quarantine means I'm finally editing fanfics I wrote years ago. sorry for the delay! this was written in late 2017 for the request "We could get arrested for this." from an anon on tumblr :D
"I have to go somewhere," Judal says, interrupting Hakuryuu's train of thought.
Someday he'll finish this research paper, but apparently not today. He carefully sets his work aside and looks at Judal, breath catching in his throat. Every time he thinks he's gotten used to having Judal here, he does something new that throws him off kilter. Today he's practically glowing, opalescent dots and lines decorating his already pretty face, and he's draped in shimmering silks. Hakuryuu isn't sure where he got them from, but they look lovely on him.
He takes a deep breath to calm himself and get back to the subject at hand. "Where do you need to go?" Hakuryuu asks and Judal produces a flier from the folds of his clothes.
"Here!" he says, jabbing a finger at the advertisement for a traveling exhibit of ancient Chinese relics at the local museum.
"Yeah, I guess," he says vaguely, and Hakuryuu gets the feeling that he won't be getting more information yet. Judal's not the most forthcoming with explanations. It would be good to get him out of the house to experience some culture, though.
Hakuryuu nods. "That sounds nice. Would you like to go today?"
Judal's whole face lights up when he smiles and Hakuryuu feels reassured by his decision already. "Yeah!" he says happily.
"You're going to need to get changed, then," Hakuryuu says, taking a reluctant Judal by the hand to their now shared bedroom. Hakuryuu had never planned on having a roommate, but somehow sharing his apartment with the strange spirit he accidentally freed while wandering his family's ancestral estate in China is no worse than if he'd just put an ad out on Craigslist. At least Judal knows how to shower, and honestly he's no more eccentric than some of the other people Hakuryuu used to go to school with.
Judal flops on the bed while Hakuryuu finds him something to wear. He keeps offering to get Judal his own clothes, but he insists that he's just going to wear whatever he finds around the house. At least they're mostly the same size, so he can coerce Judal into his clothes with minimal difficulties.
The car ride is mostly Judal fidgeting and playing with all the buttons on the radio, and he bounces out of it once they've parked in the museum parking lot. Hakuryuu is surprised that loud, extroverted Judal wanted to come to the quiet museum, but it's entirely possible that he doesn't know what kind of behavior is appropriate here.
Hakuryuu pays for their admission while Judal looks around the entrance, and he manages to drag him away from the gift shop with ease. It's a slow day at the museum with minimal crowds, which is nice.
Judal whines next to him. "It's so quiet," he says. "I feel like everyone's staring at me when I breathe."
"You could try making less noise," he suggests and Judal makes a face at him.
"I thought it would be more exciting," he says, leaning in closer and pouting.
Hakuryuu takes his hand and Judal squeezes back happily. "What did you expect it was going to be like?"
He shrugs. "I dunno. Where's the shit I wanted to see?"
"Further along. I think it's nice to see the rest first," Hakuryuu says, only to be met with a groan. "What? I have a healthy appreciation for the beauty of art."
"You're lucky you're cute," Judal says, grinning. He follows along almost obediently, staring at the paintings and sculptures until the hallway opens into a large, open room. Judal's eyes widen as they enter. "There it is!" he says, tugging at Hakuryuu's hand to drag him to the middle of the room.
Hakuryuu looks at the glass case in front of them. A set of Chinese ritual bronzes stare back at them from the pristine white table, printed labels identifying each piece. Hakuryuu finds himself transfixed by the sacrificial bowl with a taotie design; something about its great, round eyes and fanged mouth - not quite a snarl and not quite a smile - remind him of Judal, but Judal's eyes are trained intently on the wand in the middle.
Found in the ruins of a small, rural village in Northern China, these bronzes were found in relation to an old worship of local spirits and minor deities.
Judal reaches out to touch the glass and Hakuryuu takes his hand. "Don't touch," he chides softly and Judal frowns.
"Why not? It's mine," he whines, trying to get his hand back.
"What are you talking about?"
Judal rolls his eyes. "It's my shit and I need it back," he says, like Hakuryuu is the one being ridiculous, and the pieces click into place. He didn't want to get out of the house and experience something new. He just wanted to get close enough to steal a priceless artifact. Of course. Hakuryuu knows he should have foreseen something like this happening, but he likes to try to trust Judal.
He leads Judal away from the display and into a more secluded room. "What is wrong with you? Just because it was yours in the past doesn't mean you can just reach out and take it now," Hakuryuu tells him. "Especially not in broad daylight like this."
Judal's eyes light up and a slow grin spreads across his face. "So what, if it's dark instead I can take it?"
"That's not at all what I said—"
"I need it," Judal hisses, leaning in. His eyes flash with power and madness, and Hakuryuu is reminded that yes, he accidentally freed some sort of ancient power beyond his control, and Judal isn't necessarily something good. The pungent tang of ozone and the earthy aroma of petrichor roll off him. Storm smells, like the red storm raging in his eyes at being denied what he feels is his.
"Judal," Hakuryuu begins slowly, very aware that he's in a completely empty corner, away from anyone who could notice Judal acting strangely, and he takes a deep breath. He'll take a lack of witnesses to Judal's outburst as a blessing, rather than choose to fear it. "Please don't steal from the museum."
He glares. "What are they even gonna do with it? Fucking let it sit around under glass? That's just stupid!" Hakuryuu covers his mouth with his hand as fast as he can in hopes of keeping anyone from hearing Judal yelling like a crazy person.
"Quiet," he snaps, and Judal licks his hand sloppily until Hakuryuu removes it. "That was disgusting."
Judal cackles gleefully, entirely unrepentant. "But funny!"
"You're not the one with drool all over your hand," he points out and Judal shrugs. Hakuryuu wipes his hand on his pants and breathes out the last bit of stress he was holding. Judal almost immediately bounced back to acting like an immature brat instead of something terrifyingly powerful and inhumane, and he'll accept that at the cost of drool. It could be worse.
Hakuryuu manages to corral Judal into touring the rest of the museum instead of being fixated on what he can't have, and it goes well. He's entertained by the dinosaurs - something he never knew existed before - and Hakuryuu has trouble dragging him out of the interactive displays in the children's exhibits. It's almost adorable enough to forget what he is, at least for a few brief moments.
Hakuryuu takes them out to a cafe near the museum for an early dinner, and he catches himself fondly watching Judal excitedly talk about the parts of the day he liked best. It's a bit too soft and far too stupid; he can't get himself caught up in whatever this is, because Judal is already an unstable mess about to explode in his face at any minute, and Hakuryuu knows better than to make it worse by getting attached.
At least he hopes he does.
Hakuryuu hears a knock at his door as he's getting ready for bed, only to have Judal immediately wander in. As always, he has no concept of personal space.
"Hey, I wanna go somewhere," Judal says nonchalantly.
"Well, yeah," he says. "It's dark out."
It takes him a moment to figure out what Judal's getting at, but it's not that hard to see what he's angling at. "I am not taking you to the museum to steal things. I thought we'd gone over this already."
"I didn't like the answer," Judal tells him. "So can we go or what?"
"Just because you've finally learned to say please doesn't mean I'm going to commit theft," Hakuryuu says firmly.
Judal flops on the bed, whining loudly. He looks more like a petulant child than any sort of ancient, powerful spirit, but Hakuryuu can feel the air in the room getting heavy and oppressive, and the smell of a coming storm once again rolls off Judal in waves. Of course, now would be the time to find out that Judal's temper tantrums come with some sort of magical side effect.
He rolls over to look at Hakuryuu directly and his red eyes are glowing. "I need it, Hakuryuu. I'm not stupid; I can get it without getting caught by whatever useless little humans are guarding it. I could have done it earlier but you stopped me, and I still need it back."
Gone is the light and teasing mood, and Judal's childish whining seems instead like the capricious whims of the ancient thing he really is. Magic pulses in the air, and Hakuryuu's temples begin to throb with a low-pressure headache. He won't back down though. They can't just steal from a museum, and he's the only one here to talk Judal out of it. By now though, he at least thinks he knows Judal well enough to know he's safe from his wrath.
"Settle down, Judal," Hakuryuu says, and there's a harsh sound from Judal, frustrated and cut off. "I'm not risking my own safety just because you want something."
"Then let me give you something in return," Judal shoots back, grinning widely. "I'll make it worth your while, Hakuryuu, I like you. I won't just tear you to pieces like I do with shitty people."
Hakuryuu stares him down. "Not being torn to pieces when I know you wouldn't do that isn't a very attractive bribe. You're not exactly filling me with confidence."
"So what? What do you want? I'll give you whatever your pretty heart desires," he promises, and something in the way that Hakuryuu's head pounds with storm-pressure and the magic in the air makes it seem like more than just words.
He didn't expect this. Even knowing, believing that Judal was a… god or a spirit or whatever, He didn't plan on Judal just offering him a shot at anything his heart desired. There are so many things he should wish for, but—
"I need your help," Hakuryuu says, before he can stop himself or lose his wits. Judal's eyes are trained on him, still glowing with power and promise, and Hakuryuu keeps going. "I need to get revenge for someone."
Judal's grin widens even more somehow and he sits up, leaning in to listen better. "I love revenge."
"It might involve killing someone—"
Judal interrupts him, crowing with laughter. "You won't let me steal from some dinky museum but you wanna straight up murder someone? Oh, that's rich."
Hakuryuu's cheeks flush, both from shame and anger. "I don't want to hear you mocking me—"
"I'm not," he says, interrupting him again. "I love it. I think it's a great trade off."
"Then why are you laughing at me?" he asks, frustrated. One minute Judal is easy going and the next he's judgmental, and Hakuryuu thinks that only a small part of this comes from his own inability to understand social situations.
Judal doesn't answer. He keeps staring intently, unblinking and unsettling, until he finally gets off the bed. "'Kay, let's get going!"
"You said you'd help if I helped you, right? You agreed," Judal tells him, holding out his hand. "So shake on it and take me to get my shit."
Hakuryuu eyes his hand nervously, but there isn't much else he can do now. He needs this. So he braces himself for whatever is going to happen and takes Judal's hand.
Once, as a child, Hakuryuu had walked into a neighbor's fence without realizing it was electrified, and the shock had scared him so bad that he cried for three hours afterwards. Power shoots through him, overwhelming in a wonderful way, like an electric shock without the pain, only the rush of knowing that he's about to get exactly what he wants as it all washes over him. This was a terribly wonderful idea and he pulls Judal closer, clinging to him as whatever magic he's working seals their agreement, and he drags Judal in for a kiss before he can stop himself. He'll regret it later if he has to. The rush of power grows, and the pressure in his head breaks all at once, like a crashing wave, or the first downpour finally bringing relief to parched earth. Judal staggers back a step but takes Hakuryuu with him, unwilling to break the kiss. He tastes like incense and lightning and also like the peach drink he had with dinner, which is far cuter than it has any right to be. Judal kisses like a man drowning, desperate and needy and kind of moist, each sensation exhilarating in its own way.
Judal finally pulls back, gasping for breath, and gives Hakuryuu a long, confused look. He's not sure how to respond to it. It's a lot to think about, so he starts with taking a few deep breaths to calm down. "What was that?" Hakuryuu decides on. Simple and to the point.
"What part? The cool magical contract that bound us together or the making out?" Judal drawls, teasing.
"The first one," Hakuryuu snaps back.
He shrugs. "It's so I don't get screwed over. And you don't get screwed over, because I'm actually playing fair with you," he explains. "But I liked the smooching. We should do that part more."
"I- If you say so," he says, finally taking his hand back from Judal's. Even as it's fading, Hakuryuu can still feel Judal's magic pulsing through him. It's...different. Not bad. Just different. He's not sure how he's going to get used to it. At least the headache is gone.
"I do!" He grins and everything softens; he looks entirely human again now that he's full of enthusiasm for the night ahead. "So now you really gotta get ready and take me out. We have places to be."
Hakuryuu nods and shoos him from the room. He just finished getting into pajamas, but apparently Judal couldn't have sprung this plan on him even 15 minutes earlier. He frowns into his dresser. Should he wear all black? He's never broken into somewhere before, let alone a museum that's bound to have intense security systems.
Alright. He can do this. He just has to trust in Judal's abilities and get ready without having a panic attack. Both of these things are a challenge, but Hakuryuu isn't going to let them hold him back. He's getting something out of this, too.
Judal taps at the door. "Hey, what's taking you?"
"I'm getting ready," Hakuryuu calls back, pulling on a fitted black t-shirt and some jeans. Now he's comfortable and hopefully able to blend in. He pulls the door open and Judal nearly falls over gracelessly. "Do you have any patience?"
"Nope," he answers easily. "I'll get us there if you want."
Hakuryuu narrows his eyes. "I am not letting you drive."
Judal laughs, offering Hakuryuu his hand again. "Like I need something so pedestrian. I've got my own ways of getting around."
"Is this another magical contract, or do you just want to hold my hand?"
"Neither," Judal says, and grabs for his hand. Hakuryuu jumps out of his reach just in time, much to Judal's disappointment.
"I'm putting on shoes first," he says, brushing past Judal to get down the hallway.
He whines loudly. "Ugh, I hate shoes."
"Well, I don't," Hakuryuu tells him calmly, tying the laces on his sneakers. Judal bounces from foot to foot until he looks like he might explode from having to wait. It should bother him more, but instead Hakuryuu finds himself smiling fondly.
Judal gives up on being patient and grabs Hakuryuu's hand. "Your shoes are on, come on, come on, let's gooooo!"
"I'm ready—" Hakuryuu begins but cuts off when they're suddenly, inexplicably somewhere else, and it's so dark it feels like all his senses have been blacked out. Only Judal's firm grip on his hand keeps him grounded as he's pulled through this terrifying, empty world, until they come out the other side into a dark corner of an unfamiliar building.
He takes what feels like the hundredth deep breath of the night to calm himself and looks around. Once his eyes adjust, Hakuryuu realizes that it's not that unfamiliar: they're in the back of the museum. "What did you do?" he asks quietly, fingers still threaded through Judal's to keep him from running off immediately.
"Got us here without having to break in," he says like it was the simplest thing in the world. "It felt good to stretch my legs doing that again but shit, it's way more exhausting than I remember."
"No, you don't," Judal corrects him. Hakuryuu's pretty sure he catches him wiping sweat from his brow. "But it's cool, I'll show you more once I have the energy. Getting my shit back should do it!"
They slowly venture into the hallway, Hakuryuu full of nerves while Judal seems as casual as he was during their previous trip. He can't believe they haven't set off some sort of alarm. Shouldn't it be more guarded and protected? In every action movie he's seen, pulling off a heist at a museum is played as the most high stakes thing you could do, but so far it's been a walk in the park. That thought doesn't keep him from worrying, much as he wishes he could.
Hakuryuu stops them right before they enter the large room and Judal whines softly. "What?"
"I'm just making sure there's no one around," Hakuryuu tells him.
"I would notice."
He looks at him doubtfully. Judal doesn't seem like he's paying that much attention to what's around them; he's solely focused on his goal. "Would you?"
"Of course I would. I can sense people. Have some faith in me, Hakuryuu!" he says, once again pulling Hakuryuu to the display case in the middle.
Now that it's about to happen, he feels so nervous that he thinks he might vomit. "We could get arrested for this. We're going to get arrested for this," he stresses, trying to hold Judal back.
"Nah, watch this," Judal says, and shoves his hand into the case. Hakuryuu's breath catches in his throat but his fingers slide through the glass as easily as slipping his hand into a pool of water until they wrap around the wand in the middle. It feels like the whole room shakes; someone has to have noticed this by now, but it's too late. Judal is cackling like a madman when he pulls his hand back out, teeth sharp and dangerous in his far too wide grin. "Got it!"
Hakuryuu can't do more than stare. Judal looks off, like he's wearing a second skin that doesn't fit him quite right, like it's ready to burst at the seams, and the air around him is crackling with power. This is wrong. He shouldn't have worried about jail, he should have worried about what reuniting a sealed spirit with his ritual objects would mean. This was such a bad idea and Hakuryuu can't look away.
This madness is probably why Judal was hidden away in the first place, his magic mostly sealed and separated from the rest of his power, and now Hakuryuu has helped set him free. He braces for the end of days, but instead the room stops shaking and he hears Judal crack his knuckles as his laugh softens.
"So, pretty sweet, huh?" Judal asks, giving Hakuryuu a smile that seems even more crooked for how wrong his body seems to fit the thing shifting and breathing beneath it. "It feels good to be free again!"
"We should go," Hakuryuu manages and Judal rolls his eyes.
"I guess. I could take out anyone who came for us, you know," he says, looking like he'd love to test out his newly regained power on whatever hapless security guards this museum has employed.
"We've already stolen something. I don't want to make it worse by killing people," Hakuryuu says.
Judal chuckles. "Right, we're saving the murder for later. I guess that is more like a second date kinda thing."
He brushes himself off and tucks the wand in a pocket, before offering Hakuryuu his hand again. There's no backing down now; it's not like he can get out of here without Judal's help. They go rushing through the shadows again but it's different this time: Judal feels like he's truly part of them now and if Hakuryuu isn't careful, he could be, too, melded together until they're some kind of magical mess together, and—
They tumble out into the warm, welcoming light of Hakuryuu's living room, and it's such a relief he almost collapses onto his couch. It's only Judal's grip on him that keeps him standing at this point.
"That felt fucking fantastic," Judal says happily, and this time he pulls Hakuryuu into a kiss. It's so much sharper, but the edge comes from something inside Judal, the magic bubbling up like it's some kind of uncontrollable well, and Hakuryuu bites back.
"That was reckless," he snaps between kisses. "You're- you're a natural disaster waiting to happen, and—"
"I am," Judal purrs.
"It's not a compliment," he tries to explain, but Judal just kisses him instead. Maybe he never should have kissed Judal in the first place; it's given him an advantage in arguments. Hakuryuu should push him off but instead he pushes him down onto the couch to kiss him more fiercely, and Judal moans under him.
Judal moves to bare his neck and Hakuryuu doesn't need to be told that it's an invitation. "It should be," he gasps out as Hakuryuu sucks at the sensitive skin there. This is the dangerous part, this reckless abandonment of self control, and he can't let himself get lost like this. Judal is loud and and clingy, trying to pull Hakuryuu closer, but—
He has to stop himself.
Hakuryuu pulls back and Judal whines. Of course he does. There's the mottled purple beginnings of a bruise on his pale neck and somehow, that's almost enough to break his self control again.
"Why'd you stop?" Judal asks. "I thought we had a thing going there."
"Well. Yes," he begins, running a hand through his hair as he tries to compose himself. "It was nice, but I'm not going to let myself be controlled by those sort of urges."
"'Those sort of urges,' ugh. You sound like the crazy cult guys I heard on the TV," Judal says, pouting.
What kind of show was Judal watching with cults in it? That's worrying. They should probably stay on topic, but now he's curious. "What were you watching?"
He shrugs. "I dunno, there's this one with a loud guy yelling at a crowd of people to repent or some shit like that."
"Do you mean the public access Christian channel?"
"Maybe, I dunno. They were all like 'don't give into your urges, Jesus is watching you touch yourself' or something dumb like that," Judal says, rolling his eyes. "I like it when you kiss me."
Hakuryuu looks him over again and yes, he's still Judal, but he looks like so much more now. It's definitely unsettling; he'll need to fix himself before they go out anywhere again. It makes him curious about what Judal looks like under whatever spells and enchantments keep him human, and that's strange in its own way.
"I do, too," Hakuryuu tells him. "But a lot has happened already today. It's the middle of the night and we robbed a museum and—"
"You make it sound like we took a whole bunch of shit. It's just the one thing," Judal interrupts, correcting him.
"Oh, I'm sorry, we only stole one priceless artifact instead of the entire exhibit."
"Yeah, see? It could have been worse!" Judal smiles up at him and Hakuryuu is pretty sure that he's trying to be reassuring. It's not working, but his attempts are cute.
"I know. But I would also like to slow down with doing new things," Hakuryuu tells him.
"Fine," Judal says dramatically. "But you're still gonna let me in your bed tonight, right?"
"That's different. I don't think you want to start sleeping on the couch," he says, trying to save this situation. He's not sure how things have gotten this far but they're here now.
Judal eyes up the couch, tentatively pokes the pillows a few times, and shakes his head. "Nah, I like your bed better."
"Wait, I don't need to thank you for liking my bed," Hakuryuu says, frowning. Judal laughs and his appearance shimmers like the reflections of waves, ever changing and unknowable, until it settles into something stunningly beautiful in a different way. His face is covered in glowing designs again and his eyes are slitted like some sort of strange animal, and his hair is free from its braid to pool around them. Hakuryuu reaches out to tuck a strand of it behind his ear and there's glittering jewels hanging from the lobes and threaded up his ear. "Was this necessary?"
Judal looks himself over some, at his pointed claws and glittering skin, and shrugs. "I dunno. Figured I'd switch it up some now that I can," he says. "What, do you wanna be pretty, too?"
"I don't think—"
"Trick question! You're already pretty," Judal says, laughing at his own joke. "So tell me about this fucked up revenge plot you want me to help you with."
Hakuryuu sighs. "I was thinking we could get a good night's sleep and then have a nice, logical discussion about it tomorrow," he says calmly, thinking of the soothing tea he has in his cupboard and how much it will help the conversation along.
"Nah, I wanna know now! I almost made you tell me before we left but I needed this shit back," he says, eyes wide with excitement. It almost feels like he can see the universe in them, sparkling galaxies and the endless void all swirled together, and Hakuryuu forces himself not to look away.
"I just think it would be better this way."
"You are so disagreeable."
"No, I'm just impatient," Judal whines, pawing at Hakuryuu needily. "I wanna know!"
He doesn't start his story immediately but he stops disagreeing, and apparently that's enough for Judal. He just needs a moment to prepare himself to talk about it. Even though the memories burn brightly in his mind, it's still hard to explain it. "I need to avenge my older brothers," Hakuryuu begins and Judal nods enthusiastically.
"Sweet, I didn't even know you had siblings," he says. "But I guess that's 'cause they're dead, huh? I mean, if you really wanted, I could try to bring 'em back, but I'm pretty rusty at raising the dead."
This is a bit much for Hakuryuu and he's left speechless. "You can- I- Look. Let me say my piece first, please."
"They died when I was six, in the fire I got my scars from," Hakuryuu says roughly, trying to get it out before he feels sick from thinking too hard about it. "One of them sacrificed himself to make sure I would get out safely."
There's a heavy silence after that but Judal doesn't interrupt him anymore, which is reassuring. He'll take what he can get.
"But he told me what was actually happening before he died and begged me to get revenge. The fire wasn't an accident; it was caused by my mother because my brothers had figured out that she wasn't the innocent, kind woman she pretended to be, and I was supposed to die with them," Hakuryuu tells him, gaining momentum. "I've failed at it for my whole life, so I have to get rid of her! I'm only alive so that I can make sure everyone knows the truth."
Judal continues to stare, unblinking and silent. "That's all," Hakuryuu says lamely. "Sorry."
"What are you apologizing for? I love it." Judal snaps out of his trance-like state to smile broadly. It's such a strange reaction that Hakuryuu isn't sure whether he should laugh or cry and Judal's easy acceptance, so he settles for nodding quietly. "I mean, I don't love that your brothers are dead and all, but I can definitely help you with that whole revenge bullshit! It sounds like a noble quest," Judal tells him, and that's almost worrying; Judal doesn't seem to be very good at understanding proper morals.
But for all that, he can't care about morals or the rest of the world. Someone finally, finally believes him. Not only that, Judal agrees with him and has the power to back it up. It's relieving and terrifying all at once. "Thank you," Hakuryuu tells him with honest sincerity, and Judal's smile softens.
"Yeah, no big deal. Mmm, I'd love to just stay up crafting plans but I wanna do it with you, and you kind of look like you might fall asleep on the couch," Judal says. "So I guess I can wait."
"It's not your personal struggle, and you're still this invested?"
He nods. "I have to help you, remember?"
Disappointment settles heavy in his gut, despite Hakuryuu's attempts to ignore it. "Of course."
"And I just like you, you know? So I don't want other people hurting you and shit like that," he says fiercely, and Hakuryuu has no doubt that he's able to back that up with whatever terrifying magic he wants. That's also reassuring. "Anyways, let's go sleep, and I'll let you make me breakfast while we talk about it."
Hakuryuu pushes off the couch and gives Judal a hand up. "Oh, you'll let me make you breakfast?"
His grin is all teeth but it's still friendly, somehow. Hakuryuu's realizing that he's getting used to whatever Judal is far too easily, and he's pretty sure he should be more worried about it. "Mmhm. I want pancakes and fruit, and some of that fluffy cream."
"Sure, whatever," Judal says agreeably, bounding off to the bedroom. His hair trails behind him, floating just above the floor, and Hakuryuu wonders how exactly he plans to sleep with it. Maybe he can convince Judal to put it back in its braid for convenience.
Tomorrow they'll plan. But for tonight he can at least enjoy Judal's company.