title: hit me with your best shot
summary: kyungsoo picks up a shadow somewhere along the north atlantic.
notes: all the loves and hugs to ginma, who is forever helping me go over my fic, idk what i would do without you ♡ ty to everyone who held my hand on the twitter and my early bird readers who provided me with much support and encouragement for which i am eternally grateful. lastly, thank you to tiff, without whom, i never would've challenged myself to write this kind of au
social media platforms: the twitter + flavors
fanart collaboration partner: IBER1S (click here for fanart)
hit me with your best shot
kyungsoo pulls his pocket watch from the inner lining of his robe. shit on a stick, he’s running behind schedule. he quickens his pace tenfold. if he doesn’t hurry, he’s going to miss his window. kyungsoo doesn’t want to imagine the consequences should he fail his mission. all he knows is that his predecessor was never heard from again—in fact, no one even dares to mention it.
he curses under his breath, or rather, he swears at chanyeol, his personal assistant. kyungsoo’s going to have to reprimand him once he gets back. “how many times have i told you that you need to be more specific with details?!” chanyeol had sent him all the way to london, england, instead of london, ohio. kyungsoo had been somewhere along the north atlantic before chanyeol had sent him the message, “you know i was talking about london in ohio and not england, right?”
“of course i didn’t fucking know!” kyungsoo had screamed out loud, the poor ocean taking the full brunt of kyungsoo’s wrath in chanyeol’s stead. kyungsoo had been far too livid to communicate with chanyeol through their shared telepathy. talking to his assistant only would’ve riled up kyungsoo further. no, kyungsoo would much rather save it for when they’re face to face.
attempting to make up for lost time, kyungsoo doubles back as fast as he can, almost colliding with someone in the process. “sorry!” kyungsoo apologises, not slowing down for a second. kyungsoo is on a mission and no one—not even a scantily clad individual with nothing but a white cloth covering his knobbly and jiggly bits—is going to distract him.
with the almost run in with the naked man pushed to the depths of his brain, kyungsoo finally locates the hospital—in the correct city—only to find himself wasting more valuable time navigating an endless maze of hallways. they all look identical, the same drab decor, with a familiar stench of bleach and disease filling the air (and kyungsoo’s nostrils.)
“room 1206, room 1208, room 1210,” kyungsoo mutters under his breath, reading the numbers on each door until he finally spots his target, room ‘1212’. he must be closeby. finally spotting his target, he breathes a sigh of relief and sneaks inside.
upon entering the hospital room, kyungsoo sees a frail elderly woman. her eyes are closed, numerous tubes attached to her skeletal frame, surrounded by machines and a team of doctors and nurses. he’s made it just in the nick of time. the rhythmic beeps start to slow down until it finally flatlines, a continuous tone followed by the sobs of grief stricken sorrow.
when a human passes on to the afterlife, their soul manifests into an orb and it’s kyungsoo’s job to collect and transport it to its final destination—be it heaven or hell. technically speaking, kyungsoo is a psychopomp but he’s gone by many different names, all bestowed upon him by mortals over the centuries—the grim reaper, shinigami, even death itself. he despises being called ‘death’ because contrary to popular belief, he actually has no influence over who lives and who dies. that would be suho—his boss, a.k.a. the guardian of gods—who makes the executive decisions. kyungsoo’s just here to collect souls, which is why he personally refers to himself as a ‘soul collector’. he most definitely does not approve of the nickname, ‘kyungsoul’ as chanyeol calls him, despite kyungsoo’s threat of firing his underlings if he calls him that one more time.
it’s a common misconception that kyungsoo is a scythe wielding skeleton figure cloaked in a black robe. okay, kyungsoo has the ability to summon a scythe should he ever need to forcefully sever the connection between a soul orb and its former body but it’s not like it’s permanently attached to his hand. that would be a bitch to carry around. and knowing kyungsoo, he’d probably accidently stab chanyeol is the eye with it. yes, by accident, kyungsoo would claim. also, kyungsoo actually does wear a black cloak. ironically, he had actually been inspired by the mortal’s depictions of him and adopted the attire as part of his uniform.
but that’s where the similarities end. kyungsoo has a face, and by all appearances, he looks like your average mortal. not that kyungsoo blames them for inaccurate representations, it’s not like they can actually see what he looks like. so long as kyungsoo has his medallion, he’s visible only to other divine beings (or divines as they’re called) like him, and can roam freely on earth without being detected. should he lose his medallion, kyungsoo can kiss his job goodbye. he’d remain immortal but he’d be stripped of his divine powers and would probably be demoted. and what with his experience with souls, he’d probably be shifted to ‘the archive’. kyungsoo shudders at the mere thought of being an archiver, surrounded by jars stacked on shelves that span beyond the eye, keeping a record of each and every soul orb that passes through ‘the gates.’
it would be more of a punishment than anything. the only archiver who chose the career of his own volition is the current head archiver, huang zitao. in fact, there’s an urban legend that satan himself, kris wu, had been given the option of being an archiver or be banished from ‘the clouds of heaven’ for eternity. kris had chosen the latter and was exiled to ‘the pits of hell.’ in all honesty, kyungsoo probably would’ve done the same. the nature of his job sends him to ‘the pits’ every now and then—whenever he has to drop off a black orb from an evil soul—and kyungsoo wouldn’t think it would be the most terrible thing if his office was reassigned there. kris is a pretty cool guy, and the only thing kyungsoo can fault the guy on is the fact that he’s always dancing for some reason, and isn’t satisfied until everyone around him joins in.
kyungsoo’s job as a soul collector isn’t challenging, but it does require punctuality. a soul doesn’t hang around for long after, kyungsoo only has a time frame of two minutes before it’s considered a lost soul, bound to earth in the form of ghostly spirits until it’s exorcised by a shaman.
kyungsoo observes a bright white orb manifesting, slowly rising from the recently deceased woman, and retrieves an empty mason jar from inside of his robe, unclasping the lid. he scoops the orb inside and successfully traps it within the glass container. making sure the top is fastened securely, kyungsoo bows his head and says a silent prayer to pay his respects.
kyungsoo hears someone questioning suho’s decision, demanding an answer from him. over the many, many years on the job, kyungsoo’s learned that sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason behind who gets to live or die, it just is. in his rookie days, kyungsoo had found himself keeling over the toilet bowl at the end of each day, puking his guts out. but in the present day—as an experienced veteran—kyungsoo’s seen it all before. he’s witnessed gruesome sights, insides on the outside; dismembered bodies; decomposed corpses beyond recognition—nothing surprises him anymore. that’s not to say he doesn’t appreciate the peaceful assignments, mind you.
despite the slight mishap at the very start, his current job had been relatively a smooth and easy collection. all kyungsoo has to do now is travel back to ‘the clouds’ and drop off the soul orb at ‘the archive’. and he could do that in his sleep. soul collection has been somewhat second nature to kyungsoo for a while now, he could literally do it blindfolded. he’s honed his skills and senses so much so that he can detect a soul orb’s exact location with precise accuracy within a five foot radius. “kyungsoul’s got mad skills,” chanyeol had once boasted to his peers.
“one down, only ninety four to go,” kyungsoo mutters under his breath, taking another look at his to-do list. and that’s all before lunchtime. he glances at the clock on the wall. he still has fifteen minutes before his next collection, that’s more than enough time to arrive at his next location. exiting the room at a leisurely pace, kyungsoo catches a glimpse of a familiar looking figure running away from him.
“hey!” kyungsoo calls out, chasing after the man. “are you following me?” he’s certain it’s the person he had almost bumped into somewhere across the atlantic. judging by the being’s attire—or lack thereof—kyungsoo deduces that he’s probably a cupid, not that kyungsoo’s ever formally met one before. he’s only seen them from afar. they tend to keep to themselves, or so he’s heard from his one and only friend—byun baekhyun.
baekhyun had once told kyungsoo that cupids (and archangels) are the social elites of the divines—viewed as suho’s favourites—most of them not bothering to notice your existence unless you’re of the same rank. so why in heaven’s name would a cupid be following kyungsoo, a mere soul collector? kyungsoo’s more than aware of his social status among the divines—he’s bottom of the barrel.
being a neutral divine entity, he’s an outsider. he recalls the incident from just the week prior. “you do the devil’s work. you don’t belong here,” an archangel, luhan, had spat at him. kyungsoo hadn’t even realised the words were directed at him at first, most of them don’t even bother acknowledge his lowly psychopomp existence. kyungsoo didn’t have the time or energy to apprise him of the fact that kyungsoo is actually employed by both suho and the kris. he also would’ve slipped in the fact that it was under the almighty suho’s wishes that kyungsoo be positioned up in ‘the clouds’ as opposed to where almost all of the other soul collectors dwell—on uninhabited islands down on earth. kyungsoo, alongside a very select few, possessed the highly sought after perk of having an office in ‘the clouds.’
maybe he should ask for a relocation. but unfortunately, it would mean giving up his personal assistant. and as much as kyungsoo rags on chanyeol, he is pretty useful. at times.
“hey, you! cupid! stop!” it would be so much easier to obtain the cupid’s attention if kyungsoo knew his name, but alas, nameless cupid he shall remain—until kyungsoo finally catches up to him, that is. kyungsoo turns a corner and loses sight of his follower. it dawns on kyungsoo that he is now the one in pursuit of the cupid—talk about how the tables have turned.
“yo, boss man. you ready for the next job?” chanyeol’s voice rings in kyungsoo’s ears. scanning the hallway one final time for any trace of the cupid, kyungsoo accepts he’s not going to identify the being anytime soon. he didn’t even catch a glimpse of his face, just a round jiggly bottom that no amount of fabric could mask.
“yeah, hit me with it. make sure to send me the right country this time,” kyungsoo says.
“it happens one time and you don’t let me forget it. grudge much?”
kyungsoo rolls his eyes. his personal assistant can be a pain in the robe sometimes. “yeah, one time today, chanyeol. just send me the coordinates and i’ll take it from there.” kyungsoo takes his leave to the location of his next assignment, but for some unknown reason, he can’t shift the persistent feeling that he’s being watched. in a state of being on constant edge, kyungsoo looks back over his shoulder every other minute, but the only beings he observes are mortals. no divines, and certainly no cupids stalking him. chalking it to his paranoia, kyungsoo continues his assignments until he needs to head back up to ‘the clouds’ to drop off all the jars he’s collected at ‘the archive’.
“another job well done, boss man!” chanyeol greets kyungsoo with excessive enthusiasm.
“yeah, no thanks to you,” kyungsoo says, shaking his head. he takes off his black robe and hangs it on his coat stand before taking a seat at his desk. he has an hour’s break before he’s back out in the field collecting soul orbs from across the globe. he’s not in the mood for chanyeol’s never ending pep. where the hell does chanyeol get all his energy from, anyway?
“hey! i gave you the right address in the end, didn’t i? you’re welcome, by the way...” chanyeol trails off, distracted by something happening behind kyungsoo.
“what are you looking at?” kyungsoo asks with a raised brow. he’s not going to bother turning around, not after an excited chanyeol had dragged him back to the office one late evening to look at a cloud… shaped like a cloud. “but isn’t it the most perfect cloud you ever laid eyes on?” chanyeol had gushed and kyungsoo had sentenced chanyeol to scythe cleaning duties for an entire month after that.
chanyeol points to the window directly behind kyungsoo. “there’s a cupid balancing on the ledge behind you.”
kyungsoo almost falls off his chair when he swivels around in his seat. he sighs when he observes the familiar flash of bare skin. “i think he’s been following me the entire day.”
“who is he?” chanyeol asks the very same question kyungsoo’s been asking himself since their first encounter.
“listen, i know you’re there,” kyungsoo says, projecting his voice loud enough for the cupid to hear. “chanyeol, the man who spent an hour looking for the glasses that were on his face knows you’re there. so you might as well just show yourself.” kyungsoo gestures for chanyeol to unlatch the lock of the window.
the cupid enters the room from the window sill and immediately kneels down on one knee in front of kyungsoo. “hello, angel. did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” the cupid asks, taking one of kyungsoo’s hand into his own.
kyungsoo ignores chanyeol’s choking on his own laughter. “i’m no angel,” kyungsoo replies flatly, shaking off the cupid’s hand. kyungsoo can still feel the warmth lingering on his skin.
the cupid rises to his feet and looms over kyungsoo. kyungsoo takes several steps back and notices for the first time, just how tall the cupid is. judging by the way his eyes meet the cupid’s bare naked chest, kyungsoo would say he might even be the same height as his giant of an assistant. despite standing almost a foot apart, kyungsoo can feel the scorching heat emanating from the cupid’s body. undeterred by kyungsoo’s lack of interest, the cupid closes the distance between them. “you can be mine.”
“we don’t even know each other!” kyungsoo exclaims, throwing his hands in the air lest they find themselves wrapped around the cupid’s neck.
“the name’s sehun. oh sehun. and an eternity spent with you wouldn’t be long enough.” sehun beams at kyungsoo, a smile so wide kyungsoo’s surprised he didn’t pull a face muscle.
chanyeol keels over, clutching his stomach as he howls with laughter. “who put you up to this? this has to be some kind of joke, right?”
offended by both the implication of chanyeol’s words and the cupid’s ridiculous spouting of utter nonsense, kyungsoo kicks the pair out of his office. he ignores chanyeol’s protests of “why, what did i do?” and the cupid’s never ending declaration of his undying love for kyungsoo.
chanyeol does have a point though. is this a sick twisted joke? did the other cupids put sehun up to this? opening the door tentatively, kyungsoo beckons sehun to enter the room. he quickly slams the door before chanyeol has a chance to join them.
“explain yourself.” kyungsoo’s tone is ice cold, he doesn’t want to give the impression that sehun’s adoration is welcomed.
“i told you, i’m in love with you,” sehun repeats for the umpteenth time.
“but i don’t understand why.”
“well, it happened one magical morning—”
“you mean, this morning,” kyungsoo interrupts, majorly unimpressed.
“well, i’m new at this whole cupid thing, a rookie if you will. so i was training myself with a little solo target practice when i may have, uh, missed the mark somewhat. and there’s a chance i ended up…” sehun looks away, a soft hue of pink flushing over his cheeks. “...shooting myself in the foot.”
“you shot yourself?” kyungsoo asks, just to make sure he heard sehun correctly.
the cupid nods his head, his eyes still glued to the floor.
“in the foot?”
sehun nods his head again.
“so i was just the unlucky soul to pass you afterwards?” kyungsoo is in a state of disbelief. he’s not sure what’s more funny, the fact that sehun is so uncoordinated that he shot himself in the foot when his entire job relies on keen accuracy or kyungsoo’s own luck of passing by after the incident and being lumbered with a besotted cupid.
“but i’m certain i would’ve fallen in love with you anyway. how could i not?” sehun sighs wistfully and kyungsoo has a right mind to throw something at him. “do you know just how beautiful you are? of course you do, you have eyes. if only i could memorise every feature of your face—wait, do you have a beauty spot above your upper lip and just underneath your right brow?”
kyungsoo covers his face with his hands. “what? stop looking at me! please tell me there’s some kind of antidote to nullify the effects?”
sehun shakes his head and a pathetic sob slips from kyungsoo’s lips. he already has to babysit one giant baby in the form of his personal assistant, he doesn’t get paid enough to add a giant cupid to his plate.
“but, i have it on good authority that the effects among divines are only temporary,” sehun tells him.
kyungsoo exhales a deep sigh of relief. this is the best news he’s heard all day. kyungsoo makes a fatal error of making eye contact with sehun.
seizing the opportunity, sehun continues again. “i love you, my beautiful—”
kyungsoo descends to ‘the pits’ before sehun finishes his sentence. kyungsoo would rather have a dance off with kris than to deal with the smitten cupid any longer.
“kyungsoo, just the psychopomp i’ve been looking for! come check out my new dance moves.”
speak of the devil.
“is that your scythe under your robe or are you happy to see me?”
kyungsoo practises all of his self restraint not to summon the damn thing and swing it at the cupid. ignoring sehun's wiggling eyebrows, kyungsoo glides past without so much as sparing the cupid an ounce of acknowledgement, lest he gives sehun the wrong impression and encourage such behaviour. kyungsoo would never.
it's been two weeks since kyungsoo encountered the enamored cupid, or rather, the rookie who had managed to afflict himself, using his own power of infatuation, after shooting himself in the foot. two weeks of nonstop trailing, sehun has pretty much become kyungsoo's shadow at this point.
kyungsoo blames everything on chanyeol. if his assistant had sent him to the bloody correct continent at the very start, kyungsoo wouldn't have been anywhere near sehun during the cupid’s training mishap and they would've avoided this mess altogether. kyungsoo had learned that a cupid's charming power over his selected target, once engaged, lasts only for a minute, and if no one enters said target's radar within that time frame, the arrow's potent power would dispel. needless to say, chanyeol has been sentenced to scythe cleaning duties until further notice.
sehun, for the most part, had been pretty harmless. the first week had been torture, with sehun following kyungsoo everywhere like a lost puppy. company other than baekhyun or chanyeol being a foreign concept to him, kyungsoo had almost lost an eye summoning his scythe after sehun had appeared out of the clouds without warning. kyungsoo would vehemently deny that he found sehun's laughter—at his expense, no less—pleasant on the ears.
growing accustomed—but not attached, he would adamantly stipulate—kyungsoo has begrudgingly accepted the fact that whenever he looks over his shoulder, he's going to be greeted with a goofy grin and heart eyes. the smiles, kyungsoo can tolerate, the cheesy pick up lines, however, need to go.
“do you have a licence to kill? because you just took my breath away.”
kyungsoo stops in his tracks and side eyes the cupid. currently on the job, kyungsoo can’t afford any mistakes.
“you’re so hot when you squint at me like that,” sehun breathes into kyungsoo's ear, his warm breath tickling kyungsoo's neck.
kyungsoo summons his scythe and sehun immediately backs off.
“woah, i'm sorry! there's no need for violence, just love,” sehun says, covering his manhood with his hands.
kyungsoo rolls his eyes. “it's for my next assignment.”
“i knew you were warming up to me. soon, you'll be declaring your undying love for me!” sehun looks awfully smug and proud of himself.
“if you don't shut up this instant, i'm going to shove this thing so far up—”
before kyungsoo has a chance to finish his threat—and be welcomed with a “yes, please!” rebuttal—a wave of mortals outbursts capture his attention.
“why is there an almost naked man talking to himself?”
“hey, you! put some clothes on!”
“someone call the police!”
kyungsoo turns around, to pinpoint the cause of the commotion. there's a crowd of mortals gathering around him. what in high heavens is going on?
“valentine's day isn't till next year, jackass!”
“is there some kinda cosplay event going on?”
shit, can they see sehun?
“sehun! what’s going on?” kyungsoo asks, glancing over at sehun to find the cupid patting down his body. “what are you doing?”
“i-i can't find my medallion!” sehun looks at kyungsoo with glossy eyes.
shit. this is not good. this is very much not good.
“why is he touching himself?”
“there’s a pervert on the loose!”
the situation is starting to escalate—fast. kyungsoo closes his eyes and activates his soul detection radar. he can sense another soul collector nearby. “chanyeol, i have an emergency! i need you to reassign my soul collections to minseok! call his assistant, jongdae, and he'll walk you through the process.”
“we need to get out of here!” kyungsoo reaches out for sehun’s wrist, pulling the cupid toward him as they make a run for it. “can you ascend?” kyungsoo asks, suddenly realising his fingers are no longer curled around the sehun’s wrist, but are interlaced with cupid’s own fingers instead. kyungsoo can feel the warmth seeping into his skin.
sehun nods. “y-yes.”
“you're going to need to stay under the robe to shroud you.” kyungsoo lifts up the thick fabric and gestures for sehun to take cover under.
“okay," sehun replies, barely above a whisper.
during their ascension, kyungsoo can feel beads of sweat forming on his forehead. he already feels like he’s roasting underneath his thick heavy cloak that covers almost every inch of skin. add in the heat of sehun’s bare skin pressed against him and he’s bound to end up a sweaty sticky mess. kyungsoo suspects that his robe is going to be drenched with his sweat by the time they reach the clouds. “you’re really hot, you know that?” kyungsoo asks, curious to find out if high body temperature is part of being a cupid or if it’s just a trait unique to sehun.
kyungsoo swears the temperature spikes up even higher. “uh, thanks. you’re quite handsome, too. in fact, very handsome. beautiful, even.”
“no, i meant it literally. your skin feels like it’s on fire,” kyungsoo clarifies. once they’ve reached a height undetectable by the mortal eye, kyungsoo slides out of from under his cloak and observes a pink hue flushing sehun’s cheeks. kyungsoo’s about to continue when the cupid looks away, avoiding eye contact.
sehun doesn’t reply, and kyungsoo doesn’t push the topic any further. by the time they reach ‘the clouds’, sehun is still visibly shaken up at the whole idea of what’s about to happen. not that kyungsoo can blame him, he knows the gravity of the situation. if suho finds out about this, sehun could be sent to ‘the archives’. or perhaps even exiled altogether. kyungsoo’s been around for centuries and he’s yet to hear of any divines losing their medallion. kyungsoo would make a comment about not being surprised that sehun would be the first—this is the very same cupid who shot himself in the foot, after all—but he knows it’s an insensitive time to be cracking jokes.
sehun’s been sitting in kyungsoo’s office for the past hour, still wearing kyungsoo’s robe. usually extremely loose on his smaller frame, kyungsoo can’t miss the way the material clings to sehun’s broad shoulders. he conveniently refuses to acknowledge how the hem hits sehun’s calves as opposed to it almost touching the ground when kyungsoo sports it. kyungsoo doesn’t have the soul to ask sehun to return it—not in his current state—kyungsoo decides to leave the cupid be. it’s not like he doesn’t have a bajillion other robes identical to it, anyway.
kyungsoo pulls one of his spare robes from his drawer and throws it over his head.
“where you going, boss?” chanyeol asks, a glint in his eyes suggesting there’s something else he’s not verbalising.
“i’ve got something to do,” kyungsoo informs him. he steals a fleeting glimpse at sehun, but chanyeol’s soft “ah, gotcha,” indicates it hadn’t been subtle enough. kyungsoo braces for an onslaught of teasing and prepares a strong game of denial to defend himself. and should all else fail, kyungsoo could always threaten to send chanyeol to ‘the pits’ for a day or two. on any other occasion, kyungsoo would never subject chanyeol to kris’s penchant for dancing. lord knows chanyeol’s worst fear is dancing in public. and rightfully so, he can’t move to a rhythm to save a soul. but desperate times call for desperate measures. kyungsoo is merely helping out sehun, as one divine to another.
to kyungsoo's surprise, chanyeol merely steps aside and allows kyungsoo to continue his business without weighing in. if his assistant does have anything to say on the matter, he keeps it to himself. kyungsoo decides that upon his return, he shall relieve his assistant from scythe cleaning duties.
kyungsoo spends the next few hours tracing every step he had taken that day, trying to locate sehun's medallion. if only kyungsoo’s detection skills applied to objects as well as souls, it’d make his life so much easier.
what if sehun had dropped it into the pacific ocean when kyungsoo had been called to seoul? kyungsoo feels a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. the reality of finding the cupid’s medallion seems highly improbable. maybe if he spoke to suho and explained the situation, the guardian of gods would go easy on the cupid?
“boss, we need you back up in ‘the clouds’.”
deeming the search a lost cause, kyungsoo ascends back to his office. before he has the chance to ask chanyeol why he’d been called back, kyungsoo is greeted by a soul crushing hug from one happy cupid.
“if it wasn’t already clear, he found the medallion,” chanyeol relays.
“where was it?” kyungsoo croaks, trying to pry the cupid off of him.
“it was in your cloak!” sehun’s mood clearly lifted after the medallion had been found. the cupid opens his mouth to say something but instead of speaking, sehun suddenly shoves kyungsoo away from him.
“are you okay?” chanyeol asks, rushing to his boss’s aid.
“yeah, i’m alright,” kyungsoo assures. he averts his attention back to the cupid, trying to figure out the motive behind the abrupt brashness of his actions.
“what the hell is your problem?!” chanyeol is absolutely livid, a sight kyungsoo has never witnessed before. he wasn’t aware chanyeol had any mood other than ‘overzealous pep’. and it’s all in his honour, kyungsoo feels touched.
“oh, my god. i’m sorry, i don’t know what came over me. the infatuation—it wore off. and it was like waking up from a dream, it just didn’t feel real,” sehun explains.
chanyeol scoffs. “and you think that makes it okay? well, let me tell you something—”
“chanyeol,” kyungsoo calls out his assistant’s name. chanyeol looks at kyungsoo, an incredulous expression on his face, clearly trying to figure out why kyungsoo isn’t as furious as he is. kyungsoo places a hand on chanyeol’s shoulder to placate him. kyungsoo and the cupid make eye contact and kyungsoo can immediately tell the difference in sehun’s expression. there’s definitely no more love behind that look—there’s barely any recognition. “i’m fine. just show him out.”
“but, boss!” chanyeol protests.
“you don’t have to do that. i’ll leave now,” sehun says, taking off kyungsoo’s robe before neatly folding it and placing it on kyungsoo’s desk. “see you around?”
kyungsoo nods his head in reply but he knows it’s an empty gesture. now that the infatuation has worn off, kyungsoo highly doubts that sehun would even acknowledge him should they cross paths in the future.
and it’s for the best.
it’s been a month since sehun has stopped following him, and as kyungsoo had predicted, there’ve been no sightings, not even a brief glimpse of skin. not that kyungsoo’s been counting the days or anything. in fact, kyungsoo’s pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to recognise the cupid on account of how little thought he’s given to him.
“kyungsoo-yah! over here!”
now, that’s a voice kyungsoo is familiar with. kyungsoo smiles at the tooth fairy waving his hands furiously in the air, trying to catch the soul collector’s attention. baekhyun’s always had the tendency to overcompensate his miniature size with animated movements. chanyeol often pokes fun at kyungsoo’s height, but baekhyun is less than half kyungsoo’s size, with the ability to shrink himself even further.
today is no different, baekhyun practically bouncing off the walls as kyungsoo approaches him.
“kyungsoo-yah! guess who i met yesterday?” baekhyun must be eager to share the news, kyungsoo’s never seen his wings fluttering so quickly.
“how many times have i told you already, unicorns don’t exist,” kyungsoo says, shaking his head. he knows he should stop cajoling his only friend, but he can’t help it. baekhyun makes it far too easy and his reactions are always priceless.
baekhyun gasps, covering his mouth with his hand. “how dare you?! why don’t you tell yixing that to his face?”
“i would if he existed,” kyungsoo retorts, chuckling as baekhyun swats him with his wings. “okay, okay! so tell me, who did you meet?”
“i met a sandman! he’s really handsome and sweet and nice so i invited him up here today!” baekhyun can barely contain his excitement, he’s no longer sitting down on his seat but is hovering in midair.
“are you sure that’s a good idea, baekhyun? you know how the archangels feel about earth dwellers entering ‘the clouds.’” kyungsoo is fully aware that they already get judgmental looks whenever they’re together, a psychopomp and a tooth fairy, followed by hushed whispers of why don’t they just “go back to where they came from.”
baekhyun puffs out his chest with indignation. “i hate that term! i shouldn’t be pigeonholed into that definition. i’m more than that! i-i make children happy!”
“i’m sorry, baek. i didn’t mean it derogatively,” kyungsoo apologises, kicking himself for using the slur against the magical entities that reside on earth. he feels guilty for offending baekhyun, he’s just as bad as the archangels he’s always condemning. “so, tell me about this sandman? what’s his name? do they really carry a satchel of magic sand with them?” kyungsoo hopes the swift topic change will perk his friend back up.
“yes!” baekhyun is back to the blur of fluttering wings and bright smiles. “his name is jongin and—”
someone kicks kyungsoo chair, interrupting baekhyun. “we don’t want your kind here,” kyungsoo hears the archangel seethe, turning up his nose in disgust. it’s luhan, the arrogant guardian angel who acts like he’s the second coming.
“it’s not like we’re disturbing anyone!” baekhyun exclaims, climbing on top of the chair and still barely reaching luhan’s face.
“shut up, tinkerbell!” luhan flicks baekhyun in the forehead before turning his attention back to kyungsoo.
usually, kyungsoo would just retreat without uttering a word. but not this time, kyungsoo has let things slide for far too long. “i’m just doing my job, just like you, just like everyone else.”
“you should go elsewhere to do it. go back to earth and take your dweller with you.” there’s a venomous tone in luhan’s voice and it sends shivers down kyungsoo’s spine.
kyungsoo finds himself questioning how luhan was ever offered the ambrosia elixir to transcend into a divine let alone be promoted to an archangel. it’s not routine of kyungsoo to examine a divine’s soul but luhan’s behaviour warrants it. closing his eyes, kyungsoo isn’t surprise to sense that the archangel’s soul is black as coal. kyungsoo’s going to have to report this to suho. “we’re more alike than you think, you know. you protect human souls while they’re still alive, i protect them during their transition after they’ve departed,” kyungsoo says, surprised at his unexpected brazen courage. a psychopomp talking back to an archangel is unfathomable and yet kyungsoo couldn’t give a flying angel.
luhan laughs, attracting the attention of the beings surrounding them. “are you serious? us, the same? you don’t deserve to breathe the same as i do. you’re nothing but—”
“luhan, stop!” a voice appears from behind kyungsoo.
kyungsoo doesn’t budge. instead, he feels the owner of the voice approaching and a set of fingers curling around his wrist.
“i’m sorry about him, he—”
“i didn’t need your help,” kyungsoo interrupts, pulling away from sehun. he doesn’t need a cupid in shining armour to save him, he’s not a divine in distress. kyungsoo is more than capable of defending himself. he doesn’t want luhan to think he’s weak, it’ll only make him more vulnerable to attack.
“boss, minseok needs backup,” chanyeol informs him. and for the first time, kyungsoo had never been so glad to hear from his assistant.
“tell him i’m on my way.”
an epidemic strikes a rural village on a remote island, and kyungsoo has spent the past couple of weeks travelling back and forth, collecting souls and depositing them at ‘the archives.’ despite being super busy, the incident involving luhan and sehun remains at the forefront of his thoughts.
he feels guilty for snapping at sehun the way he did. kyungsoo knows sehun only had his best interest at soul. and despite owing the cupid an apology, kyungsoo can’t bring it upon himself to approach the cupid. though, it’s not as if he’s been going out of his way to avoid sehun, they just live different lives is all. yes, there may have been that once instance when kyungsoo spotted sehun from afar and transported himself to earth but that was because he had the sudden urge to visit baekhyun and wanted to check in on him. kyungsoo is a good friend™ and baekhyun’s been eager to update kyungsoo with his progress with jongin, the sandman, he’s just started dating.
it has nothing to do with the way kyungsoo’s heart has started to pound in his chest whenever he thinks of sehun. and a blush most definitely does not flush over his cheeks when he recalls the occasion when their bodies were pressed against each other that time when sehun had momentarily misplaced his medallion.
kyungsoo is a busy divine with a full-time job. he doesn’t need distractions, especially not one by the name of oh sehun with his perfectly chiseled features and dark hair that looks like it would be just as soft to the touch as his bare naked skin. none of that, thank you. work is kyungsoo’s one and only priority.
“hello, is anyone there? i’ve got twelve souls to drop off.” the infectious disease outbreak is showing no signs of slowing down, soul collectors working overtime, kyungsoo included. he’s not had a break in over twelve hours, and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to take one in the next twelve. with no time to spare, kyungsoo pushes the buzzer incessantly to attract an archiver’s attention. “zitao?”
“hey, i’ll be out there in a sec!”
wait, that didn’t sound like zitao. or any of the archivers kyungsoo’s acquainted with. it sounds an awful lot like sehun but it couldn’t be… could it? “sehun?”
“hey, kyungsoo! busy day, huh? minseok’s been here several times in the past hour, it’s crazy,” sehun strikes up a conversation with the soul collector as if his presence were a common day occurrence.
“why are you here?” kyungsoo asks, furrowing his brows at sehun with suspicion.
“well, hello to you, too,” sehun greets with a bright smile. all this time, kyungsoo had been feeling awful over what had happened and sehun appears to be unaffected by the slightest. “i’ve been wondering when we’d meet.”
kyungsoo squints even harder. “did you… did you ask to be transferred here?”
“no, i didn’t have any choice in the matter. just like how i don’t have a say in why we need to shoot people with arrows. it’s in the 21st century, surely we can manufacture a more developed—and efficient—method of casting attraction spells.”
“you shot yourself again, didn’t you?”
“actually, i didn’t. i… er… shot someone else?” sehun chuckles nervously.
“who could you have possibly shot that would’ve landed you here of all places?” kyungsoo bites back a smile. sehun’s reappearance causes kyungsoo’s heart to flutter. is it normal for a psychopomp to feel this way about a cupid? surely not.
kyungsoo can hear a voice in his head—clearly his own—absence makes the heart grow fonder, he says. shut up, kyungsoo.
“it may or may not have been a certain someone by the name of suho?” sehun rubs the back of his neck and oh no, he didn’t. why is sehun so goddamn endearing all of a sudden?
“no, you didn’t.” kyungsoo can feel the muscles in his face forming a smile. against his will. goddamn it, face, why must you betray me like this?
sehun nods his head. “it was great at first. he promised to promote me to his right hand angel, and guaranteed i wouldn’t have to work another moment in all of eternity. unfortunately, with his supreme power, the effects didn’t even last a full minute before wearing off and well, now i’m stuck working here.”
“for how long?” kyungsoo asks, not sure if he wants sehun to remain there or if he wants sehun to disappear back to the clouds he had descended from. kyungsoo’s already feeling things, emotions alien to him. he’s pretty sure more interactions with the
“indefinitely.” sehun taps his fingers against the smooth surface of the counter. “though, i can’t say that it’s been all bad. working with zitao has been pretty great, actually. gravely misunderstood, that guy. people should give him a chance.”
there’s an unfamiliar feeling bubbling up inside of kyungsoo. could it be… jealousy? baekhyun had explained the emotion to kyungsoo after finding out that jongin’s sand dust actually comes from the horn of unicorns—the sandman’s unicorn being none other than yixing. kyungsoo thought he’d been dreaming after being accidentally sprinkled with jongin’s sand dust after meeting yixing for the first time. who would have known, unicorns really do exist, and they’re one of the most beautiful majestic creatures kyungsoo’s ever laid eyes on. almost as breathtaking as sehun. wait, who said that? admonishing himself, kyungsoo dispels the thought from his brain. “i see. well, must be nice. getting along with everyone, can’t say i relate. well, you would know. you saw what happened with luhan.”
“i’ve been wanting to apologise to you about what happened with him.” sehun places a hand on top of kyungsoo’s, gently grazing the back of the soul collector’s hand with his thumb.
“why? it’s not like it was you who was a dickangel to me.” kyungsoo wants to remove his hand but there’s an unknown force preventing him from doing so.
“i know, but he’s my brother.”
kyungsoo’s mouth hangs open after sehun drops the truth bomb on him. “luhan is your brother?”
“when we were mortals, yes. we actually transcended into the afterlife together. but then luhan was promoted to an archangel and i was—”
“it’s okay, really.” kyungsoo not allowing sehun to finish his sentence is becoming a recurring theme whenever they interact. kyungsoo would rather not hear about sehun’s connection to luhan. he doesn’t want his perception of sehun to be clouded by his loathing of luhan. kyungsoo discreetly senses sehun’s soul and exhales a sigh of relief to find it pure as snow.
“no, it’s not okay!” sehun exclaims, squeezing kyungsoo's hand. “you don’t deserve to be treated like that. don't you know how great you are? it makes me so mad to think that you don't even know your own self worth!”
sehun's words resonate in kyungsoo's head. “you think i'm great? but you don't even know me,” the words slip from kyungsoo's lips before he realises he's spoken them out loud.
“i shadowed you for weeks, remember? even though i was under the influence, it didn’t distort my memory. you’re amazing, kyungsoo. you’re so dedicated at your job, you’re a great boss to chanyeol and you’re so nice to everyone, in spite of their divine standing.” sehun pulls kyungsoo’s hand and places it to his heart. “i mean what i’m saying, kyungsoo. look, i don’t possess any divine ability at the moment. these aren’t empty words fuelled by infatuation, it’s from the heart. you can feel it, right?”
kyungsoo looks into sehun’s eyes and kyungsoo feels a jolt of energy coursing through his veins. he feels sehun’s heartbeat speeding up, his own mirroring the rapid pace until they’re both beating in sync. kyungsoo can feel a spiritual connection between the two of them and it’s far too much for kyungsoo to handle. he pulls away from sehun’s hold in spite of the other's resistance.
death, he’s equipped to deal with. love, on the other hand, love isn’t anything he’s ever experienced. there's been no precursor for this emotion—even when he’d been a mortal. “i gotta go,” kyungsoo announces, without explanation.
“wait, didn’t you need something from here?” kyungsoo hears sehun calling out to him. he does—he came for jars, not a soul changing revelation. the information overload is far too overwhelming for kyungsoo to process and he needs to flee the scene immediately.
tell me... if this is love?
“sehun?” kyungsoo calls out for
sure, sehun is a little slower at cataloguing his soul orbs than other archivers, and would often forget to order kyungsoo's favourite brand of jars, and was forced to return to ‘the archive’ more often than he'd like, but their interactions were always pleasant. and hey, at least sehun's not equipped with lethal arrows of love working as an archiver. there's only so much damage sehun could do with a jar scanner. though, kyungsoo wouldn't be surprised if sehun had temporarily blinded himself with it.
sehun's genuine sincerity over kyungsoo’s well being had won the soul collector over. sehun sees kyungsoo for who he is, not what he does. kyungsoo would always find himself leaving ‘the archive’ in a much higher spirit than when he'd arrived. sehun makes him happy and, dare he say it, kyungsoo might even like him. and not in the same way he likes baekhyun, but akin to baekhyun’s fondness forjongin and vice versa. not that kyungsoo would ever admit it to anyone, despite the constant looks chanyeol gives him whenever he’d return to the office with a bright smile on his face.
“sehun?” kyungsoo calls out again.
“here to make a deposit, or for collection?” kyungsoo hears a muffled voice from behind the counter.
“oh. hey there, zitao.” shit, could he have sounded anymore disappointed to have been greeted by zitao. “have you seen sehun? it's my day off and i just wanted to swing by, not on business for a change.” kyungsoo endeavours to sound nonchalant, despite the butterflies fluttering in his stomach.
“didn’t he tell you? he doesn't work here anymore, he's been transferred back to being a cupid,” zitao informs him.
it's the first time kyungsoo's hearing about it and he can feel his heart sinking to the pit of his stomach. sehun hadn't mentioned anything the previous day during kyungsoo's multiple visits. trying not to feel hurt or offended by sehun's failure to disclose the news to him, kyungsoo can't help but conclude it's because sehun doesn't regard kyungsoo as worthy enough.
had this been one-sided all along? kyungsoo had always assumed the sentiment was mutual. it’s not as if kyungsoo or sehun had been very discreet for that matter. their relationship had evolved from casual greetings to full on conversations and laughter that echoes across the clouds. kyungsoo hadn’t failed to notice the way sehun’s fingers would graze against kyungsoo whenever they exchanged soul orb jars, lingering longer than necessary.
had it just been in his head all this time?
“it's probably a good thing. sehun would always take forever when recording my deposits. maybe the next one will be quicker to process—save me time from sticking around longer than i have to.” there's a tone of bitterness in kyungsoo's voice and he hopes that zitao doesn't pick up on it—or on the (very likely) chance that he does—he won't comment on it.
“sehun's our best recruit in decades. he's almost as quick as i am which is hella impressive—pardon my devil talk—considering i've been working here for centuries and sehun's only been here for a couple of months,” zitao reveals, much to kyungsoo’s surprise.
“really? he'd always take forever with me. i mean, maybe he'd be a little distracted because we'd get to talking but he still takes twice as long as it does than with you.”
zitao shrugs his shoulders. “maybe he was stalling. you know, to spend more time with you? he's always talking about you, it drives me crazy. no offense. speak of the cupid, look who's just arrived.”
“kyungsoo, you're here! i was looking for you, you weren’t in your office so i was hoping to find you here and not in a remote location somewhere on earth. not everyone is blessed with soul detection skills. anyways, i wanted to let you know that i've got my wings back! and look at how big my bow is!” sehun is like a kid with a shiny new toy, showing it off to all his friends.
“bow? is that what cupids are calling it these days?” kyungsoo cracks a joke to mask his disappointment that he won't be seeing the
“heavens, i've missed this thing.” sehun draws an arrow, pulling the string back.
“watch where you’re pointing that thing!” kyungsoo takes several steps backwards, away from the line of fire. sehun had been stripped of his divine status because of his poor aim, after all. kyungsoo can only imagine how bad his accuracy would be after being out of practice for several months.
“are you afraid i'll shoot you with my arrow?” sehun turns to face kyungsoo, aiming his arrow right at him.
“wait a second, i don’t know why i’m so worried. it’s not like you’ll actually hit me.” kyungsoo forces a smile, trying not to dwell on how much he'll miss teasing the other. he knows it's not as if they won't ever see each other again, but... he knows it won't be in the same capacity as it has been.
“hey!” sehun protests with a pout. “but i guess you do have a point there.”
“that’s not all i wanted to tell you, there’s something even bigger i wanted to share!” sehun says, setting down the bow.
“yeah, zitao just told me. congrats on the transfer.” kyungsoo’s fake smile is starting to ache, almost as much as his heart is.
sehun frowns. “how did zitao find out so quickly? i just heard back from suho that it's been made official—this will be my last day as a cupid. from tomorrow, i'm going to be an archiver, not as a form of punishment, but as a requested position.”
“dude, that's great news!” zitao gives sehun a high five. “i'd love to stick around and celebrate this with you both properly but no rest for the archiver. catch ya both later.” zitao salutes the two of them before retreating behind the counter.
“it's no secret that i'm rubbish at being a cupid. but here, i feel like i belong.” sehun shoots kyungsoo a smile and kyungsoo feels like he would pretty much do anything to have sehun smile like that for the rest of eternity. “and i like that i can spend time with you here,” sehun adds.
kyungsoo can’t be too sure if sehun means it in a platonic sense or… not. he doesn’t want to jump the scythe and assume sehun wants to jump his robes.
“anyway, i gotta give all this stuff back now that i'm not going to be a cupid anymore. but there's something i wanted you to have.” sehun pulls an arrow from his quiver.
“er... thanks?” kyungsoo doesn't know how to respond to the unconventional gift. unlike the other arrows that are glowing with a bright luminescence, the arrow that sehun had presented with kyungsoo with looks... dull.
“if you're wondering why it looks different, it's because it's a used arrow,” sehun states, as if he could read kyungsoo's mind.
kyungsoo looks at the arrow in his hands. he runs his finger along the shaft, the sturdy metal is cool to the touch. there's a heart shape cut out of the arrow head, and it's a lot heavier than kyungsoo had expected it to be. kyungsoo harbours less judgement toward sehun now that he knows the true weight of the arrow. it's probably no easy feat to shoot it from several hundred feet away and actually hitting the target. it's no wonder why cupids are esteemed divines.
“did you know that the fletchings—the tufts of feathers you're touching right now—are made from the wings of the cupid that the arrow belongs to? that's how we can tell which ones are ours.”
kyungsoo shakes his head. the arrow is made with a part of sehun. kyungsoo is holding a part of sehun in his hand.
“and this is actually the arrow that i shot myself with. the one that led me to you.”
“you saved it?” kyungsoo inspects the arrow even closer—the object that brought sehun and him together.
“yeah, even after the effects had worn off. i just couldn't bring myself to throw it out. and now it's going to be the only thing i have left to remind me of my days as a cupid.”
“then i can't accept this,” kyungsoo says, offering the precious arrow back to sehun.
sehun shakes his head. “i want you to have it.”
“but it's clearly something so valuable to you.”
“precisely why i’m giving it to you. because you're important to me. this is a symbol of my love for you and though i don't expect you to feel the same way, i just hope it’s something you can accept. please?”
unable to contain his feelings for sehun any longer, kyungsoo stands on his tiptoes and draws their faces together until their lips finally meet. “just shut up and kiss me already.”