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Yoongi doesn’t know what he was expecting, exactly, when Taehyung called the day before asking about the pool in his mini-greenhouse, but it certainly wasn’t this.

This being opening his door to find Taehyung and Jungkook on his porch, the former with his fist raised mid-knock even though the doorbell is right fucking there, the latter standing a few steps behind him and smiling rather sheepishly while bridal-carrying a mermaid.

A goddamn mermaid.

It is too early for this, Yoongi decides. Definitely too early. It could be six in the evening and it’d still be way too early for him to be dealing with having a whole mermaid in his house, especially when he’s supposed to be on a very well-deserved break. So with that thought in mind, he gives his younger friends a courtesy nod that’s both a ‘hello’ and a ‘goodbye’, before moving to slam the door back shut so he can return upstairs and cuddle with Nala until noon at the very least.

The universe has other plans, though. Or maybe that’s just Taehyung being the stubborn, insistent non-person that he is, because just as Yoongi is pushing the door back close, he shoots an arm through the gap in a sudden burst of glitter. Yoongi just barely manages to avoid pinning the younger’s arm between the door and the doorframe. The result is a faceful of fairydust.

He sputters and shakes the magical glitter off his face, before opening the door again in wary resignation. “What?”

“Hello, Yoongi-hyung!” Taehyung says brightly, throwing one arm out in an elaborate kind of wave and keeping the other where it is, probably to prevent Yoongi from trying to shut the door on them again. More fairydust rains down and collects on the doorstep, the light breeze not doing much to carry it off. “Remember our call yesterday?”

Instead of responding, Yoongi just squints at his fairy friend. Then he moves his gaze to Jungkook, who at least looks a little apologetic, shrugging as much as he can with the mermaid still perched in his arms as though that would remove all responsibility of the situation from him.

And, honestly. A mermaid.

The mermaid seems to be asleep, from what Yoongi can see, head nestled comfortably against Jungkook’s shoulder and dressed in an oversized fluffy blue sweater. Yoongi can spot a headful of pale pink from where he’s standing, along with the faintest trace of the gash-like gills that are located on the sides of the neck and a curled tail that shimmers almost red in the sunlight.

Yoongi has encountered mermaids before, but just enough to count on one hand. They’ve all been incidents related to his self-run business, but even with the name he’s built for himself among more magic-concerned circles, he still doesn’t get mermaids as clients too often. He normally works from home with beings of all sorts visiting him personally, and his chosen address near the edge of a forest – a fairly large two-storey structure obstructed from view of the road just beyond the initial line of trees – isn’t exactly the easiest to go to if one didn’t have legs. His previous mermaid encounters have mostly been negotiated through phone call first, Yoongi having to do special trips down beaches to meet up with the clients, but even those were far and few in between; owning phones, despite recent development of waterproof gadgets, still isn’t a normalized thing among seafolk.

They’re an interesting bunch, though, Yoongi has to admit. Never a pattern to their requests that he can pin down, unlike some of the other species he has negotiated with – fairies want territory, vampires want humanity, werewolves want less pain, skinchangers want their neighbors to fuck off, banshees want throat serums, gnomes want better barriers for their gardens, et cetera et cetera. But mermaids? Mermaids want whatever the fuck they want.

Which means that Yoongi doesn’t know what to expect out of this particular mermaid, especially with a fairy and a half-human involved. The fact that he personally knows said fairy and half-human quite well doesn’t do much to ease his apprehension.

Sighing, he leans onto his doorframe and crosses his arms against his chest. “Yes, I remember.”

“Great!” Taehyung exclaims. Yoongi thinks it’s quite a miracle the mermaid is managing to sleep through all of this ruckus. “You said your pool’s unoccupied, right?”

“Yes, and it isn’t meant to be occupied, period,” Yoongi deadpans. He eyes the mermaid in Jungkook’s arms again, before raising an eyebrow at Taehyung. “Are you implying what I think you’re implying?”

Taehyung’s smile doesn’t falter. In fact it widens even more, something Yoongi didn’t think was possible considering it’s taking up almost half the space on the fairy’s face as it is. Then he bats his eyelashes at Yoongi in slow blinks. “Aren’t you going to invite us inside, Yoongi-hyung?”

Yoongi clicks his tongue as he considers. While he’s determined to say no to… whatever this thing Taehyung seems to be proposing is, he isn’t exactly opposed to letting his friends in for a while and offering them some tea. The last time anyone that isn’t a client visited Yoongi was well over a month ago, after all, what with Namjoon and Hoseok working on an extended curse-breaking job that’s proving to be far more difficult than they had initially anticipated, and Seokjin celebrating his newly re-acquired sense of taste (all thanks to Yoongi and nearly a year of painstaking research) by going on a food adventure slash backpacking trip across Southeast Asia.

Taehyung and Jungkook themselves have been away for the past month, both taking a vacation in the younger boy’s hometown before they get swept up in their studies once more. As a result, Yoongi had been getting minimal contact from his small friend group recently, save for the few texts or calls here and there. Nala had been his only company for weeks now, and though he’s not too keen on admitting it, even Yoongi needs to interact with someone other than his familiar from time to time.

So he heaves a sigh and steps aside, sarcastically sweeping an arm out in a ‘come in’ kind of gesture.

Taehyung cheers. Then he turns around to gently nudge the mermaid awake, voice significantly softer than it had been moments before. “Hey, Jimin? ChimChim, wake up. We’re at Yoongi-hyung’s now.”

The mermaid – Jimin, Yoongi gathers – slowly stirs awake. He lifts his head groggily, hair rumpled and sticking up one side, lips parted in an unvoiced complaint. When he blinks his eyes open, there’s a confused kind of look on his face, taking in his surroundings with a small furrow between the brows (Yoongi experiences a brief, irrational moment of worry and prays that Taehyung and Jungkook didn’t kidnap – mernap? – the poor thing). Then his confused gaze lands on Yoongi, and his eyes widen as he straightens suddenly, Jungkook having to quickly rearrange the way he’s holding onto him so that he doesn’t slip out of his arms and fall.

“Why didn’t you wake me in the car!” the mermaid whisper-yells at Taehyung, cheeks coloring. He seems incredibly flustered at the situation, and Yoongi has to bite back an amused snort at the sight of him. “Oh my gosh, how long have we been here?”

“About five minutes, maybe? Ten?” Taehyung says, shrugging. “I lost track. But hey, this is Yoongi-hyung!” He flails his arms towards Yoongi at the introduction. Yoongi gets another faceful of fairydust. “Yoongi-hyung, this is Jimin!”

Jimin tries to bow in greeting, but his position in Jungkook’s arms makes it difficult for him to do so properly. He doesn’t look any less flustered when he meets eyes with Yoongi again. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Yoongi-ssi.”

Yoongi watches him for a moment, decides that he seems harmless enough – plus he can’t sense any kind of negative aura coming from him – and nods. “Jimin-ssi.”

“Um,” Jungkook says, finally, the very first word out of his mouth since he and Taehyung have shown up outside of Yoongi’s door. All eyes turn to him. “Can we move this inside, please? My arms are kinda going numb.”

“Right,” Yoongi says, as Jimin begins apologizing to Jungkook profusely, “come on in.”

Jungkook settles Jimin down onto the large couch once inside, making sure he’s comfortable and generally making a fuss until Jimin shoos him away with a faint blush. Taehyung comes up to Jimin then and asks him if he’s feeling alright, if the car drive over didn’t make him feel sick, and (here Yoongi’s eyebrows disappear behind his hair with how far up he lifts them) if he wants Taehyung to leave his tank in Yoongi’s house or if he’ll be fine with the pool.

Jimin at least looks embarrassed by all of this even as Jungkook and Taehyung act like they own the fucking place, the mermaid sending Yoongi nervous, apologetic glances. Yoongi returns these with a wry, hesitant smile. At least Jimin seems like he’s nice and has manners, unlike Yoongi’s somewhat obnoxious friends (the thought is conjured with a tone of fondness). Still, the ever-growing implication that Taehyung and Jungkook brought him here so that he can stay with Yoongi doesn’t sit easily; Yoongi runs a magic-dealing business, after all, and not a magic hotel.

He sits down on the armchair and clears his throat. “So,” he says, in his Professional Tone, “what can I do for you?”

Jungkook frowns immediately at the tone he’s using, but Taehyung is undeterred. “Jimin needs legs,” he says, straight to the point.

Yoongi blinks at Taehyung’s bluntness, but nods. It’s a process definitely not unheard of, transforming tail to legs, and he’s already thinking of a few ways this can be achieved best, but...

“I’m going to have to hear this directly from Jimin-ssi,” he says, training his gaze onto Jimin. “You two don’t have to speak for him.”

Taehyung and Jungkook both know how Yoongi handles his deals, so they just nod and gently nudge Jimin with their elbows, encouraging him to talk.

Jimin seems like he isn’t quite used to having the full attention of a room on him, even though there are only four of them present. He fumbles with the sleeves of his sweater shyly, the fin of his tail flicking up and down repeatedly in what Yoongi assumes is a nervous kind of tick. “I’m – Taehyung is correct. It’s always been my dream to explore beyond what the oceans can offer, but because of, well…” he trails off, motions vaguely at his tail in explanation, and sighs. “This. It’s quite impossible for me right now. But I don’t want it to be permanent.” He chews on his lower lip nervously for a moment, tail flicking once more. “I don’t want to lose my tail forever.”

Yoongi quietly processes this. It’s a reasonable request, and perhaps the most... wholesome he’s ever gotten from a mermaid. He still winces whenever he remembers having to turn down a hot-tempered, physically aggressive mermaid this one time who wanted the entire Earth to drown, quite literally. Yoongi had sarcastically replied that the humans were already doing a fairly good job of it with their failure in taking global warming as a serious issue, so wait a couple more years then maybe you’d get your wish, can I now please leave, asshole.

The bruise on his ankle had taken a full week to recover. In comparison to that incident, Jimin’s request is practically childlike, and extremely refreshing. “So you want temporary legs, is that correct?”

Jimin averts his gaze from Yoongi’s, but nods.

“Okay,” Yoongi says. He glances quickly at Taehyung and Jungkook, both of whom are smiling at Jimin proudly, and Yoongi briefly wonders how the three of them know each other. Taehyung and Jungkook have been Yoongi’s friends for a little over two years now, but they’ve never mentioned Jimin before. Despite wanting to remain professional about the conversation, Yoongi can’t help but feel a bit of curiosity about the situation. So he asks, “How long have you all known each other?”

“Jimin and I have been friends for maybe, uh, seven months now?” Taehyung looks to Jimin for confirmation, and the mermaid nods. “Kookie introduced us when we went to Busan during winter break last year!”

“Jimin and I are childhood friends,” Jungkook adds in, ignoring Jimin muttering that’s hyung to you . “My house is five minutes away from the ocean and we used to play together every weekend.”

“Ah,” Yoongi says, nodding once. That makes sense.

Taehyung throws an arm around Jimin and pulls him into a side-hug. “Jimin is the nicest! He’s honestly so sweet, hyung, it feels like I’ve known him longer than I actually do. Hobi-hyung is going to love him if they ever met.” He nuzzles his face against Jimin’s hair, the mermaid giggling in embarrassment and lightly slapping at his arm to get him to stop.

“So would Jin-hyung and Namjoon-hyung,” Jungkook jumps in, wide-eyed and oddly earnest. Yoongi has a feeling they’re trying to butter him up, make him lower his guard by telling him how nice Jimin is, and he’s proven right when Taehyung next opens his mouth.

“So, will you do it, hyung? Will you grant someone as nice as Jimin his wish?” the fairy asks, pulling away from Jimin to stare at Yoongi with wide eyes. He’s already giving Yoongi that eager puppy kind of look that everyone finds impossible to resist, and everyone , unfortunately, includes Yoongi.

He hesitates for a second, but eventually nods. There is technically no reason for him to refuse, no questionable morals involved in Jimin’s request or in the process itself. This is just business as usual, even though Yoongi is supposed to be taking the next couple of months off. He can make special cases for friends of friends, he guesses. “I’m going to have to discuss it in more detail with Jimin-ssi, though. I have a few methods in mind for it, but all of them will take months to finish.”

“I don’t mind the wait,” Jimin says, a little eagerly. “If… if it’s going to work, without losing who I am, then I don’t mind waiting just a little more.”

“Alright then,” Yoongi says. He stands up. “I’ll do a bit of research today, then I’ll call Taehyung or Jungkook tonight to let you know when you can next come over and decide which method you’d prefer best, then perform the contract-binding spell and–”

“Ah, about that,” Taehyung cuts in, scratching his cheek and laughing. Yoongi stiffens, because of course there’s a catch. Of course. “Jimin can’t stay with us.”

Yoongi blinks. Stares. Then the words finally process in his brain and he suddenly remembers, oh fuck, right, Taehyung asked me about the stupid pool. He tries to keep his face impassive as he asks, “Sorry, what was that?”

“Jimin can’t stay with us,” Taehyung says again, then shrugs as though this is a super obvious fact. “Kookie and I have, like, a bathtub at best in our apartment, and we kinda need that to shower and stuff. We love having Jimin around, of course! He’s the absolute sweetest, but we want him to be comfortable and be able to swim around when he wants to.”

Yoongi is finding it harder to keep an impassive face. “So, you’re saying…”

It’s Jungkook who speaks up this time, staring at Yoongi with wide eyes. “Can Jimin stay with you, hyung? Pretty please?”

Why, Yoongi asks the universe. It doesn’t answer back, because as Yoongi already knows, the universe is a barely-sentient entity composed of bonds both magical and not, tying itself together to encompass countless of galaxies and doing its best to provide said galaxies with proper environmental conditions to survive in. The universe doesn’t have time for the petty woes of one earthling witch.

Yoongi is alone in this.

“No,” he tells Taehyung, hoping that it’ll be enough even as he knows that it won’t be.

His friends have never been the type to give up easily, after all. Normally, Yoongi would admire this certain trait, but not when he’s on the receiving end of it.

“But hyung!” Jungkook actually pouts and gives Yoongi his best wounded wood creature look, which is proven and tested to be incredibly effective when it comes to the art of hyung persuasion. Yoongi needs several moments to remind himself not to lose resolve, because as much as he tends to cave whenever any of his younger friends ask something from him, having to suddenly live with a stranger – and a mermaid , on top of that – is a bit too much.

Taehyung turns his puppy eyes up a notch, staring at Yoongi sadly. And fucking fuck, Yoongi actually feels like he’s kicked a puppy. He has to look away.

In the process of looking away from Taehyung, his gaze lands on Jimin instead. The mermaid has kept quiet this entire time, but there’s a certain kind of resignation in his eyes even as he smiles tiredly. He tugs gently on Jungkook’s sleeve to get his attention, and Yoongi feels a stupid kind of guilt stab through him, but only for a moment.

“It’s okay, Jungkook-ah,” Jimin says in a soft voice. “I don’t mind the tub so much, and I promise I’ll be clean about it! I also looked it up on that, uh, Google thing? And they have mermaid pool parks that I can just go to if I want to swim! I wouldn’t do it much though, I don’t want to be a bother since I know you’re still in college, and when you need to use the tub I can just stay on the couch for a while or in the tank if I feel too dry–”

At that, Yoongi cuts in, remembering suddenly, “Hold on, a tank? Like, a fish tank?” He stares at his friends disapprovingly. “You’ve been keeping Jimin-ssi in a fish tank?”

Jungkook and Taehyung both flush in embarrassment, looking away. Yoongi frowns.

“It’s only when we’re traveling!” Jungkook defends, but his face remains red. “We didn’t know how else to get him here from Busan comfortably, so we got this big tank that can still fit in the back of Jin-hyung’s truck.”

Taehyung is nodding furiously beside him, but he still can’t quite meet Yoongi’s eyes. “When we got back here two days ago, we bought an inflatable kiddie pool that can fit in our living room and filled it up with water so Chim can still splash around a bit! We’ve been taking care of him, I swear!”

“But I got their stuff wet,” Jimin adds in sheepishly, realizing his friends’ embarrassment. “I’m still really sorry about that.”

“No, no, don’t worry!” Taehyung is quick to reassure. “The repair shop said our gaming console will be good as new when we pick it up tomorrow, so it’s fine!” He’s been waving his arms around a lot as he speaks, like he tends to do when his energies are high, and a good amount of fairydust has collected on the floor of Yoongi’s living room. Nala is going to have a sneezing fit later if Yoongi doesn’t clean it up, but that’s the least of his concerns right now.

He sighs, pinches the bridge of his nose, and squeezes his eyes shut. “You guys are so hopeless,” he grunts. On one hand, there’s just so many reasons as to why having a mermaid under his roof can be more troublesome than it’s worth, even without taking the fact that Jimin is a stranger into consideration. But on the other hand, Yoongi is far too attuned to the treatment of life and nature, considering the kind of witch that he primarily is, and hearing about Jimin’s living conditions in Taehyung and Jungkook’s (admittedly not very large) apartment does not sit well with him.

He turns his face to the ceiling and lets out a slow, slow breath.

Then, after another solid minute of thinking about it with Taehyung and Jungkook still loudly talking in the background, he says, “Fuck, okay. Fine. Fine .”

Taehyung and Jungkook both snap their mouths shut. Jimin blinks in genuine surprise.

“Uh… fine?” Jungkook asks.

“Yes, yeah, okay. I agree, fuck.” Yoongi lets out a huff. “I’ll keep Jimin-ssi here until I’ve fulfilled our deal.”

There’s a few seconds of silence as everyone seems to process this.

And then, at once, Jungkook and Taehyung scream, the former jumping onto Yoongi and hugging him in thanks, the latter grabbing a stunned Jimin by the shoulders and shaking him. Yoongi, despite his reservations about the situation, finds himself smiling a little.

God, he’s really fucking soft.

 

*

 

Of course Taehyung and Jungkook don’t immediately leave, spending nearly the entire afternoon splashing around the pool with Jimin. At one point Nala comes into the room, meowing curiously at all the commotion, and nearly jumps in at the sight of Taehyung flailing in the water. Yoongi has to drag her away and distract her with some lizards before she starts sneezing and whining, but there’s not much he can do to console Taehyung’s pouting; it’s a really sad fate the two share, the fact that they clearly love each other disrupted by Nala’s severe allergy to fairydust.

When Yoongi finally manages to kick Taehyung and Jungkook out of his house, after using a quick drying charm on them and aggressively ruffling their hair, Yoongi feels like he’s ready to just fall back into bed and sleep the next century off. He’d even set an alarm.

But . He needs to talk to Jimin. There are still some remaining details that they need to sort out along with the contract-binding, and Yoongi has always been the type of professional witch that starts on a job as soon as possible.

Before that, though.

“I’m… not sure what mermaids eat.” Yoongi stares at the contents of his fridge with a furrowed brow, feeling like he’s facing an even bigger puzzle compared to that one time a werewolf came to him and asked if he could permanently remove the moon from existence. He turns to Nala, hoping his familiar would provide some answers even though cooking for a mermaid is out of her job description. “Do you think eggs will be alright?”

Nala, from her perch on the kitchen worktop, stares at Yoongi like she’s judging him. He takes that as a no.

“I’m not sure if you’re looking at me like that because you’re judging my food choices for dinner, or because I’m thinking of offering a guest some eggs,” Yoongi says. He closes the fridge and leans his hip against it, lifting an eyebrow at his familiar. “Eggs are perfectly healthy, I’ll have you know. They can be delicious too if you know the right recipe, so there’s nothing embarrassing about feeding them to a guest.” He doesn’t add that he certainly does not know any egg recipes aside from simply frying the damn things.

Nala meows like she knows what Yoongi is thinking anyway and flicks her tail. She’s a lithe little thing, only slightly bigger than a kitten because she finds that size most comfortable, black fur smooth and sleek, almond-shaped eyes the color of whiskey. She tilts her head like she’s thinking, staring at Yoongi.

Yoongi stares back. Then, “Do you think I should just ask him what he wants for dinner?”

As an answer, Nala hops off the counter and leisurely walks out of the kitchen, presumably to go where Jimin is. With a sigh, Yoongi follows.

This is way out of his field, really. While he might not be a completely hopeless case in terms of socializing, he doesn’t exactly know how to treat unfamiliar guests that are staying for a longer term in his house, as opposed to clients that leave the moment a deal is made or his handful of friends that have no care for etiquette. And while Yoongi is generally knowledgeable about nearly all types of creatures in recorded (and some unrecorded) existence, all of that knowledge is related to his craft. Knowing what mermaids like to eat isn’t exactly something he’s ever had to think about before today.

If he remembers correctly, though, there’s nothing drastically different between a mermaid’s digestive system and that of a species closer to human, such as Yoongi. Respiration and blood circulation of a mermaid are a completely different matter, both being more complex considering the differences between a sea-dweller and a land-dweller’s environments, but they should be able to eat the usual food without there being any complications.

The only question is whether a mermaid will like the usual food, since taste is a lot more subjective than built-in body systems.

He massages his temples and sighs. He should just ask Jimin and be over with it.

The indoor pool area, a room that juts out the back portion of the house, was added as an extension of the first floor some two years after the main house was built. It also serves as a greenhouse, the roof made of glass and the almost-transparent walls lined with racks that hold multiple pots and jars of plants that Yoongi uses for his potions. Vines hang from beams on the roof and crawl over the metal lining of the walls, stray flowers that only exist within the room blooming almost unnoticeably in random corners, the soil clumped a few feet from the edge of the pool teeming with wild plants that Yoongi never planted but grew from the combination of magic and potion-mixed fertilizer that permeates the air.

The pool had been necessary for a really long job Yoongi did years ago with Namjoon and Hoseok. It was a special curse-breaking job that also doubled as a kind of exorcism, having to clear an old house of an ill-meaning ghost witch that took claim of the property as part of an unjust deal a hundred years ago, wreaking havoc as a nasty poltergeist when the descendants of the original owners of the place moved back in. Yoongi had to make protection barriers using spells he dug out of dusty old tomes, and a number of them required rituals and incantations performed while submerged in water.

After that particular job, Yoongi decided to experiment more with water-based spells and potions. Water is a simple, natural element, but its magical properties are beyond great when harnessed and used properly. Yoongi decided to keep the pool even after the poltergeist job because of that, and it used to be a mere four feet deep, just enough for him to be able to stand waist-deep in it during spell-casting. He hadn’t planned on turning it into a proper swimming area, but then he met an excitable Taehyung who took liberty of renovating the pool literally three weeks after finding out about it.

He still uses it sometimes for spells, but now he’s been more confined to his workroom (which Namjoon has fondly nicknamed as his lab, since Yoongi spends a lot of time experimenting with medicinal plants in it). Never did he anticipate that it’d be used any time in the future as a mermaid’s temporary home.

The sun is already setting when he and Nala walk into the greenhouse, hues of orange and purple coloring the sky in uneven strokes. He stops by the doorway for a moment, gaze immediately seeking where Jimin seems to be dozing off by the poolside. His torso and tail are mostly submerged in the water, curled up from what Yoongi can make out through the surface, his arms folded on the concrete edge acting as a pillow. His head is turned towards where Yoongi is, expression peaceful as his eyelids flutter softly with a dream. He’s probably exhausted, Yoongi thinks, now feeling reluctant to wake Jimin up.

Nala doesn’t seem to have any such qualms, however. She marches towards Jimin without care, and before Yoongi can stop her, she’s nudging the mermaid awake with her nose.

Jimin stirs. Much like that morning, Yoongi watches his eyes flutter open slowly, blinking in mild confusion as he orients himself with his surroundings. Then his gaze lands on Nala, and a smile stretches across his face as he says, “Oh. Hi there.”

Nala nudges him again with her head, and Jimin laughs. Yoongi is still standing by the door.

“I’ve never touched a cat before,” Jimin says as he lifts himself up, gently petting Nala on the head. “I mean, I’ve seen a few in my years, but never close enough for me to pet them.” There’s a pout on his lips as he recalls this, now using his other hand to hesitantly touch Nala’s back while the other scratches between her ears.

Yoongi coughs, feeling slightly awkward. Jimin startles slightly and looks up, eyes widening upon realizing that Yoongi is also in the room.

“Yoongi-ssi!” he squeaks, and Nala jumps slightly.

Yoongi rubs the back of his neck. “Hey, sorry. I was going to start on dinner but I’m not sure what you eat?”

“Oh.” Jimin blinks. Water drips from his hair, trailing down the side of his face and neck before pooling in the dip of his collarbones. Yoongi wonders whether Jimin spends most of his days going up the surface and basking in the sun even without Jungkook to meet at the beach, because he’s not as pale as he should be for someone who lives underwater. Even Yoongi is paler than him. “You don’t have to bother, Yoongi-ssi! I don’t need to eat as much as most beings do, so I’ll be fine until the morning!”

Yoongi knows this, of course, but still. Before leaving, Jungkook and Taehyung had turned wide eyes onto Yoongi and made him pinky promise that he’ll take care of Jimin and be polite. That includes feeding him and insisting on dinner, right? At least, Yoongi thinks so. “Yeah, but like. I’ll feel a bit awkward? If Nala and I eat while you don’t, I mean.”

Jimin’s tail flicks below the surface, that same nervous gesture from this morning. “Um, I really don’t mind? I can eat anything, but I prefer – um, no seafood?” He winces at this. “Eating seafood would be a bit weird for me, unless it’s seaweed or some other sea plant.”

Yoongi nods. “Alright, I can make, I don’t know, chicken maybe? I think I have some rice and noodles, too. What did Taehyung and Jungkook feed you while you stayed with them?”

Jimin’s eyes brighten at that. “Pizza!” His tail flicks again, but this time it’s out of excitement rather than nerves. Water splashes out of the pool and lands on the concrete, and one of the plants crawls towards the damp spot to absorb the moisture. “It’s probably my favorite food that humans have ever invented. I used to have it a lot as a kid, when Jungkook was still around. He’d bring me a few slices on the beach and sneak in ice cream sometimes.” Then he jumps slightly, as though suddenly remembering something, causing an even bigger splash. Nala jumps out of the way to avoid getting wet. The plant scrambles hurriedly towards more water. “I’ve had burgers for the first time last night, too! Taehyung insisted I should try it.”

It’s quite an adorable sight, Yoongi has to admit, Jimin get excited. He seems timid for the most part, but Yoongi chalks it up to the fact that they’re strangers. Seeing Jimin get enthusiastic over food and open up a little eases some of the tension from his shoulders, though, enough for him to loosen up and say, “Kid, do you know how unhealthy those two have been feeding you?”

Jimin just giggles, some of the tension also fading from him. “It’s fine! They’re delicious, and that’s what matters, right?”

Yoongi finds himself smiling. “Can’t argue with that.” He then shifts a little on his feet, scratches behind his ear. “I’m gonna go see what I can cook up in the kitchen, then. I’ll be back in maybe half an hour with food, then we can discuss the finer details of our deal over dinner?”

Jimin nods rapidly. Nala steps as close to the edge as she dares and tries to reach for him with a paw. The plant is now happily soaking up all the water that has collected on the concrete. Yoongi is seriously concerned that it might drown.

“You can play with Nala for the meantime,” he says, already turning around after glaring at the plant and watching it meekly crawl back towards the soil. “You can, uh, talk to her if you want. She’s a great listener.”

Nala meows like she’s agreeing, and Jimin laughs.

Yoongi steps out of the room and closes the door behind him. He takes a deep breath and holds it in for a few seconds, before sighing and allowing himself a quick smile. Admittedly, he feels a lot more reassured about their situation now than he did a few hours ago.

 

*

 

Jimin thinks the whole will-have-feet-on-land-if-dry business is troublesome, a sentiment that Yoongi completely agrees with. Just the thought of rain already poses a number of problems – if Jimin gets splashed by a puddle, after all, then he can end up suddenly flopping in the middle of the pavement like a literal fish out of water. While it does provide a pretty funny mental image, it’s also going to be incredibly inconvenient if Jimin wanted to really travel. So despite this option being arguably the fastest in terms of how the process goes, with the potion only taking three weeks tops to brew and only needing to be taken once for the effect to last a lifetime, they cross it out of the list.

There’s an ointment method, too, but it’s painful and permanent. When applied, it literally burns the scale and outer skin of the tail, before melting the flesh and reforming it into legs. Jimin has made it clear that he has plans of returning to the ocean after seeing the world on foot, so that gets crossed out as well.

Yoongi can make an alternative potion, one that when taken will give Jimin legs for six hours, but it’s not the most convenient because every brewed batch can only make up to four vials with a month’s worth of preparation.

Which leaves them the charm option. This, however, is a lot trickier to make since it requires both Yoongi and Jimin’s efforts. Jimin will choose an object, preferably personal, that would act as the charm which Yoongi will let sit in a solution he will have to brew for two weeks. The settling process takes another two weeks, then comes the more laborious part of performing a spell every midnight for an entire month straight. This phase requires Jimin’s direct participation, and it’s also incredibly energy-draining. After that, they have to let the charm sit underneath the moonlight for another two weeks.

It’s an absolute hassle to make, Yoongi thinks, but it’s also the most convenient for use. All Jimin has to do is hold the charm to his chest and utter, Grant me another form to call my own, provide my soul a second home, in order to get legs. When he wants to go back to his original form, he just has to perform the same action but with the phrase, To my first home I return, back to the depths where I was born.

Jimin likes it best out of all the options, too.

Of course, that means Jimin will have to live with Yoongi for almost three months.

Jimin doesn’t seem too bothered by this fact, so Yoongi tries not to let it get to him either.

 

*

 

“I have the ingredients for the solution ready,” Yoongi says as he strolls into the greenhouse with a small cauldron in his arms. Nala is right by his heels, keeping pace with him, but the moment her eyes land on Jimin sitting up the concrete edge of the pool, she skips right ahead of Yoongi and meows eagerly at the mermaid. Yoongi rolls his eyes. “Oh, betrayal.”

Jimin leans forward eagerly as Yoongi approaches, eyeing the cauldron with barely-concealed excitement. He absentmindedly pets Nala when she nudges his hand, attention completely trained on the witch. “Is that for the charm?”

“Yes.” Yoongi lets out a grunt as he sets the cauldron down. He dusts his hands together, taking a look at Jimin and then looking away again, because the younger’s torso is very, very bare, and Yoongi is still very, very unused to all the skin exposure. It’s been five days since Jimin arrived at his doorstep courtesy of Jungkook and Taehyung, and Yoongi has now settled into a mild acceptance of their arrangement where he’s more at ease knowing another living being that’s neither plant nor Nala is under his roof. Since Jimin just stays in the greenhouse, anyway, Yoongi is more or less able to navigate the space of his own house like he always has without much need to adjust. It also helps a lot that Jimin is polite.

Still, there are a few things that bother Yoongi, just a little. One of them is his slowly increasing awareness of just how attractive Jimin is.

The thing is, Yoongi has eyes. He knows what beautiful looks like, objectively speaking, and Jimin is without a doubt objectively beautiful. No one with a working vision can ever look at him and just wave his features off, because said features are probably the softest and most delicate Yoongi has ever seen on any living creature. Ever. But despite this softness to his face, there’s obvious power in his body, a subtle kind of strength lying just beneath his gentle demeanor.

Yoongi is perfectly aware that mermaids are naturally beautiful, just like vampires and fairies and sirens. It’s literally in their nature to be breathtaking. But being in the company of one for extended regular periods can be a bit overwhelming.

He’s gone through a similar experience during the initial stages of his friendship with Taehyung and Seokjin, who are both quite literally perfect visually no matter how one looked at it. Yoongi is hoping that, just like how the feeling of being not-so-metaphorically punched in the gut every time he saw his friends faded after a short while of getting to know them, this awareness of Jimin will also stop being, well. A lot to handle.

He clears his throat. “Have you chosen your charm?”

Jimin nods. He lifts a hand and presents it to Yoongi, where a bracelet made of miniature shells hangs from his wrist. They clink together softly, almost sparkling beneath the sunlight streaming through the glass roof, and Yoongi carefully touches them, feeling their smooth texture beneath his fingers.

“It’s a gift from my parents,” Jimin admits quietly, a small smile taking over his face. “They gave it to me as a kid. It feels like I’ve had it since forever.”

Yoongi nods once, before letting his hand drop back to his side. “And you’re sure you want to use this as your charm?”

“Positive.”

“Alright then.” Yoongi sits cross-legged on the concrete, not minding the damp that seeps through his sweats from where pool water has splashed over the edge. “I’m going to run through the ingredients with you again, just so you know what we’re doing here.”

He starts taking things from inside the cauldron, presenting them to Jimin one by one and explaining what they are, along with what they’re meant to do. Jimin listens intently, eyes wide and earnest as he nods at everything Yoongi says. Every now and then he’ll softly ask a question, seeming shy about it at first, but as Yoongi keeps nodding at him encouragingly he gains more confidence and leans a little closer to get a better look at the ingredients.

“There are so many plants,” he says.

“I was a green witch before anything else,” Yoongi admits. “My parents both are, so they’ve been teaching me what they know since I was a little kid. I mainly dealt with plants and herbs then, usually medicinal, and harnessed natural energies around me for healing and wellness spells.” He examines a peeled-off piece of bark, running his fingers over the rough texture of it and frowning as the exterior breaks away easily. He’s going to have to take a quick walk later and look for a sturdier tree.

“Your magic has its roots in nature, then,” Jimin murmurs, fingers hovering over the laid out ingredients, unsure if he’s allowed to touch them. Yoongi spots the bright yellow band-aid wrapped around the pad of his index, a result of the binding contract they did just the day before that required a prick of blood from both parties, and makes a mental note to check on it later.

He nods. “Yeah. That’s part of the reason why I chose to live here, where I’m most surrounded by it. It’s also peaceful here, which helps.” He pushes a cut-off branch heavy with leaves closer towards Jimin’s curious hands, silently letting him know that he’s allowed to touch them. “Eventually I was taken in by a kitchen witch who really specialized in potions, and I studied under her for two years. I made healing potions by myself after that and sold them so I could get by when I first moved out of Daegu.”

He can feel Jimin’s gaze shift from the ingredients laid out on the ground to him, but Yoongi keeps his gaze down, practiced hands turning over leaves and dried flower petals. “Once I was a little more stable, I experimented with potions on my own and then started taking bits and pieces of practices from other traditions. Now I’m more all-around.”

“That’s amazing,” Jimin says, voice full of sincerity, and Yoongi can’t help but glance up at him. There’s a pleasant kind of flush settled over the mermaid’s cheeks, a naive kind of wonder in his eyes. “No wonder you’re so good at what you do.”

Yoongi tries to hide his pleased smile, but his lips still quirk up at the corners. “I’m alright, kid.”

“No, you’re really amazing!” Jimin insists. He forgets about his curiosity over the ingredients, focus now completely on Yoongi once more. “Like, even before Jungkook and Taehyung told me that you’re their friend, I already heard about you.” His blush deepens, and he looks away suddenly like he’s shy. “You’ve done so many incredible things, I think every magical creature in the country – no, maybe even the entirety of Asia, has heard of you. Probably some humans, too.”

“Well, I mean.” Yoongi shrugs. He doesn’t really know what to say to that because, well, it’s all true. Yoongi has a good reputation, one that he’s proven he deserves time and time again. Beings from other countries have crossed the oceans and flown the skies just to see him. Humans, mostly college students working on their theses and researchers of the newly-established Magical Science field, have knocked on his door for interviews.

Min Yoongi is a name that has been carried in whispers and conversations well over the borders of his country, and he’s earned it. Because he’s really fucking good at what he does, and he works just as hard.

They’re quiet for a moment, just looking at the ingredients between them, until Jimin says a soft, “Thank you.”

Yoongi blinks, a questioning expression taking over his face.

Jimin pulls his tail up from the water and hugs it to his chest, like he wants to hide. “I don’t think I’ve said thank you yet. Not just for making a deal with me, but also for hearing me out and accepting me into your home. Kookie told me you’re supposed to be taking a break from business right now, but you still accepted and I just... appreciate it a lot.” He buries his face against his tail for a moment, ears burning red, before he peeks up at Yoongi just enough so his left eye is visible. “And I know it’s unconventional for you to accept a client into your home, but you still did. So thank you, Yoongi-ssi. It means a lot to me.”

The atmosphere has noticeably turned quieter. Yoongi stares at Jimin for a while, not really knowing what to say at the sudden display of sincerity. Then he swallows past the lump in his throat and tries for a smile. “Don’t get all emotional on me now, kid. We’ve barely even started.”

Jimin lifts his head a little more. There’s a ghost of a smile playing at the corner of his lips. “Still. Thank you.”

Yoongi only debates for a second, before deciding, ah, what the hell . He reaches over and ruffles Jimin’s hair, the strands wet but undeniably soft as they slip between his fingers. “You won’t be thanking me so freely once I show you the receipts later.”

Jimin laughs, the sound bright and alive, previous shyness melting away. “However much it ends up costing, I’ll have it covered. My family has more hidden away than we know what to do with.” There’s a smile on his face now, and he looks even more beautiful like this, sitting underneath the sunlight like some kind of dream. “So if there’s anything you need, like, maybe a rare ingredient running out or something, just let me know and we can sort it out as soon as possible. Even if you have to order it all the way from, I don’t know, the Philippines? Maybe even Canada. Jungkookie told me about Canada before.”

Yoongi finds himself laughing at that. “Don’t worry, I don’t think we’ll be needing to have anything shipped from Canada. I’ve got all the ingredients covered for now. I’m pretty well-stocked, and I grow most of it myself.” He gestures around them, and the plants stir with an invisible gust of wind, acknowledging Yoongi in return. “There is a certain ingredient that I can’t get myself, though, since it’s going to have to come from you.”

Jimin blinks. “And that is?”

Yoongi lets himself run a hand through Jimin’s hair one more time, before pulling his hand away. “Just a strand of your hair,” he says, “or a scale. Either works, just so the solution will have the essence of a mermaid. It’ll also make sure that no one else but you can use your charm.”

Jimin nods easily. “Do you need it now?”

“I was planning on starting now, yeah.” After his little walk in search of a sturdier tree, that is.

“Can I watch?” Jimin asks with wide, hopeful eyes.

At that, Yoongi falters a little. He doesn’t normally let people watch him when he’s brewing. Only Namjoon and Hoseok have seen him during the process of it, and that was only during their poltergeist job. It’s something about him that his friends all know, so they never bother asking if they can intrude into Yoongi’s work space, no matter how curious Yoongi knows they are.

He’s reminded, then, that he and Jimin are still strangers. He quirks a smile, small but apologetic. “Sorry, kid. Maybe next time.”

Jimin’s face falls a little at that, but there’s a look of understanding in his eyes. “I understand, Yoongi-ssi. Um.” He reaches up and pinches a strand of his hair between his fingers, wincing slightly when he plucks it from his head. Yoongi pulls out a small bottle from his pocket and uncaps it, allowing Jimin to drop his hair inside. “There you go.”

“Thank you.” Yoongi puts the cap back on and returns the ingredients inside the cauldron one by one.

Jimin laughs. “You shouldn’t be thanking me, silly.” He flicks his tail slightly, playfully, and smiles wide enough at Yoongi for his eyes to turn into little crescents. “You’re doing this for me, so all the thank you’s should only be coming from me.”

Nala meows as though she’s agreeing, and Yoongi jumps in surprise, having forgotten that she was there. “Uh.”

“Do you need Nala with you while you work?” Jimin asks, reaching over to scratch her head.

Yoongi nods. Nala is his familiar, and her presence amplifies his magic, making his potions more effective.

Jimin pets her one last time, before softly nudging her towards Yoongi. Nala already seems loathe to leave the mermaid’s side, but at the same time Yoongi knows she understands that there’s work to be done. She reluctantly approaches Yoongi, meowing sadly at Jimin.

Yoongi pets her head. “You can go back to Jimin after we make the solution for his charm, okay?”

She stares up at Yoongi for a second, before meowing. Yoongi gathers the cauldron back into his arms and gets up, nodding at Jimin once in a not-quite-goodbye. Jimin just smiles.

Before Yoongi can walk through the door, though. he hears Jimin’s soft voice cheering behind him, “Fighting, Yoongi-ssi!”

He feels his mouth twitch into a smile.

 

*

 

A lot quicker than Yoongi initially expected, he adjusts to living with Jimin.

There’s still this persisting thought in his brain that won’t let him forget the other living presence in his house, but what was initially a nagging worry has simmered down into a more quiet kind of awareness. He lets the bracelet settle in the solution and keeps it on a high shelf, away from any potential accidents that normally occur in a practicing witch’s everyday, and goes on about his life like he always has. He sleeps at odd hours and wakes up when the sun has become too unbearable to ignore, beating down on his face like an annoying wake-up call; he spends two hours experimenting with pre-existing healing potions in his workroom, trying to come up with cures for new magic-related diseases that have popped into existence; he passes the quiet hours of the afternoon curled up by the large window of his bedroom, a book hovering above his face, pages flipping with an audible rustle every time he lazily waves a finger.

The only difference is dinner.

Yoongi doesn’t know for sure how it became sort-of routine, making food for two where he used to just grab whatever he can find in his fridge or order in when he doesn’t feel too guilty about making some poor human delivery boy puzzle over the exact location of his house; it just happens. Jimin doesn’t need to eat the same amount as Yoongi so he often foregoes lunch, but after the first few nights of insisting that Yoongi doesn’t need to bother cooking for him and Yoongi doing just that anyway, it’s become obvious that Jimin has come to look forward to their dinners together.

He’s lonely, Yoongi suspects. He doesn’t know Jimin well just yet, but he can make certain guesses about the mermaid’s character based on what he’s heard from Jungkook and Taehyung, and sometimes even Jimin himself.

Despite Jimin’s seemingly-shy demeanor, Yoongi suspects that he’s a more social kind of being, considering he’s childhood friends with someone from land. It’s not unheard of for mermaids to form connections and even relationships with those not from sea, but it certainly isn’t common either. Mermaids and other beings of the sea have always preferred remaining beneath the surface, only emerging when absolutely necessary. So for Jimin to have met Jungkook by the beach as children, that suggests that Jimin isn’t the type to just stay underwater and be content with life by himself and his own kind. To suddenly be confined in a single room, in a practical stranger’s house without too many options for company, it must be a major adjustment.

Yoongi will leave Nala with Jimin as much as he can to make up for it. He would have invited Jungkook and Taehyung over if it weren’t for them being busy with classes, so Yoongi does what he can during their dinners to fill in Jimin’s need for companionship. He makes conversation, or at least prompts Jimin into talking while he listens. It’s a lot of effort on Yoongi’s part, considering how he’s used to quiet and minimal talking, a direct product of having lived by himself for so long. But he knows it’s the decent thing to do.

It’s the nice thing to do.

Still, there’s only so much he can accomplish by himself, so he does what he thinks is the next best thing.

“You got me a what?” Jimin asks, wide-eyed as he stares at the object in Yoongi’s hand.

“A phone,” Yoongi says with a shrug. “It’s not waterproof, because those are way too expensive. It’s not really a matter of money, though, because I wouldn’t have minded spending extra, it’ll be added to your total anyway and I didn’t think you’d mind the bit of additional cost. I just think the waterproof ones are way overpriced, like, companies are just robbing the customers of their money, so I got a pretty standard one and then cast a waterproof charm over it which should work just as fine, if not better–”

Yoongi rambles when he’s nervous and the situation requires talking. It’s something very few people know, mainly because Yoongi normally doesn’t get nervous to begin with, and when he does he just chooses to keep his mouth shut until his nerves disappear. But Jimin is staring at him like he’s some kind of miracle-worker – which, Yoongi kinda is, though witchcraft is closer to a science than it is to miracle-performing – and he asked a question and is expecting an answer, and Yoongi can’t shut up.

Fortunately, he’s saved by Jimin carefully reaching for the phone, damp fingers sending a chill up Yoongi’s spine and making him snap his mouth shut. Yoongi’s body temperature is already slightly cooler than most as it is, something that translates through his skin and touch (Hoseok has made countless of jokes in the past asking whether Yoongi was really a witch or secretly a vampire; sometimes the word “zombie” was even used, even though zombies aren’t real, what the fuck Hoseok ) and Jimin’s skin, having been submerged in the water for hours, is just as cool. The shiver was totally warranted. Shut the fuck up.

There’s a flush on Jimin’s cheeks, one that doesn’t seem like it’s purely out of gratitude and slight embarrassment at the thought of Yoongi going out of his way to acquire him a phone, but Jimin blushes so much around Yoongi that it’s honestly difficult to tell. Yoongi loosens his grip on the phone so that Jimin can take it, and this time when their fingers brush, it’s Jimin that gives a delicate shudder. Yoongi averts his gaze and ends up finding Nala watching them curiously off to the side.

“Do you, uh, know how to use a phone?” he asks, to fill in the silence.

There’s a series of small, fascinated noises from Jimin as he presumably scrolls through the contents of his phone. It’s endearing as fuck. “I used Tae’s when I was staying with him and Jungkookie, so I have an idea.” He lets out a squeak, and Yoongi turns his head back. The camera app is open. “I can take pictures!”

Why does Jimin have to be this… this. He gets excited over the smallest things in the most genuine way, and he uses his entire face to express it. His eyes are quite literally lighting up, the apples of his cheeks bunching up as he smiles, tail swishing around in the water and creating ripples on the surface. Yoongi isn’t sure if he wants to take a picture of him or pet him on the head until this weird feeling in his own chest dissipates.

He clears his throat. “Taehyung and Jungkook’s contacts are in there. I also downloaded some apps, like KakaoTalk and SnapChat. Snow, too, because I remember Taehyung recommending that. You can use the first one to chat with them, and the others are for pictures-sharing.”

Jimin squints at the icon on his phone and clicks on SnapChat. He looks up at Yoongi with a confused expression when it asks him to sign up or log in.

“Right, we need to make you an account.”

So they spend the afternoon creating an email account for Jimin to use, sitting on the edge of the pool with Yoongi’s feet dipped in the water. He shows Jimin how to use the apps, which leads to way more selcas in one afternoon than Yoongi has ever taken in his entire lifetime. All of them get saved into Jimin’s gallery, even the ones with ridiculous filters. Nala joins them at one point, hopping up on Yoongi’s shoulder and nudging Jimin’s cheek with her nose. Jimin giggles at the action and snaps a photo.

When the sky starts to turn orange, Yoongi gets up and mutters a quick drying charm on his shorts. “I’ve gotta get dinner started.”

“Wait,” Jimin says, grabbing Yoongi’s wrist. The action seems to startle them both, and Jimin pulls away quickly, but there’s warmth already starting to spread up Yoongi’s arm from the point where they made contact. “Um, thank you again, Yoongi-ssi. You keep doing more than you’re required to for me, and I really appreciate it. One of these days, I’ll pay you back however you want me to. Just name it and I will.”

Yoongi rubs the back of his neck a bit awkwardly. “You don’t have to worry about it, Jimin. It’s fine, really.” He hesitates, huffs out a breath, and comes to a decision. “Also, you might as well call me hyung.”

Jimin’s eyes widen at that, lips falling open. “You – you wouldn’t mind?”

Yoongi shrugs. “You’re good friends with Jungkook and Taehyung. We’ve been having dinners together for almost two weeks now, so yeah. I don’t mind.”

Jimin’s eyes shift, glancing down at the damp concrete edge of the pool. There’s a smile on his lips, though, unmistakably happy. “We’re friends, too, right?”

Yoongi doesn’t make friends easily. Not usually. But it’s been established, the very moment Jimin showed up on his doorstep asleep in Jungkook’s arms, that this situation is not of the usual.

So he shrugs, nods once. “Yeah. We’re friends, Jimin-ah.”

When Jimin looks up at him again, the smile is bright and wide on his face. “I’m glad to hear that.” He turns his gaze away, but his smile remains. “I really am, Yoongi-hyung.”

Yoongi nearly runs into a wall on his way to the kitchen after that, an odd heat filling his cheeks. No one sees him though, except for the sentient plant that’s been living above his kitchen doorway for months now, so it’s alright.

 

*

 

OMG HYUNG YOONGI-HYUUUNG YOU GOT CHIMMIE A PHONW!!!!

 

Please calm down Tae it is too early for this.

 

LMAO IT’S LITERALLY 1PM HYUNG
But fine I’m turning caps off for u

 

Thank you.
And yes, I got Jimin a phone.

 

u two gettin close eh :)
Hes been referrin to u as hyung too
Nice

 

Don’t you have classes?

 

Lunch break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ^ v ^
Kookie is here too

Hi hyung

 

Jungkook.

 

:)
So, have you been treating Jimin-hyung well?

 

Does he know you get this polite when you aren’t talking to him directly?

 

No
And id like to keep it that way
Hyung doesnt need to know the real extent of my love for him

 

...anyway
Shoo now. I need to check on the charm.

 

Wait, hyung!!!!
(its tae again)
Make sure to spend some time w Chimmie ok!!!!!
He told me u said ur friends now and hes rly hapy abt it!!!!!!!!
So hang out ok :>
Chims rly great

 

Alright, Taehyung.
Now shoo.

 

U DA BEST YOONGI HYUNG BYE

Bye hyung we’ll see u soon this is kookie

 

Alright.


*

 

“I just realized I don’t have your contact, Yoongi-hyung.”

Yoongi looks up from where he’s been lazily patting Nala’s head, asleep on his lap, to find Jimin floating on his back across the pool. He has his phone raised above his face, either taking more selcas or messaging Taehyung and Jungkook, and he makes for an odd yet peaceful kind of sight. It’s also, some part of Yoongi’s brain adds, quite familiar. In the weeks that have passed, he can’t quite imagine what the pool had looked like before any of this, the waters empty and constantly still.

“Huh?” he says, a bit belatedly, the afternoon warmth making him feel slow and sleepy.

“Your contact,” Jimin repeats, before making a funny face at his phone as the shutter sound goes off. He’s taking selcas, then. “It’s not saved on here.”

Yoongi shifts slightly. On his lap, Nala stirs awake and stretches, claws peeking out from her paws as she pulls on her body. “Why would you need my contact when we’re living in the same house?”

“Because,” is all Jimin offers in response, like that explains everything. He takes a few more selcas and quickly scrolls through his saved images, before flipping over and plunging into the water. His body moves fluidly as he swims towards Yoongi, water rippling around him when he reemerges just in front of where Yoongi has his feet dipped in the pool. Droplets roll down his torso, the set of gash-like gills on either side of his ribs and neck closing as he shifts his breathing through his nose, and Yoongi gets the slightest urge to brush Jimin’s dripping hair aside where it’s plastered to his forehead.

He lifts an eyebrow instead. “‘Because’ is not an answer, Jimin.”

A pout appears on Jimin’s face. “Yoongi-hyung,” he near-whines, and Yoongi briefly wonders when exactly they got this comfortable with each other. “What if there was an emergency? What if I yelled for you but you couldn’t hear me? What if I get bored and both TaeTae and Kookie are busy being boyfriends to pay attention to me?”

“You’re kinda clingy, you know that?” Yoongi deadpans. “The first time we met and you were in my living room, it barely seemed like you knew how to handle everyone looking at you.”

Jimins blushes, but doesn’t back down. “That’s because I didn’t know who you were.” He purses his lips in thought, making them seem even fuller, and tilts his head slightly. Yoongi drags his eyes away. “Or, maybe it’s because I knew who you were. Your reputation, at least. You’re Min Yoongi, magical genius, the greatest witch of our generation.” He flails around a little like that would further prove his point, splashing water around in the process. “I didn’t know how to act in front of a living legend.”

“You think too highly of me,” Yoongi says. Nala purrs in agreement.

Jimin pouts at him. “It’s not like you didn’t earn your reputation. You’re exactly all of those things everyone’s said.” He pauses. “Well, mostly at least? On the surface level that is.”

“Oh?” Yoongi leans forward a little, intrigued. “And what does everyone say about me, Park Jimin?”

Jimin suddenly becomes flustered, maybe at the question, maybe at the sudden closing of the distance between them. Yoongi isn’t sure. But he does enjoy the way Jimin stutters on his next words, “U-uh, that you were. Um.”

“I was?” Yoongi tilts his head.

“You…” Jimin swallows, looks away for a moment, and then looks back at Yoongi again. “You’ve never disappointed a client before. You’re always fair in the deals you make, but you also tend to be a little… aloof?” He chews on his lower lip for a moment, nervousness bleeding into his expression. “Closed-off and a little cold? I would argue that you’re just the private type, though. And I know they were wrong about that now, too!”

Yoongi tilts his head and processes this for a second. “What makes you say that?”

For a moment, Jimin doesn’t answer. He just sinks into the water until only the upper half of his face is emerged, the tips of his ears turning the same color as his hair. It’s endearing, but Yoongi also wants to hear his answer, so he nudges whatever part of Jimin he can reach underwater with his toe.

Jimin squeaks and shoots back up in surprise (a ticklish mermaid, Yoongi notes), getting Yoongi wet. He stumbles over a few apologies, ones that Yoongi wave off with a small mutter of a drying charm over himself. “Just answer the question, Park Jimin.”

“Are you gonna keep calling me by my full name until I answer?” Jimin pouts petulantly for a second, before he looks away, voice softening significantly, “You’re not cold, Yoongi-hyung. You’re actually one of the most caring, kind-hearted beings I’ve ever met.”

This gives Yoongi pause. An unseen breeze stirs the air between them, quick and quiet, and light bleeds through the roof, beating warmth down onto the scene. Yoongi observes Jimin for a moment, taking in the way he keeps his gaze averted, fidgets like he wants to sink back underneath the water and hide (nevermind the fact that Yoongi has set a charm on the pool so that it’s clean and clear all the time, everything below the surface completely visible to anyone with a functioning eyesight). Nala, probably sensing the shift in atmosphere, quietly sneaks away from Yoongi’s lap and disappears behind a cluster of potted plants to resume her nap there.

“You still barely know me, though,” Yoongi says. He makes sure to keep his tone simple, matter-of-fact. He doesn’t want Jimin thinking that he’s opposed to the friendship forming between them, but he is curious as to why Jimin thinks this of him after only over three weeks of living together.

Jimin finally meets his gaze. He looks less nervous and more shy instead, but there’s a kind of certainty in his eyes that Yoongi can’t look away from. “That might be true, but I believe that I know enough .”

The quiet shift between them goes unsaid but not undetected. Yoongi smiles, small but there, and Jimin positively beams in return. Yoongi feels something brush softly against his ankle, just briefly, but it’s enough to leave his skin tingling.

Then, “So will you give me your contact now, Yoongi-hyung?”

Yoongi rolls his eyes even as he pulls his phone out.

 

*

 

Hoseok shows up completely unannounced four days later.

Yoongi is in the middle of checking the charm, making sure that everything is settling alright and that there aren’t any weird side effects like a questionable growth on the bracelet or weird liquid oozing and contaminating the solution. He knows he’s meticulous in his brewing – making sure to only include the exact amount and measure of every ingredient, carefully timing each boil and counting each stir, following the notes written in the margin of his books down to the very last dot – but one can never be too careful.

When he sees that the bracelet is safely floating inside the jar, the solution having turned into the exact shade of pale blue the books said it should at the end of the settling phase, Yoongi nods in satisfaction. He’ll have to take it out tomorrow night and start on phase two with Jimin, which is going to be a lot more taxing than simply waiting two weeks for the charm to absorb the magical properties of the transformation potion. He’s already given Jimin the rundown of the entire process, but just to be extra sure, Yoongi is going to review everything with him again tonight.

He’s just managed to set the jar back onto its place when a loud screech sounds from his living room, causing him to nearly topple over where he’s standing on a chair. He grabs onto the shelf where all his brewed potions are kept before he can fall, and for a terrifying second everything shakes, clinking glass ringing in Yoongi’s ears, and his mind speeds through all the barrier charms he knows of.

Fortunately, he doesn’t have to use any of them because the shelf settles once more, vials and jars ceasing their rattling. He lets out a sigh of tremendous relief.

Well then.

His phone vibrates in his pocket. He pulls it out to find a text from Jimin, heard a scream, are u ok?

It’s followed by an emoticon that looks vaguely worried, one of those more elaborate ones that Yoongi still doesn’t know how his friends manage to type so quickly (Yoongi might be magic, but there are just some things about technology that he does not and cannot understand), prompting a small smile to quirk the corner of his lips despite the frankly alarming situation in his house right now.

More specifically, the screeching that is still happening in his living room.

It wasn’t me, but I’ll go check it out now. Stay quiet, I’ll let you know what’s going on once I find out.

He doesn’t wait for Jimin to reply. He casts a silencing charm on his feet and soundlessly hops down the chair, slowly making his way out of his potions room and into the living room. The closer he gets, though, the more familiar the screeching becomes, and when he finally steps into the living room he finds–

A giant orange lizard on his ceiling, alarmingly close to his light fixtures.

Yoongi sighs and removes the silencing charm from his feet. “What the fuck are you doing, Hoseok-ah?” He regrets, not for the first time, ever giving his friend a spare key to his house. “And please don’t break anything.”

“That’s Namjoon’s job and you know it,” the orange lizard says. It crawls carefully across the ceiling, and it’s a bit of a bizarre sight, Yoongi has to admit. If he weren’t so used to Hoseok’s antics, he would’ve been slightly terrified. “Hyung, why are there spiders on your floor?”

Yoongi blinks, brows furrowing in confusion. Then he glances down at the floor and sees hairy black shapes scampering across his carpet, which seem to be the cause of Hoseok’s death howl, and oh.

“Oh.” He snaps his fingers, and the spiders disappear. “It’s just an illusion.”

“Hyung, what the hell ?” The orange lizard twitches on the ceiling and then releases its grip. When it lands on the now spider-free carpet, it’s taken on the regular shape and form of Yoongi’s Best Friend #2, Hoseok (Best Friend #1 being aforementioned object-breaker Namjoon, who only managed to call dibs on the title because he’s known Yoongi longer than Hoseok by exactly five weeks). “That scared the living life out of me!”

“I could tell by the screeching,” Yoongi says, lifting an eyebrow at the shapeshifter. “One of the protection spells I recently cast on my house is to scare intruders by showing them an illusion of their greatest fear.” His other eyebrow follows. “Since when did spiders become scarier to you than snakes?”

Hoseok shudders. “Since this last hell of a job Namjoon and I took.” There’s a traumatized kind of look in his eyes as he says this, and Yoongi, frankly, does not want to know. “But anyway, intruder? Does your house not recognize my aura yet? I practically live here!”

“False,” Yoongi says. “You’re away most of the time on a job, Hoseok-ah. And I don’t know, you were gone a while for this last job so maybe the house forgot.” He smiles wryly, shoving his hands into his jeans’ pockets. “Plus, you did kinda enter without letting me know first.”

“I,” Hoseok begins with a hand on his chest, “am hurt.” They stare at each other for a moment like that, the living room completely silent, and then Hoseok’s face brightens into a wide smile and Yoongi’s lips pull up into a grin of his own. It takes Hoseok exactly three strides to be able to reach Yoongi and envelope him in a tight hug. “I’ve missed you, hyung!”

Yoongi laughs and reaches up to ruffle Hoseok’s hair. “I’ve missed you, too, Hoseokie. You didn’t tell me you and Namjoon got back.”

“We just got back yesterday,” Hoseok explains, nose buried into Yoongi’s shoulder. “Joon is asleep right now, has been for the last seventeen hours really, but I left him a note saying I went to see you.”

“And where exactly did you leave the note?”

Hoseok snickers. “Right on his forehead.”

Yoongi laughs, expecting nothing less from his friend. Their reunion is interrupted when Yoongi’s phone starts buzzing, but this time it’s longer than just a text. Hoseok pulls away from the hug, and before Yoongi can even blink, his phone is already in the shapeshifter’s hand.

“Wait, Hos–”

Jimin-ah ?” Hoseok reads, eyebrow quirked in interest. He gives Yoongi a significant look. “Who is this Jimin, hyung?”

“A client,” Yoongi says, trying to make a grab for his phone, but Hoseok easily leaps away from his reach.

“And you gave this client your personal number?”

“Hoseok, just drop it–”

“Hello!” Hoseok says brightly, having done what Yoongi had been fearing and answering the call. He puts it on loud speaker.

“Uh,” comes Jimin’s unsure voice, “hello? Yoongi-hyung, are are you there?”

Yoongi-hyung, Hoseok mouths, eyes full of questions. He turns back to the phone. “Yoongi-hyung is right here with me in the living room! I’m Jung Hoseok, his second but favorite best friend. Who are you? Hyung says you’re a client?”

Yoongi puts his face in his hands. Why is this happening now.

Jimin is probably confused. Yoongi can hear the unsure tone of his voice even through the speaker, “I’m Park Jimin? And I am a client, yes. Uh. Is everything alright?”

Hoseok blinks. Yoongi makes another attempt to grab his phone back, but Hoseok is not only a shapeshifter, but also someone who took up dancing as a serious hobby in the past. Yoongi is no match with his reflexes.

The younger easily moves out of the way, dodging Yoongi’s arm as he keeps his tone chipper, “Why won’t everything be alright?”

Yoongi tries one more time .

Unfortunately, Jimin is already saying, “I heard screaming a while ago, so I got worried? Was that you, Hoseok-ssi?”

Hoseok freezes. Recovers almost instantly. Gives Yoongi an even more significant look.

Yoongi tries to silently threaten him with his eyes, giving Hoseok the flattest, steeliest look he’s capable of, but they both know that Hoseok has long been immune to his half-hearted threats.

“Yes, that was indeed me, Jimin-ssi,” Hoseok says in a carefully cheerful tone. “But may I ask, how did you hear that? Are you somewhere inside the house?”

A moment of hesitation. Hoseok is already moving out of the living room, trying to hunt down the source of Jimin’s voice, even before Jimin warily admits, “Yes, I am.”

“I hope I didn’t interrupt a meeting?” Hoseok says, madly opening doors. Yoongi hisses and tries to stop him, but it’s futile. “Were you two discussing a deal?”

“Oh, no, we weren’t,” Jimin – and bless his sweet heart really, but now is perhaps the absolute worst time for it – is quick to reassure. “You didn’t interrupt anything, don’t worry!”

“Hmm,” Hoseok hums. He’s opened the last door on the first floor except for the one leading to the greenhouse. For a moment, it looks like he’s debating on whether he should search the second floor first, and Yoongi holds his breath in something like hope, until Hoseok comes to a decision and marches towards the door instead of the stairs.

“Wait–”

Hoseok does not wait. In fact, he does the exact opposite of wait and pushes the door open, steps inside, and screams.

Yoongi stumbles in after him, feeling frazzled.

His eyes immediately lock onto Jimin, who is… doing his best to hide. In the open pool. By keeping himself as still as possible, submerged underwater in the farthest corner. Right within direct line of sight.

Despite being perfectly aware of the futility of it, Yoongi throws the universe another resounding WHY.

“Oh, it’s just a mermaid,” Hoseok says, a hand to his chest. He laughs. “You surprised me for a moment there! I opened the door and something suddenly shot through the water so quickly, I didn’t immediately realize what it was.”

Yoongi pinches the bridge of his nose and lets out a long, long sigh.

Hoseok seems to have very quickly recovered from his initial surprise and is blindly handing Yoongi his phone back, eyes and smile locked onto Jimin who is still unmoving by the corner of the pool. “Hi there! I’m Jung Hoseok, we were talking on the phone just a minute ago.” He approaches Jimin with cheerful steps, arms spread on either side of him as though to show that he means no harm. “You must be Jimin-ssi? Yoongi-hyung’s client? I didn’t realize you were a mermaid, oh wow.”

Jimin finally emerges, but just enough of his face so that when he speaks, his voice isn’t muffled. “Hi,” is the first thing he says, and then he turns wide eyes at Yoongi like he’s silently asking what to do in this situation.

Yoongi doesn’t fucking know, if he’s going to be honest. He tries, “Hoseok is a very good friend of mine. He didn’t tell me he was coming over, though, since last I heard he was still on a curse-breaking job with Namjoon. I think I’ve mentioned them to you before in passing?”

Jimin brightens a little, nodding. He pulls himself higher. “I remember!”

“Yoongi-hyung hasn’t mentioned you, though,” Hoseok says. He leans down to pull his socks off, as though he’s getting ready to jump into the fucking pool. “But that makes sense! I’m assuming you’ve only met recently? The last time hyung and I talked was at the start of this job I just finished, and that was two months ago.” He discards his jacket, leaving him in just a tank top and his shorts. “Mind if I join you?”

Jimin quickly shakes his head. “Not at all!” He swims a little closer to the edge where Hoseok is standing. “You’re a curse-breaker, Hoseok-ssi? What’s it like?”

Yoongi watches with flat eyes as Hoseok jumps into the pool. Nala suddenly appears by his feet, watching the scene curiously, and when it becomes apparent that Hoseok and Jimin are hitting it off well, he turns around and decides to make them all some tea. Both because it’s the polite thing to do, and because he needs a moment to himself to process that his best friend is having a water fight with his... client? New friend? Both?

He walks into the kitchen and puts the kettle on, waves a hand so that the cups and plates all arrange themselves neatly on the tray. Nala follows him, sitting by his feet and staring up at him as though she’s demanding an explanation as to what’s going on.

Yoongi wishes he knew. He doesn’t even know what Hoseok is thinking right now, what crazy conclusions he’s jumping to regarding Yoongi’s current arrangement with Jimin. He’s kinda hoping Jimin will handle explaining their situation instead, but Hoseok has always been one for gossip – all of his friends are.

With that thought in mind, Yoongi pulls out his phone to shoot Namjoon a text. Whatever Hoseok tells you, he types, DO NOT believe him. Just in case.

The kettle whistles after a few minutes. Yoongi tiredly waves a hand again so that it pours water into the cups, rummaging around one of his drawers for his homemade tea bags. Nala watches him for a few more seconds before getting up in a stretch and sauntering out of the kitchen, probably to go play with Hoseok and Jimin instead.

And isn’t that a weird thought, Hoseok and Jimin .

Yoongi has already accepted that Jimin isn’t quite the usual client. For one thing, he was brought here by Yoongi’s friends. For another thing, they have this temporary living arrangement. To top it off, he’s met one of Yoongi’s friends.

It’s not exactly the same as Jimin being friends with Taehyung and Jungkook. While Yoongi considers the two as very good, very close friends, Jungkook had known Jimin prior to knowing Yoongi, and so there was a certain aspect to their friendship that Yoongi isn’t privy to. But for Jimin to meet Hoseok, someone who has been Yoongi’s friend first, and for years at that, it’s… highly unusual, definitely. Maybe even unheard of.

Yoongi knows how to keep his professional and personal business separate. None of his previous clients have met any of his friends, and none of them had certainly been in a situation where Yoongi would ever feel comfortable leaving them alone in a room.

And it’s apparently just one weird thought after another, because that sudden realization – that Yoongi is comfortable just letting Hoseok and Jimin be, probably engaged in a pointless staring contest underwater with Hoseok in fish form, at the rate they were going – startles him so much that he almost drops the tray of tea he’s carrying. He pauses at the doorway of his kitchen. Reassesses the situation. Blinks.

Well, fuck. Yoongi doesn’t really understand what’s going on anymore. Jimin, for all the magic Yoongi is capable of, remains to be an unexplained addition to his life. And Yoongi has a feeling he’ll continue to puzzle over this for a while longer.

 

(Jimin and Hoseok are having an underwater staring contest when Yoongi returns, except Hoseok has chosen to shapeshift into a squid instead, claiming that he hasn’t studied the anatomy of a fish just yet beyond what is required of him in situations involving transferring fish from plate to mouth during consumption – his exact words, claiming that he’s trying to pull a Namjoon. Yoongi threatens to cook him for dinner, but Jimin gasps in protest, actually hugging Hoseok-in-squid-form to his chest as though that can protect Hoseok from the power of a witch that has single-handedly ended an entire plague, once.)

(Hoseok doesn’t get served for dinner. He does join them for dinner, however, and by that time Namjoon has woken up and replied to Yoongi with, he already told me everything hyung.

Yoongi groans into his plate.)

 

*

 

“To feel the earth beneath my toes

“Feet,” Yoongi corrects, flipping a page of his spell book. “To feel the earth beneath my feet.” He shoots Jimin an amused look. “I thought you had this memorized three days ago?”

Jimin hits the water in response, looking like a petulant schooler that got called out by a teacher. “I did , but then I think toes sound cuter than feet and it sticks and I forget which one is the actual thing–”

“Well,” Yoongi softly cuts in, “you have a few more hours to get it all sorted out.” He gently closes his book – it’s an old volume, perpetually dusty no matter how many times Yoongi tries to carefully clean its surface with a rag, constantly on the verge of falling apart in Yoongi’s hands. The pages are crinkly, the color somewhere between yellow and brown, but it holds the oldest spells and rituals that have ever been recorded so it’s arguably the most valuable object in Yoongi’s library. He tucks it under an arm and gives Jimin a lazy half-smile. “For the meantime, I’ll go prepare dinner and then we can run through everything one more time after.”

Dinner starts out more quietly than usual. Yoongi would say that it’s because both Jimin and him are focusing on the things they have to do that night, but it’s more because Jimin has been glued to his phone texting… whoever. He’s barely even touched his plate.

Yoongi clears his throat. “You should eat, you know.”

Jimin looks up from his phone, wide-eyed and slightly embarrassed. “Sorry,” he says, but doesn’t let go. “Let me just – one more set of replies?”

Yoongi frowns. He moodily pushes the meat on his plate around with his chopsticks, feeling a bit like a child on the verge of a tantrum because he spent a lot of effort on making a good and heavy meal, and it’s being ignored. What they’ll be doing at midnight won’t technically be long – it’ll take fifteen minutes at most – but it’s going to require a lot of concentrated energy. He stabs a piece of meat a little too harshly, feeling more than just a little petty, and mumbles around his mouthful, “Who are you texting, anyway?”

A short hum. “Taehyungie and Jungkookie, but they just stopped replying when I said we were having dinner. Hoseok-hyung is still replying, though.”

At that, Yoongi chokes. He barely manages to catch Jimin’s alarmed look before his vision blurs, eyes watering as he tries to cough through the food that got stuck in his throat. He punches himself on the chest, blindly fumbles for the glass of water he’s set aside, and barely prevents himself from dying. All while Jimin makes panicked noises in the background.

Once his airway is clear and he can breathe again, he looks at Jimin, still with watery eyes. “Hoseok?” he chokes out, because Hoseok? Hoseok and Jimin? Are texting? But they only met yesterday? And hyung ? “Since when were you and Hoseok texting?”

“He gave me his number yesterday?” Jimin says, but it comes out sounding like a question. He’s probably confused by Yoongi’s reaction. “Are you okay, Yoongi-hyung?”

“I’m fine ,” Yoongi says, even as he pulls out his own phone and opens his messages. “Eat, Jimin-ah.”

Stop fucking texting Jimin and let him eat his dinner, he types out quickly. He hits send, glaring at his screen.

The reply is immediate: lol sry hyung!!!! Will leave jimin alone for now :3

Yoongi’s glare settles into a frown. What were Jimin and Hoseok even talking about? And was their time together yesterday really enough for them to already be this comfortable with each other? Have they been texting the entire day?

Before he can change his mind, he’s typing, What were you two even talking about?

The speed with which Hoseok replies to his texts is borderline magic. Wouldnt u like to know hyung :D

What. Yoongi hopes Hoseok can read his exact tone in the single-worded reply.

Hahahaha lighten up hyung!!! We were just gettin to know each other and stuff, hes been asking me abt my shapeshifting and ive been asking him abt the sea

Yoongi thinks about this. On one hand, there is absolutely no reason for him to think Hoseok is lying to him, because there is literally no reason for Hoseok to do so. And it’s not as though he’s obligated to tell Yoongi about his private conversations with other people, but.

But on the other hand, Yoongi knew Jimin first and the entire thing is just. Weird. This situation is weird. Yoongi doesn’t know what to make of it.

Why is Jimin calling you hyung.

The reply this time takes a little longer to arrive, but not by much. Just enough for Yoongi to notice. Lol i asked him to :) and he said he was ok w it so!!

A second text arrives. Why hyung? U jealous???

“Why the fuck,” Yoongi says out loud. He stares so hard at his phone, he’s genuinely surprised it doesn’t suddenly combust into flames (that’s only happened a few times before and with other objects that catch fire more easily, but still).

There’s a hesitant nudge on his ankle.

He turns his head. “What.”

Jimin flinches a little but doesn’t back away, and Yoongi mentally slaps himself. Pull yourself together, Yoongi.

“Sorry,” he says, opting not to reply and just pocketing his phone. “An idiot was texting me. What’s up?”

Jimin’s plate is now empty, he notes. “I finished eating,” the mermaid says, and then smiles a little, points at Yoongi’s plate. “You, on the other hand.”

“Oh,” Yoongi says intelligently. “Um.”

Jimin giggles. He playfully flicks water at Yoongi. “Go finish your dinner, Yoongi-hyung, or else I’ll feed you myself.”

Yoongi, putting the flattest expression on his face, makes a show of placing food in his mouth and chewing very thoroughly. Jimin pretends to be disappointed for all of two seconds, before he’s bursting out into a bright kind of laugh.

Yoongi shoves more food into his mouth to stop himself from smiling.

 

*

 

Im kidding yoongi hyung!!!!!! Haha anyway, goodluck w ur and jimin’s thing tonight :D :D :D

Wait why isnt this sending

Yoongi hyung why cant i send messages to u what is going on

?????????

Hold up

DID YOU BLOCK MY NUMBER HYUNG HOW COULD YOU

 

*

 

Yoongi is standing waist-deep in the middle of the pool some hours later, moonlight filtering through the glass roofing and providing the room with some illumination. In front of him is Jimin, face still and quiet in the semi-dark, though Yoongi catches a hint of nervousness in his eyes.

He tries for a reassuring smile. “You’ll do fine, okay? Take a deep breath.”

Jimin nods once, just a tiny dip of the chin, and does as told. The water around them barely stirs, both of them keeping as still as possible, Yoongi ignoring the chill that kisses his skin. Normally, he would’ve cast a small heating charm on himself before diving into any body of water during late hours of the night, but any form of intentional magic might interfere with the process, no matter how small, and he just can’t risk it.

So he bears with the cold and focuses on the spell-casting at hand, tells Jimin, “Lift your hands. Cup them together.” Jimin does as told, and Yoongi smiles a little wider. “There you go.”

He places the bracelet carefully in the center of Jimin’s joined palms. It had been dry when Yoongi took it out of the jar earlier despite being soaked in the solution for two full weeks, but the moment it makes contact with Jimin’s skin, a slow trickle of water starts coming out of the miniature shells.

Jimin almost jolts, but manages to keep himself from disturbing the still water around them too much. He sucks in a breath. “Is it supposed to do that?”

“Yes,” Yoongi says. “It’s reacting to you. It’s also acknowledging you as its sole possessor. Now.” Carefully, Yoongi nudges Jimin to close his hands together. Jimin does jolt this time at the feeling of Yoongi’s fingers against his skin, the water rippling slightly around them.

“Sorry,” he says. His voice is barely above a whisper.

“It’s alright,” Yoongi reassures in an equally quiet voice. “We’re about to start, alright? Do you remember what we’re supposed to do?”

Jimin takes in a deep breath. When he releases it, he seems a lot more settled, a quiet kind of determination taking over his features. “We’re supposed to recite the spell.”

“It’s going to drain you of your energy,” Yoongi reminds him quietly. “So you’ll feel exhausted after this. I have tea that’ll help, and then you need to sleep, okay?”

“Okay,” Jimin says, just as quiet. “I’m ready.”

Yoongi closes his eyes just as Jimin does.

The air around them is still. Even their bodies are still. Only their lips are moving, slow and careful as they recite the spell, the rise and fall of their chests near-imperceptible. This phase is meant to establish the link between the charm and its owner, transfer some of Jimin’s energy into the bracelet. It isn’t harmful – the lost energy is replaceable with enough rest and nourishment – but it is incredibly exhausting. That, paired with the necessity to keep as still as possible throughout the process, requires a lot of focus and patience.

Yoongi thinks this part acts as a test of will just as much.

But he believes in Jimin. And he thinks Jimin believes in himself, too, believes in his own conviction and determination to see this through, in his desire to explore what the land has to offer him, because when Jimin speaks, his voice is steady as much as it is soft despite his nervousness from earlier:

“Born in sea, the waves have cradled me.
Currents rocked me to sleep
And witnessed my dance through the years.
One with the depths, one with the unknown,
I have kissed the dark no man has seen.
But now grant me the opportunity
To see the world anew and breathe
Air that has yet to touch the salt of my lips,
To lay down and rest on solid ground,
To feel the earth beneath my feet.
Grant me another form to call my own,
Provide my soul a second home.”

They go through the spell three times. Yoongi can feel his skin tingling where they’re touching, can feel the flow of magic in his veins. Part of his energy transfers into the charm, seeping through the cracks of their skin and leaving him feeling sleepier by the minute. But he’s used to this, used to casting spells and performing magic that’s more taxing than the simple charms he uses everyday, used to sacrificing his energy.

Jimin, however, isn’t. And this spell requires a lot more out of him, both in emotion and in energy.

Yoongi can tell the exact moment Jimin starts really feeling the effects of the spell-casting. His words get a little heavier, slower like he’s out of breath, and Yoongi presses his fingers a little harder against Jimin’s skin, as much as he can without disrupting anything, in substitution for a reassuring squeeze. He keeps his eyes closed – it’s not necessary, but it’s also more advisable so that he doesn’t break his concentration.

When they finish the spell a third time – Grant me another form to call my own, provide my soul a second home – the shift in atmosphere is palpable. The air stirs around them once more, the water rippling with their breaths, and Yoongi feels the flow of energy cutting off.

He opens his eyes.

Jimin still hasn’t moved, so Yoongi nudges him a little, squeezes their hands together to get a reaction out of him. “Jimin?” he says, voice still quiet.

Jimin’s eyes flutter open, tired and heavy-lidded. When he tries to shift, he ends up falling forward a little, and Yoongi barely manages to steady him with an arm around the waist. His other hand keeps holding onto Jimin’s joined hands, both to provide some form of comfort and to keep him from dropping the charm. Slowly, and with much difficulty, Yoongi wades through the water until they reach the side of the pool, where an empty jar sits, waiting.

“I’m sorry,” Jimin murmurs, eyes half-shut. “My body feels so heavy.”

Yoongi squeezes him around the waist reassuringly. “It’s alright, don’t worry. That’s perfectly normal. A lot of your energy has been transferred into the charm, not counting the amount you had to use to perform the spell in the first place.” After making sure that Jimin won’t let go of the charm, he uses one hand to reach for the jar. “Put the bracelet in here, Jimin.”

Jimin does as told. The bracelet doesn’t fall to the bottom or so much as clink against the glass, instead keeping itself afloat in the center. Yoongi carefully sets it aside.

“I’m so sleepy,” Jimin says.

“You can sleep after you drink some tea. It’s going to help you recover your lost energy. Can you hold yourself up while I get it?”

Jimin hums a confirmation, but it still takes him a few seconds to pull away from where he’s slumped against Yoongi. He smiles reassuringly, small but there. “I’ll be fine, Yoongi-hyung.”

Yoongi makes sure to be quick in fetching the tea, forgetting to cast a drying charm on himself and dripping water all over his floor in his haste. Nala jumps up from where she’s been sleeping on the kitchen counter, meowing after Yoongi as though asking how it went. Yoongi just spares her a quick pat on the head before returning to Jimin, hearing her hurried footsteps following after him.

“Here you go, Jimin-ah.” He hands Jimin one of the cups, urging him to drink it. He then sits down, legs crossed, and takes the other cup for himself. Nala approaches them cautiously, wondering if she’s welcome to join them now.

Jimin smiles tiredly at her. “Nala, come here.”

Nala brightens up considerably at that, running up to Jimin adorably. She nudges the mermaid’s cheek with her nose, meowing worriedly at his paler complexion – a direct effect of having some of his energy taken.

Yoongi watches them with a smile. “You did well, Jimin.”

Jimin blinks up at him. Water clings to his lashes, a stray drop rolling slowly down his cheek, and even exhausted like this he’s something Yoongi finds hard to look away from. “I did?”

“Yes,” Yoongi says honestly.

Jimin seems pleased by that. His eyes fall shut. “I’m glad.” He pauses for a second, nose scrunching. “It’s gonna be like this every night for the next month, huh?”

“It’ll get better,” Yoongi promises. He has the biggest urge to run his fingers through Jimin’s hair until he’s comforted, but he leaves the job to Nala for now. “It’s always the worst the first time, since your body isn’t used to having that much energy taken at once. But it’s gonna be easier, trust me. And I’ll just feed you more, since food always helps.”

Jimin laughs quietly. “Guess I’m gonna have to eat as much as a human now, eh?” He gives Yoongi a smile, sweet and syrupy-slow. “Will you also have those meals with me?”

There’s a funny, flipping sensation that happens in Yoongi’s chest. He coughs. “Well, if you want, sure.” He looks away from Jimin’s face, stares down at his half-empty cup and wills the funny thing in his chest to go away. He’s tired, but not half as tired Jimin is. “Finish up your tea and then sleep. I’ll wake you up tomorrow morning with breakfast.”

Jimin is quiet for a moment. And then Yoongi hears him say, “Okay.”

 

*

 

Sorry.

 

HYUNG HOW DARE U BLOCK MY NUMBER IM SO HURT :’(((((((( I WAS CRYING ALL NIGHT AND JOON HAD TO HOLD ME UNTIL I FELL ASLEEP

 

I’m sure Namjoon did more than just hold you.

 

wOW HYUNG I CANT BELIEVE THIS

 

Am I wrong though.

 

>:[
No ur not wrong

 

Heh.
Jimin managed through the first spell-casting. It drained him though.

 

Thats to be expected!!! But im glad he got thru alright, i knew he could do it ^o^

 

You already seem pretty comfortable with him. You’ve known him for all of two days.

 

Any friend of taehyung and jungkook is a friend of mine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And besides, youre into him right???? So ofc im gonna be curious

 

What.

 

Hes into u too dw!!!!!!

 

I… don’t know what you’re talking about.

 

Sure hyung, sure :^)

 

That’s really fucking creepy.

 

:^) :^) :^)

 

*

 

It does get better.

Slowly, bit by bit, Jimin gets used to it. He still feels less steady every time they finish, but after the first couple of nights, he’s able to hold himself up and swim himself towards the edge of the pool where tea will be waiting. He says it helps a lot, makes him feel like he’s actually sleeping instead of just straight-up passing out after their spell-castings, and in the mornings he always feels reenergized.

He eats all the food Yoongi makes him, too, happily and without complaint. Yoongi supposes it’s only natural considering the arrangement they’re in, but the added breakfasts and lunches together on top of what used to be just dinners have made them even more comfortable with each other’s company. Jimin is no longer shy or hesitant whenever asking Yoongi something. In fact, the two of them have recently taken on playfully bickering with each other. Jimin when loosened up, Yoongi has come to discover, tends to become sassier with his replies during conversation, and Yoongi is surprised to find how well it matches his own brand of humor and sarcasm.

With Jimin’s gradual easing into the task of lending his energy into spell-casting comes Yoongi’s gradual easing out of his established routine, and his bedroom and libraries start to see less and less of him as he finds himself spending more and more time in the greenhouse. Even Nala has started to become more present around the house, opting to take her frequent naps near Jimin instead of the hidden corners of the house she used to frequent.

It’s… nice. It’s really nice, Yoongi will admit.

If there’s one downside to this development, it’s that Jimin doesn’t blush as easily around him anymore, and the sudden lack of appearance of Jimin’s red-stained cheeks during conversations makes Yoongi realize that he, perhaps a lot more than he should, quite likes the sight of a blushing Jimin.

But, oh well. Yoongi likes to take on a challenge, anyway.

 

*

 

“What’s on the second floor?” Jimin asks, lying flat on his stomach by the poolside. On his back, Nala is curled up into a little ball, purring gently in her sleep.

Yoongi looks away from the book he’s reading. “What do you mean?”

“You told me your workroom and potions room are on the first floor. The kitchen and living room, too, plus this greenhouse. So what’s on the second floor?” Jimin dips a finger into the pool, tracing swirling patterns on the water as he speaks.

Yoongi closes his book. “Well, they’re mostly bedrooms, three including mine and two guest rooms. There’s also another bathroom and a library.”

Jimin looks up at that, eyes bright in interest. “A library?”

“Yeah.” Yoongi tilts his head as he observes Jimin. While it isn’t unusual for the mermaid to ask questions, seeming to possess an endless bout of curiosity in him, this is the first time Jimin has asked Yoongi about the house. “I mostly have books on witchcraft, like spells and potions and stuff, but there are a few novels in there too and some science books.” He crinkles his nose. “I haven’t read the science books as much though, but they come in handy when I’m doing research.”

“It seems like you have quite the collection,” Jimin says. He rests his chin on the palm of his hand. “It must be nice.”

“Do you…” Yoongi presses his lips together for a moment, tilts his head further to the side. “Do you like reading?”

Jimin is quiet for a moment. Then he admits, “I think it’s the idea of being in a roomful of books that fascinates me more, to be honest. I’ve only managed to read a few books in the past when Jungkookie would bring me some to the beach, but I’ve never been in a library before. Jungkookie told me about them, though.”

“My library’s nothing really special,” Yoongi says, scratching the back of his ear. “But if you want to see it, I can show you?”

Jimin perks up at that. “When I get my legs?”

“Um.” Yoongi blinks. “I was thinking more like right now, if you want?”

It’s comical, the way Jimin’s head slips from the support of his palm in his surprise. He manages to catch himself before he can hit his forehead on the concrete, however, and looks back up at Yoongi with wide eyes. Nala jolts awake at the action, leaping away from Jimin’s back in alarm, but the mermaid doesn’t notice. “Right now?”

Yoongi shrugs. “Sure.”

“How…?”

“I can carry you,” Yoongi says. He lifts an eyebrow. “I’m a lot stronger than I look, Jimin-ah. I won’t drop you if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Jimin blushes, and ah. There it is. Yoongi bites back a smirk.

“That’s not – I’m not worried about that!” He smacks Yoongi on the thigh, his other hand pressing against his flushed face. He peeks through the slots between his fingers, and Yoongi has half a mind to coo at him. “You won’t mind carrying me?”

Yoongi would mind, usually. But Park Jimin is proving to be the exception when it comes to a lot of things. “I wouldn’t have offered if I minded, kid.”

Jimin thinks about it for a second, before slowly nodding.

“That’s settled then.” Yoongi stands up. “How long can you stay out of water?”

Jimin purses his lips in thought. “I’m not actually sure, but I once lasted half an hour completely out of water before I started feeling dizzy.” He frowns slightly. “Then my skin starts feeling all weird like it’s drying up and stuff, but I’ve noticed that it’s because of direct exposure to the air?”

“I’ll get you a sweater, then,” Yoongi decides. “Hold on, I’ll be right back.”

“I like sweaters!” is the last thing Yoongi hears before he steps out of the room, and he barks out a laugh.

He takes the steps up two at a time, making a beeline for his closet once he’s in his room, not wanting to keep Jimin waiting too long. Yoongi feels oddly… excited about this. About showing Jimin his library, maybe the rest of his house too, even though they’ve been living together for over a month and a half now. But a part of him is also nervous, and unexplainably so. He shakes his head to himself, clearing his thoughts, and stares hard at his selection of sweaters. A lot of them are a size bigger than him, because he finds them more comfortable to wear around during colder days, and he thinks Jimin will like them.

He ends up picking a long-sleeved turtleneck with black-and-red stripes, figuring that it’ll do the best job at keeping Jimin covered up. Yoongi isn’t planning on taking over thirty minutes with showing Jimin around, but it’s still best to be absolutely sure that Jimin’s skin won’t start drying up.

“Put this on,” he says, once he’s back in the greenhouse. “Hopefully it’ll help.”

Jimin takes the turtleneck with a bright smile of thanks. Yoongi watches him put it on, lips quirking in amusement as Jimin struggles with the sleeves. He snorts out a little laugh when the mermaid accidentally smacks himself with a sleeve, sarcastically holding his hands up in defense when that earns him a slight glare.

“At least help me?”

“Nope,” Yoongi says. “This is far too amusing.”

Jimin whines. He tries pulling the shirt over his head, muffling his noises of complaint. He yelps when it gets stuck around his forehead, however, flapping his hands around helplessly, and it’s only after watching him struggle like that for a solid ten seconds does Yoongi finally take pity on him.

“You know what, here–” He dodges a flailing sleeve and tugs the shirt down so it goes past Jimin’s head. Jimin’s face looks comically harassed when it comes into view again, hair wild and expression scrunched up. Yoongi bites back a laugh as he helps Jimin’s arms through the sleeves. “There you go. All better?”

Jimin frowns down at his hands, fingers barely peeking through the sleeves. An odd feeling tugs at Yoongi’s chest at the sight. “Sweaters always feel so nice, but I still have a hard time putting them on. Clothes are so difficult.”

Yoongi can’t resist ruffling Jimin’s hair at that. “You’ll get used to it, kid.”

Jimin’s nose scrunches up further. “You keep calling me that.”

“That’s because you’re a kid.”

“Am not.” Jimin actually smacks him on the shoulder with a sweater paw. “I’m only roughly three years younger than you in human terms.”

Yoongi, very pointedly, lifts an eyebrow. And then he says, making sure to put even more emphasis on the single syllable, “Kid.”

Jimin smacks him again with his other sweater paw, this time right on the face.

Yoongi sputters. “I can’t believe this is the kind of treatment I get for offering you a tour of my house. What kind of abuse.”

“A tour?” Jimin’s entire demeanor immediately changes. “I thought you were just going to show me your library?”

“Might as well show you the entire house,” Yoongi shrugs. “Now come on, we’re on a time limit here.”

Jimin isn’t as heavy as Yoongi thought. Since piggybacking him is out of the question, Yoongi opts to carry Jimin bridal-style like he’s seen Jungkook do all those weeks ago. He slips a hand across Jimin’s back, the other sliding beneath where Jimin curves his tail, and–

This is actually the first time Yoongi has ever directly touched Jimin’s tail. This realization registers with him a bit belatedly, and for a moment he’s a little frozen on the spot at the feeling, Jimin’s scales smooth and cool to the touch. Yoongi had initially thought that it’d feel a lot like touching a fish, but the sensation is definitely different. A lot more pleasant.

“Yoongi-hyung?” Jimin’s voice breaks him out of his thoughts, and he blinks. The younger is staring at him with furrowed brows. “Are you okay?”

“O-of course.” Yoongi shifts. “Uh, I think it’s best to hold on, so like… put your arms around my neck.” Jimin does as told, fingers loosely entwining over Yoongi’s shoulder, and Yoongi tries not to think about how Jimin’s arms around him would feel like if they were doing this skin-to-skin.

He stands up. Jimin’s hold around him tightens for a moment, before relaxing once more. He smiles and leans his head against Yoongi’s shoulder. “Lead the way, Yoongi-hyung.”

Yoongi wonders whether Jimin can feel the way his heart picks up pace with how close they are, but even if Jimin did, he doesn’t say anything about it.

 

(The tour around the first floor is quick, though Jimin does express an interest in getting to see more of Yoongi’s potions room given the chance. They spend almost twenty minutes in the library, Jimin comfortably lounging on a recliner by the window and giggling over a fairytale compilation book, Yoongi sitting on an armchair by the corner with a book of his own open on his lap.

Admittedly, Yoongi spends more time quietly watching Jimin flip through the pages of his chosen book than he does reading.)

 

*

 

Taehyung and Jungkook message Yoongi Thursday night about finally catching a break from university, so they’re coming over that weekend for a sleepover claiming that they need to make sure Yoongi is taking proper care of Jimin. Yoongi agrees, not really seeing the harm in it as long as they don’t disturb them during midnight.

So of course, when Yoongi opens his door that Saturday morning, the first non-person to greet him is neither Taehyung nor Jungkook, but Seokjin.

“I heard from Hoseok that you got a boyfriend,” the vampire says, barreling right through Yoongi. Yoongi regrets the day he ever willingly invited Seokjin into his house. He also regrets his choice of friends, in general. “Where is this Park Jimin who, according to my favorite shapeshifter, is an absolute cutie?”

“Hoseok is the only shapeshifter you know,” Yoongi points out just to be petty. “And I do not have a boyfriend. What the fuck.” He blinks rapidly. “Why are you in my house? Weren’t you in… somewhere not here?”

“I got back three days ago,” Seokjin says simply. Why doesn’t anyone ever tell Yoongi about getting back from work or a trip. What kind of friends are they. Why. “I bought souvenirs.”

Yoongi stares. Seokjin doesn’t have a bag. At all. “Where–”

“Here!” comes Hoseok’s voice, suddenly appearing by Yoongi’s front door carrying at least three bags. Behind him stands Namjoon, holding just as many bags, and when Yoongi strains his ears hard enough he can hear yelling coming from outside that sounds a lot like Taehyung and Jungkook.

Very slowly, he pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a deep breath.

This is going to be an extremely long weekend.

 

*

 

“This is Kim Namjoon and he’s human.”

Jimin peeks half of his face up from the edge of the pool, eyes wide as he stares at Namjoon. Yoongi came into the greenhouse a while ago to inform Jimin of the added company on top of Taehyung and Jungkook, and Jimin had apparently decided yet again that hiding is a good strategy for first meetings.

“Human?” Jimin breathes out like he’s in awe. “Wow.”

Yoongi scrunches his face. He and Namjoon are standing by the doorway, the others crowding behind him and demanding to be let in – Jungkook, Taehyung, and Hoseok whining about how they miss Jimin and want to see him again, Seokjin complaining about being the last to meet Yoongi’s not-boyfriend.

Yoongi tunes them out. “You’ve been friends with Jungkook practically your entire life.”

Jimin lifts his face a little higher. “Jungkookie is only half human,” he points out.

“Damn right!” Jungkook yells, still outside the room. He quickly follows this with, “Not that there’s anything wrong with being human, Namjoon-hyung! I actually think you’re the effing coolest.”

“He does,” Yoongi says, nodding solemnly. “Jungkook has been sporting a glaringly huge crush on Joon ever since they first met, and it’s honestly embarrassing how it still hasn’t died down even after all these years.”

“Hey!” Jungkook says, not really denying it, at the same time both Taehyung and Hoseok say, “I ain’t even mad.”

Yoongi tries to get the conversation back on track. “Anyway, yes, Joon-ah, this is Park Jimin. He’s a mermaid, obviously, and–”

“Ah!” Jimin exclaims, shooting up from the water as though he’s made a sudden realization. Water splashes up around him. “You’re the Touched Kookie keeps gushing about! I thought he was actually in love with you for a while, until Kookie told me about Taehyungie.”

“Again,” Taehyung says as he pushes himself into the room, causing Namjoon to stumble a few steps forward, “I ain’t even mad.” He glances over his shoulder to lift an eyebrow at, presumably, his boyfriend. “Still, you told Chim about Namjoon-hyung before you told him about me?”

Jungkook sputters.

“Anyway,” Yoongi says again, loudly. Namjoon’s dimples haven’t disappeared for the entirety of this introduction, seeming amused by everything. “Yes, Joon is Touched, which is why he’s such an effective curse-breaker.”

“He’s also paired up with a really fucking talented shapeshifter,” Hoseok chimes from outside. Right.

“If everyone can just shut the fuck up for a moment so I can finish introducing Namjoon and you all can finally get in here–”

“Why won’t you just let us in?” Hoseok whines at the same time Jungkook squawks, “Jimin-hyung is literally my childhood friend, what the heck Yoongi-hyung, let me in!”

Yoongi is just about to retort that he doesn’t take orders from someone who curses like a child who just discovered cursing and is still testing out the watered-down versions of the words before graduating into full-on fuck ’s and hell ’s, but then Seokjin is shoving everyone aside and making his way into the room, only to be stopped by an unseen barrier.

He frowns. “Why can’t I go in?”

“Maybe because Jimin-ssi is technically the one living here?” Namjoon guesses, making that face he does when he’s thinking something through. “Or maybe because you’ve never been in this room before and it wasn’t a part of the house, originally, so when Yoongi-hyung invited you into his house it didn’t cover this extension?”

Seokjin sighs. Then he smiles warmly at Jimin. “Hello, Jimin-ssi. I’m Kim Seokjin, may you invite me in?”

Jimin blinks, slightly confused. “What–”

“Jin-hyung is a vampire,” Yoongi supplies for him. “He needs to be invited inside before he can step into homes.” Even as he says this, his mind is working a mile a minute because of what Namjoon said about the greenhouse recognizing Jimin as its owner now, as the main occupier of its space. Which makes sense, because Jimin has been living in the pool for quite a while now, but the implications that come with it – Yoongi isn’t sure he’s prepared to examine them yet, or think about how much Jimin has integrated himself into certain aspects of Yoongi’s life that very few people have been allowed into.

When he turns his head to look at Jimin, he realizes that Jimin has been watching him like he’s asking for permission. Yoongi pauses for a second, tries to gather his thoughts, and nods.

Jimin turns back to Seokjin. “Please come in, Seokjin-ssi.”

There’s a slight shift in the air, so small it would have been imperceptible if they weren’t a bunch of supernaturals. Then Seokjin steps a foot in successfully, smile turning from warm to bright as he approaches Jimin without hesitation. “Thank you for inviting me in, Jimin-ssi. It’s really nice to meet you.”

Jimin seems to loosen up slightly at Seokjin’s warm disposition. He smiles. “It’s really nice to meet you, too. Yoongi-hyung has told me a bit about you.”

Seokjin pouts at that. “I wish I could say the same, but I’m afraid Yoongi has kept you a secret from me! I had to hear about you from Hoseok.”

“Hyung, please,” Yoongi says.

He goes ignored as everyone else finally piles into the room now that introductions have been made. Taehyung immediately kicks off the fluffy bunny slippers he’s wearing – Yoongi is a hundred percent certain that they did not come from his house, meaning Taehyung either packed them with him for the weekend or came all the way here wearing them already – and immediately plops himself poolside, kicking water at Jimin. Jungkook quickly follows, looking a little like he wants to dive right into the pool to give Jimin a hug but eventually deciding against it because of the clothes he’s still wearing.

Hoseok has no such qualms. He speeds past Yoongi and everyone else and, quite literally, cannonballs into the pool. Yoongi barely has time to cast a quick barrier charm to keep himself from getting wet, Namjoon doing the same beside him with a frantic flick of the wrist.

Despite the tiny headache that’s beginning to throb behind his eye, Yoongi can’t help the proud flare in his chest at Namjoon’s speed for charms. He had been the one to teach Namjoon most of the tricks he knows, after all – Namjoon is one of the rare humans that everyone refers to as Touched. Despite their non-magic roots, Touched have a flare for adapting magic and being able to wield it if they put in enough effort. Yoongi remembers reading somewhere, an article he ran into about new theories popping up in the Magical Science field, that no one is simply just human these days; everyone has a little bit of magic in them, but not everyone has the actual capacity to harness their internal magical energies and use it externally, or it simply isn’t big enough to have an obvious effect.

Regardless of the validity of that theory, Namjoon certainly can use magic to his advantage. He just tends to be clumsy about it when he isn’t paying attention, which has resulted in a few unfortunate accidents with multiple kinds of furniture, household objects, and, that one time, Namjoon himself.

Nala suddenly appears by the open door, probably drawn out of her nap by all the commotion and the sudden high concentration of magical auras in the room (she tends to be sensitive about detecting that). She almost slips in her haste to get to Namjoon upon spotting the curse-breaker, and Yoongi snorts. Nala ignores him in favor of bumping against Namjoon’s ankles and meowing up at him excitedly, before spotting everyone else in the pool and sprinting there instead.

Namjoon laughs. “Still as excitable as ever, I see.” They watch her bump against Seokjin’s arm before reaching for Jungkook with a paw, seeming confused as to who to approach first. Namjoon glances at Yoongi out of the corner of his eye. “She’s just as soft as you are.”

“I am not fucking soft,” Yoongi says, even though he is. No one needs to know that, though.

The problem is, Namjoon already knows this. “You took in a complete stranger just because the young ones asked you to.”

“Gods, the way you talk always makes you sound a lot older than you actually are,” Yoongi says, pressing a hand against his face. “And they used the look on me, okay. I have my weaknesses.”

Namjoon winces in sympathy. “They certainly know how to play up their maknae status to their advantage.”

That’s putting it lightly, really. The amount of times all of them have given into the requests of both Taehyung and Jungkook in the past, just because they’re unable to resist puppy eyes and pouts, is too many for Yoongi to count on all of their hands combined.

Namjoon nudges him with an elbow. “Still,” he says, voice quiet in the way it usually gets whenever they’re having a serious conversation and he’s trying to make Yoongi realize something, “letting a stranger live in your house for… how long is it going to even be?”

“Three months,” Yoongi says. “Maybe a little more.”

“Three months, right.” Namjoon nods. “Letting a stranger live in your house for three months is a really big deal. You’re a very private person, hyung. You usually keep your business and your personal life separate, but I can tell Jimin-ssi is blurring that line for you.”

Yoongi doesn’t say anything in response, just processes what Namjoon said. In the pool, Nala is meowing sadly at Taehyung who meows back just as sadly, the cursed allergy keeping them apart. Seokjin is just lounging by the poolside, conversing animatedly with Jimin, while Jungkook and Hoseok are engaged in some kind of pool game they probably made-up, the latter in turtle form.

“Hobi told me Jimin thinks a lot of you,” Namjoon confides. This startles Yoongi a little, and he squints at Namjoon skeptically, who just shrugs. “He said Jimin speaks very fondly of you, and that you do, as well. It’s usually very difficult to make friends with you, which isn’t your fault, of course. Most people are just impatient or not willing enough.”

Yoongi doesn’t deny it. It’s true that it can be hard to know him, not necessarily because it takes him a while to be comfortable opening up to someone, but more because he has to feel like it’s worth the effort. And normally, people don’t make Yoongi feel like they’re planning on staying past a casual exchange of contact and occasional dinners. Yoongi may only have a handful of friends as a result, but they’re friends he knows he’ll be keeping for life because the bond between all of them has been largely built on trust and a deep understanding of how the other works.

Namjoon is Yoongi’s longest friend, his best friend, and so it doesn’t surprise him that Namjoon is having this conversation with him now. Jimin is different. The circumstances surrounding their… whatever they are, is different. And Yoongi’s response to the suddenness of having Jimin in his life is also different.

“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing,” Namjoon says, as though he’s reading Yoongi’s mind (and sometimes, Yoongi thinks, he wouldn’t really be surprised if he found out that Namjoon did pick up on mind-reading during his free time, but the human really is just that observant), “you and Jimin. It’s really not a bad thing.” A look at his face tells Yoongi that Namjoon thinks it’s the exact opposite of a bad thing. That Yoongi having Jimin in his life is, in fact, a very good thing.

What are they, Yoongi and Jimin? Business partners? Friends? Two beings who just happen to be living under the same roof and have regular meals together? And the better question, maybe, is what does Yoongi want them to be?

“He’ll be good for you,” Namjoon says, finally. “I mean, I don’t know him yet, but Hobi literally could not shut up about him, and any friend of Tae and Kookie that they care about that fiercely is bound to be a good person, right?” He pauses, scrunches his nose. “Or, good mermaid, rather.”

“You haven’t been interested in my dating activities for years, Joon-ah,” Yoongi says, because he doesn’t really know how else to respond.

“That’s because there’s barely been any activity in the last couple of years.” Namjoon smiles, wide enough that his dimples seem even more prominent. “And there hasn’t been anyone who seems like they’d be patient and willing enough until now.”

Yoongi lifts an eyebrow. “You don’t even know if he’s interested in me that way. You don’t even know if I’m interested in him that way, for that matter.”

“Aw, come on hyung.” Namjoon rolls his eyes. “The mere fact that you’ve only denied being his boyfriend, like, 1.5 times today and that you’re not yelling at me for saying stupid shit right now are signs enough.” He nudges Yoongi again with his elbow, harder this time. The only reason Yoongi lets him get away with it without getting hexed is because he loves Namjoon. “How long have we been friends?”

Despite himself, Yoongi smiles. He ruffles Namjoon’s hair. “Too fucking long.”

Namjoon laughs. “Damn right.”

 

*

 

The fucking fish tank is in Yoongi’s living room.

“Why,” he says, not really as a question but more as an expression. The word has ceased to be an actual form of inquiry some ten minutes after his friends initially showed up on his front door half-unannounced.

Taehyung provides him with a response, anyway. “Because we’re all sleeping in the living room and Chim has to be here, too!”

Yoongi frowns in distaste at the tank. It is, admittedly, a fairly large tank that can hold a fully-grown man, but Jimin can’t possibly be comfortable sleeping in it for the night. “Jimin isn’t sleeping in that.”

Taehyung pouts. “We know it’s not super ideal, but we don’t want to leave Jimin out!” He throws an arm out to gesture at the mattresses, blankets, and pillows already set up around the living room floor, causing fairydust to rain down on everyone in the process.

Hoseok sneezes.

Yoongi stares at the tank again as though it’s personally wronged him. “Jimin is going to be really tired after our spell-casting and I want him to be able to rest well.”

“I think it’s really cute that you care so much about ChimChim,” Taehyung says, “but please hyung? We really missed him a lot and we want to spend as much time with him as possible because senior year sucks ass and we barely get the time to drive down here anymore.”

“But–” Yoongi is cut off when his phone buzzes with a text. He pulls it out of his pocket at the speed of light and sees that it’s from Jimin. Can i sleep in the living room w/ everyone else tonight hyung?? :<

Fuck. Yoongi is a weak man. Witch. Being. Whatever.

He squeezes his eyes shut and says, “Fine.” It feels oddly like deja vu.

“Did Jimin-hyung text you?” Jungkook asks, blinking up at Yoongi like some kind of small woodland creature. Except more muscled and ten times cuter. “That was him, wasn’t it?”

“You,” Seokjin says, rolling a blanket out onto the mattress of his claimed corner of the room, “are so whipped.”

Everyone else in the room nods solemnly in agreement. Yoongi wonders whether he’s ever going to be given the opportunity to sort his own feelings out any time soon, or if he’s going to have to say fuck it and just roll with everyone’s assumption that he has a gigantic crush on Jimin.

“I’m going to Jimin,” he announces in a flat tone, “and get ready for tonight. You aren’t allowed to make any noise at all until the two of us get back here. And keep the lights off.” He starts backing away from the room, looking at his friends one by one. “I’m serious, okay? I’m going to cast a barrier around the living room for the meantime that will somewhat neutralize the concentration of magical aura in this area. I don’t think it’s going to disrupt the spell-casting tonight, since we’re in a separate room, but I don’t want to take any chances. We’re already halfway through with the second phase.”

Everyone nods.

Yoongi lifts an eyebrow. “If anyone needs to go to the bathroom, they should probably go now before I put the barrier up–”

Namjoon, Jungkook, and Hoseok all bolt out of the living room before he can even finish talking.

 

*

 

“Grant me another form to call my own, provide my soul a second home.”

Yoongi already has a hand ready, steadying Jimin the moment they finish that night’s spell-casting. Jimin has gotten steadier over the weeks, but Yoongi still makes sure to watch him carefully in case he shows any signs of feeling over-weakened from the task.

Tonight, he only has to hold onto Jimin for a few seconds before the younger is smiling reassuringly. Yoongi lets him go easily.

They’re quiet as they go about their routine – Jimin slipping the charm back in the jar, Yoongi putting it back on its shelf before bringing Jimin their tea. Except this time, Yoongi brings a sweater too, gently pats Jimin down with a towel and tells him to slip it on so they can head to the living room after their tea. Jimin is sleepy-soft when Yoongi gathers him in his arms, and the mermaid curls into him almost instinctively, breathing out a gentle sigh as he gets hefted up.

“Are you sure you want to sleep in the living room?” Yoongi asks. “The others might keep you awake.”

“M’sure,” Jimin mumbles, nuzzling his head against Yoongi’s chest. Yoongi ignores the pitter-patter of his heartbeat and wills the heat in his face to go away. “Wanna hang out… friends.”

Yoongi sighs like he’s tired, but it comes out stupidly, ridiculously, utterly fond.

Namjoon spots them first as they approach the living room. Yoongi removes the barrier with a quick mutter, and he ignores his best friend’s pointed looks as he sets Jimin down onto the couch.

“ChimChim!” Taehyung says, way too loudly. Yoongi winces as Jimin startles upright on the couch, before registering that he’s not in water anymore and flailing, body adjusting to the open air. Taehyung hops onto the couch and smothers Jimin in a hug full of fairydust, and just like that Jimin is wide awake once more. “I’ve missed you!”

“Taehyungie!” Jimin laughs. “We just saw each other a few hours ago.”

“That’s a few hours too long!”

Seokjin barks a laugh. “At this point I’m not sure whether Taehyung or Jungkook is Jimin’s childhood friend.”

Jungkook, in an attempt to both reclaim and solidify his status as Jimin’s childhood friend, plops down on the couch and over Jimin’s equivalent of a lap. “I’m your favorite, right, hyung?”

“Sorry to break it to you, Jungkook-ah,” Hoseok says, wiggling his eyebrows in a ridiculous manner, “but I think neither you nor Taehyung are Jimin’s favorite right now.” He then gives Yoongi a significant look, one that he probably thinks is subtle but really isn’t.

Jimin’s face turns the reddest Yoongi has ever seen it, shooting Yoongi a panicked kind of glance before looking away forcefully, and oh.

Okay then.

Now Yoongi definitely wishes his friends could’ve given him some time alone to think about… everything. About Jimin and him.

But he doesn’t want to leave Jimin by himself, even though two of the people in the room have known Jimin longer than Yoongi has. Call him protective or maybe just downright clingy (though he’ll never verbally admit to that), but he wants to stay here. In the living room. With Jimin.

His friends, too, nosy as they are.

“I’m sleeping on the couch,” he says, and squeezes himself into the tiny space between the armrest and Taehyung.

“But we were all gonna sleep on the floor!” Taehyung protests, because of course.

Hoseok dramatically plops down onto his mattress and throws Yoongi a look that’s like his version of a kicked puppy. Yoongi hates his life, and he definitely hates how he loves his friends too much. “Hyung, I thought we were gonna cuddle.”

“I never said anything of the sort,” Yoongi denies. “And why would you want to cuddle with me? Joonie is right there.”

“He was also gonna cuddle with you,” Hoseok says. “And Jin-hyung, and Taehyung, and Jungkook, too. One giant cuddle pile.” He frowns slightly. “I wish Jimin could join in, too.”

Jimin smiles gently, though Yoongi detects a hint of wistfulness in his expression. “When I get legs, we can cuddle all you want, Hoseok-hyung.”

Hoseok makes a leap for the couch at that, incredibly touched. Jungkook smartly rolls off and onto the floor, avoiding getting squashed by the shapeshifter. Yoongi also does a split-second reflex maneuver off the couch, hitting his ass painfully on the armrest before landing on the floor flat on his back, missing the mattresses by a mere three inches.

“Jimin-ah!” Hoseok screeches upon impact. “Why are you absolutely adorable? You’re the sweetest, too soft, too cute, too good for this world!” He smothers Jimin (and Taehyung) in a hug that has both the mermaid and the fairy laughing. “I’m glad living with Yoongi-hyung’s grumpiness hasn’t dampened your sweetness.”

Yoongi pushes himself up into a sitting position and opens his mouth to retort or maybe protest, but Jimin beats him to it. “Yoongi-hyung isn’t grumpy,” he says, giggling when Hoseok nuzzles into his neck. He pats the shapeshifter on the back and shoots Yoongi a smile that’s nearly blinding. “He’s actually very soft and thoughtful, in a quiet and unassuming kind of way. It’s sweet.”

Silence falls upon the room. Yoongi doesn’t meet anyone’s eyes. He absolutely refuses to look at any of his friends, who are all probably staring at him, waiting for a reaction. He hopes his face isn’t red right now, because he certainly feels like he’s burning up to the tips of his ears.

When it becomes obvious to everyone that Yoongi isn’t going to give a response, Jungkook laughs, but it comes out sounding unsure. Like he’s only doing it to prevent any kind of heavy, borderline awkward silence from further settling in the room. “Yoongi-hyung? Sweet? And how sweet is he, exactly?”

Jimin is still looking at him, still with that smile, like he isn’t affected by the others unabashedly watching them, waiting for something to give. Or like he doesn’t notice at all, because all he’s seeing is Yoongi in that moment. “He’s like sugar.”

A beat passes.

And then Taehyung bursts into laughter for some fucking reason, which prompts Hoseok into cooing at Jimin and Seokjin into making gagging motions while smiling like he’s just won some kind of lottery. Namjoon grins meaningfully at Yoongi, while Jungkook plops down on the mattress like some kind of starfish, a faux grossed-out expression on his face. Jimin blushes furiously and buries his face in his hands, finally feeling embarrassed by his own words.

Yoongi, once he’s sure his heartbeat’s calmed down to a pace that’s more normal, pushes himself up on his feet and pulls Hoseok away from Jimin. Taehyung rolls out of the way without having to be asked to, and Yoongi wordlessly sits down beside Jimin, who’s peeking up at him through his fingers.

“Hyung?”

“Someone put something on,” Yoongi says, motioning at the television. “Hook your laptop up to it or whatever, let’s watch something.”

As his friends all scramble for their respective devices, already debating over show and movie options, Yoongi silently tugs Jimin’s hand away from his face by the wrist. Jimin makes a small questioning noise, but Yoongi just slips their fingers together quickly, squeezing once before letting go. Jimin makes another noise, this one something Yoongi can’t quite decipher, but he keeps his gaze forward where his friends are fighting over cords and the remote.

After a minute, he feels Jimin’s fingers – much shorter than his own – wrap around his thumb and stay there. Yoongi bites down on a smile.

 

(They have a Spongebob marathon, and for once it isn’t Taehyung or Hoseok’s suggestion, but Jimin’s. He claims that Jungkook has told him all about it ages ago, and he hasn’t had the chance to see for himself what depictions of underwater life humans have come up with. Everyone easily agrees, already smitten with Jimin.

Yoongi is, secretly, very pleased with the choice of cartoon.

He doesn’t mind as much that they end up staying awake well until 5AM, and he also doesn’t mind that he does end up passing out on the floor, Jungkook curled against his side and Seokjin using his chest as a pillow, Namjoon’s overly long legs tangled with his.

And he especially doesn’t mind it when he wakes up like that and sees Jimin also awake, watching them with a soft look on his face that he immediately tries to hide with a hand when he and Yoongi make eye contact.

Faintly, Yoongi thinks that one day, he would like to fall asleep with Jimin just like this.)

 

*

 

The shift would’ve been overwhelming if it hadn’t been a long time coming.

Jimin seems to shed whatever sense of hesitance he has remaining whenever he’s talking to Yoongi, lips looser and infinitely more distracting (who knew that, beneath the shy and fumbling mermaid Yoongi initially met, this Jimin existed – self-assured, more forward, and flirty as all fuck). He’s also, Yoongi is surprisingly pleased to discover, a lot touchier. He had teased Jimin before, told him he was clingy (all while unconsciously, now that Yoongi thinks about it, hinting that he has no problems with it at all), but Yoongi gladly learns the difference between a Jimin that wants something but is still doubting his chances, and a Jimin that wants something, period.

The small touches Yoongi would feel against his ankle whenever he has his feet dipped in the water turn lingering, the feathery, almost silk-like brush of Jimin’s fintail turning deliberate so that both of them are forced to stop pretending that it had been a quick accidental brush. Jimin will swim his way close to Yoongi, closer than he ever tried before, and use the witch’s knees as a pillow for his head while he traces patterns over the fabric of Yoongi’s sweats with a damp finger. Then he’ll smile up at Yoongi, wet lashes fluttering heavily when he blinks syrupy-slow, and Yoongi finally allows himself to run curious, eager fingers through Jimin’s hair.

It’s an afternoon like that when Jimin starts talking about his family.

“My parents are very unconventional.”

Yoongi looks down at the headful of pink on his lap, thinks about their entire situation, and comes to the conclusion that it makes sense for Jimin’s parents to be the type that strays from tradition. Jimin probably, most definitely got it from them.

“Everyone always talks about fairies being strict when it comes to keeping their traditions, but mermaids are like that too, aren’t they?” Yoongi says. He brushes Jimin’s hair back from his forehead, lightly scratches at his scalp.

Jimin’s eyes flutter shut, a content sigh slipping out of his lips. “Yeah,” he agrees. “We’re just not as loud or as obvious about stuff like keeping the bloodline pure and having clear borders on our territories as fairies are, but our traditional concerns are very similar. The punishment for breaking from that isn’t anything severe for us, though. We’ll lose some friends and a lot of acquaintances, sure, but there’s no such thing as banishments.” He shifts, folds his arms over Yoongi’s lap and lays his head sideways on them.

Yoongi scratches behind his ear.

“Hmm,” Jimin hums approvingly. “I’ve visited my grandparents a few times before – the merfolk ones. They still welcomed mom back and were nice to dad, were downright fond of my little brother and me, though a few of the other mermaids living near us raised their eyebrows a lot. They didn’t say anything, though. I guess we’re more open in that sense, in comparison to the fairies.”

Yoongi thinks about Taehyung’s parents and how Taehyung has never, in all his years so far, set foot in the natural realm of his own species. He nods once, voice quiet. “Yeah.”

“My dad was human,” Jimin continues. The afternoon has made him sleepy, words slow and soft, almost a murmur. Despite being in the water this entire time, the sunlight streaming through the glass roof has warmed his skin to the touch. “He gave it all up when he fell in love with my mom, though, but he was a little reckless about it. Not a lot of witches are as nice as you are, hyung. They decided on the quickest method just to get it all over with, and it was irreversible. My dad was too stupidly in love at that point to disagree.”

Despite his words, Yoongi detects a hint of fondness in his tone, and something that’s almost like awe.

“He’s still stupidly in love with mom until now.” Jimin laughs softly. “They’re so perfect for each other, honestly.” He grins at Yoongi like he’s sharing a secret, and in a way he is. Just not about his parents, but about himself and his own views on things like love. Maybe what he wants for himself, even, if Yoongi listened closely enough (which he is). “Dad says he doesn’t regret making the decision he did, but he does miss being able to walk, sometimes. He’d tell us so many stories about all the places he’s seen and wish he could’ve seen, and I always found them so fascinating.”

Yoongi thinks about this for a second. “Is that why you want to have legs so badly?”

Jimin bites his lip and nods once. “I want to see for myself.” He closes his eyes, hums. “We live away from the territory and a lot closer to land. It’s why Jungkookie and I met each other on the beach. But there’s only so much I can see and experience from there, and my parents were very supportive of my wishes.”

There’s a short pause, one in which Yoongi allows himself to trace the curve of Jimin’s eyebrow with his thumb. A warm feeling settles in his chest at the thought of Jimin having a good family. “Your parents seem really nice,” he says, a lot softer than he intended. “You must miss them a lot.”

Jimin tilts his head a little, as though prompting Yoongi’s thumb to move lower. “I do,” he admits, just as Yoongi follows the line down the bridge of his nose. He stops just above Jimin’s upper lip, and he feels just as much as he hears the younger’s next words. “But being away also made me realize how much bigger the world really is.” His eyes open, and they’re the most honest Yoongi has ever seen them. “And how many special things I would’ve missed out on had I stayed there forever.”

Yoongi pulls his thumb down that final centimeter so that it lightly rests over Jimin’s mouth. The first thing he thinks is, they really are as soft as they look. The second thing he thinks is, I really want to kiss him.

He feels Jimin’s next exhale on his skin. “Yoongi-hyung?”

“Jimin-ah,” Yoongi hears himself say, before he can think about it, before he can second guess himself. “Hyung has a question.” Minutely, he shifts his thumb over the bow of Jimin’s upper lip, almost like he’s in a trance. Jimin is one of the most honest beings Yoongi has ever met, and it makes him feel like being honest in return. “Can I kiss you?”

Jimin’s breath stutters. Yoongi allows himself to doubt for just a second, before he forcibly clears his mind and tries to will his heart to slow down. Instead of giving an answer, Jimin just shifts, pulls away from Yoongi’s lap – a split second of panic on Yoongi’s part, immediately quelled by the fond look in Jimin’s eyes – and then he’s close, a lot closer than he ever has been. Yoongi thinks about how long it’s been since he’s last felt the warmth of another body like this, and then he’s not thinking about anything at all as Jimin softly presses their lips together.

Yoongi’s eyes flutter shut. His heart slows down to a more regular pace, his breathing evens out, and his head clears itself of any remaining thought. He lets his body take over, lets it do whatever feels right by instinct, like holding onto Jimin’s waist and shifting his thighs apart so that Jimin has room to move closer to him. Jimin’s mouth feels slightly clumsy against his, like it isn’t quite sure what to do, and fondness blooms in Yoongi’s chest. He can’t stop himself from laughing.

Jimin pulls back with a small pout, looking like he’s about to whine, but Yoongi just pulls him back in with an arm around the waist and a hand on the side of his face. And, ah, there it is. The blush staining Jimin’s cheeks that Yoongi’s come to like so much. He feels Jimin’s hold on his shoulders tighten, tailfin brushing over his foot before twining with his ankle, and then they’re kissing again, meeting halfway.

There’s no fireworks, no feeling of fitting together like puzzle pieces. There’s just Jimin, and his warmth, and his lips that taste a little like salt and a lot like laughter, and the feeling of magic even in the absence of it.

It’s the most perfect first kiss Yoongi has ever had.

 

*

 

(“You’re really cute, Jiminie.”

“Jiminie?”

A shrug. “It’s cute. Suits you.”

“Oh my god.” A bitten back smile. “You’re so cheesy, hyung.”)

 

*

 

Kissing, much like every other thing that’s changed since Jimin showed up in his life unannounced, seamlessly weaves itself into their routine. Yoongi learns the shape of Jimin’s mouth with his own, memorizes the ever-present taste and smell of faint salt that he’s come to associate with Jimin, and discovers the breathy little sounds Jimin makes whenever he gets kissed just so. His hands map out places on Jimin’s skin he’s never had the chance to before, thumbs tracing mindless patterns over the expanse of his lower back, just where skin starts fading into scales.

Jimin enjoys neck kisses. Yoongi is more than glad to give them to him. Jimin likes it when Yoongi tugs a little on his hair when he guides Jimin’s head into a better angle. Yoongi finds that he enjoys having his fingers run through Jimin’s soft strands in this kind of context just as much as he does when they’re just sleepily talking during afternoons. Nala meows judgingly at the both of them, which they always end up laughing about, so much that they have to break apart and just smile at each other like a pair of idiots.

And, gods, Yoongi has never been happier to feel like an idiot than he is now.

 

*

 

Yoongi wakes up one morning to his phone practically screeching on his nightstand.

Groaning, he rolls over onto his stomach and buries his face against the pillow, ignoring the call until it stops. Nala stirs awake where she’s curled up by his feet, meowing in complaint at the noise before settling down once more. Yoongi can certainly relate.

The ringing stops.

Yoongi is about to sigh into his pillows and resume sleeping when it suddenly starts up again, indicating that whoever is calling him at this hour won’t stop until Yoongi picks up. He releases a pained groan and pushes himself to lie on his side, glaring at his phone as though that will stop whoever is on the other end from bothering him. Nala moodily climbs further up the bed and crawls underneath the pillows in an attempt to shield herself from the noise.

The ringing stops again. And then starts up for a third time.

Yoongi reaches for it. “Hello?”

“WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME YOU AND CHIM BANGED?”

This was not what Yoongi was expecting his day to start off with. “What?” he croaks into his phone, suddenly completely awake. He feels like he’s choking on his own tongue. “What the fuck?”

“HYUNG!” a voice that Yoongi recognizes as Jungkook says in the background, sounding scandalized. “They did NOT bang, what the heck? Jimin just said they kissed

“WHAT ARE YOUR INTENTIONS WITH OUR JIMIN?” Taehyung screeches into the phone. Actually screeches. Yoongi winces and pulls the phone away from his ear, just enough to prevent any lasting hearing damage from occurring while still being able to understand Taehyung. “Yoongi-hyung, I know you two have the hots for each other and we all approve, we really do, in fact we’ve all been holding our breaths waiting for something to happen, but do you even know how mermaid sex works? Because I don’t. And I know you’re knowledgeable and all, but I don’t think sexual practices of other species is something you’ve read up on, that seems more like something Namjoon-hyung would do anyway, so maybe wait until ChimChim has legs and, uh, all the other bits that come with it

“Oh my god,” Yoongi says, finally, cutting Taehyung off and trying to fight the heat making its way onto his cheeks. “Jimin and I did not do anything of the sort, what the fuck Taehyung, we’ve only been kissing–”

“Just making sure, hyung! It never hurts to be ready for this kind of stuff, and

“How did you even know we… we… that?” Yoongi asks. Nala peeks her head out from underneath the pillow and blinks at him curiously. He pets her absently on the head as he waits for a response.

“Jimin told Jungkookie and oh?” Jungkook’s voice in the background, too rushed for Yoongi to catch, and then Taehyung is speaking again, “Hold on, hyung, we’re putting you on speaker… there.”

“Hi hyung,” Jungkook’s voice comes through the line, “Jimin-hyung texted me about it last night. Please don’t be mad at him.”

Yoongi blinks at that. “Why would I be mad at Jimin?”

There’s a brief pause. Yoongi is almost a hundred percent certain that Jungkook is blinking confusedly at the phone. “I… I assumed you didn’t want us to know?”

Which is… a fair assumption. But. “I don’t mind.”

“Wait, really?” It’s Taehyung this time. “Then why didn’t you tell us? Jimin said he’s been wanting to tell someone since, like, last week! But he wasn’t sure you would want any of us knowing so he made Jungkook swear to secrecy

“And that went so well,” Yoongi deadpans, though he’s mostly joking.

Taehyung almost sounds smug. “You know my Kookie can never keep anything from me.”

“Except what he is,” Yoongi points out, lifting an eyebrow. Jungkook’s half-human status has been known to all of them since the maknae became a part of their friendship group, but the other half remains a mystery up to this day. Yoongi has lost track of how many guesses they’ve already made, but the last guess had been half-ogre (made by Seokjin, of all people) which they had teased Jungkook endlessly about. Yoongi still has vivid memories of all the Shrek memes. He shudders.

Taehyung whines. “That’s because we all made him promise not to tell! We’re playing a game, remember?”

Honestly, Yoongi has forgotten what the prize even was. It’s been literal years. “I bet Jiminie knows,” he muses.

Another pause. And then Jungkook admits, “He does,” at the same time Taehyung says, “Wait, did you just call Chim ‘Jiminie’? AWW, YOONGI-HYUNG.”

Fuck, Yoongi didn’t even notice. It just… slipped out?

He opens his mouth, about to make up some kind of excuse or brush it off, but then Taehyung is already getting distracted. “WAIT, HYUNG. You can’t ask Chim for the answer! No cheating!”

Yoongi snorts. “I’m not planning on it.” He definitely is. It’s about damn time they put an end to the mystery that is Jeon Jungkook. If Yoongi had to hear any more wild theories, like Jungkook being part poltergeist or part bunny or part peacock, he’d probably pitch himself out of a window.

“Anyway,” Taehyung says, “if you didn’t mind us knowing, then why didn’t you tell us?”

Because I was too busy kissing Jimin to even think about telling you all that I’ve been kissing Jimin, is what Yoongi does not say. What he offers as a response instead is, “I don’t know, I was going to but I guess Jimin beat me to it. This has been going on for just a little over a week, anyway.”

“Just a little over a week, he says!” Taehyung shrills. “When I first kissed Jungkook I literally sent a message to the group chat while our faces were still glued to each other!”

“That would explain all the typos then... wait.” Yoongi shoots up into a sitting position, mouth falling open. “You two were making out when you sent that message?”

“Yep.” Taehyung sounds proud of this. “So yes, I don’t understand why you two kept it from us as long as you did, but I’m glad Jimin gave in and told us.”

“Told Jungkook,” Yoongi points out. “He told Jungkook.”

“Semantics,” Taehyung says.

Yoongi blinks. “Do you actually know what that means or did you just hear it from Namjoon?”

“That doesn’t matter!” Taehyung sounds excited, all of a sudden. “Tell me about you and Jimin. So what are you guys now? Dating? Boyfriends? Or is it casual? Oh my god, please don’t tell me it’s just casual, like fuck buddies except without the fucking part because it’s just making out. At least, I hope it really is just making out, because like I said earlier, I think mermaid sex is way out of your capacity, hyung, at least hold out on the remaining few weeks until Jimin gets legs and a di

“Taehyung-ah,” Yoongi calmly cuts in, “I’m going to hang up now.”

“No, hyung, wait!” This is Jungkook. “Just one last thing! So it’s perfectly okay for us to know that you and Jimin-hyung are… a thing, at least?”

Yoongi thinks about this for a moment. He doesn’t mind his friends knowing, he meant it when he said that, but he has to discuss the specifics of this arrangement with Jimin first. Like, what exactly each of them is expecting from the other. Yoongi probably should’ve done that earlier, initiated a conversation the day after their first kiss, but he had been distracted from talking to Jimin by… kissing Jimin.

“It’s alright for you guys to know,” Yoongi says, finally. He’ll just go to Jimin now and talk about it. The mermaid has always been an earlier riser than him, so he should be awake by now. Besides, Yoongi is starting to feel hungry, so he has to make them breakfast anyway. “Like I said, I don’t mind.”

Jungkook seems to breathe a sigh of relief at this. “That’s good to know!”

Yoongi frowns a little. “Why do you sound relieved about th–”

“Tae and I will visit next time we’re both free, okay, bye hyung, love you!”

The line goes dead. Yoongi pulls his phone away from his ear and holds it up to his face, squinting confusedly at the abrupt goodbye. He didn’t even get to say anything.

And then his phone is ringing again, making him jump, and he barely reads the caller ID before he’s swiping to answer it and Hoseok is screeching down the line, “TAE AND KOOK TOLD ME ABOUT YOU AND JIMIN.”

Yoongi slaps a hand over his face.

 

*

 

Before Yoongi realizes it, they’re finishing with the spell-casting and returning the charm in its original jar, where it will settle for another two weeks underneath the moonlight. And then they’re done. It’s a relief since the most taxing part of it is over, but a part of Yoongi starts to… not worry, really, but wonder.

Wonder about what happens after.

Yoongi is vaguely aware that Jimin has travel plans with Taehyung and Jungkook, but only after the younger two are done with their semester. The two months in between then and the end of Yoongi and Jimin’s agreement are a big unknown, just like how a lot of other things between Yoongi and Jimin right now are still unknown.

For one thing, they still haven’t discussed payment details. Normally, Yoongi would take a week of research and putting together expenses plus cost of effort before returning to a client with a proposed price, but since Jimin had insisted that they start right away and he’s willing to pay however, Yoongi hasn’t had the chance to do that. And, really, he doesn’t feel much like doing it now, even if it goes against all the professionalism people have associated him with.

Which leads to the other thing: his arrangement with Jimin isn’t professional. It never was, if Yoongi were to be completely honest. He got a lot closer to Jimin than any other client he’s previously had, even before the very recent development of kissing whenever they feel like it, considering he’s accepted Jimin into his home and provided for him. Jimin isn’t a client to Yoongi. He probably never really was.

So, the last unknown: just what is Jimin to Yoongi? And what is Yoongi to Jimin? They’re friends – Yoongi thinks it’s really safe to say so now – but what else? Yoongi doesn’t know if Jimin wants anything else beyond casual moments of intimacy here and there. Yoongi doesn’t know if he wants anything else beyond what they’re currently doing, himself.

But the more he thinks about just letting Jimin walk out of his door without even talking it out, after everything is done, makes a feeling settle in his chest, a feeling that he can only accurately describe as no .

So obviously, they have to talk about it.

And soon, before this arrangement is done and Yoongi runs out of excuses to keep Jimin close.

 

*

 

Yoongi is planning on bringing it up, he really is, but the one day he chooses to do so is also the day Nala decides that she misses the sky and Reverts. Naturally, Jimin finds that infinitely more fascinating than Yoongi’s fumbling attempts at conversation, the familiar effectively stealing all of the mermaid’s attention.

But also naturally, Jimin is terrified at first.

“Hyung, is Nala alright – oh my god.

Yoongi doesn’t immediately realize what’s happening, because he’s still in the middle of psyching himself up to initiate The Talk with Jimin, so he only looks on in confusion as Jimin flinches back into the water with an alarmed expression, before he hears a meow that turns into a fiercer kind of roar halfway through, and–

“The universe hates me,” Yoongi says, despite all the moments he’s reminded himself that the universe doesn’t care about his small existence, because it’s busy with other bigger, grander things. He squeezes his eyes shut for a moment and releases a breath.

Jimin is still trying to hide in the water, eyes now wide in something akin to fright, which Yoongi can’t really blame him for. He probably should’ve mentioned the thing about Nala way earlier, but it never came up in conversation.

He turns around just in time to catch Nala’s wings tear out of her now-grown back, fur shedding on the ground as scales grow in their place – but harder unlike Jimin’s, and a lot more reptilian in nature. She lets out another loud sound as her teeth extend, her paws transforming into half-claws, face elongating. Now towering almost as tall as Yoongi – and that’s while in a crouch – she shakes her entire body to familiarize herself once more with her original form, and then her nostrils are flaring, quick sparks of flame shooting out of them similar to the rapid flickering motions of a lighter.

She stands there for a moment, majestic against the backdrop of greenery and bathed in natural sunlight, near terrifying as her dark scales glitter with the smallest of shifts in her posture. Like a shadow, a piece of the night walking during the day.

And then she’s plopping down onto her side and rolling onto her back, all limbs pulled up, belly revealed, wide whisky eyes staring up at Yoongi pleadingly like she always does when she’s asking him for something.

Maybe it’s that familiar action that snaps Jimin out of his stunned daze, because Yoongi hears the water shifting slightly. He glances back at the mermaid and clears his throat. “So. I completely forgot to tell you about this, but Nala is a dragon.”

Jimin stares, all hints of being terrified now gone as he processes this. Nala pushes herself up back onto her feet and does a dragon’s equivalent of an enthusiastic meow at Jimin. Jimin gets a little startled at the sound, which prompts a laugh out of Yoongi.

Jimin turns wide eyes at him. “She’s a dragon? ” Yoongi nods. Jimin blinks a few times. “She’s always been a dragon?” Again, Yoongi nods. Jimin’s mouth falls open a little (Yoongi tries not to think about how they look slightly swollen because, uh, they’ve been busy just a short while ago, right before Yoongi decided to try the What Are We talk and Nala decided to go back into being a motherfucking dragon). “Oh my god.

Yoongi shifts slightly, tries to think of how to handle the situation. “She’s a shapeshifter? Technically? But not naturally, and she can only go back and forth between two forms. I found her as a dragon when I was seven by accident, she was still just a tiny little thing in comparison then, maybe the size of a dog? And she followed me around until I took her in and, well, it was pretty inconvenient to take an entire dragon with me when I moved to a place of my own, so I did some research for artificial shapeshifting, and it took a while but–”

“Nala is a dragon,” Jimin breathes out, probably not even paying attention to what Yoongi is saying, eyes still glued to Nala. “She’s an actual dragon.”

Nala, in enthusiastic confirmation, meows. Or roars, more like it.

Yoongi clears his throat. “She usually prefers being in cat form because she likes being held and stuff, but sometimes she’ll miss being a dragon so she’ll Revert. Normally, it’s when she wants to fly.”

“Fly?” Jimin squeaks. He finally tears his eyes away from Nala to stare at Yoongi, half-pleading. “Do you ride her?”

Yoongi just normally lets Nala fly around on her own while keeping watch, but he has had a few fumbling attempts and even a fewer successful ones at flying with her. He’s not about to make himself sound uncool though, so he says, “Sometimes, but she likes it better if she can just fly around on her own.” Jimin’s eyes turn even more pleading with a hint of something like excitement, but before he can ask, Yoongi lifts a hand in an uhh hold on kind of gesture. “You can’t ride her.”

Jimin’s expression falls so quickly, it would’ve been funny if Yoongi weren’t feeling a flood of bad all of sudden. He can almost hear his friends snickering in his head, a voice that suspiciously sounds like Namjoon’s whispering something like whipped . How did he end up here, honestly.

“Hyung,” Jimin says, swimming towards Yoongi, and oh. Oh no. “Why can’t I ride her?” He pouts, wide eyes turned up at the older, and Yoongi knows it’s all a ploy to get him to give in, because Jimin is a lot more sly than he lets on and has his own ways to get what he wants. Yoongi knows this. But when Jimin finally reaches him and places a hand on his thigh, face looking so damn pleading, it’s like all of Yoongi’s rational faculties pack their bag and fuck off to Hawaii, leaving him a helpless, smitten mess (and god, what a time to make that realization loud and clear – he is absolutely smitten ). “Pretty please, hyung?”

Yoongi’s mouth has fallen open a little. He closes it with much effort and swallows past the sudden lump in his throat, because his mind is suddenly running in about a dozen different directions right now, the most prominent of which being 1) Jimin should be given everything he asks for without question, and 2) Jimin looks really good with that expression on his face, practically on Yoongi’s lap and saying things like please and hyung in the same breath. Which, nope. No. Not going there.

(He ignores the voice in his head that sounds a lot like Taehyung screaming at him about their last phone call.)

Yoongi tries to subtly shift away. How does he tell Jimin that he can barely keep his own ass seated on Nala’s back by himself as it is, how much more disastrous would it be with a passenger, without sounding super lame? But Jimin is persistent, pushing himself up so his face is a little closer to Yoongi’s, hands planted firmly on Yoongi’s thighs. He’s still looking up at Yoongi, blinking slowly so that his lashes flutter and, fuck. There is no way Jimin isn’t doing this on purpose. There is no fucking way.

Briefly, Yoongi thinks back to the days where Jimin could barely converse with him without blushing. It becomes apparent in that moment that Jimin has two extremes, one being shy and the other being shameless.

“Yoongi-hyung,” Jimin says again, lower lip pushed out, making it seem even fuller than it already is, “please let me fly with Nala? I’ll do anything you want in return.”

Did Yoongi say his rationality fucked off to Hawaii? He meant Mars. Fucking Neptune, even. His capacity to think is no longer on this planet. “Uh…”

Jimin’s hands are dangerously close to Yoongi’s crotch. And, fuck, Yoongi should not be entertaining these thoughts about Jimin because he isn’t even sure if the younger knows about human anatomy and how it works, like, he’s sure Jimin is aware of attraction and all that, but they have very different bodies and definitely different physical responses to it and–

Jimin’s hands shift up when he fixes his balance and Yoongi, quite literally, falls into the pool to avoid it going places it shouldn’t go. Jimin lets out a startled yelp at this and even Nala makes a confused noise, both of them watching Yoongi as he flails to get himself steady in the water, wondering if this is how he dies; drowning in a pool barely six feet deep, while an attractive mermaid and a dragon that’s been his companion for eighteen years watch, his mental faculties having the time of their life on an outer space vacation.

But then there’s a hand on his arm, steadying him, and Yoongi isn’t inhaling water into his lungs through his mouth anymore.

“Are you alright, hyung?” Jimin asks like the godsend that he is, looking so genuinely perplexed and concerned over Yoongi’s state. Which makes Yoongi realize that Jimin truly did not have the slightest idea about what he was doing earlier and how exactly it was affecting Yoongi. Which, in turn, makes Yoongi feel a little like garbage.

He is definitely sending Taehyung a long-worded text later about the life-threatening effects of unbased assumptions, and why it’s bad putting ideas in other beings’ heads that were never there to begin with.

“I’m fine,” he says, voice croaky. “Just… slipped.”

Jimin examines him for another minute despite Yoongi’s reassurances. Then, when he deems for himself that Yoongi is indeed fine, he hits him on the arm.

“Ow! The fuck, Jimin?”

“You startled me!” Jimin pouts. Crosses his arms against his chest. Flicks his tail into the water in a manner that’s reminiscent of how a person slams their foot onto the ground. “If you didn’t want me to ride Nala that much, you should’ve just said so.”

And, oh no, is he upset? Fuck.

“Jiminie, no, no,  that’s not it,” Yoongi says quickly, reaching over to grab Jimin by the arms before the mermaid can turn away. “I promise, that’s not it. Hyung was just being dumb, I just… I didn’t want you to think I’m lame or anything.”

Jimin stops frowning at that, a look of confusion replacing his previous expression. “Lame? Why would I think that?”

Yoongi bites his lip once in a nervous gesture that he rarely ever does. He pointedly ignores how the action momentarily draws Jimin’s gaze down to his mouth. “Because I… have a hard time riding Nala.”

Jimin blinks once. And then he blinks again. “What?”

Yoongi huffs. “I don’t know if you subscribe to that stereotypical belief that us witches like to fly around on brooms, which some of us do and some don’t, but I’ve never really been one for flying. Mainly because I’ve never had the reason to. So I’ve only flown on Nala a few times, and I nearly died every single time”–which is a bit of an exaggeration, really, but Yoongi likes his dramatics sometimes as well–“and I was a bit embarrassed to admit that, so I just. I didn’t know what to say.”

Jimin stares at him for a moment. And then he says, quietly, “Oh.” He seems to process this for a few more seconds, before his lips slowly stretch into a smile, and before Yoongi can react or further defend himself, Jimin bursts into a fit of giggles, shoulders shaking as he bends forward slightly.

Feeling his face burn, but also incredibly relieved that Jimin no longer seems upset, Yoongi pulls his hands away from the younger. “Yeah, yeah, I’m embarrassing–”

“Noooo, hyung.” Jimin gets out in between his giggles, grabbing onto Yoongi’s wrists. “You’re not embarrassing, hyung! I promise that’s not why I’m laughing, I’m just…” he trails off into breathless laughter again, and Yoongi just stares at him with the flattest expression he can manage even as his cheeks continue to burn in embarrassment.

Finally, after what feels like an eternity, Jimin calms down enough and pulls Yoongi closer by the wrists. Yoongi isn’t exactly sure what’s going on inside Jimin’s head right now, but he doesn’t complain when the younger presses a kiss against the corner of his mouth, arms moving to wrap around his shoulders.

“It’s cute,” Jimin murmurs. “I don’t think it’s embarrassing at all, hyung. I thinks it’s cute. And,” he says with another kiss, this time half on Yoongi’s mouth, “nothing will ever change the fact that I think you’re the coolest, so it’s alright to be lame sometimes. I’ll still like you.”

A shudder runs through Yoongi at that, and he turns his head slightly, ignoring the way his nose bumps against Jimin’s. “What did you say?”

The air around them turns quiet. Still.

Even this close, barely a breath away, Yoongi can tell that Jimin’s face is flushed. He feels Jimin’s arms loosen their hold slightly around his shoulders, but they don’t let go. When he speaks, his voice is barely above a whisper, but Yoongi hears it loud and clear in the silence of the greenhouse, “I like you, hyung.”

Yoongi sucks in a breath. The plants seem to bristle around them, waiting. Anticipating.

And then Yoongi kisses Jimin, pulls him flush against his body with an arm around the waist, kisses him breathless . He feels one of Jimin’s arms slip from his shoulders, and then a hand is pressed against his chest, clutching onto the damp fabric of his shirt and undoubtedly feeling the erratic way his heart is beating. For once, Yoongi doesn’t care.

Jimin lets out a soft little noise when they break apart, making Yoongi want to dive back in and kiss him senseless some more, but before that – “I like you, too.”

The dazed look in Jimin’s eyes clears a little, and then he’s smiling, shy but clearly happy. He looks away, only slightly, their faces still too close together for him to properly turn his head. “That makes me really happy, hyung.”

And Yoongi can’t help it. He laughs, loud and carefree, and it doesn’t take long before Jimin is laughing as well. Slowly, Yoongi guides Jimin backwards until the younger is leaning against the edge of the pool, Yoongi caging him in. They exchange breathy, giggly kisses, just quick pecks on the lips that leave the both of them feeling giddy, until their laughter dies down enough that Yoongi can kiss Jimin properly and feel him melting in his arms.

They only break apart when Nala splashes them with water, staring at them with large, sad eyes and whining about being ignored. Jimin turns a furious shade of red, both from embarrassment at having to be broken apart by Yoongi’s familiar and also from laughing too much, and Yoongi ruffles his hair and tells him to put a sweater on so they can go outside and watch Nala fly.

He also promises to have Jungkook give Jimin a ride on Nala once Jimin has his legs, since Jungkook is stupidly good at everything including dragonriding, and Jimin excitedly gives him a kiss in thanks.

They sit down on Yoongi’s backyard, a small clearing in the trees that gives them a good view of the sky, Jimin curled up on Yoongi’s lap with their fingers entwined.

 

*

 

Yoongi tells Jimin that he would very much like to take him out on a date once Jimin has his legs, which Jimin happily agrees to.

Just like that, they’re dating.

And just like that, Yoongi’s phone is blowing up once more with texts from his friends.

 

*

 

“Are you nervous?”

Jimin closes his eyes and takes a deep, steady breath through his nose. “Nervous,” he confirms, though there’s a hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth, “but also excited.”

Yoongi smiles. They’re both in the water, Yoongi holding the jar containing Jimin’s charm, the sky outside dark and heavy with stars. Slowly, Yoongi twists the lid open. Jimin lets out another breath at the sound of it, and when Yoongi gently nudges his hand, he reaches inside for his bracelet.

“Does it feel like dipping your hand in water?” Yoongi asks, watching Jimin’s fingers move around the pale blue liquid and close over the miniature shells. He lets out a breath of relief when Jimin shakes his head no. That’s good, then. It’s a sign that they did everything right. “Take it out now, Jiminie.”

There’s a barely-perceptible tremble in Jimin’s hands when he finally takes the bracelet out. He releases a shuddered breath as he cups it in his hands, eyes finally opening to take it in, and Yoongi’s entire chest feels like it’s about to burst with a flood of emotions. He tells Jimin to stay still as he quickly goes to set the jar down, and then he’s back, watching Jimin marvel over the bracelet with a fond quirk of the lips.

“Go ahead,” he encourages in a soft voice. “I’m just here, Jiminie.”

Jimin releases another breath as he delicately slips the bracelet onto his wrist. Then he smiles, eyes glistening in the dark, before he finally holds his hands to his chest and says, “Grant me another form to call my own, provide my soul a second home.”

For a quick second, nothing happens.

And then Jimin is gasping, arms shooting out to grab onto Yoongi as his tail transforms into legs for the very first time. Yoongi quickly holds onto him to keep him from falling into the water, knowing that Jimin doesn’t know how to float in this body just yet, and water splashes around them as Jimin’s newly-acquired legs frantically kick beneath them.

Yoongi slips an arm around Jimin’s waist and makes small shushing noises, other hand running through Jimin’s hair in an attempt to comfort him. Jimin flails around for a few more frantic seconds, before he seems to, finally, slowly, adjust to this new form and stop moving around. His chest is heaving, eyes wide and wild, entire frame trembling slightly. Yoongi just holds him close and murmurs soothingly into his ear, occasionally dropping quick kisses over his skin. Jimin shudders and clings onto him, presses his nose against Yoongi’s neck and breathes audibly.

They stay like that for a moment, pressed close against each other, until Jimin calms down and his heavy breaths turn into laughter. “Oh my god,” he says, fingers pressing into Yoongi’s skin, “oh my god.”

Yoongi smiles and kisses the side of his head. “You’ve got legs now, Jimin-ah.”

Jimin pulls his face from Yoongi’s shoulder and kisses him, completely exhilarated, and Yoongi feels like Jimin is stealing the breath right out of his lungs. “I’ve got legs now,” Jimin breathes against his mouth, a giggle at the end, “I’ve got legs now, Yoongi-hyung! I have legs, oh my god, thank you so much.”

Yoongi slowly guides them towards the edge of the pool. “Let’s get you up and have a look at your legs, yeah? Then we’ll try walking.”

Jimin’s only response is more giggling, and Yoongi feels fondness bloom in his chest. It’s a little overwhelming, the feeling, but not at all unwelcome. He carefully carries Jimin up over the edge, making him sit on the concrete. Jimin yelps at the cold that touches his bare skin, so Yoongi hurriedly pulls himself out of the pool and mutters a drying charm over himself. Then he gathers the towel and clothes he set aside beforehand, rushing over to Jimin to quickly dry him as well.

He drapes the towel over Jimin’s lap after pulling a shirt on him, and only then does Yoongi allow himself to look at Jimin’s legs. His mouth falls open appreciatively at what he sees.

Jimin looks… powerful. That’s one of the first words that pop into Yoongi’s head. There’s a light dusting of hair over his legs, his skin practically glowing in the moonlight. They’re nicely shaped, toned and firm-looking, and his thighs are thick. Strong. Yoongi has to bite back the urge to reach out and touch them, run his hands all over the new skin and feel the tensing of bone and muscle beneath. Not now, he tells himself. Not right now.

He helps Jimin into a pair of shorts, politely averting his gaze as Jimin shimmies around, towel falling out of his lap as he tries to pull the waistband up. He makes a confused noise. “Hyung, uh… what do I…”

Yoongi glances at him quickly, looks away even quicker. He can feel himself blushing. “Just… pull the waistband over it. Um.”

Rustling of clothes. And then Jimin softly lets him know that he’s dressed.

Yoongi turns back to look.

And, dear gods, Jimin is absolutely beautiful. Yoongi knows this, has known it ever since Jimin first arrived in his home, but seeing him now, sitting there beneath the moonlight and looking slightly dazed, slightly more human, Yoongi is struck breathless by just how stunning Jimin actually is. Mermaids are naturally meant to be beautiful, and Jimin is no exception to that. But even outside of that form, he makes Yoongi’s knees feel like they’re about to give out just by looking at him.

“Yoongi-hyung?” Jimin’s voice snaps Yoongi out of his staring.

He quickly crouches down, smiling softly even as he feels his face burn, and offers Jimin his hand. “Let’s get you standing up, yeah?”

Jimin’s eyes shine, genuine and lovely and happy. He takes Yoongi’s hand in his, smiling shyly, and then Yoongi is helping him up. Jimin’s feet aren’t used to holding all of his weight up, so he stumbles forward, legs shaking. Yoongi catches him before he can fall.

“Careful there, Jiminie.”

Jimin blushes, but he’s still smiling a little. “Thank you, hyung.”

Yoongi can’t stop himself from sounding so, so helplessly fond. “Hyung’s got you, don’t worry. We’ll have you walking in no time.”

Jimin’s hold on him tightens once. His smile grows. “I trust you, hyung.”

They spend the entire night getting Jimin used to his new legs, Yoongi leading him around the greenhouse first, letting Jimin say hello to every plant around them. Then he takes his first step outside of the room on his own, and he spends a minute just standing there, taking everything in while Yoongi watches with a helpless little smile. Nala comes running down the stairs to greet them when she hears Yoongi and Jimin’s laughter, and Yoongi finally gives Jimin a proper tour of the house.

This time, he doesn’t have to carry Jimin around anymore. All they need to do is hold each other’s hands.

 

*

 

Of course, there’s still the issue of payment.

Which wouldn’t have been much of an issue, considering Jimin is more than willing to pay and Yoongi has made as genuine a calculation of expenses as possible within the context of their agreement and situation, but–

“I’m not underpaying you!” Jimin says for what seems like the dozenth time that morning, sitting cross-legged up against the arm of Yoongi’s couch. He’s dressed in yet another one of Yoongi’s sweaters despite the warmer-than-usual weather, but underneath he’s only donned on a pair of loose boxer shorts that barely cover half of his thighs (well, they’re loose on Yoongi, but they fit almost snugly on Jimin if he moves his thighs just so, something that Yoongi tries not to dwell on too much).

Over the last two days, Jimin has been insisting on keeping his legs bare and within sight at all times possible, as though covering them would suddenly make them disappear. Yoongi has also caught him marveling over his newly-acquired limbs a few times, skimming his fingers over skin and muscle as though he still can’t believe that they’re real. Yoongi simultaneously finds it to be the most endearing thing ever and also the greatest test of his sanity; while Jimin is truly one of the most precious beings he has ever had the rare pleasure of meeting, Jimin’s legs look really, really good, and Yoongi has to physically sit on his own hands multiple times just to stop himself from reaching out to them.

He clears his throat, returning to the conversation at hand. “You’re not underpaying me,” he insists, also for what seems like the dozenth time that morning. He’s been standing in the middle of his own living room for almost fifteen minutes now, trying to get Jimin to just drop the subject. “That’s honestly the total of all the material costs I’ve had to spend for your charm.”

“What about living expenses?” Jimin counters. “And what about the labor you put into it?”

Yoongi winces. Truth be told, he didn’t keep track of how much he spent on food these past almost-three months. He also, admittedly, never considered charging Jimin for staying in his house. “Okay,” he allows, after thinking about it quickly, “I’ll look into those as well. But you’re not allowed to complain if I finish calculating honestly and you still think I’m being underpaid–”

“Don’t forget adding the phone you bought me into the list,” Jimin pipes in.

Yoongi groans. “Fine. But after that, you’re giving me the amount I say. No questions asked.”

Jimin doesn’t immediately answer, lips pursed in thought. He narrows his eyes at Yoongi. “I feel like you still won’t charge me as much as you should. ” Yoongi opens his mouth to deny this, even though it’s exactly what’s going to happen, but Jimin goes on, “But I’ll let it slide and accept whatever you decide on as long as it’s still somewhat reasonable.”

Yoongi lets out a relieved sigh and opens his mouth to, again, try and get in a response.

Jimin, again, doesn’t let him. “On one condition, though.” He smiles innocently at Yoongi, tilting his head in a way that makes his hair fall over his eyes, in a way that the both of them know makes it impossible for Yoongi to say no. “I’m paying for our first date. And I’m planning it, too.”

Yoongi gapes. He recovers quickly enough. “Jimin, no.”

“Jimin, yes.” Jimin crosses his arms stubbornly. “That’s my condition, hyung.”

“Jimin,” Yoongi groans, pinching the bridge of his nose. “No. Ask for something else.”

“I don’t want anything else. I want to pay for and plan our first date,” Jimin insists. One thing that Yoongi admires about Jimin is his determination to get the things he wants, but sometimes it can also be difficult. Especially now, with the two of them negotiating like this, neither of them knowing how to back down.

It… isn’t a problem, not exactly. Yoongi doesn’t think they’ll clash horribly because both of them tend to be a bit stubborn, but it does make for some more interesting moments.

Still, Yoongi isn’t going to back down. “Jimin-ah,” he begins, making sure to keep his tone gentle, “hyung already made plans for our first date, yeah? It’d be a waste to just throw it all away.”

For a moment, Jimin’s determined expression falters, before it changes into something soft. “Hyung,” he says, in an equally gentle tone, “your plans won’t go to waste. You can always save them for our second date.”

And the thing about Jimin – in addition to his determination, Yoongi is coming to discover – is that he’s really good at winning. Just like that, Yoongi feels all his arguments disappear, almost like magic, causing him to slump forward with a groan, hands coming up to his face. He can hear Namjoon’s voice in his head saying soft , but he is not (he is). Park Jimin is just too much (which, oh yeah, he is).

“You would want a second date already?” Yoongi hears himself say, hands still on his face. “We don’t even know how the first one will go.”

He hears Jimin getting up from the couch, but he doesn’t look up. He keeps his face in his hands until he feels Jimin’s fingers wrap around his wrist, pulling them away so that they can look at each other. There’s a fond, amused little smile on the younger’s lips. Yoongi wants to kiss him (he always does).

“Of course I’d want to go on a second date,” Jimin says, like it’s obvious. He kisses Yoongi on the cheek, soft and sweet, before murmuring, “I want to go on all the dates with you.”

And Yoongi, well. He doesn’t know how he can not kiss Jimin after hearing that. He turns his head slightly so that their lips can fit together, feeling more than hearing the surprised little noise Jimin makes. He doesn’t really get how he isn’t tired of kissing Jimin just yet, considering they’ve been doing it practically everyday since the first time, but here he is anyway. Savoring every tiny shudder, every single noise, every point of contact between them. He thinks he’ll never really get tired of this, ever.

Jimin laughs against his lips as he wraps his arms around Yoongi’s neck, like he knows he’s won this conversation, like this has been his plan all along. Yoongi can’t even be mad. He guides Jimin back towards the couch instead, turning them around at the last second so that Yoongi can sit himself down before pulling Jimin onto his lap.

Clumsily, Jimin settles onto his lap, thighs on either side of Yoongi. He looks shy, all of a sudden, still unused to taking the lead, but Yoongi just gives him an encouraging smile and lets him set his own pace. After a moment, Jimin leans down and initiates the kiss, hands on either side of Yoongi’s neck and angling his head up, tilting it however he likes. His thumbs rub slow circles over Yoongi’s jaw, warmth trailing in their wake, and Yoongi settles a hand on Jimin’s hip while the other traces up the line of his spine over the sweater.

Jimin shudders and kisses him harder.

When the kiss comes to its natural end, they both feel dazed, pleasantly warm. Yoongi leaves two, three more pecks against Jimin’s mouth, their foreheads pressed together. He belatedly realizes that Jimin’s hands have traveled up to his hair, dark strands caught between the younger’s fingers, and that his own hands have found their way onto Jimin’s thighs, just resting over the skin beneath the hem of his shorts.

Yoongi nuzzles his face into Jimin’s neck and presses a kiss against his throat. “So, when’s our date?”

Jimin still sounds a little dazed when he says, “Huh?”

Yoongi kisses his throat again, lips fluttering over the sensitive skin of Jimin’s neck. In this form, the slits that act as gills on either side of his neck close up, leaving only smooth, unmarred skin. “I asked when our date is.”

Jimin whines and tugs on his hair. “Hyung, stop that. It tickles.”

The way Jimin is breathing heavily, not laughing in the slightest, suggests that that’s not exactly the problem. Still, Yoongi obediently stops his ministrations, kissing his pulse point a final time before pulling away and looking up at Jimin with as innocent an expression as he can manage.

Jimin lets out a huff, even though his cheeks are flushed and there’s a smile ghosting over the corners of his kiss-swollen lips.

“You still haven’t answered me.”

“So you’ve agreed to me paying and planning it, yeah?”

Yoongi rolls his eyes, though he’s unable to stop himself from smiling. “Yes.”

Jimin lifts his arms in a gesture of victory.

 

*

 

Seokjin suggests a get-together to celebrate, which is quickly backed up by Hoseok and Taehyung. By extension, Namjoon and Jungkook are also on board. Yoongi knows through experience that once his friends are set on doing something even without him agreeing to it first, it might as well be unanimous.

So the weekend after the completion of the charm, everyone shows up on Yoongi’s doorstep again with what feels like an entire convenience store’s worth of food, barreling past him with barely a ‘hello’ and making a beeline for where Jimin is shyly standing in the living room.

Namjoon pats him on the shoulder once with a smile that seems to say, what can you do? Then he’s off to join the others, letting out a sound of appreciation once he sees Jimin’s legs that Yoongi isn’t quite sure how to feel about ( same though , he thinks). He stands there for a few seconds more, still holding the door open, before letting out a sigh even as his lips tug up into an affectionate smile for his friends. He can hear them all making a fuss, along with Jimin’s shy but pleased giggles, and he thinks about how his life had been a lot more quiet just three months ago. A lot more mundane, despite all the magic in him.

Yoongi doesn’t think he’s ever been more grateful for so much noise than he is now.

 

*

 

“We’re going to have to take Jimin shopping.”

The fire is warm, big enough to ward off the chill of a night that’s slowly creeping towards a colder season, but not overwhelmingly so. Yoongi feels comfortable, a faint kind of buzzing pleasantly thrumming through his veins at the beer he’s consumed (courtesy of one Kim Namjoon), Jimin’s weight against him a reassuring kind of presence. They’ve dragged out chairs and blankets into the small clearing behind Yoongi’s house and set camp of sorts, Taehyung claiming that Jimin has been cooped up indoors long enough.

Presently, they’re sitting around the fire in a haphazard sort of circle, Hoseok lying down with his head on Seokjin’s lap and his feet on Namjoon’s, Jungkook and Taehyung curled around each other and leaning against Nala who has decided to Revert again earlier that day (she’s only allergic to Taehyung’s fairydust in cat form, for some bizarre reason), and Jimin all cuddled up against Yoongi, the both of them wrapped in blankets. There’s music playing from the bluetooth speakers Jungkook brought, the songs ranging from anime OSTs to English songs that Yoongi just assumes is Justin Bieber, and overall the atmosphere is incredibly relaxing.

Taehyung perks up slightly. “Shopping?”

“For clothes of his own,” Seokjin says, nodding. “He can’t borrow Yoongi’s clothes forever.”

As much as Yoongi would like to argue that he has no problems whatsoever with Jimin wearing his clothes forever, he knows logically that Jimin would need to have stuff of his own when he goes traveling. Also, he would never hear the end of his friends’ teasing if he admitted to liking Jimin wearing his clothes that much.

Jimin, however, doesn’t seem to have such qualms. “What’s wrong with me wearing Yoongi-hyung’s clothes?”

Jungkook snickers. “I don’t think Yoongi-hyung’s wardrobe is big enough for the both of you. And besides, you’ll need your own when we go on our trip, hyung.”

Jimin pouts. “But I like Yoongi-hyung’s clothes. They’re comfortable and they smell nice.” And, as though to both prove his point and further send Yoongi closer into something like cardiac arrest, he tugs the collar of his sweater up over his nose and nuzzles into the fabric with a happy little sigh.

Silence falls around the group.

And then Hoseok is cracking up, nearly rolling off of Seokjin and Namjoon, “Oh my god, Yoongi, your–” He wheezes, looking like he’s about to tear up over how hilarious he finds the situation to be. “Your face , hyung, you look like you’re about to combust and ascend to heaven at the same time.”

Yoongi feels himself blush even as he scowls, but before he can even say anything to defend himself, Namjoon is piping up, “So, hyung. What detergent do you use?”

“Shut up, oh my god.” Yoongi sinks further into the blankets, attempting to hide himself in them. Jimin makes confused noises beside him, seeming like he doesn’t really understand what’s going on. Yoongi just pulls him closer and kisses his hair, hoping the others would drop it.

They don’t, of course.

“I can’t believe clothes-sharing is your kink as a couple,” Taehyung says, staring at Yoongi and Jimin with his mouth open. “That’s like, the most domestic kink there is?”

“They’re so cute,” Seokjin coos.

Yoongi groans and hugs Jimin closer to him until the younger is settled between his legs, trying to hide by pressing his face against Jimin’s shoulders. That proves to be counterproductive when the others just start teasing them more, but Yoongi doesn’t pull away. “You guys,” he says, voice muffled, “stop.”

“Don’t worry, hyung,” Hoseok says, and even though Yoongi isn’t looking at him, he can practically hear the shit-eating grin on his face anyway, “we’ll make sure to buy Jimin lots of clothes so you can borrow some of them, too.”

Just the thought makes Yoongi press his face further into the fabric of Jimin’s (his) sweater. He can feel Jimin shifting slightly, probably trying to look over his shoulder and try to meet Yoongi’s gaze, but Yoongi refuses to look up until he can get his face under control.

“How are you and Jimin already this clingy,” Jungkook says, without a trace of respect at all, snickering into his fist.

Yoongi pulls his face away from Jimin’s back to send him a flat look. “Like you and Taehyung were any better when you first met, even ages before you got together, you pixie.”

Jungkook promptly stops snickering into his fist. Another silence falls onto the camp, this one more shocked.

Everyone’s eyes are now turned to Jungkook, mouths open, and Yoongi allows himself a little smirk. “I win.”

And then everyone is talking all at once.

“I was so close! I was debating between sprite and gnome for my next guess, I was on the right track!”

“Well, that explains why Kookie is so mischievous.”

“A pixie, why didn’t I think of that, just when I was convinced that you were actually half-ogre like Jin-hyung said but you were just too embarrassed to admit–”

“OH MY GOD.” Taehyung’s voice is the loudest of them all. “IF YOU’RE HALF-PIXIE HOW COME YOU’RE HUMAN-SIZED? AND WHY DO YOU HAVE SUCH A HUGE DI–”

Jungkook, red in the face, groans into his hands effectively cutting Taehyung off. And fortunately at that, because Yoongi doesn’t need to hear anything about his youngest friend’s private parts, thank you very much.

“Yoongi-hyung,” Jungkook says, nearly whines , “that’s not fair, you asked Jimin-hyung, didn’t you?”

“Oh, so it’s Jimin-hyung all of a sudden, isn’t it?” Yoongi rolls his eyes. “And what makes you think I didn’t figure it out for myself?”

Everyone stops looking at Jungkook just so they can give Yoongi a disbelieving stare. Then they return to Jungkook. Namjoon clears his throat. “Taehyung has a point, though – not about your, uh, genitalia, but about you being human-sized.”

“Because my mom isn’t an ordinary pixie,” Jungkook says, rubbing the back of his neck. “Or, she used to be, like tiny and all that, but she pissed off a skinchanger once and they put a curse on her, took away her wings and made her grow so that she couldn’t return home anymore. But mom never really liked it there.” He shrugs. “Actually, she considered the curse a blessing, because then she met my dad and they fell in love like crazy, and now here I am.”

Everyone takes this in. And then Taehyung says, “My boyfriend is a pixie.” His eyes are wide, lips parted into an ‘o’. “And I’m a fairy. Oh wow. This is actually pretty amazing?”

Namjoon snorts. “There is literally nothing about Jungkook that hinted towards him being part-pixie, so I think it’s safe to say that Yoongi-hyung cheated and asked Jimin.”

Yoongi presses his lips together stubbornly.

Seokjin rolls his eyes upon seeing his expression. “But okay, fine. You won, you cheater.”

“I resent that,” Yoongi says.

Everyone complains at him, and Jimin leans further against his chest giggling while Yoongi bravely faces the accusations of his friends. He squeezes Jimin around the waist once where he’s holding onto him, and finally, when everyone has had enough of good-naturedly taking the shit out of Yoongi and the conversation morphs into general friendly banter, he nuzzles his nose into Jimin’s hair and sighs.

Jimin turns his head slightly. “Yoongi-hyung?”

Yoongi kisses him behind his ear, smiling when Jimin shudders pleasantly in his arms, “Yeah?”

He feels Jimin’s hands sneak over his own beneath the blanket, lets the younger play with his fingers as he seems to mull over how to say what he wants to say next. “Would you mind?” he asks, finally, voice quiet so that only the two of them can hear. “When I go on my trip with Taehyung and Jungkook, would you mind if I took some of your clothes with me?”

“Aw,” Yoongi says, even as his heart skips about seven fucking beats, delighting in the way he can see Jimin’s ears turn red, “you’ll miss me that much, Jiminie?”

“Of course,” Jimin admits easily, even as he bites his lip like he’s embarrassed. He turns his head back, opting to watch the bonfire instead. “It’ll be a couple of weeks. I’ll definitely miss you, hyung.”

Yoongi kisses him again, this time on the skin below his ear. “I’ll miss you, too, Jimin.” The fire crackles loudly, the voices of their friends disturbing the otherwise-still atmosphere of the evening, but Yoongi feels like he and Jimin have fallen back into their own little bubble. “If you want, after your trip with the young ones, we can have a trip of our own.”

“Yeah?” Jimin turns his head again, glancing at Yoongi over his shoulder. He’s smiling. “I’d love that, hyung.”

Yoongi smiles back. “It’s settled, then.”

 

(In a week, Jimin will return to Busan to spend some time with his family and talk about potential plans for the future now that he has a way to live on land. Yoongi will stay home and decide to officially open his business again, waiting for new clients to come seeking his service and letting his life fall back into the routine that it was before Jimin; except this time, he’ll have texts to send and phone calls to make that will last well into the late hours of the night, filling in the empty silence of his house with the sounds of Jimin’s voice and quiet laughter. Then Jimin will return, take him out on that first date, and spend the week or two before Taehyung and Jungkook’s classes let out back in Yoongi’s house like he’s always belonged there.

And maybe they’ll talk more, then – about their expectations of the future and of each other, about what they want to do, and about where they’re going from there.

There’s still a lot of things to say, after all, and maybe they’ll never run out of things to talk about. But the thing is, Yoongi isn’t dreading any of them at all.

Quite the opposite, he realizes that he’s already looking forward to all of the conversations he’ll have with Jimin.)

 

***