The first time it happens it's because Doyoung turns on the radio at exactly the right time. Renjun is helping Kun with lunch and doesn't even notice when he starts to sing along to Ariana Grande's voice, the rhythm of his knife meeting the chopping board a clumsy accompaniment.
He doesn't notice it in the moment, he doesn't notice it over dinner either with his coven's animated conversation and Kun's cooking distracting him from the drain that always accompanies his power. When he retreats to the room he usually shares with Dejun he does so presuming the bone-deep tiredness to be the effects of a hearty meal at midday.
When he wakes he does so to a pair of eyes staring down at him, one steel blue and the other a vibrant shade of orchid pink.
When asked what had called Jaemin back over the Threshold on that day his answer, invariably, is Renjun's voice. Now, Renjun has grown up well aware of where his personal branch of magic lies. Graveyards have never been a place of quiet to him, filled with the whispers of goodbyes the living will never hear instead and the first time he revived a dead rat, courtesy of one of their coven cats, Chenle had nearly lost his mind. Renjun hadn't bothered to point out the hypocrisy, considering Chenle's familiar Jisung takes the shape of a mouse himself, too startled at his own actions.
Summoning ghosts back from the Threshold, where all souls with unresolved matters lie in wait until they're awarded with a chance to properly sever their ties to the world of the living and move on to be reborn is nothing new either. Ever since summoning Ten, who's been stubbornly clinging to Kun and Doyoung ever since, finding the dead and helping them find a way to help them pass on for good has been Renjun's main job as a witch. It doesn't generate income the same way Kun's potions, Dejun's charms or Yangyang's spells do, neither is it flashy the way Doyoung's premonitions manifesting through ink and paper are but Witches of the Dead are rare. The council pays well for every spirit Renjun helps to guide onto the path to rebirth again.
Here is where Jaemin's problem comes into play, however. Usually, ghosts are eager enough to tell Renjun what they need for their life in limbo to be fixed—watching a movie, tasting one last meal, saying a proper goodbye to their families, pets, plants, on rarer occasions pranks for the sake of vindication, the list is long and has often enough put him into awkward situations.
Jaemin, according to his own words, doesn't know why he hasn't been able to let go.
"That's impossible!" Renjun would've tossed his Moomin plushie at Jaemin' semi-corporeal shape if he didn't love it so much.
"A ghost is a wish, a dream, a thread left untied! You can't be a ghost without a wish, that's not how it works!"
All Jaemin does is shrug helplessly, hovering weightlessly over Renjun's desk chair.
"I can't help it! I don't remember." And then, in a smaller voice, "I'm sorry, Renjun."
But Huang Renjun is nothing if not stubborn. Fate throwing a ghost without a wish at him is a challenge, he decides as he frowns at Moomin. And he's never been one to back down.
So begins the quest looking for Jaemin's wish. They scour the obituaries in the newspaper looking for a Jaemin who might fit into the general age bracket of twenty to twenty-five (he was drawn to Renjun singing along to Ariana's positions, of all the things, he can't have been dead for long), try out every ritual known to not only Renjun, Kun or Doyoung but also Yukhei and Dejun, whose brand of magic is very different from the Northern Chinese strain, ask Yangyang to reach out to his Taiwanese and German relatives, visit the expansive library of scrolls Chenle's family keeps in Shanghai.
In retrospect, it's almost silly not to have seen the feelings coming. Renjun has never been in love with a ghost, he's never been in love, period. But he's watched Ten's spirit attach itself to their coven, first through Renjun, then as he developed affections for Kun and Doyoung both. Romances like these rarely were made for the ages but at the end of the day, the heart wants what it wants.
In Renjun's case, it's Jaemin's sharp grins and his quips as he watches Chenle and Jisung play Mario Kart against Yangyang. It's the way his newest ghost listens to him talk like every single word Renjun utters holds the meaning of life, the way he looks at him with such faith and trust even after nearly two months of fruitless searches. They spend every waking moment together, even if it's not investigating clues about how to help Jaemin and from the get-go, it's very clear that the ghost seems to care very little for gender preferences.
Renjun chooses to think that maybe Jaemin has no clearly formulated wish because it's his purpose to be with him, at least for now—just like Ten's wish, never outright stated, seems to be fine forgotten while he stays with the coven.
They already have one ghost around, what's another one, right?
The thing with falling in love with a very attractive ghost is that having sex becomes an impossible mission. After thoroughly bemoaning the fact that Jaemin can barely touch Renjun without burning most of his energy after their first almost-kiss (unspectacular, in the kitchen during a brief moment while Renjun is making breakfast; almost because their lips don't really touch), however, they decide that it's time to be creative.
Where they can't touch each other they take over with their own hands instead and Renjun soon figures out that jacking himself off feels infinitely better when Jaemin is right there beside him, telling him what he'd do if only they could.
And frankly, while having to rely on the help of a toy to deal with his needs that involve more than his hand can provide him with is a little unsatisfying, Renjun wouldn't mind keeping it up for the rest of his life if it meant being able to be intimate with Jaemin. But when he walks into Jaemin standing in his room, merrily playing with his Moomin doll to the slightly off-key tune of the cartoon opening he'd be lying if he claimed that he didn't think of the possibility of actually kissing, holding and, yes, fucking Jaemin once his brain had thoroughly processed the shock.
"It might be a fluke," Jaemin reminds him gently and sets the doll back onto its rightful place on Renjun's bed. "I feel okay now but maybe I'll get the ghost flu or something in a bit because I used up too much energy or something like that–" He pauses, smiling at Renjun. "Well. You're the ghost expert here. I'm just the ghost."
Renjun knows he's right. Ghosts becoming corporeal rarely ever mean something good unless it involves their needs to move on to be reborn.
It takes all he has to hold back the wish to kiss Jaemin, properly, this time around, just to savour the fact that technically, they could.
Then it happens again, a few days later. Then again and again and soon, Jaemin is able to hold his shape for most of the day, using this to his advantage and plastering himself to Renjun whenever he has the chance. Whenever they're not with the coven helping to set up rituals or selling charms and potions in the little shop down the road Jaemin's fingers tangle with his and his mouth almost seems magnetically attracted to Renjun's own.
"Remember how you told me that every ghost is a wish waiting to be fulfilled?" Jaemin asks. They're on the way home from the shop that day, their interlaced hands swinging gently between them. The streets are empty at this hour so Renjun doesn't really bother trying to be considerate of the conservative aunties and uncles with heart attacks lying in wait at the sight of a gay couple. "What about it?"
"Well, I was thinking about it today while you were working," the ghost continues merrily. "And I think I figured it all out." When he turns to look at Renjun his toothy grin is almost blinding with affection. "I guess my wish must be to be close with you like lovers are."
After such a momentous discovery the topic of sleeping together soon does come up again. The first time they kiss Renjun feels like he's the most powerful man on earth, allowing Jaemin to siphon every bit of energy he needs to keep his solid form until they're both breathless and look so thoroughly debauched, it'd be hard to believe that all they did was kiss.
"I want to have sex with you," Renjun blurts out, feeling himself blush the moment the words are out of his mouth. "I want to do everything that could possibly feel good with you, Jaemin, I want to make you feel good until you cry–"
Oh. Oh, that's not a particularly normal thing to want, isn't it? Renjun feels shame colour the back of his neck the same red as his face. They've gone into what probably could be considered kinky territory during their moments talking each other to the point of climax before but saying it now that it is an actual possibility feels different.
Jaemin doesn't miss a beat smiling fondly at him as if Renjun is the only person in the world, as if he put the sun and the stars and the moon in the sky.
"Make a list. Write down everything you want to do—and what you don't. And then we'll do it."
It's a promise, even if they don't call it one by name. It's a promise.
Researching his kinks takes a lot more time and thought than Renjun initially imagined. He starts by looking things up online only to realize that he can't possibly remember everything properly without help and growing frustrated with typing it out onto his notes ap he eventually resorts to writing it all down onto the back of his last page in his sketchbook, the one he covers in paint swatches whenever he's testing a new set.
Jaemin never presses him about it, the ghost seems very happy to just exist in his more-corporeal-than-average state and interact with the world around him but the warmth in his kisses is enough of a reminder that even if he grows distracted from time to time, he wants this as much as Renjun does.
It takes a week—almost, the better part of five days—for Renjun to finally feel confident enough in himself to ask Jaemin to lock the door behind himself when they enter Renjun's bedroom after the witch's evening shower. Dutifully and without questioning Jaemin complies. His eyes hold a glint of excitement when he turns back around and when Renjun nods in anxious confirmation he smiles broadly, taking a moment to kiss the witch on the lips and pick up Moomin from his spot next to Renjun's pillow and placing him on the windowsill, posing him as if the doll were looking out onto the street. The blinds, already drawn shut, don't seem like a deterrent in the least.
Renjun feels a blush creep up the back of his neck as he produces his sketchbook. The list of kinks is written on the last page, his handwriting small with embarrassment that Jaemin has to squint at the paper to read it.
"That's very thorough," he comments teasingly and takes a seat on the bed. Renjun notes with a spark of curiosity how the mattress dips lightly under the ghost's volume.
"Some of the stuff on there warrants being thorough," he defends himself, to which Jaemin wraps an arm around his waist, keeping the sketchbook open in his free hand. Seeing how easily the object fits sets a flurry of warmth into motion in the pit of Renjun's stomach. The thought of these big hands on his skin, no matter how ghostly or cold, is enticing.
He opts not to watch Jaemin's face as he reads, opting to play with the drawstrings of his hoodie instead. Writing his list down he'd felt confident, if ashamed. It had been startlingly easy to stand his ground in front of Ten (because of course his coven heads' favourite ghost would show up unbidden at the most inopportune moment) even though his complexion had probably rivalled the one of a ripe tomato. Knowing Jaemin, whom he actually trusts and loves enough to do all these things with, is reading through something so intimate scares him a lot more, even if he was the one who asked for that list to begin with.
"What do the brackets mean? Around the 'blood- and knife play' bit." Jaemin's voice is low and steady but it still startles Renjun a little anyway, earning a gentle squeeze of the ghost's hand around his waist.
"Sorry, did I scare you?" Whatever teasing edge had been in his voice before, it's made way for a more grounded, earnest side of him that Renjun hadn't really expected but highly appreciates.
"It's fine," he mumbles and takes a deep breath to compose himself a little before continuing."I find the thought of it really hot but I don't think I'd really feel comfortable with actual knives being used or anything."
Jaemin kisses his forehead as if that revelation warrants praise and reward. And who knows, maybe it does—Renjun wouldn't know. He's had sex before but it's always been a very standard affair: missionary or taking it from the back, hungry touches, languid kisses. Always Renjun on the receiving end, too, as if his slight build predetermined that his cock couldn't possibly be put to use outside the context of a blow- or handjob.
"Got you. So if I, say, talked about how pretty you'd bleed if I took a knife to your pretty thighs–" Renjun feels his fingers trace a line up from the middle of his thigh up to his hip and even though it feels nothing like what he assumes a blade would in that specific moment the thought of it sends a shiver down his spine and stirs his cock awake with a twitch. Jaemin grins, satisfied.
"You like that."
Swallowing thickly, Renjun nods.
"Yeah. I know you'd take good care of me too."
Jaemin groans and takes a moment to set the sketchbook aside and pull Renjun onto his lap instead. The kiss that follows is greedy, tongue and teeth and leaves him feeling a little dizzy when they pull apart.
"Damn it, Huang Renjun," Jaemin curses, voice raspy. "I'm going to get back to reading in a second but–" The ghost takes a deep breath and not for the first time the curious part of Renjun that never stops wondering thinks about how old habits die hard and Jaemin doesn't even need to breathe, which reminds him–
The touch of Jaemin's hand to his neck, sudden and paired with the fantasy of feeling his long fingers slowly and gently bearing down on his veins draws a shuddering moan from the witch. The way his cock is chubbing up against his thigh tells him it's definitely interested now.
"I haven't gotten there yet," Jaemin chides though the way he runs his thumb up and down Renjun's jugular tells him that he still must've seen the entry reading 'breath play' a few lines down.
"Let me finish reading and we can figure out what we want to do tonight, yeah?"
"I want to fuck you to tears," Renjun replies into Jaemin's lips instead, claiming them for another needy kiss. "And then I want you to fuck me breathless until you come inside of me." The words come out more easily by now, the weeks of sharing their dirty fantasies with each other clearly having left their mark.
"I told you to let me finish reading," Jaemin repeats, though Renjun can tell it costs him self-restraint and pushes the witch's face to look away by his jaw. The rough touch is electrifying and exciting and Renjun considers disobeying just to see the reaction it'll draw. Jaemin's two-toned gaze on him is heavy-lidded and heated and it makes him feel proud that he's causing that, that the want in Jaemin's eyes is all his.
"Ask me nicely," he compromises in the end, pushing against the ghost's hold on his jaw defiantly. Jaemin gives in after a brief moment of resistance and the way with which he gives away his power so easily once again stokes the heat in the pit of Renjun's stomach.
"Please let me finish reading," Jaemin repeats firmly. "I want to do this right. If you distract me now you'll make me lose my mind."
Jaemin's pliant obedience would've made it hard to tell him no even if Renjun had planned on asking more of him and so he relents. His trousers feel uncomfortable as he settles onto the mattress again.
In retrospect, Renjun is glad that they took the time to try and talk through things before adapting all as they go, no matter how impatient for Jaemin's touch he is. The ghost even awards him the comfort of doing it curled up with each other, legs entangled and Renjun's hands playing with the hair at the nape of Jaemin's neck as long as he's sure there won't be purposeful attempts at seduction before they've concluded their negotiations.
"I'm a weak man, Renjun," he complains softly, already leaning in for a kiss before remembering. Kisses, for as little time as they've had to savour them, have never not led to naughty places with them."It won't be long, I promise."
The word negotiation is somewhat misleading. The kinks Renjun has written under the 'hard no' section don't really come up at all and when he asks Jaemin about it he gets an easy shrug.
"I'd be open to some of them, I think, but they're more in the realm of experimenting and seeing if they're actually for me. I think the consensual somnophilia part was the one that was most interesting but I'm chill if we don't touch it at all." It becomes clearer that Jaemin has never really done this with someone else either once they get into the experimental category, the casualness with which he tries to cloak his words no longer being enough to gloss over his faint blush. Renjun wishes he could've seen it when he'd been alive in his fully coloured, solid glory.
"It's okay, I just handed you an entire list of kinks sorted by how interested I am in them," he coos and runs his fingers through Jaemin's hair, savouring the sense of solidity in the ghost's body. "We can embarrass ourselves together." Jaemin's smile is flushed but it's broad and resonates through his ribcage. I guess my wish must be to be close with you like lovers are, his words from a few nights ago echo in Renjun's head.
"I love you." Renjun has never thought his words would ever be able to render someone breathless but in this exact moment he finds himself proven wrong. Eyes wide, Jaemin blinks at him, his breath caught mid-laughter still. For an excruciatingly long moment they both stay like this, eyes locked and lips almost touching, then the ghost deflates. His forehead meets Renjun's gently and his exhale is almost warm as it caresses the witch's cheeks.
"I love you too," Jaemin whispers in return. "So fucking much, you have no idea."
"Show me tonight." Asking for so much feels selfish but Renjun does it anyway. A faint tendril of dread wraps itself around his heart, reminding him that ghosts are still spirits gone, no longer tethered to earth—not really. It's selfish to be holding Jaemin down like this. Still, Renjun wishes they could stay like this forever.
Here's how Renjun thought his first time with Jaemin would go:
Like in their whispered words late at night, perfect and dirty and intense, all heat and teeth and insatiable want for the other after waiting for this chance for almost three months.
Here's how it really goes:
Jaemin is painfully considerate and gentle and Renjun soon comes to realize that it's less just for his sake—though he knows that his ghostly boyfriend would rather die again than hurt him, even if by accident—and also because he's nervous. They settle on the traffic light system as a safety measure because between their eager kisses and growing erections it becomes increasingly hard to think of a word that could very clearly work as a stop marker.
"If I say 'red' you can always just turn incorporeal too, right?" Renjun adds softly, Jaemin's face cupped between his hands. "You can control these things, I've seen you do it. If it gets too much you'll stop, I know you will. I trust you completely."
Hesitantly, Jaemin nods.
"Yeah. Yeah, I'll just– if you ask me to stop I'll just–" His voice trails off. "I've thought about this so much, Renjun. I've wanted it so badly, I feel like a hormonal teenager saying this but it was all I could think about today. And now I'm…"
As if caught, Jaemin inhales sharply.
"Yeah. I'm scared. That it won't be safe after all, that it won't be enough, that it won't feel as good as you imagined–"
"Even if it isn't like I imagined, it's with you," Renjun interrupts him gently in an attempt to halt the downward spiral.
"If what we discussed doesn't feel good we'll stop and change things as we need them. But I'd rather do that as needed instead of going into it worried." Underneath his hands he feels Jaemin slowly relax a little.
"I wish I were alive," the ghost whispers dejectedly. "I wish I had a real body, not the shadow of one. Maybe then I wouldn't be so scared I won't be able to give you what you need."
"Dead or alive, you love me. You just told me," Renjun protests.
"That alone makes it enough."
Prep takes longer than anticipated and is messier than that too and by the time Renjun has Jaemin spread open on three of his fingers they both have lube on places that make little sense, all a result of clumsy shuffling on Renjun's twin bed. It isn't like he wasn't planning on washing the sheets tomorrow anyway but to be halfway to dirtying them before dicks get touched for real or holes get filled feels a little excessive. Still, when Renjun picks up a condom from his bedside table Jaemin's hair is messy, his eyes are wild and his lips swollen and pulled into the most beautiful smile the witch has ever seen.
"Ready, dove?" Renjun asks, rolling the rubber over his aching cock. Its tip already feels so sensitive to the touch, it leaves him wondering if he'll even truly last.
"If I don't get your cock within the next minute I'm going to start crying," Jaemin replies. His breaths are laboured and his movements sluggish as he moves to get onto his hands and knees. Once again, Renjun notices with joy how the mattress dips under his weight. Jaemin is here, Jaemin is his.
"Didn't we establish I think it'd be really hot to see you cry, though?" He asks conversationally, getting back into position behind Jaemin. The sight of his boyfriend's hole, still clenching down desperately around nothing as if seeking out Renjun's presence sparks a new wave of pleasant shudders down his back. Not thinking much at all he leans in and presses a kiss to the rim. It feels a little like kissing someone who just applied lip gloss, wet and a little sticky but he thinks he could get used to it. Jaemin's ass doesn't feel as warm as a human body, even now, at a nearly fully corporeal state. Renjun registers the faint taste of the cotton candy lube when licking into him experimentally and remembering standing in the aisle at the supermarket and having a hushed debate with Jaemin over which one to pick, even if just briefly, still brings a flush back to his cheeks.
Jaemin, however, wails miserably.
"No!" Contrary to his words his walls clench down on Renjun's tongue. "No, you promised me your cock! Please, I was so patient, right? I was so good for you!" The ghost twists around, not fully abandoning his posture but craning his neck to give his boyfriend a teary glare. He looks beautiful and a little dazed and flushed and Renjun feels with almost terrifying clarity how badly he wants to consume him, take every single bit Jaemin is willing to give and keep it to himself. He's glad he had the presence of mind to put a noise-cancelling spell on his walls, revelling in Jaemin's moans as he thrusts his tongue into his hole again for good measure.
"Fair," he hums, wiping his chin as he pulls away. His other hand holds his cock still as he moves to fill Jaemin up again.
"I did promise."
If Renjun thought Jaemin responsive before, he sees himself confirmed ten times over. Even if the ghost isn't as vocal as anticipated his body does most of the talking anyway, responding with shivers and quakes as the witch works on adjusting the speed and intensity of his thrusts. Slowly, the slap of skin against skin starts filling the room, accompanied by Renjun's soft groans and Jaemin's deep moans, muffled by the fabric of a pillow.
When they switch places Renjun feels boneless, clinging to Jaemin like a lifeline. Through the faint pink tint of his condom he can see the desperate red of the tip of his cock, the colour alone already a plea for release. The process of being fingered open instead, Jaemin's fingers always coming up to wrap themselves around the base of his cock and smothering the beginnings of a climax, is excruciating and if Renjun weren't already so lost in his pleasure he might've spared an annoyed thought for how stupid he was to include edging on his list of things he wanted to try. The only thing that eclipses the frustration he feels is how with every thrust of Jaemin's fingers against his prostate he feels more like he's weightless, just made of clouds and lust and electricity.
"Inside," he begs breathlessly after what feels like the millionth time Jaemin intercepts his orgasm. "Need you inside, Jaemin, please!"
"Oh, I don't know…" Humming, the ghost stills the thrusts, moving to scissor Renjun's hot, tight walls open instead. "You made me wait for it too, you know? That wasn't very nice! You knew how desperately–"
Another thrust, this time narrowly missing Renjun's prostate and prompting a wanton scream, "I needed your cock. I was all ready and begging and crying and instead of filling me up like you promised you were a tease!"
Renjun has never really considered Jaemin a vindictive spirit before but right now, desperate and moaning into the sheets, he's willing to rethink that assessment.
"Don't you wanna come?" He coaxes softly. "I want you to come. I want you to come deep inside me, fuck me full and round, I wanna feel you spill into me. Don't you–" Jaemin moves with a speed almost incomprehensible to him, flipping Renjun onto his back and pushing his legs up to his chest with so much care that it feels at odds with the hungry look in his eyes. Renjun's arms feel weak when they stretch out, reaching for Jaemin, beckoning him closer until their lips meet in a messy kiss. He screams into his boyfriend's open mouth as he feels Jaemin's cock push past his rim, sliding in slowly and steadily until he's fully sheathed inside his body.
Like Jaemin's ass his cock is almost cold, the last hint of his true nature clinging to their frantic fucking but Renjun can barely spare it half a thought when he feels so full and stretched out. He's had dick in the past, none of this is new in itself. Still, maybe because it's Jaemin, maybe because it feels like he's been trying to come for the better part of the past hour, his past experiences pale compared to the rush of pleasure he feels now.
"Please," he begs, not even sure of what he's asking for himself anymore.
Jaemin's fingers slowly tighten around his neck.
Renjun wakes to a ray of sun tickling his nose. He feels a little cold, remembering faintly how he and Jaemin had painstakingly dragged themselves through the process of cleaning up just enough to be able to pull on their clothes—fluffy pyjamas for Renjun, the same black hoodie and pair of jeans he probably died in for Jaemin.
He assumes Jaemin eventually went back to his ghostly, half-translucent state of being sometime in his sleep when he notices the absence of his boyfriend's arm around his waist, but when he sluggishly turns around, careful not to phase into where Jaemin's sleeping body should be, the space is empty. Renjun blinks once, twice, then clears his voice.
Sometimes ghosts disappear for a while, go somewhere where only they can go. Renjun understands that, he's been seeing and talking to them for so long. Jaemin has done that in the past too, he might not even have control over it. It still feels a little cruel to leave your boyfriend without a word after a night of phenomenal sex, right? Putting some of his power into his voice Renjun repeats himself.
"Jaemin? Dove, can you come back to me?"
He's answered by complete and utter silence. The tether in his heart that had tied him to Jaemin feels cold and an ashy taste covers his tongue, faint traces of an Unbinding.
I guess my wish must be to be close with you like lovers are, then, Jaemin's words reprise quietly in the back of his mind, filled with love and adoration.
Renjun nearly chokes on his first sob. By the second one, his tears start falling.
Kun helps Renjun set up a small, simple shrine for Jaemin in the garden where they keep memorials for all the ghosts he's set free. Then, the elder wraps his arms around Renjun's slender body and lets him mourn until the hollow loneliness feels a little easier to bear.
"Wanna tag along?" Chenle whips loosely at Renjun's thigh with Daegal's leash. There's not enough force behind the movement for it to really hurt but the slap reminds him of the palm of Jaemin's hand, cool and sharp against his skin and he desperately wills the budding beginnings of a blush not to reach his face.
It's hard to say no—if not to Chenle, Daegal and Jisung, who seems to be vibrating excitedly, little mouse hands clinging to strands of Chenle's hair, then most definitely to Yukhei and Bella who look at him with big, expectant eyes. He hasn't actually left the coven house for anything other than the most necessary of errands since Jaemin disappeared and has been avoiding the others save for their communal means, throwing himself into work whenever possible instead. Guilt nibbles at his conscience when he looks at his coven members'—his friends'— faces. It's been almost exactly three weeks since Jaemin left. It's time to move on. So Renjun sighs but gets up from his perch on the big, comfy armchair Doyoung nearly fought with Kun for, shrugs on his jacket, pulls on his fluffiest scarf and gloves and follows them out into the cold.
The sky is mottled with patches of blue peeking through the city smog, greeting them with an occasional ray of light and the longer Renjun is out, the more he's glad he took his coven mates up on their invitation. Daegal and Bella take off in a flurry of white and brown fur the moment they're left to roam free, chasing after the hot pink ball Yukhei throws them.
"You've been moping," Jisung points out huffily and tugs gently on Chenle's ear for his witch to step closer to Renjun for the sake of easier communication. "What happened?" The familiar's concern is touching even Renjun doesn't really know how to reply. What is he supposed to say, anyway? That he's been seeing this ghost boy for the past three months and falling in love with him and then was left after their first and only night together? That everything feels dreadfully empty without Jaemin's commentary in his ear? That he feels used and betrayed by fate that it'd take sleeping with his ghostly lover for him to finally find peace?
Renjun's powers are no secret but it's hard to understand them if you haven't lived through their influence yourself. Unlike Ten, who feels completely at ease taking shape in front of the entire coven Jaemin has maybe shown his face once or twice. To Jisung and Chenle, he was never much more than a passing face.
That, and the memory of their night together is still so fresh down to how the bruises on Renjun's thighs and hips still haven't fully faded yet. Thinking about it all in front of Jisung feels uncomfortable, regardless of whether the familiar has had his demonic rights of adulthood already or not.
"Winter blues," is what he offers instead. He knows Jisung can tell it's not the entire truth and Chenle seems ready to remark on how he can feel the lie when Daegal and Bella return with both the tennis ball and another dog in tow. The animal, a fluffy Samoyed, its brilliant white fur matted where the snowmelt mud has left its marks, is a lot calmer than the coven dogs, good-naturedly proceeding to play with them.
"Aren't you a pretty one?" Yukhei greets it. His eyes are still wide with surprise and Renjun can tell he's resisting the urge to ruffle the dog's fur—he knows better than that. "Where are your humans, fluffball?"
"There you are!" The cry of relief is so familiar, Renjun feels tears shoot to his eyes even before he has turned around to face the owner of the new voice joining them. The boy who it belongs to is bent over gasping for air, a curtain of black bangs obscuring his face but even so, Renjun would recognize him anywhere.
Jaemin takes a moment to give the Samoyed a stern glance before he raises his face to meet the three witches—and pauses.
Renjun feels his heart lurch in his chest. Recognition spreads out across Jaemin's face and his mouth turns into a small, perfect circle.
Next to him, Renjun can feel Chenle look at him with an equal amount of surprise and Yukhei makes a noise so confused, if Renjun weren't busy he'd probably find it endearing.
It's Jisung who first speaks up in the end.
"Jaemin!" The familiar squeaks and launches himself off Chenle's shoulder without hesitation.
And Jaemin, goofy, bright Jaemin with his toothy grin and his perpetually tousled hair catches him as if he'd been doing that his entire life.
Renjun feels a spark of jealousy that he himself isn't the one to get dibs, though most of it is drowned by the confusion he feels. How is this possible?
"Turns out I wasn't dead," Jaemin interrupts his question before Renjun can fully formulate it, taking a step closer. Chenle and Yukhei make space for him as if he'd always been part of them. And in a way, even if it hasn't been always this isn't a first meeting for any of them.
"I woke up in hospital three weeks ago. Nearly scared my mum shitless, too. All I could think of was how much I love you." His laugh, a little sheepish right now, sounds the same way Renjun remembers him and it's suffocating and painful and exhilarating all at once. Apparently reading his expression Jaemin reaches out for him as Jisung climbs up the collar of his coat so he can sit on his shoulder. Renjun doesn't need to be told twice, flinging himself into the embrace with a sob.
"I'm sorry I left you after–" He pauses as if only now remembering how private their last moments together had been.
"A-after everything. I don't remember all of it, when I woke up it felt like a dream. I've been slowly getting my memories back since."
"I thought you were gone for good!" Renjun reaches up to furiously rub at his cheeks, embarrassed with how quick he's been to break out into tears. It's relief more than anything else, an overwhelming sense of everything finally being alright at last. "At least it explains why I couldn't tell you what I needed, no? No real ghosts, no wishes."
"You were in a coma? For three months?"
When Renjun lifts his head he notices Jisung has moved back to sit on Chenle's head and the other two witches have moved on to busy themselves with the dogs, giving him and Jaemin at least an attempt at privacy. "Yeah. The daily walks with Pororo are kind of part of the whole rehab thing. Walking was way less exhausting as a ghost," he jokes.
"You never told me your dog is called Pororo!" It feels a little silly to focus on that insignificant detail but Renjun finds it easier to stomach than the knowledge that Jaemin spent three months asleep healing. The implications of it make him want to cry all over.
"I didn't?" Jaemin gasps. "Well, I'll have a lot of time to tell you all about me now." He laughs. Renjun knows the look he gives him, too, it's the one that makes him feel like he's the most precious being on earth. It's only now that he has the time to process everything that it hits him that they're a very human, warm brown, completely different from ghostly Jaemin's two-toned, odd eyes. Renjun wishes he had his paints at hand right now so he could try and figure out how to mix this particular shade of brown. He wants to commit every inch of living Jaemin to his memory.
"Please," Renjun breathes, hands sliding up to cup the back of Jaemin's neck and pull him down for a kiss.
"I want to hear everything."