worship and praise

all we need of hell

the house is silent when seungwan returns, it's a little after one in the morning but she supposes the sisters are already in bed. yerim made her stay in hell for a little, drink her woes away, or so she said. that ended with twenty shots of hell's tequila, a dart embedding itself in seulgi's chest and a bar fight involving all the patrons. 


she smiles at the memory, it's always fun down there and the last thing she can think of is her sorrow. now, she stumbles in the dark, finding her way back to joohyun. a gentle glow peeks out from under her door, maybe she isn't asleep yet?


turning the knob quietly, seungwan peers into the room and takes a quick glance. the jesus lamp is on, joohyun hasn't used it after seungwan stopped watching her sleep like a creep. the unshifting blankets tell her that her charge is fast asleep, was she waiting for her to come back? the smallest hint of a smile appears on her face as seungwan allows herself to feel hopeful for the briefest of seconds before she turns off the lamp with a snap of her fingers.




joohyun's voice cuts through the darkness as she pushes herself up in bed, squinting to catch a glimpse of the figure at her door. her eyes have difficulty adjusting to the dark but she spots the familiar red glow of eyes staring back at her. seungwan pushes the door apart slightly and hums.


"it's me, go back to sleep."


"you were gone for a long time." joohyun murmurs with a small yawn, "did something happen?"


the devil shakes her head slowly, "yerim just had something to report, and then she insisted i stay to drink for a little."


"a little? you smell like you've been marinating in a bar for the past ten hours."


she reeks of alcohol and nicotine, and there's probably vomit on her boots too. unpleasant is an understatement for just how foul she smells, it's a miracle joohyun hasn't forced her to throw her clothes into the washer.


"i know, sorry." seungwan laughs softly, "i'll get rid of the stench by the time you wake up."


"it's fine," joohyun exhales quietly and pats her bed invitingly, "i wanna hear about the demon that appeared today."


the devil perks up at her words, "ryujin? you wanna hear about demons?" her voice rises by a pitch and she asks in disbelief.


"yes, indulge me. i got curious after you mentioned she was half-angel."


seungwan hums as she enters the room and closes the door shut behind her. instead of sitting on joohyun's bed, she settles on the floor beside her, sitting with one leg up and resting her hand on her knee. her charge wouldn't be happy if she left dirt stains on her white sheets, and she's too tipsy to do any kind of washing now.


the dim moonlight that shines through her curtains light the devil up just enough so joohyun can faintly make out her features. sliding back under the sheets, the mortal lays on her side and listens seungwan talk.


"first of her kind that we know of," seungwan starts with a small smile, "asmodeus is her dad, he's pretty powerful but he's... well... he also lives up to his name in the books written by mortals." scummy, she holds back on blurting, he is still a higher demon to be respected after all.


"and her mom? was she a powerful angel too?"


seungwan turns to the mortal with an amused smile, "to get into that, you'd have to learn the hierarchy of angels. are you sure you want an introduction to angels as a bedtime story?"


"yes, now tell me." joohyun reaches a hand out to nudge her, a small push that barely has any effect.


a small chuckle slips and seungwan relents, "so, there are three orders in heaven. the highest order, the seraphim, the cherubim and the thrones. they're the closest ones to god, and they oversee everything in heaven, make sure things go according to god's will and whatnot. then we have the middle order, the dominations, virtues and powers. they oversee the lesser order of angels, they're like the store managers. finally, the lesser order, principalities, archangels and angels. their only duty is to watch over mankind, be guardians, get them to worship god and all that crap."


"which ranking did she fall under?


"she was a virtue, and she had some influence in the middle order. but she got caught up with asmodeus and then, they had a kid." she mumbles softly, a touch of bitterness hidden in her tone, "the seraphim made her choose after that, to stay in heaven and remain faithful to god or to join asmodeus and their child in hell. she chose god, like a fool and the seraphim made her pay for her sins by dropping her down to an archangel."


joohyun takes in her words with a quiet hum and pulls the sheets up to her nose, "what happened after that?"


"asomodeus was a ty dad, and ryujin pretty much grew up in different bars in hell. when he got summoned, he would abandon her no matter where they were. so some of us started looking out for her, teach her things that her dad wouldn't. yerim tried to send her to a catholic school but she hated it so much that she teleported back to hell all on her own." the edge of curves in a small smile, "and that's also how we found out that half-demons don't get burnt by the barrier."


"the orange bubble?"


"yes, the orange bubble." seungwan reaffirms with a snicker, "mortals die if they go through it but demons, we can't die so we have to endure our flesh being melted off every time we go through it."


joohyun scrunches her face in horror and curls her toes at the vivid description, "but you'll heal?" she asks meekly.


"yeah, but it's annoying. that's why i have burger to prevent that." the devil shrugs, "some demons like the pain though, or they think it's worth the havoc they're going to cause. others just wait to be summoned to bypass that stupid barrier."


"who put it there? did they want to trap you in hell?"


"believe it or not, i did, along with a couple of angels." seungwan confesses with a wry laugh, "a lot of us have calmed down over the years but a millennia ago? we were dangerous, stupid, and didn't care about the consequences. the only ones who could punish us were the angels, but we were more than capable of fighting back. i wanted the demons to understand that there's more to us than just violence and depravity."


joohyun props herself up on her elbows and questions, "what changed?"


seungwan pulls her knees up to her chest and rests her chin on them. "me," she murmurs in a half-joking tone, "i developed a soft spot for you frail little flesh bags."


"you wanted to be a better demon?" the mortal asks, ticking an eyebrow up slightly.


"is that so hard to believe?"


"yes, because you're still an now." joohyun nods as she lies back down, "but you do have your moments," she adds softly.




the two slip into a comfortable silence where only the sound of their breathing could be heard. it's a momentary reprieve for an immortal being who's lived through the cataclysms of the universe. the devil can't remember the last time she has felt a peace like this, it's wonderful and she wants the world to stop so she could live in this moment forever. this reality, this pocket of time, she feels no fear, no grief, no anger, absolutely nothing at all. it didn't matter if love was absent, joohyun is safe, and she's forgotten the definition of sorrow. to be able to put away her emotions and simply relish in this tranquillity, it's more than enough for her.


she silently thanks joohyun for being the most boring person she's ever met because now, if death should come for her, she knows that this moment will be her final memory. the last thing she'll see as she fades from existence is joohyun's contented smile while she watches her with a heavy-lidded gaze.


"you still stink." joohyun mutters with a yawn.


rising to her feet, seungwan grumbles, "you were the one who wanted a bedtime story!"


"i know," the mortal giggles, "can you take a shower and then come back?"


"only if you admit that you were waiting for me."


a sharp click of her teeth is heard before a small yes, i was escapes . a pleasant warmth spreads in her chest and seungwan exits the room with a bounce in her step. using the back of her hand, she wipes away a stray tear from her eyes, there's no need to cry now.


things are good, and she hopes they'll stay like this for a little longer.



"i wanna meet your friends, as a human." seungwan brings up a bold idea the next morning. she's been thinking about it all night while she watched joohyun sleep, weighing the pros and cons and convincing herself that she could put away her hatred for one lifetime.


joohyun stares at her strangely, stopping in her step to press the back of her hand to seungwan's forehead, as if she could fall ill like a mortal. "are you still drunk?" she frowns.


seungwan swats her hand away with a huff, "i'm fine, i just want to befriend them so you don't make me stand five metres away."


"but you don't seem to really like them." the mortal counters, "you've threatened them like three times now."


"three is better than four."


"it's going to be four if you meet them, so no." joohyun outrightly denies her and continues walking.


"i'll behave, i promise!" seungwan adds as she jogs to catch up, "if i step out of line, you can command me to leave."


"why do you want to meet them anyway?"


"i mean, you like them, right?" seungwan tucks her hands into her pockets and mumbles hesitantly, "i figured i should give them a shot too."


joohyun arches a brow and considers her proposal. they had another ten months together, if seungwan is going to whine every time she meets her friends, she just might lose it. if the devil is willing to try, she supposes she can too. nodding, joohyun agrees, "okay, fine. no demon nonsense, no magic. are you going to be fully human?"


"yeah, i just need a last name."


"son," the certainty in joohyun's voice is unmatched, her name rolls off her tongue like she's practiced it for hours on end, "son seungwan."


son seungwan. some things never change, the devil muses.


"i like it," the demon grins widely, "i'm your human girlfriend, son seungwan."


and joohyun uses all of her strength to shove her. by a of luck, she roughly collides into a street lamp and lands on her face. still, with a beaming smile, she yells.


"you didn't say no!"



joohyun arranges a night out with her friends, they would have dinner and get some drinks at a popular bar. it's going to be a double date since she has no other reason to introduce seungwan to them — saying that they are merely friends would only earn waggled brows and telling them that she's in a year-long pact with the devil is not an option.


"aren't you going to wear something else?" joohyun asks as the evening draws close, she'd been getting ready while seungwan hovers around her and fiddles with her make-up.


"what's wrong with my usual outfit?"


"nothing... just thought you could change it up for once." joohyu purses her lips, "you should get tips from sooyoung's tutor."


miss kang's fashion is... odd. the first time she showed up looking like a vampire villainess, the next? in a white dress that made her look like a sacrifice. joohyun almost didn't let her in because she couldn't recognise her. the woman's closet must be huge because it's always a new look every week, sometimes it's strange but she manages to pull it off in the most fashionable way.


releasing a dramatic sigh, seungwan mumbles, "fine, i'll get changed into my skintight latex suit."


"i will murder you with my bare hands, son seungwan." joohyun hisses through gritted teeth, "wear something that screams good religious ."


"gotcha," seungwan bites back a grin as she calls for burger, "i'll meet you there."



son seungwan is a normal, good religious , except that she has a fully tattooed arm and the personality of the devil. 


she arrives on time, with a minute to spare to meet up with her lovely girlfriend. joohyun sees her running in the distance and tries to look away but seungwan is yelling at the top of her lungs and there's no way to ignore her demonic embarrassment.


"joohyun! darling! i'm here!" 


"..." joohyun mutters under her breath before conjuring up what she hopes is a smile rather than a grimace to greet seungwan.


when she told seungwan to dress like a good religious , she didn't mean that literally. white shirt tucked into blue jeans, seungwan looks relatively normal. but she has seven new piercings lining the outer edge of her right ear, what did she do back in hell? the worst of it all is the text on her shirt; it makes joohyun consider taking a rain check with her friends.


"do you like it?" the demon smiles brightly as she pulls down her shirt to enhance the message on it, "it's very religious, isn't it?"


on her shirt, printed in the dead center, lies the unsaid words of god in a large, bold text.






yeah, sure, any good religious would WAP god.


she can't even find the right words to explain how she feels, it's a garbled mix of exasperation, disappointment and amusement. should've seen it coming that seungwan would do this, and now, she has to find a way to fix things. joohyun extricates herself of her denim jacket and drapes it over seungwan's shoulders, buttoning it up to her neck. 


"if you're going to embarrass me, we're going home." she mutters.


seungwan hums and begins wiggling out of her jacket, "heard you loud and clear!"


"keep the jacket on, you're going to be judged."


"it's fine," the demon flops a hand as she gives joohyun's jacket back, "take it back or you're going to complain that it's cold later."


there's a certain truth to her words, so joohyun takes it back with a sharp exhale. she finds seungwan's fingers interlocking with hers as the devil yanks her into the semi-crowded bar. she spots her friends with ease, one, because yongsun is excitedly waving her over, and two, she dyed her hair an eye-catching shade of pink.


"took you long enough!


"we're on time, you guys are just early." joohyun rolls her eyes as she offers a hug to her friends, "you weren't joking about the pink hair, huh?"


"i'm a woman of my word," yongsun replies before turning her attention to the demon, "and this is the one?"


"yeah, this is my... girlfriend... son seungwan." she introduces with a nervous smile.


to her relief, seungwan takes a step forward and extends her hand out, "nice to meet you, yongsun, right?"


the pink-haired girl nods and accepts her hand with a gentle smile, "that's right, it's lovely to finally meet you too, seungwan."


byulyi greets her with a fist bump instead, "nice shirt." she fails to bite back a snicker which earns a disapproving shove from yongsun.


seungwan, acting oblivious, grins widely, "thanks! my mom got it for me!" 


this time, joohyun is the one shoving her into the booth.


the odd group of two angels, a demon and a mortal begin a lovely night of getting to know one another. yongsun asks all the questions that a typical friend would ask when meeting a friend's partner, things like how'd you meet? how long have you guys been a thing? what do you like about her?


seungwan answers everything with ease, lying is her forte afterall; they met at a train station when a cat scared the daylights out of her and seungwan saved her. they've been together for two months, and perhaps the only thing that isn't a lie — seungwan likes seeing her smile.


it earns wows and hoots from the angels, but joohyun feels her face flush at seungwan's words. on the bright side, the night is off to a good start, it'll probably be better when they get to the drinks. seungwan gets along well with byulyi, their tendency to want to annoy their girlfriends all the way to their corny jokes, it's almost as if they're twins.


joohyun avoids drinks entirely while yongsun keeps to a modest bottle of beer, seungwan and byulyi on the other hand? their laughter increases when they begin taking shots, byulyi challenges the devil and there's no way she's going to back down. they did this back in hell too, but they're more familiar with their limits in their seraphic bodies. as humans, they forget that their tolerance is practically garbage. seungwan taps out when the world begins to spin, but unlike byulyi, she manages to stay awake long enough for yongsun to drag her out for a smoke.



they leave the rowdiness of the bar behind and they move to the edge of the street. leaning against a street lamp, the angel hands her a cigarette and seungwan accepts it, settling on the curb while yongsun lights it for her. the devil takes a long drag, letting the smoke fill her lungs before staring into the darkness of the night. sharing a cigarette with an angel of the seraphim is something seungwan never saw coming, especially with sahaquiel, she dares not hope that one little double date is enough to make up for millenniums of feuds. 


"you're doing it again, aren't you?"  yongsun's words cut through the silence with an acrid bite. 


there's only the two of them now, no need to keep up their facades for joohyun's sake. if she wasn't so inebriated, maybe she would've remembered her promise to joohyun. if sahaquiel wants a fight tonight, lucifer is going to give her one.


seungwan lets a wry scoff escape, "what am i doing, sahaquiel? would you like to punish me for my sins as you always have?"


"you are doing the punishing all on your own, lucifer." the angel's tone is quiet but honest. seungwan doesn't need to hear this lecture again, not when things are good for once.


pressing the cigarette to her lips, seungwan pins her with a hard stare, “why the are you here anyway?”


“to protect her.” the answer falls from her lips so easily. of course it would, her loyalty to her duties has never swayed unlike the fallen angel beside her. she withholds those words though, lucifer's betrayal is not the point now.


a short, hard laugh leaves . “you guys turned into a bunch of clowns after my departure?" seungwan bristles, feeling a spark of anger ignite in her chest, "i can protect her on my own just fine.” 


maybe she's been too soft that the seraphim have forgotten what a menace she could be. lifetimes ago, she waged war, moved mountains and tore the heavens apart. did they think she is incapable of protecting a mere mortal?


“can you really?" the question digs into every fiber of her being as yongsun crouches down beside her, "how many times has she wound up dead even with you by her side?”


for a split second, a flash of red appears in her eyes, seungwan crushes the cigarette in her hand before grabbing yongsun by the collar. tension ripples through the air as the two seraphic beings challenge each other, any pretence of being mortals fall apart with every second seungwan holds her up.


“how many times has she died because of an angel? how many times have you killed her with your own hands?" she counters with a snarl, her voice threatening to crack as her anger bubbles in her chest, "you’re a ing hypocrite, sahaquiel. you say you’re going to protect her but the moment i look away, i know i’m going to see her soul in hell.”


the angel frees herself with a rough shrug and rises to her feet. "you have no clue, do you?" yongsun laughs, devoid of mirth, “you’re the reason she goes to hell. you’re the reason she keeps dying at our hands. you bring out the worst in her."


the words send a sharp stab of pain to her chest — sahaquiel does not lie, but she refuses to believe her version of the truth. she's not the one who has spent lifetimes with the same soul, how could she ever know what she's like?


“shut up," seungwan stands and hisses through clenched teeth, a gravel of anger edged into her tone, "you know nothing. absolutely ing nothing.” 


“you fan the flames of her desires, you encourage her to kill, you turn her into a monster." a finger harshly jabs into her chest, sahaquiel is seething, unleashing years of pent up rage onto the devil, "all these contracts over the years, you seek her out, entice her to join you on some massacre, and then when she gets too dangerous for humankind? we put a stop to it, we clean up after you and you treat us like we’re the villains.”


the phantom feeling of the angel's finger poking into skin lingers. there is no bright, blinding revelation, only the soft collapse of her expression as the realisation washes over her. if she was the villain, then that would mean—


“you’re here to protect her…" the words leave with a small croak, "from me..."


seungwan tilts her head back to blink away building tears — to think that anyone, even the angels, would think that she would ever be capable of harming her. she in a deep breath, holding it until her lungs threaten to burn to distract herself from the throbbing ache in her chest.


sahaquiel continues without a shred of pity, each word spills from her lips with the intent to hurt. “you have never listened to reason. you think we have a grudge against you for betraying god but in reality, we just want you to stop ing her over for the sake of the world." she tears into seungwan relentlessly, "your love brings about havoc like no other. but you keep holding on like a fool, and for what? a chance that she might love you as you do? the sooner you accept that she’s better off without you, the better it is for the entire universe.”


she's wrong.


unconsciously, her hands ball into fists. her heart aches, and the only way to cure it is with violence, that's how she always cures it. she lifts her arm and her knuckles collide with the side of the angel's jaw in a satisfying punch. sahaquiel is sent sprawling to the ground and seungwan straddles her, pinning her down firmly.


"you are the one that has no clue," she heaves and throws another hit, this time it collides with her nose, "you have no ing idea what it's like to love, do you?"


“love is for humans, lucifer." sahaquiel spits, "we have our duties to uphold. you had duties that you abandoned for her, duties that she made you leave behind.”


she's wrong.


i chose to give up my duties for her, it was my choice, she had nothing to do with it!" seungwan cries but her voice comes out strangled, "it’s ing laughable that you bastards think something so wonderful could ever be a sin!"


sahaquiel kicks seungwan off her and pushes herself up, “don't you see, lucifer? you gave up your divinity and she gave up her humanity so that you could be together. and then you taint her with sin, bring ruin to this world and in turn, you ruin her!" she yells and stumbles to find something to support her, "how could you ever think that you two are good for each other? leave her soul alone for once, she’s already been tainted enough. she deserves lifetimes without you in it!”


she's wrong.


the pain in her gut from sahaquiel's kick is secondary in her mind. all she can feel is her wrath, her indignance, and the urge to kill.


"she deserves a lifetime where it doesn't end with you ers killing her."


casting aside any sort of rationality, consequences become an afterthought. tackling the angel, seungwan violently slams her onto the pavement and lands blow after blow to her face. she tunes out the murmurs of gathering onlookers, a few of them try to pull her off but she pushes them away with an aggressive growl.


inside the bar, joohyun notices the commotion, but the thing that draws her outside is how seungwan's ring has become increasingly warm in her absence. a crowd has gathered and she manages to catch a glimpse through the gaps. her heart seizes when she sees seungwan straddling someone in the middle of the walkway, there's a worrying amount of blood splattered across her white shirt and the body under her doesn't seem to be moving.


"s-seungwan..." she struggles to find her voice as she pushes past the crowd, why is nobody stopping her?


she sees a dash of pink just as she makes it to the front, and she witnesses seungwan raising her fist to strike an unconscious yongsun in the face. it's as if the worst of her nightmares are unfolding before her eyes and she's too stunned to do anything. the blood makes her stomach turn and she struggles to keep herself from trembling.


"y-yah..." she can't help the quiver in her voice, "seungwan... what the are you doing?"


the demon doesn't hear her and continues to pummel her friend.


"seungwan... stop!" joohyun shrieks and wills her legs to move but they don't listen, her fear keeps her rooted a distance away.


her knuckles are bruised at this point, and she can't tell whether the blood on her hands is entirely sahaquiel's or hers is mixed in it too. the pain is easy to ignore, she's been through worse. sahaquiel stopped struggling a while ago, but her anger hasn't died down yet. the angel's words haven't stopped echoing in her head. it's not enough — so she lands another hit, again and again. she'll stop when her mortal body gives up or when her rage dissipates.


"i command you to stop!"


her hand being abruptly frozen midair forces her to look up from the angel's banged up face, she can't land another hit, her body won't let her. an outsider's will is compelling her to cease. their gazes catch and any trace of fury leaves her body. dropping her hand slowly, the look on joohyun's face pierces her chest with a sharp stab, her eyes are rife with horror and disbelief and the worst part of it all? seungwan can feel the fear in her soul.


she's afraid of me.


maybe the angel was right to protect joohyun. 


end notes:

ho boy we got a chonky one today, take this as two chapters maybe. i wrote this entire thing today, kinda insane ngl. don't have much to say about this except that i was really excited to write the fight like.... yassss..
anyway, rina on twitter made some really neat art of these idiots, if you see this, thank you so much for inspiring pink-haired yongsun! here! and here! u are obliged to leave a like or i will remove the happy ending tag (this is a threat)
seeing these made my day so much i was like i gotta update but i also wanted them to fight so, hence the length LOL.
anyway, i just want to say that i'm holding this au very close to my heart and it's very nice to see so many people love it too, thank you for reading and i hope the upcoming angst hurts u ^o^

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it's been 30 chapters and they haven't kissed, is this counted as slowburn?
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