Being back to the place that he had grown to call home came with a new set of challenges. He left a lot of people behind with very little to no words. He knew most wouldn’t blame him after all word of your family's death can shake even the most logical person to their core. So when it came to getting his world set back up he knew he would have to make some apologies. Jae was one of them. He left in the middle of training him. Their contect had been almost nonexistent.

Donovan showed up at the Dojo using the back entrance wanting to not make a show of his return. He figured this would be the best place to catch Jae would be the Dojo if he continued his training. Catching out the corner of his eye the young dhampir he took under his wing he smirked. Moving over to him, in a playful manner Donovan pushed Jae to the wall and had his dagger from his hand. “Remember how to get out of this?” He asked in a joking manner.

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Since Jae had finally begun his training at the dojo it had become somewhat of a routine for him, he lived with Han now which meant the journey across the city to get here was longer but it was worth it for the peace and quiet he got. Usually the young dhampir would come around 6 or 7pm when it started to quieten down for the day and he’d just find a place to focus and while away the hours. By the time he got home to his boyfriend he was usually sore from how hard he had been working but every time he reminded himself that this was how he got stronger.

He purposely came to the dojo at strange hours because he preferred to be alone, since his mentor left the city without much of a word he decided it might just be easier to train himself, build upon what he started until it clicked. And for the most part it had, he was stronger and faster, his aim had improved to the point he could throw his daggers without having to question himself too much. He was so focused on his current training, practicing his aim from a distance towards a target that he didn’t expect to be swept to the side out of nowhere.

Naturally, he bounced back fast and stared at the male who had pushed him, it didn’t even register to Jae in that moment to try and recognize the face and the voice, he just naturally countered the male’s hold, grabbing his arm in a way which prevented him from using the dagger he took before going for his legs, pushing in a way that would shift him off balance and allow Jae the chance to get away from the wall. He looked up a little startled by what happened before it finally dawned on him who was there “Donovan?” he questioned with a raise of his brow.

It was probably a bad idea to sneak up behind someone while they were training, in a nearly empty dojo. If Donovan was  honest he may not be the brightest of men anyways. So as he came up behind his once a student and pinned him to the wall taking the dagger. He could see in his eyes it didn’t click right away that it was Donovan. He was more than sure in that moment he had made an even bigger mistake. 

As he countered his hold and pivoted so he lost his own balance he felt himself forced backwards and letting go of Jae not that his grasp was overly tight on him. Taking the steps backwards for the space he rebalanced himself. He tossed the dagger at the dummy and tossed his hands up to show he meant no harm then let out a chuckle as Jae went from protective dhampir to understanding who he was. “Jaesung. Nice to see you kept up your training. You have improved so much.”  

Donovan stood up fully again after rubbing on his leg where he had pressed to knock him off balance. “How have you been my friend?” He asked lightly as his eyes held a smile in them. “It's so nice to see you again.”

The younger dhampir had heeded the advice given by his mentor and kept up his training, he wanted to be stronger and to really feel connected to the community here. He was still a little shy and tended to keep to himself but sometimes he would spar with others who happened to be here as late as he was. His throwing had gotten better with time too, his aim improving and the power he could put behind his throws too.

His eyes widened as recognition finally set in and he realized the male in front of him was none other than his mentor, who had just managed to push off his balance, not hard enough to end up on the floor but without a weapon the younger male’s tactic was to get as much space as he would have needed to recalibrate. Though thankfully that wasn’t needed “God I was about to go beserker mode on you” he commented but then grinned when he praised him for keeping up his training “I told you I would” he responded with a proud smile.

Jae moved away from the wall and brushed himself down before heading over to the target to retrieve his dagger and tuck it into the sheath of his belt “Busy” he responded and chuckled “Balancing this whole Dhampir thing with university and a part-time job is definitely more challenging than I expected” not to mention he had to keep up a social life too “What about you? I heard you had some personal stuff going on” he had just kinda upped and left one day without much of a word, honestly Jae wasn’t expecting him to come back.

As Donovan watched the realization wash over Jaesung's face as his arms came to cross loosely over his chest as he chuckled softly. “Well I would have deserved you going berserker since I snuck up on you in the middle of night. I honestly didn’t expect anyone to be here this late.”  He said as he looked to the lights that were on since most seemed to be turned off. He assumed they were motion sensors.   Looking back to Jae with a large grin on his face.

“Well I am glad that you kept up on it. You are the best student I have ever taken on. You impressed me every turn.” He said honestly as he took a step past him to pick up one of the practice daggers and threw it at one of the targets not as well as he used too. “Getting bad in my old age.” He joked as he rubbed the back of his neck softly. Listening to what he had missed out on when he was away he gave a gentle nod. “Part time job? What are you doing?” He asked happily to see that Jae had been thriving while he was gone. “Best things in life are a challenge I find.” 

With a weak chuckle he sighed for a moment as he stared at the targets for a long moment. “I left without much of a word because I got word that my family had died in a plane crash. So I returned to South Africa where I am from to hold funerals and handle the finances. I am the sole survivor of Hendrix, one of the most well known Dhampir lines. Dwindled down to one.” He mused aloud before sighing and shaking his head. “I didn’t have much on my mind when I got the news other than to get home. I am sorry for not saying anything before leaving.”

Jae laughed and grabbed a towel from the bench to wipe his brow before biting his lip “Yeah I always end up being the one to lock up for the night, I find the evening training sessions the most productive” he had free reign of the dojo and all the equipment when he was here on his own which meant he could train as hard as he wanted without much interruption which he enjoyed. “I should really keep better track of time though” he commented with a sheepish smile as he quickly checked the time on his phone.

Jae beamed proudly when Donovan complimented him for being a good student “Well I couldn’t let you down now could I? Nor could I let Lune and Soleil down” he glanced at his daggers and smiled softly, one of the first pieces of advice he had given him was to name his weapons and so he had. Jae watched his throw towards the target, it wasn’t perfect but you could still see how effortlessly Donovan threw it “Just out of practice is all” he commented and scrunched his nose playfully.

Jae raised his brow when the elder dhampir asked what he was doing for work “I work the desk at a hotel, taking calls and bookings, helping people check-in and out” they had taken a shine to him because he was bilingual and so he could help Korean and Japanese speaking customers. Jae’s expression faltered when the other male spoke about his reasons for leaving though, no one had really told him in detail what happened and while he texted to ask if he was okay, he hadn’t really expected a reply given an emergency “So sorry to hear that…I can’t even imagine the turn your life too” he spoke softly as he glanced up at him “I can’t believe you came back” he commented wondering if he was staying for good this time.

Taking in Jae for a moment he gave a chuckle from his lips. “Look at you going from new guy in town to keys to the dhampir dojo in hand. You must have gotten some good roots since I have been gone.” He smiled towards him for a moment as he looked around the dojo taking in how at home he felt there. He had missed this place more than he cared to admit. “Well you know you could always set a timer on your phone so time doesn’t get away from you fully.” He nodded to the phone in his hand.

“You found their names huh?” He smiled big at him walking over to give him a pat on his shoulder. “You seem like you have grown so much and you are not even my child.” He laughed softly for a moment as he looked to the daggers. “So what does Lune and Soleil mean?” He tried to remember what names mean off the top of his head but after all there so many names in the world. Donovan chuckled softly as he looked at him. “I blame all the paperwork and duties of being a duke or whatever I am.” He honestly forgot the title more than he cared to admit since he used to go around talking about being a king.

“Do you like doing that? Just wondering. I want you to be happy is all.” He gave his friend a smile as he looked up to the ceiling to see if the staff that had been thrown up there forever ago was still there. It in fact was which gave him a quiet chuckle. “Life takes strange paths.” Donovan said simply before looking back towards him. “So don’t be too sorry for me. I have found what peace I can with it.” He said as he cleared his throat before looking back up to make sure no tears dare spill over. “Well I decided to return to the only other place that felt like home to me. I need to be here.” He said simply taking a deep breath. “So you are stuck with me kid, I am your new leader.” He chuckled as he patted his shoulder again.

Jae chuckled and scratched at the back of his neck sheepishly as he watched Donovan “I figured if Evermore is going to be my home then I need to be more involved in my own community” Jae had always been wary of dhampir training because of the way his father had forced it on him but here he was free to express himself in ways that felt free to him. He never felt pressure, he came because he wanted to. “True, but remembering to set the alarm is a whole extra thing” he teased and shrugged his shoulders slightly. He figured there were worse things that could happen than getting too caught up in something you enjoyed.

“I did” he spoke softly when Donovan asked him about the name of his weapons, he definitely felt more attached to them now that he’d made that step and in turn that made him a better fighter who understood his weapons well. He looked down to his daggers then back up to Donovan “The moon and the sun” he responded and nodded “One that represents me and one that balances me out...my opposite” he nodded and slightly as he looked up at him. “A duke?” he commented and raised his brows in surprised “That sounds awfully stuffy” he mumbled softly, he had always seen Donovan as a pretty casual guy so it was hard to imagine him being fancy and wandering around a castle.

Jae laughed under his breath and shrugged “I want to be a writer and I work on my stories most of the time when I’m not studying or working” he nodded a few times “Everything else just pays the bills until I manage to get where I want to be” he smiled softly, so working in a hotel certainly wasn’t forever but it paid well enough to ensure he didn’t need to go back and ask his father for support. “You’re brave” Jae complimented in response to Donovan’s words, the younger male wasn’t sure he could be that brave when faced with sadness but who knew. Jae grinned when the other male announced he was stuck with him as his new leader “Well in that case should I congratulate you by buying you a drink?” he raised his brows and grinned slightly.

Donovan watched his once upon a time student grow in front of his eyes. Yet time had passed quickly even if it had been a blur for him, so of course he had grown. “I am just glad to see you have found a path all your own.” He smiled at him with a memory of how he forgot the alarm a few times. “Oh trust me I got the whole speech every time when I forgot to set it.” He chuckled at the memory and wondered if the old man had given him the whole speech also.  “Something about how this place is sacred to us and it should be respected.  Even though it was an honest accident and could happen to anyone.” He gave a hearty laugh at that moment.

“How does it feel finally knowing what to call the extension of yourself?” He asked with a gentle smile on his lips as he looked at the daggers in his hands. “The sun and the moon.” He repeated with an approving tone. “I can see that. Not many take into account that their opposite can help balance them. Though you have always been brighter than most.” He felt the snort catch in his nose at the comment of being a duke making him stuffy. “Well,” He gave a nod of his head for a moment. “Stuffy it very much, and it is. Yet I am so far removed from a royal line it would take the earth swallowing many to become anything more.” He shuddered at the thought. “I do have some people I rule over though. Which is just weird. Then I remembered I am the leader of a Dhampir faction again.” He ran his hand along his head.

“Oh a writer? What is your poison? Poems? Songs? Books? Short stories? Screenplays?” He began to speak a list as his fingers went up with each item he listed.  “Well if you ever need help with them bills to focus on your writing come to me.” He said with a soft grin on his face, knowing he wouldn’t want to go to his father. “If you ever need it.” He stated not wanting to take the young man's independence away from him. Donovan looked at him as he commented that he was brave. Was he? Or did he not want to be alone in a big house? Alone with his emotions. He just grinned and was thankful the convo moved to drinking. “Well we can go for drinks but you forget I own a club so we drink for free.” He put his arm around Jaesung's neck in a brotherly manner. “Let's clean up and get going.”

Jae had come to Evermore with very little idea of the person he wanted to be and since arriving here he had figured so much out, about himself, about the things that made him happy and the things he had done only to placate others “Me too...I feel like I found...clarity since I got here” some of that was down to Han but also because he finally had room to breathe and do the things he really enjoyed. He’d really gotten invested in his training but also in his studies, they became important parts of his sense of self. “A whole speech?” he responded and chuckled “Well as long as you make it somehow, that’s all that really matters right?” he smiled softly.

“Right” he responded without hesitation when the other male asked him how it felt “You’re right there’s something about the bond between a dhampir and their weapon that is hard to explain” to most it just seemed like a piece of metal but to him, it was a small piece of his own identity and self which he held in his hand. “Balance is essentially what we are right, half living, half dead…” that is what he had come to learn about himself anyway. “Must be kinda crazy to think you’re...royalty” he commented and chuckled “Should I start calling you your highness...or your dukeship?” he teased it slightly, Jae imagined like it felt like a lot of pressure for the other male though.

“Poems and short stories for the most part...though I’ve had ideas for full novels I’d love to write” he had a very wild imagination and he dreamed of putting it to good use, of course he knew it wasn’t going to be easy to make it was a novel writer but it was definitely a dream he had in the back of his mind. Jae’s expression softened at Donovan’s offer “Thanks” the other male had always been so kind to him without asking for anything else in return and the younger male appreciated it a lot “If it ever gets to that point...I’ll let you know” he hoped to never be in that position though. “Well those drinks still cost...something” he commented and chuckled slightly and nodded before brushing himself off and grabbing his bag to sling over his shoulders “Where did you go to train while you were away?” he asked curiously as they headed for the door and he locked the door behind them.

Donovan gave a gentle chuckle as he mused over his words for a moment. “I feel as if Evermore has that effect on us more than we care to admit.” he said honestly as he thought of his first time in Evermore. Just a visit, that turned into him returning to take on a forever lot in his life. A place he felt at home, a place that made him feel alive yet safe. “Especially since there is no right way to make it. We all have to find our course through life, and it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.” He gave an easy empathetic smile to his friend. “I am rather proud of you.” He said with a gentle squeeze of his shoulder.

“And now that you feel that bond between your weapons, it's unlike any other isn’t it?” he asked because he remembered trying to explain it to Jaesung on their first training session. He thought of their species and how phrased they were half living and half dead. “We almost sound like zombies.” He gave an easy joke. “Though you know we hold our thoughts and actions so I guess we can’t be brain eaters.” He put his arms out and gave the classic zombie walk with a chuckle. “Balance.” He repeated to himself though quietly reflecting on the balance he needed in his life once again. He made a face to Jae and then snorted. “I know I used to joke about being King of the Dhampires but for the love of god don’t call me your dukeship. It's too close to dickship.” he laughed out for a moment. “Besides it would take half the world swallowing the others long before me, for me to become a full blown royalness.” 

Shaking his head at the thought of actually being a king was something else in his brain. “Have you written those ideas down? So that you can recall back on them? Don’t want to let any of those next masterpieces slip away. I often use the notes app on my phone for partial lyrics and ideas for songs.”  He gave an easy smile. “For real though, you could be the next Stephen King.” He nudged on Jae as they walked with one another. “I have more than enough for you not to worry about the cost of drinks, Jae.” He said in a serious tone. “I trained in the castle. Between grieving and all the paperwork. I rarely left if I am honest.” He cleared his throat, “Was rather depressed. Some days it was hard to get up.”

He nodded slightly at the other male’s words about the city affecting them more than anyone would admit “I think for me it’s less about the city itself and more about the country” he confessed and bowed his head slightly “Korea is very strict when it comes to their expectations on young people…” he murmured softly, his family had huge expectations on him and his siblings that sometimes it felt hard to breathe. “I’m learning that….you can’t please everyone with what you choose so in the end you need to prioritize yourself” there were some people you could take into consideration but you’d end up being torn in different directions if you weren’t careful.

In a way, Donovan was much like an older brother figure to him and so it definitely meant something when he said he was proud of him. He gave a small smile and nodded his head “Thank you...I’m glad there’s someone on my side” he murmured softly. “It really is...it’s like they have their own identities and yet they also...feel like part of me” he wasn’t sure any other species could understand the feeling. He chuckled when he said they sounded like zombies “You don’t have a craving for brains do you?” he teased back and chuckled at his impression. He couldn’t help but laugh at Donovan’s reaction to his teasing “Well then we’ll stick with first-name basis” he commented and grinned playfully, before bursting out laughing as he murmured ‘dickship’ under his breath.

Jae raised his brows when Donovan asked him if he had written any of his ideas down “I have a journal that I keep with me, it has a lot of notes and story points, quotes and the likes, anything I thought would be useful for the future” he nodded slightly, he had been given a journal by his mother when he was younger and he had kept one pretty much consistently since then, he liked being able to refer back to it. He chuckled when he nudged him “I don’t know about that” he commented and looked down for a moment then back up to him. Jae nodded and bowed his head in thanks in response to him “I’m a broke college student, I worry about the cost of everything” he confessed but it was okay to let your senior buy you a drink right?

Jae bit his lip slightly when Donovan talked about his training “That sounds pretty lonely” he admitted in a small voice “I’m glad you’re back here...you have people who care about you here” himself included.

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