again and again

all we need of hell

the sound of knuckles rapping against a wooden door draws joohyun's attention away from a research paper. she had been focusing quite well with the absence of seungwan, but for whatever reason, one of the two nuisances in this house decides to break it. without prying her eyes away, she hums softly to acknowledge the presence.

 

"you're going to hate me for saying this, but i have to." sooyoung speaks with a touch of hesitation in her tone.

 

she needs something, joohyun narrows her eyes.

 

she winds her head to face her sister who leans against the door, twiddling her thumbs. looks like whatever she requires is going to garner some kind of negative response from joohyun, hence the jitters.

 

exhaling slowly, joohyun concludes that there's no harm in hearing her out — at least she's being honest about it. a gentle question slips from , "what do you want?"

 

"i have another test..." her sister mumbles, shifting her weight from one leg to another, "and it's worth 20 percent of my final grade..."

 

ah, joohyun sees where this is going, and she doesn't like it. for god's sake, as if living with seungwan for almost two months hasn’t proved that having one demon in the house is enough.

 

joohyun pulls her glasses off, as if to solidify her rejection. "we are not summoning another demon." she utters firmly, "get seungwan to help you."

 

sooyoung's expression twists into a grimace, and she throws her head back with a groan, "but seungwan is at math, like... she doesn't even know what differentiation is!"

 

"yeah, what the hell is that?" the devil's head pokes into view at the mention of her name.

 

seungwan had been trying to help sooyoung with her work for the past two hours but it's evident that she's better off as moral support rather than a tutor. not all demons are mathematically inclined like seulgi, some of them are skilled in other areas but most of them are bloodthirsty idiots. seungwan falls somewhere in between the two, though her skills in the art of war are worth mentioning.

 

joohyun rises from her seat and shuffles towards the two with a small smile. reaching for the doorknob, she warns them with an threatening smile. "figure something out, but if i see another one of this,” the mortal waggles a finger towards seungwan, “i’m kicking all of you out.”

 

“i—”

 

the door slams in their faces before either one could utter a protest of any kind and the two retreat into the living room with heavy steps. plopping herself onto the couch miserably, sooyoung lets out an inhumane groan.

 

"told you we shouldn't have asked." she mumbles, “it’s going to be harder now that she knows.”

 

seungwan shrugs, "she'd flip if you actually summoned one without her permission and she’s kinda scary when she’s mad."

 

"true…” sooyoung exhales through her nose, “so what now?"

 

the ingenius idea pops into her head almost instantly, and her eyes light up with a wicked glint. the corners of her lips lift slightly as she rubs her chin.

 

"she said no demons, so what if we just got a human?"

 


 

"hi."

 

joohyun blinks once, then twice before she's reminded of the fact that it's rude to stare. she had been expecting a delivery person or a salesperson, maybe an evangelist, but definitely not this... vampire villainess.

 

a young woman, perhaps about her age, stands at the door with a smile. save for the streaks of green in her hair, this woman seems to know no other colour than black. with smokey black eyes along with black lipstick painting her lips, she intimidates joohyun a little. 

 

a long black coat is draped over her shoulders while she adorns a harness over her black top that runs from her chest to midsection. her black leather pants cling tightly to her legs as she shifts her weight from one foot to another. 

 

she waves lightly to regain joohyun's attention and asks politely. "i'm looking for sooyoung. is she in?"

 

blinking back into reality, joohyun bobs her head quickly. "yes, she is but pardon me, who are you?"

 

"seul–"

 

"miss kang! it's great to finally meet you!" sooyoung interrupts her as she comes barreling out of her room.

 

miss kang? so this woman is not a friend. joohyun buries her suspicion in front of their guest with a tight-lipped smile.

 

"unnie, meet miss kang, a tutor i found." her sister makes a brief introduction, "miss kang, meet my sister, joohyun."

 

a tutor. this woman is dressed like she's ready to hunt vampires, not teach her of a sister.

 

joohyun catches herself throwing comment after comment and makes a mental apology to the woman. she's being way too judgmental now, and who knows? maybe she's the help that sooyoung needs.

 

"it's nice to meet you." she smiles.

 

"likewise."

 

a quick handshake is exchanged with polite nods before sooyoung grabs the woman by the hand and yanks her towards her room. "okay great, i'm going to take her into my room to study. bye unnie!" she prattles before the two disappear down the corridor.

 

the space between her brows forms a small crinkle as joohyun slowly takes in the situation. it feels as though she's seen her somewhere before, perhaps at the train station? or school? some of the other students tend to dress a little more eccentric than others. whatever it is, at least she'll stop sooyoung from summoning another demon.

 

unbeknownst to joohyun, seungwan is currently in sooyoung's room, howling in laughter and slapping her knees as tears threaten to spill from her eyes. a silencing ward has been placed so that joohyun wouldn't hear them.

 

"yah! what the hell are you wearing?" she wheezes the moment sooyoung pushes seulgi into the tiny space.

 

the demon casts a tentative gaze downwards as if she's taking a good look at her own outfit for the first time. seulgi probably saw no issue in leaving hell like that, but this isn't emo night at a club, she's literally coming to teach a human about mathematics.

 

her shoulders sag slightly as she mumbles, "what's wrong with it?"

 

"don't listen to her," sooyoung pats her shoulder reassuringly, "you stand out a little but you look pretty good."

 

seulgi beams at her words, "thanks! yerim said i'd look more intimidating like this."

 

the devil slows her laughter and regains her composure, "why would you listen to yerim? and you're coming here to tutor, not slaughter, why do you need to look intimidating?" she questions with a small giggle escaping her.

 

the demon beckons her to come closer and seungwan leans towards her curiously. whispering into her ear, seulgi reveals the reason with a hushed tone.

 

"yerim and i peeked at her file and it said that she likes dark stuff, like horror and , so we thought this would impress her."

 

cupping her hands around seulgi's ear, seungwan chides her with a hiss, "did you forget the whole point was to tutor her and not flirt with a human?"

 

"yeah, but who said i couldn't do both? i mean, i look pretty cool right? do you think she's impressed?"

 

"yeah... you do... and i don't think sooyoung minds the outfit. and is this a new harness? don't think i've ever seen you wear it before."

 

"oh, i had it from a halloween party years back, but it has too many belts. i had to find a situation where it's worth the hassle to put on."

 

"and this is it?"

 

sooyoung eyes the two demons with a half-lidded gaze, they're taking turns to whisper into each other's ears like whatever they're saying is top secret. but it's evident that they're talking about her. clearing loudly, sooyoung slips into her seat at her desk and taps her fingers aggressively.

 

"i'll sell my soul if you get me a good grade."

 

a beat of silence passes and it takes seulgi a moment to react, probably forgetting that she can't teleport in her human form. she scrambles to slide into the spare chair beside her and chases seungwan away — business is business.

 

"don't actually sell your soul, joohyun's going to get mad at me if she finds out." the devil sighs as she heads for the door.

 

sooyoung laughs, "i can't believe you're scared of my sister."

 

"aren't you?" seungwan narrows her eyes with a retort.

 

"yeah, but i'm human, you're the literal devil."

 

"she makes a fair point." seulgi chimes in.

 

seungwan rolls her eyes as she exits the room with a small threat, "if you actually take her soul, i'm going to tell her everything you just told me and more."

 

"yah! i thought we were friends!" seulgi exclaims in protest.

 

"help me help you," the devil raises her shoulders, "all the best sooyoung!"

 


 

an ear-piercing scream emitting from the bathroom has seungwan jumping to her feet instantly. the worst of her thoughts come rushing to the front of her mind and her heart seizes at the thought of any sort of harm befalling joohyun — what if an angel got to her again? teleporting just outside the bathroom door, she stills to search the air for any trace of divinity, nothing but the unique scent of hellfire lingers in the air. 

 

no angels, but a demon that has just gone through the hellfire barrier?

 

balling her hands into fists, the side of the devil's palm collides with the frail wooden door violently.

 

"are you okay?" she yells, "hyun?"

 

no response, this is a little worrying.

 

pressing her ear against the door, she tries to listen for any kind of indication that joohyun is fine. the shower is still running but apart from that, it seems like her charge has gone completely silent. seungwan takes a step back to kick the door down but before she can even move her limbs, the door opens and a demon comes crashing through after being kicked in the spine by a very joohyun. seungwan barely manages to dodge the flying mass as joohyun yells.

 

"deal with this!" she screeches and slams the door shut.

 

not the best time to be fantasizing about her charge, seungwan has more pressing matters at hand — addressing the demon splayed on the ground. crouching down, she'd recognise this demon anywhere, her telltale blonde streaks and a cropped blazer with a frilly leather sleeve. still, seungwan lifts her head with a hand to get a better look.

 

"ryujin?"

 

the demon sighs softly and makes no effort to get up, "yerim's coordinates were off."

 

"she's terrible with directions," the devil pulls her to her feet with a hand and shakes her head, "did she ask you to get me?"

 

"yeah, i told her i was heading here for a date and she made me drop by." ryujin explains while sweeping the water off of her clothes, "you'll find her in your office."

 

"thanks, ryu." seungwan hums and waggles her eyebrows, "and a date on earth?"

 

it's either a human or an angel, not exactly comforting to know considering ryujin's origins. but she's free to do as she pleases, and seungwan is hardly in a place to intervene.

 

the demon nods and brings a hand up to stop her boss from saying more, "she seemed nice, and i know how to take care of myself. don't worry." she reassures.

 

a smile makes its way onto her lips and seungwan waves the young demon away, "go and have fun."

 

"see your around, your majesty."

 

ryujin disappears with a gentle woosh as joohyun pokes her head through a gap in the door cautiously. her eyes darting around the vicinity until they finally land on seungwan, wide and terrified.

 

"she's gone." the devil gestures to the empty area, "no more demons."

 

"who was that? and why does she only have one glowing eye?" joohyun presses as she steps out of the bathroom — fully clothed, much to seungwan's disappointment.

 

"ryujin, half-demon, half-angel. i can tell you more later." seungwan replies, "anyway, she came to deliver a message, i have some business to attend to in hell."

 

joohyun lifts her eyebrows in surprise, seungwan hasn't willingly left in two months. the last time she sent her away, the devil came crawling back barely an hour later mumbling something along the lines of no rest for the wicked.

 

"okay..."

 

the ground cracks and breaks underneath her but unlike the first couple of times, joohyun has adjusted pretty well after seungwan told her it's just a visual effect. she backs away without screaming her lungs out now — it's an improvement, seungwan would say as she applaudes.

 

burger's head pops up from the ground and seungwan straddles him with ease. bidding her goodbye, the devil blows a kiss at her, "i'll be back before you know it, don't miss me!"

 

she disappears into the floor before joohyun can retort with a don't come back! all at once, an uneasy silence washes over her, it's been a while since it's been this quiet and she's forgotten how it feels like. the house feels a little emptier without a demon's presence, maybe it's become a little holier in her absence. joohyun supposes she can try to enjoy a few hours of peace before seungwan returns to continue wreaking havoc in her life.

 


 

burger lands in her office with a thud and yerim is already waiting for her at her desk. sending her hound away with a pat, she takes her seat behind the desk. seungwan notices the tension in the air when yerim doesn't greet her with a jibe as she always does; the atmosphere is heavy and solemn, seems like whatever she learnt must be a big deal.

 

"i found something," yerim starts, "well, not found, borrowed it... without permission."

 

she slides a thin black file across the table — redacted files from the far shore; information about humans that should be kept confidential to the fates and angels. 

 

her version of a soul's file is pretty vague, a combination of what you would find on a personal details form and a dating site bio — knowing their likes and dislikes but nothing that gets into the nitty gritty details of a person.

 

this, however, is basically a detailed account of their life from birth to the present. everything about them will be revealed, events that made them the person they are today, their fears and traumas, everything.

 

originally, seungwan, along with all demons, had a right to these redacted files too, but they had those rights revoked because she exploited that information to turn a human war in her favour. that war resulted in a massive genocide, and the angels weren't happy about it and made a big fuss. though the fates were impartial, they still subtly suggested that she right her wrongs so that the angels would stop harping on it, and seungwan relented after a century or two.

 

it's probably for the better anyway, there are other demons capable of cruelty beyond her imagination, if they had access to information like this, the world would probably be a much crappier place than it already is.

 

"before you say anything, i skimmed through it, my bad." yerim admits in a small voice.

 

silence devours the room as seungwan eyes the file with a heavy heart — it's invasive to say the least, besides, she doesn't need this information to continue serving joohyun. things are fine as is, but there's a curiousity gnawing at her, she wants to know.

 

"is it bad?" the question slips almost inaudibly from .

 

yerim clenches her jaw and bobs her head in a half-hearted nod, "you know i don't like to compare when it comes to trauma, there are worser things that happens to others but it's still horrible that whatever happened to her, happened."

 

her stomach coils at yerim's words, that's all seungwan needs to hear to make the decision that she wouldn't look. she'll find out with her own means, maybe get joohyun to tell her herself, anything but invade her privacy like this.

 

seungwan lets out a long exhale and gestures to the file, "does it mention anything about the angels?"

 

"their names are redacted but one of them probably saved her."

 

saved her? the devil quirks a brow, "but they're not her guardians." she states.

 

the demon raises her shoulders and offers up a plausible suggestion, "one of god's miracles as the mortals would say."

 

seungwan scoffs lightly and takes the file into her hands, yerim has already given her everything she needs to know. there's an inexpicable weight to it, the ugliness of the truth written into its pages she supposes. she tucks it into her drawer and silently swears to never look unless she needs to.

 

"thanks yerim, you've been a big help."

 

the demon rises from her seat and bows her head, "no problem, just... be careful, alright? wouldn't want a repeat of the past."

 

the past. seungwan fights the urge to clench her eyes shut at the surge of memories from countless lifetimes clawing their way to the surface; bury them as she might, but the pain of watching her die over and over again will never dissipate. her grief, her anger, none of it lessens, she just gets better at accepting that there's no fighting fate.

 

swallowing to soothe the tightness in , her promise escapes with a gentle quiver of her lips.

 

"it won't happen again."

 


end notes:

happy wenrene day, sorry i wrote more of a joygi centered chapter LOL, i forgot abt it.
updates are gonna slow down for a little, maybe like once every 2 days instead. i have a job to do but it's literally just playing games though it kinda leaves my brain a little numb afterwards.
anyway!!! ryujin!!! hinted her name in an earlier chap but i wasn't sure what i was going to do with her character. and i still don't really know, maybe i'll use her for worldbuilding. i just think she's so cool. i was watching itzy's video and her outfit??? real ing neat, so i had to write her in.
thanks for reading, the angst is getting closer with every chapter and i'm so excited!!!!!

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ILJIDO
trying to update daily (i am having fun so far!!!) so if anyone needs to know i'll probably update at like 5 am or 9 pm in sgt, if there's nothing at either times, it means i'm touching grass
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