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When All Is Said and Done

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It’s a beautiful day. 

The windows are glowing with warm sunbeams, filling the kitchen with gentle light. Every burner on his stove is bubbling with activity. He’s got lunch, dinner, and his cauldron filling the kitchen with a cacophony of pleasant scents. As Minho flits around from ingredient to ingredient, he can feel the cats weaving their way between his legs with practiced ease as he steps. It’s a lovely, pleasant day, and Minho can’t keep the smile off of his face. 

“Soonie,” Minho croons as his eldest familiar leaps onto the counter to bump into Minho’s hand. “When do you think my husband will be home, hm?”

The only thing that would make this beautiful day even better is Jisung, though Minho can’t think of many things that wouldn’t be made better by his husband’s presence. Just the thought of his cute, squishy smile has Minho feeling unusually sappy ang gooey. It also makes this little ache start to sink in his stomach. Minho simply misses him, and that feeling sits heavy inside of him. Almost uncomfortably so. Minho shouldn’t feel bad on such a beautiful day, so he needs Jisung home to remedy that sooner rather than later. 

The feeling doesn’t get to linger, though, because as Minho pouts at Soonie’s arrogant face, the front door swings open like magic.

“Baby!” Jisung calls, and Minho has to fight the smitten smile off of his face. He turns, just in time to see Jisung hanging his hat on the coat rack and stepping out of his shoes. 

“You’re always so noisy when you come home,” Minho complains, as if he doesn’t love the way Jisung’s presence fills every cubic meter of this house. 

“You’re always so cute when I come home,” Jisung shoots back easily. He crosses through the threshold of the kitchen and wraps his arms around Minho’s waist. His eyes sparkle in the reflection of the window, like two bright suns. He’s magical. 

“Welcome back,” Minho murmurs, breathless. Jisung’s smile only grows and he tilts his head to kiss Minho silly. 

There’s nothing more Minho could ever want. Jisung is a steady presence against him, so warm and thrumming with life and love. Minho can feel his three familiars winding around their ankles, Dori chattering happily now that the family is complete. It’s a perfect life, one Minho never thought he deserved, but he has it anyway. 

He’d do anything to keep this forever. 

Minho sinks into the kiss for a few more moments before pulling back.

“Okay, okay, that’s enough. I’m going to set the house on fire,” Minho laughs, swatting at Jisung’s chest. “Go get changed out of your work clothes, lunch will be ready soon.” 

“Have I ever told you how much I love this apron on you?” Jisung asks, completely ignoring Minho’s statement. His hands tug at the frilly hem where it lands around Minho’s thighs. Minho rolls his eyes and shoves more firmly against Jisung’s chest.

“Go. Clothes. Now.” 

Jisung salutes, and presses one final kiss to Minho’s cheeks before leaving the kitchen for their bedroom. Now Minho really has to focus on finishing his tasks in the kitchen. He turns back to the stove and gets to work. 

By the time Jisung returns to their living space, it’s with damp hair and dressed in a cotton pajama set. His reading glasses are perched on his nose, making him look particularly cozy. When he spies Minho loading up the table with food he immediately waddles over to hang off of Minho’s back. 

“You’re not going to help me set the table?” Minho laughs, shuffling slowly into the kitchen with Jisung’s added weight holding him back.

“You’ve got two capable hands and telekinetic abilities, what do you need me for?” Jisung shoots back. And oh, right. Minho kind of does have telekinetic abilities. He grumbles, and the kitchen dances to life. The rest of the dishes float themselves over to the table and arrange themselves neatly. They bob around where Minho and Jisung are tangled in the center of the kitchen, narrowly missing bumping against their heads. Jisung snorts and presses a kiss to Minho’s cheek.

“Are you sure you’re really a witch?” 

“Shut up,” Minho huffs. The table finishes setting itself, so Minho shuffles them back over to the table. They find their usual seats, and Minho can’t help but let his gaze flicker to Jisung as they serve themselves.

“How was your day?” Minho asks casually. 

“It was fine, you know how work is,” Jisung laughs. 

“I hope Chan isn’t riding you too hard still,” Minho hums. There’s a confused look that flickers across Jisung’s face, and that brief look has something… just something, churn in Minho’s stomach.

“Chan?” Jisung asks, head tilting. As he waits for Minho to answer he shovels some food into his cheeks, making them puff up adorably. It distracts Minho from his question, until Jisung arches his brows at Minho’s continued silence.

“Chan,” Minho repeats, still startled. Doubt starts to creep into his mind, and he feels embarrassed for bringing it up. “Sorry, I don’t know your coworkers names as well as I thought I did.”

Jisung relaxes, a bright grin returning to his face. It settles that unease inside of Minho, but there’s something that nags. He feels off kilter, like his memories are deftly scattered. 

“Don’t worry about it baby, my coworkers aren’t interesting. I just sit at my desk all day counting down until I can come back home to you,” Jisung assures. 

“You sap, don’t get fired for being lazy, you pay the bills around here.” 

Jisung laughs, and they sink into their comfortable rhythm of lunch. The rest of the day passes in a blur, with Minho finishing up in the kitchen and Jisung going to read the newspaper in the living room. After dinner, they curl up together on the couch and watch some television. When it's time for bed, that’s when Minho’s heart rate picks back up.

There’s something so intimate about their bedroom. The flowery wallpaper, the king sized bed covered in handmade quilts and a nest of pillows. The room is lit by a scattering of flickering candles that Minho controls with just a flick of his hand. This is their space, their comfort, and Minho can only feel as warm as the candle flames as Jisung presses him down into their bed. 

“Hey baby,” Jisung greets. His skin looks gorgeous in this lighting, a pretty deep tan that Minho wants to press his mouth to. The hunger must show in his eyes, because Jisung wastes no time leaning down and kissing him silly. 

Kissing Jisung feels like some kind of deja vu. It’s comfortable, instinct, like he’s done this a million times. But every time their mouths meet it fills him with the same nervous butterflies as their first time. Jisung is his safe place, but he’s also the adrenaline under Minho’s skin, the fireworks bursting in his chest. Maybe it’s the magic that pulses through Minho, wild and ancient and reactive to Minho’s every emotion. It makes him experience everything in technicolor, from the honey brown of Jisung’s eyes, to the harsh drag of the calluses on his palms along Minho’s bare waist. Jisung is ecstasy. 

“I love you,” Minho breathes, wrapping his arms around Jisung’s shoulders and pressing his wet mouth against Jisung’s throat. When Minho feels Jisung’s throat bob between his lips, Minho scrapes his teeth along the thick tendon straining against his tongue. 

“Shit baby, you and your cute little bunny teeth,” Jisung groans. Minho can feel Jisung’s knuckles bumping against his torso as Jisung unbuttons his own top. The fabric slides to the bed, and Minho leans back to drink in the sight of his husband. 

Minho starts by admiring his mile-wide shoulders, to the swell of his well-muscled pecs, and down his ribs to the tight cut of Jisung’s tiny waist. But as his eyes explore the glory of Jisung’s torso, there’s something that catches his eye. At first he thinks it’s a shadow playing along the contours of Jisung’s muscles from the dancing candlelight. But when he brushes his fingers over the shape, he feels the raised, smoother skin under his fingers. 

It’s a scar, red and dark and angry, carved into Jisung’s abdomen. It looks completely healed over, a wound from days long forgotten, so why does the sight of it have Minho feeling so unsteady?

“Where’d this come from?” Minho tries to ask lightly, but his voice is tight with anxiety. Jisung looks down and covers Minho’s hand with his own, hiding the scar from sight.

“Baby,” Jisung laughs. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay? This thing is old news.” 

Is it? Minho feels like he’d remember if he’s seen this scar before. He’s seen Jisung naked hundreds of times, how could he possibly miss something as obvious as this wound? Minho racks his brain, but he can’t think of the story behind the past pain inflicted on his husband. And the more he tries to recall, the more fear starts to creep in on him. 

“Minho, hey.” There are warm palms cradling Minho’s cheeks suddenly, and his face is tilted to meet Jisung’s eyes again. “Stop freaking out, I’m fine. I’m right here with you.”

And for the first time, Minho feels like his husband is lying to him. But Minho so, so desperately wants to sink back into the warmth and safety of Jisung. So Minho nods, forces a weak smile, and Jisung melts. 

“You’re not allowed to leave me,” Minho vows, and Jisung snorts. 

“Of course not, or else my powerful witch husband would drag my very damned soul from the underworld, just to kick it back down himself.”

“No, I’d keep you as my demon slave. The cats could chase you around the house for eternity.” 

“Well this very much alive man would like to go back to defiling his marital bed, thank you very much.” 

With that, all thoughts of scars and unreliable memories slip away. 

If kissing Jisung is so special, making love to him is indescribable. It’s sublime when their breaths mingle, their sweat, and Minho can stare up into Jisung’s eyes as they connect on every level. It’s always slow, deliberate touches and their bodies pressed completely together. Jisung always murmurs low praises, just to watch Minho’s cheeks turn more and more red. Sometimes they lose an entire night just tangled with each other, only to watch the sun rise encircled in each other’s arms. 

Tonight is not one of those nights, luckily. Minho doesn’t think he has the stamina for it. Jisung breaks him down with practiced ease, and holds Minho tight to his chest when they’re finished. Minho nuzzles his cheek against Jisung’s chest, and his husband’s hand soothes through his now damp hair gently. 

“Sleep easy baby,” Jisung murmurs, lips brushing against Minho’s temple. 

“Hm, you too,” Minho agrees, chest warm and sated. 

But in his sleep, Minho sees strange flashes of something. Not memories, because they don’t fit into what Minho knows is their life. But they feel like memories. He can hear Jisung’s peeling laugh, smell the citrus of Jisung’s shampoo, feel those familiar heart-shaped lips against his own. It’s his Jisung, but not really . This Jisung has messy hair and wears t-shirts and hoodies. This Jisung is curled up on a stained cloth couch in an unfamiliar living room that feels familiar. And when this Jisung reaches for Minho, there’s no platinum ring circling his finger. But in his dream, Minho is just as happy as he is in his life now. 

Even that happiness has a subtle difference to it, though. It’s like in these dreams his happiness is like biting into a ripe, plump strawberry. Vibrant and sweet and bitter. And here, in his life now, his happiness is like a strawberry lollipop. Sweet, yes, but overly so, with the aftertaste of chemical that betrays the attempt of tasting like the original fruit. A delicious artificial, but artificial nonetheless. 

Needless to say, Minho doesn’t sleep easy, despite his husband’s words. He wakes still curled into Jisung’s side, a little puddle of spit drying under his mouth on Jisung’s shoulder. As he wriggles Jisung groans and tightens his arms around him. 

“Few more minutes,” Jisung mumbles out, nudging his nose against Minho’s hair. Minho, still trying to shake that unsettled feeling pooling in his stomach, just nods and turns more into Jisung’s embrace. 

The morning sun is weakly making itself known in the sky, filling their room with a hazy grey. As Minho blinks around the room, he spies his three familiars curled up in little clumps at the edge of the bed in between the tangle of Jisung and Minho’s feet. Soon they’ll feel Minho start to rise and yowl for their breakfast, but for now they look content clinging to sleep. 

Minho never wants to get up. He never wants to leave these arms, and this knot in his stomach is making him fear getting up. His fingers clench and unclench against Jisung’s sleep shirt, a solid reminder of where he is. He feels stirring at the foot of his bed, then little paws climbing up his body. When he turns his head it's Soonie gazing down at him with wise yellow eyes. His chest rumbles with a deep purr, and Minho feels himself relaxing. 

“Did you bring a lawn mower to bed?” Jisung groans, rolling over in bed and burying his head under the pillow. Minho snorts and scratches under Soonie’s chin. 

“I think the creatures are hungry. I’ll start breakfast, you get the five minutes you so desperately crave.” 

Minho presses a kiss to Jisung’s shoulder and slides out of bed. Two little heads poke up in tandem, and in no time there are three little footsteps trailing after Minho as he patters into the kitchen. 

As Minho wakes, so does his magic. The kettle drifts under the sink, filling with just enough water for a cup of tea and a cup of instant coffee. The cabinets open, and three cans of cat food float over to the neat line of food bowls tucked into the corner of the kitchen. Minho himself goes to start on their breakfast.

It’s easy for Minho to lose himself in the routine of the day. The scent of cooking eggs, the wet chewing of his familiars in the corner, the sound of the shower going in the background. It helps shake the unsettled feeling his dream put him in. Glimpses of an imaginary life don’t take away from the life he has here. If he lets it get to him, chase these meaningless dreams, it’s going to make him neglect the things that truly make him happy. There’s no reason to fix what’s already perfect. So he feels more balanced when breakfast is ready and Jisung emerges into the kitchen dressed in a fresh suit and an energetic smile. 

“Looks good, baby,” Jisung hums, pressing a kiss to Minho’s temple before settling down at the table. 

“Glad you’re with the land of the living,” Minho laughs, setting Jisung’s mug of coffee in front of him. The rest of their breakfast floats in after Minho until it’s spread out at the table. 

“What are your plans for today baby?” Jisung asks, spreading warmed butter onto a piece of toast. 

“Oh you know, a little cooking, a little witching. Same old same old.” 

“Sounds like a party,” Jisung snorts. 

“Obviously, I put the boys in little hats and we have a disco in the living room,” Minho agrees with a small smirk. 

“Oh yeah? Why does all the fun happen when I’m not home?” 

Minho’s grins as he leans in closer to Jisung. 

“Are you saying last night wasn’t fun? Are we losing our spark, dear husband?”

Jisung’s face goes predictably slack at the flirty lilt to Minho’s words. His eyes are fixed enthusiastically on Minho’s mouth, making Minho’s smile grow. 

“Not answering? Was my performance really that lackluster?” Minho goads. 

“Not sure, I think I need a repeat performance to really be sure,” Jisung mutters, leaning in closer. Minho tilts his chin, letting their lips meet in the middle. It’s particularly steamy for a kiss over breakfast, but Minho welcomes it with open arms. It tastes like coffee and tabasco, what should be a nose-wrinkling combination if it also didn’t come with the sweet press of Jisung’s lips. 

Minho lets it go on for a few more seconds before he reluctantly shoves at Jisung’s chest.

“Alright loverboy, I’ll prove my prowess after you go make our money.”

Jisung pouts, but he relents by pushing away from the table. Minho follows him over to the door, watching as Jisung shrugs on his jacket and grabs his briefcase from its usual spot. As Minho gets the door for him, Jisung swoops down to press a final goodbye kiss to Minho’s mouth, lingering and sweet. Then he turns and marches out of the safety of their home and off to work.

Minho leans on the doorframe to watch him go. He watches as Jisung patters down the front path, onto the dirt path that cuts through the woods. Minho watches as Jisung breaks past the treeline, disappearing into the surrounding forest to walk on to work. It’s how he leaves and returns from work every day. Just… walking until he’s out of Minho’s sight. But today the sight has Minho back on edge.

Their cozy cabin in the woods is isolated away from neighbors and passing traffic. They never have visitors, never have strangers stopping for directions. They’re off in their own, happy little bubble. So how does Jisung get to work every day on foot? How close to town are they really? How does Jisung come home with his suit and dress shoes perfectly pristine if he’s trudging through miles of forest? 

Where does Jisung even work? What does he even do

These questions have never bothered Minho before. He’s always just focused on their happiness, their love. Everything else doesn’t matter, the fuzzy little details that just don’t add up. But after yesterday, after his dream last night, it’s slowly adding all up into something terrifying. 

This world is beautiful, happy, but it’s not right

“Children,” Minho calls into the house, slamming the front door shut. Within seconds there are three little footfalls darting towards him. His familiars watch him with sharp eyes, waiting for their master’s direction. Minho stalks into the living room and settles on the floor. With his legs folded and his hands resting gently on his knees, Minho lets his eyes fall shut. 

He starts by focusing inward. He tugs at that whitehot star of his own magic burning eternally in his chest. He can taste his magic, feel it pulsing in his gut. He then focuses outward, feeling the threads of his magic spread. There are three heavy anchors surrounding him, his trusty familiars. As his concentration brushes against them their magic amplifies Minho’s own.

It allows him to explore further, letting his mind lick against the fabric of this universe. And everywhere Minho reaches, it’s the thumbprint of his own magic that echoes back. The couch behind him, the clothes on his body, the food in the fridge, the forest around him. Every little detail of this world around him is created from Minho’s own magic. 

Minho’s eyes shoot open with a gasp. His familiars bump against him, Doongie letting out a mournful little sound as Minho’s chest heaves. 

“It doesn’t- I don’t get it,” he pants. How could he just create a world and not know it? How much energy would have to be put in to pull something off like this should’ve killed him. But here he is, sitting in a house of his own creation, completely lost. 

“Baby.” 

Minho jerks, eyes wild as he turns to his side. There’s Jisung, his husband, smiling sadly at him. He’s still dressed in his work suit, and his hands are warm as he cups Minho’s face. 

“Jisung, what are you doing home?” Minho asks, eyes roaming his face. Jisung’s smile slips slightly. 

“You need me right now, and I’ll always be here when you need me. But I think it’s time you remember.” 

“Remember what ?” Minho snaps, trying to pull out of Jisung’s hold.

“You know baby, you have to keep meditating. I’m right here, you can do this.” 

Minho can’t bear to look away from Jisung now that he has him here, but Minho relaxes into his mind again, letting his magic slowly reach out again.

As it brushes against Jisung, it’s the same. Instead of mundanity like most humans are made of, Minho just feels his own magic densely packed in a husband-shaped entity. Jisung is just as constructed as this world around them. 

“No,” Minho says stubbornly, his own hand coming up to cover Jisung’s. “I know you. I didn’t imagine you. You’re my Jisung. I would never think up someone so annoying just to bother me all day.” 

Jisung snorts and takes Minho’s hand in his own. 

“That’s not true, maybe I’m your conscience speaking. Jiminy Cricket wasn’t very fun either.”

Minho lets out a watery laugh, but his chest feels hollow. He’s so, so lost. And he knows the losing has just begun. 

“What am I not remembering, Jisung? What is this place?” He whispers. Jisung’s face sobers, and he brings Minho’s hand to his shirt. It lands right over where that mark is, the one Minho can’t recall. 

“I’m sorry baby,” Jisung murmurs. 

And the floodgates open. Those brief, out of focus memories from his dream the night before come flashing across his mind in high definition. 

He remembers their life in Seoul, their friend group. From Jisung’s little rap trio with Chan and Changbin, and Minho’s little witch assistant Felix. He remembers nights curled up on Minho’s couch in front of the television. He remembers cramming into Jisung’s tiny shower, both of them laughing at how bad of an idea it is with their elbows knocking into each other’s sides. 

He remembers being in love.

And now he remembers losing Jisung. 

They’re out at some bar where Seungmin is doing an open mic night. Their group has their own booth, and Minho is pretending he can’t hear Jisung and Hyunjin giggling to each other because Jisung has a ring in his pocket he intends to give to Minho. Minho has half a mind to say no, just to see the twin looks of panic on both of their faces. And to punish Jisung for ever thinking that Seungmin’s sappy voice would make a good background for a proposal. 

For now it’s an average night, and Minho is happy. But then there’s a man who approaches the table, slamming a beer down in front of Minho. 

“You’re that witch, right?” He asks. His voice is gruff and annoying and Minho shoots him his coldest glance. 

“Sometimes it’s pronounced with a ‘B’, but sure. I’m that witch. And I’m also off duty.” 

“My girlfriend dumped me,” the man plowed on. “I need you to make her come back.” 

“It doesn’t work like that,” Felix cuts in with a glare. The man rolls his eyes. 

“Look, she’s making a mistake. I just want her to realize that. You can do something about it, right?” 

“You know I could, but I just really don’t want to. So thanks, but no thanks.” With that Minho turns away from the guy. But then there’s a hand on his shoulder and he’s yanked roughly up from the table. 

“You really are a bitch, huh?” The guy spat. “I’ll pay you whatever, just give me a potion or a charm or whatever to make her come back. It can’t be that hard.” 

Jisung springs up from the table and tugs Minho out of that man’s grip.

“He said no, back off,” Jisung snaps, his voice tight with stress. Minho grabs Jisung’s wrist and squeezes. 

“Down, puppy,” Minho mutters. Then to the man, “Your girlfriend probably left you because you’re a dick who doesn’t understand that no means no. I’m not going to subject anyone to that. Now get the fuck out of here or you’re the one who’s going to end up under a spell. I’m thinking chronic erectile dysfunction.” 

Minho wags his fingers in the guy’s direction, and he has the decency to look scared. He mutters one final ‘bitch’ under his breath then turns to disappear back into the crowd of the bar. Minho ushers Jisung back into his seat and then slides in next to him like nothing ever happened.

“Are you okay hyung?” Felix asks, eyes wet and worried. Minho waves him off. 

“I can handle losers like that, don’t worry. I don’t need anyone jumping up to save my honor.” His gaze cuts over to Jisung, and Jisung at least looks sheepish. 

“I thought he was going to punch you or something,” Jisung mutters. 

“And I would have kicked his ass,” Minho finishes. The tension doesn’t hang around for long, and soon enough Seungmin comes on stage.

In the end Jisung doesn’t propose during Seungmin’s set. Minho can feel his fingers tapping nervously against Minho’s thighs, and sometimes his hand twitches towards his pocket before dropping back to Minho’s leg. 

At the end of the night Minho and Jisung duck away from the group first. Minho has an early day at the dance studio and Jisung was up all night the night before working on some lyrics or something musical Minho doesn’t understand. They walk out of the bar hand in hand, ready to tuck into bed.

They’re met by that man outside. 

“You know I’m not the only witch in Seoul, right?” Minho snorts. Jisung steps forward just enough to position himself between Minho and this man. How painfully noble. 

“Well now you’ve pissed me off,” the man snaps. “I asked you for one stupid thing, and you don’t even take it seriously! I lost my girl, don’t you know how painful that is?” 

The man’s eyes dart to Jisung, and he smirks. 

“That must be it. You’re a heartless, sheltered bitch because you have this guy by your side.”

A shiver runs down Minho’s spine, and he pulls at the back of Jisung’s jacket, but Jisung stays where he is. 

“Well that sucks for you, because I’m not going anywhere,” Jisung snorts. 

The man moves fast. His hand, which had been hidden behind his back, shoots forward as he closes the space between him and the pair. He gets right up into Jisung’s face, and Jisung lets out a gasp. 

“You sure about that? Maybe you’ll be a little more sympathetic now, bitch.” 

He pulls back and there’s a wet sound splattering against the pavement. He turns and darts down the street as Jisung falls to his knees. 

“Oh god, Jisung.”

Minho drops to his knees right in front of Jisung. Jisung’s eyes are wide, his hands clamped over his stomach. It’s too dark out, Minho can’t see what’s wrong. But he knows that man must have done something. 

“Hey, Sungie, talk to me,” Minho says shakily. 

“Ouch,” Jisung grits out. “Not fun.” 

“Let me see honey, what’d he do?” 

Jisung slowly lifts his hands away, and there’s a rush of blood that follows. It soaks down the front of Jisung’s black shirt, nearly invisible. But Jisung’s face is already pale from blood loss. 

“It’s okay Sungie, it’s okay. Lay down for me baby.” Minho helps guide Jisung down to his back and presses his own hand over the hidden wound. Minho’s hands glow with his silvery magic and tries to seal up the wound. But it’s deep, and pumping out blood faster than Minho can correct. The panic welling inside him isn’t helping his concentration either. 

“Minho, my pocket,” Jisung huffs out. His teeth are chattering loudly, even over the din of the bar in the background. “Promise you’ll wear it for me?”

“You’re not proposing on your deathbed idiot,” Minho hisses.

“Not my deathbed if my sexy witch boyfriend can heal me,” Jisung mumbles. 

“Working on it,” Minho grits out, but it feels like a losing game. The damage goes too deep, and his limited healing magic doesn’t know how to knit together organs and vessels. He’s only handled flesh wounds and broken bones in the past. He can sense the blood pooling inside Jisung’s abdomen, even as most of it drips out of him. 

“Getting a little faint here, baby,” Jisung slurs. “Is help coming?”

“I don’t know Sung, I don’t know.” Now the panic is really setting in. One second Jisung had been fine, and now half of his blood volume is spilled onto the sidewalk. How can Minho fix this? 

“‘S fine baby, just stay with me.” The words are said in one, shaky breath, and then Jisung’s chest doesn’t rise again.

“Jisung. Hey.” Minho reaches up and taps his hand roughly against Jisung’s cheek. His eyes stay shut. Minho whines.

“C’mon Jisung you can’t do this to me,” Minho pleads. But as he stares down at Jisung’s colorless face, Minho knows. The grief hooks into his chest and tears a scream out of Minho. 

Minho screams, and screams, and he can feel his magic boiling over inside of him like magma. It burns through his chest, through his gut, flashes through his nerves. Minho’s vision clouds, and the sight of Jisung sprawled on the concrete slowly zips away until Minho’s vision goes white.

When Minho next wakes, it’s in a cabin in the woods, tucked in bed with his hardworking husband Jisung. 

Now here Minho sits, in this world of his own creation, staring at the ghost of the man he loves. Or loved. It aches like he’s been stabbed in his own chest. 

“You’re not real,” Minho breathes. His hand moves up from Jisung’s stomach (god he’s so glad that scar is covered) to Jisung’s face. “Baby, you’re gone.”

Minho’s voice cracks down the middle and he feels his eyes growing hot with tears. This Jisung of his imagination shushes him, brushing his fingers through Minho’s hair. 

“I am, but you’re not. This is all in your head Minho, it’s time to go back.” 

“No,” Minho says vehemently. “No, I want to stay here with you.” 

“But you’re not with me baby. I’m not here. You know this isn’t real, you know how wrong this is. Our friends are waiting for you out there. They miss you. You’ve got a whole life ahead of you.”

“What life?” Minho sniffles. “You’re my life. I was supposed to marry you.”

“I know,” this Jisung soothes. “Maybe in our next life. But not like this, this isn’t fair to you. And it’s not fair to me either. I can’t believe you made me an office worker just for the aesthetic, how could you?”

It draws a weak chuckle out of Minho. Jisung is right, now that Minho’s aware of himself none of this feels right. There’s none of that love, none of that joy he had felt looking at this invented Jisung. All that grief he’s shoved to the side is crashing over him in waves. 

“You’ve always looked hot in a suit,” Minho murmurs. 

“Back at ya baby, though i won’t complain at all the little aprons you put yourself in.” 

Jisung pulls Minho forward until he’s curled into his chest. 

“I’ll stay here as long as I can, but it’s time to go home.” 

Minho nods and wraps his arms around Jisung’s waist. Then he closes his eyes.

As he concentrates, he feels his magic slowly trickling back inside himself. He feels the trees break away, their garden fades to nothing. Their cabin is broken apart piece by piece, until it's only himself, the Jisung-shaped clump in his arms, and the three glowing anchors of his familiars. 

Then Minho’s arms drop to his side, and it’s so cold. He’s alone in darkness, with only the magic in his chest and his familiars around him. That nothingness slowly, slowly starts to fill with new sensations. Not Minho’s magic, but something tangible. There’s a mattress underneath him, a scratchy comforter laid over him. He smells sage and Felix’s lavender shampoo. There’s a cool cloth brushing against his forehead, and Felix’s deep voice murmuring lowly. 

Minho is home. 

He lets himself cling to his magical world for just a moment more. To picture Jisung’s heart-shaped smile, and how broad his shoulders look in a three piece suit. Then he opens his eyes.

Felix doesn’t notice at first. He’s holding a cloth to Minho’s neck and mutters prayers for the goddess of travel to bring Minho home. 

“You need to work on your pronunciation Yongbokie,” Minho breathes. His voice is scratchy and painful from disuse, making Minho wince.

Felix’s eyes immediately snap up to meet his own.

“Oh- oh my god hyung! ” 

Felix flings himself on top of Minho, his body wracking with sudden sobs. Minho’s arms circle around his apprentice’s body, holding him close. 

“You’ve been asleep for weeks you asshole. We never thought you’d come back.”

That makes Minho freeze. His time in his magic vacation felt like years and minutes all at once. It was a temporal bubble, things didn’t go linearly in the sense that reality does. But three weeks? That makes Minho’s head spin. 

“Sorry about that,” Minho huffs. “I’ll try not to do it again.” 

“You better not,” Felix threatens, sitting up. He swats at Minho’s chest, just to be safe, and then brushes Minho’s hair off of his forehead. 

“It’s good to see you awake. How are you feeling?” 

“Sad,” Minho whispers. “But I had to come back.”

“You did,” Felix agrees. “If you’re feeling okay, I’m going to go call everyone to let them know you’re okay.” 

Ducking down to press a quick kiss to Minho’s cheek, Felix darts up to run out of Minho’s bedroom. He leaves the door cracked behind him, and Minho watches as the door pushes open and his three familiars leap up onto his bed. They curl around his body, letting Minho sink back into his pillows and let the tears fall. 

The problem with reality is that he feels things so intensely. With his magic stripped away, everything is just so sharp and jarring. It’s like a disconnect, that last moment he saw Jisung. It feels as real as the world he’s been stuck in for the past three weeks. But the ache in his chest knows that Jisung is gone. That he hadn’t been able to protect him, even with more power than most people can even imagine. 

“Oh boys, I don’t know what to do,” Minho whispers. His hand falls to Soonie’s head, and he feels a little wet nose press to his palm. At least his familiars will be with him through all eternity. 

There’s a knock on the door, and Chan pokes his head in. He’s out of breath like he sprinted all the way to Minho’s apartment, which actually isn’t all that unlikely knowing him. 

“Hey Min,” Chan greets, a dimpled grin immediately spreading across his face. 

“Hey hyung,” Minho returns. Chan pushes fully into the room and sits down at the edge of Minho’s bed.

“Good to see you top side,” Chan says as he takes Minho’s hand in his own. Chan’s hands are always warm, always comforting. But even he can’t soothe the turmoil roiling inside of Minho. 

“It’s been a while, huh?” Minho agrees.

“Too long. I don’t think anyone was ready to give up on you just yet, but it was definitely getting harder to have hope. Felix tried to contact as many other witches as he could but none of them knew how to get you out of your own magical trap. We had no idea what happened when we found you both.” 

“It was that guy from the bar,” Minho sighs. Anger wells inside of him. “That fucking bastard.” 

“I know, Jisung told me.”

Minho blinks. 

“Jisung? What, with a fucking Oujia board?” Anger swells in Minho, just from hearing Jisung’s name. But Chan stares at him, just as confused.

“What? What did Felix tell you?”

“Nothing that I didn’t see with my own eyes! He’s gone , don’t fuck with me!” 

Chan drops Minho’s hand looking more and more puzzled. 

“He’s not gone, Minho. He’s fine. Did you think he didn’t make it?” Chan’s words are careful, gentle, like Minho is a caged animal. Minho feels like one. He wants to claw out Chan’s eyes for playing with his emotions like this. He feels his familiars bristling at his sides, and Dori lets out a long hiss. The bedroom door opens again. 

“Baby?” 

Minho shoots up in bed and Chan has to steady him as Minho’s head spins. But there he is, standing in the doorway with a lost puppy dog look on his face. 

“Jisung,” Minho whines, and that’s all he needs. Jisung crosses the room in quick strides to bundle Minho to his chest.

“Oh baby, I missed you,” Jisung breathes, burying his nose in Minho’s hair. He feels so real, so alive. His skin has always run too hot, and he smells like the stale leather of his studio chair. 

“You were dead,” Minho gasps, letting his walls fall. “You were gone.” 

“I was only…. kind of dead. My pulse was pretty much nonexistent when the ambulance showed up. But luckily they worked their doctor-y magic and got me going again.” 

Jisung breathes again, less steady. Minho nuzzles into him like he’s never going to let go. 

“It’s you who was gone, baby. Three whole weeks I haven’t gotten to see your pretty eyes. I missed you.” 

There’s so much pain in Jisung’s voice, and Minho knows he’s been going through hell in the three weeks Minho had been in his imaginary paradise. 

“I’m sorry Sungie,” Minho mumbles. “I was a coward. I didn’t want to be in a world without you, so I made one with you. But it wasn’t enough, because it wasn’t really you. So I came back to a world where I really had you, but thought I lost you.” 

“But I’m right here. You didn’t lose me, I’m not going to leave you like that.”  

“You better not,” Minho grumbles, and something clicks into place. Minho pulls back, just enough to tilt Minho’s chin up. 

Kissing Jisung has always been like coming home, but Minho has never had such a weary soul. It’s like every aching part of himself sinks into comfort, letting the tension bleed out of Minho. Jisung kisses him like a man starved, like their minutes together are numbered. It’s too much and not enough at the same time. 

“I love you Lee Minho,” Jisung sighs against Minho’s mouth. 

“Hm, I tolerate you Han Jisung,” Minho returns.

Their friends are kind enough to give them this reunion, but there’s only so long they can control themselves. It’s Changbin who throws open the door with barely a warning for the two of them to have their clothes on before bursting in. The room is filled with greetings and love. 

This right here is what Minho’s magic couldn’t replicate. Focusing so much on Jisung, he lost the other beautiful things in his life. The laughter of his friends, the warmth of their touches, how their presence makes Jisung glow. It reminds Minho of where he needs to be.

Here, with Jisung’s hand in his, surrounded by the people that make it all worth it. No love nest in the woods could ever compare to this.