Untitled by: ginvodka

untitled by ginvodka.jpg

PART 1

Visibility in the woods is generally poor. It very much depends on the season as the undergrowth and greenery form layers of canopy. You can’t see the sky, the cloud nor the stars at night from the ground. Sound, on the other hand, usually travels farther than vision. There are all kinds of noises in the woods: crickets, crows, owls, snakes, wolves, river, that sort of thing.

It is very hard to move quietly and fast in the woods, because of the twigs, the holes, stumps and logs. That’s why the hunter sneaked into the woods in the day time. He found a spot and sat very, very still. He had been tracking the two creatures for some time now and finally decided to make his first strike.

It was 12 in the midnight. The hunter didn’t let his guard down even he had done this for countless times. He was alert and fully concentrated in observing the surrounding until he heard movement in the shadows of the woods.

He went behind his rifle, gripping it tight and looked through the sight. It was a hare.

Just when he is about to breathe a sigh of relief, he saw a quick shadow moving in about 50 meters away. His body tensed up. It is in fact the prey that he has been stalking. He aimed for the heart… 40 meters… 30 meters… 20 meters… 10 meters… He took a deep breath and pulled the trigger.

It was a split second before the bang that sent a hollow-point through its body.

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Sunghoon spotted the hare first and went ahead of Jiwon to chase after it. They were betting – the person who catches a hare first will be granted a wish. Sunghoon is determined to win this as he has something in mind that he really wants Jiwon to do.

He was contented to find the hare resting under the bushes. Without noticing there was someone else around, he moved as quiet as possible, slowly towards the hare, grabbed it by its long ears and gave a broad grin for his victory.

“Sunghoon-ah!!!” he heard Jiwon yelling his name, at the same time a loud bang broke the silent night. He didn’t manage to dodge the white flash that went through his body. He fell on the ground, body twitching.

Jiwon is furious. He dashed over to Sunghoon as he dodged the second shot and carried him away from the plain.

“H… Hyung… it… it’s a… sil… silver… bul-let…” Sunghoon was bleeding badly in Jiwon’s arms.

“Son of a bitch! Stay here, I’ll tear him into pieces!”

“No… H… Hyung… it’s… dangerous…”

“But…”

“Hyung, lis-listen to me… run…”

“Yes, let’s go!”

“No… Hyung… just y-ou…”

“I’m not leaving you behind!”

“Hyung… I won’t survive…”

“No, no, no! You will! I’ll save you!”

“Hyung… I… caught it…” Sunghoon smiled weakly, still clutching the hare in his hand. “Grant… me… a wish…”

“Don’t do this to me”, cried Jiwon.

“Run… Hyung…” Sunghoon breathes heavily, feeling his chest tight. “Run!” He pushed Jiwon away with all his energy.

Blood came pouring out of Sunghoon’s mouth had been Jiwon’s last sight of him.

PART 2

It only took Jiwon a day to track down the man who pulled the trigger on Sunghoon. The man lives near the coast just a hundred miles away, with his wife and their daughter. He clearly lived a modest but happy life, at the cost of taking away the happiness of someone else’s. Jiwon went savage just by the thought of it. He could feed on the man anytime, but no, he didn’t want to contaminate his body with the blood of the bastard. Instead, he left trails, some obvious trails that allowed the man to quickly notice them and trace his location. He has plans for him…

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The wind was strong at the cliff, the waves crashing violently on the rocks underneath. There stood three adult figures – the hunter pointing his loaded rifle to Jiwon, and his wife holding a baby girl standing motionless beside Jiwon at the edge of the cliff.

“You had missed me once. Do you really think you can hurt me with that?” Jiwon smirked.

“Let them go, it is me you’re coming after, isn’t it?!”

“I’m not sure this is the right way to beg for mercy.”

“Please… she is merely 3 months old… they are innocent… take me!” The hunter dropped the rifle and kneeled down, tears were beginning to blur his vision.

“3 months… so tender… so fragile… it’s a shame you don’t get see more of the world isn’t it?” Jiwon stroked on the cheek of the baby girl, she lifted her cheek a little in response to his touch. In a glimpse of light, Jiwon moved and stood right in front of the hunter. “How pathetic. You should have known this day would come since you made it as your career.”

“Please…” the man begged, “At least let my little girl go”.

“And what makes you think I’ll let go of her? So that she can one day take her revenge on me?” Jiwon turned back and walked slowly to the wife. He brushed her messy hair away from her face, “You must be tired from standing, love. Why don’t you turn around and retreat?”

“No! No! NO! NOOOOO!!!!!” the hunter cried as he dashed over to save his wife but only managed to watch her falling off the cliff. He stared at Jiwon, vengefully. “You monster!” he ran towards Jiwon but the latter easily shoved him against the rock.

“Oh, now you know how it feels to see your loved one die before you,” Jiwon picked up the rifle left behind by the hunter. “Let’s now experience how it feels like being shot,” aim – jack – trigger. He went for the liver, making sure of a severe bleeding that won’t cause immediate death. The hunter fell on the ground and struggled. “Patience, pal, we’re not over yet.”

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Jiwon carried the wounded hunter to the woods and dropped him exactly where he had left Sunghoon. “Wakie, wakie,” Jiwon stepped on the bleeding wound, showing no mercy. The hunter gave a moan of pain and was petrified to find the unknown dark surrounding. “Ah! You’re awake! Let’s get back to work!” Jiwon splashed blood and guts over the hunter’s clothes.

“You know, they said that starving wolves are attracted by the scent of blood. Trust me, wolves, they don’t travel alone, they travel in a pack.” He wiped his hands with a handkerchief then simply dropped it on the ground. The hunter was terrified, especially when he heard echoes of wolves howling from afar. “Ah, just as we’re talking about them, they answer to our call!” Jiwon stood up and looked around.

“I think your friends are coming,” Jiwon sounded calm, “I shall leave you with them to enjoy the feast… Their feast.”

“……” he muttered something under his breath, but Jiwon wasn’t interested. Jiwon turned his back on him and walked away.

It was one of the very few walks that he enjoyed. He wasn’t far off when he heard the hunter let out a wail.

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Jiwon returned to the woods on the next day, hoping he could still find Sunghoon. He shouldn’t had left him there even he knew that he couldn’t save Sunghoon; he should have insisted to bring Sunghoon along even if Sunghoon will slow him down. No, he shouldn’t have agreed on the bet at the first place! It was his entire fault!

Deep in the woods, everything starts to look the same despite it was in the daytime. Jiwon couldn’t recognize the way, he had always relied on Sunghoon to lead him. He couldn’t have found the spot where he left Sunghoon if it wasn’t for the burning smell. Knowing the hunter must have burned Sunghoon’s body, Jiwon fell kneeling on the ground and cried wholeheartedly.

It was a while before Jiwon stopped sobbing and wiped his face with a handkerchief. The moment he finally stood up again, the look on his face was cold and penetrating.

PART 3

What makes a great bar?

Wide range of drinks offering, generous happy hour, live performances, good food, relaxed ambiance, interesting people, atmospheric space, and perhaps great hospitality?

“Aloha! Welcome to paradise!” the cheerful doorman greets everyone who walks through the entrance.

The Sunset Beach Bar, which is famous of its killer ocean view, creative drinks and distinctive mahalo vibe, has been in the business for over 50 years. In spite of its remote location, people from all over the island gather here every day. They call it the paradise.

“Scotch on the rocks,” the bartender looked up to meet a pair of bright eyes with long lashes. He finds the guy before him extremely fine looking, especially with those thick eyebrows. The girls certainly are attracted by his good looks too, as they slowly gathered around the bar, trying their best to charm the man.

“Hyung!” Suwon the owner noticed Jiwon immediately when he stepped in.

“Yah, you’ve got such a nice place but you never invite me over huh?” Jiwon likes to tease Suwon for he sometimes will return Jiwon with unexpected response, which Jiwon finds it fun – one of the very least things he enjoyed nowadays.

“Hyung, you’re the one who never wanted to get out from your mansion,” Suwon rolled his eyes. “What have you ordered?” Suwon asked, just when the bartender serves the whiskey.

“Oh my God, hyung, you’re such an old man! Com’ on, you should order our signature drink!” Jiwon raised his eyebrow as Suwon turned over to the bartender, “give him the signature,” he said.

“So hyung, what brings you here?” Suwon has known Jiwon for his entire life. He would visit Hawaii every third week of February, but he only stays in the mansion. Suwon assumed he doesn’t want to attract attention from the islanders for this man does not age. But there is always something in his eyes that Suwon can’t look through, that sense of sorrowfulness, especially today…

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“Oh man, I shouldn’t have promised you to come here,” Jaejin felt overwhelmed, his body and mind tense up as adrenaline kicks in.

“Come on,” Ricky gave Jaejin his irresistible ‘puppy eyes’ look, “it’s my birthday.”

“Alright, just for an hour!” Jaejin gave in. It means a lot to Ricky as Jaejin suffers minor social phobia. He doesn’t likes to go crowded places, let alone a noisy crowded bar.

“Let’s find Suwon! I’ll make him treat us expensive drinks for my birthday,” Ricky looked around searching for the owner.

“Do you think he can set up a place for us where there are lesser people?” asks Jaejin anxiously.

“There he is! Who is he talking to?” Ricky waved to Suwon, “hmm… he didn’t see us, let’s go over.” Ricky flung his arm over Jaejin’s shoulder, moving slowly towards the bar.

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As Jaejin stands within the crowd, there is this weird feeling that is bothering him. He looked around anxiously as if he is searching for someone, “do you think he can set up a place for us where there are lesser people?” It might just be a sign of an anxiety attack, thought Jaejin.

However, the uneasiness grew stronger as they approach nearer to the bar. That was when Jaejin noticed the guy beside Suwon who he is talking to. Jaejin knows right away that they must get out from the place.

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Ricky sensed the sudden stiffness on Jaejin, “hyung, are you ok?”

“Sorry Rick, can we go?” Jaejin clenched his jaw tight, his face as pale as death and his hands trembling.

“Alright, hold on, hyung,” Ricky held Jaejin and they turn back to where they just came from.

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Suwon saw the boys approaching, but Jaejin looks pale and uncomfortable. They soon turned back and head to the exit. Suwon didn’t realize Jaejin’s anxiety is that serious. Little did he know that Jaejin wants to leave because of the man sitting beside him.

“Poor Jaejin, I think he is suffering an anxiety attack,” Suwon sounded a bit worried.

“J who?” Jiwon turned around and look at the same direction as Suwon. He caught a glimpse of a guy supporting his companion slowly walking out from the crowd and was stunned.

Jiwon could only see his eyes, a partial side profile. But even just that reminds him so much of Sunghoon. How could it be?! Sunghoon is dead and it is impossible for him to reincarnate.

‘You’re just seeing things cos’ you missed him too much,’ Jiwon told himself.

“Hyung, I’ll go check them out for a while.”

Jiwon sat alone sipping the cocktail that is supposed to be the signature of the bar, “what do you call this?” he asked the bartender.

“Shot in the heart,” he replied with a bright smile.

“Shot in the heart… How irony?” the bartender looks confused as he doesn’t understand what Jiwon meant.

“Sunghoon-ah, happy birthday…”

PART 4

“Hyung, I need my coffee fixing,” Jaejin felt his blanket, pillow and bolster are being snatched away one by- one.

“Hyung~~~ Wake up!” Now the bed is bouncing.

“Hyung!” Jaejin felt the sunlight streaming into his room…

“OK! OK! I’m awake!!!”

“I need my coffee fixing,” there he goes, putting on his ‘puppy eyes’ look again…

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“Hyung, my staff got hospitalized, I need to go pay a visit and handle his insurance matters, can we meet an hour later?” Jiwon was already on his way to Suwon’s house when he received the call.

“It’s OK, go settle your stuff first, I’ll hang out in the mall near your place, call me when you’re done.” Sigh, if it wasn’t for the J guy and his friend who distracted both Suwon and himself, Jiwon would have already handed him the vial. Jiwon turned the steering, motioning the vehicle to move swiftly into the car park of a mall.

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“I would like to have an iced Americano with twice the sugar please. Hyung, how about you?”

“I would rather have soju,” a glazed look masks his eyes as he stares at the ‘ALOHA COFFEE COMPANY’ signboard. He thinks he can do a better job designing that logo.

“Cheer up hyung, let’s go get some good food,” if there is anything that can cheer Jaejin up, it would be food and drinks.

“Not unless you’re paying the bill,” Jaejin still uninterested.

“Hmm… Let’s bet~ the first person who gets to the fountain at the entrance gets a free meal!”

“OK! Set! Don’t regret!” Jaejin dashed off whilst Ricky is still waiting for his coffee.

“Yah! Hyung! That’s cheating!!!” Jaejin continues running, “Hyung! Wait for me!” Ricky jogs a little but he couldn’t be fast to avoid spilling the coffee that he had just gotten.

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Jiwon was browsing through the new collections of LEGO sets when he heard the voice, “Yah! Hyung! That’s cheating!!!”

‘Oh great, Eun Jiwon, now you’re hearing voices…’ he thought.

“Hyung! Wait for me!” It sounded so real. This time, Jiwon ran out from the shop to search for the voice. But there was no one out there, so he went down, and down, and lower, until he reach the ground floor. He had searched every floor but there is no sign of Sunghoon.

‘Of course you won’t find him, don’t be silly…’

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“Rick, I have to drop by at Suwon’s place after this,” says Jaejin as they’re finishing up the food.

“Great! I can hang out on their private beach! But seriously hyung, do you miss him so much, you have to see him every day?” Ricky teases Jaejin.

“If it wasn’t for you, I would have did what needs to be done last night,” Jaejin quickly realized he said something wrong.

“Wait a minute hyung, what do you mean if it wasn’t for me?! It was you who had a panic attack!”

“Ah~ you’re right~ Are you done with your food?” Jaejin distracts Ricky by changing the topic, “let’s call for the bill, you do remember that you’re paying, right?”

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“Thanks a lot, Suwon! You always manage to get me the purest ingredients.”

“All thanks to my wide social network!” He held on to Jaejin’s shoulders, “Jaejin hyung, you know right, if there is a need between us to say ‘thank you’, that must be me, for everything your clan had done for our family.”

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“Let’s go, Rick!” Jaejin yelled for Ricky from the balcony.

“Coming, hyung!” Ricky sprints his way to the backyard.

“Suwon, you have quite an amazing beach here! The sand on the beach is so soft and white, feels like I’m stepping on baby powder!”

“That’s the beauty of nature,” Suwon smiled. “By the way, I haven’t got the chance to greet you happy birthday”

“Thank you. And all thanks to somebody I didn’t get to enjoy the night,” Ricky squints at Jaejin, who pretends to be looking at somewhere else.

“Why not you come over tonight? I’ll make you something special,” Suwon winked.

Ricky looked over to Jaejin, “OK! OK! No more ‘puppy eyes’! But just for a while OK, you know my condition.”

He turned to Suwon and asked, “Can you set up a place for us where there are lesser people? Please?” In fact, after last night’s encounter, he is more afraid of being seen than suffering an anxiety attack.

“Don’t worry, just come by tonight, OK?”

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Jiwon was leaning against the rock, enjoying the sea breeze and rhythmic waves.

‘Sunghoonie would like this place.’ He allows the image of Sunghoon to slip into his mind, imagining Sunghoon stretching out his arms, embracing the warm breeze and fine weather.

Jiwon sees a figure on the beach, white T-shirt with white jeans, blonde hair and fair skin. He takes few steps backwards as the wave breaks on the beach, then few steps forward as it ebbs away. The sun is shining too bright,

Jiwon couldn’t see his face, but he thinks that image will suit Sunghoon well. He fell asleep reminiscing their good old times.

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“Let’s go, Rick!”

‘God damn it! Who the hell is yelling over there,’ Jiwon cursed the roaring voice which woke him.

“Coming, hyung!”

Jiwon was stunned. He turned around to look for the voice. Then he saw someone running across the beach toward

Suwon’s backyard. It was the guy whom he saw strolling around the beach. The guy’s voice is somewhat similar to Sunghoon’s. Jiwon stood up and walked nearer, until he can see them clearly.

It has been more than a century, it could be his eyes or memories playing on him, he sometimes can’t even recall Sunghoon’s looks in his mind. But that face… the bright laugh… and those eyes… they are so alike Sunghoon’s despite he is much skinnier than Sunghoon. His smile extends beyond the mouth and his eyes squinted, just like Sunghoon.

‘Could it be him?! How could it possibly be him?!’

It was almost an hour later when he came to himself.

PART 5

“Is it done yet?” Ricky peeked into Jaejin’s so called ‘studio’ from behind the door.
“Almost…” Jaejin answered without looking up. He needs to be fully focused on his work.
“Great! I’ll get changed first, so that we can head to paradise at once after the drip!” Sunghoon skipping his way back to his room. He is really looking forward to what Suwon has in store for him.
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“Hyung! You’re here again?!” Suwon was surprised when he sees Jiwon walks in.
“……” no response. Suwon left him alone.
It is almost 9 o’clock. Jiwon has been sitting by the bar since 6 in the evening. He stares at the entrance intently. The last thing he remembered had been Suwon inviting them over tonight. Why are they not here yet? Did he hear wrongly? Just when he was in doubt, he saw them walking in leisurely.
Jiwon’s eyes were locked on the blonde hair guy as he walked across the crowd with his companion. He is in all white again, with an oversized blue jacket. He looks for Suwon immediately and they were brought to a private section at the far end, where only few of Suwon’s closest friends can pass through.
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A waiter followed Suwon’s cue and brought over a… fish bowl?!
“May I present you with ‘The Poison Ivy’,” Suwon said proudly as the waiter carefully places a gigantic fish bowl like glass on the table.
“It looks like something that would appear in my studio,” says Jaejin.
“This, my friend, is nothing like your awful potions! It’s a mixture of rum, Bacardi, grenadine, fruits, coloring from the ivy flowers and it tastes absolutely wonderful. I created this specially for Ricky.”
“Thanks Suwon, but I can’t take any alcohol today. I just had my remedy.”
“Oh great…” Suwon rolled his eyes “why on earth do you have to feed him today knowing you guys will be here tonight?!”
“Don’t worry, I’ll finish this. And for your records, Ricky has very low tolerance to alcohol. He’ll be down after a sip of this anyway.” Jaejin looked at the ‘glass’ of drink, eager to try.
“It’s ok Suwon, I’ll try this next time. Meanwhile I’ll have 7up for tonight,” he gave Suwon a big grin.
“All your fault,” mumbled Suwon while threatening to hit Jaejin. Jaejin knew Suwon wouldn’t hurt him, he returned Suwon with an evil smile as Suwon leaves to get Ricky’s drink.
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“Who are they?” Jiwon asked Suwon who walked over to the bar, whilst his eyes still pinning on the blonde guy.
“Who is who?” Suwon wasn’t sure who is Jiwon talking about.
“Those two who you just escorted to private section,” Jiwon feels his patience slowly slipping away.
“Oh, they are Jaejin and Ricky! Jaejin is our old family friend. Ricky… well, you can basically see him anywhere Jaejin goes. Jaejin takes care of him and he listens to Jaejin. They are like brothers.”
“How long have you known them?”
“Hmm… Just like you, I’ve known Jaejin for my entire life. But I only get to know Ricky for the past 10 years.” Suwon held on to the serving tray with a can of 7up, a glass of ice and some fancy snacks, “Hyung, you’ve been talkative tonight. Why not you come over and join us? We’re celebrating Ricky’s birthday.”
“……” no response.
“Fine,” Suwon rolled his eyes and walked away.
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“Suwon-ah, can I use the washroom in your house? It’s nearer, I’ll just go in from the back yard.”
“Of course. Just remember to lock the doors, I don’t want everyone to go wandering in my house.”
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Ricky came out from the washroom to find the lights on.
‘Did I switched on the lights?’ He remembered rushing into the washroom without turning on any lights except for the one in the washroom.
He heard a voice while he was still wondering about the lights. He heard someone calling another person, to be precise. The voice sounds so desperate and sad. It was then that he realized there is someone standing at the end of the corridor.
“Sunghoon-ah,” he called again.
Ricky turned around but didn’t see anyone else. He can feel the gaze of that guy is fixed on him. He looks around again to confirm that no one else is there. “Me?” He asked, pointing to himself.

PART 6

Jiwon observed Ricky all night. His body gesture and every facial expression resemble Sunghoon. In fact the only difference he could find is that this guy named Ricky is much skinnier and pale than Sunghoon. He is almost 100% sure that Ricky is Sunghoon. But how did he survive the fatal shot? Where has he been all this while? Why is he here? Why is he known as ‘Ricky’? Jiwon has so many questions.

He thought it’s his opportunity when he sees Ricky left his seat alone. He followed Ricky into Suwon’s house. It was dark in the house, there was only a small glow underneath the washroom’s door.

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Ricky came out from the washroom humming some melody to himself.

“Sunghoon-ah,” Jiwon called him.

Ricky looked around but didn’t respond. “Sunghoon-ah,” Jiwon called again, walking slowly towards Ricky. He took each step cautiously as if the person in front of him will vanish anytime if he goes too near.

“Uh…” Ricky looked around again.

“Me?” He pointed to himself and asked.

“Sunghoon-ah… you’re alive… Sunghoon-ah…” Jiwon hugged him so tight, afraid that he is just an illusion.

“Hey, hey,” Ricky tried to break loose from Jiwon’s embrace.

Feeling the struggle, Jiwon let loose, giving Ricky the chance to escape from his arms.

“Sunghoon-ah, where have you been? I went back for you but there was nothing left, I thought you’re dead. What happened? Huh?” Jiwon held on to his shoulders.

“Erm… I think you’ve got the wrong guy,” Ricky wanted to break through his grip but failed.

“Sunghoon-ah, it’s me, Jiwonnie, Jiwon hyung ah.”

“Yah! I’m Ricky, not Sunghoon!” Ricky took a step backwards trying to keep away from the guy. But he was taken aback by Jiwon’s persistence.

‘What’s wrong with him?! Is he drunk or something?! Ah, I should have just use the washroom outside… What should I do now…? Suwon-ah… Jaejin-ah… Help~~~’ Ricky crying out in his mind.

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“Ah! Jaejin hyung! Your necklace! Its glowing?!” exclaimed Suwon.

Jaejin looked down to his chest and his face went pale immediately, “bloody hell, where is Ricky?!”

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Jaejin ran into Suwon’s backyard, almost tripped on loose stones. He felt the unusual aura again, it was the energy similar to one he felt last night. He quickly dashed into the house.

“Ah! Hyung! You’re tearing down my door!” Suwon followed him at the back.

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“Rick!” Ricky was surprised to see Jaejin dashing through the door at the moment he needs help the most.

“Help!!!” Jiwon is still not letting go of him.

“Yah! Hyung! Are you sober?! What are you doing?! Let go of Ricky!” Suwon went ahead to drag Jiwon away from Ricky. Jaejin is a little confused. This was not what he had expected. Nonetheless, he quickly checks on Ricky.

“Are you OK? Are you hurt? How’s are you feeling? Any aching?”

“Hyung! Stop it! I can’t answer so many questions at once,” Ricky cut him off.

“I’m OK, see?” He turns around, “I’m not hurt and I feel totally fine.”

“Really?” Jaejin continues checking up Ricky.

Ricky allows Jaejin to take his pulse, “don’t worry, I’m all well.”

“Then why did the necklace reacted?! You scared the hell out of me!” Jaejin let go of Ricky once he assured that Ricky is OK.

“That guy over there, I’ve already told him he had got the wrong person, but he just don’t let go of me. I was struggling to get loose from him, maybe that’s the reason my heart rate spiked.” Ricky hide behind Jaejin, peeking at Jiwon. “I think he is drunk,” he whispers to Jaejin’s ear.

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“Hyung, what’s wrong with you? You’re not acting like yourself.”

“Suwon-ah, that’s Sunghoon over there, but why can’t he recognizes me? Uh?”

“Hyung, clear your mind. Look at him, he is Ricky.” Suwon tried to calm down Jiwon.

“No, no, you don’t understand, he is Sunghoonie!” Suwon had heard of the name, but he doesn’t know anything else other than this Sunghoon being Jiwon’s favorite dongsaeng and that he is dead. He never asked Jiwon as he knew Jiwon lacks in expressing his personal and emotional feelings. He always trusts Jiwon will eventually tell him about it when he is ready.

However, it has been the first time Suwon sees Jiwon in such helpless and depressed state. The sadness in his eyes revealed the pain in his heart.

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Ricky hid behind Jaejin and followed him passing by Jiwon and Suwon. He doesn’t want to get caught by Jiwon again.

“Sorry guys, I think Jiwon hyung is drunk,” Suwon apologized to Ricky and Jaejin.

“I’m not drunk! He IS Hoony!” Why can’t they just believe him?!

“Hyung, you got any proof?”

“He looks exactly like Sunghoonie!”

“Hyung… don’t you know there are seven other people in the world who looks exactly the same as you? We need more than that,” Suwon trying to make sense out of it.

“Sunghoon… Sunghoonie…” he scratched his head thinking of something more convincing, Sunghoonie has a tattoo on his right arm!”

Ricky jumped out in excitement “Hah! Got you!” He rolled up both sleeves, “I don’t have a tattoo! See?! So stop calling me Sunghoon, told you I’m not the person you’re looking for.”

Jiwon inspects Ricky arms, unbelievably. ‘It can’t be! Where is the tattoo?! It’s not some ordinary tattoo that could be removed that easily… The bullet! He was shot through with a silver bullet, there must be a scar…’

“Hey! What are you doing?! You pervert!” Ricky screamed and hid behind Jaejin again as Jiwon tries to take off his shirt.

“There must be a scar on his chest!”

“Hyung, there is nothing on his chest!” Suwon held Jiwon tight to prevent him from grabbing on to Ricky again. He knows it as they often hung out by the beach or at the pool together. Ricky has fair skin, almost too pale, and they are flawless. “Jaejin hyung, you guys should leave the house first, I’ll take care of him.”

“Let’s go,” Ricky quickly drags Jaejin who stood still like a statue.

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Jaejin stunned when Jiwon was able to tell that there is a tattoo on Ricky’s arm. Well, there WAS a tattoo back then, but it was removed. It wasn’t any ordinary tattoo, but Jaejin’s grandparents are the best of their kind.

The moment Jiwon mentioned the scar on Ricky’s chest, he realized immediately that this wasn’t a coincident. Jiwon is right – Ricky IS Sunghoon.

What should he do?! He can’t reveal Ricky’s identity now. But how can he hinder Ricky from reuniting with his friend, and possibly family?!

“Let’s go,” Ricky interrupted Jaejin’s thoughts and dragged him out from the house. It was then that Jaejin decided to keep silence.

‘No, it’s not the right time yet, not for his health.’

PART 7

“Shhh…” he stopped his wife from blowing their cover, “he is probably a vampire hunter,” he whispered.

“You mean the wounded guy is a vampire?” she stared in disbelief, “we got to save him.” She jumped out from their hiding spot once they lost sight of the vampire hunter and raced over to the flaming body.

“Careful!” Her husband who is worried that she might burn herself quickly casts a spell to put out the fire.

“Oppa, he is still breathing!” she tore off the lining of her dress, pressed the cloth over the gunshot wound to apply pressure with one hand and check the pulse with another hand.

“Quick, help me!” She cannot do this alone. She needed more hands so that she can perform emergency treatments.

“Darling, there is no point doing all these, he won’t survive. It’s a silver bullet that went through his heart,” he tried to stop his wife by explaining the reasoning.

“Oppa! I’m a physician! I can’t just leave a dying man without doing anything!” Ji Yong looked into Yang Im’s eyes, there is no point arguing with his determined wife. The only thing he can and should do is to fully support her.

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“We need to bring him back, but I’m afraid he won’t make it, he is too weak, he needs blood.” Ji Yong looked around the dark surrounding, considering the alternatives.

Without second thought, Yang Im reached into her boots and took out the hidden pocket knife that she carries with her all the time. She took a slash on her palm.

“What are you doing?!” Ji Yong cried out.

“You said he needs blood.”

“Yes, but…” he was going to suggest for animal blood, although it will be less effective.

“Look, there are only both of us here and you can’t give him your blood. What better options do we have?” Yang Im held her bleeding fist above her patient’s face, allowing her blood to drip through his lips and into his mouth. Ji Yong has to agree with her. They will need at least an adult deer to sustain his life if they were to feed him animal blood. There is absolutely no way that they are able to hunt one at the moment.

==============================

“He is lucky that the hunter missed his heart and the bullet went through in-and-out. He would have been dead if it was stuck in his body.” The husband and wife stayed awake for the whole night attempting all they can to keep the man alive, “I think we ought to inform the chief.”

“Good morning omma, good morning appa. Did you sleep well?” Their four-year-old son came out from the bedroom in his bleary eyes. He leaned on to his mother’s leg as if it was a pillar.

“Hmm? Why is smiley samchon here? Did he come to play with Seungjae?” It only took the kid a while to be wide awake, especially when he notices the ‘guest’ in their house.

“Seungjae-ah, do you know him?” Ji Yong was surprised.

“Smiley samchonie, he bought strawberry milk and chocolate ice-cream for Seungjae, hehe~” the child grinned mischievously.

“He bought you snacks?” For the first time over the exhausting six hours, Ji Yong smiled. ‘What brought him to Jeju-do?’ Ji Yong wondered. “Seungjae-ah, samchonie… he is sick. Can you please go get Chief Lee?” Ji Yong had to ask his son to bring the chief as both him and his wife must stay back to look after the dying man.

“Smiley samchon is sick?” He stepped closer to look at the unconscious man. “Omma, smiley samchon is sick, give him some medicine.” He looked up to his mother.

“Seungjae-ah, samchonie, he is a special person, so we need Chief Lee to treat him.” Yang Im patiently reasoned to his son.

“Samchon is a special person? Is it because he always smiles? Samchon looks so pretty when he smiles. Seungjae needs to go bring master chief, samchon is not smiling now.” The four year-old kid seems to have his own logic.

Ji Yong and Yang Im let out a sigh of relief when their all energetic son finally sets off to get help.

After much deliberation, the coven had finally reached a conclusion.

“We will siphon our power into a seal to lock his nature instincts. Without his vampire instincts, there is nothing to trigger the tattoo spell. His body won’t react to silver and sunlight, nor will he have the urge to feed on blood. At the same time, crystallization spell will freeze the silver elements in his body, allowing us to remove them.” Everyone listened to the chief attentively.

“We need to hold him still while Yang Im shaved his wound clean. This requires slicing off his flesh over and over again until every single silver dust is eliminated. It will be tedious and demands full concentration due to its position so near to his heart. He might go violent because of the pain, but it needs to be done.”

“But this is literally digging a hole through his body repetitively…”

“He will heal. The healing power is in his genes.” The chief’s wife patted on her shoulder to comfort her.

“Chief, on what medium should we transfer the seal to?”

The chief removed the handcrafted talisman necklace that he has been wearing for years. The delicate jewelry is the heirloom of Sechskies, which has been handed down to the clan chief from generation to generation.

“One more question, chief. We need massive power to perform the seal spell. I don’t think our combined powers suffice. From where do we expect to channel for more power?

“We can use the ancestral power,” suggested the chief’s wife. Everyone gasped out in shock as channeling too much energy recklessly can lead to unpleasant consequences, including death.

“Do you think the ancestors will allow us to draw energy from them to save a vampire?”

“We’ll just have to try.”

==============================

It scared the hell out of young Jaejin when the man who lay there presumably his whole lifetime suddenly opens his eyes.

“Chief!!! Chief!!!” He shouted as he staggered his way to inform the chief.

==============================

In conjunction with the 11th clan chief’s 60th birthday, Sechskies held a grand ceremony to nominate candidates as his successor. There are three qualified candidates this run. He particularly likes the 18-year-old kid from the Lee family, who has sharp mind and quick wit despite being dorky.

“Lee Jaejin-ssi, you have demonstrated exemplary skills, high ambition and great intelligence. What make you stands out are your standards of humanity, care and dignity that comes with your humble-self. I hereby name you a nominee of the 12th clan chief. As part of your appraisal, you are assigned to be Ricky’s guardian.”

Side note

Remember I said something keeps bothering me when I made the last update? Well, I have intended to make Ji Yong the person who saved Sunghoon. But at the end of Part 6, I’ve hinted that the “removal” of Sunghoon’s tattoo is related to Jaejin’s grandparents.

For God’s sake, how could KO Ji Yong be LEE Jaejin’s grandparent…? Unless his mother’s surname is KO. So that’s how I came up with the idea of forming a clan of 6 families, instead of the same bloodline which was the initial plan.

Well I hope what I’ve written (especially the spells) makes sense. Sorry if it doesn’t, you’ll just have to bear with it cos I’m too lazy to edit/make amendments after I’ve lost the draft that was 90% completed and had to rewrite the whole thing. In fact I’ve already found something that doesn’t jive, but I guess I’ll just adjust in the coming parts (which is gonna be painful cos it’s something that I had in mind since I started this fic)

PART 8

It was an awkward moment. They were seated at a table for four, with Ricky and Jaejin sitting next to each other, facing Suwon and Jiwon. Suwon somehow managed to calm down Jiwon and Jiwon apologized to Ricky for his misbehavior. Jaejin made it obvious that he doesn’t want Jiwon to join them, but Ricky insisted that it is alright.

Since then, Jiwon often hang out with them at Suwon’s place. Suwon was surprised with his drastic change. He didn’t only come out to hang out with people, he even extended his stay in Hawaii. Little did he know Jiwon’s intention is to get to know Ricky and find out who he is. Jaejin on the other hand, still feeling uneasy whenever Jiwon is around. No one really paid attention as they assumed it has something to do with his anxiety and he being protective towards Ricky due to the incident happened that night. But Jaejin has a strong feeling that the aura radiates from Jiwon is not good for Ricky, he needs to find out why.

==============================

“Pssttt… Are you busy?” It was a fine morning when Ricky suddenly popped by Jaejin’s studio.

“A little… Why?”

“You promised we can go to the flea market today.” If only Jaejin look at Ricky, he will see his signature ‘puppy eyes’ look.

“Sorry, Rick. I don’t think we can make it today, maybe tomorrow?” Jaejin continued extracting seed oil from the herbs they’ve gotten the day before.

“But it’s the last day. We’ll have to wait another month for the next run,” Ricky pouted.

“Not that we’re leaving soon right? We can stay until we finish visiting every flea market that you want to go.”

Ricky had an idea, which he is positive that Jaejin will not approve of. But since Jaejin is so concentrated on what he is doing, maybe… maybe he will let loose… “I’ll go by myself then,” he smiled mischievously.

“You know you’re not supposed to be out of my sight right.” No, this is not a question. The talisman had made a few false alarms within the month since Ricky’s birthday, which is very unusual. Even Ricky had always assured Jaejin that he is fine, Jaejin still feels insecure.

“I’ll bring along Suwon, you can trust him right?” Ricky tried to persuade Jaejin.

Jaejin carefully lay down his tools, “You mean Suwon and THAT fella?” He slowly removed his glasses and looked over to Ricky.

“Just Suwon! I’ll tell him to come alone and not to invite Jiwon hyung!” Ricky begged, “Please, please, please~ Puh-lease~~~~~ I really want to go…” There, there, he played the ‘puppy eyes’ card again.

“Alright, just Suwon! Promise?”

“Promise!” Ricky let out his pinky finger and hooked it on Jaejin’s.

==============================

Jiwon saw a familiar figure while he was driving pass the mall – a lean figure in black T-shirt, white skinny jeans and black sneakers. He even wore a cap and sunglasses. Jiwon chuckled when he sees him licking the ice cream. How adorable!

He pulled over his car beside Ricky and shouted, “Yah! Quit playing on phone, the melting ice cream is gonna drip on your shirt!”

“Hyung! Why are you here?!” Ricky was surprised to see Jiwon. He doesn’t always get out from his house and Suwon promised to go to the flea market with him, just the both of them, they didn’t invite Jiwon.

“Yah, you look like you’ve did something wrong. Did I just caught you red handed?!”

“What?! No, of course not! I’m just surprised to see you, you seldom come out.” Jiwon looked at him with a squinted look which leaves Ricky wondered whether Jiwon believes what he just said.

“What are you doing here?”

“Suwon is on the way, I’m waiting for him,” Ricky smiled.

“OK… where is Jaejin?” Jiwon had never once seen Ricky alone.

“He is… hold on hung,” his phone rang, it was Suwon. “Annyeong, are you here yet? … I’m just by the road, near the slope towards the malls entrance … you’ll see me right away when you get here … OK, see you soon, bye.”

==============================

“Jiwon hyung?! Why are you here?!” Suwon was surprised to see Jiwon, “Hey Rick, I thought you said not to…” “Ah! Suwon! You’re here! Jiwonnie hyung saw me while I was waiting for you.” Ricky quickly cut off Suwon.

“Oh, OK…” he looked a Jiwon suspiciously, “Hyung, why are you out today?!”

“What?! Do I have to report my daily schedule to you?!”

“Nah, it’s just that you seldom leave your mansion… Rick, are you done with your ice cream? I think we better get going.”

“Where are you guys going?”

“Well… Just the flea market… downtown…” Jiwon was really just curious, but when he sees Suwon’s reacted a little stiffed and all secretive, he can’t help but showing interest to join them. “Hop on, I’ll give you a ride.”

==============================

“Here we are,” Jiwon stopped his car and turned the engine off. Ricky and Suwon got out of the car, so did Jiwon.

“Hyung? Are you coming with us?!” Suwon asked.

“Since I’m done with what I’m supposed to do, why not?” Jiwon shrugged his shoulder. In fact he enjoyed seeing Suwon being panic as much as spending time with Ricky.

“Technically, we didn’t invite him right? He is the one who followed us…” Ricky whispered to Suwon, which Suwon answered, “I think so… Let’s just make sure Jaejin doesn’t know about it.”

“Yah! What are you guys whispering around?! What secrets are you keeping from me?”

“It’s nothing, hyung, don’t be sensitive. We’re just wondering whether the restaurant will allow us to add another seat. We only made reservation for two.” Ricky quickly came out with something to comfort Jiwon.

“Not a big deal. If they don’t allow, we’ll just go to another restaurant. Let’s go.” Jiwon walked towards the entrance, leaving two helpless souls standing there looking at each other. “Yah! Are you coming?!” They picked up the pace and followed along.

==============================

Ricky likes to visit flea markets. He especially enjoys browsing through nice collections of jewelries, being it earrings, necklaces, rings or bracelets. He just likes accessories.

“Hyung! Look at this! I think it will look nice on you.” Ricky held up a necklace with a cross symbol.

“What?! A cross?! Hell no!” Jiwon resisted; not because it was made with silver or that the cross would hurt him, he is just not comfortable with holy symbols, he feels disrespectful. Suwon sniggered at his reaction.

“Come on, hyung, try it on.” Ricky tried to wear it on Jiwon.

“Stop it! I’m allergic to silver!” Jiwon dodged away.

“Hyung! Are you kidding me?! You were just playing with that ring a while ago!”

Busted! “Those… those are stainless steels!” Jiwon always believes that a bad excuse is always better than none.

“FYI, this store sells silver accessories. They are all silver.” Suwon reminded Jiwon, which made the latter threatened to slap on his face.

“Look, I just don’t like cross,” Jiwon looked around the accessories displayed and took something else and wear it around his neck. “I like this! It looks nice on me, right? This is so much better, uh? As manly as me.” Jiwon stood proud displaying the necklace with a razor blade pendent dangling over his chest.

“Alright, I’ll buy you this.” Ricky agreed. It does look good on him.

“Huh?! Why are you buying me this? I didn’t even mention that I’m going to buy it.” Jiwon removed the necklace and place it back to where it belongs.

“Nah, we’ve known each other for almost a month now, I feel that we get along well. I just wanted to buy you a gift as an appreciation.” Ricky took the necklace along with a few more items that he had chosen.

“Make sure you wear it, hyung. I’ll be upset if you don’t.” He warned Jiwon while waiting for the store owner to pack the things.

There is no doubt Ricky had gotten comfortable with Jiwon hanging around him. At times he felt that Jiwon treats him special, as if he is the person Jiwon used to know. Ricky would just go along as he didn’t want to upset Jiwon. Eventually, he found that Jiwon is actually like an egg – tough on the outside but soft in the inside. He doesn’t express his feelings and builds a wall to protect himself emotionally; he is blunt and direct with his words, at the same time emotionally sensitive and easily get hurt by unkind words. Ricky being himself, is always friendly to Jiwon despite Jaejin keeps warning him that they barely know Jiwon and that Jiwon is a tough person.

==============================

“Are you OK?” Ricky had been chatty since they had gotten out, but he seems a little quiet now. Suwon had noticed Ricky swaying slightly on his feet.

“Isn’t it stuffy? How long have we been here? Let’s go get some coffee.” In fact Ricky is breaking out cold sweat. He assumed it is due to lack of fresh air as the market is crowded.

==============================

‘Oh boy, where is the café, are we near yet…’ Ricky muttered to himself. He had increased the paces of his footsteps as he started feeling dizzy. He wanted to reach there faster. He needs to sit down for a drink to cool down his system.

His vision was blurry and sparkly when the café finally came into sight. He suddenly paused, almost tripping the person behind him. The person said something, but he couldn’t make up the voice. Was it Suwon or Jiwon hyung? What did he said? The buzzing noise was too loud he couldn’t hear clearly. ‘Take a deep breathe, Rick, take a deep breathe.’ He told himself.

He held his hand and grabbed on to the person beside him, closed his eyes and took a deep breathe.

==============================

Jiwon had been observing Ricky since the moment he noticed Ricky’s heavy sweat. Although it was crowded in the market, the area was sheltered with air conditioner and the ventilation was working well.

He felt it unusual for Ricky to be sweating under such condition. Is he not feeling well? He had been quiet for the past 15 minutes or so.

‘Wait a minute, did he just swayed to the left?!’ Jiwon was not sure.

“Are you OK?” Suwon obviously noticed that Ricky’s footsteps were floating too. He didn’t answer Suwon directly but suggested to go get some coffee. This raised suspicion to Jiwon.

Jiwon stared intensely as Ricky wipes off the sweat on his face and neck, his pale face looks drawn, his lips were dried. He walked so fast as if they are in a rush. Then the paused, suddenly.

“Hey, watch the way you’re going.” Suwon who followed behind him almost tripped, but he managed to avoid crashing himself towards Ricky.

“Rick, are you OK?” Jiwon asked.

He muttered something, but it was too soft, Jiwon couldn’t hear his voice. Then he clung on to Jiwon’s arm and lean towards Jiwon. Jiwon felt Ricky’s body slipping away before he realized Ricky lost full consciousness. He passed out.

PART 9

Jaejin was just about to wrap up his work when he heard someone buzzing the doorbell and pounding on the door impatiently. Startled, he hurried towards the front door, on his way noticed from the French window that it was…

Suwon?! Shouldn’t he be with Ricky at the flea market?!

When Jaejin opened the door, he could hardly believe what he saw. There stood a panic Suwon with Ricky on the back of Jiwon. “What the hell just happened?!”

“Rick passed out in the market!” Suwon freaked. Jiwon on the other hand was worried, but he had no idea Ricky’s life is constantly at risk. He had wanted to send Ricky to the hospital, but Suwon insisted they should send him back, “only Jaejin knows how to deal with this,” he said.

“How could this be?!” Jaejin checked Ricky’s pulse then carried him away from Jiwon and rushed him to his room, Suwon followed behind him leaving Jiwon alone.

“Hey!” Jiwon yelled at them.

“Hey! Come back!!!!” They seemed to forget about him.

Jiwon was so frustrated that he couldn’t go in. He stomped on the ground and pounded on the wall helplessly until he is tired of it and collapse. There was nothing he could do. He wasn’t invited.

==============================

It was another 3 hours later when Jaejin and Suwon finally came out. Jaejin felt strong urge to curse when he sees the cracked walls and vandalized garden, it was a hell of a mess.

“Let me in…” Jiwon said.

“Isn’t the door opened?” Jaejin teased him with a smirk.

“Hyung, let’s just invite him in, he won’t make trouble.”

“He has already made enough trouble, look at the garden!” Jaejin pointed.

Jiwon looked Jaejin in the eyes, his eyes turned red, even darker than wine. “Let me in” he commanded.

“Save your tricks, you can’t compel me.” Jiwon was caught off guard.

“Jaejin hyung, I promise he will be good, I’ll be his guarantor, OK?” Suwon begged for Jiwon.

“Let me in before I wreck your house!” threatened Jiwon.

“As if you can,” Jaejin rubbed his thumb and index finger together and mumbled something.

Before Jiwon realized Jaejin is muttering a spell, he felt a severe headache as if his brain is going to explode and his skull is ripping apart. “Aarrrggghhh!!!!! STOP IT!!!!! Aarrrggghhh!!!!!”

“This, is so you’re aware of what I’m capable of doing. I must remind you that I can rescind the invitation anytime, so please don’t do anything stupid and behave yourself.”

“What… are you… a witch?!” Jiwon asked. Although Jaejin had stopped the spell, he still feels a dull pain around his temple.

“Just! Don’t call me a witch! It sounds… sissy!” Jaejin rolled his eyes, “You may come in now.”

Jiwon wanted to know the condition of Ricky and why Suwon said Jaejin is the only one who can deal with Ricky’s condition? Did Suwon know Jaejin is a witch?! Why didn’t Suwon tell him?! Since when Jaejin knows what he is?! Does Ricky know too?! Why is Ricky always being around a witch?! And… Jiwon got too many questions to ask. But before he recover and ask anything, Jaejin had already retreated to his studio. Suwon went forward to support Jiwon, “Hyung, let’s go have a look at Ricky first,” he brought Jiwon to Ricky’s room.

==============================

Jiwon’s gaze had never left the person on the bed for a slight second. Sometimes he frowned, sometimes he smiled and sometimes he just lay there motionless to the extent that Jiwon had to check for the slight movement on his chest to make sure he is alive. He had lost Sunghoon once, he cannot lose him again.

Despite he has come to realize that they are two different people, he still sees Sunghoon in Ricky. Deep inside, he knows that he still misses Sunghoon, but at the same time he adores Ricky.

Jaejin would come over to check him up every hour, making sure his vitals are fine and the IV runs smooth. He would chase Jiwon out from the room whenever he is doing his routine, then he would lock himself up in his studio. As much as Jiwon wants to know what happened, he is worried of the man who has been unconscious for the past two days. He will deal with that wicked witch later, he can wait, he thought to himself. His top priority now is to make sure the sick man awakes.

==============================

Jaejin had done his best but he couldn’t seem to find any problem with Ricky. Ricky had taken almost a year worth of his monthly remedy, but it doesn’t seem to be effective. Why hasn’t he awake? He went into Ricky’s room and found Jiwon stoning on the chair beside the bed, just like how he had been for the last 48 hours. His has not slept, his eyes are blood shot red; he has not shaved, there is dark stubble on his cheeks; he has not changed nor showered, luckily the house is air conditioned else he would have stink; he has not eaten, Jaejin does not store his kind of food.

Jiwon stood up, intended to leave the room when he sees Jaejin walking into the room.

“Sit down,” Jaejin said; he doesn’t want another patient in the house. He is not even a nurse.

Jiwon observed as Jaejin replaced the IV packet then injects a shot of green liquid into the bag, which incredibly went transparent the moment it got contact with the fluids in it. He took Ricky’s pulse while checking the drips with another hand, making sure the flow is regular and smooth. Finally, he took Ricky’s temperature and checked his eyes for response to light. Everything seems to be fine.

“Come with me, we need to talk,” Jaejin told Jiwon after he finished his routine.

==============================

Suwon was not comfortable with the atmosphere in the living room. Jiwon and Jaejin sitting opposite each other, the act of them staring into each other’s eyes but not talking? Just creeps him out. He wanted to leave; perhaps he should hide himself in Ricky’s room. But just when he made a little gesture motioning to stand up, he heard Jaejin’s voice “Sit!”

==============================

Something was bothering Jaejin… Something just does not feel right, what was it? He observed Jiwon from head to toe then finally fixed his eyes on the necklace. “Isn’t that silver?!” He asked.

“Yes, it is. Why?” Jiwon did not quite get his point.

“Aren’t you a vampire?! How could you wear anything made out of silver?!”

“Well, I’m not vulnerable to silver, that’s why.”

“Strip off your clothes.” That was what Jaejin told Jiwon after a while.

“What?!” Jiwon was surprised. He did not see that coming. He thought they are supposed to talk?

“Just take off your clothes.” Jaejin refused to explain.

Jiwon reluctantly removed his shirt, revealing his naked top. Despite they have known each other for a month, it still feels awkward to expose himself in front of Jaejin. He blushed as he could feel Jaejin’s gaze scanning every inch of his body. He took a step backwards defending himself when Jaejin suddenly grab his arm.

==============================

Jaejin carefully inspects the sleeve tattoo on Jiwon’s right arm. He can sense that there are two layers of powerful scrolls inscribed on it, possibly an ancient spell? He does not have enough power to read through it, it must have been casted by a great witch. “What is this?” He resolved with getting direct answer from Jiwon.

“Yah, witch, you should know better, can’t you see it’s a spell?! Are you a novice?”

“I know it’s a spell, I mean what it does?”

“First, tell me what’s wrong with Ricky.” Jiwon struggled to get loose from Jaejin’s grip.

“He is fine. Now tell me about your tattoo spell.”

“Fine?! You call that fine?! Are you kidding me?! He has been sleeping for two days! I’ve seen you walking in and out replacing those drips on an hourly basis. You called that fine?!”

“Yes, but his condition is alright. I need to know more about your tattoo, it might be affecting Rick in a negative way.”

“What?! Don’t bullshit me, witch.” Jiwon didn’t buy it. How could his tattoo spell be affecting Rick?

Unless… But it couldn’t be, he is not Sunghoon.

“OK, fine.” Jaejin took a deep breath and continued, “Although Rick has a bright personality, but as you can see from his unusual pale skin, he is physically fragile. He has a weak heart.” Jaejin paused for a moment and continued, “Did you realize the necklace with a refined crystal ore that Rick wears all the time?” Jiwon nodded. “That necklace is linked to my talisman with a spell,” he held up his necklace. “The refined crystal has a protection effect, which absorbs all the dark and negative energy around him. It also monitors his vital. My talisman will react if his physical is in bad shape, for example accelerating heartbeat, hypertension, hypothermia, et cetera, et cetera. When I said you might affect him, I mean the spells might collide, which will lead to reverse effect.” Jaejin carefully word his speech to make sure he didn’t spill too much information.

==============================

Jiwon listened attentively to what Jaejin had to say. The idea of his tattoo spell might collide with Rick’s protection spell scares him.

“You’ve know this all the while?!” He asked Suwon.

“I only knew the part which Jaejin practices witchcraft.” He was telling the truth. After all, he is not a busybody. Although he enjoys befriending Ricky, he has his own secrets that he doesn’t just tell anyone, so he always respects the others in a way he wants people to treat him.

“I had this from a witch tribe which owe a huge debt of gratitude to our family. It first started with a sunlight spell, then it was overrode and extended into this part,” Jiwon pointing towards the center part of his tattoo which displayed his surname ‘Eun’ in Chinese character. “Apparently it is an ancient spell which protects the bearer from any form of paranormal manifestation. Few decades ago, I’ve gotten another spell inscribed on it, you can call it another extension, it basically protects me from harmful elements, like silver.”

“Well, it doesn’t make sense that they might collide since they are all protection spells.” Jaejin was confused. He is sure that there is definitely something that connects in between. What is that???

“Tell me, witch, since when you know I’m a… erm… vamp?”

Jaejin was perplexed, “Seriously? You really think I’m a novice?! Of course I knew it since the day we met!” declared Jaejin. “And please don’t call me ‘witch’, I have a name, Jaejin, remember? You used to call me that.”

“OK, Jaejin, does Ricky knows it too? That I’m a vamp?”

“No, I don’t think so, I never tell him.”

“So, tell me, why are both of you always together? Why are you taking care of him?”

“Because I’m his keeper,” Jaejin let out a proud grin.

==============================

“Hyung, I’m bored, let’s bet!”

“Over what?

“Hmm…”

“Hey, you’ve gotta let me know whether it’s worth betting for.”

“How about… The person who catches a hare first be granted a wish?”

“A wish? What kind of wish?”

“Whatever it is as long as it is within the other person’s capability and the other person must comply, unconditionally.”

“Deal!”

Who is the person he was talking to? It was too blurry, he couldn’t make out the image and he couldn’t recognize the voice due to the echo. All he knows is that they were laughing; they sounded happy. He could feel a strong desire, that he already had something in mind that he wants to ask for… what was that? But of all things, why are they catching a hare?! He fell back into sleep before he could figure out anything.

NOTE: So… the huge mistake I did yesterday was… how is it possible that Jiwon can wear a silver necklace?! Duh… he should be vulnerable to silver… stupid me… and hence the tattoo story progressed this way…

PART 10 (it’s just another draggy flashback)

“I’m bringing Rick back to Jeju-do,” Jaejin announced. Although he did not find any problem on Ricky, he felt a little anxious because Ricky had fallen asleep for too long. How long more is he going to sleep? Will he not wake up for another century?

“I’m going too,” Jiwon said after a long silence.

“We leave tomorrow,” Jaejin left the room. He had expected Jiwon to follow along. He only hopes that the Sechskies clan will not be mad at him for bringing in yet another vampire.

==============================

It had been five days since Ricky fell unconscious. Seeing Ricky in that state for the past few days made Jaejin feels like he had travelled back in time; his childhood when he treated the chief’s place as his playground, and his teenage years when he frequented the same place just to spend time with the wise man.

Unlike the other adults who got annoyed by his endless ‘why-what-who-when-how’, the chief is always patience in clearing his doubts. He would read to little Jaejin, tell him interesting stories, show him fancy magic that he was too little to learn and taught him the spells that he can comprehend. Jaejin was not the only one who the chief adores. In fact he treats everyone equally. It was just that Jaejin had been the one who would always rather to hang out at his place when even his own son goes out to play with his peers.

==============================

“Who is he?” Jaejin was only 3 years old when he first saw the man who is constantly in his sleep.

“This is Ricky.”

“He is so pretty,” little Jaejin rests his head beside the man and observes while the chief conducts his routine. “I want to be like him!”

The chief chuckled.

“Why do you call him Ricky?” The curious cat strikes.

“Tell me, child, who is the 10th chief?”

“Master Ko Seungjae!” Jaejin answered confidently.

“Yes. It was him who gave Ricky the name. Chief Ko’s parents found Ricky in the woods. Something terrible happened to him, he almost died. He was so weak even after treated and wouldn’t wake up until now. Nobody knows who is he or what is his name, Chief Ko was the only person who had contact with him when he is about your age. He named him ‘Ricky’ when he grew up, which means strong power, in hoping he gains the energy and will to fight for his survival.”

The chief was not sure whether Jaejin understood the conversation. But ever since then, Jaejin became a regular visitor of Ricky and had helped taking care of him as well as cleaning up the place. At times, he would just rest himself by Ricky’s bed enjoy observing the fine lines that made up the pretty face of the motionless man.

==============================

It was a hot afternoon in the September when Jaejin heard something while he is sketching a beautiful portrait of Ricky. He was in the middle of a struggle; he always struggles when it comes to the eyes as he had never once seen Ricky’s eyes. What is the color of his eyes? What is the shape of his eyes? Jaejin laughed when the thought of Ricky having crooked eyes appear in his mind. ‘No, it can’t be. Those must be a pair of captivate eyes to match the beautiful face.’

That was when he heard a sigh; a long sigh that came from the direction where the only person there has been sleeping for a century. It was as if he just let out his last breath. The clueless Jaejin stood up and slowly approach the bed to check out Ricky. It scared the hell out of him as the man’s eyes were suddenly wide opened.

“Chief!!! Chief!!!” He shouted as he staggered his way to inform the chief. He returned along with the chief to find Ricky standing in the room looking through the window into the garden.

“Where am I?” he gave them a blank look, “Why am I here?” he asked.

==============================

‘I don’t remember things; I’ve even been asking people who I am, but I never got the answer. They said I’ve suffered a terrible wound and fallen asleep for a century. Whoever said this must be insane, who on earth will sleep for that long?! On second thought, I may have just done it, they are witches after all. Apparently the old man who people referred to as the chief, is the only one who really know things about me. But he wouldn’t speak about it anymore because every time I try hard to recall things, my heart would ache and I could feel my right arm burning. Isn’t that weird?! I’m digging for memories in my brain but my heart and arm suffer?! He explained something about how our brain suppressed memories in order to protect the individual from emotional pain of recalling traumatic events. Part of me is glad that I don’t remember anything awful, but another part of me feels so empty especially when night falls. He told me not to force myself, assured me that I will naturally remember things as my body regains energy and matures. Even if I don’t, he will return me something important that will definitely boost my condition, but that will only happen 21 years later. I asked him, why 21? Because 21-year-old is when a person is physically and mentally mature, he said, I’m like a baby now. I finally decided to give up after a few stubborn attempts. I figured I should just enjoy life like any other person out there, who knows I may remember things the next minute? Maybe I should start with befriending my guardian, who will be selected… any minute by now. I would love to witness the nomination ceremony myself, but my condition isn’t helping. Oh how I hate being weak and fragile.’

PART 11

Jaejin had soon realised that it was a mission impossible to transport an unconscious man without being questioned by the authorities. He reached out to the chief, who had resolved to create a portal that connects the two locations to bring them back.

However, it will take them another week to complete that as it requires delicate choice of location and vast amount of energy to hold the portal.

“No worries, chief. His condition is stable. It’s just that he doesn’t wake up.”

==============================

“Suwon-ah, I need more of those,” Jaejin called Suwon early in the morning.

“Huh? Hyung, I just gave you a vial like a month ago? Shouldn’t that suffice for the year?”

“Yea, it normally does, but I’ve been injecting Rick his remedy on a daily basis as compared to the regular monthly dose, and I need to keep that going for another week or so until we’re transported back to Jeju-do.”

“What?! Those are for his remedies?! I never knew that!”

“Yea… So… can you fix me another vial? It’s quite urgent, I’ll be running out of stock if I don’t start making more now…”

“You know what… In fact, you can just ask from Jiwon hyung. He still camps at your place right?”

How he wishes he could throw Jiwon out from his house, Jaejin rolled his eyes to himself. “I can’t just ask from him. As a matter of fact, Ricky’s system is very sensitive. So far he has only reacted positively and without any complications to those that you manage to get for me.”

“Yea… and those are actually from Jiwon hyung…”

“WHAT?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Gosh, I should have known that!” Jaejin slapped his palm to the forehead.

==============================

Jaejin hovered anxiously outside Ricky’s room. He needs something from Jiwon, but how is he going to explain to Jiwon the reason behind? Can he tell him the truth? Should he tell him the truth?

“Hey, are you coming in?!” Jiwon interrupted Jaejin’s thought when he suddenly opens the door. He could not stand the noise of Jaejin’s footsteps, they are so annoying. “Why are you pacing up and down out like an anxious husband waiting outside the delivery room?!”

As Jiwon return to the room, Jaejin braved himself to pose his question, “Hyung… I need a favour…”

“What is it?” Jaejin is not someone who simply asks for a favour from another person.

“Uh-hmm… I need … from you…” Jaejin’s voice was so soft Jiwon couldn’t catch him.

“What is it?! I can’t hear you. Just say it loud, I’ll do it if I can.”

“Ineedyourblood.”

“Huh?” Jiwon raised his thick eyebrows in surprise, “Blood?” Did he hear wrongly?

“Yes, your blood.”

“And why do you need that?” Jiwon looked at him suspiciously.

“Ehm… Well, for the healing effect? I’m gonna use it as an ingredient to Rick’s remedy.” Jaejin as usual, tried not to give out too much information.

“Alright, how much do you need?” Jiwon was not at all convinced, but if this is the only way he can contribute, he will do it.

“Not much, just 10cc.”

==============================

‘I’ve been providing blood to Suwon for almost half his lifetime. Not much, just 10cc on a yearly basis. He said it’s for saving life. The blood of a cursed person as life saviour, how irony is that? When Jaejin said he needs a favour, I didn’t expect him to ask for my blood. He should have known that we don’t simply allow people to consume our blood. Well, maybe that’s the reason why he hesitated at the first place. We’ve only known each other for a month and we’re barely closed. Wait a minute… how long had Suwon befriend Jaejin? About 20 years? Isn’t that the duration I’ve been supplying Suwon my blood? How much is the capacity of the vial that I usually gave Suwon? Almost 10cc? Where did the blood I gave Suwon goes to? Who’s life was it to save?’

Jiwon looked at the man who sleeps peacefully in his bed. Coincidence? Maybe. And maybe not.

PART 12

The 18-year-old Jaejin is like a young bull in all the glory of youth. The hot headed young man is excited for being a nominee, but not quite so as a guardian. The other candidates get to go on adventures to accomplish quests and work together with the coven to improvise spells, but he has to become a nanny?!

“Jaejin-ssi, you’ve just been officially nominated as one of the candidates in the run of becoming the 12th chief clan. Isn’t that something worth celebrating? Why do you look upset?” The chief immediately noticed the gloomy boy in the middle of the party.

“Nothing… It’s just that I feel my mission is not as challenging… Duckie gets to travel around to collect rare items for the clan and complete special tasks requested by the coven, Eun Ju even work on spells together with the coven, but all I do is babysitting Ricky.”

“Do you think your assignment is not significant?” Jaejin nodded.

“Are you as energetic, adventurous and such a risk taker as Jae Duck?” Jaejin shook his head.

“Are you as nerdy and book-smart as Eun Ju, and as focused as her you can concentrate on one small little thing for days?” Jaejin shook his head again.

“Jaejin-ssi, I haven’t got the chance to brief in detail you yet, but Ricky’s life is constantly at stake. I trust your ability, initiative and judgement in taking good care of him. I feel confident to put his life in your hands.” The chief paused as he looked around the happy people attending the party. Jaejin understands. While Jae Duck is too hyper to focus on things, Eun Ju is too focused she often neglects what is happening around. Even he does not make it as a nominee, he would still be the best person to be Ricky guardian.

“Life is a gift. It offers us the privilege, opportunity and responsibility to give something back by becoming more. It is time you start thinking what more can you do while basking in every moment you’re in and what do you want to accomplish in life.”

==============================

Jaejin knew he is in big trouble the moment they stepped through the portal. He could feel the majority of the coven stiffened and that they were in defensive positions. ‘I’m doomed,’ he thought, ‘all thanks to the vampire hyung,’ his glare made Jiwon puzzled.

“Jaejin-ssi, come with me,” Chief Kim said after settling Ricky in bed. Jaejin followed the chief into his chamber.

“Tell me, what are the crucial five that you should be keeping an eye on?” The chief turned around and asked Jaejin after he locked the door.

“Temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, remedy and vampires.”

“And who have you brought along?”

Jaejin flinched at the stern expression on his face.

“Let’s have a seat and you can tell me all about it, starting from how you had met.” The chief needs to know everything from the beginning.

Jaejin spent half an hour to fill him in with every detail from the day they first met Jiwon until the minute before they were transported back to Jeju-do.

“I know we are refraining Ricky from contacts with his kind, in fear that it could be the rouser of his sleeping instincts. I’ve been doing that for 20 years. But chief, Jiwon hyung is different. He is somehow connected to Ricky; they knew each other. I’ve also found out days ago that he is the one who supplied the vampire blood, which we use to make remedy for Ricky. This explains why Ricky’s body only reacts satisfactorily to his blood.”

“Destiny!” It was the only word the chief said.

PART 13

He is on the ground leaning against a tree. His feels pressure on his chest, tight and heavy like having something lodged in his heart restricting his breath. His left hand is still clutching on something, but he could not see it as his fingers are too numb to release the clenched fist nor he has the energy to raise his arm. He could feel the dampness on his right hand, which is positioned on his left chest.

What is that strong scent of iron?

Why is someone weeping beside him?

What did he just say?

If only the surrounding is not that dark and his vision is not that blurred…

“Run… Hyung…” He heard his own voice.

“Run!” He channels all his energy and pushes the person away with his bloody hand. Wait a minute, is he bleeding? It is so dark but he can still see the vivid red stains all over his hand. So it is the smell of blood? Is he dying? Is that why the person is weeping? A sudden spurt of blood came rushing up his throat and gush from his mouth.

He feels very weak. He has no strength to move a muscle, not even his eyelids. He is flushed with emotions that he finds complicated as he lays there trying hard to keep breathing. Part of him is relief that he is the one downed and the other person made it to escape the scene, while another part of him drowning in sorrow and loneliness for being apart with that person. It felt like this is farewell. But who is he? Tears roll down his cheeks.

==============================

Ricky sleeps sound most of the time, with some occasional dreams that made him frown or smile. However it was the first time Jiwon had seen tears seeping down his face, it wrenched his heart. He cupped Ricky’s cheek softly and dries away his tears with the pad of his thumb. He then placed his other palm over Ricky’s forehead, gently rubbing his thumb in between Ricky’s scowl brows until the frown loosen. He lowered his posture, got a little closer and then closer; close enough for him to plant a kiss on Ricky’s forehead. His pulse went into overdrive as he realised what he was doing. Shocked by his own action, Jiwon stood and fled the room.

==============================

“Hyung, quit smoking, it’s not good for health,” Sunghoon used to nag him a lot when he sees him smoking.

“Not that I’m gonna die from a disease anyway,” Jiwon would always say.

“But the tobacco smoke irritates my eyes and airways!” And Jiwon would put out the cigarette every time Sunghoon plays that card. Every time.

He still hears Sunghoon’s voice every now and then. He knows it’s just his memories playing on him but still, he will respond and act to it as if Sunghoon is still here.

Today, however, was not the case. He lit the cigarette, inhaled the smoke into his lungs then blew out through his nose, enjoying the burning sensation that he needed to bring himself back to conscious.

Nothing happened.

He took another long pull, hold, blow.

Still dead quiet.

“Sunghoon-ah, why didn’t you nag me? Can’t you see I’m smoking?!”

……

“Sunghoon-ah, are you mad at me?”

……

“Sunghoon-ah, you know right? I adore him as a brother, but he is just a dongsaeng… unlike you… you’re irreplaceable…”

……

“I’m sorry, I must have been too worried of him, I got confused. I’ll leave the place and not see them again once he wakes up, so please don’t be mad, OK?”

……

“Hoon-ah… I miss you…” Jiwon fell on his knees and wept until he lost his breath, coughed, gagged, got his breath back to weep all the more.

PART 14

Ho-dong was happily enjoying some local delicacies when he receives a call from Jiwon. It is an emergency, he said. “It better be, else I’m gonna tear you into pieces!” He reluctantly parted with the table of food, packed his luggage and took the next flight connecting to Jeju-do.

Ho-dong has known Jiwon for his whole life, but only become closed about 16 years ago. He is a family friend. Well, sort of… His tribe actually owe a huge debt to Jiwon. They were the one who took him as a sacrifice for the ritual to keep the ancestral power flowing. At the end of the ritual, the tribe is supposed to be rewarded by the ancestors through resurrecting the sacrifice and rejuvenating their connection. The ritual failed, for they have offered the wrong sacrifice. He was resurrected, but at the same time cursed and became a different species. It has become the commitment of the tribe to look after and protect him, a legacy that is now in its sixth generation.

Although he is much younger than Jiwon, Jiwon has resolved to call him hyung. “Yah, this is inappropriate!” He objected.

“Yah?! And you deemed that appropriate?!” Jiwon insisted. “You’ve always take care of me like a big brother! Why must it depend on age?! Who piggybacks me when I hurt my knees? YOU! Who took care of me when my condition is not good? YOU! Who find me food when I’m hungry? Who played games with me when I’m bored? Who…”

“OK! OK! Call me whatever you want! Just stop it already!”

“Anyway, you’re already older than the age when I seized growing! And people will be suspicious if you call me hyung because you look so much older than me!” Jiwon grinned on his victory and quickly ran away before Ho-dong could grab his collar.

“I’ll call you haraboji!” Even Ho-dong said so, he somehow felt sorry for him. It was not his own will to be immortal at the first place, yet he has to deal with loss and loneliness.

=========================

“Giant!!” Kids ran around the compound yelling and laughing. Jiwon knew right away that Ho-dong has arrived. Frankly speaking, he is not really that big, but to kids, he is still rather a giant. “Jiwon-ah~~~ Ho-dong is here~~~” The guest himself announced his arrival loudly.

“Yah, lower your voice, you’re embarrassing me!” Jiwon protested while walking over to greet Ho-dong. He ignored Jiwon’s complaint and gave him a bear hug.

Jiwon met the chief on the other day after Jaejin. He introduced himself as Chief Kim, the 11th chief of the Sechskies clan. Yes, he had heard of them being one of the strongest witch clan, Sunghoon told him when they visited Jeju-do together for the first and also the last time.

With Jiwon’s permission, Chief Kim carefully examined his sleeve tattoo. The energy of the spell is all too familiar to him, or to be more precise, it is familiar to the strand of memory he inherited. “I see you have two protection scrolls inscribed… ancient spells… hmm… delicate work… If I could ask, do the descendants of the caster still practise witchcraft?”

“Yes. Why?” Jiwon was surprised to find the chief being knowledgeable to the spells that he bears.

“If you could invite them over, we might be able to cure Ricky.”

“You can wake him? How? He has been sleeping for so many days. In fact he seems to be just fine, but he wouldn’t wake up.”

“Not just waking him but to recover him from… should I say chronic illness? In fact, something that has been haunting him for too long.”

“Oh, you mean his heart problem?”

“Sort of.”

Jiwon wanted to know more, but figured it would be better to wait until Ho-dong is here so that the chief does not need to repeat his explanation. He called Ho-dong and told him it is “an emergency”, certain that he will depart immediately. He was happy to see Ho-dong reached so soon. Not only that he missed him, but having someone familiar being around in a strange place, what’s more a witch territory, is just relieving.

=========================

Jaejin led Jiwon and his guest to the chief’s chamber. He was fascinated by the fact that Ho-dong is one of the KANGs, a small but powerful nomadic tribe that rose to fame in the mid of 15th century. They are well known for mastering ancient spells. In fact they focused so much on studying ancient magic, they sometimes perform clumsily in other spells.

People started to gather around when the four of them did not come out from the chamber for over an hour. All kinds of whispering were heard within the crowd. Everyone was curious of the visitors’ identities and what’s going on in the chief’s room.

“Isn’t the big guy a witch?”

“How do you know?”

“Can’t you feel it?”

“Why is he here?”

“Did Chief Kim invite him?”

“Does he know the vampire?”

“I saw them greeting each other!”

“Who is the vampire anyway?”

“What are they doing in the room?”

“Why aren’t they coming out yet?”

“What’s the noise?”

“Did you hear someone banging the table just now?”

“Shh! Someone is yelling…”

“What? Are they quarrelling?”

……

It was another hour later when the door suddenly opened. Jiwon heard all sorts of whispers but he totally ignored them. He was too wearied by things he heard from the conversation they had. How could that possibly happened?! Who are they trying to fool?!

“What’s wrong with him?”

“He looks devastated!”

“His eyes are red…”

“Is he gonna kill?”

……

“Jiwon-ah, are you alright?” Ho-dong was worried. He had never seen Jiwon so emotional.

Jiwon ignored him. He needs a little solitude to process everything; he needs time to clear his mind. Without a word, he used his super speed to flee the scene.

PART 15
An onyx gemstone vintage ring rests loosely in his palm. He did not care of the red mark on his palm that resulted from him clenching the ring to his fist too tight, he just could not get his eyes off the ring, more specifically, the initial engraved on the inside of the band – W&H.
He had never thought he would see this again. He has a similar ring; a handmade ring attached with a black onyx, a gemstone crafted from the same piece of mineral as the ring he is holding now, which Sunghoon acquired in India. His ring bears a reversed initial as this one – H&W.
==============================
“Hyung, do you want a ring or a necklace?” Sunghoon asked him while observing the rock that shines under the sunlight.
“Don’t tell me you’re gonna make an accessory out of that piece of charcoal?!” Jiwon looked unbelievably on the black rock in Sunghoon’s hand. Sunghoon’s love for accessories is beginning to develop into fetish behaviour, he thought.
“It’s an onyx stone, a black onyx stone,” Sunghoon squinted at Jiwon. The latter snatched over the rock, imitating Sunghoon’s action to have a closer look under the sun.
“What’s so special about it? It’s just a black rock.”
“Let me story you a legend of onyx stones. One day, a mischievous cupid cut off the fingernails of Venus when she was asleep. God transformed the nails that scattered on the ground into stones, which came to be known as onyx. The name literally means fingernails in Greek language. It is famous in the Romans. They made seals out of it.”
“Erm… Wow… So beautiful…” Jiwon did not find the story interesting at all, scattered fingernails… that sounds unhygienic…
“Hyung! You’re not romantic at all!” Sunghoon pouted. “You know what? Onyx is believed to enhance the eloquence to express love for romantic interest. You definitely need that!” Sunghoon tried to snatched back the onyx stone from Jiwon but he could not reach it as Jiwon held it high.
“Since you’re so good in expressing your emotions and feelings, you don’t need it. Just give it to me.”
“I need it to absorb the negative energy and aid in developing strength brought by bad relationship,” teased Sunghoon who stood with his hands on his hips.
Jiwon gently tossed the rock to Sunghoon and walked away. “A ring,” he said.
Sunghoon smiled, carefully pocketed the onyx stone. He should plan for a return to Paris next, so that he can look for his favourite jewellery maker in the marketplace.
==============================
“Hyung, close your eyes and give me your hand.”
“Why? What do you want to do?!”
“It’s nothing scary, I promised.”
Jiwon looked at him suspiciously, slowly closed his eyes and cowardly offered his hands.
Sunghoon held his hands, patted softly on it, “Ah, hyung, you have such beautiful hands.”
“Yah, stop molesting me,” Jiwon protested, but he was smiling and secretly enjoying the warmth from Sunghoon’s hands. He felt a little disappointed when Sunghoon let go one of his hands.
Sunghoon let go of Jiwon’s right hand to reach into his pocket for a platinum ring. He slowly slid it onto Jiwon’s ring finger and smiled satisfactory seeing it fits him well.
“OK, you may open your eyes now.”
Jiwon grinned like an idiot when he sees the ring. He loves it. He especially likes it that Sunghoon wore it on his ring finger. “Are you proposing to me?” He teased him.
“It’s just a couple ring that symbolise our friendship,” Sunghoon blushed.
“Then it shouldn’t be worn on the ring finger!” Jiwon pretended to take it off.
“Hyung!” Sunghoon held on to his hands to stop him. “Don’t you dare take it off! And don’t lose it!” He warned Jiwon.
“Arasseo, arasseo. But where is yours? It’s supposed to be a couple ring right?”
Sunghoon took out another ring from his right pocket and wore it on his own finger. Jiwon held on to his hand, observing both rings to and forth with a sly grin.
“I know what you’re thinking hyung,” Sunghoon smiled. “Don’t even try! There are slight differences on both rings. See the side patterns?” Sunghoon pointed to the side of the ring, “They’re at the opposite sides.” Jiwon frowned. Sunghoon then removed his ring, showing Jiwon the inside of the band, “The initials engraved are also different. So, no, you can’t steal mine and pretend it’s yours if you happened to misplace it.” Jiwon could not believe that Sunghoon actually knows what he was thinking. He took both rings to compare, of course Sunghoon is right.
“Who said I’m going to do that? I won’t even remove the ring, how would I misplace it?! Take care of your own ring,” Jiwon pouted. “So… why does yours bear the initial W&H and mine H&W? Why can’t both be the same?”
“Because I’ll always put you first and I know you’ll do the same,” Sunghoon gave Jiwon his killer smile.

Part 16

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