark’s eye and he pushes out of his seat with a dizzying speed. 

“taeil hyung’s back,” mark says.

his whole body hurts. it fights between staying next to the person that calls to him and wanting to run away. mark’s gaze refuses to lift up to look donghyuck in the face.

he’s already chosen. 

“have fun with him.”

he chooses to run away.

 

mark has just resorted to laying an ice pack on top of his mouth, numbing the skin beneath so he couldn’t feel anything at all.

it works to an extent. 

rather than his gums aching, there’s something wrong with his body. there’s a heaviness and a pulsing angry desire underneath his muscles. everytime mark closes his eyes, he thinks of donghyuck and his whole being burns in madness.

“hey, mark. what are you doing? can you breathe a little less loudly?” johnny asks from the stairs.

jaehyun snorts across from him where he’s tinkering with the piano. “he’s going through puberty.”

mark can hear johnny’s footsteps grow closer as he stops a little bit away from the couch where mark is lying down on.

“are you kidding me,” johnny starts an incredulous tone, “it’s been almost, what, three months? and you still haven’t bitten him? you’re really gonna torture yourself like this?”

something irrational drags across mark’s innards as he tears the ice pack off his face and bares his fangs at the tall vampire looking down at him.

“you think i’m doing this on purpose?” mark hisses out.

jaehyun’s tinkering stops as his eyes flicker towards his figure on the couch.

johnny takes an inch backwards and adjusts his voice into something softer. “no.. i just think you’re being unnecessarily stubborn. just take a chance—”

“shut the fuck up, johnny. it’s not like you understand!”

he flips off of the couch, speeding past the two men and up the stairs. 

fuck johnny and his perfect human boyfriend. he’s never been through this. he’s never fallen in love with his best friend and he’s never had people telling him all his life that he should hide who is from both sides. 

vampire or human? 

monster or human? you need to choose how you want to live, mark.

“what is that supposed to mean?” johnny’s question echoes from afar. “hey! lee minhyung!”

“you had it so fucking easy, so what would you know? fuck off!”

mark’s footsteps are unnecessarily loud as he stomps back to his room. both johnny and jaehyun wince when they hear mark’s door slam closed, reverberating into the walls.

they both turn to each other with concerned expressions.

it’s worse than they thought.

 

he has several hours alone after his tantrum. he’s not even a teenager anymore, but he can’t believe he lashed out like that.

“mark,” johnny calls from outside, knocking at his door.

mark grumbles, “i told you to leave me alone!” and turns to bundle himself into his sheets.

he hears the clang of johnny’s hand against the door handle, knowing that he could enter by force if he wanted, but johnny didn’t.

“i’ve left some food out for you. human food. please, eat at least.”

the sound of glass echos against their hardwood floors, and then johnny’s gone.

mark continues in this forced, sad routine for a while.

the rest of the vampires in the house leaves mark to brood in his misery. he even hears johnny warn yuta not to bother him when he came home from work.

his schedule consists of moping in his room, going straight to school, and coming back home to mope some more. mark keeps his door shut for the most part. it had been about a week.

one of the days which even jaehyun, mister argument-bystander-professional, knocked on his door.

“hey.” jaehyun’s deep voice has always been like a velvet cushion when he talks softly, saying meaningful things without intention. “you can always tell me anything, you know that right?” 

he paused and mark could see his shadow, waiting outside the door as the silence answered him.

“if there’s anything you don’t want to tell johnny, you can tell me. i know i’m not your cousin, but i’m still your clan... you’re family, mark.”

i know, mark wanted to say. but he couldn’t bring himself to speak.

after that, jaehyun even slid in a bowl of watermelon. the pieces were cut up all neat and tidy. the melon itself was a bit watered down, but the bowl was still emptied.

it’s not that mark doesn’t want to be relieved of his stress, but he’s guilty and embarrassed and angry. mostly at himself. he only wishes his life was like johnny’s. one that wasn’t full of confusion from the day he was born. one where he could meet a human and that human would love him with fangs or without. and that it would be easy. it would be easy for them to fall in love like riding out fate smoothly.

nothing about mark’s crush on donghyuck is easy or smooth.

 

he wakes up from an afternoon nap to hands combing through his hair.

“sorry, did i wake you? i thought it was about the time you would be getting up.”

mark groans sleepily as he peeks his eyes open and sees the orange hue of the sun setting cast along his bed sheets. taeyong smiles at him gently, perched at the side of his bed.

“it’s fine. i was just taking a nap after my morning class.” mark sits up against his headboard, swiping a hand onto his face.

“are you hungry? i brought pasta.”

“no, actually i want b—” he stops himself, the corner of his lips crooked down.

but the ever prepared taeyong hands him a box, probably from their fridge. “i brought that too.”

mark takes it, replying hoarsely. “sorry.”

taeyong frowns at this, but he patiently waits as mark pokes a hole into the blood box and takes a sip of it, before launching into why he’s here.

“johnny said you’re having a hard time recently. because your fangs are growing out? you guys had a fight.”

“it wasn’t a fight,” mark mumbles into his straw, biting down on it and hearing it crackle. “i was throwing a slight tantrum. i’m sorry...”

“stop apologizing.” taeyong scoots closer, placing a hand onto his back. the soothing warmth permeates through mark’s thin shirt. “didn’t i tell you that you could always come to me if something was wrong? you know i’ll always be understanding, mark.”

that was the lure behind taeyong. his ever conquering kindness.

mark squeezes his eyes shut, bringing his knees up to rest his forehead against them, curling into himself. “did you see it?”

that i’m in love with donghyuck? that i have always been afraid to admit this?

the hand on his back brushes up and down.

“i saw it. but i already knew before the predictions,” taeyong’s voice is downy soft. it always sounds so open. like hope and forgiveness. “you have always seemed attracted to donghyuck. pulled by him. and donghyuck’s the same. do you know that?”

mark breathes in deep and out, hot air muffled into the blanket.

“i don’t want to be in love with him,” he confesses. “i hope he’s not in love with me because— because...”

one day, when mark opens his mouth and bares his fangs— one day, donghyuck might look at him in horror, disgusted at him, at who is, and hate him like all the teachers at school said they would. vampires are monsters. you can’t trust them. not even in death.

every second he’s spent with donghyuck has felt like a dream. he’s afraid that one day, he’ll wake up and he’ll realize that the happy moments were all unreal.

taeyong brushes mark’s hair out his face, gently ruffling it. “they’re not dumb, you know? the ones out there. even though they seem old and unattached to anything now, they’ve lived for a long time, enough to know what kind of things you’re thinking.” taeyong huffs a bit in mirth then. “johnny asked me if you hate him. or the clan. he was wondering if he raised you wrong or something.”

mark balks. “of course not! it’s not that i hate vampires or anything. i love johnny, i love being in this clan. i just—” his nails form scrapes against his palm, “i just hate being.. me.”

he hears taeyong take a sharp inhale and the breath is squeezed out of him as taeyong hugs mark close. “you can’t help who you’re born as. no one can.” mark can feel taeyong’s cheek pressing against his head as he speaks, cradling him like he was a child again. “but there will always be people who love you. and that will be true whether or not you can love yourself enough. so let them, mark. just let yourself have that.”

a bit of commotion rises when mark hears someone’s footsteps tapping on hardwood. it’s similar to the sound of them catching the door to meet someone. he can hear stifled sniffling near his bedroom door as the other clan members try to make themselves as quiet as possible. they’re usually good at it. or maybe they’ve gotten too good at ignoring each other.

“uhm,” johnny’s voice interrupts them as he pokes his head in the doorway. his eyes are red-rimmed as he speaks as if he swallowed something bitter. “donghyuck’s here. he’s in the living room. he says that he wants to talk to you, mark.”

mark jerks up, straight and alert. he tries to grapple with the sudden whiplash, but his brain doesn’t know what to do, arms flailing into the blanket. 

taeyong gets up from his side and gives his hair one last parting ruffle. “just talk it out. it’ll be okay, kiddo. whatever happens, we’ll be here after, okay?”

it’s too quiet after taeyong disappears past the door frame, and he’s engulfed in the quiet and dim room again.

“can i come in?” donghyuck asks by the doorway, uncharacteristically hesitant. 

mark makes a noise of assent. donghyuck’s feet shuffle in by his bedside like he’s shy. his fingers twiddle together as he stands there, just staring down at mark’s sheets.

mark clears his throat. “you can sit,” he says and flips back the covers to make room for donghyuck.

donghyuck slips in with ease, legs folding under him as he doesn’t particularly look at anything.

it’s painful to see donghyuck act like this, look like this. when was the last time he’s seen donghyuck wear a face like that? maybe it was before donghyuck’s coven initiation and his brows were permanently pinched together in anxiety. mark hasn’t seen such doubt worn on donghyuck’s face since then.

“you haven’t been answering your messages.” donghyuck’s eyes are still fixated on his sheets.

“yeah,” mark croaks. “i’m sorry.”

“i’ve called you at least fifty times.”

“that’s an exaggeration..” mark tries to joke, but it comes out without any life.

donghyuck’s frown deepens. “does it hurt a lot?”

at the mention, the throbbing insenfies. just being near donghyuck like this, being close enough to smell the subtle baby lotion wafting off him, and underneath, the blood pulsing in him.

“no,” mark says.

donghyuck’s expression grows sterner. “you lied. you said it wasn’t important, but ten told me...” he huffs, nails scraping against the threads of his denim jeans, “he said that you could lose control.” in the smallest voice, he whispers, “you could lose control, because it hurts, it gets more and more painful if you don’t bite.. him.”

mark doesn’t know how to face him. he doesn’t want to see donghyuck, or the face he might be making, the fact that donghyuck might be scared of him now.

he hears the way donghyuck takes a sharp inhale as his words cut, even in his weak murmur. “does it have to be lucas? i could—i would do it too. i would lend you my neck if you asked.”

mark’s head snaps up. he blanks. “what?”

donghyuck’s words come out in a sprint, “i know i’m supposed to be apologizing, but i’m not sorry. i meant it when i asked if you would bite me. i just wanted you to give me a chance. i like you. and i can always make you as happy as he could.”

when donghyuck looks at him, his eyes shine, glittering with the tears that have collected on his bottom lashes.

mark’s mouth dries up. “donghyuck.. hyuck. i said i don’t like lucas like that,” he croaks out. his head whirls as his mouth flings out whatever words that come. “and that’s not.. that isn’t the problem—you like me? seriously?” he hovers a hand near his mouth, opening his jaw as the canines that have grown a new shiny white coat to them are bared in its glory. “even though i have these?” 

donghyuck rolls his eyes. “i just said i wanted you to bite me!” he says, cheeks flushing as his fists take it out on the sheets. “stop making this embarrassing.”

somewhere in his mind, mark thinks it’s too good to be true. so he frowns. “i’m a vampire, donghyuck.”

donghyuck is partly shy and partly angry as he bites back, “what does that have to do with anything?” glaring at him. “i just like you, mark lee, vampire or human. i just like you.”

they both sit in silence for another few seconds that feel stretched too long.

“well, say something!” donghyuck yells again. 

mark has a feeling the whole house can hear even through their century of training to hone out other conversations. but mark’s drawing a blank.

donghyuck puffs out his cheeks and looks away. “at least, hurry up and reject me so i can go home and cry or something.”

“don’t cry..” mark says weakly.

he is weak, very weak for donghyuck.

“i’m sorry.. i like you. i like you a lot.” mark swallows with his dry throat and drags a hand over his face roughly. god, he feels so stupid now. for everything. 

“you do?” donghyuck asks, his eyes widening in a way that makes mark’s chest tight.

“yeah,” mark admits. “i’ve been dreaming about you at night, uh, day—when i sleep. you don’t know how much being next to you kills me. i always imagine this,” his voice breaks off as his fingers ghost at the skin of donghyuck’s knees, “you in my bed, and it always smells like you, god, it’s so bad—”

mark is cut off when donghyuck pulls on his collar, choking his words out and smashes their lips together.

“you’re so embarrassing, mark lee,” donghyuck whines onto his lips, bringing them together again.

it’s rough and tastes slightly like the cherry lip balm donghyuck uses. mark’s hands cup at donghyuck’s cheek, accepting him readily, and it feels slightly like he’s dying. in fact, it’s torture. with donghyuck’s skin pressed against him, his easily open mouth which mark can’t help licking into, the scent of donghyuck’s blood pulses ever present under mark’s palms.

“wait—” mark pulls away and donghyuck complains, pushing his knees into mark’s lap. “stop, hyuck. just a minute.”

“what?” donghyuck snaps.

“i’d love to keep kissing you, but my teeth really hurt right now and i just,” mark sucks air through his teeth, cupping a hand over his mouth, “really want to bite you.”

“oh,” donghyuck’s mouth pops open in an ‘o’ form. his hands come to rest onto mark’s shoulders as he shimmies himself comfortable in mark’s lap. “it won’t turn me or anything, right?”

“no, no, not at all.” mark shakes his head. god, humans are really in the dark about vampires. “a vampire is only turned if i feed you my blood. and like, a lot of it. i would have to die to turn you. so that’s why turned vampires aren’t really common. and actually, the bite feels good. it’s like a numbing agent. it makes the... human more willing to be bitten.”

donghyuck’s mouth screws down in contemplation, before he perks up and says, “okay, then. have at it.” he tilts his head over, baring his neck.

he’s just presenting it like a gift, all for mark’s taking.

“that’s a little intense,” mark murmurs and gulps. instead, he takes a hold of donghyuck’s wrist, pressing it up to his lips. “this is enough for me,” he says into the skin, peering up at how donghyuck’s eyes turn round, lips tightening at the sight. donghyuck’s blood drums steadily under his touch.

he lets out a small gasp when mark licks at the blue veins snaked up, wetting the skin for just a second, then closes his eyes when mark bares his fangs and sinks into the skin. a weak whimper comes out at the feeling of the puncture, but soon, donghyuck is relaxing into mark’s lap and laying his head onto mark’s shoulder.

mark laps at the blood flooding into his mouth, watching with pleasure as donghyuck’s eyes flutter open and shut at the ecstasy flowing in his veins by now. it doesn’t taste anything like the sunlight that filters in from his windows or of fresh dew drops like donghyuck’s skin exudes. but donghyuck does taste like the best version of ab blood mark has ever had, and that’s already too much for him.

he’s not even that hungry anyway, so mark pulls away after a few gulps. the sight that’s in front of him has already filled him enough.

mark already feels the swelling from his gums start to fade significantly.

“did it hurt?” mark asks.

“mm?” donghyuck picks his head up, still lost in the pleasure that’s lingering. “no, it felt really good. just like ten said.”

mark laughs, feeling happier than he has for the first time in such a long while.

“you’re a messy eater though,” donghyuck says and thumbs away some stray drops that dribbled down from the corner of mark’s mouth. the deep red faded into his skin, looking messier than before. it makes donghyuck flush at the sight of his blood smeared on mark’s lips. “it’s sexy... my sexy vampire boyfriend.”

“boyfriend?” mark squeaks. “already?”

donghyuck frowns intensely. “if not boyfriend, then what?”

“you’re sure though, like absolutely sure you want a vampire as y—”

“what’s your deal?” donghyuck pushes lightly at his shoulders. “i’ve liked you since before i knew you were a vampire, and still liked you even after you confessed that you were a vampire. and it’s not like we’re not surrounded by supernaturals everyday.. why can’t you just believe that i like you?”

“because it feels too good to be true,” mark blurts. “i mean you’re you and i’m.. me. so.”

it doesn’t sound like it’s funny so he doesn’t know why donghyuck is laughing.

donghyuck has his head ducked, stifling his grin. “ah, so you’ve been cooped up in your room, agonising over whether amazing ol’ me, your self-proclaimed soulmate, would like you back because you think you’re, what, subpar?”

“well, i didn’t put it like that.”

“that’s exactly how you put it, mark lee,” donghyuck wraps his arms around the back of mark’s neck again and leans in close. “i like you because you’re the sweetest, most passionate, and goofiest person i know. and you make me happy. really happy. and there were a lot of times when i wished you would only make me happy and no one else, so i’d really like it if you were mine.”

mark feels his stomach rolling again as his cheeks start to flush. “o-okay. we’ll just.. we can.. do that.

“date?” donghyuck fills the words in for him, fluttering his eyelashes just a few centimeters in front of him.

“yeah,” mark says weakly.

donghyuck smiles, all pretty and glittering, and presses a peck onto his lips. “ugh,” he winces, “can you go rinse first though? i’d really like to continue making out with you, but i don’t want to taste blood, my blood, while kissing you.”

mark looks up at donghyuck, dark flecks of blood dotting onto his lips where they kissed, and feels his stomach churn. this is a different aching from before. it’s something he accepts with the knowledge that it’s alright.

“i’ll be right back,” he says, pressing his forehead onto donghyuck’s for a quick second.

mark gets up, heart still fluttering. but this time, it’s knowing what’s ahead and knowing that he can include donghyuck in it without any restraints. 

it was always inevitable how he will be drawn to donghyuck, weak for him, and yearn for him. 

it was meant to be like that since the first time mark saw donghyuck and thought something magical is about to happen.