Bam had always hated what he was; a nephalem, a halfbreed between an angel and a demon.
He hated fighting, would always try and reason with an opponent if he thought he could get away with it. Demons and humans and hunters and angels alike. People regarded him as someone strong enough to take down the most powerful demon who ruled these lands and plenty hoped he would take his place.
He hated that people called him a God. He wasn’t one. Would never be. With the battles he fought getting harder, he’d become a Hell Lord before he ever became a God. That scared him more than taking the throne of a tyrant.
Bam had gained so many friends. Lost just as many. Swore himself to save everyone he could.
Yet as he gathered people as he crossed this terrorized land, Khun Aguero Agins often wondered. If Bam was, excuse the term, hell-bent on saving anyone he could...who was there to save Bam? From other people, but most importantly...himself?
So Khun had made a vow.
He made this vow seven years ago, to go through Hell and High Water. To dirty his hands where Bam would not, could not. To be evil and conniving, dastardly and vicious.
All for Bam.
Khun had said it to his face, too, and Bam had only given him that smile of his that made Khun’s heart squeeze. Not the sunshine smile, the vow had been too serious, but the one that made Khun know Bam understood and was there for him.
Bam was always there for him.
Then he wasn’t .
Khun had lost him over the edge of a massive cliff, betrayed by someone they called friend. He’d very nearly shoved her off, too, but as one last act, because Bam would not want that, he let her go.
He’d come to regret it later, he knew that, but it was for Bam.
Everything he did was for Bam and if that meant continuing this journey with the ragtag group of friends he’d made, then he would do that and take down the demon himself .
Before he did, though, he screamed in the forest until his throat was raw and the tears stopped.
Then Bam was back. Hallow-eyed and sad and it nearly broke Khun’s heart all over again. He went by Viole for a while, but over time the smile came back. The light returned.
Khun had never been so happy to see the sunshine smile on Bam’s face again, and had reaffirmed the vow. Nothing had changed. Nothing would change. Viole was Bam and Bam was Bam. Nothing more or less than the boy he gave his heart and soul to, because Bam had saved him like he’d saved everyone else. Only no one seemed to be as driven as Khun was to keep his spirit alive. To make sure Bam was able to keep going.
No one else seemed to love Bam as much as Khun did, and that thought alone, that he loved him had shaken Khun to his very core.
Khun didn’t love people.
He cared for Bam’s friends, could even consider some of them friends, but he didn’t love them . His heart was too frozen for that. Yet that sunshine smile had pierced and melted right through the ice and he hadn’t even realized it. Didn’t know when it happened, just knew that when he made the connection, it was the strongest feeling he’d ever had.
It scared him.
Khun had sat in his room that night, silent saved for quiet sniffs and gasps of air as he cried. He’d only cried like this after Bam had ‘died’ but this…now he was terrified of losing him for a whole different reason. Bam had ignored any and all moves made by women, but had no signs of liking men, either.
The only thing he could go off of was the fact Bam was near him any chance he got. It wasn’t enough. Nothing his overactive mind could go through was enough. Bam’s eager eyes, like a puppy, asking for permission to do things. Always asking Khun if he did well after a fight, fussing over Khun when he was hurt in a way he didn’t do for the others. Bam had to know Khun would do anything for him, but Khun never felt like he was being abused for it. Sometimes Bam just...did things anyway without looking to him for advice.
A knock at his door made Khun freeze up and suck in a stuttering breath. ‘Go away…’ he begged and closed his eyes. Please let them think he was asleep…
“Khun…?” Bam’s voice filtered through, hesitant.
“I heard you crying, I know you’re not asleep-”
“I’m okay, Bam.” Khun called, hating how wrecked his voice really sounded. He and Bam tended to sleep in the same room these days, but he’d needed to be alone to get these feelings out. “You don’t need to worry about me.”
“I always worry about you.” Bam was defiant. Of course he was. Yet even as he spoke he didn’t open the door. There was silence for a long while before a light thunk on the other side. Had he...bumped his head on it? “You can talk to me...you always let me talk to you. Why won’t you...let me do the same?”
Goddamn it, the way Bam’s voice sounded so hurt made Khun dig the heels of his palms into his eyes. He hated being the one that hurt him. “Please, Bam...I said I’m fine.”
“If I could bond you we wouldn’t have this problem…” it was a mutter, and if it wasn’t for Khun’s elven ears he wouldn’t have heard it at all. His head snapped towards the door, but there was already the sound of footsteps as Bam walked away. Bam sometimes forgot he had good hearing. He wasn’t meant to hear that and Khun knew it.
It made everything worse .
Bond him? What could he mean by bond him ? He knew weres did it. Wangnan and Yihwa were bonded. Was it because of his demon side? Khun knew about mating, but a bond mark wasn’t always involved. A bond between two people was permanent. It meant sealing energies together in a tie that could cross oceans. Sealing souls in some cases. Bonds could be forced and be one-sided, a way to control someone, but it was temporary. Both parties had to consent to it. Both had to want it.
It also meant if one of the bonded died it could possibly kill the other. Death by heartbreak was common among all races, but death because of a bond mark snapping was agonizing. Khun never understood why someone would subject themselves to that. Yet once he heard it from Bam, he spent the next couple weeks really observing and watching the werebull and nymph, asking questions far enough apart and made sure it sounded out of curiosity or dismissing their suspicion by saying he was making sure nothing was going to go south.
Wangnan had shared his magic with Yihwa in order for her to be able to bite him back, since she was a fire nymph and it wasn’t natural. Ever since they mated, Khun did notice the way they fought together significantly improved. They barely had to say things to each other to know if the other was alright or coordinating. Less worried glances and more mischievous grins and thumbs-up. Khun knew some bonds included mind-reading, but did they have that or was it more instinctual? Wangnan had described it as everything 'snapping into place'.
It drove Khun even more insane.
Did Bam want that with him? Did he really want that forever binding tie to their souls? Their energy? Their lives ?
Khun didn’t want to think about what it meant but his own mind was traitorous.
Did Bam love him back?
If he did...was Khun willing to...give that to Bam? He’d promised him to be there for him through thick and thin already...could he? Tie himself to someone forever? In a more permanent way than marriage?
He gave everything to Bam. Bent over backward for him. Bled and fought and schemed for him. Part of him wondered why he was so hesitant. He had already vowed, hadn't he? To be beside him anyway? What was the difference adding a Bond to the matter? Khun couldn't say he was afraid of commitment, since that is what the vow was. A deep promise he intended to keep and he didn't make promises lightly.
Khun came to a decision a couple months after he heard Bam's whisper. If Bam wanted this with him, then he would not back down from it. He wouldn't bring it up, but Khun set out to try and test the waters. A subtle test. More flirty banter if the moment presented itself. Sleeping in the same room again, even if it meant a double bed instead of two singles. Touching. Lightly across the arms or brushing their hands together, in his hair or down his back. It warmed his chest to see Bam lighting up, the sun finally coming out after being behind the clouds for weeks on end. Khun hadn't even realized Bam had been giving him his space, nor that he missed him as much as Bam clearly missed him back and felt terrible for it, but grateful all the same. It was silly, considering they had been right there within arm's reach but Khun had been in his own world.
Khun started to notice something as time progressed and they fell right back into their rhythm, not paying any mind the hiccup even happened. While Khun started courting him; started taking him out on the town just the two of them, buying him new clothes and trinkets they could attach to their bags, Bam was starting to do his own thing. More portions of the food he made, double checking his tent was secure or even building it for him then waiting for Khun's approval. Asking what was wanted for food before he hunted, bringing back rabbit for Khun if he'd said it then as deer for the others.
It made Khun wonder...if he had been blind to everything Bam did for him before. Now that he was looking at it all through a new lense, everything Bam did seemed...painfully obvious.
Khun was so, so blind and stupid.
Bam had loved him all along, he just showed it differently.
They were travelling through some really thick forest when something strange happened. Shibisu, Hatz, and Endorsi disappeared. Left them a note with stupid hearts on it telling him he’d be back soon.
It pissed Khun off. Two of their best scouts plus the fairy that could teleport . What the fuck? Without even talking to him or anyone about it? They had to push on without them. Khun just hoped they knew what they were bloody doing.
Bam, strangely, wasn’t too upset by it. He hoped they’d be okay of course, but didn’t fret. Usually he’d be worried about their well being, it was just in his nature. It made Khun wonder if he was in on something, but those golden eyes didn’t hold a glimmer of dishonesty when he told him he didn’t know what they were up to. So Khun let it be. They could do what they wanted.
Deeper into the forest they went. It was going to take days, Khun was sure of it. He didn’t like the way he felt like he was being watched, either. It made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
Eventually, Khun noticed Bam was starting to toss and turn in his sleep. Would even throw his shirt off and would be covered in sweat. It worried Khun. Was there a mental attack on him? Was it the forest? Bam woke up completely fine, though, and every time he asked he would be dismissed or the subject would change.
One day, Khun froze in the middle of cooking as he felt a nose at the back of his neck. He would’ve whirled around and stabbed the person if it wasn’t for it being Bam’s purr that he heard. Khun was frozen in his stirring, not sure what to do at all.
Then it was gone and Khun could breathe again, but Bam had disappeared. It was like he’d been in suspension, but it was his own violation that kept him in place. He shook it off, and finished supper. None of the others said anything…
Until one of them did.
He was setting up his tent, Bam still nowhere in sight, when Wangnan of all people walked up to him.
“Permission to speak plainly?” Wangnan drawled. Khun wanted to stab him just for his tone.
“I’m not a fucking noble, haven’t been for a long time,” Khun spat instead, “You can speak your mind, Wangnan.”
“You’re a fucking idiot.”
That brought him to a screeching halt. Khun sputtered, “W-What? Excuse me ?”
“I said you’re a fucking idiot .” Wangnan stressed. His expression and the way he stood with one hip popped and one hand buried in his pants pocket casually didn’t change. “You were asking all sorts of questions months ago and here I thought you were trying to get with ‘Ole. So you spent all that time asking me and Yihwa stuff but you didn’t put in any damn research while we were still in the towns where you had access to a library?”
Khun’s brows furrowed tightly, a scowl on his face, “What the hell are you talking about?”
“About mating bonds, you dumb fuck.” Wangnan narrowed his eyes. “What it means for demons and weres. You’ve been courting him, in your way and in his. You didn’t notice a thing, did you?”
“Out with it then!” Khun waved his hand towards him, long nails making a slashing motion upwards, but Wangnan didn’t flinch, “If you’re coming to bitch at me then what the hell did I miss that was so fucking important?!”
“Shelter. Provision. Strength.” Wangnan listed each with their own emphasis. “To show all these to a were you’re interested in or a demon means courting us. It’s not the same as your kind of courting. You tick all the boxes, Khun. You and ‘Ole shelter each other all the time. He makes your tent for you and has you double check it. When you make it he looks it over until he’s satisfied. You sleep in the same room you pay for . You two cook for each other. He hunts for you. Gets you things you specifically want for food to show that he can. Strength? Goddamn do I even need to explain that one ? You two nearly die for each other on a regular basis - that’s a joke, but honestly yeah you two still self-sacrifice and get hurt one way or another.”
“Alright then, fine. I get it. I was doing things for him on a subconscious level. Why in the bloody fucking hell are you mad at me for it ?” Khun huffed, exasperated. It all made sense, it really did. So was that why Bam sniffed him earlier?
Apparently, with Wangnan’s next words, no. No it was not.
“He’s having his first cycle. Since he’s a nephalem, I don’t know if it's heat or a rut. He’s never attached himself so strongly to anyone enough to trigger it. Not from what I can tell. You two revolve around each other like the moon and sun.” Wangnan waved his hand towards him, sighing deeply. “He doesn’t...really know it, either. I could tell as I asked him things and he shook his head yes or no, dumbfounded by it. So I...was the one who sent Shibisu and the others off.”
“You did what ?” Khun was back to fuming and he took a step towards him.
Wangnan had the decency to hold his hands up, finally moving from the position he’d been holding. “It’s for ‘Ole, okay?!” He frowned at him, “I sent them to see if they could find a cabin in these god forsaken woods. Somewhere, anywhere. ‘Ole going into a cycle in a town would be awful for everyone involved. So I wanted them to find an abandoned cabin or something that way we could get ‘Ole privacy . So I could explain to him what’s going on with his body. Why he’s waking up sweaty in the middle of the night. All that stuff. I was...hoping they’d be back by now. Shibisu was the only one I could tell that’s one of ‘Ole’s best friends and he wouldn’t be weird with it. Hatz and Endorsi care for him just as much to do this for him, too.” He rubbed his neck below his horns, “I just...wanted you to see what you were doing to him. I wanted you to know. I wanted to see what your reaction would be. Do you want to be with ‘Ole? Like how Yihwa and I are? Or are you just...his friend?”
Khun hated that he was being asked this question. Here in camp no less. For all he knew, Bam was listening and Wangnan was being his scapegoat or something. He didn’t want to out himself like this. “I am his friend regardless. You can be in a relationship and be friends. I was trying to court Bam my way, yes. I don’t know about being with him like you and Yeon.” A lie, the last one. He did know he wanted to Bond with Bam. It was why he started courting him. That was too much information to divulge. Not like this. “Now leave me alone. Now that I know about the cabin, perhaps we can all start looking for one. Do you know where Bam is?”
“He...didn’t come back for supper, did he?” Wangnan’s brows furrowed.
What was he playing at? “No. No he didn’t.”
Khun really, really didn’t like that.
Camp had to be abandoned.
They packed what they could but ultimately left a lot of things behind, trying to look for Bam. Khun’s Enna Core was light for himself and a couple others, the three spread out as far as he was able. It was awful they were running around after dark looking for their nehalem. Where could he have gone? How could anyone have captured him if he had been? Khun hadn’t even felt a blip on his radar. Hadn’t heard a sound . Wangnan hadn’t caught a whiff of anything unusual.
If they got in a fight here in these woods, Yihwa wasn’t going to be able to help or she’d start a forest fire.
Dan was using Miseng’s observer as his guide as he ran around, searching for traps. Prince stuck by Miseng himself to give her light and keep her safe. Goseng and Horyang did their best looking for anything out of the ordinary. Anaak was using her night vision to run and Ran was hot at her heels.
Khun’s heart was pounding in his pointed ears. Where was Bam?
A thought crossed his mind, completely unbidden but he couldn’t deny it’s truth.
If he was Bonded to Bam, he would be able to feel him. No matter where he was.
Ultimately, they regrouped with their hands empty, and Khun was cursing. They had to move forward. Maybe they’d be able to hear something about where Bam was or who had him. So they trucked on, tired from their adrenaline rush and no sleep.
First light was when all hell broke loose.
“Look!” Miseng had called, “It’s Endorsi!”
Sure enough, the fairy was speeding towards them like a rocket. She stopped above them with a burst of pink energy, “No time to talk gotta-” there was an explosion and she held her arm up as wind from it blew by. “Fuck! Everybody hang on!”
They didn’t even have time to ask if it was Bam. A pink ball surrounded them and then they plopped from one space of existence, and plopped into another, if a little unceremoniously. Endorsi drooped down to the ground, knees in the dirt, heaving hard.
They were in a blown-out clearing...with Bam in the center of it.
Khun had never been so...attracted to and terrified of Bam in his life .
His eyes were burning amber, teeth lengthened and barred, nails longer and sharper than Khun ever kept his own. His shoulder-length hair was out of its tie, whipping around behind him due to his energy alone. Chest rising and falling as he took deep growling breaths. He never looked at them. Kept his eyes only on the mop of yellow hair in front of him and Khun felt his veins go cold.
She gave a maniacal laugh, as if she didn’t know the danger she was in. “Oh, that’s so cute, Bam!” She cooed. It made Khun’s stomach curl. Her voice...it made him want to vomit. “You got so riled up just from me calling that blue haired bastard ugly and annoying ! From me saying I wanted to slit his throat, watch him bleed. Maybe he’d be prettier that way. You care that much for him? What a joke! What makes you want him so badly?! Why’d you toss me away for him, huh?! For them?! What do they have that I don’t, huh?!”
“You pushed me off the cliff because you didn’t want me!” Bam slashed his hand through the air, “You taught me not to betray people! Why did you betray me? You were my friend!”
“I was supposed to be more than that, you imbecile!” Rachel screamed back, getting to her feet. “You’re in fucking rut because of that guy ! You were supposed to be mine! No one else’s! My mate! My Bond!”
“You could never be my mate!” Bam snapped, “I would never mate someone who stabbed me in the back! I could never be Bonded to someone so poisonous!”
“ Poisonous ?!” Rachel laughed again, “You could never have children with him, you know! If you mate and Bond him, that’ll poison everything you have!”
Khun recoiled and choked. That was right. They couldn’t…He’d never be able to give that to Bam.
“I don’t want to pass on this cursed blood of mine, anyway!” Bam dismissed.
“Oh yeah?! What if he wants it?” Rachel sneered.
“If he wants it,” Bam was slow, voice dangerously low, “Then we’ll figure something out. We always do. Nothing you have to say will sway me, Rachel.”
A devilish grin nearly split Rachel’s face in two and her pixie nature showed in the way her eyes glowed and turned to slits, “What if he doesn’t want you? In your darkest hour? What if he rejects your Bond?”
The air went silent . Cold. Deafening. Suffocating.
They didn’t have time to react; they were so stunned into silence that Rachel was able to reel her hands back and send a cloud of magic and powder towards Bam. He was caught off guard enough he breathed some in before he was able to cover his nose and mouth, eyes huge.
Khun was running before he could stop himself. Bam was in trouble. The cloud hadn't even dispersed and maybe he ran through it. Maybe he breathed some in. It didn't matter. The pixie bitch was running and Khun wasn't going to let her disappear this time.
Hatz came out of nowhere and caught her in the front by her arms a little ways into the forest. Good. Khun was slipping Heavenly Mirror from his sleeve but he wasn't going for the heart.
He caught her from behind, hand wrapping around her throat, "You thought I'd look prettier covered in blood, did you?" He cooed in her ear. He felt her shiver and he pressed the blade to her skin. "How about yours?"
Bam hadn't moved when Khun came back. No one had gone toward him. Wangnan was clearly arguing with someone about it but all Khun could focus on was Bam. Hatz came from behind him and beelined for Endorsi. Bam was...an autumn leaf in a strong wind, trying to hold onto its branch with all it had.
"Bam…" Khun held his hands up. He'd at least taken the chance to wipe some of the blood from his hands on the grass. Bam wasn't looking at him. His stomach twisted. "Do you hate me for killing her?" At last, Bam moved by shaking his head. He still had his hands over his face and was starting to double over. "Bam? Bam, talk to me!" Khun was growing increasingly concerned. What had that cloud been? He and Hatz had asked her, but Rachel hadn't told them. Until her dying breath refused to.
Then Shibisu appeared.
"Fucking hell what happened here?!" Shibisu stared around them. "I was drawn because of Bam's energy blast, but shit-"
"Isu, no time! The cabin, is it ready?!" Hatz cut him off.
"Yes! Khun-whoa!" Shibisu jumped back, "Guys!"
Khun had gotten too close to Bam, tried to touch him, to soothe him. It backfired and now he was on his back. Perhaps it was instinct, but Khun translated 'mate' to wolf and for some reason or another. Flipping them both around he pressed his own hands around Bam's jaw and upper mouth like he was grabbing an animal's muzzle and clacked his teeth. "Stop. No." He got lucky and he knew it when Bam fought for a second, even pressed his hips up, and then went pliant beneath him.
A temporary solution. Khun knew as he saw literal black taking over Bam's scraela he would have to act fast. Glancing back up at Shibisu he grunted, "Where?"
"Bam," Shibisu called instead. A tilt of his head was his acknowledgement, "Follow my scent back the way I came. Can you do that?"
"You can take me with you, Bam." Khun promised.
"Khun, wait! You don't know-" Wangnan tried.
Khun didn't make promises lightly, and besides. Bam was scooping him up and zooming off anyway. Wangnan didn't even stand a chance.