with nowhere to go, the devil roams around the city for hours until her delicate human limbs are too exhausted to keep going. burger picks her up at some point, taking her back to hell where she belongs. not in the mood to talk to anyone, seungwan escapes to sit by the river styx for some quiet time.
with a thin layer of wispy fog dancing in the air, rows upon rows of dead trees line the riverbank, creating a dreary yet peaceful atmosphere. it's eerily quiet, except for the gentle sounds of rushing currents filling the air. the waters of the styx are crystal clear and teeming with aquatic life, but most fishes look like they've escaped from the deepest parts of the oceans. the depths of the waters are unknown and some demons like to joke that if you make it to the bottom, you enter the void, a place you go when your soul is destroyed.
the speculations hardly bother her, right now, she wouldn't mind diving down to find out what's at the bottom. she watches an occasional boat drift past, carrying a soul to the far shore, where they prepare to enter their next life.
many times now, she's watched joohyun's soul leave for the great unknown, as the demons have coined.
when souls enter the far shore, the space between the afterlife and the next, it can take anywhere from seconds to years for them to fully be reincarnated. the fates need time to chart the course of their next life — it's a creative process, is what they like to say. once a soul leaves, it's hard for the denizens of the underworld to find them again. their records don't show up in the archives until they turn 21, a decree ordered by the fates so both heaven and hell would be less inclined to meddle with the young ones. and even then, those files are out of reach unless there is a contract to be formed.
seungwan used to make it a point to start searching the moment joohyun's soul leaves, but time has worn her down over years. often, they find each other, but sometimes they don't. it's comforting enough to know that she still exists in this universe, even if she's never going to be the same.
but it's a different kind of a pain to know that she's here, yet wants nothing to do with you.
the easiest way out would be to wait for joohyun to be reincarnated, and then they could start over again. though seungwan isn't so sure that she's capable of staying away, she's never been great at letting go and the thought of joohyun hating her is almost unbearable. she wants to fix things, but without the angels' consent, it's practically impossible. if she revealed the truth of the identity of her friends, she's certain that sahaquiel would be sending her soul to the next life instantly. demons are fine with revealing their true forms, but not angels, they prefer to be discreet when it comes to their presence amongst humans.
on top of that, seungwan is unwilling to reveal the fact that she's been in love with her soul for the longest time. it's a strange idea that most mortals have a hard time comprehending — how do you love a soul? they present themselves in different forms, different personalities, they are a new person every time.
how do you love something that constantly changes?
after millenniums, seungwan still struggles to find an answer. all she knows is that the happiness that joohyun's soul brings remains unchanged despite however many lifetimes it has been.
she caused this mess, and she will find a way to fix things without dragging joohyun into it.
"you could've fought back."
byulyi breaks the thick silence in the room with a quiet voice, unable to look yongsun in the eye, she opts to gaze out the window instead.
there's no reason for divine beings as powerful as they are to be lying in a hospital bed in the mortal realm. they are angels of the seraphim for god's sake, they have other matters to attend to instead of playing human.
"what good would that do?" yongsun sighs as she pushes herself up with much difficulty. she refuses to let byulyi heal her fully, firmly stating that they needed to keep this act up until joohyun has severed all ties with lucifer.
byulyi finds it hard to agree with her. it's not right for them to do this, meddle in the affairs of humans when it is clearly not part of their duties. even if they have been around before lucifer took joohyun on as a charge, the moment that pact formed, they should've stopped interfering entirely. demons have learnt to never mess with a guardian angel's charge, and blending in as mortals makes it a grey area. the devil is probably used to losing to the angels that she doesn't even try to bring it up, so what gives them the right to pretend to be humans and make things difficult for lucifer?
"this is not what we were meant to do," byulyi mutters, "we should return to heaven."
she hears yongsun shift and smack her lips disapprovingly. "i started this alone. need i remind you that you were the one who wanted to tag along?" the angel's words dig into her threateningly, "you're free to return as you wish, but i will make sure that lucifer never seeks her out again, no matter how many lifetimes it takes."
the hostility doesn't catch byulyi off guard, sahaquiel has always been stubborn in her ways. turning, the angel of the night leans against the window frame and meets her companion's gaze. byulyi folds her arms across her chest and asks, "lucifer hasn't done anything in centuries, why do you still insist on keeping them apart?"
"have you forgotten what she's done?" the angel snaps, "the darkness she left us in, the darkness that some of us are still in."
what lucifer did was wrong, but it was justified, though byulyi keeps those thoughts to herself. not many angels think the same, and yongsun isn't one of them.
the angel of night shakes her head, "i haven't, but that does not mean she deserves to pay for her sins for an eternity." she reasons softly.
"the havoc she's caused in the years after, do you consider that paying for her sins? if she was even the slightest bit apologetic, she would've stayed in hell without trespassing into the mortal realm!" yongsun raises her voice, her anger bleeding into her tone as she clutches a handful of sheets.
byulyi exhales sharply through her nose, "hasn't she been trying to atone? the hellfire barrier was her idea, and she turned hell into a liveable place so demons have no excuse to roam around here." she counters, the frustration building in her tone, "her good deeds now do not make up for the destruction she left, but we shouldn't be here to intentionally torment her."
the angel of the sky scoffs under her breath, "one night of drinking turned you into best friends?"
"you know where my loyalty lies."
"except, i feel it wavering, leliel." yongsun stares at her unblinkingly, her gaze threatening to pierce through the angel's soul.
byulyi casts her eyes towards the ground, finding it difficult to meet her gaze. sahaquiel is beginning to distrust her, and it stings. they've been through everything together, from the fall to the rebuild of heaven, not once has byulyi ever considered leaving her side. they make a good pair, where one lacks, the other makes up for it.
this time is no different, sahaquiel is too determined to see the error in her ways and byulyi has to be the one to stop her.
"where are you going?" her beloved companion demands as byulyi makes her way towards the door.
with an unsaid promise to return, the angel of the night casts one last glance at her before muttering quietly, "to fix your wrongdoings, sahaquiel. i cannot stand by and let you steal her away from lucifer again."
byulyi bumps into joohyun on the way out and she can only offer a small, fatigued smile while she requests for the mortal to take care of yongsun. the small being nods almost automatically, but before she could even ask where the angel is headed, she has already disappeared around the corner.
seulgi walking face-first into a barrier is how she learns that something happened between seungwan and joohyun. rubbing the ache in her nose away, her fingers dance across the barrier lightly — no hellfire is going to be able to break this.
"why are you standing there? come in already." sooyoung taps her foot impatiently as she gestures towards the hall.
seulgi points at the ground, "there's a salt barrier, can you break it?"
frowning, the human crouches down and sees a thick line of salt guarding the entrance. she thought the paranoid demon fearing phase had long passed, but apparently not. using the back of her hand, she sweeps a small section away and seulgi passes through with a troubled exhale.
"seungwan wasn't kidding about your sister's barrier."
"question is, why is it back? sooyoung rubs her chin and her eyes go skywards with a furrow of her brow, "and come to think of it, i haven't seen seungwan around lately."
seulgi hides her uneasiness by walking towards sooyoung's room, "did something happen between them?" she tries to ask as casually as she can, hoping that her worry wouldn't show.
the mortal hums loudly as she thinks, "last i know, seungwan stopped hanging around in the living room at night, unnie allowed her into her room. i thought they started ing."
"yah... your sister would be the last person in the world to sleep with the devil."
sooyoung raises her shoulders, "you never know. do you think something happened between them?"
"given the salt barrier and seungwan's absence, i assume so." seulgi sighs, "i'll look for her once we're done here."
"i'll be quick today."
"are you sure you can pass?"
"have a little faith in me, demon."
"everyone's looking for you and here you are fishing at the styx."
seungwan snaps her head towards the sound of a voice scaring a nasty looking viperfish away and interrupting the solitude she's gotten used to. she let burger return to his usual spot in the first circle so she could truly be alone with her thoughts, and also because she didn't want to surround him with her sad energy, her good boy deserves affection instead of listening to her rambling. she acknowledges yerim with a small wave and reels her line in as if all of hell hadn't been looking for her.
the demon slowly makes her way towards her with a small sigh edged at the tip of , she bites back the urge to immediately ask what happened between the devil and joohyun, thinking that it would be best to ease into the topic.
yerim watches her cast her line again before commenting in disgust. "the fishes here look ugly as hell, you should've gone to lethe instead."
"lethe's way too popular."
the devil shakes her head, "too aggressive."
"acheron's a good spot."
"if i wanted to catch a bone whale."
"could be a cool addition to your collection." yerim hums as she makes herself comfortable on the ground next to seungwan.
the fishes have been swimming around her bait for a little but every time yerim talks, they scatter frantically. seungwan doubts she'll be catching anything as long as yerim's around, so she gives up and begins reeling in her fishing line.
seungwan glances at her with a sigh, "you're scaring away my fish."
"i know," yerim retorts pointedly, "i didn't come to talk about fishing with you, ."
"how'd you find me anyway?"
"seul came back and said joohyun put up a salt barrier and sooyoung hasn't seen you in days." the demon informs, "we searched everywhere including your home and your fishing rod was missing, wasn't that hard to guess where you'd be."
tossing aside her rod, seungwan takes a seat beside yerim and pulls her knees to her chest. she's spent the last few days at the styx, hoping that some time apart would help them both, especially joohyun. she wants to say that fishing helps her think a little better too, hence her prolonged stay, but really, she's just afraid joohyun will continue to push her away if she returns.
"so," the demon starts, "you messed up, how are we going to solve this?"
the devil wets her lips with a shrug, "i don't think i can, not on my own at least. i've been trying to figure something out but sahaquiel and leliel were involved so it makes things almost impossible to fix."
"good thing you're not on your own," yerim grins as she nudges her friend lightly, "we could stop them from killing her, it's not the first time we've tried."
seungwan shakes her head adamantly, the last thing she wants is joohyun to be aware that she's currently caught in a mess involving both heaven and hell. she wants her to keep to her basic, boring human lifestyle without the worry of celestial beings wanting to hunt her down.
"can you fix things without telling her the truth?"
the devil laughs mirthlessly, she really wishes a solution would just present itself to her so she doesn't have to sit here and wallow in self-pity. her laughter dies down to a silence and seungwan turns to her friend, "yerim, joohyun knows i'm a demon and i beat up her seemingly human friend at our first official meeting. how do i explain my hostility without revealing the fact that we've been beefing for ing millenniums? there's nothing i can say that can justify why the i would break her human friend's nose."
"just say her friend's an , it's the truth."
"that's a terrible idea," seungwan grumbles, "are you really here to help?"
a loud exhale escapes yerim's lungs and she shakes her head. "we're worried, alright?" she confesses, "you have a horrible track record of acting recklessly whenever it comes to her soul and we don't want you to do anything that you'll regret. it's fine if you don't wanna talk about things, but we just need to know that you won't go and subject an entire country to a month of natural disasters."
a hint of a smile appears on the corners of as she recalls the last time she did that. the angels stepped in because seungwan had created a massive cult with joohyun in her previous life, and it got to a point where hundreds were dying every day. she can't deny that they saw it coming, but she didn't expect a whole army of cherubims to descend from heaven.
so she retaliated by starting natural disasters, and as punishment for acting out, all of the demons paid for her mistakes by going on a contract ban for a whole century. most were mad, yerim shot bursts of hellfire every time they met, but some demons saw it as a mandatory vacation. hell thrived and progressed in those hundred years, it wasn't a bad trade-off.
but it's futile to do things like that now, it won't fix what she broke.
"nothing will be worse than me destroying heaven." her words aren't as reassuring as they sound but yerim lets it slide.
slinking an arm around her shoulder, the demon wraps her friend in an awkward side hug. it's a rare display of affection from yerim and seungwan basks in it without any snide remarks.
their moment doesn't last for long because a loud woosh alerts them of a new presence joining them. seungwan winds her head with every intention of berating them but holds her tongue when she notices it's just ryujin.
"a six-winged angel just entered the barrier!" she exclaims in a panic, "she asked for lucifer!"
the only six-winged angel seungwan can think of who would be so bold as to enter hell in all their divine glory would be sahaquiel. if she is so brave as to challenge the devil in her own domain, seungwan can't back down because her ego is at stake.
rising to her feet, seungwan dusts her pants and ascends to the entrance of hell — this confrontation is millenniums overdue but she supposes it's better late than never.
dude i'm so ing annoyed for a buttload of reasons, but mainly because this chapter sounds like a filler episode for an anime and i don't really like it. also i started cookie run kingdom yesterday and it literally consumed me. and today? we got leather jacket wendy on youngstreet and it's literally THIS SEUNGWAN!!! THIS LUCIFER!!! very blessed but also very irritated that i got distracted but ya whatever here's the chapter, the next one will be better.