choices, or a lack thereof

all we need of hell

“is she asleep?”


a gentle question interrupts the silence of twilight as seungwan pokes her head into the living room. ever since joohyun allowed the devil into her room, chats with sooyoung have become rare.


the young mortal often has difficulty sleeping, to which the devil offers up her company along with wine doused with sleeping herbs from hell. most conversations are short, seungwan lends a listening ear while sooyoung prattles on about mortal things until the herbs kick in and she saunters back to her room. the devil doesn't mind in the slightest, compared to her sister, sooyoung's life is anything but boring.


"yeah, she's knocked out." the devil bobs her head and crosses the room to make herself comfortable next to sooyoung. instead of comfortably falling asleep in joohyun's embrace as always, seungwan opts to stay awake to have a much overdue chat with her sister.


"good," sooyoung bobs her head, "because she might murder me for spilling the beans."


right, these are secrets that joohyun aren’t ready to reveal. the air around them shifts ever so slightly and seungwan tightens her jaw and shoots sooyoung an apprehensive glance — maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.


“it’s not your place to tell me, is it?” seungwan questions quietly as the atmosphere fills with solemnity. joohyun is easily the most important person in her life, and these matters that concern her should not be taken lightly.


without a trace of playfulness, seungwan unnerves even the bravest of mortals. seriousness is a rare look on the devil, and while sooyoung understands that it stems from a place of concern for her sister, seungwan should know that they’re on the same page when it comes to protecting joohyun.


“it’s not,” the smile on the mortal’s face is devoid of mirth, she says quietly, “but she’s spent all these years trying to bury it, i’d rather be the one to tell you than to have her reopen old wounds.”


what was supposedly going to be a drama-filled conversation has turned surprisingly heavy. normally, seungwan would try to squeeze in a jibe or two to ease the tension but perhaps some seriousness is much needed.


"it'll be her choice, whether she wants to open up or not. but it doesn't matter what she chooses, i'll be by her side for as long as she wants." a slight smile appears on the corners of her lips as she speaks, "besides, i want her to feel safe enough to talk about everything with me. i don't know if we'll ever get to that point but i hope it does." 


a soft hum escapes sooyoung's throat and she scoffs, "give it a little more time, simp. you'll get there someday."


the devil laughs softly and bobs her head, "i take it that i have your approval?"


being reminded of the fact that seungwan hadn't told her about her relationship status with joohyun, sooyoung clicks her teeth sharply. a smack is delivered to seungwan's arm as the mortal complains, "yah, i thought we were friends, you didn't tell me you guys got together!"


raising her shoulders, seungwan merely laughs, "we're not, officially, at least. if i had to pick a label, i'd say we're close friends."


"you're telling me close friends cuddle each other to sleep every night?" sooyoung mutters, "there has to be a better label than that."


"i'm giving her time to figure things out, alright? saying we're friends just makes it easier." the devil grimaces slightly, there's nothing harder than trying to label love and all the feelings that come with it.


"so you two are just a couple of besties who enjoy sleeping in the same bed with practically no distance apart?"


"yeah, you got that right."


sooyoung gives up with a loud exhale, but a small smile appears on her lips. "for what it's worth, i don't think i've seen anyone love her more than you." the mortal admits quietly, "she didn't have the most pleasant childhood, it was a mess for a long time and i wasn't the best sister to her. she takes care of me more than i do and i wish i could say i'm capable of giving her the love that she deserves but i can't."


hearing the tint of despair laced in sooyoung's voice makes seungwan's heart wrench. the mortal is far from perfect yet also far from being the universe's biggest scumbag, if anything, the one who lacks love is god himself.


"we weren't made to love or be loved by any single being, sooyoung-ah. love exists in many forms and exists in everyone. i won't be able to replace what you've given her at all." the devil comforts her gently as she pulls sooyoung into her chest, "before you start rebutting me, i was literally god's first angel, i know these things."


a small snort is heard but sooyoung decides to let her hellion therapist continue without any snarky remarks.


"i don't know what happened during joohyun's childhood but you were a child too, whatever affected joohyun probably affected you as well. i think what matters more is how much you're willing to do for her now, but you have to remember that there's a limit to how much you're capable of giving and there's no shame in admitting that. you're not a bad sister, sooyoung, you're doing the best you can."


the two lapse into a comfortable silence as sooyoung takes in the devil's words, they won't do much against years of pent-up emotions but she won't deny that her heart feels a little lighter after hearing them. the mortal presses her head into seungwan's chest, much like her sister often does and releases a soft sigh.


"thanks, seungwan. for the devil, you're surprisingly empathetic."


who would've thought of all the beings in this universe, the king of hell would be the one to hold her in a gentle embrace and speak words of comfort that she never knew she needed?


moments like these have been scattered across time, but they never last, seungwan never allows it.


"surprisingly," seungwan mutters bitterly, "i'm telling you, the angels have warped humanity's perception of me!"


"yeah yeah, i get it." sooyoung rolls her eyes before softening her voice, "i trust you with my sister, just don't make her cry and we're good."


the devil tips her head in a solemn nod, "i won't, i will make sure it never happens."


"good, and keep me updated on things! it's unfair to leave me in the dark."


"let's trade then," seungwan smirks, "what's up with you and seulgi?"


the silence that befalls the two is deafening. the young mortal freezes in her spot while her mind goes blank, sure she has been anticipating this question at some point but she hasn't properly thought about an answer beyond friends.


clearly, she and seulgi have gone past the point of being just friends.


"friends with benefits," she answers after a long silence. it's hypocritical to judge seungwan and her sister while her own relationship with seulgi remains ambiguous as well.


seungwan resists the urge to shoot forward but she can't help a brow from ticking upwards in disbelief, "that's it? she hasn't offered you a contract?"


the mortal scoffs loudly, "yah, you should've told me that my sister was a big deal in hell, literally nobody wants to offer me a contract because of her relation to lilith or whatever."


or whatever, the denizens of the underworld would lose their mind if a mortal spoke lilith's name without a trace of reverence. but seungwan lets it slide, after all, who could do anything to the sister of lilith's reincarnation? 


"even seulgi?"


sooyoung groans, "yeah, i swear my sister threatened her or something along the lines of that. nobody wants my soul at this point."


hearing that, seungwan can only muster a weak smile. she wonders if her best friend is merely wary of joohyun's wrath or whether it's the apprehension of enduring the same fate as her that's making her keep her distance. they'll figure things out, just as she will with joohyun.


"maybe you should ask joohyun if she's willing to share me." seungwan responds with an airy laugh, "don't hesitate to ask for anything, i'll do it as long as your sister allows it."


the mortal's face lights up for a moment but hearing the rest of seungwan's sentence makes her shoulders sag, "you dare call yourself the ruler of hell when you're just like all the other demons?"


the devil gasps loudly in offence, "yah, park sooyoung, i could have you flayed for that."


"oh no, whatever shall i do?" sooyoung mocks with a loud cackle, "my sister would never talk to you again and i bet that's much worse."


seungwan grunts and exhales, admitting the truth, "it is..."


their conversation grows quiet without the urge for any continuation. perhaps they've sidetracked from what sooyoung had intended to talk about but it's fine, seungwan will find out for herself during christmas.


she does, however, make one small request just as she hears joohyun's door creaking open. sooyoung answers her without thinking much about it but the strange question leaves her wondering why. and before seungwan can reply, joohyun shuffles out from the darkness of the corridor that leads to the bedrooms.


"seungwan? sooyoung?" the bleary-eyed mortal yawns as she pokes her head into the light, "what are you guys doing?"


"she's cheating on you, unnie." sooyoung jokes while peeling herself off of the devil, "we were just chatting. you can have her back now."


seungwan shoots her a warning glare while joohyun doesn't hold back a snort, while the devil worries that joohyun may get the wrong idea, the mortal isn't worried at all. after all, seungwan has loved her soul for lifetimes, it would be a miracle if she even thinks of cheating.


"it's cold, come back to bed when you're done." joohyun murmurs softly and turns to head back to bed but pauses a second later as if she forgot something, "don't stay up too late, sooyoung-ah." she adds.


that's all it takes for seungwan to hop off the couch, bidding sooyoung a quick goodnight as she follows joohyun like an obedient puppy. the younger mortal saves them her sarcasm and she is left to ponder if her relationship with seulgi will ever get to that point.



it's not very often that seungwan leaves her side but joohyun has come to understand that it's usually a matter of importance when she does. 


but despite the absence of a celestial issue, seungwan did not glue herself to joohyun today. the devil has been gone for the better part of her shift and joohyun is starting to wonder where she has wandered off to.


a sense of uneasiness lingers; not that joohyun doubts seungwan's ability to take care of herself, but she worries for her fellow mortals that might find themselves crossing paths with the devil. seungwan absolutely loves messing with humanity. being her victim for a couple of months now, joohyun would do everything to prevent anyone else from experiencing it.


seeing that the clock has just struck nine at night, joohyun strolls over to the entrance of the store to flip the ‘ open’ sign over to ‘closed’.


that's when her eyes land on the snow-covered devil crouching by the side of the road. quirking a brow, joohyun steps out of the store into the freezing cold. with a foot, the mortal nudges her while peering over her shoulder. 


"yah, what are you doing? it's cold out here." joohyun mutters while running her hands down her arms for warmth.


it's a little too cold to be out here but seungwan, being the devil and all, doesn't seem affected by it. instead of responding, she proudly presents her creation to joohyun.


tilting her head slightly, the mortal has to fight the urge to sigh. of course, seungwan would never be doing what she expects.


"you've been out here for the whole day making ducks with snow?"


setting her duckling down on the sidewalk, seungwan rises to her feet and nods.


"it's much harder than it looks!" she whines, "and look, i made an army."


she points to the right where two neat rows of snow ducks line the sidewalk like runway lights. an army feels like an understatement because to joohyun they seem to stretch on beyond her sight.


"my god…" she mutters under her breath but seungwan picks it up with a slight grumble.


"god couldn't make these, trust me."


"god doesn't need to make any when you've made an entire army," joohyun retorts with a scoff, "and how hard can it be?"


how hard can it be? her words echo in seungwan's head and the devil narrows her gaze. a snap of her fingers and a duck-shaped snow mould appears in her hand.


"make one." seungwan challenges while pressing the mould into joohyun's arms. she knows joohyun wouldn't back down, especially not when it means losing to her.


there is a terrifying glint in the mortal's eyes when she takes the tool in her hands and crouches down. it's on. she'll wipe that smug smile off seungwan's face in less than a minute and then she'll brag about it for the rest of the night.


the icy touch of snow doesn't bother her as she scoops handfuls into the mould, how hard can this be? thinking she would succeed, joohyun clamps the two sides together, forming her own little duck. except, instead of it looking like a perfect duck like seungwan had presented, it crumbles apart the moment joohyun separates the mould.


she hears seungwan clear loudly as she tries again. this is but a fluke, she tells herself and packs more snow into the mould, making sure to leave no gaps this time. she exerts a little more strength when she presses the two halves together, thinking it would help. but all it does is leave her duck stuck to the mould, and wiggling it out causes its head to detach from its body.


"told you it wasn't that easy." seungwan hums as she begins floating in front of joohyun with a smirk, "ready to give up and go home?"


as if the mortal would agree. scoffing, joohyun shoots her a sharp glare.


"we're not leaving till i make one." she declares firmly.


"you'll catch a cold."


"i won't."


with sheer determination, joohyun spends close to what feels like an hour attempting to make one single perfect snow duck. in the meantime, seungwan takes her time in closing up the shop while she watches on with an occasional jibe. she knows she shouldn't encourage joohyun but at the same time, seungwan thinks she looks cute when she's focused.


her hands have gone numb from the snow and the cold has seeped into her bones but at last, joohyun presents a perfect snow duck to seungwan with a triumphant grin.


it's probably the fifth one seungwan has seen but joohyun refused to stop until it had absolutely no flaws. the previous ones all had minor mistakes that she would've excused but her charge is stubborn.


"you're the snow duck master now. can we go home?" seungwan smiles as she takes joohyun's prized creation and sets it beside hers. 


two snow ducks sitting outside the display window of the toy store would look adorable if not for the army of ducks that line the sidewalk leading up to the store. 


joohyun bobs her head, shivering as her satisfaction begins to be overwhelmed by the wind. seungwan sighs at the sight and drapes her treasured jacket over the mortal. the devil finds joohyun's freezing hands and warms them up with her own, earning a contented sigh from the mortal.


it comes as no surprise to anyone when joohyun wakes up with a throbbing headache and a blocked nose the next morning. luckily, she has her very own demonic caretaker who is more than glad to make her chicken soup and wrap her up in the softest quilts. 


though, joohyun prefers leaving her snot on seungwan's chest instead, why use blankets when you have a personal heater that gives wonderfully warm hugs?



a full week passes since her chat with sooyoung, and seungwan has spent the majority of it contemplating if she should take a trip down to hell. she weighs the pros and cons over and over again but decides to act on her curiosity ultimately — everyone, including the fates, would agree that she makes terrible choices. well, on the bright side, she's a veteran at dealing with the consequences of her own actions.


ensuring that joohyun will call for her if anything goes wrong, seungwan makes a quick trip to hell's best bar with burger by her side. it's surprisingly crowded despite it being the winter season, probably due to the demons not being able to get contracts during halloween.


seeing as the bar is crowded, seungwan snakes her way to the counter where yerim is busy pouring drinks. the pink-haired demon smiles upon seeing the devil, but it fades almost instantly when a brawl begins in the corner of the bar. 


"yah! knock it off, we just replaced the tables an hour ago!" she screeches loudly before turning her attention to the king of hell, "what do you need?"


"you know me so well, yerim-ah." seungwan beams, "a drink and a file if you will."


yerim avoids seungwan's eyes after hearing her request. it's normal for seungwan to ask for files but after what happened with azrael, stealing from the archive so shortly after the incident feels like a death wish.


"azrael will kill you if they find out." the demon lowers her voice as she serves seungwan a glass of whiskey, "can it wait?"


seungwan downs the drink in one gulp and shakes her head, "nope, i wanna know before christmas."


a fool could tell that this person seungwan wants to know about is probably related to joohyun in some way, and yerim knows the devil too well by now. either she gets the file or seungwan will find her own ways, which might get her killed much faster than she'd like.


"thought you'd make good choices after almost dying to sahaquiel but i guess not," yerim gives in with a sigh, "what's their name?"


"bae hyungwon."


despite the unease she feels, the demon speaks, "i'll let you know when i get it."


"thanks yerim-ah, you're the best."


yerim nods, forcing a small smile just until seungwan bounces out of sight. a wave of uneasiness washes over her when she recalls that this name has appeared in joohyun's redacted files. being on the sidelines isn't always bad until she's the only one that can see the impending disaster that seungwan is about to throw herself into.


the demon tightens her jaw — if only she isn't so powerless against seungwan's love.


end notes:

damn first update of 2022... in APRIL... LMAO... i'm so sorry i really wanted to update in january but this ing conversation that seungwan has with sooyoung left me stuck for months i'm not even kidding like i've written and deleted so many versions of it. any sane person would just be like don't write it then! but i'm insane and i thought it was necessary : )

excuses aside, i do have a couple of life updates.
i got accepted into school! i start in late july so if i don't finish this before then idk if i ever will :clown:
and i've been talking to someone for the past few months, she's one of the reasons why i left for a lil bit. tldr, i just wanna hang out with her all the time so like writing isn't a priority anymore. and she's the one who got me back into valorant so... i've been playing that a lot with her and also my friends. don't wanna overshare too much but i feel really lucky that i met her, she makes me wanna be a better person for real and i'm working on that. only con is that we have a 15 hour time difference and sometimes thinking about it makes me wanna scream and kick my legs because i just wanna hold her hand man. damn, i could really go on but i don't wanna be THAT cringe...

anyway, hope you guys haven't forgotten about this fic. thanks for reading and i'll see you soon (hopefully)

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