Day bleeds into night. A city bustling with life gives way for a different breed of monster that swarms from the shadows, holding the city and its population in his clutches.
The Red Inn is busy tonight. Both high and low level politicians walk through the doors, each one with a sleek business card in hand. It’s here where that polished veneer meant to placate the masses falls and all that’s left is the dirty underbelly. Jongin hates it, but also knows that it’s a necessary evil.
A loud moan pours down the hall and Jongin runs a hand through his hair, knocking his head back against the wall after. “I don’t get paid enough for this,” he says under his breath. Another moan rings out and Jongin can’t do it.
His stomach twists, ugly and full of anger, as Jongin takes the stairs down to the bottom floor, leaving Joonmyun up in that room with Baekhyun. Emotional attachment was never part of the deal. He fucking knew better.
It’s just that Joonmyun had been too much of an enigma, too much of a temptation. Jongin used to think he knew Joonmyun, used to think he’d learned how Joonmyun’s mind works. The last week has only proven that he knows nothing.
Jongin rushes past the front desk, ignoring the questioning gaze Chanyeol gives him. The night air surrounds him and Jongin pulls in several deep breaths, fishing in his pocket for his cigarettes. He didn’t smoke before this job, but with the stress of dealing with death every night, scraping blood from his nails all for the sake of his vampire boss, Jongin needed an outlet. It was smoking or drinking, and Jongin can’t afford to dampen his senses.
The first drag always burns down his throat and into his lungs. He holds it there, tilting his face up toward the moon before he lets it out. The smoke blossoms into shapeless forms that twist and turn before dissipating. Jongin glances back to see that Chanyeol is no longer downstairs. He’s probably gone up to take Jongin’s place in the hall. He’s a good guy - learning quick.
There’s a cheerfulness to Chanyeol that Jongin is afraid will break soon. There is only so long someone can trudge knee-deep in this cesspool of a job before every spark of hope and happiness is drained. Jongin doesn’t want Chanyeol to end up like him - jaded and confused of his place in the world.
Jongin takes another long pull of his cigarette, breathing it out through his nose. He wonders what he’s doing with his life. He’d been doing so well with his career. He’d barely been promoted to detective when it all went to shit. If he hadn’t stepped foot in that alley, if he hadn’t been witness to a vampire ripping people to shreds, he might still have that life. Maybe if he’d just kept his mouth shut.
Fresh-faced Detective Kim, however, was deemed psychologically unfit to return to duty due to his raving lunacy about vampires and monsters. He hit rock bottom. Just as he was ready to check himself into a hospital, Joonmyun showed up. Like a knight in shining fucking armor, with his honey-dipped tongue and rationale that only made perfect sense to Jongin’s addled mind.
Maybe it’s time to get out. He’s been doing this for five years. Five long years of training other Day Men, only to see them die in the line of duty, die under Jongin’s command. Humans dying for the sake of vampires. Jongin is fighting a war, and he can’t do it anymore.
One day it is going to kill him. And every day that passes, he grows less and less concerned about it.
Jongin lets the silence of the night seep into his bones, but it doesn’t calm him. He’s still so angry, so jealous. He’s always hated the lingering taste of cigarettes and how clogged he feels after. He drops it to the ground, his heel putting out the embers as the last of the smoke spills through parted lips.
“I thought I told you to quit.”
Jongin isn’t even surprised. Joonmyun hadn’t made a sound, but now he can hear Chanyeol rushing out the door to keep up. “The only orders I take from you are work related,” Jongin responds coolly. He doesn’t bother looking at Joonmyun as he begins walking toward the car.
Joonmyun rests his hand on Jongin’s arm with enough force to make Jongin stop. “Why were you not waiting in the hall?” Joonmyun demands. “That is where I told you to wait, and instead I find Chanyeol.”
“Chanyeol is perfectly capable of making sure no one barges in on you,” Jongin answers.
“But it was an order.” There’s a hardness to Joonmyun’s gaze. Anyone else would find it threatening, but Jongin simply doesn’t care. He’s had enough of caring. It hurts to care.
“Part of my job is to make executive decisions for my team and I did. If you don’t like it, find someone else.” Jongin pries his arm from Joonmyun’s grip; Joonmyun could have stopped him, but he didn’t. “Now, let’s get to the car before everyone realizes that you’re a stationary target.”
Chanyeol pulls the keys from his pocket and Jongin holds out his hand. Chanyeol gives him a questioning look, but tosses the keys to him anyway. It’s always Jongin who sits in the back with Joonmyun. Tonight, Jongin gives Chanyeol that honor, catching Joonmyun’s surprised look before Jongin slides into the driver’s seat.
He knows that Joonmyun is glaring at him the entire drive back to Joonmyun’s home. He doesn’t pay him any mind. He does feel like he owes Chanyeol an apology though. Being in the company of an angry centuries-old vampire is never enjoyable and Jongin is the only one who ever seems to be able to tame that beast.
Jongin is exhausted. He parks the car and accepts Joonmyun’s silent treatment. He only sticks around long enough for the changing of the guard. Joonmyun hardly needs security during the night hours, but Jongin has always left a skeleton crew just in case.
It’s only 9 when Jongin leaves. He finds Chanyeol leaning against his car, hands in his pockets and ankles crossed as he waits. He looks up as Jongin nears.
“You look like you could use a drink,” Chanyeol comments. It’s an invitation.
This is not the first time Chanyeol has asked Jongin to do something with him after hours, but it’s the first time that Jongin accepts. They drive separately, meeting at a hole in the wall place that Jongin’s past hundreds of times before. Chanyeol buys the drinks and they sit at a booth tucked in the corner. Jongin’s always felt safer with his back to a wall now that he knows what lives in the dark.
“To another week alive,” Chanyeol toasts.
Jongin can’t help smiling as they knock their bottles together before turning them up. “Why do you do this?” Jongin asks. They never get personal on duty. It would be unprofessional and any distraction could lead to death.
“You mean drink this shit beer?” Chanyeol answers, grinning far too broad before it falls. Chanyeol sighs, pushing a hand through his hair. “It’s a long sob story,” he finally offers. “Not worth the time to tell.”
Jongin looks at Chanyeol - really looks at him. Chanyeol’s always been a brighter-side-of-life guy, but now that Jongin can get a good look at him, he sees what’s lurking underneath.
“What about you?” Chanyeol asks. “What pulled you into this world?”
“Madness,” Jongin replies. “Sink or swim.” He stares blankly at the ring of condensation that’s gathered on the table. “I could sink into my madness, or swim to the top.”
“I’ve never seen anyone as put together as you,” Chanyeol compliments. “I’ve seen a lot of fucked up shit, but you - you see it and you don’t even flinch.”
Jongin laughs. “I’m barely treading water here,” he admits. “If I let every little thing get to me, I would have drowned long ago.”
“Joonmyun would have turned you before that.”
Jongin’s head snaps up, mouth open in surprise.
“Everyone knows,” Chanyeol supplies. “We just don’t mention it. It’s not our business.”
“It’s unprofessional,” Jongin is quick to say. “And it shouldn’t have gotten so far.”
Jongin shakes his head. “I think I’m past angry.” There’s a heaviness in his chest, a numb tingling that’s beginning to settle in. “I’m resigned, Chanyeol. I know how this all ends and it’s better to do it now before anyone gets caught in the crossfire.”
Chanyeol slumps in his hair, chewing on the inside of his lip. Jongin watches, swirling the beer around in his bottle before tipping it back.
“I’m sorry, Jongin,” Chanyeol eventually whispers.
Jongin tenses, his gut telling him that he’s just fallen into a trap. He’s ready to bolt, to fight if he has to, but when he sees what he’s up against, the fight drains from him. “How long?” Jongin asks Chanyeol, aware of the vampire now listening.
“From the beginning,” Chanyeol tells him. “I was always his.”
“I should have seen it,” Jongin says to himself. “You were too good at masking yourself.”
“We all have blindspots.”
“For the record,” Jongin begins, standing as the legs of his chair scratch over the floor. “I’ve always liked you. You’re a good guy.”
The touch of a cold hand circling Jongin’s wrist has him sucking in a sharp breath. When he turns his head, he stares up at Yifan, one of Joonmyun’s oldest rivals. Jongin could never hope to contend with Yifan on his own.
“Jongin,” Yifan greets with a smile. “It’s good to see you again.”
“Yifan,” Jongin states. “I do believe the last time we met, you were running. How’s the hand?” The first and last time Jongin ever had an encounter with Yifan, he’d shot a hole straight through Yifan’s left hand.
That hand now closes around Jongin’s throat, lifting him off the floor with ease. “Much better,” Yifan says with a grin. “And now it’s time to return the favor.”
It's all yours, elindar