you're human, right?

all we need of hell

seungwan's ring sits in her palm for the longest time and as much as joohyun wants to throw it out again, the revelation that byulyi delivered upon her today makes her think twice. 

 

her soul, tangled in some cosmological mess that involves just about everyone in her life. she wants to know but at the same time, she fears what might happen afterwards.

 

what if they end up killing her regardless of whatever she picks?

 

a gentle knock on her door draws her attention and the half-demon pokes her head into her room, joohyun had completely forgotten about her presence. she's dressed different, in a single large grey hoodie, a lot more casual than what she'd been wearing the first time they met

 

"sorry if this is bad timing," she starts softly, "i thought i should introduce myself since i'm going to be here for a while, my name is ryujin."

 

the night where seungwan sat by her bedside and told her about the angels comes to mind and joohyun feels an ache in her chest. if she has to pinpoint an exact moment to dub it as the calm before the storm, that would be it. she remembers how comforting seungwan's presence had been, even if she is a demon. but that was before joohyun was served a harsh reminder of the violence she's capable of.

 

"seungwan told me about you." she nods quietly, the devil's name leaving a bitter aftertaste on her tongue. she should know better than to trust another demon, but this half-demon seems polite enough.

 

ryujin seems surprised to hear that and a small smile makes its way onto her face, stepping into the room cautiously, she motions to the mess that joohyun has yet to clean.

 

"i can help if you let me watch the television after."

 

an incredulous snort slips and glancing at the clock, joohyun finally feels exhaustion seeping into her bones. she's worn out from everything that's happened today, physically and emotionally. the sooner she can sleep, the sooner she can hopefully feel less suffocated by everything.

 

"i have netflix, go nuts."

 


 

sooyoung returns to catch her on the precipice of falling asleep, sticking her neck into the darkness of joohyun's room. "you left the television on." she informs after confirming that her sister isn't fully knocked out yet.

 

with a soft groan, joohyun shifts and murmurs tiredly, "we have a new demon, her name is ryujin."

 

"did you replace seungwan?" her sister raises a brow curiously, "what happened to her?"

 

her eyelids are heavy with sleep, but the older girl offers a muffled response that barely sounds like anything coherent. clicking her teeth sharply, sooyoung knows she probably won't get an answer tonight. sighing, she prepares to leave, but joohyun stops her by sitting up.

 

"can we talk tomorrow?" joohyun asks quietly, a tinge of distress evident in her voice. her fingers playing with the sheets waits for a response anxiously, sooyoung is the last person in this world she thinks she can trust.

 

sooyoung picks up on uneasiness and nods, "yeah, of course, but you sound tired so go to bed. goodnight unnie."

 

joohyun slides under her covers as her sister begins to shut the door, "wait, sooyoung."

 

"yeah?"

 

"you're human, right?"

 

her sister scoffs loudly, "yah, just because we come from different mothers doesn't mean i'm a different species entirely. we have the same unfortunate excuse of a human dad. now zip it and go to sleep."

 

that's all the reassurance she needs, a snicker escapes joohyun's throat and she whispers, "i love you, sooyoung. goodnight."

 

sooyoung cringes and makes her discomfort known by making retching noises but as she closes the door, she responds with a small shake of her head.

 

"love you too."

 


 

the kings cast layers upon layers of protective magic on seungwan's soul even if she says that she won't do anything more, it's hard to believe her after everything they've witnessed. the entirety of hell watched her plummet through the various levels like a comet, while seulgi stays by her side, yerim has to lie to the masses that their liege is fine.

 

but seungwan is far from fine. 

 

the only one who could ever bring lucifer to her knees was lilith, and even if she is no longer here, it seems that her hold on the devil has never ceased. the kings keep watch as seungwan curls up on the large couch in her mansion in hell, the voice of joji drowns everything out as the overly forlorn lyrics of 'like you do' fill the room on a loop.

 

by the time the song repeats for the third time, yerim considers changing it but seulgi stops her, saying that it would be best for the grief to run its course. seulgi thinks she'll be fine eventually, but how long will it take? she has no idea.

 

"if we knew back then that she would be like this one day, do you think we would've stopped her?" yerim asks softly as they sit at the top of the stairs, overlooking the living room. they're far enough from seungwan so that she doesn't hear their conversation, but close enough to intervene if she tries to do anything.

 

"no." the answer slips easily from seulgi's mouth, she smiles sadly, "she wouldn't have let us anyway, lilith might be the best and worst thing to happen to her."

 

without lilith, there would be no devil. and without the devil, there would be no demons.

 

even after their fall from grace, one thing ingrained in them from their days in heaven still stands true — that there is an equal amount of good and evil in this world. but most times, it feels like the evil outweighs the good. 

 

exhaling frustratedly, yerim murmurs, "we should do something, shouldn't we?"

 

"like what? kill joohyun?" seulgi scoffs, "what good would that do?" 

 

"fast forward to the next life where she doesn't hurt seungwan again."

 

the demon tightens her jaw and looks down at the unmoving mass on the couch. the devil's eyes are locked onto a large portrait hanging across her in the living room, one that seulgi painted with her own hands — a portrait of lilith.

 

"we all know that she's never going to stop hurting wannie."

 

again and again, across time and space, even if her reincarnations fall for the devil, deep down, everyone knows that there can never be another lilith. yet, there's nobody to blame for this, both seungwan and the mortal knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. their love was meant to be fleeting, not everlasting.

 

if something as simple as a mortal's memories could not transcend lifetimes, then what of love?

 


 

the next morning, joohyun finds her sister sitting with the half-demon on the couch, laughing while watching some sitcom that she's never seen before. ryujin waves with a bowl of cereal in hand, looks like she's made herself comfortable just as seungwan once had. joohyun hesitates on speaking but then decides that she probably should.

 

"morning."

 

"it's almost noon, unnie." sooyoung drawls, "i'm hungry."

 

"oh." joohyun mumbles, "brunch?"

 

sooyoung takes her up on the offer ecstatically, prattling about how there's this gorgeous outdoor cafe that they should go to. joohyun concedes easily, thinking that it would be a nice distraction. 

 

ryujin tags along from a distance. apparently, she hasn't revealed herself to sooyoung, nor does she want to. so sooyoung spent an entire morning hanging out with an invisible demon, which is worrying but she reassures joohyun that the demon is nice as far as she can tell.

 

they pick a shady spot where a large tree obscures them from the sun, the scenery is as picturesque as sooyoung had described but joohyun's heart is plagued with otherworldly concerns that make it hard for her to appreciate the view. she lets her sister lead all the conversations while they eat, offering half-hearted responses every once in a while.

 

sooyoung tells her about her week, saying she's been passing more and more tests now and school feels a little easier. that's great, joohyun comments though her lack of enthusiasm causes sooyoung to arch a brow. it carries on until sooyoung is tired of hearing one-word replies from her older sister.

 

pushing her half-eaten plate aside, sooyoung folds her arms across her chest and leans back in her seat.

 

"okay, what's up?" she demands, filling the air with tension as she narrows her eyes.

 

joohyun lies automatically, "nothing."

 

nothing is a much easier answer than baring her heart out to her sister, how is she going to explain everything that's happened in the past week?

 

"i thought you'd be happy to know that i'm no longer failing but your response says otherwise." sooyoung says quietly, "you've been off since seungwan disappeared, unnie."

 

the older girl places her fork down and exhales slowly, she hasn't told her sister about what happened between yongsun and seungwan, let alone the subsequent events that followed. she doesn't want to drag sooyoung into this cosmic disaster but at the same time, she has no one else she can turn to since her friends turned out to be angels.

 

"i don't know how to start." joohyun admits as tightens, "i... it's just.... a mess, sooyoung. i don't understand anything."

 

sooyoung leans forward and reaches to grab her hand gently, "why don't we start with seungwan?" she coaxes, "where did she go?"

 

drawing a deep breath, joohyun starts, "i told her to never come back and that, i don't want to see her again."

 

a week ago, the devil was still pulling pranks on her sister, hiding fake roaches under her pillow at whatnot. it's almost scary how fast things changed between them.

 

"what happened?"

 

"she said she wanted to meet my friends as a human, so we went on a double date with yong and byul. at the end of the night, she was beating yong up and there was so much blood... sooyoung." joohyun's voice cracks at the memory, "she came back and tried to apologize yesterday but i don't want anything to do with her at all..."

 

sooyoung's jaw tenses as a flash of protectiveness sparks in her chest. her sudden absence along with the salt makes sense now — joohyun is scared. , she probably should've left the salt as is, she'll add more when they get home.

 

"then byul came and told me that she and yongsun are actually angels, and she proved it with her magic." joohyun adds with a shaky breath. "my soul has been caught up in some... heavenly mess for a long time now and seungwan was trying to protect me."

 

it's still hard to wrap her head around the fact that byulyi is an angel, let alone yongsun. she'd seen her in so much pain for the past week, healing in a hospital, how could she ever be an angel? part of her wishes that she could forget seeing the stars in byulyi's skin, or the powerful light she conjured. she doesn't want to believe that her closest friends have been lying to her for so many years. seungwan going against her words is nothing compared to the betrayal she's been wrestling with when it comes to byulyi and yongsun.

 

sooyoung widens her eyes in disbelief, "your friends are angels?"

 

despite being as shocked as she is, joohyun thinks it's relieving to know that her sister is believing everything she's saying even if it sounds ludicrous to her. she nods in confirmation while her sister takes in the information with a dropped jaw.

 

once she's a little calmer, sooyoung fires off a bunch of questions at the top of her head, "are they your guardian angels? did you do something in your past life? why did they only tell you now? i assume angels have better things to do than to befriend a human like you. and what is seungwan protecting you from?

 

raising her shoulders helplessly, joohyun mumbles honestly, "i don't know, byul didn't tell me much. she said seungwan should be the one who explains everything."

 

"but you don't wanna talk to seungwan since she beat up yongsun... who is actually an angel?"

 

it's been hard trying to process things on her own but hearing sooyoung put it into words makes her stop and think. byulyi has already proven herself to her, but what about yongsun? maybe she should try to confront her first? even if yongsun is an angel, it doesn't change the fact that seungwan still beat her up. another harrowing thought comes to mind — if yongsun is indeed an angel, why was it necessary for her to pretend to be human? furthermore, befriend her? lie to her for over a decade?

 

if yongsun is lying to her, can she really believe what she said about her scuffle with seungwan? what if the devil is the good one here?

 

there's so much she doesn't know, and so much she thinks she's better off not knowing.

 

"i don't know if i want to know, sooyoung." joohyun confesses softly, "i don't want to be involved in any of this."

 

forgiving seungwan might mean getting tangled further in this situation and right now, she can't bring herself to want to hear the devil's side of the story. she may have wronged seungwan, but she fears that an apology would complicate things. she wants to leave things as is and return to her regular life, even if the burden of multiple betrayals weighs heavily on her, she thinks she'll get over the pain eventually.

 

at this point, the sisters are already involved with demons, throwing angels into the mix doesn't seem like it'll make much of a difference. if sooyoung was in her shoes, there's no doubt that she'd choose the truth over anything, but her sister is different. her boring sister who stays in on friday nights, her sister who only has two friends since high school, her sister who chooses to not make use of a wish-granting devil — her sister would choose normality over anything.

 

"then don't, put all of those ers behind you and move on. it's not your problem to begin with." sooyoung says firmly, "we'll put up all the salt barriers you want, get priests and exorcists if it'll help you feel safer. i don't know if it's going to work but we'll figure something out, yeah?"

 

the urge to fall apart then and there washes over her, it feels like a weight has been lifted off her shoulders, and joohyun nods with a small smile. if there's one person she can still trust, it's sooyoung. the older girl wants to wrap her sister in a tight hug for a good ten minutes at least.

 

"anyway, i have to be honest with you," sooyoung switches the topic with a slight grimace, "miss kang is actually a demon. she's seungwan's friend, seulgi."

 

out of everything she's heard lately, this is the one piece of news that doesn't seem to want to drive her insane. "she dresses too eccentrically to be human." joohyun hums.

 

"yah, i'm just letting you know in case my grades slip."

 

"as long as you don't sell your soul, or do anything stupid, i'm willing to let her stay."

 

"only if you're fine with it, i don't want to push things."

 

"yes, i am." joohyun reassures and nods towards their plates, "now finish your food."

 

all the tension is sapped from the air after their conversation, joohyun feels much lighter and at ease. reclining in her seat, she turns her head to take in the view of the city. for a moment, she enjoys it, until she catches the sun in her eyes. it's much too bright for her liking, so she attempts to bring her hand up to shield her gaze but a panicked ryujin appears before her.

 

without saying a word, the half-demon grabs the sisters by the arms and yanks them away from their seats. joohyun exclaims but moments later, a loud boom resonates throughout the air and a large spear seemingly made of light embeds itself in the spot they were just in. her shout dies down to a squeak as she looks in horror.

 

her blood runs cold when she takes in the destruction, nothing is left of their table except a steaming crater. she can distinctly feel the heat radiating off the spear, while she's come close to death before, this brings about a new kind of terror in her heart. before anyone can get a word in, a celestial being appears before them.

 

with six white wings sprouting from her back, yongsun descends from the heavens. instead of pink hair, it is now ink black and stands out against her white clothes. the hood of her white cloak is pulled over her head and she extends a hand to retract her spear. holding it tightly in her palm, she addresses the mortal solemnly.

 

"it pains me to do this, but i have to. i'm sorry, joohyun."

 


end notes:

i think it's a miracle that i'm not burnt out at this point. i remember thinking i would abandon it after like three days. my anime protagonist willpower has waned but i think i'm more comfortable with updating once every two days, it's just nice to know that i can write 2k words a day if i wanted to.
anyway, more about joohyun in this one, hope it sheds a little light on her stance with this whole Thing. i keep adding more words because i feel like joohyun doesn't come off conflicted enough, but it's 7 am and i don't wanna add anymore t.t

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