intertwine and splinter

all we need of hell

listen to 'my blood' by echos before you start reading.


 

what a fool she is to think that she would be able to waltz back into joohyun's life with nothing more than a half-hearted explanation perched on the tip of her tongue. no amount of time would be enough to remedy this, joohyun made that very clear. so with her teary face ingrained in her mind, seungwan lets the ground swallow her whole and falls into the underworld.

 

the words of her charge ring in her ears, along with the voice of sahaquiel. they scream and shriek, reminding her of all the things she's been afraid to acknowledge.

 

she has already lost her a long time ago.

 

no matter how hard she tries, she will never find her again. no reincarnation will be able to make up for it, not even joohyun.

 

the hellfire barrier scorches her skin, melts her muscles and the heat makes its way into her bones but none of that compares to the heartache fluttering in her ribs. she shuts her eyes and continues to fall, it's not the first time she's let herself plummet from such heights, but the only thing that she remembers is the familiar heaviness in her chest. 

 

the usual bustle of hell comforts her for a split second before she's greeted by a choir of agonizing screams in the lower circles, it all dies down to silence when she violently crashes into the ninth circle, creating a large crack in the ice.

 

unmoving, seungwan lays there and stares into the endless ceiling above her, she feels small and helpless even. her skin sizzles against the ice-cold floor and it feels nice, but she doesn't want relief, she wants the searing pain to distract her from even thinking about joohyun. her thoughts come in swarms and no physical pain would ever be enough.

 

but there's always another way to inflict more pain, never would she have ever expected that her expertise in torture would become useful against herself.

 

lighting her hand with the hottest hellfire she can conjure, seungwan turns to her side to look at its beautiful, blue glow. her flames are muted, but any demon can tell that she could burn through their bones with a touch. it will hurt, but that's what she wants.

 

a gentle calm washes over her before she plunges her hand into the center of her chest, she chokes at the sensation but continues until her fingers find the core of her existence — her soul. 

 

souls come in the form of a small, tangible ball of light, usually unseen to the human eye despite being roughly the size of a golf ball. it's a wonder that something so tiny essentially powers every being for all eternity, but at the same time, its light never ceases, along with her grief. her own soul is smaller than most, making it harder to locate, but seungwan has ripped out more souls than she can count, finding her own is child's play. wrapping her hand around it lightly, the flames from her hellfire burns into her soul and she thinks about how effortless her death could be.

 

she has always expected to die at the hands of an angel, or the fates, and that she wouldn't go down without a fight. she would raise hell, lead legions of demons against the celestials before she would ever succumb to the darkness of death. 

 

but she wants none of that now. she just wants the pain to stop.

 

she wants to leave, let the void take her with open arms, but even in death, she would not be reunited with her. her soul is in the mortal realm, within joohyun. it's been a long time coming, but seungwan finally sees that there's nothing she can do to lead them into a reality where they could be together again. sure, she's been loved by other reincarnations, but they can hardly make up for the void she left.

 

the devil could search every corner of the universe but she just... doesn't exist anymore.

 

for years and years, she convinced herself that it's untrue. her soul lives on, it exists in this universe, and that would be enough for her — but it's not. with every lifetime, the yearning to be with her once more only grows stronger.

 

her fingers close in around her soul, sending a new wave of agony through her entire body as a heartbroken wail rips from . is this what you want? she wants to scream at the heavens, but in the deepest parts of hell, only the damned can hear her anguish. and they would gloat at her misery — serves her right.

 

her destiny with this mortal soul has long been charted by the fates, their paths intertwining and splintering until the end of time. seungwan has willingly borne all consequence for her actions just for a fraction of her eternity to be a little less lonely, but perhaps, the fleeting company was never worth the suffering. seungwan can't even articulate how much it stings for a reincarnation of her soul to hate her, it's fine if she broke her promise to love her throughout lifetimes, but to wish her nothing but agony? it makes seungwan doubt if she ever loved her at all.

 

the devil's love is eternal, but the same can't be said for a mortal's.

 

she weeps, letting her tears fall freely and if she squeezed just a little harder, she could grant one last wish for joohyun — to never return.

 

"what the are you doing, seungwan?" a voice shrieks loudly.

 

it happens all at once, multiple loud thuds echo throughout the icy cavern and a strong bout of magic yanks her arm out from her chest, binding it to the ice. a wheeze escapes her lungs as seulgi appears in front of her with horror plastered across her face.

 

"what happened?" the demon asks quietly as she cradles the broken devil in her arms.

 

clutching at seulgi's shirt, seungwan's breath hitches as she tries to explain, "i-i broke her trust... i... i ruined everything..." she sniffles, "i should've let go a long time ago, seul..."

 

the burns that seungwan sustained upon entering the barrier are mostly done healing already, but nobody can stand the sight of seeing lucifer so devastated. yerim and byulyi approach the two with tentative steps, things in the mortal realm must've gotten ugly for seungwan to return like this.

 

hours ago, the devil ascended from hell with the brightest smile on her face, confident that she could mend things with her charge. the four of them spent the last couple of days in piss water, downing drink after drink while trying to convince seungwan that everything is going to be fine.

 

it seems that they were very wrong.

 

"we can't help what we feel, wannie." seulgi whispers softly, "she'll come around soon enough."

 

seungwan shakes her head slowly, sniffling, she murmurs, "she won't. she hates me so much... so ing much. she said she hopes i never find peace... because i don't deserve it."

 

it makes the demons' hearts wrench at the thought of seungwan believing a mortal's words, even if she is the reincarnation of the devil's lover.

 

byulyi rests a hand on yerim's shoulder before she can even think of hurting joohyun. the angel is more than aware that even if these demons may have betrayed god, their camaraderie is stronger than anything in this universe. if any other king of hell saw lucifer in this state, they would be raising armies to hunt joohyun down, making sure her soul erodes in the ninth circle with all the other wretched ones.

 

seungwan would never allow that, but given her current condition, they would go against her wishes, deeming it as an act of justice for her.

 

the angel extends her wings and orders quietly, "take her home, i will talk to joohyun. do not do anything that will make this any worse." 

 

yerim nods with a tightened jaw, but a warning leaves , "if you can't fix things, you should be prepared to guard her soul."

 

it's a threat byulyi knows better than to take lightly, but she doesn't appreciate being threatened. nodding silently, she flaps her wings fiercely and takes off into the upper circles.

 


 

the angel's talk with lucifer went smoothly, for the most part, seungwan welcomed her help. the whole plan was simple, byulyi would reveal her form, maybe her wings or show joohyun a little bit of arcane light — magic that only those who have received the grace of god possess, and then they would go from there.

 

but seungwan wanted an alternative where this plan would be their last resort for two reasons. 

 

one, she feared the wrath of sahaquiel. having to fight off a horde of cherubims once reminded the devil that the seraphim have so much control over the angels. one wrong move and sahaquiel might send the entirety of the highest order after joohyun — wouldn't be fun for anyone to start another war.

 

and two, seungwan doesn't want to ruin their friendship, even if it's a facade. byulyi agreed wholeheartedly, she's well aware of the mortal's past, having been there long enough to witness it all. joohyun doesn't trust easily, and it would be a pity if she lost two of her closest friends because of a feud that is out of her control.

 

so they looked for another way, something that would fully protect joohyun.

 

the tale that yongsun came up with painted seungwan as hot-tempered and aggressive, subtly warning joohyun to stay away. she lied to joohyun, telling the mortal that she merely said that she thought they wouldn't be good together. she didn't think joohyun would like someone who drinks, nevertheless, still wished them happiness. she speculated that it could be due to the drinks that seungwan took things the wrong way, hence the fight.

 

and between the demon she's just met and her trusted friend of more than a decade, joohyun naturally sided with yongsun.

 

byulyi was fuming when she heard the lies leave the angel's mouth, even if lucifer was acting recklessly, there must have been a good reason for her to want to almost kill yongsun. sahaquiel must have said something to provoke her. she avoids asking what went down, fearing that if she found out, she would start a war in lucifer's stead.

 

the angel of the night, along with the demons, discussed for a long time how they would fix things. they would go along with yongsun's story, even if it absolved the angel of all blame. yerim and seulgi protested against it but to seungwan, if it fixed things, she would gladly be the villain. searching up ways to make up to a human while drunk was certainly not the best thing to do, but it helped seungwan feel a lot lighter. in the end, they barely came up with anything, but seungwan felt ready to face joohyun again.

 

so they let her return to the mortal realm to beg for forgiveness, not expecting miracles but neither did they expect her to return like this.

 


 

byulyi picks up the bartender in her ascent, reasoning that she would need someone to guard joohyun after she reveals the truth. besides, ryujin has heard most of the drama, and byulyi trusts that she wouldn't act impulsively unlike the friends of the devil, making her the perfect person to guard joohyun. thankfully, the half-demon agrees without much of a fuss, letting the angel kidnap her to the mortal realm.

 

they show up at joohyun's apartment and catch her in the midst of cleaning up her room. seungwan went all out with her decorations only to return to hell broken-hearted, it's hard to ignore the twinge of pain in their chests.

 

joohyun jumps when she registers the two figures in her room, shocked to see her friend — and the half-demon who appeared in her shower a while ago. byulyi's presence calms her but seeing the half-demon with one red eye unnerves her slightly.

 

"byul? how did you get in?"

 

the angel scratches the nape of her neck comes up with a quick lie, "the front door was open." her soul burns lightly at the lie but she brushes off the pain.

 

"what are you doing here..?" the mortal questions uneasily, gaze flitting from the angel to the half-demon.

 

byulyi signals for the demon to leave them for a moment and ryujin slips out the door, giving them all the privacy they need.

 

"it's about seungwan." she mutters quietly once she was certain that they're alone.

 

joohyun feels tighten at the sound of the devil's name. swallowing, she whispers, "she's gone, byul."

 

the mortal hopes that byulyi would assume that they broke up even though joohyun doesn't know how else to describe their relationship — it feels like a breakup. 

 

byulyi nods slowly, she wants to ease joohyun into this but lucifer almost tried to destroy her own soul, she doesn't want lucifer to suffer any longer than she has to.

 

"i know," she sighs, "she's a mess in hell."

 

her words send a chill down down joohyun's spine and she stiffens in realisation. it's almost as if something clicked in her head and she begins to view her friend in a different, almost terrifying way. a picture of byulyi with red eyes and a sinister smile pops up in her mind and it makes her stomach lurch. to think that someone who she's trusted for more than half her life is not even human to begin with, just what did she ever do to deserve a life like this?

 

"y-you... are you... a demon too? but... how?" she mumbles, voice laced with disbelief and fear.

 

byulyi brings up her hands as if to stop her friend from fearing her, "please, listen to me. i'm sorry for deceiving you, joohyun, but yongsun and i are angels."

 

the two friends she's learnt to trust apart from her sister turning out to be angels? her head whirls at this new revelation and joohyun takes a shaky step backwards, she fights the urge to cry and fall apart there and then.

 

"w-why?"

 

why did they deem it necessary to lie to her for more than half her life? for more than a decade, that's how long she's relied on them. did they take pity on her? she has so many questions but she isn't sure if she even wants answers for them, her life was much better before she was aware of the existence of these otherworldly beings. ignorance is bliss, and she wishes she could unlearn everything she knows about demons and angels and all this ing occult bull.

 

the angel nods with a heavy sigh, the truth spills from her lips in a strangled tone, "seungwan should be the one to explain everything, but your soul has been intertwined in the matters of heaven and hell since the birth of sin. we were only meant to watch over you, but yong wanted to get closer, we wanted to be your friends. i'm sorry you had to find out like this, it was never our intention to hurt you."

 

joohyun drops herself onto her bed and looks up at the angel with unshed tears shimmering in her eyes. she wrestles with the confliction in her chest, her trust for byulyi as a friend is waning as she begins to see her as an entity instead of a human.

 

"how do i know you're not lying?"

 

lifting an arm, byulyi's skin begins to change. an inklike darkness starts to grow from her fingertips and crawls up her forearm. then small, shimmering stars begin to appear. instead of hellfire, she conjures up a bright glow that forces joohyun to look away. 

 

"as an angel, it's painful for me to lie. i have no reason to deceive you, joohyun," she smiles wryly, "demons can only produce hellfire, while those who receive god's grace create arcane light. my halo will blind you, so this is the best i can do to prove myself. "

 

clenching her eyes shut, the mortal draws a deep breath and tries to make sense of this situation along with her own feelings. it's overwhelming to say the least and where do they go from here?

 

the angel extinguishes the light in her hand and kneels before her. bowing her head lowly, byulyi apologizes yet again, "i'm sorry, joohyun. i understand if this changes our friendship, but i still hope that you can find it in your heart to give seungwan another chance. i've known her for a long time, and everything she has done is to protect you. she opted to put up all these decorations instead of having me reveal myself to you because she wanted to save our friendship. she didn't want you to be involved at all."

 

byulyi presses a small object into her hand and joohyun recognizes the warmth almost instantly — seungwan's ring, the one which she threw out a few days ago. the blue runes are dimmer than what she remembers.

 

"take as much time as you need, i know this is a lot to take in and it's okay if you don't want anything to do with our world. no matter when, as long as you're ready, call for her and she will return." the angel says gently, "ryujin will hang around for a while, just so nobody hurts you. don't be afraid, okay?"

 

joohyun locks eyes with the angel and scoffs dryly, her tone borders on frustration, "what did i do, byul? why am i surrounded with demons and angels? why do they want to hurt me?"

 

the angel presses her lips into a thin line and shakes her head, "it's not my place to tell you, but seungwan will explain everything if you let her. angels aren't allowed to reveal ourselves no matter the circumstance, yong might come after you now that you know, but i will do my best to keep her away." byulyi explains, "the demons are upset that you hurt their friend, but ryujin should be enough to keep them at bay."

 

folding her fingers into her palms, byulyi stands and makes her way towards the door. lucifer has been fighting the fates alone for so long, it's time she's gotten some help. she's done enough for now, the rest will be up to them. 

 

"if you decide that you want answers, ask seungwan about lilith."

 


end notes:

looped my blood as i wrote this entire thing, especially the first scene with seungwan. i just hope i managed to convey just how much pain she's in. this weighs heavily on my heart no lie, trying to put myself in her shoes just makes me so sad.

i'm actually pretty ing happy with how this entire conflict is turning out like it doesn't feel like a meaningless conflict written to move the story forward (that happened in kiyub and it's been eating at me for the longest time now). also, the fact that i haven't seen anyone being disgruntled at yongsun/joohyun is very nice, sometimes people just scold the characters in the comments and it makes me feel like i didn't give them a good reason to act the way they act. improving has never been my priority but it's nice to actually feel it.

anyway, lilith, am i right? i've been holding back on dropping her name for so long, i finally don't have to ing italicize her when i'm talking about her!!! a lot will be explained soon, so last chance to ask all the questions you might have! here's my curiouscat if you'd like to be anon.

thanks for reading!

(also do u guys mind avoiding commenting emojis? at least the newer ones.. i have a godforsaken android so all i see are square boxes...)

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