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The outsiders’ perspective of the cryptid that is Sung Jin-Woo

Chapter Text

Even when Jin Ah was a tiny pre schooler who had no thoughts other than what her mom packed for lunch and making friends, she understood there was something fundamentally… “different” about her brother.

It was the way, even as a 13 year old preteen, Jin Woo looked like the height of human perfection with his perfect face, perfect hair, and his deep blue eyes that seemed almost violet in the right light despite the fact neither of their parents had eyes like his. It was the way he looked like an Olympic athlete despite not even being in the hiking club much less any athletics at school.

But, looks weren’t the main reason Jin Woo was strange. No, it was his… mannerisms that made people off put. “A child should not look so cold” was what one teacher said to her parents one time when Jin Woo’s class was having home visits and Jin Ah happened to be in the other room, “he doesn’t even attempt to make friends and the rest of the children are terrified of him”. Their parents were obviously worried about their son’s antisocial behavior and encouraged him to make friends and bring one over. Jin Ah’s brother responded by bringing home a kid younger than him and somehow belonged to one of the richest and most prestigious family in South Asia. Jin Ah didn’t even know how Jin Woo met Jin Ho and she didn’t even want to think about Jin Ho following her brother like a lost puppy calling him Hyung. Jin Woo wasn’t noticeably different but at least he had a friend.

There was no doubt her brother was cold, his emotions frozen under a glacier of ice and the only time he warmed up was in the presence of family (Jin Ah was secretly relieved that her brother wasn’t a some sort of sociopath because no one without emotions could smile at Jin Ah the way Jin Woo did when she was being particularly adorable).

Jin Woo always acted in an almost kingly manner that made him seem removed from “ordinary mortals” as Jin Ah liked to term it. In fact, her brother had been mistaken as a child from a rich family before despite the Sung household barely considered a middle class family with their mother working at a call center and their father working as a C-Rank hunter who ran dungeons enough to pay the bills but not more so he didn’t end up dead.

Her family’s financial status was always in the back of Jin Ah’s mind even when she was young making her not ask for toys or want to go out to expensive restaurants but her brother was different in that he seemed to have no material wants at all in the way only the extremely wealthy or monks with no want for possessions acted, and her brother was definitely not a monk.

It was one of the constants of Jin Ah’s childhood. Mom was a great cook but absolute pants at baking, Dad always hummed around the house but should never be allowed to sing to preserve everyone’s ears, and Jin Woo was impossible to buy presents for since he could care less about money, toys, or normal teenage hobbies.

Then suddenly, money mattered a whole lot and her brother’s nonchalance towards material needs changed drastically. It started with Dad disappearing (He wasn’t dead since there was no body that could be recovered and that was all Jin Ah would think about the topic). With their dad’s disappearance money got a whole lot tighter and their mom practically vanished too as she worked longer and longer hours to make ends meet. Jin Ah would say her brother started raising her a few years before he gained custody because at fifteen Jin Woo took over all the parenting duties of making her breakfast and lunch, getting her to school, and helping with her homework.

A few years later Jin Ah was in middle school and Jin Woo had a year left of high school. Just as the Sung family’s life started to get back on track with their mom getting a promotion and the ability to come home longer, life kicked them in the teeth after already shoving them down. The only time Jin Ah had ever seen her brother scared was when Jin Ah went to wake up their mother who had strangely slept in one Saturday and she didn’t wake up until the next day no matter how much Jin Ah shook her and screamed at her.

Just six months later their mother was in a fucking magically induced permanent coma with no cure (Jin Ah reserved the right to be bitter about how absolutely bullshit life was) and her brother dropped out of high school, got emancipated, and had a teenaged girl to somehow raise with no support system since their mom didn’t even mention her relatives and their father was an only child with both parents dead. On top of everything there was still paying the medical bills for their mother’s life support.

So, everything sucked and just when Jin Ah was worried her brother was going to do something dangerous like join a gang (honestly he’d be a head honcho pretty quick with how scary his glare was when he wanted her to do her chores) life gifted them with a way out of their situation but made her brother’s life infinitely harder.

One morning her brother made her a cheap but nutritious breakfast and as they were eating at the table he calmly said, “you’ll have to walk home alone from school today since I’m getting my hunter rank tested in the afternoon”.

“…What!”

God, Jin Ah hated her brother’s devil may care attitude sometimes.

Jin Ah didn’t know what to expect for Jin Woo’s hunter rank. She didn’t really care because she didn’t really want to think about her brother diving into to dungeons exactly like the one their dad “disappeared” in. Despite no expectations the last thing Jin Ah was expecting was her brother to come home with an E-Rank hunter’s license.

It was well known by basically everyone that E-Rank hunters were barely stronger than baseline humans and in a study, that Jin Ah made the mistake of reading, it said that E-Rank hunter statistics were not promising for her brother’s survival.

It quite literally did not compute that her brother was a weak hunter. Everything about Jin Woo screamed strength. How he walked, how he talked, and freaking how he blinked exuded power. He was practically the perfect template for a main character. Tragic backstory? Check. Unfairly handsome? Check. Weirdly extraordinary despite having a normal life up till now. Check. Jin Ah didn’t expect her brother to be S-Ranked or anything but if he had come back with an S-Rank license let’s just say Jin Ah would not have been totally surprised.

Jin Woo took his low rank and low survival chances with his usual aplomb. He didn’t even wait a week before he jumped head first into dungeoning. Jin Ah felt an almost incessant need to study when Jin Woo was in a dungeon in order to distract herself and get the best grades possible so her brother’s sacrifice (because that was what it was, he was sacrificing his entire youth just for her) would not be in vain. If he was going to work his ass off to keep her in school, then shit, Jin Ah is going to work her ass off in school to make everything Jin Woo did worth it.

Thankfully, her brother made it past being a newbie hunter the most dangerous time for a hunter because most of them got themselves killed through sheer inexperience and stupidity (Jin Ah’s brother was an idiot but not in anything important like survival). Things started to look up and the two of them got into the groove of normal life.

Of course, as she watched her brother stare down one of the most famous S-Rank hunters in Korea, she should have known her brother couldn’t even succeed at being a normal E Rank hunter.

Chapter Text

Woo Jin Chul met Sung Jin Woo at a D Rank dungeon that popped up outside a residential apartment complex. The building was old and had the typical 80’s squat architecture. The residents were just as old and squat as the building they lived in. Many of them having lived there for over 20 years and they were all reasonably concerned about the gate that appeared so close to them. As elderly who had nothing better to do they obviously decided to supervise the hunters going in to close the gate. It was a bunch of aunties and uncles complaining under their breath and talking amongst themselves about their grandchildren. Nothing serious and nothing that should warrant someone of Jin Chul’s position from the monitoring division to come down and supervise but unfortunately a few of th hunters in the group were suspected to be taking advantage of newly awakened hunters with fear for money and equipment.

Unfortunately, these occurrences were extremely common and the Monitoring Division did not have enough manpower to hunt down every hunter (pun intended) to stop them from hazing the newbies. The reason why Jin Chul got involved was because these group of hunters had a few suspicious deaths of new hunters that occurred around them. When people start dying regularly around troublesome hunters Jin Chul tries to do his due diligence to investigate no matter what rank the hunters were.

These hunters were a particularly weak group, named the Salvo Party, with only one hunter at C-Rank, one half being D-Rank and the rest all E-Ranks. The only reason Jin Chul was here personally was because a lot of higher ranked new hunters from C-B rank start in lower ranked dungeons to learn the ropes and hooligans like this group were scaring them off them to higher ranked dungeons where many of them were getting killed or quitting after they realized the reality of hunting. Korea couldn’t afford losing talented hunters especially now that gates were becoming more frequent and stronger.

So, it was with deep annoyance, even Jin Chul struggled to keep from his expression, that he approached the crowd of muttering grandparents that surrounded the vicinity of the gate and blocked Jin Chul’s view of the hunters.

Jin Chul frowned as he got closer. With his enhanced hearing he realized that the elderly muttering were talking worriedly to each other and glancing towards the gate with sympathetic looks and clicks of the younger while they shook their heads. One auntie even sighed, “such a nice young man yet he’s only an E-Rank I should ask him to meet my granddaughter. Goodness he’s so handsome!”

Jin Chul reached the crowd of elderly who all parted when they realized an intimidating man in a suit was in their midst.

Finally, with a clear view of the hunters, Jin Chul appraised them as he walked forward. All of the hunters’ fit the profiles Jin Chul had read, weak but with oddly good gear for such low rankers.

‘Idiots, that don’t even make the effort to hide their crimes’ Jin Chul thought. One of the hunters saw Jin Chul and stiffened then elbowed the man next to him, one Choi Sung Ho the leader of the Salvo Party, who paled when he saw Jin Chul then covered up his fear with a sneer, “what’s an esteemed member of the monitoring division doing here?”

A ripple of unease went through the group as Jin Chul kept his expression blank, “occasionally the division chooses random gates to monitor to ensure processes put in place by the Hunter’s Association work to protect hunters and the general public” at the word “hunters” Jin Chul sharpened his magic enough that even these weak hunters could sense the underlying threat. Jin Chul yet again felt a deep sense of anger and helplessness as there was no proof of their wrongdoings. All he could do was warn them from being so blatant about their operations. This warning would probably stop them from attacking newbies for a few months and when they started up again it would make them hesitant to kill anybody. It wasn’t justice but it was mitigation for future crimes.

Choi Sung Ho quickly realized that they hadn’t been caught and instead were being warned that they were being watched. A sickly smile curled on his face, “why thank you for the heads up. What a great honor that our team gets a random visit from the monitoring division”. Jin Chul calmly stared back, all his murderous intent hidden. It was starting to look like this visit would be a bunch of posturing from hunters that couldn’t even touch a hair on Jin Chul. At least that was what was supposed to happen.

“The monitoring division?” A voice asked lowly, not demanding but with an implicit command of someone who knew they would be answered.

Jin Chul HAD NOT sensed them.

A shiver crawled down Jin Chul’s spine as he whipped around towards the voice and found his eyes locked with the blue eyes of a predator. Jin Chul’s aura spiked and Choi Sung Ho and the rest of the party took a step back but Jin Chul did not give a shit because at that very moment he felt more afraid than he’d ever been in his life. It took all of Jin Chul’s mental strength not to run as his instincts were screaming at him to do and it was only after a deep breath that he was able to control his fear to look past those eyes to see the monster behind them.

Jin Chul blinked fear momentarily forgotten as he stared at possibly the most perfect being he’d witnessed. ‘Is he even human’? Jin Chul thought for the man in front of him seemed almost inhuman with how perfect his features were. For this man’s looks to shock Jin Chul who’d met many high ranking hunters whose features all matured to human limits after they awakened made it all the more unreal.

Jin Chul’s shocked silence lasted too long as the man (Jin Chul then noticed how young he looked) started to look slightly confused.

Shaking himself Jin Chul straightened, “I’m sorry for the late introductions you surprised me and I have not been snuck up on in a very long time. I am Woo Jin Chul from the monitoring division of the Hunter’s Association, pleased to meet you”. The young (my god he didn’t even look twenty) man’s expression went from confused to slightly amused as he answered politely with his own introductions, “hello I’m Sung Jin Woo an E-Rank hunter who’s temporarily joined the Salvo Party for this dungeon”.

Embarrassingly, all of Jin Chul’s prized self-control deserted him as he blurted out, “if you’re an E-Rank then I’m an S-Rank”. Instantly Jin Chul regretted his entire existence as the unfairly handsome man looked even more amused and answered, “I am E-Rank, they even checked twice during my hunter rank test”.

Jin Chul stared suspiciously at Sung Jin Woo, “have you been a hunter for very long?”

“Hmm, about 3 months,” was the answer.

Jin Chul choked on his spit.

While Jin Chul was coughing and trying to preserve some of his shredded dignity the leader of the party finally lost his temper, “hey newbie! We need to go into the gate soon! Stop talking and get over here!”

Giving a kingly nod towards Choi Sung Ho, Hunter Sung Jin Woo turned back to Jin Chul, “It was nice to meet you, Mr. Woo”.

“Ahh, of course, likewise. Please be careful”. Jin Chul flicked his eyes at the hunters impatiently waiting. Thankfully, Hunter Sung understood and gave a small nod.

As Jin Chul watched the group disappear into the gate he assured himself he was going to look into Hunter Sung as soon as he got back to the monitoring division headquarters.

After all, as Hunter Sung was walking away from Jin Chul his footsteps were completely silent.

Chapter Text

Yoo Jin-Ho wanted to go home. Tears welled up in Jin Ho’s eyes despite trying to blink them back. He was already 9 almost 10 and he shouldn’t be crying like a baby anymore but he was scared. His curled-up body shook with the movements of the van he had been shoved into. Next to him one of the men who’d grabbed him and wore a face mask snorted, “stop crying, it’s annoying”.

“Oi, shut up,” a gruff voice called out from the driver’s seat of the van, “don’t talk to him we don’t want any identifying features”.

Face Mask snorted, “how would he identify us? and you just talked just now”.

“Just shut up” was the answer-back but Jin Ho was emboldened by the discussion. They didn’t want to be identified? That means they’ll let him back home right?!

“I want to go home”. Jin Ho pleaded, trying to hold back his tears so he wouldn’t make the masked man even more annoyed. Unfortunately, Mask Man did not take Jin Ho talking to him well, “Shut up! Who said you could speak! If you keep talking we’ll never give you back to your family you stupid rich kid”. As if to prove a point he rose his hand as if to whack Jin Ho. The kidnapper meant to scare Jin Ho into silence and he succeeded as Jin Ho squeaked and curled up into a ball.

What the kidnapper did not expect was a cool voice saying, “That’s not very nice”.

Suffice to say the sound the masked kidnapper made could only be described as a shriek. The man driving cursed and slammed the brakes and the van’s occupant jerked towards the front.

“What the fuck! Are you craz-“ the driver shouted as he spun around to look at his accomplice but then choked on his words as he saw something that should have been impossible.

There was a child in the van and not the one they kidnapped.

“Where the HELL DID YOU COME FROM”. The driver’s voice started low and then rose to a yell as he took in the kid who looked disturbingly calm for being in a van with hostile adults.

The kid ignored him and turned to Jin Ho who was looking more shocked than scared, “Don’t worry,” he said softly his weirdly cool expression lightening up into something kind, “I called the police before they took you and they’re tracking my phone right now”.

Jin Ho stared in awe at this unexpected savior but the kidnappers took issue with their plans being ruined and conveniently forgot the fact that this kid had been sitting in the van the entire time without being noticed.

Mask Man yelled, “drive I’ll get the phone,” and leaned towards the still calm kid, “come here you little bastard just because we don’t want to kill anyone doesn’t mean that I won’t hurt you”.

The child’s face had turned expressionless and his eyes seemed to turn a luminous blue when the kidnappers started talking but now that Mask Man was approaching him with threatening intent he turned towards the man and his lips split and curled up. It was a smile in the barest sense of the word but the kid’s expression was unnatural as it turned his face into something that was not human. There were too many teeth and it should not have fit his face yet it did. Even more disturbing was when a voice whispered in the kidnapper’s ear, “I warn you that putting a hand on me will not go well for you,” all the while, the child’s stretched lips did not move an inch.

“What-?” The masked man paused before his partner yelled, “WTF is wrong with you! Get the phone!” Jolting forward towards the boy the kidnapper stopped again as his eyes caught on movement behind the boy. It was as if there was a fire in the van throwing the boy's shadow into flickers of blackness but then started to separate from the child, like oil from water, slipping towards the kidnapper.

“The shadows are mo-!“ like a silent wave the shadows devoured the occupants of the van.

Jin Ho did not know what happened. One moment he was watching incredulously as another kid appeared and started threatening his kidnappers the next everything was black. Not black like being in a dark room. Black like nothing. Jin Ho could not feel, he could not even sense his body. Yet…, he was not scared anymore. Even though Jin Ho could not physically feel anything he could somehow feel a comforting presence that wrapped around him. Time seemed nonexistent in the darkness and Jin Ho was starting to think he might have died when a literal disembodied hand appeared grabbed him by the ankle.

Jin Ho was dragged kicking and screaming into the world by his deeply unimpressed savior.

“Calm down, you are fine” the boy’s smooth voice sighed while Jin Ho looked up at him from the ground unable to stand since his ankle was still in the other boy’s grip. That is how the police, who had been closely following the van, found them. Jin Ho’s savior looked even more done with everything.

A few hours and a police briefing later, Jin Ho threw himself sobbing into his mother’s arms while his father frowned severely as he put his hand protectively on Jin Ho’s shoulder. Jin Ho’s father shifted, his attention moving from his son to something else. Jin Ho turned and saw the boy. Now that Jin Ho could get a good look he realized that the other boy only looked a few years older than him.

Dodging out of his parents’ hands Jin Ho ran up to the boy, “Hyung! What’s your name. My name's Yoo Jin-Ho! I’m 9! How old are you? What did you do with the dark stuff! It was like there was nothing and then…!”

“Slow down,” the blue eyed -wait no now he had black eyes- boy murmured, “My name is Sung Jin-Woo it is nice to meet you Yoo Jin Ho”. Jin Woo Hyung then ran his hand over Jin Ho’s hair and Jin Ho felt deep warmth explode in his chest as he looked at Jin Woo as if he hung the stars.

“Jin Ho” a cool voice instantly squashed the warmth as Jin Ho turned towards his father as he asked, “who is this?”

Straightening his posture, Jin Ho gestured with all of the poise that had been trained into him towards his Hyung, “Father, this is Sung Jin-Woo the person that saved me”.

Nodding, Jin Ho’s father eyed Jin Woo, “Tell me young man have you awakened?” Jin Ho jolted and looked at Jin Woo. It made sense of course his hyung had awakened, what other explanation could there be for the shadows to act on their own like that? Yet, Jin-Woo tilted his head and hummed, “Maybe? Probably it would make sense but I don’t know”.

‘What does that mean???' Jin Ho thought and his father was obviously thinking the same thing with the frustrated confusion on his face. Quickly smoothing the wrinkles between his eyebrows, Jin Ho’s father smiled, “no matter, thank you for saving my son. The entire Yoo family owes you a debt”.

Jin Ho was already gaping at his father but almost fell over when his father even deigned to give a nod to Jin Woo.

“Don’t worry about it,” Jin Woo said waving off a debt from one of the richest families in South Korea- heck Southeast Asia- as if it was no consequence to him, “he’s a cute kid and I couldn’t just turn away when I saw him kidnapped”.

“But Hyung!” Jin Ho whined, “there must be some way I can repay you!” A Yoo always paid their debts! Jin Ho was certain that was one of their family mantras…or maybe it was that mafia family’s mantra on TV… it did not matter the point still stands!

But Jin Woo was already shaking his head then paused looking at Jin Ho, “actually there is something you can do for me”. Jin Ho and his father waited for whatever favor Jin Woo would ask, “can you be my friend?”

In a rare moment, both Jin Ho and his father reacted the same, “What?”

Looking like he was negotiating a business deal Jin Woo said, “my mom said I need to make friends. She’s worried about me and I hate making her worried so I need a friend.” It took a moment for Jin Ho to reboot but when he did he was jumping around his hyung, “Of course! I would love to be friends! What’s your number? Here let me put my number in your phone!”

“Settle down Jin Ho,” his father said then turned to Jin Woo, “although your favor is not what I expected it is acceptable. You are now a friend of the Yoo family and of Jin Ho’s.” With a sharp smile, Jin Woo answered, “thank you sir I will take our friendship seriously.” And that is how Yoo Jin Ho became friends with Sung Jin Woo to the absolute confusion of Jin Woo's family.