Prompt #: 33
Title: Every Little Thing She Does
Ship(s): Xiumin/Baekhyun, Xiumin/Baekhyun/Kai if you want it hard enough
Word count: 5,900+
Trigger(s): drinking, brief violence
Summary: When seductress and pickpocket Baekhyun, dressed as alter ego Lady B, meets the alluring Sohee, a notorious thief of magical items the wanted signs know better as Xiumin, Baekhyun thinks Lady Luck has struck. And is not too far off the mark.
Author's note: I didn’t put these under triggers because it doesn’t seem to be appropriate to call them that? So here are just some content heads-up: crossdressing, genderfluid/nb!baekhyun, agender!kai, mongryong is a bat, some sexy stuff, and some swearing.
Anyway, I’ve never written xiubaek before (sweats) but how could I resist crossdressing thieves and magic? It’s… not that funny, it ended up taking me in a pretty different direction. Even some sci-fi accidentally happened. Iit’s really sloppy and rushed right now I’m so sorry I didn’t have time to clean it up :<
If it wasn’t obvious, the title is from every little thing she does is magic by sting (and the sleeping at last cover if you wanna be emo but this fic is a romp so don’t do that). Thanks for beta’ing, C!
Baekhyun’s transformation into Lady B is an uncomplicated process, like puzzle pieces slotting into place. Hips fill out the dress nicely on their own, swishing with the fabric, shoulder’s a bit broad but suited well. Simply some tucking, some padding, and a few quick spells just to redden lips or paint eyelids something pretty, tie up the strings to the corset hands-free, and maybe even lengthen the hair down the back. Baekhyun doubts any of the high witches of his school would approve of this kind of trivial magic use, but that rouge lip color is always getting lost. And besides, kissable lips is hardly the greatest offense a dropout like “Lady B” can offer to the world of witchcraft.
Pickpocketing drunken, randy magic-adepts falls under that category.
The tavern Lady B frequents is bustling when she steps in, another caravan of fresh witches on their way to the nearby school to further their individualized study. Perfect. They always have goodies for her nimble fingers to lift from their persons. Baekhyun loves this time of year; the leaves are changing and students’ pockets are heavy with gold and magic. She walks into the room with a particular swagger, eyeing her potential victims with practiced ease. Wolf in sheep’s clothing she may not be, but her teeth flash when she smiles to the ogling witches-in-training.
She’s been doing this for years now, Chanyeol the bartender and all the regulars know her well by now, know what she’s about and, in the case of Chanyeol, has even seen her other side and knows his name. They have an agreement: no stealing from the bar, and that she sends an amulet or two his way. Baekhyun nods to Chanyeol, and the bartender flicks his wrist to magically beckon the ingredients to her usual drink.
Baekhyun ducks instinctively, Chanyeol being notorious for breaking things. “You should just do it the old fashioned way, you know,” she warns.
Chanyeol makes a face at her, holding up the unbroken bottles in an exaggerated gesture, almost dropping one of them in the process. “Don’t,” he grinds out when Baekhyun opens her mouth for another quip.
Instead, she sits at the bar and grins cheekily, casually asking, “Anyone special?”
Chanyeol sniffs distractedly as he makes her drink. “A few. Young and flashy witches off to school like you’d expect,” he reports. “But mostly regulars. There’s one woman, though, I don’t think she’s a student. You should probably watch out for her.”
“Yeah?” says Baekhyun. She’s always had a hard time giving up on a challenge.
“I mean it, Baek,” mutters Chanyeol, handing her the mixed drink. “She looks dangerous.”
Baekhyun takes a sip. “Point her out to me,” she dares.
Chanyeol sighs, jerking his head in the direction of the back of the bar.
At a small table with a chimney glass in front of her, a simply-dressed but gorgeous woman sits with her legs crossed in front of her. With delicate fingers, she raises the glass to thin, glistening lips. She is small, with narrow shoulders and a gold chain around her neck, the pendant disappearing between her breasts and lost in the fabric of her dress—but her cheeks are round and cute. Her almond-shaped eyes are wide, but not in fear or anxiety, but a surveying, shrewd look across the room.
Baekhyun knows that look: of someone trying to feign innocence. And there is something strangely familiar in the way her eyes narrow when they meet hers.
“Looks harmless to me,” she lies to Chanyeol without turning around, not cowing from the other’s stare. She nods politely, pressing her lips together thoughtfully. The stranger mirrors the gesture in friendly acknowledgement, but with a slight smirk playing at her lips. And there is something… else about those eyes; something Baekhyun can’t quite see yet.
It’s the stranger who breaks contact, reaching for her drink and standing to approach a witch with jingling pockets who just had his bags sent up to a room.
Baekhyun turns back to Chanyeol, who looks her up and down grimly, as if making a point. “That’s what I’m afraid of,” he counters. “She reminds me of you.”
Baekhyun throws her head back laughing high, attracting attention from some of the other guests. “Trust your gut,” she tells him. He huffs in response as Baekhyun turns away, snickering.
Baekhyun scans the bar again, this time sending a wave of magic out like sonar, to see if anything pings. Her familiar back home is a bat who can do this better than Baekhyun with a wave less likely to be detected by others, but the presence of Mongryong alone is a dead giveaway; she likes to keep them guessing whether or not she’s a magic-user, lull them into a false sense of security. Witches (especially the men) typically underestimate a girl until they realize she’s like them.
For Baekhyun, detecting magical people and items is easy, something she was born with. But it’s a rare gift. Most have to see, and usually up-close, an amulet or alteration directly to determine the presence of magic. Not Baekhyun. If she concentrates hard enough, she can see past illusions and disguises.
Like the one the stranger is wearing.
Not her attire, but an enchantment over her left eye. Her eye itself is a magical item. She definitely went to great lengths to make it appear like it matches her other, but when Baekhyun focuses she sees a shimmer to it. The stranger glances back, apparently sensing Baekhyun’s probing wave. Again, she locks eyes with Baekhyun, who focuses on the eye in question. It’s actually gray, unlike the deep, earthy brown of the left.
Baekhyun’s gaze falls away from hers, landing on a handsome witch with curled kitten-grin lips. He notices instantly, returning her stare with a flirtatious smile, holding up his drink as if to toast to her. Eyes set on her new target, Baekhyun grabs for her own drink.
Chanyeol intercepts her. “Tip your bartenders,” he says, a different kind of grin on his face.
She smirks, fingers brushing his when she takes the drink back from him. “Put it on my tab.”
“Don’t use your ‘charms’ on me, B,” he scolds. “It won’t work.”
Baekhyun cocks her head cutely, but obliges by sliding over a few bills. “Can’t blame a girl for trying.”
Chanyeol rolls his eyes fondly, counting her money.
Baekhyun makes her way to the witch with the smile, bumping into a very tall and thin but surprisingly round-bottom’d patron. She passes it off as if she is copping a feel, when in reality she steals back the money she just gave the bar from his money-clip. He jumps, flushing at the sight of her: a pretty, supposedly embarrassed blush trained on him when he turns around.
“Oops, sorry,” she says sweetly, in a way that so perfectly indicates that whether or not she did it on purpose, she’s not sorry in the least.
He smiles down at her, thinking he’s sly to her game. “Buy you a drink?”
“Got one, thanks,” she replies pseudo-politely, holding her glass aloft. She’s already breezing past him coolly, towards the customer she had her sights set on in the first place. This one, despite his good looks and heavy pockets, has nothing she’s interested in, for now.
As she stalks toward her prey, she feels the eyes of the other woman, no doubt her play was seen by that all-seeing enchanted eye of hers. Baekhyun chances a glance back at her just in time to see her walk away from her own target, slipping a new item down her bodice. Baekhyun smirks. Competition or no, she wants to meet with this woman.
Once her business transaction with the new gentleman is done, of course.
This one she spends more time with. His name is Jongdae, continuing his education in shifting and transformation at the school. They laugh and have a good time but he walks away alone, significantly drunker with lighter pockets. When Baekhyun has sufficiently had her fill, condensation dripping between her fingers, she approaches the bar for a refill of her now room-temperature gin and juice. After ordering, she turns to survey the tavern but finds herself face to face with the stranger.
Staring her down, the stranger smirks, reaching out her hand to Baekhyun’s drink. Baekhyun watches raptly as the woman traces a delicate finger around the rim of Baekhyun’s glass. A chill runs through the liquid, the glass frosting over.
“Nothing worse than warm gin,” she says, pulling her hand back.
Baekhyun chuckles softly. There is something familiar about this person. She tilts her glass over, letting the contents of the glass, now a column of solid ice, clatter onto the bar counter. “Seems we have more in common than fashion sense.”
“A lot more, I’ll wager.”
Baekhyun changes the subject, “You’ve been watching me.”
The other woman winks, closing her regular eye. “You’ve been watching me too.”
Baekhyun shrugs, as though innocent.
“You got a name?” she asks.
“Call me B.”
“Sohee.” She extends her hand as though to shake, but Baekhyun, ever the gentlewoman, takes it in hers and presses a kiss to her knuckle, lips brushing a magical ring she knows the other had stolen from another witch in the bar. Sohee, seemingly unfazed, bows her head in a half-curtsy as though they were at a ball and Baekhyun had done something very gallant.
They both ignore Chanyeol when he comes back with Baekhyun’s new drink, gawking at their intense staring contest.
Baekhyun breaks the silence, dropping Sohee’s hand. “Will you excuse me for a moment?” she breathes as she steps away from the bar towards the restrooms, but her gait and and the way she turns back to look at Sohee says, Follow me.
Sohee indeed does follow shortly after, knocking back a gulp of Baekhyun’s drink before doing so. She winks at Chanyeol as she goes. He barely contains an eyeroll before drinking the rest himself.
Baekhyun is waiting for Sohee in the hallway outside the restrooms, a mischievous grin on her face. She’s leaning against the wall, head already tilted coquettishly as Sohee joins her. She chuckles lowly when she spots Baekhyun, but acts nonchalant, as if she were just going to walk past her.
Playing along, Baekhyun puts her leg out. The wall is narrow enough that she can rest her boot against it, the line of her leg stopping across Sohee’s knees. Sohee grins at Baekhyun’s exposed shin, impulsively running a hand up the length of it, under her dress.
Baekhyun hums contentedly as Sohee’s hand continues its journey, hiking her skirt up to the curve of her hip. Sohee’s face is now mere inches from Baekhyun’s, other hand situated on her waist. Sohee is about Baekhyun’s size, only tilting back ever so slightly to meet lips. Baekhyun kisses back with vigor, arms thrown around Sohee’s neck, hands crossing at wrists and extended delicately behind her head. Their chests press flat against one another. Baekhyun can feel the hard outline of what she supposes is what Sohee stole earlier, but there is something else: an amulet on the chain around her neck, one that she did not sense before. She still can’t sense it. A thought flits through Baekhyun’s mind—collateral. Just in case. She files this away for later, when the opportunity presents itself before the night is over.
But this is no mark, this is not business. This is pleasure, and Baekhyun so willingly gives herself over to it.
She pushes back, obligingly, slotting her bare leg between Sohee’s. Thigh pressed up against the folds of her dress, Baekhyun feels rather than hears the moan it brings out of Sohee, sucking at Baekhyun’s tongue. It’s in this moment, when Sohee retaliates, rutting against Baekhyun’s leg that Baekhyun remembers why Sohee’s face seems so familiar. Sohee smiles against Baekhyun’s mouth, reaching under her dress further, wrapping around the aching hardness of Baekhyun’s arousal and pressing their pelvises against one another, cock meeting cock through the fabric of their dresses.
“We do have a lot in common,” breathes Sohee in Baekhyun’s ear.
Baekhyun’s response is little more than a breathy moan, as she tries to stay upright by clutching at the other’s sleeves. She can’t breathe as deeply as she’d like to, corset restricting in the best way, chest heaving beneath her bodice. “Do you,” she tries, but is cut off by the distraction of Sohee’s tongue finding her pulse point. “Do you have a room here, in the tavern?”
“Mm, yes,” she answers after a beat.
“Take me there.”
Baekhyun wakes the next day, naked and by himself. He sighs quietly, disdainfully side-eyeing the dress from the night before, discarded on a chair beside the bed of the inn room; it will feel wrong to wear it today, incongruent with the masculinity now dominant in his mind, but he smirks when he sees it devoid of all the magical items he had stolen at the bar.
“Sohee” robbed him. Oh, but Baekhyun had been counting on it.
The pendant gripped in his fist sparkles in the sunlight drifting in through the windows. He smiles down at the token and it shimmers with the binding spell he spun round it last night. With it still in his hand, Baekhyun stands, hoping that the thief left behind some appropriate clothes for him to wear in the morning escape.
Jackpot, he finds, in the drawer beside the bed: “men’s” clothes, a dark long-sleeve shirt and plain trousers. They’re not a perfect fit but it “fits” better than the dress, today. Hair still long, he shakes the spell out in the mirror until it’s at its regular length, ruffling the woven magic from his trusses, and then sets to washing off his leftover makeup in the basin as he waits for the thief to return. In the meantime, he calls for Mongryong to join him.
Baekhyun is nonchalantly looking down at his nails, bat perched on his shoulder, like he hadn’t felt the presence of the thief already; grinning up when the one he’s been waiting for steps through the door, breathing heavily through nostrils and wearing an outfit that matches the one that was left behind that Baekhyun now wears. It seems they both have shed their other selves.
The other looks surprised to see Baekhyun sitting there on the bed they shared the previous night, boyishly smug with his legs crossed ankle over knee.
“I knew you’d be back.” He holds up the dully shining amulet, the one he bound to himself in case Sohee would steal from him. “It’s useless. I knew it had to be of some personal value. Someone with your ‘eye’ wouldn’t keep something like this unless it meant a lot.”
With gritted teeth and hands going frosty with power swelling angrily, the other replies, “It was a gift from my family. I don’t want to play games.”
Baekhyun swings the chain on his finger, pauses dramatically as the other sizes him up. He stares the other down coolly. “No games, just a conversation.” He waggles a finger before the thief can make a move against him. “Ah-ah-ah, no, no! Use that eye of yours, you’ll see a web of magic around the amulet. Not one so easily broken too. Any harm that befalls to me,” he began.
The thief finishes for him, “Befalls to the owner.”
“Have I got your attention?” teases Baekhyun, voice light and smile genuine despite the intensity of the situation. “I’d rather it not come to that. I think we should work together, not steal from one another. And… I always wondered what was under that eyepatch,” he said, thinking back to the menacing wanted posters that were plastered all through the wood. “Tell me, is Sohee your new name or just a cover for the infamous witch-thief Xiumin?”
It appears the jig is up. Laughing, tension leaving shoulders, the other replies, “Minseok’s my real name, actually. And ‘he' still, if you’re wondering. You?” He steps closer to Baekhyun, extending his hand in offering.
“Baekhyun,” he answers and shakes Minseok’s hand, but he doesn’t drop it, adding, “but I like B too, even when I’m not thieving. She’s not a separate entity, she’s still me.” He shrugs. “Other than that, I don’t care what you call me. She, he—they, even. Whatever strikes your fancy. Although, maybe avoid ‘he’ when I’m in a dress.”
Minseok nods. “Noted.”
Baekhyun still hasn’t let go of Minseok’s hand, instead turning it over and pressing the amulet into his palm.
Minseok raises an eyebrow. “You just handed over your bargaining chip.”
“I want us to be friends. More than that,” he adds suggestively with a dirty grin, “I want us to be partners. I want in.”
“In?” asks Minseok, putting the chain around his neck where it belongs.
“On your play. I know you have a big heist here. I want in. They’re keeping something at the school, right? They’re blocking something from being detected, which means something big. You’re here to steal it, aren’t you?”
Minseok chuckles, shaking his head. “You were born with that gift, weren’t you?” There is annoyance in his voice, but a hint of fondness as well. “I have to rely on this damn eye.”
“You know what it is, don’t you?” prods Baekhyun.
He sighs. “Yes. It’s called the Kinetic Actuation Intelligence.”
Baekhyun stares, obviously not recognizing the name.
Minseok adds, “You probably know it as the Kai.”
“That enchanted meteor?” he exclaims incredulously, scrunching up his nose in disbelief. “I thought it was a legend.”
“So did I,” replies Minseok. “It was an ‘object' that fell from the sky with magical properties, the ability to transport its holder anywhere. That part you probably know. What you don’t know is that non-magic scientists got a hold of it first.”
“What?” prompts Baekhyun, leaning back against the bedframe. Mongryong flutters his wings, readjusting his grip on Baekhyun’s shoulder.
“Working together with witches, they learned it was sentient, that’s where ‘intelligence’ comes from. It must be dangerous, if they sealed it away so well.” He looks at Baekhyun pointedly, as if hinting at something.
He knows what he’s getting at. “I still want in,” Baekhyun tells him, determined. Before Minseok can protest, he goes on, “I know it’s going to be dangerous. And I know you work alone, but you’re going to need our help.” The bat on his shoulder extended his wing across the back of his neck, little claws gripping onto him as if to stand up tall and proud. “At least to distract the guards while you ‘pick the lock,’ so to speak.”
“Okay. Okay,” he agrees with a sigh, “but if you fuck up I’m not coming to your rescue, damsel.”
Baekhyun smirked. “I can handle it.”
After a well-deserved and enthusiastic shared shower at Baekhyun’s place and Minseok’s returning of everything he stole from Baekhyun (“Fair’s fair,” he said), a simple plan is devised.
“But how do we get out?” asks Baekhyun, wet hair flecking water droplets on the rune circle he just drew in chalk on his wood floor as he steps into the center.
Minseok is pouring over maps of the school. All stolen, and outdated too, according to Baekhyun. The building “resets” randomly weekly, scrambling rooms and windows and architecture, to keep students on their toes. “We’ll have a rock that can take us anywhere in the world, the universe maybe,” answers Minseok. He sniffs at Baekhyun’s handiwork. “Your pentagram is crooked.”
Huffing, Baekhyun responds, “It is not, let me work.”
Although, admittedly, a shimmer spell in his best femme finery would be a more fun way of distracting guards, an invisibility spell for the both of them should do the trick much more efficiently. Slipping past them undetected and leaving with the stolen merchandise without anyone knowing is always a superior method than the flashy ways Baekhyun and Minseok are used to.
Minseok’s black hair is parted in the middle and barely damp when Baekhyun finishes his part of the spell. Baekhyun sighs as he saunters over to the desk he’s sitting at, a normally cluttered thing that Minseok cleaned to make way for his plans, all while tut-tut’ing at the mess. Baekhyun puts his arms around Minseok’s neck, resting on his shoulders and he murmurs against his ear, “Are all your plans this half-assed?”
“We’ll be fine, B,” exhales Minseok exasperatedly, but he puts a hand over Baekhyun’s where his arms are linked in front of his chest. With Baekhyun’s insistent tugging, he makes his way over to the circle and lets Baekhyun start the chant.
“So how does this spell work?” asks Minseok once they’re finally away, sneaking in some bushes beside the school. “We’re not invisible yet.”
The school isn’t grand, like one would expect. Rather shabby looking, in fact, like an old, one-room prairie schoolhouse—except it is covered in doors. There didn’t seem to be an inch of plain siding, just rows of crooked, ornate, or plain doors, each of which lead to a different mass-defying space. Most lead to different subjects of teachings, such as shifting or divination, but many lead to more interesting, more treacherous places. And: where the schoolmasters were hiding the Kai.
“To you. Because you know we’re here,” explains Baekhyun patiently. “You know I’m using a spell. It’s more of a trick of the eye than true invisibility. We remain in the corner of one’s eye, or like a bit of a blur, a projection of what we would be blocking, very easy to miss. We just can’t be in their direct sightline for too long, or they’ll wise up. You can’t achieve true invisibility without a cloak or potion.” Quiet as he can, he chuckles wryly. “You don’t know about invisibility spells? Notorious witch-thief Xiumin?”
“No! It feels like cheating.”
Baekhyun tries not to laugh too hard at that. “Honor among thieves, huh.”
“Shut up,” mutters Minseok, batting a hand at Baekhyun’s arm, a little too hard. “Send Mongryong already.”
As Minseok expected, the little bat discovers a Silent Guard stationed outside one of the most decrepit-looking of the doors. Silents, he told Baekhyun at his house, are like motion-sensing sleeper agents: golems that erupt into form from the ground like violently sprouting weeds when someone, or in this case a familiar, gets too close to what they are protecting. Mongryong merely had to hover near the door, almost close enough to knock, when a Silent shot up, feet planted in the dirt like a statue, swatting at the bat with large, ape-like arms. It is faceless and comprised of the dirt, grass, moss, and stone of the ground it emerged from. Mongryong narrowly escapes, flapping back in the direction of Minseok and Baekhyun, but smart enough to perch itself onto a neighboring tree instead of leading right back to them.
“It doesn’t have eyes,” whispers Baekhyun through grit teeth. “How is this going to work.”
“It’ll work,” assures Minseok, but his voice wavers ever so slightly. “It can still see us. Or, not see us.”
The Silent swivels its featureless, round head, trying to detect any more movement surrounding it. Apparently satisfied, it melts back into mud and the ground smooths over, as if nothing happened.
“Maybe we don’t have to wake it at all…” muses Minseok.
He relays his idea to Baekhyun. The lock, apparently a simple spell, seems to rely mostly on the golem to protect it; Minseok suspects it is because a heavier spell would be easy to detect and therefore clue people in to how important what they are hiding truly is.
Scoffing, Baekhyun counters, “And because there are stronger enchantments behind it.”
“Baby steps,” he replies, concentrating and unraveling the spell on the door. If he can just break the seal on it, they can blast it open quickly enough (with their own force) to break through, and past the Silent before it has a chance to wake up.
“I’m in,” whispers Minseok.
Baekhyun takes a readying breath, rollings his neck in preparation. He needs a blast of air that can move them across the threshold, with another eruption of compressed air in front of them so they don’t flatten like a pancake against the door. Easy enough. Baekhyun forces out another exhale through pursed lips, as if to practice, putting his arm around Minseok’s waist to brace him. Mongryong will help with propulsion, but it’s all up to Baekhyun to get that door open; all of Minseok’s powers are focused on keeping it unlocked, the best way to do this to close it behind them.
Another breath before he nods to the little bat. Mongryong flaps behind them, pushing out something akin to sonar, forcing their bodies to fly the meters to over the grass to the doorway. With a yell, Baekhyun breathes out the air in his lungs like a fist punch, more than wind, more than force.
And bursts the door right off its hinges.
They land in a heap, tumbling over one another before come to a halt in a dimly lit, grey hallway.
“So much for in and out without anyone noticing,” mutters Minseok grumpily.
Baekhyun clamps a hand over his mouth, tightening his grip when Minseok squeaks in protest. Minseok tries to shake him off, but Baekhyun only squeezes harder and presses a finger over his own lips before pointing it at the open doorway.
The Silent is awake.
Minseok freezes at the sight of it twisted around, its craggy face, though without eyes, pointed in their direction. In the eerie quiet, the Silent pulls from the soil at its feet to extend its arm far longer than it should, groping aimlessly for them. Holding their breaths, the two witches scramble back away from the reaching limb. A bead of sweat rolls over Minseok’s temple, the bead meeting the pinky of Baekhyun’s hand where it is still held over his mouth. The Silent has neither ears nor eyes but still the two shake in effort to keep themselves from detection of hearing and sight, crawling back and back and back the closer its fist gets to barely brushing them.
Finally, after what feels like an eternity, it sucks the arm back into its amorphous mud-body, untwisting itself at its post. Minseok and Baekhyun both finally let out the breaths they’ve been holding.
Baekhyun lets go of his grip on Minseok’s face. A wry smile on his lips, Minseok mouths a thank you, rolling his jaw and massaging his chin. Baekhyun scrunches his nose by way of apology and you’re welcome.
Getting to their feet, they finally take a look at their surroundings. “Bleak” is a generous word to describe their predicament. What little sunlight is streaming in from the world they left behind does little to illuminate their way, but the seemingly neverending dark corridor, then sharp turn says only one thing: a labyrinth.
“A fucking maze?” hisses Baekhyun.
Minseok whispers harshly back, “Do I look pleased?”
With a sigh, Baekhyun silently concedes that bickering won’t help and only solving it will. The walls appear too high to cheat it, so they have to do it the old fashioned way—figuring that the Kai must be at the end. It’s slow work, right hand against the wall from that old trick. If either of them think that there must be some sort of enchantment or they are only going in circles, neither express it aloud. They walk in silence as all color leaches from their sight, the halls growing dimmer with each turn. Luckily, from where they are Minseok can feel the other seal: the final seal. The one holding the Kai. He promises that as they work through the maze, he’ll work on breaking it.
Baekhyun squints his eyes against the blackness in front of him, trying to pick out shapes among the nothing. But all he sees is more nothing; all he has is the smooth wall and Minseok’s left hand fisted in the hem of his shirt. Mongryong chirps every once in a while, to remind them they’re still going in the right direction. But the dark keeps them prisoner, afraid to even produce a little light to guide them.
Until Baekhyun sees a shimmer. He blinks. Is it a trick? It get closer, closer… closer—!
“Minseok!” he yells. Without any other warning, Baekhyun claps his hands together, causing a spark of sudden light flaring out from the palms like a flashbang grenade.
“Who—!?” exclaims a gruff, new voice.
Baekhyun’s invisibility is nullified by the flash, revealing himself to the new guard. Before Baekhyun has time to process the witch before him, fists engulfed in flame and at the ready, Minseok is already jumping in front of him in answer.
“They’re with me,” says Minseok menacingly, before punching the guard in the face. He crumples to the floor.
Baekhyun snaps his fingers, conjuring a tiny sun hovering above his thumbtip. In the glow, his cheeks look extra soft with his smile. “You came to my rescue,” he says.
“Yeah well,” mutters Minseok, shifting uncomfortably, “don’t get used to it.”
Baekhyun plants a sloppy smooch on Minseok’s cheek, but barely has time to preen before he realizes something. The sun. “The Kai fell from the… sky…” He looks up, splaying his long fingers out, the ball of fire and gas floating up to the ceiling. “Mongryong!” The bat takes to the sky, the sun illuminating his dark wings.
He climbs higher, higher—until he and the sun disappear.
“That’s it!” exclaims Baekhyun.
Minseok hushes him hastily, but gives him a deep kiss of his own before grabbing him by the arm and propelling them both into the air. Baekhyun chances another small star in his palm, holding it up to guide them. Together they fly, momentum taking them all the way up to the ceiling. On an apparent collision course, only faith keeps them moving forward—but Baekhyun can feel Mongryong on the other side. He does not hesitate, diving headfirst into the abyss of the night-black ceiling.
Their faith is rewarded: they pass through smoothly, as if soaring through a cloud. Only for gravity to reverse.
Pitching headfirst, the two witches shout in shock as they plummet to the floor of a small, small hexagonal room. The wind is knocked from them, landing piled atop each other. Mongryong flies to Baekhyun’s shoulder, clinging to the fabric of his shirt.
“Oww,” moans Baekhyun, holding his back as he disentangles his limbs from Minseok.
Wary of the next challenge they inevitably have to face, Minseok stands at attention. But it is only the object on a little pedestal in the middle of the grey room: a seal of holographic runes orbiting around it. Many layers have already been stripped away from his “lock-picking.” The object’s point hovers above the pedestal, an icosahedron with sides made up of triangles, a smooth dark grey surface like onyx or a placid lake. It glitters, each corner providing a strip of fluorescent light for the twenty sides to dance reflections off of.
“It doesn’t look like a meteor,” comments Baekhyun, but his voice gets caught in his throat, as though enchanted himself by the beauty of the object.
Minseok doesn’t miss a beat. “Lock the door behind us,” he tells Baekhyun.
Baekhyun nods, begins spinning a web to keep out any guards. No doubt, Silents and schoolmasters have been alerted to their intrusion by now. They’ve gotten this far.
Minseok grins and continues his own work to unbind the Kai. He has always liked puzzles; that’s what a good lock-seal is like: a complex twist of mechanisms and enchantments. Sometimes it was a cipher or a password, like untangling fishing line or a search for a key, a curse, a charm, or something as simple as just picking a lock—and the best have all of the above. This is one of the best. But still, nothing he can’t handle.
It’s only minutes before he turns to Baekhyun with a grin: “Come on, let’s ride this rock outta here.” He gestures to the object, inviting Baekhyun to be the one to pick it up.
Baekhyun can only whisper, “It’s beautiful,” as he grasps the object and lifts it.
“He,” corrects Kai, quietly.
Automatically, Baekhyun responds, “He, sorry.” Then he does a double take, letting go and jumping back as if electrocuted. The object does not fall, but hovers feet above the ground.
“Thank you,” he says, voice deep and genuine. Minseok and Baekhyun are agog at the masculine figure, apparently having suddenly appeared before them. He all but towers over them, broad shoulders snug in long-sleeved, coffee-with-cream neutral colors. Dark though it is, there is a slight glow to his skin like freshly turned soil in summer sun, topped with hair the color of browning leaves, short and soft. Cheekbones high, jaw strong, lips plush; absolutely beautiful. Just by looking, they can tell: he is made of magic. A fallen star.
“I do not go by ‘it,’” he explains, “I may not be human but I am a being. The witches and the scientists worked together to fuse me with an enchanted computer program, to control me. But all it did was give me form, a voice. A body.” He holds up his hand to show them, caught off-guard when Baekhyun reaches out to touch him, fingers pressing against his palm. Tangible. Although Kai is hesitant, he presses back.
“And you’re a… man?” clarifies an entranced Baekhyun, unable to let go.
Kai holds out his other hand to Minseok, who is just as inexplicably drawn to him. His eyes are a deep brown, calm and steady. “I have adopted pronouns and a name, it does not mean I have gender.” He grins toothily, in a strange, but completely sincere, giggle. “I’m still a ‘rock.’” He drops their hands and, in some way, breaks a spell.
Minseok frowns, looking down at his hand. “I broke the seal, why don’t you leave?”
Kai gives him a mirthless smile.
Baekhyun voices the pain his smile showed: “You can’t.”
Kai nods. “Not without another’s ‘will’. I can only go where someone else wants; whether it is known to them or not, however, is different. The reason they locked me up wasn’t because I was dangerous, but because I was fickle. I wouldn’t choose where their experiments wanted me. I would delve into them, their deepest desires, and take them there. As long as the person wants it, somewhere inside them, I can take them there.”
Baekhyun whispers, “And that’s where you want to go?”
“Of course,” answers Kai calmly. “I want to see the world.”
There is a sudden, loud bang!, causing all three to jump almost a foot in the air. It could have been comical, if it didn’t mean that the schoolmasters are trying to get past Baekhyun’s magic webs. They can hear indistinct yelling from up above.
Minseok stares down Kai. “You need us,” he says bluntly. “You can either take us away from here or we get caught and they eventually find a way to use you. We’re your ticket out of here.”
Kai takes a step back, a sudden fear clouded in his previously clear eyes. “You want to control me too.”
Baekhyun steps forward. “No. Use us,” he interjects. “Maybe we could find a way to make it so you can go your own way. You can leave us behind once you get us out, find someone else’s will.”
“What!?” hisses Minseok. Another bang! comes from outside and he looks apologetic.
“But wouldn’t it be better,” continues Baekhyun, licking his lips, “to see the world? Together?”
In answer, Kai smiles a small smile and extends his hands to his would-be kidnappers, his rescuers. The witches each take the hands offered to them, their free ones gripped between them.
“So,” begins Minseok, breathing out a sigh through puffed cheeks.
Kai finishes, “Where to?”
Squeezing each hand in his, Baekhyun requests, “Surprise us.”